Friedkin Uncut (2020, dir. Francesco Zippel)

A documentary on film director William Friedkin, centred on interviews with its subject. Very pleasant overview of Friedkin’s work and perspective on filmmaking, supported by focuses on his 1970s output in particular. No huge surprises, and little criticism, but a decent watch nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

The Turning (2020, dir. Floria Sigismondi)

A young teacher takes a first job as a governess to two wealthy orphans: she comes to believe their stately home is haunted. Good-looking but otherwise rote version of MR James’ The Turn of the Screw. A few well-executed jumpscares aside, there’s nothing special here, alas.

Here’s the trailer.

Haunters: The Art of the Scare (2017, dir. Jon Schnitzer)

An overview of haunts – pop-up Halloween haunted house attractions – and of those who create and act in them. A decent little crowdfunded doc that explores a horror subculture, offering insight into the needs of those who get involved, as well as some of the risks (relationship, psychological, financial, other).

Here’s the trailer.

Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America (2016, dir. Matthew Ornstein)

A documentary portrait of US musician Daryl Davis, who has made it a personal mission to befriend and understand Klan members. An interesting biography on a personalised mission to undo the Klan. Both the strengths and flaws of Davis’s approach are explored in an even-handed manner; a fascinating case study.

Here’s the trailer.

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019, dir. Xavier Burgin)

An overview of black representation and industry participation in (mostly) US horror films. An excellent documentary, clear and straightforward, but with some weight to its ideas as well as being accessible to wider audiences. Plenty of clips, plus interviews with genre figures and academics. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

In Search of Darkness (2019, dir. David A. Weiner)

An overview of 1980s – mostly US mainstream – horror movies. Sacrificing depth for breadth, this lengthy (4-hour) documentary offers annual summaries and some thematic commentary. Light on analysis, but strong on genre industry interviews, this fan service-tastic offering acts as an elegy for late directors Stuart Gordon and Larry Cohen.

Dark Stories (2019, dir. François Descraques & Guillaume Lubrano)

A woman held hostage by a bloodthirsty doll tells it stories to keep it from killing her. Superior Anglo-French anthology horror with no weak episodes. The tales tend to the EC style twist narratives, covering some unusual ground as well as riffs on zombie, ghost and vampire yarns. A solid job all around.

Hall (2020, dir. Francesco Giannini)

A contagion spreads along a hotel corridor, affecting those staying on that floor in different ways. A slow-burn z-movie of sorts, and timely; it takes time to get going, but there are some interesting ideas on display, even if some of this good work is undone by a talky explanatory coda.

They’re Outside (2020, dir. Sam Casserly & Airell Anthony Hayles)

A YouTuber psychologist attempts to force a cure on an agoraphobic; supernatural forces are at work. While some performances are fun, the bulk of the movie is simply an arrogant and unlikeable bloke bullying a woman for running-time-consuming reasons. A decent genre idea for a short is stretched uncomfortably to feature-length. Not for me.

Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini (2019, dir. Jason Baker)

A documentary on the life and career of SFX legend and actor Tom Savini. Straightforward and positive overview, with plenty of supportive talking heads and clips from across Savini’s output. Everyone seems to like him, and he comes across well, though a little grit in the oyster might have produced something more valuable.