A mark of a great director can always be seen in their early work. An original idea, no matter how simple the idea or what kind of budget they are working with, that leaves an impression with the audience will always keep consumers coming back. In fact, an in-your-face debut can define a director’s career. The film can give the director a lifetime pass even when he or she falls from grace in the latter part of their film making. Also, it can serve as a notice to cinephiles as to who has the chops to continue onto master status.
So far, this decade has seen a number of up and coming directors showing off their skills in a massive way. Especially in the horror genre. Maybe it’s just me, but I would rather see a low-budget slasher with passion than an attempt to put butts in theater seats that lacks soul. That brings us to our list. A list of my personal top 5 directorial debuts from 2010 until now.
I must note that my definition of debut here is a full length, credited movie. I’m leaving off short films, TV work or uncredited help. Now that the rules are in place, let’s get knee deep into it!
TOP 5 DIRECTORIAL DEBUTS SINCE 2010
5. Fede Alvarez – Evil Dead (2013)
Remakes and reboots have a bad rep. Usually, when a remake is announced, my initial reaction is an exhausted gasp and subtle head shake. Especially when dealing with the remake of a genre classic. When I first heard about an Evil Dead remake, my jaw collapsed and my stomach churned. Why remake something that stands as a perfect slice of horror pie? I watched with reluctance and I’m happy to say that I was dead wrong about this one. What Fede Alvarez was able to accomplish should be the standard for directors remaking classic films; make the film your own and breathe new life into it. Alvarez didn’t just modernize the story beat for beat. He created new life in an already familiar universe. Because of this, Evil Dead has to be mentioned on this list.
4. Drew Goddard – Cabin in the Woods (2012)
It’s not every day that a director can take all the tropes and rules of horror films and kick them out the window. Drew Goddard took a simple spin on the cabin in the woods (no pun) idea and made his audience squeal in delight. Regardless of what he’s doing now, Goddard will be remembered in the genre for years to come because of this triumph of bloody elation.
3. S. Craig Zahler – Bone Tomahawk (2015)
A western in appearance, but every part of an extreme horror film at heart, S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk delivers in the creep department. An all star cast mixed with a revenge story wrapped in sheer terror is unforgettable. The last act of the film has a the gritty feeling of a 70s mondo minus the documentary style. Picture Cannibal Holocaust without the film crew, with an ending that closes the story but only leaves you filled with dread.
2. Ana Lily Amirpour – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
The Iranian vampire western shot in black and white, the visually stunning A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night will leave you spellbound, overwhelmed and straight horrified. Artistic, passionate and mind-blowing, Amirpour’s first feature will resonate with you long after the final credits roll. Take a trip into Bad City and leave a little piece of you within its desolate streets.
1. Jennifer Kent – The Babadook (2014)
All of the hype is real. There’s nothing to say that hasn’t been said before. The Babadook is an absolute masterpiece. I love that horror has taken a slight turn from huge, CGI monster-ish “things go boom” films to these little, independent gems of emphatic joy. The duel force of Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman on-screen is undeniable and Jennifer Kent’s directing and story is pulse pounding from the first second. For me, it’s one of those films that I will always remember where I was the first time I saw it.