With horror being a respite for those who feel like outliers in society, it is no surprise filmmakers have turned to the genre when needing to communicate their emotions. Horror has importantly become a destination for contextualizing everything from personal fears to longstanding oppression.
The LGBT+ community especially finds solace in horror — they identify with characters’ desire to escape and survive. Cruising, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and Jennifer’s Body have certainly gained valid traction over the years, but what about other movies in need of attention? They, too, offer insight into the collective queer horror experience.
Last Ferry (2019)
A need to be unguarded and away from judgment is exactly why Last Ferry‘s protagonist slips away to Fire Island. Ramon O. Torres pulls double duty as both the lead actor and writer here. For one weekend, Joseph (Torres) flees from his dull career as a lawyer and hopes to explore his sexuality. Instead, he witnesses what looks to be a murder — and the killer is closer than he thinks.
Although the film has a half-baked ending, director Jaki Bradley generates effective tension until then.
A divorcée named Emily (Talia Shire) is attacked by a strange man in her own apartment. He forces her to make erotic noises before leaving. As violating as that ordeal is, it almost pales when compared to what comes next. As Emily tries to reclaim her well-being, she befriends her neighbor Andrea (Elizabeth Ashley). Yet, there’s something Andrea isn’t telling Emily, and the truth is terrifying.
Windows has garnered mixed reactions over the years for various reasons; the intensity of the performances in addition to the cinematography are enough to give this one a chance.
October Moon (2005)
Corin (Sean Michael Lambrecht) and Jake (Jeff Dylan Graham) are having relationship troubles; they potentially consider an open relationship. And, when Corin finally gets his own assistant at work, he gets more than he ever bargained for. Jamie (Jerod Howard) is engaged to a woman, but he becomes increasingly more obsessed with Corin. Soon, he will do whatever it takes to have him all to himself.
Incredibly micro-budgeted and rough around most edges, October Moon still keeps audiences engrossed with its twisted tale of fatal erotomania.
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Jamie Marks is Dead (2014)
A high school outcast, Jamie Marks (Noah Silver), is found dead at the river. His death causes his classmate Adam (Cameron Monaghan) to ruminate on their meager interactions as well as the possibility he had feelings for Jamie. However, Adam is now being followed by the dead boy’s ghost — and he has no intention of leaving his side.
Carter Smith’s Jamie Marks is Dead is a sad spook tale and coming-out story that will leave audiences chilled to the bone.
Night Corridor (2003)
A famous photographer named Sam (Daniel Wu) returns to Hong Kong when his twin is killed in a freak accident. In doing so, Sam is forced to remember the abuse he suffered at the hands of a perverted priest. Meanwhile, Sam‘s manic state also rekindles his feelings for a childhood friend.
Night Corridor is based on a novel by Julian Lee, and is directed by Stanley Kwan of Lan Yu fame. This dazing and dramatic queer curio has supernatural ambiguity, but it is largely a cerebral thriller. The dread it summons will linger long after the end credits roll.
Criminal Lovers (1999)
Shortly before the New French Extremity movement took off, director François Ozon broached dark matters in this 1999 film. A pair of students, Alice (Natacha Régnier) and Luc (Jérémie Renier), lure in a classmate who sexually assaulted Alice — they then murder him. As they dispose of the body in the woods, they are captured by a cannibal living in the area. He holds them hostage but in separate quarters: Alice is locked in the basement while the hunter keeps Luc nearby, indulging his own secret cravings.
Criminal Lovers is a transgressive adaptation of the “Hansel and Gretel” fairy tale. With it being depraved and uncomfortable to watch, it fits in comfortably with similarly nonconforming horror like High Tension.
Nina Wu (2019)
The title character here goes to to great lengths to find her big break as an actor. Nina (Ke-xi Wu) is a cam star looking for stardom. She eventually lands a part in a major movie despite the director wanting to go with someone else. Filming under his harsh hand is arduous, and Nina starts to break emotionally. With trouble back home exacerbating her fragile mind, Nina questions what’s real and what’s not.
Nina Wu is a beautifully shot and acutely told psycho-drama with startling imagery. This nihilistic Taiwanese movie can be compared to Perfect Blue and The Neon Demon.
The Phone Call (1989)
In this bizarre television-made movie, a bored businessman, father, and husband finds himself on the wrong end of a wrong number. Michael (Michael Sarrazin) means to call a woman at a party line, but his misdial leads to a man-on-man experience with phone operator Carey (Ron Lea). After Michael insults him, Carey tracks him down in real life.
Uniquely melodramatic and campy, The Phone Call makes it difficult for viewers to avert their eyes. This made-for-TV oddity has to be seen to be believed.
Tom at the Farm (2013)
Director, writer, and actor Xavier Dolan plays Guillaume, an urbanite visiting his late boyfriend’s family’s farm for the funeral. As he prepares his eulogy, Guillaume enters an intoxicating and emotional affair with his former lover’s dangerously captivating brother, Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal).
This French-Canadian movie is alarmingly alluring. Dolan transforms two characters’ shared grief into an unforgettable thriller.
A Reflection of Fear (1972)
Very few American horror movies truly capture the spirit of giallo. Alice, Sweet Alice comes very close, but the little-known A Reflection of Fear is even closer. This psycho-sexual horror centers around Marguerite (Sondra Locke), a paranoid and delusional fifteen-year-old girl who talks to a life-sized doll named Aaron in her bedroom. As soon as people around her start to die, suspicious eyes look to Marguerite as the culprit.
A few other movies that followed this one have used the same jarring plot device. It’s a slow road to get there, but the finale is staggering, if not familiar.