The 15 Best Blumhouse Horror Movies Ranked

A 2015 article for IndieWire lays out the blueprint for the low-budget filmmaking approach of Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions: "[It's a] $3-5 million production model, which is structured such that each participating entity — no matter whether it's Blumhouse, the director, the crew or the actors — enters into a project on an equal financial footing," a sentiment to which Blum adds: "[And] it allows us to do all the stuff I talked about — to take chances, do weird things, do different kinds of movies."

"Different" is putting it mildly. Since they burst onto the horror scene a decade ago, Blum and his company have been responsible for launching the careers of multiple filmmakers, revived the directorial career of M. Night Shyamalan, and in October 2021 alone they released both an anthology of micro-budget films on Amazon and the pandemic's most successful fright flick. Despite the company's relative ubiquity, their approach runs counter to both Marvel and A24, studios that tend to have their own in-house styles and preferred formulas. Blumhouse, meanwhile, released both "Truth Or Dare" and "Whiplash" — and that's a feature, not a bug.  

Accordingly, it's difficult to pick the 15 best Blumhouse horror films. Do you gravitate towards their radical reimagined classics or their ultra-modern scare machines? Are the "Paranormal Activity" films your bag, or do you prefer "The Purge" franchise? With every passing year, the company's slate becomes more kaleidoscopic and wonderful, just like the horror genre itself. Here, then, is our personal stab at picking the 15 best Blumhouse horror movies, ranked 15 to 1.

15. The Purge: Anarchy and The First Purge (tie)

There's a "Purge" for every viewer. That might seem like a bold statement given that "The Purge" franchise, first established in 2013, hinges entirely on both graphic depictions of legal murder and increasingly lavish headgear, but it isn't. If you favor small-scale thrills, there's the original home invasion-focused "The Purge." Should the western genre thrill you, take this year's "The Forever Purge" for a spin. Consider yourself more of a TV fan? Two seasons of "The Purge" await you on the USA network. For my particular tastes (which include, yes, brutal stairway battles), the crown jewels of "The Purge" franchise are 2014's "The Purge: Anarchy" and Gerald McMurray's electric Staten Island-set "The First Purge." 

If taken as a pair, these entries present both the before and after of the experiment launched by the franchise's New Founding Fathers and a testament to Blum's promise to let directors bring their singular visions to the screen, franchise constraints and all. "The Purge: Anarchy" is James DelMonaco unhinged, a splatter of blood and ideas onto cinematic canvas. McMurray's film, meanwhile, turns the series' subtext into a smoldering foreground statement. Neither suffers in its approach; both are worth your time. In the words of a dystopian PA announcer, happy purging. 

14. Ouija: Origin Of Evil

"Ouija: Origin of Evil" is not the best Mike Flanagan film. Hell, it's not even the best Mike Flanagan film on this list. But it is the Mike Flanagan film that confirmed, beyond any reasonable doubt, that his filmography is the most consistently excellent of any director in the genre. Put more glibly: If the Vegas sportsbooks released odds for a film's eventual Rotten Tomatoes score and you, reader, had placed $100 on "Ouija: Origin of Evil" being over 80% fresh, you could have paid your way into Harvard — five times over. And five generations' worth of Ivy League graduates probably couldn't have cracked this Hasbro Films project better than Flanagan did. 

The "Ouija" sequel plays upon your nerves. It's colorful and fun (credit to Patricio M. Farrell's lush, period production design) but also just brutal enough to haunt you. The script frequently surprises but never forgets to make space for elaborate and elegantly assembled jump-scares, either. What's more, the film marks Flanagan's first collaboration with Henry Thomas, an actor who's become a staple of both the director's work for Netflix and his big-screen projects. To witness "Ouija: Origin Of Evil" is to see Flanagan and his aesthetic blossom from bud to savage flower. Here's hoping his projects continue to surprise and delight as much as this one.

13. The Hunt

"The Hunt" was doomed from the start. Its plot, which follows a number of online trolls kidnapped from red states and hunted by sociopathic progressives, felt almost lab-designed to court controversy, and it did. Then-President Trump derided the film on Twitter; a delayed release followed. And when the film finally did land in theaters? COVID-19 struck and shut those theaters down. It doesn't seem fair.

Now, years removed from its bizarre and inflammatory rollout, one can better see "The Hunt" for what it is: a gory, pitch-black comedy that lets Bettie Gilpin be Snake Plissken. Seriously. Her Crystal Creasy is alternatively chill, goofy, and deadly, a heroine as apt to jump-kick elderly villains as she is to squat to pee in public, mid-conversation. Her every action subverts any expectation one could have, revealing the heart of "The Hunt" and its sneakily-layered intentions. 

This is a film about assumptions and misinformation, one which tackles how a reality literally constructed from fake digital news would prove lethal for all involved. That it happens to find empathy with its mostly broad characters was misread as political pandering. But, as director Craig Zobel has since proven with his great "Mare of Easttown," that approach reveals how our darkest commonalities can wisely frame our differences. As "The Hunt" and Zobel riotously suggest, that frame is easily breakable — and what spills out is a bloody mess (and a gift for audiences).

12. The Vigil

There's no shortage of horror films that plunder religion and its practices for terrifying ends (see: almost any film involving an exorcism of any kind, "The Conjuring" series, etc.), yet very few explore the monsters of Jewish lore. An even smaller number of films tackle Orthodox Judaism whatsoever. Enter: Keith Thomas' spooky chiller "The Vigil". Released this past February, it's not just one of Blumhouse's best horror films — it's one of 2021's best efforts, period. 

Indeed, "The Vigil" is to the start of this decade what "Insidious" was to the 2010s, a movie that serves as a census for what horror is in our here and now. In 2011, the extreme violence of the genre's early aughts films was transitioning to just as severe, yet bloodless, jump scares (James Wan's filmography, it should be noted, documents this journey almost too clearly). In 2021, horror is wrestling with social injustice more viscerally than ever and is unafraid to indulge in mournful tones. This describes "The Vigil" to a tee. Given that, it might be Blumhouse's most important film in years — if only because it renews the core of what Blumhouse has been and means to horror. It's not just that they preserve each director's vision; it's that they're a mirror for the genre and its audience.

11. Upgrade

There are four directors who appear twice on this list. Jordan Peele, Christopher Landon, and the aforementioned Mike Flanagan make up the first three, and there can be no doubt that they represent a murderer's row of talent – each has an essential voice; each approaches horror from a singular and aesthetically-divergent angle. But the fourth director might seem like two separate (and equally brilliant) filmmakers based on the two films he managed to land on this lineup. That director is Leigh Whannell.

"Upgrade," which is only Whannell's second full-length film, is arguably more revenge flick or hard sci-fi than it is full-blown horror. It's the story of Grey Trace, a mild-mannered man who's brutally mugged and left for dead after witnessing the murder of his wife ... and the cutting-edge technology which gives him the superhuman strength necessary to pursue and confront the villains that wronged him.  But, in typical Whannell fashion, the movie grows more upsetting and sinister as it unfolds, the terror stemming both from increasingly gory set-pieces and the dark triumph of violent wishes fulfilled. "Upgrade," then, is a sterling reminder that the term "horror" can serve as a skeleton key for the imagination rather than a hindrance. 

More than anything, though, "Upgrade" belongs on this list for Logan Marshall-Green's performance as Trace, which is as physically revelatory as Peter Weir playing Robocop or Jeff Goldblum becoming the Fly. Horror is rich with actors bringing prosthetics and mythic creatures to life, but Green shows you the machinery and budding monster that lurk underneath his skin and makes it look just as easy as breathing. 

10. Happy Death Day

Gateway horror movies are a dime a dozen; exceptional ones are not. An exceptional gateway horror film must be scary, able to creep out even the most seasoned genre fans. More importantly, an exceptional gateway horror film should instill an instant love for the genre in whoever watches it. "Beetlejuice". "Gremlins". "Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark". These are celebrations of the dark and grotesque as much as they are, on occasion, dark and grotesque. In 2017's "Happy Death Day," Blumhouse and director Christopher Landon produced one of the decade's most exceptional gateway horror films. 

Ostensibly, "Happy Death Day" is "What if 'Groundhog Day' was a slasher flick?" In execution, it's so much more than that. The story of an apathetic and resentful sorority sister named Tree (an unbelievably good Jessica Rothe) who gets stuck in a time loop where she's murdered, Landon's film tests its characters' capacity for lethargy by dulling the stakes of death and revealing compellingly rich reasons to live along life's margins. It's not just that Tree becomes a better person when offered the chance to die each day — it's that she sees how emotionally dead she's been until her murder. And when the source of her resentment is gently and lovingly exposed, "Happy Death Day" becomes as moving a drama as it is an effective horror film and black comedy. 

9. Insidious

We are conditioned to understand that things go bump in the night, whether through the myth of Santa Claus thumping down the chimney or the universal childhood fear that monsters may be hiding in the closet. There's no comfort in this truth, perhaps, but there is a silver lining: If evil mostly reveals itself after dark, then at least our sunlit hours can be free of terror ... which is why it's so jarring and upsetting when a horror film deploys its most frightening moments during daylight. And, reader, "Insidious" has an all-time daylight scare.

Truth be told, if this list were solely about scares, "Insidious" would easily rank near the top (Indeed, so effective are its frights that when the film doesn't totally hang together narratively in the end, it's mostly forgivable). At this point in his career, director James Wan felt far more concerned with sensory experience than story, and while he would flawlessly blend both elements for 2013's (non-Blumhouse) release "The Conjuring," he's yet to make a film which rewires its audience's sense of horror more completely than this one. Things don't just bump in the night; they are with us always.

8. Freaky

At the risk of mild spoilers for Christopher Landon's tremendous film "Freaky," the mini-slasher that opens the film is as good as any in the genre. Landon and Michael Kennedy introduce four compelling teens, each of their personalities a subversion of slasher character expectations, then quickly dispatch in a number of insanely gruesome ways. (Prepare to never see a wine bottle the same way again.) When the final credits rolled, I wasn't just thinking about the film's stars Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton; I was thinking about Nicholas Stargal, Emily Holder, Mitchell Hoeg, and Kelly Lamor Wilson. Few slashers love its first victims more empathetically than "Freaky," and that approach informs the whole dang movie. 

Yes, if you just want crazy kills and body-swapping comedy, "Freaky" has you covered. But if you also want layered examinations of queer identity and familial grief (plus a field guide for turning your anger into the healing balm of self-confidence), then the film really has you covered. This is, in fact, its most remarkable element. Any slasher can ramp up a body count, but it's harder to synergize progressive themes and lurid violence smoothly. Purists may roll their eyes at the movie's messaging, but that might be because it scares them more than getting sawed in half during shop class. Horror doesn't just push boundaries, it redefines them. Few films embrace that more "Freaky."

7. Hush

"Hush" released straight to Netflix in 2016, approximately two years before the streaming service began dropping original films on a nearly-daily basis (and two years before it got into the prestige game with legends like Cuaron and Scorsese). All of which is to say that, in 2016, a great Netflix original film was something of a novelty. 

"Hush" has a simple pitch — "Wait Until Dark," but make it hearing-impaired. The story of a deaf writer who's retreated into the woods to live a solitary life only to find herself fighting for her life against a psychopathic masked killer, Mike Flanagan's thriller is built from basic elements (in some ways, that's an argument for why it's one of his best efforts). What could have been a tableau of hastily assembled cliches instead realizes itself like vintage Hitchcock on protein powders: endlessly muscular, fiendishly clever, and a subtle showcase for two actors thirsty to make a strong impression. Few would've gone out of their way to cast John Gallagher Jr. as the heavy before "Hush," but his menacing take on "The Man" changed that. And in the role of "Maddie," Kate Siegel firmly established why she's one of Mike Flanagan's muses. Her performance is a triumph of "show don't tell" acting, and watching her think, fear, and wordlessly fight her way through the menace is never less than incredible. 

6. Sinister

The subgenre of "horror movies which examine why we consume horror content" is full of wonderful entries — "In The Mouth Of Madness," "The Ring," and "Scream" all come to mind. But none kickstart the audience's conversation with itself quite like "Sinister." Yes, director Scott Derrickson and writer C. Robert Cargill's exemplary chiller is about a washed-up true-crime writer who begins watching snuff films in order to solve the mystery behind them, but even if that's the case, it doesn't have to open by putting its audience directly in both conversation and conflict with what they're willing to watch and why.

As the movie opens, a projector whirs to life. Four hooded bodies hang from a tree. Then a branch snaps and the bodies hang for good. Two minutes and six seconds have elapsed. Is there a price humans pay for digging up our species' darkest demons? At what point does telling others' gruesome stories become an act of emotional masturbation and not heroism? These are some of the questions on the mind of "Sinister," questions that it does not provide easy answers for. The notion that horrific images offer a gateway for evil to pass through isn't novel or new, but forcing our compliance in watching the snuff films that let Bughuul (or "Mr. Boogie") into our world makes this conversation feel far more terrifying than it's felt in other projects — and that, along with Ethan Hawke's superlative performance, has made it appreciate in value with every passing year.

5. Unfriended

What was the first moment Zoom scared you? A seemingly silly question, but maybe not. At the height of 2020's worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the little video-conferencing software that could was one of the precious few ways humans could safely connect with one another. That reliance revealed a certain reality: "This isn't getting better, not anytime soon." With every passing week, this platform — which previously offered the relief that came with knowing that my loved ones were ok — filled me with deeper and deeper dread. No wonder filmmaker Rob Savage and a team of incredible performers made a Zoom-set horror film called "Host" only half a year into 2020. The software is, and was, frightening. 

"Unfriended" does not take place over Zoom, not exactly. Director Levan Gabriadze's film predates both the pandemic and the rise of Eric Yuan's now-legendary program, but it locates the parallel voids of menace which underlay even our most casual encounters on video chat — that we are only approximating real interaction, and that the Internet can distort those interactions with awful (and sometimes very real) consequences. 

A mysterious user named "Billie227" infiltrates a group chat. The members of that group chat then start dying in real-time. The horror builds — not just on the group's increasingly awful deaths, but how tied they are to the pervasive toxicity which informs the online world and what can occur when that toxicity manifests itself into reality. Rewatching "Unfriended," it doesn't just feel like a movie ahead of its moment: It seems like a field guide to moments we haven't even lived yet, but will. 

4. Cam

So long as I'm allowed to write about "Cam" for /Film, I'll never stop singing its praises. Placed among its Blumhouse brethren, its singular blend of erotic horror and intimate drama appears even more remarkable for having reached the (small) silver screen. How many fright flicks offering a legitimate exploration of sexuality were even released in the 2010s? Furthermore, how many of them interrogated the uniquely American relationship between physical bodies and the ways in which our desires are allowed to manifest? The answer is infinitesimal (and, tellingly, the best of them — that'd be 2016's "The Handmaiden" and 2011's "The Skin I Live In" — weren't even American releases). 

"Cam" is a great movie, full-stop, but the unwavering eye it maintains on our tendency toward slut-shaming and its radical acceptance of our own desires make it a seminal movie, period. There's little like it in cinema's collective canon. Nor, I will add, is there anything like Madeline Brewer's career-defining performance, which should be Exhibit A for what unfussy bravery looks like on the silver screen from here until the end of the world. See it post-haste.

3. Get Out

It's hard to write anything about "Get Out" that hasn't been more impeccably articulated elsewhere by writers of color whose words should absolutely be prioritized over anything this writer could say. That being a given: With every passing year, it becomes harder to overstate — for audiences of all races, creeds, or religions — how masterful "Get Out" is. 

It is an all-time best first horror effort from genre impresario Jordan Peele. It is more than great cinema; it's essential iconography. For many, "Get Out" kickstarts discussions of what micro-aggressions and white privilege look like. For others, it might be where those discussions start and end. The truth is, it's a film that leaves many awash in discomfort. It represents the moment many audience members encountered the bomb-cyclone talent of LaKeith Stanfield and (now Oscar-winner!) Daniel Kaluuya. It was the first Oscar win for Jordan Peele. "Get Out" is all of these things and many more, and it was rightfully met with a tidal wave of accolades.

The accolades aren't what make "Get Out" great, of course, but they do indicate that criticism or evaluation of where the film stands in a "Best Blumhouse" list is largely irrelevant. Though there are two other films ranked above it in this article, that's entirely a matter of preference. Only one movie discussed here made an eternal impact on popular culture, the kind that may reverberate until pop culture simply becomes The Sunken Place, and that's "Get Out." 

2. The Invisible Man

Two months ago, in one of my three first pieces for SlashFilm, I had this to offer about Leigh Whannell's "The Invisible Man":

"In ways both great and unfortunate, [the film is] a perfect pre-COVID-19 watch. Its protagonist, the indelible Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss), is tormented by a camouflaged evil — one that infiltrates and corrupts every inch of the house she occupies, rendering her normal life meaningless. But the illness that Kass' ex, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Taylor-Cohen), represents is less pathogen than pathological; he is a gaslighter with psychotic tendencies, a man whose brilliance only bolsters his toxic, controlling impulses. He is any woman's worst nightmare, and is more frightening for how fully the toxic masculinity he represents permeates every facet of our society. During the pandemic, many Cecilias become trapped indoors with Adrians. The irony is stifling."

Bad news: It still is. And it shows no signs of lessening. For the last six weeks or so, our national news media held the public in thrall with details of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, a couple whose public face suggested teamwork and deep, life-enriching affection. Allegations of abuse have surfaced against the band All Time Low, from band members who leveraged their status for sexual favors to those who turned a blind eye to the behavior. Leigh Whannell's "The Invisible Man" was initially sold as a film that was making an old horror property both modern and socially relevant but, with every passing week, it's revealing the ever-present horror that comes with even casually being any woman living today. That and the impeccable craft Whannell brings to every moment of its runtime make "The Invisible Man" not only one of Blumhouse's best horror films, but vital and essential. 

1. Us

Twenty years after its release, the growing consensus surrounding Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg's "A.I." is that it represents one of both filmmakers' most misunderstood and underappreciated works. In many ways, it was a film audiences simply weren't ready for, an uneasy reconciliation of Kubrick's clinical brilliance and Spielberg's warm, magic-tinged scope. It plumbs the depths of both love's nature and how technology obfuscates the word's meaning into oblivion. One year removed from Y2K-mania, the whole long, ambitious, and anything-but-crowd-pleasing package failed to connect with mainstream audiences and was quickly dubbed a disappointment.

Jordan Peele's "Us" isn't exactly his "A.I." But like "A.I.," it is undoubtedly a floor-to-ceiling masterpiece released before its moment. If "Get Out" kickstarted a conversation about race that audiences were ready for but often unwilling to have, "Us" starts talking points that make most people's heads spin. Can there ever be a truly United States of America when the country feels so thoroughly divided? Can the chains of classism ever be broken, or should one attempt to Trojan Horse their way through the caste system? What would it look like if marginalized Americans actually joined hands? 

These themes are revealed through Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke's career-best performances and filmmaking that is only comparable to, yes, Steven Spielberg. "Us" is a two-hour set-piece assembled from dozens of tiny, brilliant set-pieces. It interlocks, like a Hands Across America line, with goofy yet iron-clad precision. It deserves to be thought of on the level of "Get Out" and then some, and when all is said and done this writer suspects it could go down as the best film Blumhouse ever released.