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At Halloween 🎃 time it is when we most think about scary movies, even those of us who watch them all year round. So why not take a look at five individuals who are bringing their own distinct vision to the genre and whom horror fans should be talking more about!…and no, I didn’t forget the ladies, they deserve their own installment, forthcoming!

(To get to the full reviews of the films mentioned, just hit the highlighted titles that link to the corresponding page!)


Adam MacDonald


Adam MacDonald is a Canadian actor and filmmaker who has written and directed two features, thus far, that have made quite an impression. His first film Backcountry is a survival thriller that followed a couple (Jeff Roop and Missy Peregrym) who go camping in the woods. Jealous of his girlfriend’s success, her beau chooses a lesser traveled route to prove himself to her. This puts them within the feeding ground of a massive and very hungry grizzly bear and thus sets up an intense and sometimes brutal last act. His second film Pyewacket is a supernatural thriller which finds a mother and daughter (Laurie Holden and Nicole Muñoz) in conflict over their methods of mourning the death of their husband/father. This propels the occult fascinated teen Leah (Muñoz) to evoke the dark entity Pyewacket to kill her mother. Leah soon learns to be careful what you wish for. Both films use troubled relationships as a catalyst for their stories and Pyewacket especially has some good old fashion scares and chills supported by a strong emotional center. MacDonald is showing a versatility and a depth to his filmmaking. Adam currently wrapped filming on Slasher season 3, so look out for more from this talented new voice in horror!

Nicole Muñoz conjures the wrong spirit in Adam MacDonald’s Pyewacket


Stevan Mena


Stevan Mena is a New York born filmmaker who is a one man production company, writing ,editing, directing, producing and even scoring his own films. He made a splash in 2003 with his low budget slasher Malevolence, which was an old-fashioned horror throwback that echoed both Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Set in and around an abandoned slaughterhouse, it told the chilling story of some bank robbers and their hostages meeting up with serial killer Martin Bristol (Jay Cohen). He followed that up with a horror icon filled horror/comedy called Brutal Massacre, before returning to the saga of Bristol in 2010 with the brutal and intense Bereavement. The second Malevolence film was a prequel telling the story of how serial killer Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby) kidnapped Martin (Spencer List ) as a child and trained him to be his successor. It’s one of the best horrors of the decade IMO. Recently Mena overcame some tragic events to complete his Malevolence trilogy with the independently financed Malevolence 3: Killer. Sequel has an adult Martin (a returning Jay Cohen) leaving a blood soaked trail on the way back to his home town. Mena’s work evokes that of John Carpenter himself and one hopes he returns to the director’s chair sooner than later.

A killer (Jay Cohen) returns home in Stevan Mena’s Malevolence 3: Killer


Colin Minihan


Colin Minihan started out as part of the writing/directing duo known as The Vicious Brothers along with collaborator Stuart Ortiz. Their first film was the fun and spooky found footage paranormal show send up Grave Encounters in 2011. They followed that up with the entertaining and chilling cabin in the woods/alien invasion hybrid Extraterrestrial in 2014. Though co-written with Ortiz, Minihan took the director’s chair solo for the next film It Stains The Sands Red. This was an amusing, bloody and offbeat tale of a lone woman (Brittany Allen) being followed across the desert by a lone zombie. An interesting relationship forms as she fights brutal heat, dehydration and her relentless undead pursuer. Minihan wrote and directed his fourth film on his own with the brutal and intense What Keeps You Alive. One of the years best, it finds a married lesbian couple (Brittany Allen and Hanna Emily Anderson) celebrating their anniversary in a remote cabin in the woods. Soon romantic bliss becomes a battle for survival as one of the women is not who she seems. This flick proves Minihan is a force to be reckoned with, armed with a great script, taunt direction and brilliant work by his lead actresses. Minihan is a filmmaker fans need to be talking more about.

Lover vs lover in Colin Minihan’s brutal and intense What Keeps You Alive


Anthony Diblasi


Boston born Anthony Diblasi is another filmmaker showing great versatility and a mastery of horror while also providing some emotional depth to his films. His first film Dread was a chilling tale of a college documentary project about fear, spinning horribly out of control. His next film Cassadaga, found deaf art teacher Lily (Kelen Coleman) being haunted by the spirit of a murdered young woman whose killer may have his sights set next on the pretty teacher. Diblasi worked on some non-genre projects and the horror anthology The Profane Exhibit before co-writing and directing The Last Shift in 2014. One of his scariest flicks, the story found a young policewoman being given the final shift in a haunted police precinct closing it’s doors in the morning…but can she survive the night? Diblasi returned to horror again in 2015 with Most Likely To Die, an old fashioned slasher about a high school reunion turned deadly, and again in 2018 with Extremity. His latest finds an emotionally troubled woman turning to an extreme haunt to make her face her fears…bad idea. The film was not only disturbing and scary, but had a strong emotional lining with multi-dimensional characters and commentary about abuse and the lives it effects. Another filmmaker that is bringing a distinct voice to the horror genre.

Emotionally troubled Allison (Dana Christina) turns to an extreme haunt to face her fears in Anthony Diblasi’s Extremity


Oz Perkins


Just because he is the son of legendary actor Anthony (Psycho) Perkins, one should not assume actor/director Oz Perkins knows horror…but he does! One of the most interesting filmmakers out there, Perkins has a unique vision and a strong ability to chill to the bone. His first film The Blackcoat’s Daughter finds Rose (Lucy Boynton), a student at a Catholic girls school, given charge of new student Kat (Kiernan Shipka) at break. With almost everyone else gone, Rose starts to realize there is something very wrong with Kat and that she may be in danger. Perkins followed that up with a very atmospheric ghost story I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House. Perkins writes and directs a subtle, yet chilling tale of care nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) coming to live with ailing horror novelist Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). Soon timid Lily starts to find out that Iris Blum’s inspirations may be far more real than she’d like. It’s a creepy and very effective film. Word has it his next film may be entitled A Head Full Of Ghosts and as he is bringing a very unique style to the genre, he sounds like the right man for the job!

Care nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) finds her charge may have had all too real inspiration for her horror novels in Oz Perkins’ I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House


So these are five creative forces bringing new blood to horror. Each one is worth screaming about and their films are certainly worth checking out!

…and stay tuned for our second installment taking a look at the creative ladies bringing their unique voices to the genre!

-MonsterZero NJ





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(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Tense wilderness thriller finds young couple Alex (Jeff Roop) and Jenn (Missy Peregrym) going deep into the woods for a romantic camping trip. Alex arrogantly takes a trail a ranger (Nicholas Campbell) warns him is closed and does so without a map, confident he knows the way to a lake he’d visited years ago. His attempts to impress Jenn gets the two of them lost in the wilderness, but that is the least of their worries…as a massive black bear has staked out that area as it’s hunting ground and Jenn and Alex are now it’s prey.

Canadian thriller is written and tensely directed by Adam MacDonald (Pyewacket) and is an impressive debut. MacDonald gets the foreboding atmosphere started early using the red herring of a strange man (Eric Balfour) the couple meet in the woods who leaves both them and the audience, with an uncomfortable feeling. It also causes a bit of tension between the couple, so we are already on edge when he starts to hint to his audience that something far more dangerous is stalking the two. The tension builds as the two quarrel over being totally lost and MacDonald let’s us stew in it till almost an hour in when our predator makes it’s deadly and surprisingly gruesome appearance. Then it’s a suspenseful last act as our lone survivor tries to escape with the massive creature hot on their trail. For a first time director, MacDonald manages it all quite well, building the tension slowly then giving us a pulse pounding fight for life finale. It’s not perfect. Alex does some stupid and cliché things to move the plot forward, like arrogantly not bringing a map and secretly removing Jenn’s cellphone from her bag and leaving it behind, but in the context of the story and character, they are not unbelievable actions. As MacDonald takes time to let us get to know the couple, we can believe that certain actions or reactions are fitting, even if we have seen them before in other movies. The only other slight disappointment is that the last act seems to be over a little too quickly when compared to the slow build-up that leads us to it. We are just getting really involved, when suddenly it’s over. A little more of the chase and hunt would have made this a bit more satisfying, though, it still certainly entertains.

As for his small cast, the first-time director gets good work. Jeff Roop’s Alex is a likable guy, but his need to constantly impress his girlfriend gets a bit annoying and is supposed to. He’s a little bothered that she is a lawyer and his is a landscaper and his insecurity fuels his behavior at having to be the ‘macho’ one. Roop conveys this masculine insecurity well, especially when in the presence of Brad, whom he sees as a threat. Missy Peregrym shines as Jenn. She is a sweet but smart girl…though, maybe a little too trusting as in the case of Brad (Balfour). She isn’t very wilderness savvy, but when faced with the looming danger, she becomes quite the survivor. We like her and we are drawn in when she becomes hunted prey in an unfamiliar environment. Eric Balfour is unsettling and a bit creepy as Brad. The character is designed to ignite tension in the audience and between the couple, and the actor gives life to a role that is basically a plot device…and one that works. The only other cast member is Nicholas Campbell who has a brief role as the park ranger who sets the couple on their way and warns Alex, unheeded, to stay off the Blackwood trail.

Overall, this is a good flick with some nice tension and some surprisingly gruesome moments. It is well written and well directed by Adam MacDonald, who makes an impressive debut feature. It’s not perfect, in that there are some dumb decisions made by characters to set the plot in motion, though that is countered by the fact that they don’t seem far-fetched coming from the characters in question. The climactic chase/pursuit between bear and survivor also felt a little short when compared to the slow burn build-up, but does provide some good chills and suspense. Definitely a recommended flick for those who like wilderness-set thrillers and nature run amok movies.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 hungry bears (I know the one in the movie is a black bear. Just being lazy).