To be quite candid, far too many horror studios rely on the outdated sequel model. That is where the indie horror genre has begun to blossom, with films that stray from the established formula and experiment with new ideas.
Whether it’s the slow burn genius of The Lighthouse or the way zombie films are continuously reinvented, indie horror is the place to search for originality. If you’re interested in watching an indie horror favorite or just want to take a chance on something new, here is a selection of 30 of the best indie horror movies in 2021.
1. Get Out (2017)
Chris Washington, a gifted young African-American photographer, is preparing to meet the parents of his Caucasian fiancée, Rose Armitage, during a weekend at their Lake Pontaco home. Chris and Rose have been dating for five months, and the Armitages are entirely ignorant that Chris is black and Rose is white.
However, when Chris meets Rose’s mother, a psychiatrist who specializes in hypnosis, and her father, a neurosurgeon, he quickly discovers that the family is surrounded by black servants in the absolute seclusion of their gorgeous, yet remote, wooded estate.
Gradually, as the pleasant and courteous atmosphere gives way to an indistinct, almost incomprehensible menace, the uncomfortable mood combined with pure fear will disrupt the family’s peaceful façade. What may the Armitages be concealing? And why is there a closed, off-limits room leading to the basement?
2. Green Room (2015)
Pat, a youngster from the Pacific Northwest, is a member of the punk rock band The Ain’t Rights, which performs at a nightclub and drug store. Their attempt at celebrity fails miserably in the face of hate. Unfortunately for them, their tour becomes quite unpleasant as they become witnesses at a crime scene.
Because the infamous club owner, Darcy Banker, is now investigating the event, The Ain’t Rights band together to attempt to leave the club alive and make their way back to Washington, D.C., before Darcy Banker discovers them.
3. Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Elias and Lukas find their mother with her face covered in bandages following surgery and neglecting Lukas in an isolated nice house by the lake. She only communicates with Elias and establishes new rules for her house, requesting stillness, closing the blinds during the day, and playing exclusively outside the house due to her need for relaxation.
She is stern with Elias, and the twins think she is not their mother. They decide that she is not their mother after comparing old photographs to her face and discovering that their house is for sale on the Internet.
They then chain her wrists and legs to the bed and torment her into divulging the whereabouts of their mother. What is the mystery around this woman?
4. Mom And Dad (2017)
The Ryans are your typical dysfunctional suburban family: troubled teen Carly is obsessed with herself, her problems, and her new boyfriend Damon; full-time mom Kendall is desperate that her youthful dreams have been dashed and her relationship with Carly isn’t what it should be, and dad Brent is a CEO who lives in perpetual self-disappointment and drools over his failures.
The Ryans’ rut ends abruptly one day when, for no apparent reason, loving parents become murderous on their own children, first in their neighborhood and then throughout the country. Several parents chase and murder their children at their own school.
Carly and her closest friend Riley flee the frantic crowd of murderous parents, but when they arrive at Riley’s house, Riley’s mother is there and murders her daughter, and Carly narrowly escapes, aided by Damon at the last moment. They both dash to Carly’s house, where they discover Kendall and Brent had returned home early with one goal in mind: to murder their children at any cost.
5. Host (2020)
Six buddies gather for their weekly zoom call amid lockdown. It’s Haley’s time to plan an activity, and instead of an exam, she’s scheduled a séance with a Medium. Jemma, bored and naughty, tries to entertain herself by inventing a narrative about a boy at her school who hangs himself.
However, her trick allows a demonic entity to pass across, disguising itself as the kid from Jemma’s made-up narrative. As the demonic force begins to manifest itself in their houses, the pals begin to notice unusual happenings, and they quickly realize they may not survive the night.
6. Train to Busan (2016)
Seok-woo, a divorced father and busy hedge fund manager, reluctantly takes the bullet train from Seoul to Busan with his estranged little daughter, Su-an, to pay her mother a visit.
However, against the backdrop of an unprecedented threat in the form of a virulent zombie outbreak, a grotesque undead stowaway will quickly entangle passengers and train crew in a frenetic battle for survival, as compartment after compartment succumbs to the sheer volume of newly infected flesh-eaters.
Suddenly, despite this unforgiving little hell on earth, hope appears to be found in the train’s last destination; but, can the few remaining survivors battle to the bitter end?
7. Bone Tomahawk (2015)
After an outlaw unintentionally leads a band of cannibalistic Troglodytes into the idyllic western hamlet of Bright Hope, the monsters abduct many people, including the rancher’s wife. Despite his wounded leg, the rancher joins a small rescue party that includes the sheriff, an elderly deputy, and a strong-willed gunslinger.
What follows is a descent into hell on earth as the gang realizes they are up against an opponent whose cruelty knows no boundaries. The film is set at the turn of the twentieth century, on the border between what is now Texas and New Mexico.
8. The Lighthouse
As the wavering scream of the foghorn fills the air, Ephraim Winslow, a taciturn former lumberjack, and Thomas Wake, a grizzled lighthouse keeper, set foot on an isolated and constantly grey islet off the coast of late-nineteenth-century New England.
For the next four weeks of backbreaking labor and unfavorable working circumstances, the tight-lipped men will have no one but each other for company, forced to put up with annoying peculiarities, bottled-up anger, and building animosity.
Then, among terrible omens, a fierce and never-ending squall maroons the pale beacon’s guardians within the already inhospitable volcanic rock, laying the groundwork for a lengthy time of savage hunger; searing anguish; manic solitude, and horrific booze-addled visions. Now, the strange grasp of lunacy becomes increasingly tight. Is there a way out of the mind’s wall-less prison?
9. The Battery (2012)
Ben and Mickey, two former baseball stars, walk an aimless course through a barren New England. They stay on back roads and in the woods to avoid the shambling corpses that patrol the once-thriving cities and villages. To survive, they must overcome their profound personality differences.
Ben adopts a more wild, lawless, and itinerant existence, while Mickey struggles to accept the harsh reality of the new world and pines for the creature comforts he formerly took for granted. A bed, a female companion, and a secure place to reside.
When the guys receive a radio broadcast from what appears to be a thriving, protected town, Mickey will stop at nothing to locate it, even though he is clearly not welcome.
10. Martyrs (2008)
Since infancy, Lucie has been brutally beaten, imprisoned, and traumatized. She escapes her captors and befriends Anna, another damaged soul at the orphanage. Lucie decimates a whole family over fifteen years later, thinking that she has finally located her diabolical tormentors, while horrifying visions of an emaciated and malformed monster haunt her.
Is this hideous female creature real, or is she a phantom? What is the secret of the deceased family under these circumstances? Anna will soon discover that certain atrocities require transcendence before salvation, as these eerily persistent questions demand answers. Anna is meant to be a wonderful martyr, isn’t she?
11. In Fabric (2018)
In Fabric: A dark horror film with twisted comedic aspects. The fashion police should pay a visit to the business that is now running a deal on a crimson gown that appears to be possessed, literally a dress to kill.
While there are obvious influences from Italian horror flicks and fashion films, Peter Strickland infuses this picture with his own auteurism. A parody on sales – clients clash with one another and with the employees.
The top sales assistant radiates an atmosphere of Vampirism, which is accentuated by the fact that she, along with the rest of the staff, is dressed as a 19th-century Spanish Widow, except for the decrepit and elderly manager, who resembles Bela Lugosi after a heavy night on the alcohol and drugs.
He comes to life, though, as he rugby tackles a shoplifter. The film treats shop dummies as if they were alive, and some occurrences in the film make you question why. The crimson garment gives wearers anguish and skin rashes; it comes to life and assaults them.
12. The Invitation (2015)
Will and Eden used to be a happy couple. Eden vanished following the death of their kid in a tragic accident. Two years later, she reappears with a new spouse… and as a completely different person, strangely transformed and ready to reconnect with her ex and others she left behind.
The haunted Will is seized by increasing evidence that Eden and her new companions have a secret and terrible agenda during a dinner party in the house that was once his. However, can we rely on Will’s grasp of reality? Or will he unwittingly be the cause for the impending disaster he senses?
13. It Follows (2014)
After sleeping with a gorgeous stranger, Jay (Maika Monroe) rapidly discovers that she has acquired a very peculiar curse: wherever she goes, lumbering, half-naked phantoms pursue her with the sole purpose of seeing her dead. Jay, desperate for assistance, goes to her younger sister and close network of friends.
However, Jay eventually realizes that the only way to avoid death is to sleep with another person and pass the curse on. However, Jay’s companions remain unaware of the chasing phantoms, and it quickly becomes obvious that her time is running short.
Now, as death approaches, the scared young lady must make a difficult choice if she wants to survive her experience.
14. Scare Me (2020)
During a power outage, two strangers share frightening tales. The more Fred and Fanny devote themselves to their stories, the more their Catskills cottage comes to life. When Fred meets his deepest dread, the horrors of reality become apparent.
15. Stake Land (2010)
In the near future, North America will devolve into anarchy following a vampire apocalypse. Martin, a teenager, is about to embark on a journey with his parents when they are assaulted by a vampire. Martin is saved by the stranger Mister, and after slaying the vampire, they go north in the hope of reaching the New Eden, formerly known as Canada.
Mister trains Martin as they travel around the ruined nation, and together they rescue and befriend other survivors, fighting not only vampires but also a violent fraternity of extreme religious fanatics commanded by the crazy Jebedia Loven.
16. One Cut of the Dead (2017)
A low-budget zombie film crew is snared while filming in an abandoned warehouse by zombies and a crazy director who won’t stop shooting.
17. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Two charming hillbillies are on their way to their “fixer-upper” vacation cottage, where they plan to drink beer, go fishing, and have a wonderful time. Tucker and Dale’s trip takes a violent and funny turn when they come across a bunch of preppy college kids who believe they must be in-bred, chainsaw-wielding killers based on their appearance.
18. Let the Right One In (2008)
In the Stockholm neighborhood of Blackeberg, twelve-year-old Oskar is a lonely and outcast child who is tormented at school by Conny and two other classmates; at home, Oskar fantasizes about retaliating against the trio of bullies.
He befriends his twelve-year-old next-door neighbor Eli, who only emerges at night at their building’s playground. Meanwhile, Eli’s father is a serial murderer who drains his victims’ blood to supply Eli, preventing her from having to kill.
Eli instructs Oskar on how to react to Conny fighting back; nevertheless, he quickly finds that she is a vampire, and he develops feelings of fear and love for the girl.
19. Pontypool (2008)
The whole film takes place inside a radio station where freshly hired disc jockey Grant Mazzy works. He is assisted in his duties by Sydney Bria, Laurel-Ann Drummond, and Kenny, who reads the weather by phone in his “Sunshine Chopper”
The station is located in a tiny hamlet in Canada during the Ice Fishing season when reports of individuals rambling and making no sense with their speech patterns pour in over the airwaves. They believe this is nothing more than a misunderstanding or an immature joke until enormous crowds assemble outside Dr. Mendex’s offices.
This piques Mazzy’s attention, as he compares the gathering to Riots, even if he isn’t sure whether the comparison is accurate, but it beats reporting local birthdays. Soon later, Kenny phones in and takes on the role of their eyes on the ground, atop a hill overlooking Dr.’s office. Mendix’s
He recounts an eruption of bodies and people scrambling over one another in a terrifying voice. He conveys his opinion that several people have just perished in front of his eyes.
20. The House of the Devil (2009)
Samantha Hughes, a financially strapped college student, accepts a peculiar babysitting job in 1983 that coincides with a total moon eclipse. She gradually discovers that her customers are hiding a horrible secret, putting her life at grave risk.
21. Terrifier (2016)
Two drunk pals out on Halloween night, attempting to find their way home following a party. While debating who would drive, they attract the attention of a frightening clown who threatens to convert Pennywise into a coulrophobe.
When they realize they are too inebriated to drive, they make their way to a pizza to eat and attempt to sober up.
Art the Clown (Thornton) then enters and begins his evil antics, but after transforming the bathroom into his own personal canvas using feces as his medium, he is tossed out into the street with his trash bag full of torture devices.
Once the females determine that it is safe to go, they depart and return to their car. When they return to the car, they discover one of the tires has flattened, and with no spare, Tara is obliged to contact her sister Veronica (Scaffidi) to come and pick them up.
The wait is long and harsh, but not quite as much as when Dawn enters this eerie, dilapidated building in search of a bathroom and ends herself trapped with Tara in a true house of horrors with the lunatic mime who amuses himself by mutilating and murdering.
22. I Saw the Devil (2010)
When Joo-Yeon develops a flat tire in the snow, she summons a tow truck and, to pass the time, contacts her loving fiancé Kim Soo-Hyeon, a secret agent. Unexpectedly, a man offers to assist her, but Joo-Yeon declines.
However, the guy destroys her car, kidnaps her, and dismembers her body. Her father, a former head of police, provides Soo-Hyeon with the material on the four top suspects and requests two weeks’ leave from his chief.
He pursues the guys and, upon discovering that Kyung-Chul is the killer, threatens the perpetrator with a heinous act of vengeance to make him suffer as Joo-Yeon suffered. Soo-Hyeon transforms into a monster and begins a cat-and-mouse game, repeatedly catching and releasing Kyung-Chul. However, the serial murderer embodies evil and makes Soo-Hyeon regret not murdering him when he had the chance.
23. Kill List (2011)
Nearly a year after a failed mission, a hitman accepts a new assignment that promises a large reward for three assassinations. What begins as a simple mission quickly unravels, transporting the killer into the heart of evil.
24. Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
Richard, a former paratrooper from the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, returns to his birthplace of Matlock, Derbyshire, seeking retribution for the torture of his autistic brother by the nasty local gang boss Sonny and his minions.
Nobody is safe at the moment, and when army-trained Richard starts on a deadly mission of precisely planned devastation, one thing is certain: the grim avenging angel will not rest until justice is delivered. What is it like to walk in the shoes of a dead person?
25. The Dark and the Wicked (2020)
The Dark and The Wicked follows two siblings as they return to the family property to await their father’s untimely demise. What appears to be an eternal process of mourning and memory is actually quite different.
26. Southbound (2015)
On a barren stretch of desert highway, weary passengers – two men on the run from their pasts, a band on their way to the next performance, a guy attempting to find his way home, a brother searching for his long-lost sister, and a family on vacation – are forced to confront their greatest fears and deepest secrets in a series of interconnected tales of horror and remorse on the open road.
27. Hush (2016)
When a masked assassin approaches her window, a deaf and mute writer who has withdrawn into the woods to live a solitary existence must fight for her life in silence.
28. Raw (2016)
Justine, a doe-eyed freshman raised as a strict vegetarian, is sent to the prestigious Saint-Exupéry Veterinary School, where her older sister, Alexia, is already enrolled. Justine enters a bizarre new world of weird school rituals and severe initiation tests when she leaves the family home, and she will soon have to chew over her unwavering herbivorous views.
As Justine sinks more and deeper into an unknown realm of undiscovered animalistic inclinations, an unprecedented and equally macabre hunger for raw flesh transforms her into something she never imagined. Is there any purpose in resisting Justine’s need for raw flesh now that her physical awakening is complete?
29. Under the Shadow (2016)
During the 1984 Tehran missile assaults, a man gets drafted to participate in the Iran-Iraq war and leaves his wife, Shideh, and daughter, Dorsa, alone in their apartment.
Under the Shadow is a literal portrayal of an Islamic concept that Djinn is transported by winds into areas ruled by dread and anxiety, snatching objects of importance to the individual to whom they wish to remain attached – in this case, young Dorsa’s beloved doll.
While the remaining tenants flee both the Djinn who have taken up residence in the building and the city’s bombing raids, Shideh and Dorsa remain alone, desperately searching for the missing doll and at the mercy of both air attacks and the lurking Djinn, who appear intent on separating mother and daughter.
30. The Witch (2016)
Expelled from his virtuous pilgrim community, William and his Puritan family established a modest home on the edges of a dense and gloomy forest in mid-seventeenth-century New England.
As the suffering family attempts to establish themselves on their new secluded farmhouse, catastrophe strikes when their baby kid vanishes into thin air, followed by other unexpected and painful disasters that afflict the God-fearing farmers.
Is this dire scenario, however, the consequence of a family on the verge of collapse, or is William’s first-born daughter, Thomasin, the source of all evil?