Jennifer Reeder’s high-concept high school horror film, Knives and Skin, demonstrates what a maximum of creativity can do with a minimum of budget. The disappearance of a young girl causes an existential fissure to open in a rural Midwestern town, effecting and infecting the inhabitants, mainly teens and their parents. The mind of the party-line cinephile might leap to David Lynch while watching these weirdos unglue, but Reeder has a point of view all her own.
Arena Cinelounge, 6464 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Dec. 6, $16. (323) 924-1644, arenascreen.org.
A late addition in the “imaginary friend” horror subgenre, Daniel Isn’t Real shows what happens when a troubled teen (Miles Robbins) conjures his childhood alter ego (Patrick Schwarzenegger) to help him cope with the vicissitudes of college life. But who’s controlling whom? Adam Egypt Mortimer directs this low-budget shocker set to be released simultaneously in theaters, digital and on demand.
Alamo Drafthouse, 700 W. 7 St. Ste. U240, downtown; Fri., Dec. 6, various showtimes; $15-$18 (213) 217-9027, drafthouse.com.
Naomi Watts stars in The Wolf Hour as a writer who holes up in her grimy South Bronx apartment during a citywide blackout. The year is 1977, and the “Son of Sam” murders have driven the inhabitants into a panic. The term “Hitchcockian” isn’t simply decorative; Alistair Banks Griffin’s film bears more than a passing resemblance to an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode called, “The Creeper.” A generous showcase for Watts, the film has a sweaty, claustrophobic mise-en-scene that gets under your skin. Emory Cohen and Jennifer Ehle co-star.
Monica Film Center, 1332 2nd St., Santa Monica, Fri., Dec. 6, various showtimes; $9-$12. (310) 478-3836. laemmle.com/theater/monica-film-center