Lake Mungo (2008)
One of the first released films from After Dark’s “8 Films to Die For”, Lake Mungo is undoubtedly one of the most effective. This Australian effort managed to not only use the “found footage” trope but successfully framed it within a documentary style approach that served to be an entirely horrifying expose of a family’s loss amidst claims of dark supernatural happenings.
Mungo, played straight, is a master class in atmosphere and the dread is a palpable blanket that hangs uneasily over the audience. There are few twists and turns throughout the film that will not only leave you guessing, but will do so with unexpected and truly chilling payoffs.
The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
The Taking of Deborah Logan has steadily built a following since its release in 2014. Always mentioned in conversation concerning truly unsettling horror films, The Taking of Deborah Logan details the accounts of a film crew that has been allowed to chronicle an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimers. For those of us unfortunate enough to live through the pain, confusion and fear associated with seeing a loved one suffer from the disease, the disease itself is scary enough. Deborah Logan takes that fear and amplifies it, using the more sinister side of the illness to imply a darker presence.
The Taking of Deborah Logan not only shows the insidious nature of a disease we can’t control but uses it as a catalyst for a supernatural horror. Creepy throughout and often heart-wrenching for those close to the reality of the film at its core, it culminates in one of the more shocking and twisted climaxes we’ve seen in recent years.
Hide and Seek (2005)
A hard movie to overlook, considering its rather amazing ensemble cast, 2005’s Hide and Seek manages to capitalize on many of the genre’s more cliché setups but proves that with some amazing talent and good direction, “if it aint broke…”
Hide and seek boasts a pretty impressive roster including Robert DeNiro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Jansen, Elizabeth Shue, Amy Irving and Dylan Baker. Dakota Fanning steals every scene as a young child that seeks solace in an invisible friend after her mother’s suicide. Of course, that invisible friend may have murderous intent and we are treated to a film rife with tension as we question the reality of the child’s grief. I have to say the “closet scene” is so expertly done that you might wanna take your meds before viewing.
Lovely Molly (2011)
Many a-viewer have been left looking over their shoulders after watching this little gem from The Blair Witch’s Eduardo Sanchez. Molly, recently wed, returns to her family home where memories of a childhood trauma begin to rear their ugly head. Molly’s mental state begins to deteriorate thought the film, leading to bizarre behavior, increasing paranoia and, depending on your take on the film, a disconnect with reality.
As Molly’s paranoia grows so does the viewer’s. There are scenes in this film that are so grating, so intensely suspenseful that the entire experience stays with you, or more accurately under your skin. Maybe best to take the day off and watch it between the hours of noon and 2pm…
The Tunnel (2011)
Australia strikes again with The Tunnel, a completely crowdfunded film that took found footage and used it to an eerily effective degree. The concept is a simple one as an aspiring investigative tv report catches wind of a potential conspiracy involving abandoned train tunnels beneath Sydney. Following a lead, the journalist decides to take to the tunnels with her crew in tow, hot on the trail of any answers. The team unfortunately finds those answers in the form of labyrinthine tunnels that hold far deeper secrets than city budgets and missing homeless.
A confining, claustrophobic experience, The Tunnel uses its challenges with light and depth totally to its advantage. Walls seemingly appear out of nowhere, Tunnels dead-end and all to the backdrop that the crew is definitely NOT alone. The last twenty minutes of the tunnel is a bonafide stress test and a testament to how well the film sells the sense of isolation and danger.