Recent years have seen no shortage of films, horror or otherwise, tackling toxic masculinity and the threat it poses towards women. The issues still remain in the real world, so the issue remains on film, and the latest genre effort to tackle it does so with an eye for practical effects, a palpable sense of Cronenbergian dread, and the reality of a low budget. Rot starts with a tenuous relationship but builds into a creepy frenzy as the places and people around them grow increasingly uncertain and unsettling. It’s an indie production, but don’t hold its low budget as a negative, and instead just let the film’s creativity and legitimately creepy horror seep over you. (Read my review.) Available to rent.
9. She Dies Tomorrow
Amy Seimetz’s latest feature as writer/director sees her step into the horror genre with wit and sharply painful observations on humanity. Both timeless and of this exact time, the film blends anxiety and cosmic horror into a haunting and dryly funny cocktail with its tale of a woman who awakes with the certainty that she’ll be dead by the following day. It’s absurd, and the film’s first act teases her feeling of listlessness and confusion before her concern begins to spread like a virus. Turns out the fear of no tomorrow sends our minds and hearts in varied, entertaining, and frightening directions. (Read my review.) Available to rent.
As with a few others on this list, Brian Duffield’s directorial debut plays enough with genre elements to leave some questioning whether it counts as a horror film. It’s about teenagers randomly exploding in showers of blood, though, and while the allegory is open there’s enough of a lean towards the nightmare of school shootings to make for some truly horrifying sequences. The film is also very funny, extremely sweet, and incredibly sad as it captures the experience of being a teenager in today’s fucked up world with an honest wit. And blood. Lots and lots of blood. Available to rent.
7. The Lodge
This grim as hell slow-burn has left more than a few viewers cold, and I get it, I do. It opens strong, settles into pure dread, ramps up the crazy, and then goes out heavy, and it’s most definitely not for the faint of heart. Riley Keough delivers with a rare lead role and proves to be an extremely talented performer balancing viewer concern, fear, and uncertainty minute by minute. Madness, paranoia, cruelty, tragedy, and more play into this wintry nightmare, and it hits like a ton of frozen, blood-covered bricks. (Read my review.) Available to stream on Hulu and to rent.
6. Promising Young Woman
The marketing for writer/director Emerald Fennell’s debut feature might not suggest it’s a horror movie, but boil it down to its most basic elements and you’re left with a “rape/revenge” film which most decidedly makes it horror. It’s bright and colorful, punctuated with a lively soundtrack, and remains one of this crazy year’s best romantic comedies — but make no mistake, there’s both cruelty and tragedy bubbling beneath its poppy surface. The ending is destined to divide viewers, but its devastation is inevitable. (Read my review.) Available to rent.