Ok, two things — none of these are "hidden" per se, but I don't think any of them ever got much mainstream attention. Secondly, to be frank, some of us may have to lower our standards slightly to consider some of these movies as "gems", but I think the horror movie industry has done a bang up job of lowering our expectations for years now and all of the movies listed below are way better than hyped-up Hollywood fare like The Conjuring. Even so, some of you out there are easily spooked and this movie selection may prove too much. For others afflicted with the horror obsession, we are forever "chasing the dragon" in that we are compelled to give so many movies a chance, in hopes that we'll discover the one that can bring us back to the good stuff — the same kind of fear that had us staring at the closet, demanding a night light, and creating the most horrific tenant imaginable lurking in the dark underneath the bed.
So here's my list of recommendations, all of which I only found by chance while browsing through Netflix.
Absentia - 2011
The acting, dialog, and production values in this movie straddle somewhere between overly amateurish low budget and just right. It's not full of pretty people, CGI is nowhere to be found (if I remember correctly), and the characters seem to being doing about the same things you and I might do. It's off-putting initially! But the spooks are generated mostly by what they leave up to the imagination and it works.
The Ceremony - 2008
Not too dissimilar to Absentia, this movie also works well because it is minimalist with the effects and keeps the environment and setting in a place we're all most at home with. Gets a little wonky at the end, but the movie is well worth it. Sadly, I just noticed it's no longer on Netflix for streaming and that's a problem, because it's also not available on DVD yet either.
The Corridor - 2010
This movie has some of the brotastic/20-something nonsense/gorefest-in-a-cabin stuff that often turns me off, but the "corridor" is the star here and you will want to know what it's all about.
House Hunting - 2013
Two families go at the same time to check out a house for sale located in the middle of nowhere. This movie may have had a little inspiration from Sartre's No Exit.
The Objective - 2008
CIA? Special forces in Afghanistan? Forgive me if I have some fatigue on anything related to that thanks to current events, but I'm glad I gave this movie a chance. This is more sci-fi + horror. Think mostly Predator with a little bit of Stalker (1979).
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh - 2012
Like The Ceremony, this is about a lone individual in house, dealing with...things. This movie was refreshing simply because it left out so many cliche horror tropes. Some may argue that one of its faults is that it didn't include enough, and I could see that. One thing I appreciated is that the main character had the balls to walk around and not be overly frightened of a particularly creepy house, despite some "struggles". In fact, I'm pretty sure I was more on edge than the main character. Wonder what you think of the ending on this one?
Dead End - 2003
Going way back to 2003 here, but Ray Wise, people. Remember the scene in Fire Walk With Me where Leland and Laura end up screaming in the car while stuck in traffic? This movie will make you think of Ray's panicking character from that scene now and then, except the source of evil is different this time. This movie also has a kind of No Exit dilemma.