New low-budget scary movies a screaming success
A NEW wave of low-budget "smart" horror films is challenging the studio behemoths with a recipe that swops gore and special effects for old-fashioned scares.
Don't Breathe, due for release this week on the back of widespread acclaim, is hoping to emulate the success of The Babadook, It Follows and a series of other creepy hits made on a shoestring.
While they lack the marketing muscle of the summer tentpoles, these films often become word-of-mouth hits.
Jeff Bock, of film industry research firm Exhibitor Relations, said: "As we've seen lately, 'smart' horror films are in vogue right now."
It Follows (2014) is often cited as the jewel in the crown of horror's new wave.
Its director David Robert Mitchell was acclaimed for weaving the cliche of teenagers menaced by a supernatural force into that rarest of things - a scary movie that drips with subtext and not just blood.
One of its leads, Daniel Zovatto, also stars in Fede Alvarez's Don't Breathe.
Made for US$10 million (S$13.5 million), it follows a trio of friends who break into the house of a blind recluse, confident of an easy pay day, only to be caught in a life-or-death struggle.
Don't Breathe is unusual in that there are very few jump scares.
Zovatto said he grew up watching horror movies but was often disappointed.
"This whole new wave brought a new perspective to the genre and new directors like Fede Alvarez and David Robert Mitchell - and they are changing the game."
Alvarez, who brought in almost US$100 million with Evil Dead on a US$17 million budget, prides himself on trying to "spot what everyone else is doing and (running) in the opposite direction".
He noted that "if you give your central characters nuance... I like that you have to choose who to root for and I'm not spoon-feeding you about who's a hero and who's a villain, who's the funny guy".