On January 27th, Brandon Cronenberg's Infinity Pool will writhe from Sundance's Midnight section to a theater near you. Starring Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth, Infinity Pool follows a couple, James And Em (Cleopatra Coleman), on vacation at a wealthy resort. However, a freak accident after a night away from their resort forces James to make a choice: be killed or watch himself be killed. Early reviews confirm that the film is even more unsettling than Cronenberg's equally bonkers previous film, Possessor.
Canadian horror films and their directors are a supremely underappreciated slice of tourtière. When "foreign horror" is mentioned in the West, images of Ringu and Train to Busan are likely conjured. And rightfully so! South Korea and Japan have given us some of the scariest horror films of the last few decades. But Canadian filmmakers have been delivering just as many scares with fewer subtitles. From underrated 80s slashers to more recent experimental fare, here are some of the most frightening offerings from The Great White North.
9 My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Harry Warden was left to die after a mining accident because his supervisors left to go to the Valentine's Day dance. Harry, after committing a lot of murder, warns the town never to hold the dance again, but because no one ever heeds warnings in horror films, the dance is reinstated twenty years later. Bodies and broken hearts predictably pile up.
A favorite of Quentin Tarantino, My Bloody Valentine was unfortunately buried beneath the popularity of other franchises like Halloween and Friday the 13th. That does not mean that it is not worth your time. Make sure you and your loved one add this to your Valentine's Day watch list for some of the wildest kills of the 80s and an antagonist that could give Micheal and Jason a run for their money.
8 Skinamarink (2022)
Skinamarink is an experimental, microbudget horror film about a brother and sister waking in the night to find their father missing and their house changing around them. In a release reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, the film has proven to be divisive among critics and fans, with some praising its inventive premise and others condemning the lack of narrative structure.
Skinamarink took social media by storm in late 2022 after screeners were leaked from its festival run. Execution aside, Ball skillfully emulates the dread most of us felt trying to make it from our room to our parents' room in the middle of the night. Shadows become monsters, lamps become intruders, and the distance between the two points has never seemed longer.
7 Rituals (1977)
Starring Mark Twain himself, Hal Holbrook, Rituals is the story of five doctors on a backpacking trip in Ontario. Things don't go as planned as their boots are stolen on the first night, followed by a staged deer carcass outside the camp. Is this the work of a monster, or are the men being punished for their past sins?
Rituals has a surprising amount of emotional depth despite being branded as a Deliverance rip-off by some critics. It's an examination of masculinity, the disrespect of unfamiliar environments, and unchecked hubris. The men slowly reveal their deepest flaws and regrets to the audience as the unseen enemy grinds them down to their breaking point. Carter utilizes voyeuristic camera work to relentlessly build suspense until the shocking finale.
6 The Fly (1986)
Brilliant but eccentric scientist Seth Brundle thinks he is on the verge of being able to teleport organic matter with the aid of journalist Veronica Quaife. As the experiment's goals grow closer to fruition, so do Seth and Veronica. But one evening, after a fight, Seth decides to test his equipment on himself with disastrous consequences.
As one of the most accomplished horror filmmakers of the modern era, any David Cronenberg film could be included here. However, The Fly is now considered one of the most influential horror films ever. Featuring one of Jeff Goldblum's best career performances and heaps of some of Cronenberg's nastiest body horror, The Fly set the standard for body horror and practical effects for years to come. Do not watch this on a full stomach. You've been warned.
Speaking of Cronenberg, David's son, Brandon, directed this psychological thrill ride about assassins that "possess" other people's bodies to get close to their targets. Possessor was lauded upon release for its premise and acting, winning numerous awards on the festival circuit.
Of course, there are buckets of blood and plenty of bone-crunching body horror, but Andrea Riseborough shines as one of the titular possessors. Despite lying on a table for most of her on-screen time, Riseborough is masterful, portraying the weight of her work in her demeanor and her inability to connect with her family after hours spent in someone else's head.
4 Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)
A young woman named Elena possesses extrasensory perception and is held against her will at the Arboria Institute. The Institute is dedicated to bridging the gap between spirituality and science and is currently run by the sadistic Dr. Nyle. But is he a genius, or is he just plain evil?
Few filmmakers today can portray the feeling of being on psychedelics likeCosmatos. The lo-fi blue and red neon drips from every frame as Beyond the Black Rainbow proceeds slowly and deliberately. That may not excite fans that only know Cosmatos from the high-octane Mandy, but rest assured: this acid trip is worth taking.
3 Blood Quantum (2019)
Directed by the late Jeff Barnaby, Blood Quantum follows a group of First Nation people after a devastating zombie apocalypse. While they are immune, thanks to their heritage, white people are not. They hunker down and fortify the reservation as the rest of the world crumbles around them.
This film, which takes its name from a collection of laws meant to determine the percentage of "indigenous" in a person's blood, is unashamedly a commentary on colonialism. Thankfully, this doesn't come off as heavy-handed under Barnaby's direction. With plenty of zombie violence to satisfy genre fans and enough underlying themes to satisfy more cerebral fans, Blood Quantum stands out in an increasingly saturated zombie subgenre.
2 The Void (2016)
In this criminally underseen 2015 Lovecraftian horror, The Void, a group of people finds themselves trapped in a hospital as a faceless cult closes in around them. Their nightmare becomes increasingly monstrous as a horn blows from the forest darkness, and the cult's true intentions become clear.
Lovecraftian horror is predicated on the idea that there are things in this universe that are so old and so horrible that they are incomprehensible to the human mind and thus indescribable. However, when Lovecraft did describe his creatures, one thing was clear: they are terrifying and likely have a lot of tentacles. The Void's use of practical effects creates some of the slimiest, most tentacled eldritch abominations to stalk the screen since John Carpenter's The Thing.
1 Enemy (2013)
Adam Bell is an unassuming college professor who, upon watching a video rental one night, discovers that there is an actor that looks identical to him. Adam becomes obsessed with the man, Anthony Claire, and decides to track him down and find out who he is.
Jake Gyllenhaal is hypnotic in dual roles as both Adam and Anthony. Also, as Villeneuve has stated, one theme of Enemy is repetition, monotony, and those doomed to repeat their mistakes. His choice to use shots of the city's endless concrete and nondescript buildings reinforces that idea. Villeneuve has gone on to direct some of the most essential and well-known science fiction films of our day, such as Dune: Part I and Blade Runner 2049.
READ NEXT: Best Canadian TV Shows Finding Audiences Outside of Canada