Katharine Isabelle’s broke medical student finds herself performing backyard surgery for the extreme body modification subculture in this boundary-pushing feminist flick, from Jen and Sylvia Soska. American Mary flips the body horror formula on its head, giving us a tale in which the weirdos are sympathetic and its privileged straight men who are the real villains.
The uncanny arrival of the titular picture book cranks the tension between a harried single mother (Essie Davis) and her troubled son (Noah Wiseman), but who’s really the danger here? In her debut film, Jennifer Kent tips the ‘creepy kid’ genre on its head, using the form to examine a regrettably common dysfunctional family dynamic. A modern Australian genre classic.
During the medieval plague, a knight (Sean Bean) and a novice monk (Eddie Redmayne) lead a group of soldiers to a remote village to uncover why it has not been afflicted. As is the way of such things, they find a pagan cult, much backwoods horror, and a test of faith that not all of them will pass. If you can imagine a Middle Ages Wicker Man, you’re on the right track.
Director Nia DaCosta and producer Jordan Peele’s late sequel to the 1992 Clive Barker adaptation eschews the previous, little-loved follow ups to give us Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a young Black artist who finds himself caught of in the legend of the hook-handed wraith said to stalk the dangerous slum of Cabrini Green. The twist is that now the former housing estate is an upmarket neighbourhood, and the film wrestles with notions of legacy and gentrification. A masterful urban horror that builds on its revered predecessor in interesting and provocative ways.
Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski sends ambitious corporate functionary Dane DeHaan to retrieve his boss from a mysterious health spa in the Swiss Alps, and that’s probably the last we’ll see of him. Maybe half an hour too long, this is nonetheless a fun, exquisitely mounted remix of the first act of Dracula and any given David Cronenberg body horror, with added eels.
Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon (RIP) adapts HP Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmout, sending a yachtful of doomed protagonists to a remote Spanish seaside village, whose inhabitants are a little too fond of fresh fish. Obviously shot on a low budget, this nonetheless captures much of the tone of Lovecraft’s best works, giving us cosmic horror on a quotidian scale.
Suffering delusions and growing more and more adrift from reality, a disturbed high school student with surgical aspirations decides the best way to earn her parents’ affections is by curing her little sister’s cystic fibrosis with an at-home double lung transplant. This lurid tale of suburban horror is criminally under-appreciated, but its commitment to the point of view of its unhinged central character is admirable.
After giving Groundhog Day the horror treatment in Happy Death Day, director Michael Landon and screenwriter Michael Kennedy do the same for Freaky Friday, positing a scenario wherein Kathryn Newton’s high school good girl swaps bodies with Vince Vaughn’s serial killer. Hijinks ensue as she—played by Vaughn—must convince her friends of her true identity, while he—played by Newton—carves a bloody path through the various vicious school cliques that turn up in this sort of thing. A perfectly pitched horror comedy, both bloody and bloody funny.
Seeking vengeance for his murdered daughter, a Dark Ages warrior (Christopher Rygh) works as a monster hunter, slaying the various creatures that plague the kingdom in the hopes of one day encountering the beast that killed his child. Think The Witcher on a microbudget and you’re on the right track. Utilising a small cast and extremely limited locations, but wonderful production design, director Jordan Downey implies a whole world beyond the confines of the frame, while keeping us focused on the action within it.
Cult horror author Clive Barker made a big, bloody splash with his feature directing debut. Adapting his own story, The Hellbound Heart, Barker weaves an unsettling tale of what are essentially supernatural BDSM aficionados, summoned by a magic device—Lemarchand’s Box or The Lament Configuration depending on who’s talking—to subject humans to pain beyond pleasure and pleasure beyond pain. Groundbreaking for the time and still impressive now, it spawned a surprisingly long-running franchise, of which maybe three sequels are worth your attention.
Kicking off immediately after the events of the first film, the best of the Hellraiser sequels sees the Cenobite Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his fellow BDSM demons invade the psychiatric hospital where poor Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) has been sequestered after the recent horrors. Smartly expanding the first film’s mythology, this is a worthy follow up to writer turned director Clive Barker’s landmark debut film. Shame about what came after, though.
Matt Dillon is a serial killer who recounts a litany of horrifying crimes committed over the course of his life in this typically provocative piece from Danish troublemaker Lars Von Trier. The stepping off point may be John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but von Trier’s unflinching brutality will make even the staunchest horror fan squirm in places, while the gradually growing metaphysical subtext raises philosophical questions that remain unanswered by the time the credits roll.
The best of the various adaptations of Richard Matheson’s incredible novel I Am Legend, this black and white Italian film from 1964 sees horror icon Vincent Price as the eponymous lonely survivor struggling to make it through the night in a world where everyone else is a vampire. Gets closer to the bleak, shocking final reveal of the novel than any other version since.
Bickering couple John Hargreaves and Briony Behets take off for a weekend camping trip, only to find nature itself seemingly turning against them in an escalating series of ‘accidents’. Allegorical ecological horror is the name of the game here, with director Colin Eggleston never quite letting the audience know exactly what’s going on.
A lone woman comes under supernatural attack while vacationing in an isolated cabin in this unsettling piece of Australian Gothic. Director Donna McRae does a lot with a little, turning invisible assaults into a potent metaphor for domestic violence.
The dead rise from the grave to consume the living, and a mixed group of survivors hole up in an abandoned farmhouse to try and live through the night. George A. Romero’s black and white original 1968 low budget masterpiece spawned an entire subgenre—you owe it to yourself to find out why. Also available in colour, for no justifiable reason.
Dennis Hopper is a sailor on shore leave who falls in love with a young woman (Linda Lawson) who may or may not be a mermaid. Think a psychological horror riff on Splash and you’re on the right track. Night Tide is a low budget effort from the Roger Corman stable and at times it looks it—but the seaside carnival setting, dreamlike black and white photography, and lurid plot give it a hallucinatory charge that’s hard to shake.
One night of the year, all crime is legal except property crime. On that night, affluent family man Ethan Hawke finds his home under siege when he rescues a wounded stranger from masked marauders intent on killing him. From little things, big things grow: the original The Purge is a tight, imaginative home invasion thriller with a satirical edge, and it led to one of the most successful horror franchises of the 21st century. While creator James DeMonaco and the Blumhouse production team have had fun expanding the concept over the years, all the key ingredients are present here.
Russel Mulcahy brings music video verve to this tale of a man-eating pig terrorising the outback, and what could have been a rote schlocker becomes artier, weirder, and often downright mesmerising. The plot is pretty much Jaws on trotters, but this Ozploitation gem punches well above its weight in terms of sheer filmmaking nous and visual style.
Troubled rich teen Billy Warlock discovers his alienation from his high society family and friends is not rooted in class consciousness, but in the fact that they are inhuman monsters that literally eat the lower classes. You have to wade through a lot of soap opera-level nonsense in this satire by Brian Yuzna to get to the grand slam climactic scene but, holy hell, is it worth it.
Arthouse darling Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) tackles Dario Argento’s giallo classic and, miraculously, manages to pull it off. Dakota Johnson is the ingenue who arrives at a German dance academy run by Tilda Swinton, who finds herself caught up in a power struggle among a coven of witches. But is she their victim or their messiah? This is a remake done right, using the bones of the original to do something new and transgressive.
Tobe Hooper’s absolutely seminal survival horror pits a Combi-load of happy young people up against the cannibalistic Sawyer family when they take the wrong back road in contemporary Texas and find themselves at the business end of the hulking Leatherface’s chainsaw. Not as gory as its reputation suggests, but Hooper manifests a grimy, sticky-hot, oppressive atmosphere that’s more unsettling than a hundred gore gags. Yet another film sequelised and remade to generally lesser effect, although Part 2 is a gonzo gem.
In desolate 19th century New Mexico, two pioneering families endure increasingly bizarre and inexplicable hardships and accidents. Is it just prairie fever, or are they the victims of some unseen supernatural force? Writer Teresa Sutherland and director Emma Tammi craft a superbly sustained atmosphere of paranoia and mounting dread in this frontier horror, redolent of both the madness of loneliness and the loneliness of madness.
Director David Eggers’ directorial debut is one of the best of the current “elevated genre” vogue, placing us with a devout family exiled from their colonial New England community who find themselves contending with an evil witch living in the depths of the forest. Eggers’ film eschews the New Age/neopagan trappings common to the modern media portrayal of witchcraft, instead presenting the witch of Christian folklore: a sorceress in league with Satan preying on the godly. It also presents rising star Anya Taylor-Joy in her first film role as the teen daughter caught between the supernatural evil in the woods and her strict parents’ rising paranoia and fear. Unmissable.
An abusive family patriarch (Sean Bridgers) captures a feral woman and tries to ‘civilise’ her, not knowing she is the last survivor of a backwoods cannibal clan. Lucky McKee adapts Jack Ketchum’s pitiless novel with an adroit eye for both gore and gender politics, with McIntosh giving a performance that is ferocious in every sense.
This guide is regularly updated to reflect changes in Prime Video‘s catalogue. For a list of capsule reviews that have been removed from this page because they are no longer available on the platform, visit here.