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Examining the state of Horror Cinema in 2015: 11 Horror Hybrids You Need to Watch

August 28, 2015

Hello all. Mark here.

It is a good time to be a fan of horror. In the last two years there has been a welcome explosion of horror hybrids that defy expectations and are critically beloved. They are all  confidently made and have done a great job of taking a tired genre and making it fresh. None of these films are reactive and their creators could care less about trends. They’ve forged their own way through the horror jungle and come through as their own beasts.  If you are into horror hybrids featuring freaky masks, cheeky vampires, squishy romances and body mutilation you are in luck with these films!

If you are into 21st century horror make sure to check out these posts centering around the best the 21st century has had to offer the horror genre.

MFF Reader Poll Results: What are your favorite 21st century horror films that don’t appear on “best of” lists.

MFF Reader Poll Results: The top 21 horror films of the 21st century. 

What is the best horror film of the 21st century: An in-depth look into critical and audience ratings.

Examining the state of horror cinema in 2015: A look at the current trends, auteurs and squishy noises.


Creep (Netflix)

Creep has a grounded realism that focuses on two very lonely people. One person resorts to answering craiglist ads for money while the other has obvious mental problems. Together they form a weird duo brought together by loneliness. Their day filming spirals into a controlled chaos in which clues are unraveled and the term “Chekhov’s axe” takes new meaning.

Creep doesn’t reinvent the found footage wheel but it takes the genre into unexpected territory. The footage isn’t nausea inducing and the video diary brings an organic vibe to a man holding a camera for way too long. It is a tiny little thing that is getting national press. It doesn’t feature CGI and the locations are scarce but it features a good idea and enough vision to get it in front of audiences. If you are looking for inspiration and want to create something in the film world I totally recommend you watch this film. It is simple, smart and builds to a brutal conclusion. Let me know what you think when you watch it!

Creep wolf mask Mark Duplass


Housebound (Netflix)

Housebound is a glorious horror hybrid that plays equal parts funny, scary and outrageous. It is a pure horror hybrid that features the fun insanity that goes with New Zealand horror films. It plays like a Peter Jackson horror film teamed up with The People Under the Stairs and formed something completely different. Housebound exemplifies the current crop of horror hybrids because it refuses to be pegged down into any genre. It is pure filmmaking at its best and I can’t wait to see what director Gerard Johnstone does next.



What We Do in the Shadows (Redbox, VOD)

What We Do in the Shadows is a glorious comedy/horror mockumentary that centers around four vampires who live in New Zealand. The horror hybrid blends comedy with lots of gore and features some of funniest characters of the last several years. It is a creative blast of niceness and violence that will most certainly become a cult classic. The 85 minute film is so full of one-liners, sight gags and hilarious characters you need to watch it more than once.

What we do in the shadows 1946


Wyrmwood: The Road of the Dead (Netflix)

Wyrmwood is a fantastic Australian micro-budget zombie film that is taking the horror world by storm. It was a labor of love by directors Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner who initially planned on a six month shoot and saw that expand to a 3 1/2 year labor of love. The budget jumped from 20,000 to 150,000 and Screen Australia had to throw in 800,000 to get it finished. The script changed drastically and so did the characters. However, the final product is a bonkers delight that is loaded with blood, bruises and zombies that can fuel vehicles. It is like Mad Max met a zombie film and then became something else entirely. You kinda have to appreciate a singular vision that was filmed on weekends and holidays.

Wyrmwood brother and sister


Honeymoon (Netflix)

Little horror films like Honeymoon don’t come around very often. They take a familiar subject (body snatching) and make something original out of it. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it gets a lot of mileage out of its story. Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway fully commit themselves to whatever is thrown their way and they draw you in with their chemistry. First time feature director Leigh Janiak handles the tension building well and you can tell she has thought this movie out with great detail.

Honeymoon Rose Leslie


The Babadook (Netflix)

The Babadook is a visually arresting horror hybrid that proved to be an amazing calling card for director Jennifer Kent. The Babadook is the type of movie that transcends genre and much like Rosemary’s Baby adds class to the horror world. The fact that The Babadook was universally praised by critics while featuring a truly bonkers plot proves that we are in a solid time for horror. I love what Kent said abouthorror filmmaking to New York Magazine.

I continue to watch modern horror films, despite the constant disappointment. I don’t think a lot of the filmmakers making horror now know its worth, or realize the potential of the genre. Just because it’s a horror film doesn’t mean it can’t be deep. I think a lot of filmmakers who make horror now go in with dubious motives — money, predominantly. They want to make a film that will feel like a theme-park ride, and ultimately make a lot of money.But horror is a pure form of cinema. I think there are some modern-day filmmakers our there who understand that. The films that will stand the test of time are the ones that have depth

the babadook


Spring (Amazon Prime)

Spring plays like Before Sunrise met An American Werewolf in London and spawned something like Species but totally different. It is an earthy film that plays with romance, love, loss and lots of squishy things. The critics have rallied around it (89% RT) and it is part of a recent low-budget horror revival. Spring has proven itself to be a genre lifter that take old ideas and makes them original.

A neat example of where Spring veers from the horror path is in the meet cute. The two characters lock eyes, she is obviously out of his league and when he approaches she immediately invites him back to her apartment (think Species). He is caught off guard and begins to wonder whether she is trying to rob, kill or trick him. He declines the offer and instead tries to set up a coffee date. It is a neat moment that plays against type.

Spring Movie Italy


It Follows (Redbox, Netflix)

It Follows has a unique style that blends a lurking sense of dread with absolute urgency.  It isn’t afraid to mess with the genre while sticking to well-worn tropes.  If you combined  All the Real Girls with Nightmare on Elm Street and threw in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Elephant and The Sixth Sense you would have something sorta resembling the film

Director David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover) takes my favorite aspects of horror (urgency, dread, patience) and combines them with a beautifully simple story about the dangers of sex. Mitchell lets the film breath and this allows the rabbit and hare story to unfold organically. The teens sleepless state creates a dreamy atmosphere that is captured nicely by the lingering camera and patient editing. The film moves at a methodically slow pace yet you have a hard time catching your breath.

It follows


Cheap Thrills (Amazon Prime)

Director E.L. Katz who formerly wrote for Fangoria does a great job of capturing the claustrophobia, humor and horror of the night of escalating dares. He draws strong performances from the cast and elevates the material to where even the most conservative of film critic appreciates the work. The film can be frustrating and vague but I think that will only further discussion and leave more to the imagination of the viewer. It leaves you with questions in which there are no easy answers.

The movie has a nasty streak that will alienate many but capture a solid cult following. It wears you out but it doesn’t drain you with depravity. It walks a tight rope of gore and despair but manages to not fall into a nothingness abyss. David Koechner and Sara Paxton remain mysterious throughout as we never get any revelations about them. Are they really a couple? Have they done this before? The questions are welcome because it leaves you to come up with the answers.

Cheap Thrills Ethan Embry


The Guest (Netflix)

The Guest is a pure genre experiment that is equal parts nasty and fun. It borrows heavily from other films (I love this Grantland article) but it adds something different to the norm. Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett got the idea for the film after a double header of Halloween and The Terminator. Wingard had this to say about it:

The Alien and Michael Myers movies … you couldn’t really put together what they were. They were these like shapes. They were terrifying in their obscurity. That’s something that’s influenced so many people. Horror, in many ways, went way down that rabbit hole for many years. People are still riffing on those concepts, with the masks and facelessness of the killers and stuff. And I thought, What would it be like to do the inversion of that? What if Michael Myers, instead of being this shapeless guy following you around town from a distance, what if he lived in your house?

The Guest is bloody, gory and at times very uncomfortable. The goth techno soundtrack blares loudly while Dan Stevens kicks ass in a nearly monotone voice. I had to laugh as everybody chooses to ignore the oddness of Steven’s because of his clean cut looks and relaxed persona. There is obviously something wrong with him but he honeypots (Thank you The Interview) everyone into ignoring his constant violent actions.



A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Netflix)

Scott Weinberg of The Horror Show sums up this movie perfectly:

It may take a while before Dracula is scary again, but until that time we can certainly appreciate little vampire tales like the willfully and enjoyably strange A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, which is the first feature from Ana Lily Amirpour, and feels like a sly and respectful homage to filmmakers as disparate as Nicholas Ray, Rod Serling, Anthony Mann, and Jim Jarmusch. Sort of a western, kind of a sci-fi story, sometimes a film noir thriller, and most assuredly a beautifully black-and-white portrayal of two wildly different young people who come to forge an unlikely relationship, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is what one might call an “arthouse film,” in that it’s often more interested in mood, tone, music, and frame composition than it is in a straightforward narrative – but one doesn’t need a traditional plot-driven structure to appreciate this eclectic, serene, and sometimes powerfully moving film.



14 Comments leave one →
  1. John Leavengood permalink
    August 28, 2015 11:01 am

    I watched Spring and What We Do in the Shadows by your recommendation and I was so glad I did. Both were glorious.

    • August 28, 2015 11:03 am

      Heck yeah! Glad you liked Spring. It was gooey and heartfelt. That is kinda perfect.

  2. August 28, 2015 1:11 pm

    Great list, i have seen half and the other half is on my to be watched list

    • August 28, 2015 2:06 pm

      Thanks! What has been your favorite so far?

      • August 28, 2015 2:26 pm

        Babadook or It Follows for sure, but Wyrmwood was so much fun

  3. August 30, 2015 8:20 pm

    I have watched many of these movies and think that there are some real gems-Housebound for sure, It Follows and A Girl Walks… (oh, and The Babadook!) became instant favorites. The only one I hadn’t heard of was Creep and I am adding it to my Netflix queue right now.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 2, 2015 9:13 am

      I am a horror superfreak and I like to think I’m in the know, but Mark continues to shock me by always being the first to know about, watch and advise about a LOT of horror that bypasses our box offices (for at least major releases) and comes straight to Netflix/AmazonPrime.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 2, 2015 9:14 am

      I’m referring to gems like Creep and Spring, in particular.

    • September 2, 2015 9:16 am

      Let me know what you think about Creep! I really like it because it motivated me to keep writing and plugging away.


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