Film

The 10 Best New Breed Horror Filmmakers Working Today

They are the contemporary voices of an ages old ideal, the new fear masters in a genre sometimes stunted by its own lack of (critical) legitimacy.

Some horror legends are still around -- Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, George Romero, Dario Argento -- and every once in a while they happenstance into something that adds to (instead of detracting from) their already regal reputation. They are the current Masters of Horror, creepshow kings extraordinaire. Then there are the near-misses, the Michele Soavis and Bernard Roses who made massive initial impressions (Dellamorte Dellamore and Paperhouse, respectively) before slinking off into scary movie exile.

Indeed, thanks to the rise in technology, the bankability of fear, and the unbridled fandom which fuels many homemade horror movies, there are very few maestros left in the macabre, man or woman. In fact, it's safe to say that many of the moviemakers today, your Marcus Nispels and your Bryan Bertinos, seem more interested in moving beyond dread, to play with the "real" artists of the cinema, so to speak.

Luckily, among the wannabes and the wanderers are a group of individuals dedicated to the genre. They are making strides toward saving the shivers while putting their own indelible imprint on fear. Some do want to move on, to make movies that make you laugh or cry vs. scream, but for the most part, they are the dedicated followers of fright. For this particular list, we've tried to find both the obscure and the obvious while keeping our collection within the commercial. Apologies to true indie auteurs with camcorders and MacBooks at hand: your $2K opus may be terrific, but until you pay your dues and do it, large scale, we'll reserve you for a look at untapped talent. Instead, here are the 10 (actually, 13) best new breed horror directors working today. Argue all you want about their particular creative charms, but these are the names that will mark terror... until the next batch rolls up.

 
10. Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Deliver Us from Evil)
Here's one of the many similarly styled stories of success you'll find in this countdown. After taking on one of the weaker installments in the always-uneven Hellraiser franchise (Inferno), Derrickson stormed onto the scene with The Exorcism of Emily Rose, earning more than $140 million worldwide in the process. He then was given the job of bringing the unnecessary remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still to the big screen. Four years later, however, Sinister reintroduced him as a horror maestro, with Deliver Us From Evil showing he could mix the genre into a standard crime thriller and still achieve amazing results.

 
9. Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest)
While it seems strange to associate the fright film format with that uneven indie ideal known as mumblecore, Wingard is frequently categorized as a someone bringing the fear factors to the non-mainstream methodology. Collaborating with the King of the Category, Joe Swanberg, he co-directed Autoerotic (a non-horror exploration of human sexuality) before breaking into the mainstream with his home invasion sleeper You're Next. Last month, his movie The Guest was met with marketing indifference (they didn't screen the film for critics) but praise and acclaim from those who saw it. His next project appears to be a remake of the brilliant Korean thriller I Saw the Devil.

 
8. Pascal Laugier (Martyrs, The Tall Man)
Unless you're a diehard horror fan, or have followed the New French Extremity movement, you probably don't know this name. But by now, Laugier's amazing second film, focusing on a cult who captures and tortures young women as a means of investigating the existence of the afterlife, has become the post-modern equivalent of a water-cooler title, something so shocking and yet so amazing that it becomes a topic of heated discussion. His Martyrs follow-up, The Tall Man, did less than stellar at the box office and, recently, he left a remake of Hellraiser after wanting to go deeper and darker than creator Clive Barker did originally. Whoa.

 
7. Franck Khalfoun (P2, Maniac (2012))
P2 was a decent attempt to recreate the old fashioned nail biters of the past, Khalfoun collaborating with the dynamic duo of Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes), but he really showed his stuff with his take of William Lustig's notorious video nasty from 1980. Using a unique filmmaking technique, shooting everything from the killer's point of view, we wind up with a far more visceral experience than the one Joe Spinell forged nearly 35 years ago. Khalfoun even found a way to make Elijah Wood terrifying. Next on his plate is something called i-lived, as well as an Amityville movie.

 
6. Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (Inside, Livid)
Of all the filmmakers on this list and all the movie discussed, none are more disturbing than this duo's defiant, gore-splattered experiment in outright prenatal terror. The plot to Inside sees a deranged woman tormenting a pregnant target. Her goal? To rip the fetus from her womb in whatever blood drenched means she can. Inside stands as a modern classic, a movie with the kind of outrageous vision which proves the aforementioned French Extremity Movement has merit outside the arterial spray. While their follow-up, Livid, wasn't as outrageous, it was equally effective. Some are calling their latest film, Among the Living, a "return to form."

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