You’re all doomed.
Horror movies have given us a healthy fear of places such as secluded gas stations and abandoned farmhouses. The rural has always been a space of terror and the unknown, where local residents crawl out of the shadows and prey upon unsuspecting city dwellers. And sure, such assumptions about small-town residents are harmful. But damn if they aren’t terrifying. Such is the case in Mickey Keating’s new film, Offseason. In it, Marie (Jocelin Donahue) returns to her deceased mother’s secluded coastal hometown after her grave is desecrated. But when she arrives, she realizes the town’s residents have something special in mind for her.
Keating melds Gothic and cosmic horror together to create a truly unnerving experience. In honor of Offseason, we’ve put together a list of films that also feature terrifying locals than are scarier than any monster.
Eden Lake is perhaps one of the most brutal and upsetting movies out there. And the violence is enacted almost entirely by a group of angry teenagers. Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and Steve (Michael Fassbender) are a couple embarking on a quiet country vacation. They hope to camp out on the beach, enjoy some scuba diving in a local lake, and layout in the sun. But, after clashing with a few local kids, their vacation takes a devastating turn. This is a difficult one to stomach but it is truly a shining example of a film where the townspeople are much more terrifying than any creature.
Dead and Buried
Gary Sherman’s 1981 film Dead and Buried is an underrated gem about haunted locals and a mad scientist who’s actually the town’s mortician. In this town, locals kill visiting tourists whose bodies are then reanimated. These visitors become permanent fixtures of the town. Sheriff Dan Gillis tries to get to the bottom of just what the hell is happening here and only gets sucked further into the mystery. The ending of this one is an amazing gut punch. Plus, Dead and Buried stars Jack Albertson in an iconic role that was sadly his last.
Texas Chain Saw Massacre
This wouldn’t be a list about monstrous locals without including Leatherface himself. In Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic, a group of young city folk arrives in rural Texas after investigating the desecration of their grandfather’s grave. This scenario, not unlike what Marie encounters in Offseason, places them right into the hands of the iconic family of cannibals. While in the reboot the characters are intentionally harassing the locals and get their comeuppance, here, Sally Hardesty and crew are just looking for a helping hand.
Christophe Gans’ 2006 adaptation of the iconic video game Silent Hill has both horrifying locals AND monsters, similar to Keating’s Offseason. But here, the residents of Silent Hill are worse than Pyramid Head because they themselves bring this hell upon the town. Through their religious zealotry and bigoted worldview, the residents led by Christabella (Alice Krige) condemn themselves to an ungodly existence. Burning a child for being a witch will do that to you. And, unfortunately, Rose (Radha Mitchell) stumbles right into it.
This piece of New French Extremity will have you rethinking that nice drive into the countryside. Like Eden Lake, this one is hard to stomach and speaks to the atrocities human beings are capable of. Here, a cabaret singer’s car breaks down on the way to his next gig. Unfortunately, he won’t find help from the deranged innkeeper or nearby farmers. Instead, he becomes their new plaything.
Offseason is available now in theaters, digital, and VOD.