Attention all horror fans: A brand new indie film was just released that has terrified even the most stoic viewer. The Witch takes place in Puritan New England and follows a family as they are torn apart by witchcraft -- and no, this has nothing to do with the Salem Witch Trials; this is straight-up black magic. Critics have praised the film for its strong visuals, slow-building horror, and jump-scare tactics.
The Witch seems to be a friendly reminder of a recent trend of horror: Indie horrors are way more frightening. Although major studios will never stop making traditional screamfests, those aren't the scariest. Critics and horror fans alike seem to prefer the indies. So, which indies are the most chilling? Here are just a few of the scariest indies to make you afraid to sleep alone (muahahahahaha):
David Lynch's debut remains one of his strangest -- and most unsettling -- films. Eraserhead was made over the course of five years (essentially whenever Lynch could find the time and money), but it's highly regarded for its surreal story and disturbing images. The story follows Henry (Jack Nance) as his wife gives birth to a disgusting creature that they must take care of. Lynch never revealed how he made the baby so darn creepy, which is certainly what makes the film so terrifying. Part of Eraserhead's appeal is its sound design -- Lynch knew exactly when and where to use sound cues.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The original zombie film, Night of the Living Dead is considered one of the greatest horror films ever made. Although the film became a huge hit, it didn't start out that way. Director George Romero made the movie with minimal resources, so one of the biggest tropes in horror -- zombies -- was born from an indie film. What makes Night of the Living Dead stand out is its simplicity. The single farmhouse location and the idea that this could actually happen adds to its creep factor. The black-and-white cinematography and opening scene are the icing on this ghoulish cake. If you live for “The Walking Dead” and you've never seen Night of the Living Dead, then you need to sit down and prepare yourself for the ultimate zombie apocalypse.
It Follows (2014)
Easily one of the most nightmarish films in recent years, It Follows is not only remarkable for its terrifying sequences but for its allegory. The film focuses on the idea that STDs don't just come as a viral form -- they carry an invisible chaser that tracks you down until it catches and kills you. The idea of a creature stalking you and trying to kill you is horrifying enough, but the allegory for society's obsession with sex and STDs is what makes it truly work. I would be curious to see director David Robert Mitchell take on other panics in our society (for instance, the war on drugs).
Spider Baby (1967)
Not many people have heard of the scrappy Spider Baby, which was made on a shoestring budget and went on to inspire other films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, it's really a shame that they haven't, because Spider Baby is messed up. The film's material was deemed so disturbing that it wasn't released for four years. Spider Baby follows a group of repulsive rednecks as they indulge in rape and cannibalism. What makes them ever more repellant is that they are highly childlike. Be warned that this film is not for the feint of heart -- it's like one of those haunted houses that is allowed to torment you.
Let the Right One In (2008)
This Swedish vampire film isn't exactly frightening in the way that Night of the Living Dead is -- it's more eerie. Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvis, Let the Right One In follows a young boy as he learns that the girl next door is a vampire. The film's climax is easily its most disturbing part, but the use of shadows is what adds to its spooky factor. An American remake starring Chloe Grace Moretz was released in 2010, and although it is a fine film, it lacks the same depth as the original.