5. It Stains The Sands Red; Dir: Colin Minihan, 2017.

Personally, I felt that the Zombie genre had truly been done to death but there are always exceptions and, It Stains The Sands Red is one of them.

Director and screenwriting team Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz spin a fresh angle on a decaying genre placing a focus on female resilience amidst a chaotic, male-driven world.

Brittany Allen stars as Molly: a drug-addled Exotic Dancer fleeing a levelled Las Vegas as a new Virus plagues the world with Zombies.
Mad Maxian bandits, gang members and general bad dudes pillage the lawless desert terrain.

Allen holds the bare bones story together as a woman wronged and at her wits end while enduring some of the most harrowing shit a human body can suffer… all while being stalked at a close pace by a Zombie seemingly fixated on her.

Almost the entirety of the film is shot in stark daylight featuring some nice desert colour schemes which serve to make the gore and violence pop.

Allen brings humour and empathy to a physically demanding role which other actors may fail to convey: her childlike air demands empathy while physically, she is a machine from which you cannot tear your eyes away.

It Stains The Sands Red cements Brittany Allen as a strong new talent in the Horror/ Thriller genre; a badass chameleon whom you may not recognise in another mind-blowing Horror role as Jules in What Keeps You Alive (2018).

This film will surprise you: equal parts funny, jarring and beautifully shot with an underlying emotional element that I guarantee will rip your heart out by the finale.

4. The Devil’s Candy; Dir: Sean Byrne, 2017.

From the Australian tension-peddler who brought us The Loved Ones, Sean Byrne hammers us with yet another Indie gem from out of leftfield.

The Devil’s Candy centres on a young Metalhead family who are the new homeowners of a reportedly haunted house.
Pruitt Taylor Vince plays the deeply troubled, possibly dangerous previous tenant Ray who cannot help but return to old Traumas within his childhood home, guided by unseen forces.
Jesse is the cliched tortured artist who sells out and turns to commercial art in order to provide for his wife and child.

Yet, Jesse appears to sell more than merely his art when dark forces align just as success comes beckoning from a shadowy gallery owner.

The success of this film’s tension rests upon the shoulders of both Pruitt Taylor Vince (Ray) and Kiara Glasco who plays teen daughter Zooey.

The genre veteran and young actress play off each other in a stomach-wrenching cat & mouse dynamic, cementing this as one of the tensest films you’re likely to find on Shudder.
The tropes of Satanic Panic, Metal music and mental illness are used effectively in a film which subverts expectations placing a greater focus on how infatuation can lead us down dark corridors.

The Devil’s Candy may not be the most unique Horror film out there but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in pant-wetting tension.

You don’t have to sell your soul to watch this dark Thriller: it’s available now on Shudder UK.

3. Host; Dir: Rob Savage, 2020.

This unsettling British Pandemic Horror surprised everyone during the height of last year’s UK Lockdowns.

Starring a cast of almost entirely female actors using their own names, (the exception being Edward Linard as Teddy) Host centres around an online Séance via a Zoom meeting.
The ingenuity of Host is it’s ability to mock it’s own ideas relating to the Paranormal and Demonic, exposing how readily we are to believe in the unexplained.

The main characters are likeable, believable and eerily representative of how different people reacted to being placed under house arrest as part of the 2020 Pandemic.
Clocking in at just 57 minutes in length, Host opens with a humorous slow burn angle before building up the tension to hysterical heights (cleverly mirroring the internet’s reaction to the global Covid 19 outbreak).
I watch a lot of Extreme/ Satanic/ Exploitation movies and I’m rarely scared nevertheless, this film genuinely had me glancing over my shoulder throughout.

A clever trick which the film utilises is how it is shot: Host opens with individual characters joining a shared Zoom call and features split screen vantage points complete with login details, pop up windows and notifications which serve to immerse you in the storyline.
The running time also echoes the average length of a real Zoom call and features enough shocks, scares and fleetingly frightening images to shake even the most apathetic Horror fan.

Enjoy by candlelight with a watch party or, alone while wearing headphones to get the most out of this haunted footage film for the Zoom generation.

2. Revenge; Dir: Coralie Fargeat.(2018)

The aptly titled French/ Belgium Retribution Thriller is another Shudder exclusive which deserves higher ratings than it currently receives.

The film gives a modern Feminist flavour to the 70’s style Revenge/ Exploitation Thrillers only this time round, much of the gut-wrenching Horror is inflicted by a petite, beautiful female.

Revenge is the story of Jen: a woman assaulted, brutalised and left for dead at the hands of three wealthy Playboys in the heart of the desert.

Matilda Lutz gives a powerhouse performance as Jen who switches from manicured Socialite to blood-soaked Feral killer with breathtaking ease.

This is the classic story of a woman wronged with added social commentary which will make you question how society iconizes women while dehumanizing them.

The film is also stunningly shot: you can pause any scene and find an iconic movie poster.
Neon hues and uniform colour schemes of pink and blue cleverly depict the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine.

The cinematography is ablaze with startling colours while utilizing lens filters to dizzying effect and the location set pieces are modern and mesmerizing.

The gore is hyper-realistic and the garish crimsons saturate the golden desert hues.
Revenge effortlessly marries Exploitation with Arthouse imagery featuring an unrelenting lead performance whose wrath will leave you recoiling while cheering.

1. Anything For Jackson; Dir: Justine G. Dyck, 2020.

This reverse-Possession movie has an entertaining, campy start which readily escalates into hellish nightmare territory.

Anything For Jackson revolves around bereaved elderly couple Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry (Julian Richings) who kidnap a pregnant woman in order to fulfill a dark Ritual.

The sweet old couple undertake horrific acts with such detachment that you cannot help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation playing out before your eyes.

This is a storyline which weirdly, has you rooting for both the Antagonists and Protagonists with both parties circumventing their own personal Traumas.

As plot twists are revealed, the story takes on a steadily darker tone interjecting tongue in cheek scenes with skin-crawling visuals which are both unique and frightening.

While other movies which allude to the Antichrist and his workings tend to give more subtle glimpses of Hell, Anything For Jackson climbs to a ghastly crescendo, showcasing scenes usually reserved for our darkest nightmares.

Equal parts haunted house movie, ritualistic Thriller and Trauma-driven Drama, Anything For Jackson spins it’s own unique, Satanic take on the Grimm Fairytale trope: warning to be careful what you wish for.