If you like independent film that doesn’t bother to follow mainstream protocol, here are six that don’t exactly give us the predictable, and cover various subgenres—but that doesn’t mean all of them were up my alley.
THE SCENESTERS (2009)
For me, this comedy about two crime scene workers teaming up to document a serial killer that targets hipsters gets bogged down by its own hipster coolness.
The Scenesters uses the Modern Family/The Office docu-comedy approach—a style that seems to be used simply as excuse to break the fourth wall. After about a half hour of the film attempting to deliver that type of dry humor, I was parched. It just isn’t as witty as it hopes it is.
The major conflict here is basically that the videographer is treating the documentary as a movie with “characters,” so he manipulates the reality of the situation—from creating romance drama for his partner in crime-solving to manufacturing material about the killer. There’s also court case footage injected into the mix to confuse matters (and to give Sherilyn Fenn a role in the film).
I found approximately one part entertaining (with an accuracy rate of 100%): a murder at a Halloween party from the killer’s POV.
Good Lord, I will welcome you in if you save my precious horror genre from the clutches of religion. Abolition shoved its agenda down my throat from the very start so I nearly turned it off, but it then brought in horror icon Reggie Bannister to tempt my dark soul.
There’s this guy Joshua who was born from a Rorschach test that oozed out of his mother’s vagina. As an adult, Joshua confronts the bad element in society, saving innocents from being their victims. But every time one of these encounters begins (such as him stopping a woman from being raped in an alley), he blacks out and can’t remember what happened.
Bannister serves as a handhold, lifting Joshua up during one of these interventions, giving him a place to stay, and offering the voice of reason. But Joshua continues to go to the dark places to help others and Reggie turns against him.
Meanwhile, Joshua’s mother, played by horror icon Caroline Williams, gets the only horror scene in the film when she sees a woman covered in the black afterbirth she knows all too well.
I’m sure it has some heavy, deep meaning. Hell, maybe it’s a reflection of herself, or her dark self, or her rebirth. Maybe she’s the anti-Mother Mary who gave birth to the anti-Christ…or the second coming of the Virgin Mary. Because eventually, Reggie tries to crucify Joshua in hopes of saving the world. By this point, I’d completely lost my faith in horror and was busy appreciating Joshua shirtless. So I assume that means he’s supposed to be the anti-Christ.
THE GUEST ROOM (aka: Serving Up Richard) (2011)
This is an oddball dark comedy about a man who goes to look at a used car for sale and ends up the captive of a cannibal couple in a suburban home.
The goofy cute leading man narrates, and spends the entire time in his tank top, trying to figure out how he’s going to escape the bedroom-turned-prison-cell that the couple keeps him in. The husband does a demonstration of how they kill and eat their meals, which is the most gore you really get here.
The leading man decides to seduce the passive wife into helping him get out, which is when the movie finally picks up the pace, gets rather funny, and goes on a really weird occult ritual tangent. This all leads up to a thrilling confrontation with the husband.
While it’s slow in places, The Guest Room is just strange enough to entertain if you’re looking for something a bit off the wall.
THE HOUSEWIFE SLASHER (2012)
Couple of really important things to note if you’re going to make a clearly low budget indie called The Housewife Slasher.
- If your movie is about trashy, gossiping housewives getting naked and killed by a psycho, you should really hire a gay writer that can truly bring out the campy, snarky possibilities.
- If you’re going to put the word “slasher” in your title, make a slasher, not a plodding detective film with an occasional kill.
- Watch the web series The Real Housewives of Horror to see how it’s done right.
On the positive side, some of the death scenes have some good brutality, blood, and boobs, the chick that gets killed in the tub near the end of the film is actually pretty damn convincing as a victim, and an adorable guido daddy of a husband with a great smile gets shirtless.
DARR@ THE MALL (2014)
This Hindu film has plenty of highlights as well as loads of potential, but the 2-hour running time kills it…as does the absolute mess of a backstory that unfolds near the end.
After a suspenseful scene of a night security guard being chased and killed by a mysterious force at a mall, a new guard is brought in (a cute guard, no less). He immediately sets out to investigate the rumors of supernatural occurrences.
Following a little too much footage of the guard and his assistants exploring the dark mall at night with flashlights (which causes the tension to lose steam), we meet various characters at the mall’s club. We get a bunch of hookup drama, as well as a major HI-NRG dance song performance of a “Pina Colada” song.
Finally, the movie pretty much turns into a ghost slasher as a small group ends up trapped in the mall trying to escape the presence, sighting a little girl ghost in a yellow raincoat, and being attacked when they split up. Unfortunately, the simple, straightforward plot then blows up into a mess of confusing weirdness. It’s visually cool and creepy, but I couldn’t even be bothered caring what the hell was going on.
DEEP DARK (2015)
This is one quirky horror/dark comedy, and even though I don’t ever need to see it again, I was glad it was so much better than the similar, extremely disappointing film Growing Out.
A failed artist (he makes mobiles) moves into his uncle’s vacant house in hopes of finding inspiration. Instead he finds a hole in a wall that not only speaks in a sensual female voice, but also begins spitting out perfect artwork for him. Pretty soon, he begins having a romantic connection to the hole—and yes, he eventually fucks it.
Meanwhile, he’s also beginning a relationship with the woman at the art gallery, who is enamored with his latest creations. There’s something very Electric Dreams about this general plot. The hole in the wall eventually becomes jealous, possessive, and protective of the artist. Sure, a few people perish at the hands(?) of the hole, but Deep Dark isn’t going for the body count, the gore factor, or the scares. It would probably be just as effective as an episode of The Twilight Zone rather than a full-length feature.