In the international film market, horror has been seen as a niche genre, generating cult followers with few titles enjoying global success. And yet, in 2022, horror titles make up almost a fifth of the Top 100 most in-demand movies in the US alone, a testimony to the market’s now gargantuan size.
And with supernatural horror, Nanny (2022), being the first from the genre to win the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, it’s no longer a secret that critics at the pantheons of the film industry have also been warming up to the genre, something that was instilled when Get Out (2017) won the Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay in 2018.
Hence, like any other budding industry with big names and big players, the horror film industry also has its own crop of exciting new names that have received worldwide releases. Budding directors with a prowess in all things weird, uncanny, and most important of all, spooky, whose next features are certainly worth waiting for.
Huesera (2023) dir. Michelle Garza Cervera
Winning the Nora Ephron Award at the Tribeca Film Festival, Michelle Garza Cervera’s directorial debut hits hard. Without giving too much away, the film follows Valeria (Natalia Solián) in her pregnancy blues, when out of nowhere she is haunted by the Huesera, or bone woman, an evil spirit out to get in between her and her unborn child. The piece is beautiful and allegorical, with tastefully crafted scares that’ll leave you looking over your shoulder the next time you feel someone’s watching you at home. Do give it a watch if you’re a fan of horror films that are also critical masterpieces.
Tin and Tina (2023) dir. Rubin Stein
Though not his first rodeo, Tin and Tina is Rubin Stein’s first Netflix global release feature. It stood tall at #2 on the Worldwide Netflix list, accumulating more than 40 million views in its first weeks in June. Shot in Sevilla, Spain, the film follows two uncanny twins, raised in a strict Catholic orphanage where they then learn to interpret the Bible in a literal sense, paving the way for some downright terrifying occurrences presented with the charming-childlike glee of Amélie (2001). Giving you anxiety while you ponder its critique of religion.
Deadstream (2022) dir. Joseph and Vanessa Winter
Winner of the People’s Choice Award in Sitges 2022, the directorial debut of the husband and wife duo, Joseph and Vanessa Winter is a delightful fast-paced horror comedy flick. Laced with social commentary on the internet celebrity crowd, the film keeps you on the edge of your seat, confused about whether you should laugh at, feel dread, or pity for its lone main character. Plus features very gush-worthy SFX creatures! A fun to watch with friends and family.
Winner of the 2021 Best Horror Film & Best Director Award at Fantastic Fest, Rob Jabbaz’s directorial debut brings his own fresh twist on zombie pandemic horror. Unlike its predecessors, Jabbaz’s zombies are somewhat lucid, his virus brings out the worst of what’s already in them. These qualities they had as human beings, but on steroids, create a mob of lustful, sinful, prideful beings that are out to enact every single impulse they have. It is a thrilling viewing experience for those who are in horror for the blood and guts of it all.
Piggy (2023) dir. Carlota Pereda
Winner of the Best New Director at the 2022 Goya Awards and nominated for the Best First Feature at the Chainsaw Awards, Piggy, otherwise known as Cerdita (2023) is director and screenwriter Carlota Pereda’s glorious debut. She spoke about the feature as a thesis of her own teenage hood and how coming of age is a twisted, scary, experience and it achieves that beautifully. It’s a bit of a slow burn at times, but worth it if you’re a fan of either slasher horror or coming-of-age films.
Umma (2022) dir. Iris Shim
Starring Sandra Oh, I have to admit that Umma (2022) is an odd one out of this list. It did not headline at festivals, but it did gross 2.3 million USD at the box office. And, for a movie centred around the experience of a first-generation Korean immigrant in the USA, made by an American-born Korean, Umma (2023) does an amazing job of delivering just how terrifying the experience can be. The film has been criticized for its lack of scares, but I believe there’s just enough of it there to contextualize its social critique content. Making Iris Shim an exciting filmmaker to look out for in the global horror film industry.