Annihilation has come and gone but our fascination with all things Weird has not. Jeff VandeMeer and Alex Garland have helped this sub genre blossom and as we await news on a possible sequel or a further exploration of that world we have seven movies that will hopefully scratch your ‘New Weird’ itch
1. YellowBrickRoad (2010)
Yellowbrickroad is a movie that is old enough that it feels dated but new enough that it feels like it should not be. This temporal looseness adds to the increasingly creepy setting as this group of documentarians heads into the woods. Soon they all start to here the same music (some of which is not scary at all). Its a movie about collective paranoia and psychosis or a movie about something much more. While the special effects are not always great there are some truly scary moments in this film. While the woods featured do not offer mysterious or creepy animals it does induce similar psychosis in the people on the expedition and that is why it made out list.
2. In The Mouth of Madness (1994)
Perhaps my favorite John Carpenter movie In the Mouth of Madness contains elements of Lovecraft, King, Koontz, and Campbell. Sam Neil plays a insurance investigator looking for the world famous horror writer Sutter Cane who has gone missing. What he discovers is a town that should not exist and that the writer has had a profound impact on anyone who has read his newest book. The creepiness of the town reminds me ton of Castle Rock (no accident I am sure). Hopefully the new show, Castle Rock, will borrow some from the Weird vibe of this film. The new weird would not exist without the old weird and this movie is an homage to that old weird sensibility.
3. Resolution (2012)
This movie is billed as one friend locking another up to try and force him into rehab. While that is the central conceit once the two get to the cabin everything else that happens is both unpredictable and terrifying. Resolution explores the boundaries of relationships and how far we would be willing to go to protect our best friends. It also offers us some nuance into drug addiction. Its use of journals, notes and intrigue have an almost video game element to them. There were times I felt really connected to the mystery and plot which made the ending even crazier. Once we enter the shimmer in Annihilation all of the characters become unreliable narrators that ambiguity is where Resolution lives as well.
4. The Corridor (2010)
The Corridor is right up Signal Horizon’s alley. It is a horror film that contains some pretty wicked science fiction influences as well. That being said it is a really simple film. Five friends take a trip into the woods to help one of their group put the ashes of his mother to rest. What happens next is an exploration of grief but also an exploration of purpose. In many ways this movie looks and feels somewhat like a prequel to The Ritual. Both involve a group of friends and end up exploring the nature of friendship and masculinity. In Annihilation the dynamic of the group works pretty darn well considering they are more or less strangers. Here we explore what happens when that dynamic is even less functional because they know each other so well. If you want a great discussion of Toxic Masculinity and The Ritual check out The Horror Pod Class’s Episode dedicated to the topic.
5. We Go On (2016)
The second movie on our list by Writer and Directors Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton. This is a small movie that packs a huge punch. The entire nature of the movie changes halfway through. It has elements of the Sixth Sense and of YellowBrickRoad the duo’s first movie. As the movie starts to explore loss and relationships it truly starts to shine. There are some outstandingly creep moments as the tenor of the film changes. We never know who to trust and who is right and wrong. The nature of proof is the central question that the lead character seeks to answer and that question is as mysterious as the movie. While the environment and nature is not used the same way it is in Annihilation, Holland and Mitten work really hard and in very smart ways to create areas in the city that feel both foreign and creepy. As a city dweller myself, these pockets of unexplored urban jungle are just as scary as a cabin in the woods.
6. They Remain (2018)
This Philip Gelatt directed masterpiece captures the essence of what makes this new genre so intriguing. The movie offers little in gore and violence but works really hard to make the surrounding nature feel foreboding. While we do not know the exact extent to which the land is cursed we know it is tainted. The scientists are foreigners in a strange land. This sense that the two lead characters are on their own in this weird world gives us a feeling of isolation that is not dissimilar to Annihilation. Both movies are also small films that lean heavy on outstanding performances from their small casts. If you want any further details or to read a more in depth analysis of the movie we reviewed They Remain at this year’s Panic Fest. They Remain is out in theatres now. Check it out!
7. Lake Mungo
At its core Annihilation is a movie about loss. The loss of a loved one. The loss of ones own self. The loss of structure in its most real and metaphysical sense are also key components of Annihilation as well. The themes of loss are quite obvious in the found footage film Lake Mungo. Lake Mungo reminded me of one of the first found footage movies ever created, The Last Broadcast. There are enough head fakes and red herrings to keep the audience guessing but they never feel unearned or manipulative. The entire film feels like a treatise on depression, sexual abuse, and just how hard being a teenager can be. It feels like if we made a supernatural 13 Reasons Why. I think it is an important film. Be warned its really sad though.
Hopefully these movies will help nourish the budding ‘new weird’ fan in all of you. This list is hardly exhaustive. The coolest thing about this subgenre is that it remains pretty undefined and has a ton of stuff that fits within its canon. Tell us what your favorite weird movie is or what you think should have made our list.
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.