Horror is a genre that has endured its ability to elicit the strongest and most primal emotions from audiences. Fear is an incredibly powerful thing, and we just cannot seem to resist the urge to scare ourselves silly in the relative safety of a movie theater or at home. The genre is constantly cooking up new ways to frighten and disturb us, thanks to a wide variety of talented filmmakers that are constantly pushing the boundaries and reinventing the idea of just what it is that keeps us up at night. The 2010s have been a monumental decade for horror, and the future looks bright (or bleak you might say). Here are my picks for the horror films that stood out from the rest within the last decade.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)
When a couple of vacationing hillbillies get mistaken for murderers, all hell breaks loose and the laughs never stop coming. Inventive, fresh, and continuously hilarious, Tucker and Dale takes its premise and knocks it out of the park. It is probably the greatest horror-comedy that has ever been and is a must-see for fans of either genre.
Black Swan (2010)
Darren Aronofsky (Mother, Requiem for a Dream) is famous for his mind-bending thrillers, but Black Swan just may be the most disturbing of them all. When a woman receives the lead role in a production of Swan Lake, her commitment to perfection leads to a struggle for her sanity. As she descends into madness and paranoia, you too will feel your mind begin to crack. It is impossible not to be sucked into the film’s masterful downward spiral, and it stays with you long after the credits roll.
It is the incredibly familiar story of a family who moves into a new home only to be tormented by hostile spirits, but it is the film where James Wan made his mark (yes, I did not forget Saw) and skyrocketed to the top of modern horror. Wan breathed new life into the genre with this movie, and ushered in a new age where almost every horror film after has been trying to copy it. It still stands strong almost a decade later.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
I have yet to see a better homage to the horror genre than this. The Cabin in the Woods is surprising, hilarious, terrifying, and a hell of a lot of fun. Both a tribute and deconstruction of every movie that has ever kept you up at night. It is practically a perfect piece of cinema.
Evil Dead (2013)
A remake of the 1981 classic, Evil Dead defied all expectations and showed how strong it could stand on its own. The straightforward plot is backed by exceptional cinematography and tons of blood, guts, and gore. If you are a fan of wild escapism levels of hyper-violence, this one is for you.
The Conjuring (2013)
Proving that you can take a tired concept and make it feel brand new, James Wan’s The Conjuring is one of the greatest haunted house films to ever grace the screen. Inspired scares, mounting tension, and an emotional story help elevate this movie above the rest. This would go on to launch the multiple sequels and spin-offs that we have all come to know.
Under The Skin (2014)
As the title suggests, this is a film that is haunting, entrancing, and considerably horrifying. A perfectly-cast Scarlett Johansson roams the streets and roads of Scotland in search of men to seduce and… what else she does with them is best left for you to discover. It is a quiet and somber study on what it is to be human and all of the terrifying consequences that come with it.
The Witch (2016)
Robert Eggers’ (The Lighthouse) debut film is a deeply unsettling and wildly disturbing experience. There are no gimmicks here – the things that remain unseen are far more horrifying than what is visible. A steady descent into religious hysteria and outright madness, The Witch is a landmark for modern horror.
Train to Busan (2016)
Just when you thought zombies were going out of style, along comes South Korean filmmaker Sang-ho Yeon to raise them back from the grave. When a zombie virus breaks out on a high-speed train headed to Busan from Seoul, the passengers are caught in a vicious fight for survival against the undead horde and each other. It is a tense, action-packed thrill ride that makes one of horror’s most beloved monsters scary again.
Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele (Us) kicked Hollywood’s door right in with his socially conscious debut, Get Out. The film channeled the fears and anxieties of an entire demographic into a textured thriller. Get Out would kick off endless videos and articles explaining all of the film’s smallest details and how they fit into the larger story. It remains a staple of American pop culture.
The film that put literally every single Stephen King story into production thanks to its goliath success, the 2017 adaptation of It is really just that good. Thanks to iconic scares, a sharp-witted child cast, and an incredible performance from Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise- It guaranteed that we would remain scared of clowns for years to come.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Mike Flanagan has proven himself to be one of the most proficient horror filmmakers working today and nowhere is that more evident than in Gerald’s Game. An adaptation of the Stephen King story set in a single location, the story is a fight for survival for a woman who finds herself alone and handcuffed to a bed with seemingly no chance of escape. It is much more psychological than anything else, but it does contain one particularly gruesome scene that will make anyone’s stomach churn.
Happy Death Day (2017)
A slasher flick with a time-loop twist, Happy Death Day is a hell of a fun time. If you like a little more of an upbeat and comedic feel to your horror, this film delivers. A terrific performance from Jessica Rothe (Mary + Jane) adds hilarity and a surprising amount of emotion to the whole thing. This movie is way better than it should have been.
Ari Aster’s debut is nothing short of a horror masterpiece. Without the use of jump scares or excessive gore, Hereditary is a richly layered harrowing tale of grief that gets under your skin and makes itself at home. It is a true game-changer for recent horror.
Mandy gives us Nicolas Cage (Face-Off) on a vengeful rampage against demons and zealots with plenty of blood, screaming, and chainsaw fights. What more can you ask for? Contemplative, hallucinatory, surreal, and absolutely insane- this wild tour de force from Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow) has to be seen to be believed.
The iconic Halloween franchise has endured the good and the bad of its sequels and reboots, but this 2018 return to form is as good as it gets. Ignoring everything in the canon but the original, Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies) returns as Laurie Strode to confront the monster of her nightmares, Michael Myers. A surprisingly thoughtful take on PTSD, this reboot is a thrilling love letter to the series’ fans.
While everyone should see the 1977 original, this 2018 remake conjures up terror in its own right. Centered around a dance company run by a coven of witches, the film is stuffed full of ritualistic violence and petrifying imagery. It is dour and animalistic horror at its finest.
Argentine filmmaker Gaspar Noé (Enter the Void) is constantly creating movies in unorthodox ways. Climax will make you feel like you are quite literally in Hell. A group of dancers rent out an empty building in the dead of winter to rehearse and party, but the festivities turn into insanity as it becomes clear that someone has spiked their drinks with a strong hallucinogen. The large majority of the film is pure improvisation shown in lengthy-long takes, including one lasting over 42 minutes. It is relentless – you will feel like you are losing your mind right along with the unlucky dance troupe.
Jordan Peele’s second film is far more ambitious than his first; it is also a bit more fun. Peele pulls out all the stops into this home invasion flick where a family’s doppelgängers arrive to wreak havoc, stuffing as many ideas as he can into its screenplay. The slow reveal of what is really going on practically demands that you watch it more than once.
It can certainly be debated whether or not Midsommar is a pure horror film. It is really more like the most dramatic breakup you will ever witness. Ari Aster’s sophomore outing takes place almost entirely in the sunny, wide-open plains of Sweden. The unusual setting and uncomfortably slow atmosphere make for an entirely original folk horror masterpiece. Just like Hereditary, there is much more going on than what is just on the surface.
Did you agree with this list? If not then what have been your favorites of the era? Let us know on our social media and make sure to catch up on your modern horror if you have not already!
Follow writer Nicolás Delgadillo on Twitter: @NickyD715