The Best Horror Movies Of The Decade You've Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You've Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we celebrate spooky movie season with a look at the best under-seen horror movies of the decade.)

Horror movies are worth watching year-round, but October and Halloween lend the genre an extra weight as audiences seek out chills and thrills to share with friends late into the night. The rise of streaming sites means an abundance of options are available at our fingertips, and while that's good news it also means sometimes it's easier to re-watch a favorite instead of taking a chance on finding something new. But you can find new favorites!

My brother from another set of parents all together, Matt Donato, is putting together a ranking of the decade's – 2010 to 2019 – best horror movies here at /film, and while only about half of them actually belong on the list (don't tell Matt I said that) it's still a fantastic resource. Regular readers of this column, though, know that my aim is to highlight great movies that aren't typically well-known enough to make those kinds of lists (like 2012's ridiculously fun Dead Sushi, pictured above) so I've done just that and found six terrific horror films from this decade that aren't among his 100.

Keep reading for a look at some of the best horror movies of the decade that you've probably never seen!

The Inerasable (2015)

A novelist takes on a project that sees her craft horror stories out of readers' letters, but when one young woman's plea catches her interest she decides to investigate it firsthand instead. The girl's been seeing and hearing things in her apartment, and some of her neighbors have experienced similar phenomena, but the deeper they dig the more disturbing things become.

Jump scares aren't the focus here, but that doesn't mean this Japanese horror gem is absent a highly satisfying creep factor. The sounds and glimpses of something in the shadows are unsettling, and as the two women talk with neighbors and learn new details we see the various hauntings played out in flashback form. Each is slightly different from the next, but they all act as puzzle pieces leading to the same revelation.

Director Yoshihiro Nakamura trades in his love of more sweet-natured fare (A Boy and His Samurai, 2010) for a truly frightening excursion into the things that scare us, and that aspect is part of what lifts the film above many of its contemporaries. The duo's research delves into the reasons why people believe the things they do, and that clinical aspect reminds favorably of Richard Matheson's Legend of Hell House in its scientific approach (of sorts) to the supernatural. It becomes an examination of both the living and the dead, and the film is more powerful for it.

The Inerasable is not currently available in the US.

It Comes (2018)

The start of a new family should be a time of joy, and for a little while at least, Hideki ensures that joy exists for his new wife and child. Soon, though, a supernatural threat from his youth returns threatening all that he holds dear. He turns to a friend familiar with the occult, but what starts as a simple exorcism grows into a massive fight for their very souls.

Director/co-writer Tetsuya Nakashima is no stranger to capturing the darkness within us all, but while films like Kamikaze Girls (2004) and Confessions (2010) find it in the relatively real world his latest goes deep and long into the supernatural. The result is something extraordinary that delivers thrills, scares, laughs, and more than a few WTF moments that impress in their audacity and originality. You've never seen an exorcism film take the turns this one does, and it's an absolute blast to behold.

The film is fantastic, but it's one destined to lose some viewers with its bombastic style, genre hopping, and shifts in perspective. Give it your attention, though, and the reward is one most films don't dare attempt – originality. The spirit's presence and backstory are engaging, the human one is compelling, and Nakashima tells his tale with energy, color, and visual wit. Pair it with a more traditionally somber exorcism film some time for a killer double feature, but just make sure this unpredictable, lively gem is the one you go out on.

It Comes is not currently available in the US.

Jug Face (2013)

Ada is a teenager living in a small, rural community built on hard work, faith, and the belief that the ground nearby contains a spirit that protects the people in exchange for the occasional human sacrifice. The decision as to who goes into the pit – and never returns – is left up to the unexplained forces working through a local craftsman who creates pottery bearing the uncanny image of the chosen one. Ada's not about to let a jug determine her fate, though.

Writer/director Chad Crawford Krinkle's feature debut reminds favorably of a story you might find in a Shirley Jackson book or your favorite collection of Southern Gothic tales, but it's also wholly its own creation. The film is rough around the edges and clearly a low, low budget affair, but Krinkle finds tension and trauma in his characters and their predicament.

The supernatural element is clear throughout, but the core of the story sees a sadly real commentary on the dangers of blind faith and group think. A lack of education, both intentional and situational, leaves the community easy marks for unquestioned traditions and death sentences, and poverty plays an equally damning role. Humans are a gullible species, and as is often the case, the worst terrors we face are the ones we bring upon ourselves.

Jug Face is currently available to stream and on DVD.

Lesson of the Evil (2012)

Seiji Hasumi is a kind, attractive man and one of his school's most popular teachers. He's also cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. From the shack in the woods where he lives to his penchant for killing crows in the buff, he's an odd man with his own sense of morality. When the teens at his school begin disappointing him with their cheating and bullying ways he crashes their overnight project to teach them all one final lesson.

Takashi Miike's output is frequent but highly inconsistent when it comes to quality and content. When he's on, he's on, though, and this wonderfully grim thriller is Miike at the top of his game. It's a fluidly arresting and constantly engaging style throughout, and the filmmaker infuses the violence with a darkly comic sense of humor that makes for one immensely entertaining watch. There's a delicate balance at play as Seiji is entertaining and some of the teens are obnoxious, but it's still made clear that his actions, while fun to watch (for shame!) are wrong. Obviously.

This being a Miike film, and one from outside the US, it's disturbingly comfortable showing teenage protagonists gunned down and murdered in violent ways that eschew fantasy – ie Jason or Freddy-type kills – in favor of death at the wrong end of a gun barrel, and while CGI blood is visible it doesn't lessen the result. This is probably part of the reason why no US label has released the film yet. (Happily, import discs are within reach.)

Lesson of the Evil is not currently available in the US.

Thelma (2017)

A young woman leaves home for the first time to attend college, and while her parents support her they're also afraid – both for her and for those around her. Thelma's prone to seizures, and they're related to an innate telekinetic ability that's growing in power within her mind. She's unable to control it, unsure where it came from, and unaware of where it will lead her.

This Norwegian masterpiece earns its spot as the country's 2017's Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film with a coming of age tale unlike any other. From its cold opening featuring a man preparing to shoot a child in the back to an ending that leaves you reevaluating everything that's come before through new understanding, the film gives viewers a powerful woman coming into her own and fighting against pressures both natural and unnatural including anxiety, religious oppression, and a desire to truly be herself. It's a slow burn, but it's also never less than a gorgeous, fascinating, and surprising watch.

Director/co-writer Joachim Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt previously collaborated on the captivating and emotionally devastating Oslo, August 31st (2011), and their move into genre film-making is every bit as affecting while also delivering those bloody thrills and epic chills. Eili Harboe's performance as a young woman well beyond her depths takes hold and leaves viewers frightened and shaken by the uncertainty, and as increasingly dark beats occur it becomes clear just what we're witnessing – and the horror of revelation has rarely been captured this beautifully.

Thelma is available to stream and on DVD.

They Look Like People (2015)

Wyatt and Christian are old friends who cross paths randomly one day, and upon discovering that Wyatt is in a bad place in life his friend invites him to stay. Their banter picks up almost immediately, but it comes equally clear that Wyatt's issues go beyond the norm – he's hearing voices, and they're telling him that demons are invading our world in the form of the people around him. And the voices need Wyatt to kill the demons.

At its core, this is a story of a mentally unwell young man on the verge of murder, but writer/director Perry Blackshear's feature debut is interested in more than mere thrills. He crafts a friendship that feels real between the two men, and with both of them lonely in different ways the film's power comes in part from caring about these guys and seeing ourselves in their struggles. It's an affecting film in ways and degrees to which most horror movies can only dream.

And it is a horror film. Don't let its strengths on the emotional and character fronts suggest otherwise as Blackshear ratchets up the terror and tension throughout to terrific effect. The shadows reveal movement and sounds that disturb and unsettle, and as Wyatt's agitation grows our concern for Christian and others ramps up dramatically. One sequence involving Wyatt inviting Christian's love interest into the basement is a nerve-shredder. This is another slow burn, but it's one you won't forget.

They Look Like People is available to stream.

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