The 10 Most Terrifying A24 Horror Films, Ranked

Asking a fan to pick their 10 favorite horror films from A24 is already like asking them to choose between children, but ranking them? Now, that just sounds like the set-up to a horror fan's version of "The Hunger Games" ... which is "Battle Royale," but that's beside the point. Since the independent production studio debuted in 2012, they've amassed a reputation for putting out some of the best, most unique, and most terrifying horror films of the new millennium. Their distinct style has been embraced by many, and ridiculed by some, but it ultimately proves that they're a powerhouse in the fiercely competitive genre of horror.

With Alex Garland's "Men" and the SXSW hit "Bodies, Bodies, Bodies" heading our way soon, this offers us the perfect opportunity to revisit the vast collection of A24 horror, and rank them on a completely subjective metric that horror fans will surely be super chill about and not-at-all viscerally reactive towards on social media. So without further ado, here's the 10 most terrifying A24 horror films, ranked.

10. The Blackcoat's Daughter

Oz Perkins' feature directorial debut may not be for everyone, but "The Blackcoat's Daughter" aka "February," is an effective and memorable chiller. The atmospheric film tells the story of what happens when Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton) are left alone at their prep school over winter break after their parents mysteriously forget to pick them up. The school exhibits unexplainable behaviors while the girls are stuck on campus, and a strange woman named Joan (Emma Roberts) is on a quest to arrive at the school by any means necessary. The closer Joan gets to reaching her final destination, the more intensely Kat is overwhelmed by horrific visions. When the three women's stories finally converge, it unleashes a new level of terror guaranteed to unnerve the viewer. "The Blackcoat's Daughter" is genuinely creepy and provides three absolutely fantastic performances sure to shake viewers to their core.

9. The Witch

Robert Eggers came out the gate swinging with this debut feature, a stunningly haunting period piece filled with terrifying imagery and a slow-building sense of dread. "The Witch" is easily one of the best horror films A24 has ever distributed and kicked off the trend of what non-horror fans liked to call "elevated horror" (that term is rightfully controversial). The film put both Eggers and star Anya Taylor-Joy on the map, and will keep horror fans asking "Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?" for decades. Set in the 17th century and focusing on a Puritan family dealing with supernatural forces after being banished from their New England colony, "The Witch" is an eerie folk horror flick that starts out slowly, but packs a brilliant punch. The "witchy" elements of the film are terrifying, as they should be, but the true horror is the way in which Eggers showcases that the true monsters are not the ones that form outside of natural existence, but the human beings so casually capable of abject terror.

8. Green Room

Jeremy Saulnier truly does not miss when it comes to his films, but "Green Room" currently serves as his magnum opus. A punk horror thriller about a band held hostage in a venue run by white supremacists after they witness evidence of a crime, "Green Room" thrives in its realism. Struggling artists are thrust into an unfamiliar environment and forced to figure out how to survive, all because they want to spread their art and follow their dreams. If that ain't a metaphor about life, who knows what is? Similarly to how "American History X" gave a look into how young white kids can easily become brainwashed by fascists, "Green Room" shows the unfortunate ease in which troubled youth can get indoctrinated through nefariously motivated counter culture scenes. To put it simply, "Green Room" rules, and any film that encourages breaking the arms of Nazis is one worth celebrating.

7. Under the Skin

It took director Jonathan Glazer a decade to create "Under the Skin," and it'll take another decade for audiences to fully grasp the poetic horror he unleashed upon the world. A24's first sci-fi horror film and one of the most genuinely upsetting entries in their catalog, the Scarlett Johansson-starring hypnotic thriller offers existential posturing on what it means to be a human, shown through the perspective of a malicious alien life-form who seduces men with the intention of forcing them into a void of black goo, preparing their meat and organs to be harvested for her fellow aliens on their home planet. Given the film's glacial pacing, it's easy for some viewers to completely check out of the story, but for those who are willing to stay invested, they'll find "Under the Skin" to be a masterclass of creeping dread, striking visuals, and erotic terror, featuring one of Johansson's best performances.

6. Midsommar

It's not often that a horror film takes place almost exclusively in broad daylight, but Ari Aster managed to pull it off with "Midsommar." On the surface, "Midsommar" is about a group of Americans who travel to Sweden to attend the traditional summer festival of one of their college buddies' homeland only to discover the ceremonies involve increasingly violent and horrific rituals, but it's also an exercise in grief and enduring domestic emotional abuse. Despite its spectacular horror themes, the cultish folk horror flick does a masterful job at exploring anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. Nothing is hidden away in the shadows, as Aster lays bare the growing anxieties of the American travelers who are clearly in no way prepared to process the traditions that surround them. As terrifying as "Midsommar" is, it can also be viewed equally as cathartic. The notorious ending serves a Rorschach test, where the viewer's interpretation of the final moment explains more about them than it does Aster's intention, and you'll never look at bear onesies the same way ever again.

5. X

After nearly a decade away from the genre sphere, Ti West ("The House of the Devil," "The Innkeepers," "The Sacrament") really kicked the door down and screamed, "I'M BACK, BABY!" with his retro-horror slasher, "X." Set in 1979, "X" is about a group of filmmakers and actors who attempt to shoot an adult film in the guest house of a pair of reclusive, elderly farmers. Unfortunately, when the couple realizes what these pesky youths are up to, the cast and crew have to fight for their lives. "X" is a sexy, nasty, absolutely brutal film, and an absolute blast from start to finish. West captures the spirit of exploitation cinema of the 1970s, the slasher boom of the late '70s and early '80s, as well as the offers a total subversion of the oft-maligned hagsploitation genre. Fortunately, if you are a fan of this one, West shot a prequel film already called "Pearl," which is currently in post-production.

4. Climax

Cinema as a whole is unfortunately suffering through a drought of horny movies, but in 2018 everyone's favorite weirdo, Gaspar Noé, provided a sweet, psychosexual hellscape oasis with "Climax." The film centers on a dance troupe who are given drug-laced sangria during a celebratory afterparty and descend into nightmarish madness of sexuality and psychosis. "Climax" echoes films like Andrzej Żuławski's "Possession" and even a bit of Brian Yuzna's "Society," which results in an extremely polarizing final product. A film like "Climax" could easily fall into schlock territory if put in the hands of a lesser director, but Noé's trademark style elevates this simple, drug-induced frenzy into a full-on assault of the mind and spirit. Every second of "Climax" feels more uncomfortable than the last, and that's exactly what Noé wants. "Climax" certainly isn't a film for casual viewers, but that only adds to the film's entrancing allure. 

3. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

If you're ever in the market to dedicate two hours of your life to recreationally spiraling into a disturbing nightmare from which there is no escape or relief, Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" might just be for you. The film is about a surgeon (Colin Farrell) who takes on a mentor role for a teen boy (Barry Keoghan) who recently lost his father. Suddenly, the surgeon's children show signs of paralysis, and starvation, to which the teen boy confesses is his doing. And to balance the loss of his father's life (caused by the surgeon's failure during a procedure), one of the surgeon's family members must die. Keoghan delivers a powerhouse performance as the haunting Martin Lang that is so unsettling, it's no wonder that Reeves chose him to cameo in "The Batman." What makes "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" so effective is not that it's riddled with jump scares or a mysterious threat, but that the horror is presented, matter of factly, right in front of your face. The audience is forced into a spectator position to an unstoppable tragedy and an impossible moral quandary ...and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

2. The Lighthouse

Described as "an acerbic, haunting film of maritime madness and mayhem," "The Lighthouse" proved there was to be no sophomore slump from director Robert Eggers. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson star as two lighthouse keepers who struggle to maintain their sanity while stuck on a watch on a mysterious remote New England island during the 1890s. Shot entirely in black-and-white, "The Lighthouse" starts off creepy and never lets up. The descent into madness from the two leads is scary enough, but as unexplainable events plague the two, the commitment from Dafoe and Pattinson borders on its own meta form of horror. With every passing scene, "The Lighthouse" grows increasingly claustrophobic, with the jolting images stalking the viewer as the film plays on. Eggers effortlessly weaves an unforgiving tale of seaside lunacy, and solidified why he's one of the best directors working today. Word of advice: don't screw with one-eyed seagulls. 

1. Hereditary

To say that "Hereditary" rocked audiences to their core is the understatement of the century. The film focuses on the Graham family after the loss of their matriarch. Suddenly, the daughter and granddaughter begin exhibiting strange behaviors as they unravel the generational trauma and horrific familial legacy left behind. "Hereditary" has been memed to death at this point, so there's a good chance a lot of people feel about it the same way many did about "Scream" or "The Blair Witch Project" after the endless parodies throughout pop culture. Consider this a reminder that "Hereditary" is scary as hell, Toni Collette's "I am your mother" speech is the best horror movie monologue since Robert Shaw told the tale of The Indianapolis in "Jaws," and if you think you wouldn't crap your pants if you randomly heard a tongue click while driving in silence, you're a liar. Simply put, "Hereditary" is, so far, the most terrifying film A24 has ever made.