Poltergeist - 1982

Mainstream Horror Vs. Indie Horror

When we think about horror movies or series, we only think about the big screen names. But forced to be inside had me discover gems behind the curtains.

According To The Critiques

Mainstream vs. indie horror is a fair question. If we are talking about horror movies, titles like Halloween and Friday the 13th comes to mind. We can go older with The Exorcist and Psycho. It goes back to the 30s with Dracula and Frankenstein.

Horror is a genre that has been snubbed over the years, over decades! The general public sees horror as a genre without paying attention to all the subgenres. Horror is the tip of the iceberg, it’s what we see but everything underneath are the subgenres.

Critiques don’t seem to understand that horror has many faces. Even the horror on the big screen barely gets recognition to this day. Before, horror was evil and now it’s a cheap genre that keeps repeating itself.

Why I Don’t Like Critiques

Often, when a critique gives a bad review on a horror movie, I watch it. The scores for horror movies are low because of critiques generalizing the genre. A good horror movie on IMDb often gets between 5 and 7 out of 10 as an average.

I prefer to see regular reviews of horror fans like me to satisfy my curiosity. To please the critiques, lots of times mainstream horror movies—i.e., made for the general public—they dial down the gore.

The Haunting — 1999
The Haunting — 1999

Some people believe it to be better to dial down on the gore and violence, but then, what you’re left with is a light spooky movie. Not everyone can have satisfaction from a simple and light “horror” movie. But, to be on the big screen you must make sacrifices, then we have movies like Winchester and The Haunting.

VVitch Or Horror Fans

I can hear someone screaming: Hostel! Saw! The Human Centipede! Would You Rather! Yes, there are exceptions to the rules. However, when looking at the critique for those, at the exception of Hereditary, all were not as well received.

What I deplore is how The VVitch kept showing up in our research. My husband and I were looking for horror movies to watch and The VVitch kept showing up. We finally find it on Tubi after weeks of not finding it on any streaming service. Side note, we live in Quebec, Canada.


Well, The VVitch had good critiques for a horror movie and so we watched it. The movie is impressive when it comes down to the period work. The clothing, the accessories, the hairdos, even the scenery and choice of color spectrum. However, it was so close to its time period that the script itself dated back to the 17th century with a Puritan dialog.

Long story short, the movie was an impressive work of accuracy, but my husband—Canadian English—and me—French Canadian but bilingual—had a hard time understanding them half the time. The movie was a wonderful period piece but there is no horror in there at the exception of the very last scene that has you think, “Wait, what?”

The Indie Horror Screen

We are on our second year of a global change. We had to change our entire lives to fit safety into our lives. With that said, it means we entered the Age of the Small Screen. Instead of big releases in theaters we had big releases on our televisions! I must admit to love it.

This change had me discover a streaming service made for me: Shudder. The first release I caught was Host. An independent horror movie fitting the pandemic in it. I loved it so much. It had me look for more indie horror movies. There is, not a sea, but an ocean of amazing indie horror movies out there!

Shudder - HOST - 2020
Shudder – HOST – 2020

We are missing out so much on smaller horror production houses names because they were shadowed by mainstream horror! A24, Ghost House Pictures, Fangoria, Uncork’d Entertainment and Wild Eye Releasing, among others are amazing!

Will you find duds? Of course, you will but it’s the beauty of horror. There is space for every subgenres and forget about the critiques.

What Mainstream Horror Did

Mainstream horror means a light level of scares to fit a wider audience, such as PG 13. The horror goes through a limitation of gore, scare, even topics to show. For horror fans, often we watch those movies, enjoy it but it’s not a “watch alone in the dark” deal. Mainstream horror, even when rated 18+ or M, is often still on the lighter side of the spectrum.

The Iceberg Horror Movie List In Depth
The Iceberg Horror Movie List In Depth

Making horror available for everyone did help the genre reach out to a wider audience. However, it also saturated it with so-called horror with cash-grab teen movies. It wasn’t too long ago that there weren’t streaming services and us horror fans had to live with what was available at the local video store.

Without going deep into the Horror Iceberg—I’m not going in details as you can read about it in my other article—you can see how many horror levels there are. This would be impossible without the indie horror community and streaming services. Horror grows and is profitable without mainstream horror.

Not Too Long Ago

Movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre back in the 60s was what would be an X Rated movie today. It was too much for many people. The same goes for movies such as The Exorcist. Now, we see those often, but back then they were the rebels.

Today, because of critiques, the horror genre adapted to mainstream to have big revenues. Houses such as Blumhouse Production was once an indie horror film company.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - 1974
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – 1974

Now, it flourishes into a company to look out for. They make horror movies for both hardcore fans and mainstream.

The history of horror movies had its ups and downs over the years. Not to fall into oblivion, production companies had to adapt with each decade’s demands. Were you to be one of those to shock the public or be on the silver screen for a cheap scare. Both had their place, the big screen still gave us A Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday The 13th.

The Mainstream And The indie

To be clear, I am not against mainstream horror. Not all of us can say, “I want to watch someone being skinned alive while possessed by a demon!” Horror has everything for everyone. What I find unfair are the “critiques.”

Indie movies have a lot to offer in a variety of subgenres. I discovered so many gems on streaming services such as Shudder and Tubi for the most part. I highly recommend to give indie companies a chance. They will surprise you for sure!

Freddy vs. Jason - 2003
Freddy vs. Jason – 2003

Also, remember not to compare an indie movie the same way you would a big production movie. Indie movies have very limited budget, but that doesn’t mean the story is any less worth the watch.

A Little Last Word

I fell in love with horror when I was way too young and grew up watching them all. I enjoy heavy horror, B 80s horror, as much as I do classic horror. However, I never thought I’d prefer indie horror over mainstream or big Hollywood productions. But I do.

Stuck at home had me become creative with my horror choices. I discovered Shudder, which I can’t live without anymore. I discovered the indie horror community and now I can’t go back. It’s wonderful and I hope to see you there!


Come on, put aside Hollywood for a while and join us into the indie community of horror fans!

Also, let me know in the comments which horror genre is your favorite and if you’d like for me to do a piece on my favorites!

The OCD Vampire,
Arielle Lyon

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