Brad Anderson isn’t often recognized as a key contributor to the horror genre. The reason has nothing to do with Anderson’s talent, which seems to have no ceiling, the reason Anderson doesn’t get the fan adoration he deserves is likely because he does a masterful job of blending genres. Nearly every film the man has crafted has been a hybrid of horror, thriller, drama and mystery. It’s quite obvious that Anderson knows precisely how to chill a viewer to the bone while demanding full attention on the horror front. In short, Brad Anderson is not just an underrated talented, he’s an astonishingly refined filmmaker with a love for the horror genre, and he’s mighty effective in introducing those horror elements to some of his sublime pictures.
Here’s a look at five of Brad Anderson’s amazing crossover films, all of which are very engaging and quite shocking.
THE CALL is a smart film that essentially utilizes the cat and mouse approach, to great effect. But there’s an extra wrinkle of anxiety in the film, as a kidnapped girl – whose only interaction with anyone beside the picture’s focal nemesis comes in the way of a dedicated 911 operator. Together, the two work diligently to save the young lady’s life, but that’s no easy feat. The film’s antagonist is every bit as sharp as the script itself, and as the movie barrels along, the victim (played by Abigail Breslin, for the record) quickly realizes that she’s been taken captive by a man who – not only is he in his right mind – has little remorse for the crimes he commits. Some of the best sequences in the film involve Halle Berry’s character, as she battles to maintain composure while she desperately attempts to save a child’s life. It’s a tense picture that, while respected, may not be too respected by the horror audience, which it should be.
It’s easy to dismiss the old “we’re trapped in a mental institution, and nothing is as it seems,” because honestly, we’ve seen an absurd amount of films like this surface over the years. But there’s a sense of humanity in Anderson’s film that most lack. It also looks absolutely stunning with some brilliant set pieces and top-notch editing. Sure, it does begin on the slower side, but it doesn’t take too long for the primary and unsuspecting college graduate to realize that Stonehearst Asylum features some secrets that, if discovered, could inspire a gruesome fate for the ambitious young lady. There are an assortment of excellent performances in the film, and that earns huge points from us, but the true terror of the film lies within the building’s walls, and our heroines realization that something is horrifically wrong at STONEHEARST ASYLUM.
TRANSSIBERIAN isn’t exactly heavy on horror, but it is drenched in a plethora of extremely taut situations, and as the movie moves forward we’re asked to contemplate a series of baffling but believable situations. What may be more entertaining is the final act of the film, which all but abandons the mystery aspect of the film in favor of a much more conventional horror-inspired finale. Things don’t end as anyone expects, and that’s a great thing. Seeing Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley together in a very dark film should also go a very long way in getting genre fiends truly hyped up. If murder mysteries with an atypical number of twists seems like a perfect fit for your cinematic tastes, then look into this sadly underappreciated masterpiece. It’s must-see if ever there was must-see.
Very few films successfully blend as many genres as THE MACHINIST. It’s part drama, part love story (the most neglected element of the picture), and part ghost story. Every twisted action and reaction is driven by a man who can no longer fully separate reality from hallucination. Christian Bale’s performance of the severely emaciated insomniac who hasn’t enjoyed a hint of sleep for a year is jaw-dropping. And the lack of sleep not only makes for some profoundly haunting moments, it also transforms Trevor Reznik into a complete disaster waiting to happen. And happen it does. While Reznik’s sleep deprivation begins to lead to accidents in the workplace and a questionable relationship, a mysterious man enters his life. Another bone chilling character, Ivan, gradually helps to open up Reznik’s eyes to reality… where he quickly discovers the reason he’s been a total and complete mess for the past 365 days. A stellar reveal awaits, but you know us and our desire to steer clear of spoilers: You’re going to have to watch this one to understand precisely why a number of lives have sustained damage that cannot be erased or healed.
Hands down one of the greatest possession/haunted house tales ever shot, SESSION 9 is melancholy on all fronts, but it’s also truly terrifying. Focusing on an asbestos crew that takes a gig cleaning up an abandoned mental asylum is a clever – even if not completely original – but it deviates from just about every genre trope you can name, and it consistently terrifies. The characters are likable and memorable. The chemistry within the group travels the gamut from good, fun, lighthearted work to mounting suspicions of one another and eventual rage. Is it the building that seems to be slowly turning this crew into delusional maniacs, or is it something even darker? SESSION 9 isn’t just an all-time great genre piece, it also boasts a shocking and deeply sorrowful conclusion. The flick isn’t heavy on gore, but the atmosphere, and the script are nothing short of genius. If you somehow missed this amazing production, seek it out – immediately!