This year has been kind of awful when it comes to horror. Despite a couple of highlights things have been pretty thin quality wise; especially in theaters. For every Oculus or Sacrament we’ve gotten plenty of Deliver Us from Evils and enough supernatural found footage movies to last a lifetime. Luckily we seem to be amidst another horror director renaissance. Now more than ever the horror genre is blossoming on the independent scene with tons of talent just waiting to be discovered. Here is a short list of relatively new directors to keep your eye on.
Justin Benson & Aaron Scott Moorhead
Known For- Resolution
Released late last year Resolution was a triumph in low budget, independent horror. Like 2012’s Cabin in the Woods Resolution was a razor sharp and entertaining examination at the horror genre and the audience’s role in it. Written by Justin Benson the movie is a slow burn that builds beautifully to its conclusion. It’s hard to imagine this is the two’s first film but if it’s any indication these two will do some great and original things for the genre.
Known For- Dance of the Dead
Can someone be a new name if they’ve been making movies since 2006? Well I think so in the case of Gregg Bishop. First getting notice for 2006’s The Other Side he gained more prominence with the horror-comedy Dance of the Dead. Then he seemingly dropped off the map. Well that’s not true but do we count an Angry Birds movie for G4 a movie? Since then he has had his spec script picked up by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes and a segment in the upcoming V/H/S: Viral. Bishop seems poised to break out and considering he’s one of the few people to pull off horror/comedy this is great news.
Known For- Rigor Mortis
Admittedly in China Juno Mak is known for his music but in the US he is relatively unknown. While he had been in the movies Revenge: A Love Story and Dream Home he made his directorial debut with last year’s Rigor Mortis. A vampire/ghost movie it’s a slow burning, beautifully shot mix of horror and martial arts. As goofy as that sounds it’s played relatively seriously with a hint of black humor. Somehow Mak was able to take the geungsi, a relatively silly early 90’s horror genre, and make it into an atmospheric and frightening movie. Of all the directors on the list Juno Mak has one of the most unique visions in the genre. Hopefully we get to see more of it in the States over the next few years.
Known For- Hobo with a Shotgun
Of all the directors on this list Eisner is probably the most well known. While he made a movie before his big break came when he won the trailer contest for the movie Grindhouse for Hobo With A Shotgun. With a gritty and low budget feel the trailer had so much buzz that it was later turned into a full length feature. What we got was a violent, over-the-top homage to exploitation films that was more fun than it had any right to be. While he has done some segments for ABC’s of Death and V/H/S 2 Eisner has yet to make a full fledged horror movie. While he is working on a movie called Blatant Violence High (A silent, art house flick obviously) I can’t help but think he’ll do a full on horror movie in the future and it’ll be a bloody good time. PUNS!
Derek Lee & Clif Prowse
Known For- Afflicted
At this point found footage seems to be the go to when it comes to poorly made horror movies which is why last year’s Afflicted stood out so much. With a mix of clever writing, beautiful cinematography and realistic on-screen chemistry the duo were able to breathe some fresh air into the well worn style. What I found most impressive was their ability to work within the parameters of the found footage subgenre. For example Derek and Clif (also the stars of the movie) are making an online travel log which is why they always have cameras on them. I know it sounds minor but little details like this are appreciated and help get past the silly “We HAVE to film because…” bit we get in all found footage movie. With these kinds of instincts on their feature debut I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with in the future.
Richard Bates Jr.
Known For- Excision
Of all the directors I’ve listed Richard Bates Jr. is probably the most original of the bunch. Making his feature debut with 2012’s Excision, a movie I still find a bit indefinable, has proven to have one of the best eye for visuals on the independent scene today. While Excision is never over-the-top gory the movie gets as bloody as it can be without ever feeling exploitive. He also is great when it comes to the casting of his films. Obviously a huge part of it has to do with the star but his ability to transform AnnaLynne McCord (Nip/Tuck, 90210) into the mentally unhinged Pauline is awe inspiring. With Excision and his horror/comedy Suburban Gothic getting good reviews I can only hope a studio gives him a chance and we can see what Richard Bates Jr. can do on a bigger scale.