Paramount PicturesIt is deeply ironic that a country best known for being polite and nice should be responsible for some of the most influential and terrifying horror films. In almost every sub-genre of horror you can find an iconic Canadian offering that went on to inspire other, often more famous movies.
The vast Canadian landscape makes for an incredibly effective horror setting, as it is both beautiful and often uninhabited. This has the dual effect of enticing people to explore, and providing limited assistance should they find themselves in trouble. The contrast between the stereotypically overly friendly Canadian population and the antagonists in horror stories also enhances their effect and makes them more frightening to watch. TV shows like Supernatural and The X-Files have taken full advantage of this.
There is a whole sub-category of Canadian B-movie horrors which have become known as 'Canuxploitation'. These came about in the 1970s when the Canadian government increased the Capital Cost Allowance tax credit in order to try and jumpstart the Canadian film industry. This had the effect of many low-budget film makers taking advantage of the scheme in order to reduce their taxable income, resulting in some terrible films. However, it also led to a lot of un-tapped creativity and kick-started several careers, including David Cronenberg, who went on to become quintessential in the world of horror.
As the Canadian horror industry took off, the films improved, and this list celebrates ten of the best that every horror fan should have seen (warning - spoilers).
10. The Shrine (2010)
This supernatural horror throws a new twist on the religious cult genre of horror films. Journalist Carmen travels to Poland with her intern Sara and photographer boyfriend Marcus against the wishes of her editor to cover a story about missing tourists in a little village. This is given as her reasoning for not leaving the village despite numerous red flags, as she doesn’t want to return without a story in order to justify why she disobeyed her boss.
The trio are not welcomed by the villagers and told to go home, with an incredibly creepy young girl Lydia warning them to go while they can as no one who lives in the village is allowed to leave. They investigate some thick fog in the woods and Sara and Carmen see a statue of a demon holding a heart.
The cultists appear to turn into demons and sacrifice Sara, hammering a mask onto her face with special effects reminiscent of the Evil Dead. Carmen gets possessed and goes on a rampage until she is also killed with Marcus’s help.
It is revealed that the villagers are simply trying to deal with the fact that the demon statue leads to aggressive possession, either by warning tourists away, or killing them if they do become taken over. There are two alternate endings, where Marcus is let go or where he is forced to stay and become a cultist.