Best Horror Movies of the Past Decade

Welcome to part one of our countdown of the 100 best horror movies the past decade. This entry tackles entries 100-76. Naturally, we’ll reach our grand climax on October 31.

I cannot stress how much work over the last decade I put into covering the horror genre. I’ve watched and reviewed 100-plus new-release horror films per year, for 10 consecutive years, whether that’s theatrical, streaming, or straight video-on-demand. Entries 100-76 are no consolation prize. I’m starting my congratulations here, with the first batch of “decade’s best” coming in extra, super hot.

100. We Are What We Are

Jorge Michel Grau kicks this list off with a story of family, ritual, and cannibalism. Jim Mickle can boast a bang-up remake of Grau’s We Are What We Are, but I still hold the original Mexican feast a cut above. Grau’s filmmaking is gritty and gnaws at your psyche as children carry out unspeakable orders in the name of heritage. Around some dinner tables, the saw is family – but here, it’s all about bounties of carnivorous delights.

99. The Revenant

Kerry Prior’s The Revenant is a vigilante horror-comedy powered by one festering friendship. David Anders plays an undead military veteran killed in action, reanimated with a thirst for blood, with Chris Wylde as his human confidant. Together they utilize Anders’ vampiric thirst to rid the streets of unwanted thuggery, resulting in an undersung indie gem few have acknowledged. Allow me to restart the conversation!

98. John Dies At The End

Don Coscarelli’s greatest achievement of the decade has nothing to do with Bubba Ho-Tep or Phantasm. His adaptation of David Wong’s John Dies At The End is batty, bizarre, and everything unexpected about Wong’s source novelization. Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes shine as slackers hopped-up on a drug called “Soy Sauce” that opens alternate realities. Cue multidimensional hijinx, masked cults, and meat monsters crashing their ongoing party. There’s “WTF Cinema,” and then there’s John Dies At The End.

97. Nina Forever

Let’s keep things going on a romantic note – a zombified romantic note. The Blaine BrothersNina Forever resurrects a jealous ex and enacts a love triangle between boyfriend, reanimated corpse, and new girlfriend. What unfolds is dramatic, comedic, oddly sensual and always witty. Other films have tried this setup and failed (Burying The Ex), but the psycho-ghastly-sexual chemistry between Abigail Hardingham and Fiona O’Shaughnessy sells morbid allure by the megaton.

96. Dude Bro Party Massacre III 

If there’s anything I like more than horror, it’s a spoof slasher comedy about dudes, bros, parties, and massacres. 5-Second Films delivers all the homoerotic frat undertones you can choke down in this third entry into a nonexistent screamer franchise. Enter “Motherface,” Delta Bi Theta, and more light beer than the cast of Jackass could slug down. Cue hilarity from start to finish, leaning heavily into every splattery cheapo midnighter genre trope worth exploitation. The most brotacular horror-comedy of the decade, said with overswelling love.

95. The Shallows 

I credit The Shallows with reinvigorating shark-attack cinema as of late. Jaume Collet-Sera and Blake Lively swirl pure adrenaline-powered tension in the most primal survival scenario. A rock, a seagull (STEVE SEAGULL), and a photorealistic animated shark that’s hungry for its next human meal. Lively sells nothing but unfiltered aquatic horror, the kind that makes you hold your breath without even noticing. Splish, splash, feel Poseidon’s wrath!

94. Wolf Creek 2 

Slashers – by and large – have become subgenre non grata over recent years, which leaves John Jarrett‘s Aussie predator Mick Taylor largely unrivaled. Greg McLean‘s Wolf Creek 2 copies the original’s format and delivers an equally mean-spirited attack against vacationers. Jarrett’s bushy eyebrows and maniac’s knifework are punctuated by severed body parts strewn about like garage decorations. Not a lot is said about Wolf Creek 2, but it’s malicious and relentless in all the ways I like.

93. Krampus

Michael Dougherty crushed “Halloween Horror,” then conquered Christmas like it was no difficult task. This mainstream slice of “Xmas Horror” is the kind of shaken storybook snowglobe I adore. Gingerbread ninja assassins, devoured children, Tremors influences – Dougherty lambasts consumerism while popping evil Jack-In-The-Box villains. Vivid and corrupt imagination reminds us we better watch out when taking everyday life for granted.

92. Rift

Erlingur Thoroddsen proves that less can sometimes be enough in this Nordic character study. Two men, exploring their past relationship alone, isolated due to biting frosty weather and talk of dangers outside. Rift is a lesson in evocative performances and drawing an inherent atmosphere from natural backdrops, stringing paranoia tight enough to cut flesh. Sympathetic ex-lovers battle demons undefined, making performance-based terror look easy (it’s not).

91. Under The Shadow 

As “Cultural Horror” continues to reach stateside audiences, Under The Shadow brings historical heft to a story of Djinn spirits. Babak Anvari recalls Tehran’s war-torn state of emergency with bombs dropping at any moment, then works in malevolent spirits and a mother trying to protect her daughter from both. It’s harrowing, bone-quaking stuff on a level of empathetic relation and supernatural visuals, highlighting how foreign viewpoints can offer new takes on fabled themes. Scares at a premium, accentuated by 1980s period-relevant additives.

90. Tumbbad 

An Indian folktale in three acts, one that takes place in “God Of Prosperity’s” womb. Tumbbad is a striking mix of Oscar-worthy cinematography, greedy demons, and prickly temptations complete with haunting consequences. It played a few festivals then appeared randomly on Amazon Prime with little fanfare, but I implore you to seek this foreign stunner out. Cultural presence brings overseas flavor to horrors local bedtime stories of the sinister variety. Beautifully told, mesmerizingly captured.

89. Carnage Park 

Somewhere between Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs exists Mickey Keating’s Carnage Park – a primal, maniacal throwback to 1970s political backlash. Pat Healy picks up a sniper rifle and causes endless chaos, with another enthusiastic Ashley Bell role that begs the quesiton, “Why don’t we have more Ashley Bell roles to praise?” Keating always approaches his films as a student proving what he’s learned, and this is my favorite combination of influences. A mean-streakin’ melting pot of the nastiest bullet-to-the-head regards.

88. Insidious Chapter 2

James Wan follows up one of my favorite haunted fixtures of the 2000s with an equally impressive expedition back into “The Further.” Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne once again redefine what it means to act in a horror movie, this time allowed to play – how we’ll say – “out of their roles.” Mix in some more Specs and Tucker comedy (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson), Lin Shaye‘s motherly ghost hunting, and that’s all Wan needs to do what he does best – scare the everloving bejesus out of audiences.

87. Excision

Ricky Bates Jr. instantly won this critic over with this surgical slice of body horror. Annalynn McCord asserts herself as one of the decade’s most exciting genre actresses, cutting into flesh and high school social ladders with a precision scalpel. Bates gets freaky-nasty with his visuals, dousing lovers in blood or cutting away for operation room “fantasies” that leave a lasting impression. Dark, midnight-black humor balanced on a razor’s edge. 

86. The Funhouse Massacre 

“Carnival Horror” holds a place close to my heart, so take this selection as no fool’s mistake. Andy Palmer’s The Funhouse Massacre blends our obsession with true crime into holiday attractions decked out in freakish sensationalism. Macon County bases its “scare zones” on local murderer legends, all of whom are released from their penitentiary cells this season. The criminals don’t just run the asylum, they take over their respective scare zones for tickets punched in blood. Neon-blasted production value, maniac jester costumes, and so much Halloween wickedness to handle. Here’s a treat for y’all.

85. Silent Night

Steven C. Miller’s last foray into horror (for now) is also the last brand of outright nasty slasher we’d get for some while. Does it earn points for being “Christmas Horror?” Maybe a tad, but I’m here for the meatgrinder effects and Malcolm McDowell’s cheesiest line deliveries. Silent Night certainly doesn’t put “avocado on the burger.” What a hostile, red-saturation-ruthless slasher that doesn’t hold a single punch (or slash or stab).

84. The Witch In The Window

Andy Mitton’s solo debut is short, sweet, and shot to the heart. A home renovation haunting where a father hopes to refurbish the relationship between his son while flipping his latest fixer-upper. A witch’s presence lurks in background frames, then claims responsibility for some of 2018’s most chilling haunted house moments. Proof that you can tell a terrifying ghost story in under ninety minutes.

83. The Banshee Chapter

Blair Erickson‘s The Banshee Chapter mixes government conspiracies and psychedelic drugs for one hell of a traumatizing trip. It’s a blend of found footage evidence rewatching and journalistic exploration, diving into the mindsets behind Area 51 truthers. Those “too hard to believe” scenarios that horrifically come to life. Throw in Ted Levine as a Hunter S. Thompson recluse who’s also a psychedelics enthusiast, and you’ve got one of the best, least talked about horror flicks on this decade-spanning list.

82. In Fabric

Peter Strickland’s ode to inanimate object horror is a sensually riveting European thrillseeker. “Matt, how can a killer dress achieve true horror?” It’s the way Strickland works around the dress, hemming accents of sexuality, cult devotion, and gorgeous cinematography. As the dress levitates, rippling in the wind, you might experience a moment of clarity where Strickland’s absurdity transcends B-Movie tropes. He takes the odd, unsightly, then produces high-society artfulness – and yes, I’m still talking about a killer dress movie. 

81. The Lodge

Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz will be making a second appearance on this list, but for now, let’s focus on their frigid Christmas vacation gone horrifically wrong. The Lodge is fresh devastation, be it Riley Keough’s grappling with repressed trauma or Act III’s gaslighting repercussions. Keough earns herself an early Christmas present given the depth and unease assured through her performance, one of 2019’s most memorable genre roles. If there’s one thing Fiala and Franze understand, it’s gut-punch cinema that leaves you begging for adorable puppy memes to wash the emotional pain away. (Ed. note: the theatrical release of The Lodge has been delayed to 2020, but since it played festivals in 2019, we have made the decision to include it here.)

80. Hounds Of Love 

Ben Young unleashes two “wolves” in Hounds Of Love, played by Emma Booth and Stephen Curry. Serial killer lovers who tell a story of deadly lust, manipulation, and man’s ability to become the scariest of monsters. Admittedly, not the easiest watch given torture, abuse, and scarring depicted on screen, but Young’s predators are tremendously acted on both fronts. Booth and Curry portray some of the year’s best villains. Never a delightful bunch, but demanding audience attention nonetheless.

79. Trash Fire 

When Ricky Bates Jr. names his movie Trash Fire, you better believe he’s’ going to give you a raging inferno of bad intentions. Adrian Grenier plays an abhorrent human being with an insult-driving tongue. Angela Trimbur co-stars as his abused and fed-up girlfriend in yet another fiery Trimbur signature role. Their journey is one of pain, minimal pleasure, and so, so much despicable behavior, all before things get irreconcilably weird. No one scripts a breakdown like Mr. Bates, and there’s a damn fine reason we can’t look away.

78. Mama 

Before Andy Muschietti adapted King, before Jessica Chastain grew up to be Beverly, Muschietti and Chastain worked together on a chilling parental nightmare called Mama. It takes talent to adapt short films into sustainable features, and Muschietti’s dark fairytale vibe makes this story of children and ghouls one of the better recent examples. Javier Botet provides the gangly form of “Mama” (to no shock), as Chastain battles against familial and protective fears that manifest in demonic form. One of my favorite sleepers to mention after it was met by mixed critical receptions, Mama finds both the heartache and motherly warmth Muschietti’s vision deserves.

77. The Woman

Lucky McKee’s The Woman gained instant infamy at its Sundance premiere, where a *furious* audience member hijacked all post-screen Q&A questions to bash McKee, his “disgusting” film, and then berate Sundance staff for programming such filth. One man’s trash is another’s treasure, eh? Pollyanna McIntosh stars as a feral “woman” in this story of brutal misogyny mixed with graphic violence, supported by Sean Bridgers and Angela Bettis in flanking adversarial roles. As alluded to, this is a *tough* viewing. It’s also ferocious in all the right ways that push boundaries and convey messages only horror can add an appropriate bite unto.

76. Exit Humanity

A zombie flick set during the Civil War? John Geddes’ Exit Humanity portrays outbreak survival in a time of muskets and unmatched technology, getting down to the basic savagery of zombie cinema. Mix in some questions about who the enemy really is – either warring side or the zombies interrupting shootouts – and you’ve got one of my favorite Bloody Disgusting Presents titles on this decade horror list. Nothing but a well-told undead story with a period piece twist (cast including Brian Cox, Bill Moseley, and Stephen McHattie).

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