13 Indie Directors to Look Out For
Article By: Tyler Doupe
Independent film is indisputably the future of horror cinema. Studio financing is becoming harder and harder to come by. Also, the amount of creative control one must surrender in order to direct a studio-backed picture has some directors opting for the independent route. Though independent filmmaking doesn’t come with the security or the luxuries of making a studio film, it does allow the director a great deal more creative control and the ability to do things that would likely never fly in the studio conglomerate.
Making an independent film requires a resourceful individual with a great deal of resolve, initiative, and tenacity. The individuals that pour their heart and soul into indie film deserve recognition for their dedication to their craft. To pay tribute to some oustanding filmmakers and their generous contributions to the genre, we are spotlighting 13 independent horror filmmakers to look out for.
1. Dante Tomaselli
Dante Tomaselli is a creative force with a plethora of original ideas rolling around in his head. From his debut feature Desecration to his latest picture Torture Chamber, he always offers a unique take on the subject matter he is attacking. His volatile relationship with religion and family are common threads amongst his films. He pours his torment into his work and the result is visceral, intense, and hard to watch at times. Tomaselli’s work is consistently good and doesn’t conform to the standards of studio filmmaking. If you are unfamiliar with Dante Tomaselli, he is a filmmaker whose work is very much worth looking into.
2. Dave Parker
Dave Parker hasn’t made a great deal of films; it seems that he is more focused on quality over quantity. His latest effort Coldwater has garnered positive feedback from the festival circuit and his film The Hills Run Red is one of the most underrated horror films I’ve seen in recent years. I cannot wait to check out Coldwater and am anxiously anticipating what Parker has in store for us after that.
3. Eric England
Eric England is an independent filmmaker whose career growth I have watched over the past several years. In each project, England learns from what didn’t work in his past outing and shows growth in each feature. That is highly impressive and indicative of a director that is humble enough to listen to constructive criticism and take it in stride. The maturation between England’s Madison County and his more recent film Contracted is astounding. I screened his upcoming feature Roadside and was highly impressed by how much his directorial prowess had improved in just a few short years. If you haven’t seen Contracted, check it out and keep an eye out for Roadside as well.
4. The Soska Sisters
Identical twin sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska burst onto the scene with their epically micro-budget film Dead Hooker in a Trunk. Since their feature film debut, they have only continued to find more ways to innovate and make their mark on independent cinema. Their sophomore effort American Mary makes a profound and bold statement. It is one of the most impressive displays of feminism I’ve ever seen in a horror film. These ladies are going places.
5. Steven C. Miller
Director Steven C. Miller has just recently begun to garner attention for his work. But in the past few years, he has developed a reputation as a director that doesn’t mind taking risks. His remake of Silent Night Deadly Night wasn’t afraid to break some taboos, and his film The Aggression Scale didn’t shy away from potentially controversial subject matter either. I am a fan of his work and am always anxious to see what he will do next.
6. Mike Flanagan
Mike Flanagan has proved just how much can be accomplished on a nearly non-existent budget. His film Absentia began as a Kickstarter campaign and ended up as a project that was very well received by genre film critics and horror fans alike. His next project Oculus shows a great deal of growth over Absentia and also proved how much more Flannigan was able to do with a more substantial budget.
7. Mike Mendez
Director Mike Mendez hasn’t made a great deal of films but The Gravedancers and Big Ass Spider are a testament to his passion for the genre and his talent as a filmmaker. Big Ass Spider is partially a lampoon of giant monster movies that air on the Sy-Fy Network but on the other hand, it also functions something like a love letter to the Roger Corman-esque creature features of yesteryear. His latest film, The Devil’s Convent is in preproduction and I am anxious to check it out when filming is complete.
8. Kerry Prior
Kerry Prior may be new to the directorial process but the writer/director has already made his mark on the horror genre. The Revenant brilliantly walked the line between horror and comedy. And it also showed that Prior isn’t afraid to make horror films with likable and well-developed characters. The Revenant left me very curious about Prior’s next film The Saturn Particle Rampage - which is currently in preproduction.
9. Jason Eisner
Jason Eisner’s Hobo With a Shotgun is a brilliant throwback to the days of 1970s exploitation filmmaking. It shows that the grindhouse features of yesteryear inspire him but he is able to take what had worked in the past and put his own modern spin on it. Since the release of Hobo With a Shotgun Eisner has contributed segments to V/H/S 2 and the ABCs of Death series. I have yet to see something Eisner has been involved with that I didn’t enjoy. If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out his work, you should give it a look.
10. David Guy Levy
David Guy Levy has only made two features and only one of them is a horror picture. But, even without a resume boasting a long list of horror titles, it is easy to see that Levy is a filmmaker worth taking note of. His film Would You Rather is rife with social commentary but absent of any excessive violence for the sake of violence. I find his ability to intertwine social commentary into a horror film without being preachy or alienating his viewers pretty impressive. I’m looking forward to seeing what Levy tackles next
11. John V. Knowles and Lottie Pharriss-Knowles
Husband and wife team John Knowles and Lottie Pharriss-Knowles really blew me away with their feature film Chastity Bites. It is the most impressive feminist perspective horror film I’ve seen since American Mary. I’m very eager to see what they take on next. Lotti is an amazing screenwriter and John shows a lot of promise as a director. If they stick to their guns and keep up what they’ve been doing, their next feature will likely be excellent.
12. Adam Wingard
Adam Wingard has been making some major contributions to independent cinema. His indie film You’re Next defied the odds and was picked up by LionsGate for a full scale, nationwide theatrical release. It is success stories like this that encourage aspiring filmmakers to keep going. My curiosity is always piqued when I see that Wingard is attached to a project in any capacity. I am anxiously awaiting the release of his next film The Guest.
13. Christopher Smith
Christopher Smith has introduced horror fans to Severance and Creep two excellent indie films that haven’t gotten the stateside attention they deserve. His mind-blowing and also underrated film Triangle conjures memories of films like Memento but it never becomes derivative and stands very effectively on its own. I am a huge fan of Smith’s films and am always anxious to get ahold of anything that he has been involved with. If you aren’t familiar with Christopher Smith, his work is worth seeking out.