1. Creep: Probably the best addition to the genre of found footage horror in the past fifteen years–excluding the superior Creep 2 of course—Creep wears its concept on its title, telling the story of a truly disturbing serial killer and the man he’s chosen to be his next victim.

  2. Creep 2: It’s essential, obviously, to watch the first Creep before sitting down to Creep 2. But the sequel builds on and outdoes the original in every possible way, wringing new drama, laughs, and scares from a conceit most reasonably figured had been bled dry. It’s a tiny modern masterpiece.

  3. Holidays: As the title makes plain, in this film each short film is inspired by a certain holiday and as with any anthology, some segments in Holidays are better than others, and one or two might be full-on duds. (Looking at your entry, Kevin Smith.) The standouts are Easter and Father’s Day, but there are some great ideas running throughout the entire thing.

  4. Hush: Mike Flanagan might be the most consistent and prolific horror filmmaker working today. Hush is Flanagan at his most lowkey, but also his most creative. He gives the home-invasion thriller new life with the conceit of our protagonist being a deaf woman. Flanagan puts us in her shoes, removing arguably the most important sense when it comes to horror—and somehow uses it to make things even scarier.

  5. The Boy: The Boy is a gothic horror that’s far more stylish than its trashy trappings demand, and while it’s not an art-house triumph, it keeps the tension going up until one of the greatest twists in modern horror.

  6. The Blackcoat’s Daughter: The Blackcoat’s Daughter is easily one of the most atmospheric horrors in years. Two young girls stay at their strict, mysterious boarding school during a snowstorm and to say anything else would be spoiling, but rest assured, things get weird.

Cam, 2018.

Cam, 2018.

Everett Collection

  1. Cam: One of the best and most original horror movies in years, Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzei’s film takes an atypical approach to both scares and sex as they relate to the genre. Madeleine Brewer anchors the film with a multifaceted performance as a beleaguered sex worker, facing off with a a demonic entity that’s stolen her online identity.

  2. The Autopsy of Jane Doe: The unlikely but brilliant duo of Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox anchors this deceptively simple thriller as father/son coroners tasked with uncovering the secrets behind the unidentifiable corpse of a young woman who, from the outside, looks completely untouched. The film teases and builds suspense just long enough, while doling out small reveals and suggestions here and there until a brilliantly off-the-wall third act inevitably brings violent chaos. A ton of fun.

  3. The Invitation: The Invitation is at the pinnacle of the “dinner party goes awry” subgenre. Logan Marshall-Green is brilliant as Will, a troubled man attending a function at the house he used to share with his wife and late son. He becomes convinced his ex and her new husband are up to something, and that’s just the beginning of this wild movie that sticks the landing and ends with a new entry on the list of all-time great ending scenes.

  4. He Never Died: Henry Rollins plays an ancient being who requires blood to stay immortal and then this dark, gleefully violent movie takes a hard turn into a mythology you almost certainly weren’t expecting. It’s a fun, original idea for a vampire movie—only swap out a vampire for something much, much more interesting.

  5. The Silence of the Lambs: This isn’t just one of the best scary movies, it’s one of the best movies of all time generally. Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter will haunt your dreams and have you looking for serial killers around every corner.

  6. Eli: Eli’s a weird one: It hit Netflix after Paramount decided it was unmarketable and dumped it on the streaming service instead of taking it to theaters. Bad sign! And yet, Eli is actually pretty solid. It starts out as something of a staid haunted house story with some decent stylish flairs: Eli is a young boy allergic to the world whose parents take him to an experimental medical facility retrofitted inside a remote mansion, complete with a team of ominous nurses. It’s dumb but entertaining enough, but eventually everything gets turned on its head with a clever twist. It’s spooky and there’s some real ambition here. Don’t sleep on it.

May the Devil Take You, 2018.

May the Devil Take You, 2018.

Everett Collection

  1. May the Devil Take You: Full of over-the-top gunk, gloriously cheesy dialogue, and South East Asian necromancy, this Indonesian horror conjures comparisons to early Sam Raimi in all the right ways.

  2. The Witches: Even with only a PG rating this beginner-level horror is nothing to scoff at. Acting legends Anjelica Huston and Mai Zetterling easily settle into a well thought out script brimming with subtle nuances and mature themes such as the loss of loved ones to deliver top rung performances. The deft balance between these weighty issues and the creative puppet work from Muppet Show producer Jim Henson far exceeds your average happy Halloween kid flick and has made The Witches a cult classic romp the whole family can enjoy.

  3. Poltergeist: Steven Spielberg utilized his talent for building warm family atmospheres to horrifying effect when he wrote the script for what would become the most frightening film of the 80s. The Freelings are the picture-perfect family. Which is exactly why when nightmarish happenings begin to prod this little slice of American pie, the scares hit home.

  4. Sinister: Inspired by The Ring, which itself is based on the Japanese film Ringu, Sinister follows the formula of a demon living in a video tape that leaves anybody who views it fatally screwed. Bolstered by convincingly chilling performances from Ethan Hawke and two extra creepy kids (Michael Hall D’Addario, and Clare Foley), Sinister delivers a fright that makes its predecessors proud while making audiences scream.

  5. Berlin Syndrome: A revolting story about a woman taken prisoner by her sick S.O.B. boyfriend in his apartment. There is no humor or fun-loving moments in this one. This is a terrifying dose of reality that is made more frightening by the fact that even while writing this there are thousands of human beings living it.

  6. The Evil Dead: The movie that gave Sam Raimi his start and created a horror cult classic, The Evil Dead is that perfect blend of grotesque and ridiculous that defined the genre throughout the 80s. Skip the imitators and watch the originator, it’s still the best of the bunch.

  7. The Gift: Touching on the universal fear of blackmail paired with the casting of every man Jason Bateman as the victim sets The Gift up for a quick launch. What’s not clear is the trajectory. Full of enough twists, red herrings, and cunningly subtle performances to fry your nerves, this contemporary themed horror pulls you in every direction until reaching a conclusion you’ll be kicking yourself for having not figured out earlier.

The Ritual, 2017.

The Ritual, 2017.

Everett Collection

  1. The Ritual: A bunch of British blokes travelling through the woods of Sweden is a fitting setup for universally recognized scare tactics. Isolated, lost, hungry, and cold in a foreign dark terrain while being hunted covers near every fear we’ve had ingrained in us as humans going back to caveman days. What we never saw before was a creature as scary as the one in The Ritual.

  2. Gerald’s Game: Most actors would be intimidated by a single room psychological horror where they don’t even stand up for the majority of the movie, but not Carla Gugino. She owns this cautionary tale of sexy bondage gone awry with her hands tied behind her back—and to the bed posts.

  3. Apostle: Period pieces always have the upper hand when it comes to horror, because the past just makes everything creepier. Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen bring this slow burn mind game of tweed and past traumas to a scorching boil when Christianity and cult religion clash on a desolate island located off the shores of 1905 England.

  4. Insidious: Back in 2010 this movie was a fresh step away from ultra-gory hits like Saw that were saturating the horror genre. Plus, it reintroduced the world to the spine-chilling music of Tiny Tim in one of the most hilarious scenes in recent horror memory.

  5. Shutter: This simple, no-frills-all-chills Thai horror belongs solely to the powerhouse acting of Natthaweeranuch Thongmee and Ananda Everingham, who sell every terrifying scene to such perfection it’ll have you believing in ghosts.

  6. Cult of Chucky: Nobody expected the seventh installment in the Child’s Play franchise to be as good as it is, but the only thing faster than Cult of Chucky’s rapid-fire murders is its runtime. Series’ hallmarks of lowbrow violence and witty one liners are still present, but the effort was clearly made to include more creative forms of murder and uncharacteristically strong performances. This franchise is turning out to be as immortal as the ginger devil himself.

  7. The Guest: Before Stranger Things premiered in 2016, The Guest pioneered the revival of horror’s greatest decade (yes, the 80s). Chock-full of Carrie homages, badass Roadhouse references, and a killer new wave soundtrack to really set the mood, the referential predictability of this cookie-cutter thriller proves to be its greatest strength.

Bird Box, 2018.

Bird Box, 2018.

Everett Collection

  1. Bird Box: More of a gimmick than a fully fleshed-out film, this half-baked horror (and surprisingly huge hit) does manage to stir up some genuine jumps with sharp camera work and snappy use of audio. The biggest thrill comes from the wait for the monster reveal, which makes the viewing experience an overall enjoyable one. Is it worth a watch? Absolutely. Is it worth a re-watch? Maybe not so much.

  2. Sleepy Hollow: A wondrous reimagining of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, this 90s classic was the final stop on a Tim Burton win streak that ran the decade. Before Johnny Depp became a caricature of himself and Burton started mailing it in, the two revived the same cinematic magic that previously brought us Edward Scissor Hands and Ed Wood. Set in the real-life town, this richly detailed yarn of early America, love, and one very angry headless horseman is a must-watch every October.

  3. Red Dragon: Red Dragon doesn’t recapture the magic of The Silence of the Lambs, but it does touch it. Delivering a knockout performance as “The Tooth Fairy”, Ralph Fiennes hits the creep meter hard enough to almost match the energy of Anthony Hopkins’ iconic turn as “Hannibal the Cannibal.”

  4. Anaconda: Owning its creature feature absurdity to perfection, Anaconda plays on Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes, duh) then injects a mix-mash cast of Ice Cube, John Voight, Jennifer Lopez, and Owen Wilson to create a truly singular experience. Where else can you see Ice Cube getting into a fist fight with a giant anaconda?.

  5. Splice: A mix of animal and human DNA leads to one crazy horror creature. Sarah Polley’s performance as the doting mother to her own sick creation helps to keep a possibly silly premise grounded while elevating Splice to a whole new level of disturbing.

  6. Vampires Vs. The Bronx: The Lost Boys with an uptown vibe, Vampires vs. the Bronx brings 80s-style bloodsucking horror to the no nonsense streets of New York. Highly self-aware and packed full of jump-out screams, this supernatural spin on the very real issue of gentrification never loses sight of its message, or its purpose to entertain.

  7. 9: “Sometimes fear is the appropriate response” is an apt line from, and description of, this Tim Burton-produced animated horror. Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where an assortment of terrible machines have wiped humanity from the map, it’s up to nine unique burlap sack creatures to save the world. Though it may sound childish, don’t doubt 9’s horror bonafides for a second.

Velvet Buzzsaw, 2019.

Velvet Buzzsaw, 2019.

Everett Collection

  1. Velvet Buzzsaw: Never fully living up to it’s horror potential, Velvet Buzzsaw is still worth the watch. Razor-sharp dialogue and standout performances from Jake Gyllenhaal as a sexually confused art critic, and Rene Russo as a sellout dealer who robs the cursed paintings of a dead man makes this one of Netflix’s most entertaining originals.

  2. The Forest of Love: This new flick from acclaimed Japanese director Sion Sono plays like a live-action anime. It will probably prove too decadent for most, but to put it in terms most western movie fans will understand, it’s like a horror focused Kill Bill with four exclamation marks tacked on the end.

  3. The Devil All the Time: Teen heartthrobs be damned; this is officially the second scariest film set in Appalachia (No. 1 is still Deliverance). Featuring a new oddball accent to add to Robert Pattison’s growing collection and a surprisingly gritty performance from your friendly neighborhood Tom Holland, The Devil All the Time is a hair-raising tale about how men seek out monsters in stories, but often have something much more sinister hiding inside themselves.

  4. The Killing of a Scared Deer: More of a skin crawler than an outright scream machine, this slow burn from the notoriously twisted mind of Yorgos Lanthimos will have you curled up alone in the corner of your room out of disgust rather than fear. This is a hard one to stomach even for fans of Lanthimos’ more popular works, but damn is it worth it.

  5. We Summon the Darkness: Guts, giggles, and girl power make this early 2000s-style teen horror as entertaining as it is frightening. Featuring a performance from Johnny Knoxville as a Bible Belt preacher, this time machine of terror about cult murders during a music festival party transports you back to an era when being terrified with friends was some of the best fun you could have.

  6. Green Room: The late great Anton Yelchin delivers one of his greatest performances in this escapade of contemporary socio-political terror. Green Room features a simple set-up: well meaning punk rock kids find themselves trapped in a bar in the middle of nowhere, trying to escape terrifying Neo-Nazis led by Patrick Stewart (and teamed up with forever-badass Imogen Poots). But it’s one of the best low-budget thrill rides of the past decade. R.I.P. a true thespian.

  7. House of 1000 Corpses: Largely set in a roadside horror house run by a clown, House of 1000 Corpses plays like a patchwork of phobias sewn together Ed Gein-style. If you’re afraid of pretty much anything, director and horror-fanatic Rob Zombie made sure to stuff it into this slightly jumbled, but highly effective scream machine of a movie.

It Comes at Night, 2017.

It Comes at Night, 2017.

Everett Collection

  1. It Comes at Night: Capping off the era of high-quality, low-budget horrors that dotted the 2010s, It Comes at Night tells the now all-too-familiar story of extreme isolation due to a pandemic. The fact this one hit as hard as it did before the world imploded only makes the prospect of a rewatch more terrifying.

  2. Cape Fear: Whatever genre Roberto Deniro and Martin Scorsese are working in, it’s bound to be good. This fog-filled cat and mouse story about sex offender Max Cady (Robert De Niro) using every one of his twisted tools for the sake of torment is terrifying.

  3. 1922: Written by the horror G.O.A.T. himself, Stephen King, 1922 gets inside your mind and festers. The rotten choices made by the characters, the putrid flesh of their victim, the stench of decay wafting from their souls and sanity…King hasn’t come close to losing his touch.

  4. Hold the Dark: A good enough thrill set in the Alaskan tundra, this man vs. nature turned man vs. man turned man vs. man with the help of nature film relies largely on the cast to carry the story. Good thing this cast is stacked with Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, and James Badge Dale all supplying great performances that make this simple piece better than it has any right to be.

The Devil and the Blacksmith, 2017.

The Devil and the Blacksmith, 2017.

Everett Collection

  1. Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil: This imaginative Spanish language film is one of the current top offerings on Netflix across all genres. Director Paul Urkijo’s visual feast of Basque folklore falls somewhere between Tim Burton and Guillermo Del Toro, and will have you fluttering between tears and fears as you fall in and out of love with its fantastic cast of characters –including the Devil.

  2. Veronica: This major scare from Madrid brings adds contemporary twists to the terror of The Exorcist. When Catholic school girls start playing with Ouija boards, bad things are bound to happen: unleashed demons, soul-hungry blind nuns, and all types of religious guilt. Be forewarned, this one will hit especially hard for those that grew up a member of the Papal faith.

  3. Calibre: Calibre wrings a horrible hunting accident in the Scottish Highlands into something far more sinister. The haunting landscape is a feat of isolation, while the audio-engineering will drive you mad with silence even in the most deafening scenes. If you’ve been wanting something more grounded than a ghost story, but more challenging than a stranger-danger, Netflix has no better than Calibre.

Originally Appeared on GQ

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