Sofia Boutella stars as the member of a dance troupe whose all-night dance party goes insane, thanks to LSD-laced sangria, in Gaspar Noe’s “Climax.”
The summer movie season is entering its leaner times, especially for horror fans who are counting the days tillÂ fall, but it’s a perfect period for catching up on missed scares.
“ItÂ Chapter Two” (Sept. 6) is just waiting to unleash Pennywise again on the adult Losers’ Club, featuring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof wrote “The Hunt” (Sept. 27), a social thriller from Blumhouse. Don’t forget Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone facing off against zombies again in the sequel “Zombieland: Double Tap” (Oct. 18).
Face it, Halloween will be anticlimactic after all thatÂ horror insertsÂ itself into your eyeballs.
So before that stuff arrives, here are some the year’s best under-the-radar horror films just ready to be discovered and streamed.
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Ranked: All ‘The Conjuring’ horror movies (including ‘Annabelle Comes Home’)
If you think â€˜Fameâ€™ doesnâ€™t have enough hallucinogenic rages: â€˜Climaxâ€™
The characters of director Gaspar Noeâ€™s trippy, wild fever dream have some pretty smooth moves in the first half and seriously hellish circumstances in the second. Set in a 1990s French school, a best-of-the-best dance company has convened in a snowy locale to practice for an upcoming tour, and one extended scene showcases talented breakdancing, popping and locking, and other artistry. Somebody spikes the after-party sangria with LSD, however, which leads to a dance circle that goes very wrong, many personal grievances being aired, and a devolving atmosphere of violence and paranoia.
If you believe parenting isn’t for the faint of heart: â€˜The Hole in the Groundâ€™
This Irish import keeps the â€œcreepy kidâ€ trope alive, well and relevant. SarahÂ (Seana Kerslake) has left her husband and moved with young son Chris (James Quinn Markey) to a fixer-upper house thatâ€™s right next to a forest and a very large and mysterious sinkhole. While driving one day, Sarah almost hits an old woman, who tells the mom that the boy is not her son. That would freak out most anybody, but when Chris begins to deviate from his normal personality, Sarah begins to think the worst. Itâ€™s an interesting take on the changeling myth that also mines the universal fear of losing your child.
If you dig a little social commentary in your fright fests: â€˜Horror Noireâ€™
There have been so many good mainstream documentaries lately, itâ€™s about time for a horrorcentric entry â€“ and especially one so timely. â€œHorror Noireâ€ investigates the complicated history between the genre and black audiences over the years, featuring interviews with Jordan Peele, â€œBlaculaâ€ director William Crain, actors Keith David and Tony Todd, and more.
The point is made early on that black history in America is a horror story in itself, and the fascinating film explains the significance of â€œNight of the Living Dead,â€ â€œCandymanâ€ and â€œGet Outâ€ for the community as well as the important rise of black women in scary movies.
Where to watch:Shudder
If you are missing family holiday gatherings: â€˜I Trapped the Devilâ€™
Fans of slow-burn terror get a treat with writer/director Josh Loboâ€™s intimately eerie debut. At Christmas, Matt (A.J. Bowen) and Karen (SusanÂ Burke) make an unannounced visit to see his estranged brother Steve (Scott Poythress), though Steve has the biggest surprise: Heâ€™s locked a guy in his cellar and says heâ€™s the devil. Granted, itâ€™s a whopper of a statement and Steveâ€™s not totally in his right mind, though the couple soon have reason to believe heâ€™s on the level. The MVP, though, is Chris Sullivan (â€œThis Is Usâ€), who sparks both empathy and distrust as the mystery man behind the door.
If you enjoy your screams with extra snickers: â€˜Velvet Buzzsawâ€™
Netflix has become an impressive house of horror, with original flicks such as “The Perfectionâ€ and â€œBird Box.â€ But the weirdest little gem is Dan Gilroyâ€™s art world satire-turned-gore show. Found paintings done by a random dead guy turn out to be masterworks and all the rage in the oddball L.A. scene inhabited by vicious and eccentric art critic Morf (Jake Gyllenhaal) and chilly gallery owner Rhodora (Rene Russo). They and others start freaking out when horrifying circumstances befall those who own the prized pieces, and one bloody scene will keep you from ever touching a high-end modern sculpture again.
Where to watch:Netflix
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