5 Must-See Meta Horror Films You Might Have Missed
What’s a final girl? A look into Meta-Horror
How many times have you watched a horror film and despite all your warnings the character runs upstairs instead of outside? It seems like despite being in a horror film, these people have never seen a horror film in their life. That’s where meta-horror comes in.
In this universe horror films are real, sometimes literally. You see, horror fans are not content with just watching horror films. We want a horror movie inside of a horror movie that’s watching its own horror movie. Meta-horror is the Russian nesting dolls of the movie world. Creating layers upon layers of references for fans to dig through.
Not only that, but they also explain the rules of the genre for newcomers. Scream and Cabin in the Woods are the most loved movies in this sub-genre. They are both amazing films, but that’s not what we are here to talk about today. It is my job to find some films you may have missed. So, get your notebooks out, there will be a test after this one.
You Might Be the Killer
Have you ever sat down with friends and talked about life’s really important questions? How do we solve world hunger? What is the meaning of life? Most importantly, what makes a film a slasher? The latter is the discussion famed authors Chuck Wendig (The Book of Accidents) and Sam Sykes (Aeons’ Gate) had on twitter in 2017. This conversation laid the groundwork for one of the campiest meta films to ever see the light of day.
This gem of a film doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Starring the magnificent Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Woods) and Alyson Hannigan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). You Might be the Killer gives us a look into the comedic aspects of the slasher genre. This film knows who its audience is, and it plays the part wonderfully. If you want an 80’s slasher, without some of the more problematic things that go along with 80’s slashers, then check out You Might be the Killer.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Do you have questions about the practical aspects of the slasher genre? Like how is the killer always right behind the final girl? Why does the power always go out in the abandoned farmhouse, or why does it even have power to begin with? These are the hard-hitting questions that Behind the Mask set out to answer.
Nathan Baesel (20 Years After) gives us a peak behind the curtain in his role of Leslie Vernon. This film is a perfect example of how the mockumentary format should be used. It blends equal parts comedy and realism, creating an unsettling feeling throughout its runtime. If you ever wanted to know how slashers feel about their legacy, check out Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.
The Final Girls
The Final Girls is a film exploring the concept of final girls. It doesn’t get much more meta than that. The term love letter to the genre gets thrown around a lot these days, but I truly believe that it holds true for this film. Starring Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story) and Adam Devine (Workaholics), The Final Girls shows us that slasher films can have heart.
This film plays out like someone spilled a bag of “Oops, all 80’s tropes” all over the production set, and the results couldn’t have been better. This film gives us everything we love and hate from the genre. It doesn’t shy away from depicting the problematic views of the time, while embracing the cheese and gore that we still love today. If you want some guilt free camp in your slasher film, check out The Final Girls.
Scare Package is horror made by horror nerds for even bigger horror nerds. This is a meta horror anthology set inside of a horror V/H/S store, set inside of a horror movie. What more could a horror fan possibly ask for? Not only does it have every trope known to genre fans, but it also features the divine visage that is Joe Bob Briggs (The Last Drive-In).
This film may not have a cohesive plot, amazing effects, or even great dialog. It does have one thing that makes it stand out above all of the other films on this list. It stars Joe Bob Briggs playing Joe Bob Briggs in a movie about a movie. If that doesn’t sell you on the film, then I don’t know what will. If you leave this movie craving more, as I did, then luckily for us all Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge was released in December of 2022.
Funny Games is unlike every other film on this list. It isn’t funny, campy, or pleasant by any means. I am not even sure what genre this fits into. Is there a sub-genre for soul crushing bleakness? Director Michael Haneke (Happy End) is not content with a simple wink at the audience like most meta directors. He chooses instead to look you in the eyes as he tortures his creations, reminding you along the way that this is what you asked for.
Meta-horror is designed to make viewers feel like they are in on the joke, Funny Games makes you feel like an accomplice to a murder. If one life altering event per evening isn’t enough for you, there are two versions of this film. Fans are divided over whether the 1997 Austrian version or the 2007 English Remake are more traumatizing. For those masochists out there, I recommend watching them back-to-back. If you are looking for a film so depraved that you will feel dirty after, then check out Funny games.
5 New Horror Movies You Can Stream Starting This Week
I am old enough to remember when after a new horror movie’s theatrical release, you would have to wait six months before you could find it at the local video store. That’s if they even released in the area where you lived.
Some movies were viewed once and lost into the void forever. They were very dark times. Fortunately for us, streaming services have cut that wait down to a fraction of the time. This week we have some big hitters coming to VOD, so let’s jump right in.
* An update has been made to this article. The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster will be released in theaters June 9th and will be released on digital on demand services June 23rd.
Hollywood Dreams and Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story
Ok, so this isn’t technically a horror movie, it’s a documentary. That said, it should still be on all horror fan’s watch list this week. This documentary is about one of horror’s largest icons. The man who haunts all of our dreams, Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street).
Not only is the source material amazing, but we have two great co-directors heading this endeavor. Gary Smart (Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser) and Christopher Griffiths (Pennywise: The Story of It) have made a name for themselves in the horror community for providing in-depth analysis of some of the greatest horror films ever made.
Hollywood Dreams and Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story will be streaming via Screambox on June 6th. If you want to know more about this documentary before watching it, check out our interview with Gary Smart and Christopher Griffiths here.
Nicolas Cage (The Wicker Man) is really hard to put a label on. He has been in so many terrific films, while also ruining one of the greatest folk horror films ever made. For better or worse, his over-the-top acting has placed him in a special place in the hearts of many.
In this iteration of Dracula, he is joined by Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies), and Awkwafina (The Little Mermaid). Renfield looks to be a more lighthearted take on the classic Bram Stoker tale. We can only hope that the awkward lovable style of Hoult mingles well with the zaniness that Cage is known for. Renfield will be streaming on Peacock June 9th.
Tony Todd (Candy Man) is one of horror’s greatest living icons. The man has a way of making evil sexy in an unmatched way. Joining Tony in this period piece is the marvelous Sheri Davis (The Amityville Moon).
This one feels fairly cut and dry. We get some old-timey racism which leads to a curse that haunts the land to this day. Mix in some voodoo for good measure and we have ourselves a horror movie. If you want an older feel to your new horror movie, this one’s for you. Devilreaux will be released to video on demand services on June 9th.
If you aren’t already subscribed to Shudder, now is the time to try out a free trial. That said, all horror fans should still have it on their watch list this week.. But they normally include some of the standout horror films of the year.
Brooklyn 45 looks like it is going to be one of the good ones. Already receiving massive praise before its release, the hype on this one has me excited. Starring Anne Ramsey (The Taking of Deborah Logan), Ron Rains (Teacher), and Jeremy Holm (Mr. Robot). Brooklyn 45 is my most anticipated new horror film this week. Brooklyn 45 will hit shudder June 9th.
She Came from the Woods
Tubi has been playing its hand at making its own horror films for a while now. Up until this point they have been less than stellar. But after seeing the trailer for She Came from the Woods, I have hope that’s all about to change.
This film isn’t giving us anything new, it’s an old camp legend gone awry. But what it is giving us is William Sadler (Tales from the Crypt) right back where he belongs. Fighting ghosts with a shotgun and loving every minute of it. If you are looking for a new horror movie that is easy to digest, this is the one for you. She Came from the Woods will hit Tubi June 10th.
Pride Nightmares: Five Unforgettable Horror Films That Will Haunt You
It’s that wonderful time of year again. A time for pride parades, creating a sense of togetherness, and rainbow flags being sold for a high-profit margin. Regardless of where you stand on the commodification of pride, you have to admit it creates some great media.
That’s where this list comes in. We have seen an explosion of LGTBQ+ horror representation in the past ten years. Not all of them were necessarily gems. But you know what they say, there’s no such thing as bad press.
The Last Thing Mary Saw
It would be difficult to do this list and not have a film with overbearing religious overtones. The Last Thing Mary Saw is a brutal period piece about forbidden love between two young women.
This one is definitely a slow burn, but when it gets going the payoff is well worth it. Performances by Stefanie Scott (Mary), and Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan: First Kill) make this unsettling atmosphere ooze out of the screen and into your home.
The Last Thing Mary Saw is one of my favorite releases in the past few years. Just when you think you have the film figured out it changes direction on you. If you are wanting something with a little more polish on it this pride month, watch The Last Thing Mary Saw.
In what is probably the most accurate depiction of a manic pixie dream girl, May gives us a look into the life of a mentally unwell young woman. We follow her as she attempts to navigate her own sexuality and what she wants out of a partner.
May is a little on the nose with its symbolism. But it does have one thing the other films on this list do not. That is a frat bro style lesbian character played by Anna Faris (Scary Movie). It’s refreshing to see her break the mold of how lesbian relationships are typically depicted in film.
While May didn’t perform very well in the box office it has made its way into cult classic territory. If you are looking for some early 2000s edginess this pride month, go watch May.
What Keeps You Alive
In the past, it was common for lesbians to be portrayed as serial killers because of their sexual deviancy. What Keeps You Alive gives us a lesbian murderer that doesn’t kill because she is gay, she kills because she is a terrible person.
This hidden gem made its rounds in the film festival circuit until its on-demand release in 2018. What Keeps You Alive does its best to rework the cat and mouse formula that we often see in thrillers. I will leave it to you to decide if it worked or not.
What really sells the tension in this film are the performances by Brittany Allen (The Boys), and Hannah Emily Anderson (Jigsaw). If you are planning to go camping during pride month, give What Keeps You Alive a watch first.
Revenge flicks have always had a special place in my heart. From classics like The Last House on The Left to more modern films like Mandy, this sub-genre can provide endless avenues of entertainment.
The Retreat is no exception to this, it provides ample amounts of rage and sadness for its viewers to digest. This may go a little too far for some viewers. So, I will give it a warning for the language used and the hate depicted during its runtime.
That being said, I found it to be an enjoyable, if not a bit of an exploitative film. If you are looking for something to get your blood rushing this pride month, give The Retreat a try.
I am a sucker for indie films that try and take classics in a new direction. Lyle is essentially a modern retelling of Rosemary’s Baby with a few extra steps added for good measure. It manages to keep the heart of the original film while forging its own path along the way.
Films where the audience is left to wonder if the events shown are real or just a delusion brought on by trauma, are some of my favorites. Lyle manages to transfer the pain and paranoia of a grieving mother into the minds of the audience in spectacular fashion.
As with most indie films, it’s the subtle acting that really makes the film stand out. Gaby Hoffmann (Transparent) and Ingrid Jungermann (Queer as Folk) portray a fractured couple trying to move on after a loss. If you are looking for some family dynamics in your pride themed horror, go watch Lyle.
The Five Best Horror Films to Darken Your Memorial Day
Memorial Day is celebrated in a multitude of different ways. Like many other households, I have developed my own tradition for the holiday. It consists mainly of hiding from the sun while watching Nazis getting slaughtered.
I have spoken about the Nazisploitation genre in the past. But don’t worry, there are plenty of these films to go around. So, if you need an excuse to sit in the ac instead of by the beach, give these movies a try.
I have to give Frankenstein’s Army credit for thinking outside of the box. We get Nazi scientists creating zombies all of the time. What we don’t see represented is Nazi scientists creating robot zombies.
Now that might seem like a hat on a hat to some of you. That’s because it is. But that doesn’t make the finished product any less awesome. The second half of this film is an over-the-top mess, in the best way of course.
Deciding to take all of the risks possible, Richard Raaphorst (Infinity Pool) decided to make this a found footage film on top of everything else going on. If you are looking for some popcorn horror for your Memorial Day celebrations, go watch Frankenstein’s Army.
The Devil’s Rock
If the late-night selection of The History Channel is to be believed, the Nazis were up to all kinds of occult research. Instead of going for the low-hanging fruit of Nazi experiments, The Devil’s Rock goes for the slightly higher fruit of Nazis trying to summon demons. And honestly, good for them.
The Devil’s Rock asks a pretty straightforward question. If you put a demon and a Nazi in a room, who do you root for? The answer is the same as it always is, shoot the Nazi, and figure the rest out later.
What really sells this film is its use of practical effects. The gore is a little light in this one, but it is done very well. If you have ever wanted to spend Memorial Day rooting for a demon, go watch The Devil’s Rock.
This one was hard for me to sit through as it touched on an actual phobia of mine. The thought of worms crawling inside of me makes me want to drink some bleach, just in case. I haven’t been this freaked out since I read The Troop by Nick Cutter.
If you can’t tell, I am a sucker for practical effects. This is something that Trench 11 does incredibly well. The way that they make the parasites look so realistic still makes me feel ill.
The plot isn’t anything special, Nazi experiments get out of hand, and everyone is doomed. It is a premise we have seen numerous times, but the execution makes it worth a try. If you are looking for a gross out film to keep you away from those leftover hotdogs this Memorial Day, go watch Trench 11.
Ok so far, we have covered Nazi robot zombies, demons, and worms. For a nice change of pace, Blood Vessel gives us Nazi vampires. Not only that, but soldiers that are trapped on a boat with Nazi vampires.
It is unclear as to whether the vampires are in fact Nazis, or merely working with the Nazis. Either way, it would probably be wise to blow up the ship. If the premise doesn’t sell you, Blood Vessel comes with some star power behind it.
Performances by Nathan Philips (Wolf Creek), Alyssa Sutherland (Evil Dead Rise), and Robert Taylor (The Meg) really sell the paranoia of this film. If you are a fan of the classic lost Nazi gold trope, give Blood Vessel a try.
Ok, we both knew that this is where the list was going to end. You can’t have a Memorial Day Nazisploitation binge without including Overlord. This is the cream of the crop when it comes to films about Nazi experimentation.
Not only does this film have great special effects, but it also features an all-star set of performers. This film stars Jovan Adepo (The Stand), Wyatt Russel (Black Mirror), and Mathilde Ollivier (Mrs. Davis).
Overlord gives us a glimpse into how great this sub-genre can really be. It is a perfect mixture of suspense in action. If you want to see what Nazisploitation looks like when given a blank check, go watch Overlord.