Another list from a good friend of mine. I met Jay a few years ago at an IndieHorror.TV event. We rented some cabins up at a campsite in Wisconsin. As I made the rounds introducing myself to people I hadn’t met yet Jay informed me that she made the trip from Africa. My response was “Whaaaaaattttttt????” Turns out she is a Foreign Service Officer working abroad. But it still was shocking. She’s one of the biggest horror fans I know. Hope you find something fun here.
1. Joshua (2007) – Not enough humans have seen this film, even though it features Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga, and Michael McKean (in a serious role with one devastatingly hilarious line of dialogue). The movie combines one of my favorite tropes (evil kid) with one of my least favorite tropes (crazy mom), and still makes me oh so very happy. It’s about a brilliant, sociopathic child who ruthlessly bends his environment to his will. It’s also about post-partum depression (I guess?) and mixed marriages involving religiously devout grandparents who mess shit up for their kids. It’s not as gory and violent as many wonderful horror movies, but it will make your soul creep.
2. Kidnapped (2010, Spain) – If you’re a fan of Funny Games (2008), or, even better, Funny Games (1997), you might be one of those twisted people who need to see this movie. You won’t enjoy it, probably, but it will earn your respect. It’s a nasty Spanish-language portrayal of a home invasion, and the unflinching depiction of realistic violence can be hard to watch. I’m a gorehound, and I find this film unsettling. The New York Times called this film nihilistic and “gruesome tit-for-tat torture porn” – well, yeah, that’s why it’s good. Have fun, kids.
3. Seconds (1966) – Technically science fiction, but that ending! The plot is your basic Faustian deal with the devil, with Rock Hudson portraying the doomed rich man who believes that he’s entitled to anything money can buy, including eternal youth and a new hot body that used to belong to someone else. It’s like a mean-spirited Twilight Zone episode, and the surgery scene isn’t all special effects – some of it’s from footage of a real plastic surgery procedure. The gross-out factor is very high. If you appreciate B&W films and a whole lot of irony, you’ll enjoy this one.
4. Them! (2006, France/Romania) – First, let me be clear: This movie is not very good. It’s about a French couple living in Romania (the wife’s a French teacher there) who are terrorized by home invaders. But what it’s really about is how fricking scared France is of Eastern Europeans. “Romanian street children will target and kill you; also, they’re all Gypsies, and Gypsies are the last minority on the planet that it’s cool to stereotype like crazy on film, because no one actually knows any Gypsies in person so we can all safely believe that Gypsies are subhuman monsters… it’s us against them, and GYPSIES ARE ‘THEM’!” No, seriously, this is literally what the movie is about. That said, it’s quick, tight, tense, well-acted, and often terrifying. I used to live in Romania, and I found the film both fascinating and infuriating. I’m listing it here because I’m curious to hear what others think of it.
5. A Distant Thunder (1978) – As a result of some childhood trauma, I have a secret fondness for the niche genre of evangelism porn. A Distant Thunder is a Christian propaganda movie shot on a budget of $60,000 for the sole purpose of scaring little kids so badly at Vacation Bible School that they’ll be willing to make a public declaration of faith and ask Jesus into their hearts. It is the single most frightening movie I’ve ever seen, mostly because I was nine or ten when I was duped into watching it. It’s also terrible. I strongly recommend that you watch it with a bunch of friends who survived deeply religious upbringings, and with a lot of alcohol.
Jay Sorensen is a Foreign Service Officer currently serving in Liberia. A horror movie fan since childhood, she is proud of her complete collection of Fangoria magazines, which she carts around the world with her even though she’s 47 now. She’s an avid supporter of indie films and first became a producer in 2011. She encourages you to check out Adrian Tofei’s upcoming film We Put the World to Sleep, which is currently seeking investors; the Slasher Studios website, for great reviews and fun horror dvds; and Reel Splatter’s upcoming masterpiece, I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday (2017).