Some surprisingly good low budget horrors

FEBRUARY 16 — The greatest success story when it comes to “low budget — highest grossing” horror films is of course The Blair Witch Project. 

With an estimated budget of US$60,000 (RM233,622), it grossed US$140,000,000 (2,300 times the budget!). Not even giant productions like Sinister or Conjuring achieved that kind of ratios! 

That just goes to show you — you don’t need huge budgets. All you need is a great idea and a great way to execute it.

Of course, not every low budget film can be a Blair Witch Project. Even the Blair Witch Project franchise could not replicate the success of the film. 

Blair Witch 2 which came out a year later was not horrible but it was not the same. Fifteen years later, Blair Witch came out and again, the moment had passed. It simply fell short of the mark although, if you ask me, it was not a bad film at all. 

So I was very pleased some weeks ago when I found three very decent horror films. All of these surprisingly flew under my radar (I’m a horror movie buff, can’t you tell?) but thanks to the magic of the internet, word got around that these films were decent. And they were. 

The Devil’s Candy is a story about a family of three who moved into this haunted house with a history. Not very original, I hear you say. Correct. Not very original but the treatment of the principal characters was what helped the film shine. 

The father is a failed musician of the metal genre and so the element of demonology is not alien to him at all. The daughter is trying her best to get into the parents’ culture but has reservations. 

Added to this is the element of the disturbed killer (no spoilers, don’t worry). The killer murdered his own parents in the house and keeps hearing voices telling him to repeat the act with our protagonists. 

What really kept me on the edge of my seat was the guessing game. Was the killer actually hearing voices or was it his imagination?. 

Similarly, with the father, he is painting a scary mural on his garage wall. Is he possessed or simply inspired to produce great art? Whatever the outcome, I must say that The Devil’s Candy gave a very satisfying ending and that isn’t very common. 

Our second film is Demonic. It has elements of the “found footage”genre but was mostly about a recollective tale. 

Six young people go to explore an old house in the middle of nowhere in order to find the possible evil spirit who caused its owner to commit a series of grisly murders a quarter of a century before. 

Again, not an original premise but again, it was the delivery which made it a good film. The character development of the main protagonists (including a mild love triangle) really helped cement the audience’s connection (at least, for me). 

Maria Bello, the once A list actress who has since disappeared after failed sequel, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, lent her star power to this film too. 

Perhaps the best of the three films I have to recommend is The Canal. A truly dark, desolate film set in Ireland, it is about a family who moves into a house (yes, again!) with a history. 

This time, a father murdered his family and the new family’s father is also getting disturbed. It does not help that his wife disappears and he eventually becomes a prime suspect. 

His little boy, who does seem sweet and creepy at the same time, also adds mystery to the film. The Canal really knows how to manipulate the audience!

* This is the personal opinion of  the columnist.