The 100 Best Horror Movies of the Past Decade [Part Three]

Welcome to part two of our countdown of the 100 best horror movies the past decade. This entry tackles entries 50-26. Naturally, we’ll reach our grand climax on October 31. You can read part one right here and part two over here.

We’ve passed the halfway point and blaze onward! Here’s where things get interesting, as I’m sure some of you may notice the exclusion of some critical darlings. Let’s just remember my opinion is just one of many! But, also, yes I’ve seen the movies you’re going to call out and no I didn’t “forget them.” Moving on!

50. Juan Of The Dead

Alejandro Brugués is credited with filming Cuba’s first horror movie, the humorous and biting Juan Of The Dead. A colorful cast of characters round out Brugués’ rag-tag ensemble that reminds of a more eccentric Shaun Of The Dead crew, all delightful maniacs who combat the undead. Lead actor Alexis Díaz de Villegas finds morbid comedy in this socialist walker satire, and Brugués’ commentary is never overpowered by rotten flesh. My demands for another Alejandro Brugués feature (only anthologies since 2011) are non-negotiable.

49. Hagazussa 

A debut like Hagazussa brings to mind Robert Eggers’ overnight notoriety after The Witch. Austrian filmmaker Lukas Feigelfeld should be equally revered, as his beguiling debut is a witches’ brew of paganism, childhood bedtime stories, and old-world isolation. Production design goes a long way from snowy mountainsides to skull-lined cave temples, maximizing dread while accentuating period appeal. If thou desires to live deliciously, next time double-dip Hagazussa after you watch The Witch for supreme unhallowed indulgence.

48. Trollhunter 

“TROOOOOOOOLL!” One of my favorite found footage lines of the decade thanks to the fantastical genius that rampages afterward. André Øvredal’s Norwegian hunt for fabled giants in Trollhunter pits puny humans against stories-tall myths with such gargantuan scaling. The camera cranes upwards to catch a mere glimpse of creatures defined by grumpy faces, primal aggression, and heights that assure viewers feel properly insignificant. Very Cloverfield in spatial comprehension, emphasizing folklore and native tales with hints of panic-frenzy horror.

47. It Follows

David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows favors barebones horror conceptualization executed with heat-seeking intensity. It’s “tag, you’re it,” except if you get tagged, you get turned into a pretzel-twisted corpse or worse. Maika Monroe shines as a girl running from her chameleon pursuer, after being “infected” by a sexually transmitted demon. In any case, it’s the slowest foot chase about escaping traumatic pasts – and an impressively tense one at that.

46. The Crazies 

Horror remakes throughout the 2000s get a bad rap by naysayers who neg Hollywood’s lack of “originality,” but I’m here to advocate for the underappreciated. Breck Eisner’s The Crazies updates George A. Romero’s outbreak commentary with Timothy Olyphant as a sheriff caught within Ogden Marsh’s violent quarantine chaos. What Eisner accomplishes in conspiracy dread and infected rage is small-town viciousness that never lets audiences catch their breath. Dare I say superior to 1973’s cult classic?

45. Crawl 

Where are my aquatic horror fans at? Our year of 2019 flooded theaters with underwater anarchy, none better than Alexandre Aja’s Crawl. Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper square off against alligator foes during a hurricane. Mother Nature’s fury is enacted with maximum carnage, as Florida becomes a primal warzone between gnarly gators and pesky humans caught in their path. Reader, I *jumped* out of my seat multiple times because of well-planted scares. Truly one of 2019’s most terrifying, engaging, and frenzied horror watches. 

44. 10 Cloverfield Lane 

Within the Cloverfield universe, 10 Cloverfield Lane is the undisputed spinoff champion. Dan Trachtenberg abandons gargantuan monsters for a bunker lock-in powered by three exemplary performances. John Goodman the survivalist tyrant who rules underground with sternness turned toxic. Mary Elizabeth Winstead grits her teeth through discomfort, manipulation, and imprisonment with dominance. John Gallagher Jr. stuck between two warring factions’ combustible power struggle. A once mysterious film that proves itself as devastating post-apocalyptic nightmarishness.

43. Tragedy Girls 

I liked, subscribed, and shared Tragedy Girls the minute my festival screening ended. Tyler MacIntyre skewers online social media obsessions along with slasher gender norms, creating instant buzz for his killer teenage queens. Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp could crash the internet with their Buzzfeed babble electricity as two besties who murder classmates and then report on the gruesome aftermath. Detention, Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon, and Scream all rolled into one.

42. Pyewacket 

What’s that? More Adam MacDonald? Pyewacket is the horror genre’s answer to Lady Bird, in that black metal and summoned hellions test a daughter’s love for mama. Nicole Muñoz portrays a character who, in a fit of hormonal angst, calls upon “Pyewacket” to punish Laurie Holden because of, well, depressed childhood reasons. It’s a story about, once again, having to live with our choices and acting on impulse amidst so many touching moments of single-household empathy (plus demon horror).

41. Horror Noire: A History Of Black Horror 

If more genre documentaries were as informative, impassioned, and entertaining as Horror Noire: A History Of Black Horror, us fans would promote more horror documentaries. Written by Danielle Burrows and Ashlee Blackwell, adapted from Robin R. Means Coleman’s novelization Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films, director Xavier Burgin takes viewers on a journey through black representation throughout horror cinema. Ignorant tokenization, positioning as monsters, to newer trends spearheaded by creators such as Jordan Peele that inspire hope for further representation wins. Learn, laugh, and live a more enlightened life.

40. The Witch 

When horror fans are asked if they “live deliciously,” the reference is immediately understood (see my Hagazussa paragraph). A24’s The Witch landed with impact, turning Black Phillip into a mascot for coven uprisings and sinful delicacies. Anya Taylor-Joy commands Robert Eggers’ colonial test of faith, painted with devilish brushstrokes of gothic-evil imagery. Eggers’ production design background makes for visual pleasures of the most bewitching hypnotics, defined by the isolation of period-era circumstances. Horror of the surreal, terror bubbled within a cauldron of puritanical damnation.

39. A Quiet Place 

Austin’s Paramount theater was dead-silent for the South by Southwest premiere of A Quiet Place, thanks to brilliant sound design and mute characters. It’s an experience I’ll never forget, as tension clouded the air and the slightest increase in volume caused viewers to jump sky-high. John Krasinski may not be an outright horror fan according to interviews, but he’s a damn-talented horror filmmaker. Silence isn’t a gimmick here; it’s a weapon.

38. Get Out 

“The funny guy from Mad TV is making a horror movie?!” Get Out marks Jordan Peele’s emergence as a horror filmmaker with stimulated visions, spawning from a sunken place. Get Out will be studied and dissected by cinema scholars for decades as Bradley Whitford performatively brags about his Obama support. Peele’s message is a social call for action, sparked by performances from Daniel Kaluuya’s great caucasian escape to Allison Williams’ separatist cereal habits. Cultural horror that proves the creative worth of representation in Hollywood.

37. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Ana Lily Amirpour’s “Iranian vampire western” approaches “arthouse” horror with fangs glistening. Well, as much as you can shine in black and white. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night tells the story of “Bad City,” skateboarders, and a bloodsucking loner who does what the title suggests. Sheila Vand shines as Amirpour’s drifter in an empathetic and predatory leading role that tangles with feminism, romance, and character-driven explorations more “woman” than “monster.”

36. Sinister 

Find me more effective horror imagery in the last ten years than Scott Derrickson’s grainy Super 8 “found footage” in Sinister. I’d wait, but we don’t have that kind of time. As Ethan Hawke hunts Bughuul and children leave behind gruesome execution crime scenes, Derrickson taps into fear unfiltered. You think you’ve seen creepy kiddos before? Add in a screen-shifting Babylonian deity, haunted house architectures, and some of the decade’s most disturbing genre deaths permitted in theaters.

35. The Wailing 

South Korean filmmaker Na Hong-jin packages a possession story in three parts. The lighthearted buddy-cop introduction, the grittier true crime investigation, then ritualistic demonism that unquestionably earns its genre credibility. Light turns to darkness, and daughters show signs of unearthly influences. The Wailing is poetry in motion – if your prose were full of mangled corpses, undead spirits, and tales of bedeviled takeovers.

34. Big Bad Wolves 

If you recall, Quentin Tarantino dubbed Big Bad Wolves the “best film of the year” in 2013 when it screened Busan International Film Festival. Mighty high praise for Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, whose vengeful torture traumatization comes from a place of grieving and loss. Each marked “wolf” pleads their case of either freedom or justice, as words twist around one other in a deadly game of truthful extortion. The devil is always in the details, and Big Bad Wolves’ meticulously maniacal exposures of grounded vigilantism are worth every bonequaking chill.

33. The Devil’s Candy 

Over the last ten years, we’ve only been gifted two Sean Byrne releases. One of them is The Devil’s Candy, which positions “ripped metal daddy” Ethan Embry against satanic interventions. Michael Yezerski’s overdriven occult score turns cherry red guitars into voices for the beast, as Byrne executes headbanger horror brought to life by Embry’s spray paint artwork. How deeply disturbed and howling mad a headbanger’s horror ballad in the name of the beast. It’s a crying shame Byrne’s output is so infrequent.

32. The Endless

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead made this decade their bitch (excuse my vulgarity). The Endless comes as an unexpected sequel to Resolution in which both filmmakers reprise their roles as ex-cultists returning “home.” As an existential peek into both creators’ souls, The Endless is a masterful cinematic echo chamber with incomprehensible depth. Life is this scary, ever-threatening march that offers no real answers, which Benson and Moorhead address through the beauty of unpredictability head-on. Such vision, much complexity.

31. Dream Home

Pang Ho-cheung’s Dream Home is a modern slasher masterpiece. Good gravy, the brutality alone would strike any connoisseur of horror ghost-while. Josie Ho hatches a plan to ensure the dwelling of her dreams stays hers, and that’s killing as many neighbors as possible. It’s a commentary on classism, status, and housing markets in addition to being gut-churn unsightly. Bless effects that remove gentiles and redecorate apartments a sanguine shade of red, in what I can only refer to as a stratospheric achievement in piled bodies. 

30. You’re Next

Animal masks. Blenders. Crossbows. Horror fans already knew Adam Wingard’s name, but You’re Next put Wingard’s talents on the Hollywood map. An ultimate home invasion barrage of pain, family suffering, and criminality written in blood. A cast of genre veterans (Barbara Crampton or AJ Bowen) suffer rewatchable torments of the upper crust. Thank you, You’re Next, for gifting us lazy horror fans an easy-to-assemble Halloween costume. Oh, and also for being a kickass bastardization of hide-and-seek.

29. Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s psychologically destabilized take on Tchaikovsky feels to have released decades ago, but I assure you, it’s only been one. Natalie Portman the purest dove in need of corruption. Mila Kunis the darkest shade of swan who takes Portman under her wing. Hallucinations, rival dancers, and moods of lustful entanglement unravel sophistication into a glorious mess of overachiever insanity. What vision from Aronofsky, whose aviary dazes ruffle feathers of perception in oh-so-majestic ways.

28. Cheap Thrills 

I understand this is the entry that’ll draw the most raised eyebrows, but what’s more horrifying than human compulsion? E.L. Katz’s Cheap Thrills makes you question personal values, forcing viewers to rationalize the unthinkable in characters’ shoes. David Koechner plays merciless and unstable gamemaster in this double-dare gauntlet of challenges, Pat Healy and Ethan Embry his no-luck contestants. Violent, vindictive, and no-holds-barred when it comes to social kabobing. Don’t try this at home, kids! Just watch along.

27. The Loved Ones 

Remember that Sean Byrne guy I mentioned above? Here’s why his meager catalog bothers me so much. With only two films this decade, The Loved Ones is even *better* than The Devil’s Candy. Robin McLeavy is *divine* as “Princess,” a daddy’s girl who captures prom dates and as her latest victim Brent (Xavier Samuel) finds out, isn’t to be denied requests. The Loved Ones is never predictable, the epitome of unforgiving, and despicably entertaining when it comes to tied-up torments.

26. Detention 

As years fade away, I find Detention to be one of my most watched horror movies of the decade. Joseph Kahn’s mashup of The Breakfast Club, Scream, and Jennifer’s Body is something only Kahn’s undepletable energies could claim responsibility. Josh Hutcherson and Shanley Caswell travel through time, fight the awkwardness of high school, and flee from slasher villain “Cinderhella” in this meta genre remix that’s benefitted by Kahn’s music video background. The dictionary definition of “divisive,” but that’s why it’s beloved by certain hordes of horror comedy fans.

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