[Editor’s Note: Terror TWOsdays is my latest column, just an excuse to talk about more horror films. Notably, I’ll be hitting up two independent, lesser known, and/or underappreciated horror and horror adjacent movies. And with that, I bring you two films to fear. Stay tuned for the official intro graphic in the coming weeks… but check out these films now!]
Union Furnace (2015)
A petty car thief in a small Southern Ohio town gets involved in an underground game of life and death.
I went on blind to both of these low budget horror films and quite enjoyed both. Union Furnace attracted me by the sheer fact that it features Keith David, an actor that I have loved for some time – notably for his roles in They Live and There’s Something About Mary. Here, he’s equally effective in much different role.
David is joined on screen by a group of folks I didn’t know, but was very impressed by. The leads are played by relative unknowns Seth Hammond and Mike Dwyer. Both of these two men play their roles with the skill of seasoned veterans. “But, what are their roles?” you may ask.
Dwyer’s Cody Roy McCloud is our main protagonist, a down on his luck guy who is seemingly a hardcore gambling addict according to this comprehensive summary of his games. Hammond’s Lion is the main antagonist, of sorts, who runs a high stakes underground game that could make McCloud a very wealthy man.
The setup of a group of people competing in an illegal, high stakes competition isn’t something new, but the film does this in a gritty and unique way. It’s dark and affecting, using the limited budget as a catalyst for creative storytelling. It’s straightforward, but it also feels fresh.
In the end, it hits hard whether you can predict the outcome or not. I, personally, found myself surprised by the finale, ripping my heart from my chest.
Don’t You Recognise Me? (2015)
A director puts out social network feelers to produce a ‘Day in the Life’ documentary. It turns out that the filmmaker did something very bad in his first outing as a director, and now he is about to pay.
Another that caught me by surprise was this British found footage style thriller. While it finds itself without a great deal of plot, it builds its tension on its realism. It takes the revenge thriller model but is more concerned with allowing its actors to be real humans than to worry about exposition.
Like Union Furnace, the strength of the film is on a cornerstone of grit and emotion. You feel the emotional pain of the characters and when it finally gets to its darkest moments, the film feels somewhat cathartic. Even touching on deep topics like the mistreatment and misunderstanding of mental illness, the film isn’t just a simple revenge film. Yet, that’s exactly what it is.
Don’t You Recognise Me? is available on DVD and streaming via Amazon Prime. You can grab Union Furnace on DVD or rent it via Vimeo.