Welcome to Knockout Horror and to our first list article. Today we are taking a look at 5 underrated British horror movies. We are also throwing in 5 that are not so good for equal measure.
Is there anything more maligned than the humble list? Exploited by YouTubers and clickbait websites alike. The list has become something of a negative figure on the world wide web. Visions of slideshows replete with numerous ads spring to mind. 15 clicks to read seven items. Slow page loads and the same old recycled content we have all seen before.
Well, at Knockout Horror, only some of that is true. Sure, this is recycled content. I mean, how do you write an original list nowadays? But these lists will be carefully curated to horror fans. I will only focus on movies I have reviewed. There will be no clickbait and no slideshow. Just a simple list designed with horror fans in mind.
5 Underrated British Horror Movies
The UK has a pretty decent history with horror. From old classics like The Wicker Man to modern hits like 28 Days Later. The shared language between the UK and America has allowed the horror here to translate well overseas. Much like Australia, it could be said that UK horror punches above its weight. Naturally, it’s not all good. Today we are taking a look at 5 Underrated British Horror Movies and 5 that suck.
So what qualifies a movie as underrated? Well, it could be that it has flown under the radar. It could be that the subject matter is divisive. Or it could simply be a case of people not realising how good a movie really is. The movies we are covering today are a mix of these things. Hell, I have potentially underrated a few of them. Still, they all have one thing in common. An audience of people that love them and think they need more attention. Let’s take a look.
5. Mandrake – 2022
Mandrake is an interesting, slow burning folk horror from Northern Ireland. Focusing on the story of a probation officer tasked with helping a killer reintegrate into society. This is a movie that is, most definitely, not for everyone. Incredibly slow paced and with a sometimes convoluted and messy plot. Mandrake will likely frustrate as much as it pleases.
Still, this is an interesting movie in the sparsely populated Folk Horror genre. It builds tension gradually, attempting to deeply unsettle the viewer. Decent performances from the film’s leading ladies Deirdre Mullins and Derbhle Crotty help you invest in the events taking place. It is quite effective. If you fancy something with a glacial pace and a proverbial Rubik’s cube of a plot. Mandrake may just be for you.
What’s the score?
We gave it a fairly solid 6/10. It currently ranks a lot lower on IMDB at 4.7/10. Rotten Tomatoes certifies it fresh with 80% positive reviews but an audience score of only 59%. Again, this reflects the divisive nature of this interesting horror movie. Why not check it out? If it’s messy plot confuses you, come right back and check out our Mandrake Ending Explained article to clear things up. It’s on Shudder right now.
4. The Children
The Children is a pretty well loved horror movie focusing on a group of marauding children terrorising adults over the holidays. Set in a grand English estate. I actually don’t enjoy this movie as much as a lot of people do. The Children is very popular and frequently appears on horror lists. It never really did it for me in the same way, though. Still, I can appreciate this horror movie for what it is. Easy to watch and a fair bit of fun.
Set during the Christmas holidays. We covered this movie as part of our Awful Advent 25 Days of Christmas event. With that in mind, you will likely see it in future festive lists. The Children features some seriously creepy kids and some ridiculously dumb adults. This movie has an easy going, horror lite feeling to it. The plot is simple and there are some interesting kills. Let’s be honest, we all know the majority of kids are evil. What better option for a horror antagonist? Well worth a watch if you just want to switch off your brain and have fun.
What’s the score?
We scored The Children 6/10 which is pretty decent. IMDB readers share in this sentiment with an average score of 5.9/10. Rotten Tomatoes has a rating of 76% Fresh with an audience score of only 50%. Why not check out our review at the link below?
Gwen is a hauntingly beautiful Period Folk Horror movie set in the North Wales region of Snowdon. This, much like Mandrake, is a glacially slow paced movie designed to unsettle the viewer. One of the more stunningly shot movies reviewed on this site. It is also a horror movie sure to divide viewers. Its slow, considered, pace and lack of scares don’t lend itself well to casual viewers. Hell, even I felt very conflicted with it.
Following the story of a family being forced out of their home during the industrial revolution. Gwen features supernatural elements with hints of witchcraft and social drama. It is breathtakingly gorgeous and Eleanor Cox’s performance as Gwen is exceptional. Its slow pace and almost horror adjacent stylings will likely put viewers off. Gwen can be predictable and really drags its feet in parts. Still, there is a well developed story and haunting presentation here. Fans of The Witch will surely find plenty to enjoy.
What’s the score?
We scored Gwen a very specific 6.3/10. That’s a sure sign that I was pretty conflicted here. IMDB users fall fairly close to this giving Gwen an average of 5.7/10. Rotten Tomatoes features a more optimistic fresh rating of 71% with an even more positive audience rating of 75%. Definitely not for everyone but gorgeous enough to recommend. Check out our review of Gwen at the link below.
2. Saint Maud – 2019
Saint Maud is another slow burning British Psychological Horror movie. Focusing on the story of a devoutly religious former nurse. Saint Maud is an exploration into life, terminal illness, and the complexities of mental health disorders. Featuring a tour-de-force performance by Welsh actor Morfydd Clark. Rose Glass’ haunting feature length horror debut will stay with you long after it has finished.
Both shocking and sad. This is a somewhat depressing tale that cuts no corners in its depiction of Schizophrenia induced religious ideation. Absolutely worth a watch and one of the best horror movies to come out of the UK in recent years. This is, despite the praise, not for everyone. The reason this movie features in this list is due to the lower audience rating. It is slow paced and the horror element is placed somewhere in the background. Still, if you enjoy a complex horror movie that really makes you think. You absolutely need to check Saint Maud out. We have also put together a Saint Maud Ending Explained article. So if you watch and it leaves you with questions. Why not come and take a look?
What’s the score?
We gave Saint Maud a well deserved 8/10. Honestly, part of this not being higher is acknowledging that movies movies like this tend to split the audience. This is a future horror classic. IMDB users are a little more reserved with Saint Maud having an average of 6.7/10. Rotten Tomatoes has the movie at a massive 93% fresh rating. The audience rating reflects the divisive nature of slow burn horror at 65%.
1. Exhibit A
This is another movie that has fallen foul of lower audience ratings. Exhibit A is a British Indie Found Footage Psychological Horror movie. It follows the story of the mental decline of King family patriarch Andy. Overlooked for a promotion at work. Andy finds himself in spiralling debt. Unable to confide in his family or let them down. He begins mentally unravelling with devastating consequences. This is a fantastically dark horror movie that, at times, feels almost too real.
Haunting for its authentic portrayal of domestic violence and familicide. Exhibit A stays with you long after you turn it off. I still class the ending sequences as some of the more disturbing I have seen in horror. Bradley Cole and Brittany Ashworth are fantastically believable. The found footage styling affords a feeling of realism that few horror movies can match. Still, it is clearly not for everyone. The soap opera style presentation of much of the movie undermines the horror that waits at the end. The found footage genre is also hit or miss for many. The lack of scares will put plenty of people off. Still, in my opinion, this is one of the more effective horror movies to come out of the UK in the 2000’s.
What’s the score?
Exhibit A received an 8.5/10 here as part of our K-O-Ween 31 Days of Halloween 2022 feature. IMDB user scores are more mixed at 6.1/10. Rotten Tomatoes has not collated critic scores for Exhibit A. Various critic reviews described the movie as a “Masterpiece of gradually escalating horror” and an “ingenious thriller”. All of which I think are appropriate. Exhibit A is a fantastic movie and heavily underrated.
And 5 Not So Good British Horror Movies
Okay, one of these is more average than bad. Still, that is a matter of opinion. The UK has knocked out some terrible horror movies in the past few years. Boring, derivative, gloomy, depressing, hilarious, poorly acted. Take your pick, these movies feature most of those elements. Let’s take a look.
5. Await Further Instructions
Again, more average than bad. Await Further Instructions appeared in our Awful Advent 25 Days of Christmas Horror feature. Set at Christmas, it follows a family trapped inside their house by an apparent external crisis. The family are instructed to follow increasingly more bizarre demands as their personalities clash and tensions mount. A messy plot, average acting and ridiculous character reactions really drag this movie down. A general feeling of silliness and ridiculous levels of escalation don’t help. Still, it’s okay if you are looking for a horror movie set at Christmas.
4. Hosts (2020)
Not to be confused with the, actually decent, movie Host from the same year. Hosts is a British horror movie following a family spending Christmas together. Only to realise their invited guests seem a little different. We covered this in our Awful Advent 25 Days of Christmas Horror feature. This is a movie that is as confused as it is painfully average. Poor writing, tons of plot holes, and horrible technical issues mar what could have been an okay movie. Samantha Loxley’s performance here deserves praise. One shocking scene of note might provide amusement for horror fans, as well. Regardless of how in poor taste it is. If you are looking for a solid horror movie, maybe look elsewhere.
We gave the movie 5/10. IMDB was even more scathing with the user average being 4.3/10. Rotten Tomatoes can literally fuck right off with their Fresh rating of 83%. A fantastic example of how pointless Rotten Tomatoes’ rating system is. The audience score is a dismal, and far more accurate, 30%.
3. Choose or Die – 2022
Gah! What more can you say about a movie like this? British actors don fake American accents and South London Masquerades as New York in this terrible Netflix horror. Kayla finds an old 80’s video game that is offering a prize of $125,000. Thinking it will solve her financial issues, she plays. The game then forces her to make increasingly dark choices on real life events.
Aside from how ridiculous this plot is. This movie gives Robert Englund top billing for a 30 second, off screen, voice over appearance. That should tell you all you need to know. The video game style effects and hilariously bad presentation make Choose or Die a laugh a minute romp. Sub-par acting and terribly unconvincing accents are just the cherry on the shit-sundae here. Avoid unless you desperately need a laugh.
We gave this movie 4/10 which I think is rather generous. IMDB users were a bit more generous with a score of 4.8/10. Rotten Tomatoes, for once, actually came through with a believable 30% Rotten score. The audience was even more scornful with just a 25% audience rating.
2. The Isle (2018)
Fake IMDB reviews from people involved in production? Check. Terrible acting from key characters? Check. A recycled plot and an awkward sex scene? Check.. Well, we must be talking about Matthew Butler-Hart’s maritime horror drama The Isle. I will never forget my joy reading user reviews of this movie. People invested enough to complain about “the attention spans of Millennials” and protest that “it was never described as a horror anyway” made for better entertainment than the movie itself. Naturally the majority of those reviews were fake but still a lot of fun.
Three sailors land on an island. The island is all but deserted. The remaining residents hide a secret. Women stare menacingly. The end. Horror fans will likely find little to enjoy here. It’s a gorgeous movie at times and some of the acting is fine. The plot is messy, though, and direction leaves lots to be desired. Non-horror fans will probably enjoy this a lot more than horror fans. We covered this in an Ending Explained article so check it out if the movie confused you.
We gave The Isle 4/10 because I suppose the cinematography was okay. IMDB users average a more generous 5/10 but a few thousand of those votes were probably the production crew. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 67% fresh rating on 9 votes. The audience rating is a confounding 81%.
1. The Sitter (Darkness Wakes) (2017)
Ah man is this movie ever terrible. The funny thing is, it starts out quite promising. A broke student offers to house sit for an eccentric couple. While spending time in the enormous, remote, house. Charlotte begins experiencing strange dreams and bizarre goings on. An incredibly committed and effective performance by Aisling Knight cannot save this movie. The plot is ridiculous, acting terrible, and the movie completely lacks in scares. A tendency to default to “main character gets her boobs out” to offset the terrible direction and general awfulness feels almost like exploitation. This is a movie that deserves no praise outside of Aisling Knight’s excellent performance.
We gave this movie a well deserved 3/10. IMDB users were a little more generous giving it a 4/10. I imagine some of that comes from dude’s giving it high ratings for the amount of time Aisling Knight spends nude. Apparently Rotten Tomatoes barely knows this movie exists… Lucky buggers!
And That’s Your Lot
So that’s five underrated British horror movies and 5 that are simply a bit bad. Sure, some of you will likely disagree. Some of you probably enjoy some of these bad films. Others will likely hate some that I recommend. I know Saint Maud is a very divisive one. Still, that’s the beauty of horror. It moves people in different ways.
Thanks for reading. There are more lists coming in the future. In the meantime, why not check out our Horror Movie Reviews or take a look at some Ending Explained articles? I am adding to the site practically every day of the week so check back often.