So, you’ve seen Poltergeist, The Ring and Insidious? You’ve quaked in your boots over The Exorcist, and you’ve shrieked your way through Paranormal Activity One, Two and Three. You’ll always think that The Sixth Sense and Ju-On are two of the scariest films in existence, but it’s time for something new. Here are four little known, and vastly underrated, ghostly gems. Watch them alone at your peril – you have been warned.
A this point, Guillermo Del Toro is more famous for the monstrously silly Pacific Rim, than he is for any of his earlier offerings. It’s a shame, because The Orphanage is a master class in quiet suspense. It’s a truly unique sting-in-the-tale fable from Del Toro and first time filmmaker J A Bayona. Together, they create something more than a ghost story – The Orphanage is both lyrical and haunting. It does have its fair share of jump scares and even a little bit of gore, but that’s not why this film is so eerie. As The Orphanage reaches its climax, you’re forced to acknowledge the fact that, sometimes, real life is far scarier than the afterlife.
Some people have heard of The Others, but a lot of people seem to have missed it altogether. It’s one of those films that it’s so easy to dismiss – it’s got a 12A rating, how frightening can it be? Well, the answer happens to be overwhelmingly so. It’s the story an isolated family, haunted by restless spirits. Yet, it is never what you think it is. As a viewer, you are always on the back foot – you are one step behind at all times. The two young leads in The Others play a brother and sister who suffer from a severe sensitivity to sunlight. This simple plot device ensures that the entire film is dark, pervasive and increasingly claustrophobic.
A Tale Of Two Sisters
This beautifully told tale of two grieving sisters is another paranormal fable that is sure to leave you breathless. Once again, it is not the jump scares or the gore that really define this film – it’s the use of lighting, texture and atmosphere. It’s a visually rich film, as most Asian horror flicks tend to be. It was written and directed by Kim Ji-Woon, and it follows the misfortunes of two sisters who have just lost their mother. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that things aren’t what they seem. Could the girl’s dead mother be trying to protect them from a sadistic step parent? Or is the ghostly apparition in their house something altogether more sinister?
Joel Anderson’s supernatural tale of a missing teenage girl is deeply moving in ways that you just can’t predict. It is by no means a traditional horror film – it is slow, measured and incredibly subtle. With the use of ‘found film’ footage, this little known Australian gem weaves a profound and tragic tale of loss and redemption. Like all great ghost films, you’re never entirely sure what it is you are watching. In the case of Lake Mungo, the story itself is so affecting that you quickly forget the ghosts and ghouls that you initially expected. This only makes them even more chilling when they finally do appear. Lake Mungo is in the process of a US remake – please, watch the original before it happens.