9. Cargo (2017)
A dad carries his baby daughter across the Australian outback in search of safety from rabid fungus zombies and the violent remnants of humanity.
A lot is on Martin Freeman’s shoulders in this one. Until he meets up with a camp of survivors, he’s our only POV, his visceral reaction to his situation and his desperate efforts to save his daughter our only human connection. Later, perspectives shift to focus on a group of aboriginal hunters who, refreshingly in a genre and country with a troubling history of poor treatment of non-white people, get to be the heroes and save the day in a zombie movie.
The film’s final stretch has twists and poignancy aplenty, far more than you might expect from standard zombie fare, and the final few images really stay with you.
10. Relic (2020)
When an elderly woman with dementia goes missing from her home, her daughter and granddaughter come to find her. She shows up again, apparently safe and sound without warning, but her behaviour soon becomes more erratic than ever just as strange things begin to happen around her house.
Suffering from dementia is one of the real world’s biggest horrors, and director and co-writer Natalie Erika James makes the most of that as she folds the theme into a more traditional haunted house story. There are jump scares, a house that morphs and changes its layout around the characters to an alarming degree, and some of the most disturbing body horror and ambiguous, dream-invading imagery of the past few years.
The ultimate supernatural evil force remains creepily illusive and ambiguous, your mind connecting the dots and heightening the scary imagery and whispered dark family secrets. This, in addition to the in-built terror of Relic being a story so explicitly about the horrors dementia imparts on not only the sufferer but their families, makes for a remarkable Australian horror film.
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