Most of the older Slasher films worth watching have, by and large, been identified. Most everyone knows Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and A Nightmare on Elm Street are all must-sees. But when it comes to modern Slasher films, the list isn’t quite as clear.
There’re crap-tons of Slashers out there and many, many of them are complete garbage. Anyone with a digital camcorder and a few pints of fake blood now thinks they should make a Slasher just because they can. So that’s bad, and makes finding the good modern Slashers that much harder.
The good thing is that we here in North America now have access to foreign markets and the great films they’ve produced. Here’s a list not just of modern Slashers worth seeing, but modern Slashers made in and from countries outside of the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
Just as Under Siege was Die Hard on a boat, Harpoon (2009) is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a boat. That’s a good thing, by the way. No, it isn’t as good as Chainsaw, just as Under Siege isn’t as good as Die Hard (what is?), but I think we can agree Under Siege is pretty damn great in its own right, and the same is true of Harpoon.
The film was shot in and around Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, but most of the action takes place on a derelict whaler. The strength of the film is both in the way it slowly builds tension, and on a group of well-developed characters. It also features one of the more interesting Final Girls in Slasher cinema history.
If Harpoon is Texas Chainsaw on a boat, Macabre (2009) is Texas Chainsaw in an Indonesian mansion. The film is about a group of young people trapped in a crazy, cannibalistic family’s home, but whereas the Sawyers were a bunch of hillbillies whose appearance seemed to scream “We’re freakin’ nuts,” Dara and her brood seem pretty sophisticated, well-bred, if a tad creepy. In fact, two of Dara’s three kids are downright gorgeous.
Macabre features fantastic kills and gore effects, a perfect blend of suspense and survival horror, and a Final Girl worth rooting for.
Dream Home (2010) is a genuinely unusual—and original—Slasher film. It manages to blend socio-economic commentary and drama with spectacularly violent kills.
It uses a non-linear narrative, jumping from the present, during which our heroine/killer cuts a bloody, gory swath through the residents of two apartments, to flashbacks telling the young woman’s story, starting with her childhood.
Some might be a tad turned off by the prospect of having to sit through dramatic sequences outlining the hardships of the housing market in Hong Kong, but trust me when I say any lasher fan will be more than satisfied with the kills on display here.
On its face, Cold Prey (2006) is a typical Slasher film. A group of friends snowboarding in the mountains are forced to seek shelter in an abandoned hotel when one of their number is injured. Of course, the hotel isn’t quite as abandoned as they had thought.
But Cold Prey does typical Slasher better than most modern English language Slashers. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it shows you just how goddamn well it can make that baby spin.
Cold Prey also features one of my favorite Final Girls. Jannicke, played by Ingrid Bolso Berdal, is the closest thing to our own Ripley.
Oh, and Cold Prey 2 (2008) is just as good. As I describe it in my review, Cold Prey 2 is the Halloween 2 remake we should’ve gotten.
All of the above films are available in North America on DVD. Find them, buy them, watch them. Then let us know what you thought.