Wow, it’s hard to believe that we’re officially at the end of Indie Horror Month 2021, but here we are. For the last 30 days, we here at Daily Dead have spent each and every day doing everything we can to uplift the world of independent horror—which includes a variety of facets, like filmmakers, screenwriters, actors, writers, musicians, artists, and all kinds of other creators out there who make the genre space a better place each and every day.
When I first started Indie Horror Month back in 2011, the truth is that it was a project I took on for two reasons. One, I realized that so many indie projects were often getting overlooked and I wanted to do my best to showcase just why filmmakers (back then, I focused primarily on the world of movies) from all walks of life were worth celebrating, even if they didn’t have huge marketing budgets and promotional teams behind them. And two, I selfishly was looking for a challenge. I was in the midst of dealing with shingles, which led to me losing my day job, and so I decided to focus primarily on my writing career, and I was looking to figure out just how my work could be beneficial to others.
The initial incarnation of Indie Horror Month ran for several years (and even included a few film festivals, which I’m still extremely proud of to this very day), but once I came aboard Daily Dead, I had to put it on the backburner for a while as I once again had to refocus just what exactly I wanted my career to be about. And the truth is, while I’m proud of everything I’ve done throughout my 14 years in this industry, the thing that I’ve been the most proud of is Indie Horror Month because I know back when it originally was running, it ended up making a difference in several different filmmakers’ lives, which is really all I ever wanted.
So why bring it back in 2021? Well, part of that is explained in my IHM introduction that ran on April 1st. The nuts and bolts of it is (in case you didn’t want to take the time to read the article, which is totally cool—we’re all busy) because of the pandemic throughout 2020 (and for the first few months of this year), most of the horror that was keeping us entertained as we were dealing with COVID-19 and other world-changing events was coming from the independent side of the industry. With traditional theaters closed, studios were forced to hold most of their horror movies until things got back to “normal” (whatever normal is going to look like remains to be seen), which makes sense fiscally, but left these huge gaps of escape in all our lives, and regardless of everything going on, we all still needed some kind of escape and there were so many amazing independent horror and sci-fi films (and other content as well) that came along to fill that void.
And to that point, the fact that a movie like The Wretched, which would generally be overlooked by most moviegoers because it probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play on a ton of screens under normal circumstances, came along and scored the top position in the proverbial box office for several weeks last summer. That alone is a testament to the enduring power of indie horror and why it should always be celebrated, regardless of what month it is.
Don’t mistake any of this as an anti-studio rant, though. I love so many genre films that have come out from the major studios over the last decade or so, and I’m just as excited to see Candyman, Billy the Puppet and Michael Myers return to the big screen as everyone else is in the coming months. In fact, I think for the genre to be truly successful is to find balance on both sides—if we’re getting great indie horror, there’s undoubtedly someone in the studio system paying attention to that, and ultimately, we’re going to get great studio horror in turn as well (especially as these indie filmmakers get tapped for studio projects—case in point: James Wan). But I know that as studio releases begin to ramp up more and more, it’s going to be harder for all of us to stay vigilant in making sure that all those independent voices in horror are still being heard, too.
With that in mind, I just wanted to take a moment to remind horror fans that great genre stories come in all shapes and sizes, and I hope that as we get ready to get back to the movies, and all these studio projects start hitting the big screen once again, that we don’t forget that there are some truly innovative and boundary-pushing indie horror projects out there that are still worth our time as well.
Also, one last thing I wanted to talk about is what exactly the future of Indie Horror Month is. The truth is, April has been easily one of the most challenging months of my career, despite it being one of the most rewarding, and even though I am extremely proud of all our IHM coverage, I still can’t help but feel like I didn’t do enough. That’s when it hit me that, in a perfect world, what I’d love to see most is to have other genre websites out there take part in Indie Horror Month in the future. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always been a bit precious over IHM because it felt like my “baby,” so it’s just something that I’ve always taken on myself in past years. This time around, I had a TON of great support from the entire team here at Daily Dead (especially Derek Anderson, who worked his butt off prepping every single IHM article that we put up), which led to us being able to post nearly 80 articles and five Indie Horror Month-themed podcast episodes.
But the one thing that I keep thinking about is how amazing it would be to see IHM content going up everywhere, ultimately giving more creators out there the chance to have their stories told, to have their work celebrated, and to enjoy their moment in the spotlight, too. Maybe it’s a pipe dream, but I think it would be hella cool, and I’d encourage other horror websites out there to consider joining us in celebrating Indie Horror Month in 2022, as I’d love to have you involved as well.
Before I wrap this up, I mentioned Derek Anderson earlier, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank everyone at Daily Dead who stepped up to help make this possible: there’s my Horror BFF Patrick Bromley who killed it with his Women of Indie Horror series, Emily von Seele who celebrated Blood Quantum and Session 9, Bryan Christopher who not only wrote about one of my favorite recent indie horror movies—After Midnight—but he also took on the gargantuan task of celebrating New World Pictures, plus Tamika Jones, whose piece on Under the Skin reminded me that it’s a film I desperately need to revisit, and Scott Drebit as well, who transformed his long-running Drive-In Dust-Offs column as his own vehicle for IHM, too. Oh, and of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our boss, Jonathan James, who supported us along the way.
Anyway, I truly hope that you’ve all enjoyed our Indie Horror Month celebration and I also hope that in some way, what we’ve done over the last few weeks ends up being beneficial to those creatives out there who we have featured throughout April. Who knows—maybe it has even inspired someone out there to embark on their own creative path, because these stories that we’ve shared this month have demonstrated that anything is possible if you have an idea, a plan, and a creative passion driving you along the way.
Until next year!
Go HERE to catch up on all of our Indie Horror Month features!