• Mike Holtz

The Ten Scariest Films of the Decade You May Not Have Heard Of


Happy New Year! Let's end the decade in pure terror, possibly shitting our pants!


Below, I have compiled a list of ten films that I found using two criteria. A.) The film could not just be a horror film. It had to be a scary horror film. B.) It had to be relatively unknown to mass audiences. Now, these films aren't as obscure as they are underutilized. I didn't want you to have to trade your parents kidney's on the black market to find them. I've seen it a hundred times.


Several of the choices on the list you have likely seen if you've been following horror closely over the past ten years. Which, is why I struggled over the title of this article. Another title could have been "Ten Underratedly Scary Horror Films From The Past Decade" and that probably would have been better but here we are. Go fuck yourself, Greg you aren't perfect either.


Here's ten horror films over the past decade that are scarier than given credit for. Fuck me, that probably would have been a better title too.


10. The Sacrament (2013), Directed by Ti West


Why you may not have heard of it: A fictional but kind of non-fictional retelling of the Jonestown disaster, 'The Sacrament' was overlooked by many due to confusion of the subject material. A found footage film that looks and smells like a Jim Jones documentary that isn't apparently about Jim Jones, who there's already documentaries about galore. Add in to that the found footage element and a VOD release and I just don't think 'The Sacrament' received a fair shake.


Why it's scary: Cults freak me the fuck out, man. Heaven's Gate, Jonestown, those old ladies from 'Paranormal Activity 3', either political party. They just scare me. This film has all the creepy cult trappings of a "you're fucked" sandwich but adds a thriller aspect you won't see coming. Unsure of whether things would play out in the exact way they did at Jonestown, as things ramp up you get extremely worried for everyone at the camp, including the women, children and journalists. Things quickly go from weird and creepy to edge of your seat thriller. There's a hint of impending doom in 'The Sacrament' that had me a little freaked out.


9. As Above, So Below (2014) - Directed by John Eric Dowdle


Why you may not have heard of it: This, I'm pretty sure is the only wide release film on the list. For whatever reason (probably found footage as the culprit) the film released and many who saw it, proclaimed it another fly by night, awful found footage cash grab. I myself didn't partake in the film until a patreon requested a review and I'm glad he did because it scared the ever loving shit out of me a few times. I think a lot of people wrote 'As Above, So Below' off immediately due to the initial audience reaction. Which happens a lot in horror. Even John Carpenter's 'The Thing' was hated critically upon release. This is no John Carpenter's 'The Thing' but you're picking up what I'm laying down.


Why it's scary: Basically, this is a found footage voyage to the gates of hell. Once you get past all the bad excuses for cameras to be present and things get to happening, the shit hits the fan in an awesome wave of demonic goodness. There's nonstop devilish imagery, surprises and fuckery at every turn. 'As Above, So Below' doesn't leave you with any lasting horror in your bones, but it does make for a fun ride into Holy Shitsville territory.


8. Ratter (2015) - Directed by Branden Kramer


Why you may not have heard of it: Last found footage film on the list, I swear! That being said the genre was really overdone there for a bit and I think that kept a lot of people from even giving films like this a chance. 'Ratter' definitely wasn't a wide release in the states and I found it randomly one night while "working" on VOD.


Why it's scary: 'Ratter' is about a stalker who also happens to be a talented hacker which we find to be a dangerous combination. He uses different phone, computer and CCTV cams to watch Ashley Benson's every move and fuck with her along the way. Benson is fantastic, tasked with carrying the entire film the same way Ryan Reynolds did in 'Buried'.


Expectations can have a lot to do with films having the ability to affect you in some way. I hadn't seen the trailer nor heard any reaction to this film before I watched it and that may be in part why I enjoyed it so much. The trailer gives a bit too much away including one of the main scares in the film and I think that's a part of the reason for the films 5.7 score on IMDB. It takes a while to get going but there's a few raw moments in 'Ratter' that left me super creeped out, specifically the films jarring final moments.


7. The Skin I Live In (2011) - Pedro Almodovar


Why you may not have heard of it: Well, for starters that was the worst trailer for a film I have ever seen. I wouldn't have ever watched it had I seen that unholy adverisional abomination. My sister rented 'The Skin I Live In' on Redbox years ago and we watched it together, totally unassuming. Antonio Banderas? Fuck it, I got the time for Antonio. What followed was one of the most awkward family viewings in the history of time.


Why it's scary: 'The Skin I Live In' is a total body horror film with elements of mad science and torture thrown in. I can't tell you why the film is so disturbing in the name of spoilers (Trust me, you do NOT want to spoil this film for yourself) but there are multiple moments of "Holy shit, please don't put that there!!!!" and "Dear God, it's not supposed to stretch anymore!". Shit is weird, too. The whole thing just gives off vibes of that dude licking the computer screen. *Shivers*


6. Bone Tomahawk (2015) - Directed by S. Craig Zahler


Why you may not have heard of it: Honestly, this is one of the ones I struggled with putting on this list. If you have been a close follower of horror over the past ten years, you have heard of this multiple times and have probably seen it. This is for anyone who hasn't because it's just that good. It's a crying shame that all of Zahler's films aren't more well known. From 'Brawl in Cell Block 99' to 'Dragged Across Concrete', they'd all be hit wide release films were they released in the golden 90's.


Why it's scary: Another reason I struggled to put this on the list is that it's 80% western, drama, action film. But when the horror hits, it fucking bites. Literally. We're talking Kurt Russell versus a bunch of super cannibal warriors (I'm sure there's a far more descriptive term for the bad guys but hey, whatever). When I say cannibals, I mean holy shit, CANNIBALS. Imagine being in a cage watching a bunch of indigenous blood thirsty psychopaths rabidly pick a human body apart, eating it in your goddamn face whilst knowing you're next. That's literally a scene here and it's just as gnarly as it sounds.


5. Grave Encounters (2011) - Directed by The Vicious Brothers


Why you may not have heard of it: Fuck, I promised you there were no more found footage films on this list, didn't I? I swear to you, this is the last one. You know, that's the thing about found footage horror flicks. They don't get to be entertaining like 'Ready or Not'. They have to be scary as fuck to survive.


'Grave Encounters' is one of those films we stumbled upon early in the channel (and actually ended up on screen for a moment in the sequel, which is super cool). Had it not been for Netflix picking up this property, many of us wouldn't have ever known it's power.


Why it's scary: A crew of "Paranormal Ghost Hunters" and their camera crew head over to an abandoned mental hospital. They get locked in overnight and everything goes banana sandwich pretty goddamn fast. This is the kitchen sink of found footage films. Everything freaky you can possibly think of is thrown at you in droves and it makes for a genuinely frightening goddamn riot of a scary good time.


4. The Cleaning Lady (2011) - Directed by John Knautz


Why you may not have heard of it: I'm genuinely not sure. This film ran the horror festival circuit over the past year without much coverage from the main sites it felt like. I was lucky enough to score a screener from the director for review and genuinely thought this would make more waves.


Why it's scary: A well to do lady decides to take interest in her burnt and scarred cleaning lady and her personal life. What she doesn't realize is the cleaning lady is a fuckin wackadoo. From the opening scene showing a dark figure eating dead rat bits (ralph) you know you're in for something depraved. 'The Cleaning Lady' delivers the shit out of it. There's stalker horror, body horror, torture horror, a crazy ass acid murder and SOMEONE USING A BLENDER TO MAKE DEAD RAT SHAKES.



3.) The Nightmare (2015) - Directed by Rodney Ascher


Why you may not have heard of it: Do you really hear of any documentaries if they don't go viral on Netflix these days? Sure, there are a few examples, but not many. I sought this one out after checking out Ascher's excellent 'Room 237' documentary and he doesn't disappoint.


Why it's scary: It's a documentary using the stories of real people and their struggles with night terrors. Ascher speaks to multiple people suffering from night terrors and apart from the creepiness of finding out many of them see the same dark figures, the recreations do my nightmares no favors. File this under "Truly scary because that shit actually happens."


2.) The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) - Andre Ovredal


Why you may not have heard of it: Here's another one I struggled to put on the list as most ardent horror fans have seen it by now. That being said this wild fuckin horror ride had no business going straight to VOD. 'The Autopsy of Jane Doe' had money making wide release written all over it. Word of mouth alone would have propelled this indie horror to big box office.


Why it's scary: Excellent actors Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch alone in a basement, performing autopsies on a bunch of corpses. This particular corpse comes in and starts moving around, making other things move around, doing all sorts of shit you want no part of. A truly fun, frightening and haunting film. It was so good it grabbed director Ovredal the chance to direct wide release 'Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark' this past year.


1. The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015) - Directed by Oz Perkins


Why you may not have heard of it: No idea! I stumbled upon this one day while flipping through Vudu. My wife says "Oh, what's that?" and I tell her like a huge know it all dickface "I don't know and if I haven't heard of it by now then I doubt it's any good." Then proceeded to shit my pants for two hours.


'Blackcoat's Daughter' apparently dealt with some release issues as the official date is 2015 but the movie didn't become available until years later. The word of mouth apparently wasn't of any help, either as the film somehow ranks as lowly 5.7 on IMDB.


Why it's scary: The film is a slow burner which I feel contributes to the lower scores you'll see it project across the internet but the atmosphere alone was extremely disturbing from start to finish. There are some horrible devilish things going on beneath the surface of every scene and when it all unraveled, I was literally wretched back on my couch covering my face and yelling at the TV.


This one just got under my skin, man. I don't say this lightly but it's one of the scariest films I've ever seen, making me feel ballpark 'The Exorcist' level scared. It may be hit or miss but if it hits you as it did me, prepare for the darkness.


Thanks for reading! What did I miss? Comment below and let me know! Also, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter below and check back for everything WWAM, horror and action!


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