A slew of horror movies was released in 2021, with a significant return in iconic franchises such as Candyman, Halloween Kills, Conjuring 3, A Quiet Place 2; the list goes on and on. With 2021 being such a great year with remakes and continuations of fan favorites coming to fruition, other less-known horror movies seem to have gotten the lower hand.
Although not as popular, a significant amount of horror movies were released this year but didn’t see the limelight like others. With so many talented directors, producers, actors, writers, etc. in the world, it sometimes is difficult to see everything. While these underappreciated horror movies from 2021 may not have blown up the box office, they are nonetheless worth a watch.
Lee Haven Jones’ (The Long Call) feature debut The Feast is a Welsh fantasy horror film that is creepy, eerie, sickly, and gruesome: everything one could want from a horror movie. A wealthy family in the Welsh mountains hosts a dinner party and invites just two guests: a businessman and a farmer, hoping to lock in a business deal. When a mysterious and unnaturally quiet server (Annes Elwy) shows up as their waitress, she slowly but surely wholly alters the family’s lives forever.
The film is visually striking, but the stomach-churning body horror scenes really make the film what it is: a beautifully dreary slow burn folk horror film. Cinematographer Bjørn Ståle Bratberg creates a spine-chilling atmosphere right away with the isolated mansion, beautiful elongated countryside shots, and heavenly scenery, juxtaposed to the unsettling tone of the inside of the house: eerily empty hallways and bearing walls. There’s not a lot of dialogue, but this doesn’t take away from the plot; it actually adds to the creepy tone of the film. Haunting and mysterious, The Feast creates a foreboding atmosphere from the very opening. The anxiety-ridden feeling never strays, with the last shot of the film really bringing everything together. The Feast is the perfect mix of chilling, terrifying, and even being quite beautiful.
The 8th Night
With Korean cinema and television like Parasite and Squid Game being so popular in America, it’s surprising that the Netflix original The 8th Night didn’t get the same recognition. This enthralling horror film was released in July 2021. First-time director Kim Tae-Hyung marks his own personal stamp in this movie, which is incredibly thrilling and mystery-filled. The 8th Night’s premise might seem a little confusing, but once the introduction happens, it gets fascinating.
The film opens up describing a monster who, 1,000 years prior, possessed humans and thus created eternal suffering. Multiple centuries later, Professor Kim Joon-Cheol (Choi Jin-ho) claims that he will hunt down the spirit to prove that the myth is true, thus awakening the monster. Banished monk and construction workers Chung-Seok (Nam Da-reum) and Park Jin-soo (Lee Sung-min) must now work together to try to stop the monster from destroying the world.
The 8th Night does a remarkable job with captivating a mysterious tone, consistently uncomfortable imagery, and disorienting camerawork. Although a little hard to follow at times, the CGI, astounding acting, and thrilled-filled action make The 8th Night extremely fascinating. Also, that creepy smiling girl will send shivers down anyone's spine.
This French 2021 horror/sci-fi film definitely deserved more light brought upon it. Although a simple premise that has been used before, director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes/Crawl) creates a fresh take. Oxygen is about a woman named Elizabeth (Mélanie Laurent) who awakes in a cryogenic chamber with no memory of who she is or how she got there. All she has is an automated voice named Milo (Medical Interface Liaison Officer) who refuses to open the chamber without the code, which she does not have. The entire film takes place in the chamber, and Elizabeth must uncover her life and memories with the assistance of Milo by looking up pictures, videos, and articles, in which she discovers she is a cryogenic doctor. So, is she responsible for getting herself in the chamber? Watch and find out, as this film has so many twists and turns, it’ll be impossible to turn your head away.
Filmed in July 2020, Oxygen is also the ultimate COVID film. When interviewed for nightmarishconjurings.com, director Aja said what he wants audiences to take away from the film: “I wanted to craft a real intense journey for the audience. Something that will start with a feeling of claustrophobia that will end up with, hopefully, the hope of a better tomorrow. It’s a movie about life, life after death, a movie about a lot of different things. It’s a really intense thriller, but it’s also how sci-fi is supposed to be.”
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
There is nothing more terrifying than being trapped somewhere with nowhere to go. Those who love the trapped and survival movies won’t get enough of Escape Room: Tournament of Champions. The Adam Robitel directed film is about six people who unwillingly find themselves trapped in multiple escape rooms. The group must work together to break out of the rooms, and they learn a lot about themselves at the same time. As the film continues, more and more surprises are thrown at the viewer: the group learns that they’ve all played this game before.
The film is a sequel to the 2016 film Escape Room, with original cast members Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, and Taylor Russell reprising their roles. A mix of horror and comedy, Escape Room feels like Hunger Games on steroids. It’s one of those horror franchises that is cheesy but endearing at the same time.
This horror hit put a brilliant new spin on a decades old story, and it did so in a way other filmmakers could learn from, in production and in plot.