April 19 is National Canadian Film Day! The country is celebrating its contribution to the world of film with free screenings and events, but if you can’t make it out (or don’t live in Canada) you can head to your favourite streaming service and check out one of these can’t miss Canadian horror films.
If I can include Black Christmas on a list, I will. The 1974 film set many horror trends: a killer stalking sorority girls, the calls coming from inside the house, being terrorized on a holiday. Even though we’ve seen these tropes a million times now, Black Christmas still manages to be genuinely scary.
Anything by David Cronenberg
You can’t talk Canadian horror without mentioning David Cronenberg. While he’s forayed into drama more recently, his earlier work (particularly the 1980s) is all about the grotesque and macabre. You can’t go wrong with a Cronenberg: The Dead Zone, Videodrome, Rabid, Scanners, The Fly, Dead Ringers, whatever. They’re all good. Long live the new flesh.
My Bloody Valentine
The original please, not the remake. The 1981 film is about a small mining town (somewhere in Nova Scotia) that suffered a mining accident on Valentine’s Day, and now the ghost (or undead figure?) of a killed miner comes for revenge. I told you Black Christmas started a whole ‘killer on the holidays’ thing!
Vincenzo Natali is a weird guy, in the best possible way. The director has given us Splice, where Sarah Polley makes a new species and then Adrian Brody has sex with it, and Cube, where half a dozen strangers wake up together in a cube with thousands of rooms and puzzles to help them escape. It’s an early prototype for Saw, surely, but with more to chew on.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Toronto City Hall features prominently in this film. Enough said.
Ginger Snaps checks off a lot of boxes for me: it’s Canadian, it’s about women, it’s a monster movie and it’s totally enjoyable. The film follows two outcast sisters after one gets attacked by a werewolf and begins to transform. This movie gets extra bonus points for introducing me to the great Katharine Isabelle (American Mary, Hannibal).
I somehow slept on this movie and only discovered it last year, but it’s amazing. The 2011 found footage film is set up around a ghost hunting show called ‘Grave Encounters’ where the cast and crew lock themselves in a supposedly haunted building overnight. It’s a pretty calm night, all things considered, with only a few creepy instances. It’s when they try to leave the next morning that things really go off the rails. There is a sequel, but you can feel free to skip it.
Pontypool is definitely an underrated gem. The 2008 film is set almost entirely in a radio station where the crew is broadcasting a talk radio show through the zombie apocalypse. Okay, they’re not zombies, but it’s a spreading infection that turns people into crazy zombie-like hordes.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
For something lighter, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is the perfect horror-comedy. Hapless hillbillies Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) are mistaken for Wrong Turn-esque country murdered by a group of college students, and gruesome hilarity ensues.
If you want to try something new, The Void is a high-concept horror that recently hit iTunes. A group of people gets trapped in a hospital surrounded by hooded cult members, before they realize the hospital is also full of strange creatures.