Even the most avid cinephile misses a movie once in a while, but more than we'd like to imagine slip past us when we're preoccupied with that next big superhero thing and the streamer sci-fi series that everyone is talking about.
And this is doubly so when it comes to horror, which has a direct-to-video quota unlike any other genre, and whose niche producers and distributors like Blumhouse, A24 and SpectreVision seem to put out new features at a terminal rate of knots.
But let's talk intensity for a minute, because nobody wants their horror movie half-baked. No, for many of us it's all or nothing, and only the most nail-biting, seat-gripping screamers will do. We need tension, gore, visuals and score that simply won't allow us to wrest our attention from the screen for even a second.
Better batten down the hatches, lock the doors and hold your nearest and dearest close. This selection of balls-to-the-wall horror flicks have broadly been ignored or undiscovered by mainstream audiences, yet each packs a blood-soaked punch of intensity that'll send your stomach up your throat.
10. The House Of The Devil (2009)
Before director Ti West struck gold with his 2022 slasher homage X, he wrote and directed an array of much smaller, lesser known titles, the finest of which is indubitably The House of the Devil.
A retro supernatural slasher set in the 1980s, which employs the best (and worst) tropes and techniques of the era to claustrophobic effect, The House Of The Devil follows college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) to a babysitting job for an elderly woman in a gothic house – all the essential ingredients for a blood and scream stew. Under a lunar eclipse, Samantha faces sinister forces, fighting for her life against a Satanist plot.
Laden with practical effects and gore, liberal use of handheld shaky-cam and non-dolly zooms, the film is a call-back to genre stylings that have long since been out of fashion, but are arguably far better at evoking tension and a strong, gut-emptying reaction from audiences. Though its budget was less than a million dollars, the camerawork, editing and broader stylistic toolbox lend every frame the distinctive feel of an even lower-budget '70s/'80s horror flick, inextricably tying it to cult classics like Black Christmas (1974) and The House on Sorority Row (1983).
If you like feathered hair, Sony Walkmans and the Greg Kihn Band, this is West's best.