The haunting medical facility from Cemetery of Splendor

5 Underseen Indie Horror Movies: Arthouse Edition

Welcome to Underseen Indie Horror Movies, an ongoing column that celebrates the hidden corners of spooky cinema. This edition will focus on arthouse horror.

Though at first they seem vastly different, the arthouse film and the horror movie have a few key things in common: they are fringe genres that don’t always appeal to the mainstream; they frequently lean on stunning visuals and mood over plot-heavy narratives; and most of all, they find success because of their originality and willingness to be daring over their reliance on big stars and gimmicks. 

And when they work together, those two genres lead to some of the most interesting movies. Here is our 5 Underseen Indie Horror Movies: Arthouse Edition!

Daylight (2010)

Director David Barker takes the simplest of plots, about a small group of criminals taking a pregnant woman and her husband hostage, and turns it into a moving study on violence and spirituality.

The film is stunningly shot, a quiet but tense rumination on the dark heart of America. The movie smartly avoids the standard plot points of the hostage thriller, instead showing patience and compassion while digging into the psyches of both the captured and the captors.

Darkness on the Edge of Town (2014)

A beautiful and stark revenge film, Darkness on the Edge of Town follows the aftermath of a young woman murdered in a public bathroom in a small Irish town. 

Her surviving younger sister, a sharpshooter, resorts to a disturbing solution to find the responsible person and hold them accountable. Keep an eye out for Brian Gleeson, brother of Domhnall and son of Brendan Gleeson.

Borgman (2013)

When a haggard man is chased out of his unusual underground dwelling, he seeks help from a nearby family due to his unkempt appearance. After cleaning up and looking presentable, he returns to the upper-class home and insinuates himself into their lives, slowly unravelling the family with dreams, manipulation, and even some unconventional surgery. 

The movie is darkly comical in the vein of Yorgos Lanthimos films, and every time you think it can’t get weirder, it most definitely does.

Cemetery of Splendor (2015)

One of the most gorgeously shot films on this list, Cemetery of Splendor plays with tropes both historical and fantastical, mixing them to fantastic effect. The story revolves around a woman who volunteers to care for a soldier with a mysterious sleeping sickness. 

The disease causes vivid dreams and hallucinations, and she seeks the help of a psychic to learn more about the history of the ground where the clinic is built and how it’s connected to the strange disorder.

Fear X (2003)

Before Nicolas Winding Refn was a popular household name from his work in Drive and Only God Forgives, back when he was known only for his original Pusher films, he came to America and made Fear X, a paranoid thriller starring John Turturro that was a failure on its initial release. 

Years later, it’s a stunning vision of his future brilliance, an eerily quiet paranoid thriller about a man so obsessed with his wife’s disappearance that his own life and safety come second to uncovering the shocking truth about what happened to her. Turturro is amazing, Refn’s direction is powerful, and the script from Refn and Hubert Selby, Jr. is unconventional and emotionally powerful.

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