Welcome to part two of our countdown of the 100 best horror movies the past decade. This entry tackles entries 75-51. Naturally, we’ll reach our grand climax on October 31. You can read part one right here.
Let’s keep this terror train rollin’ with the next 25 entries. Inching closer to the top half of this decade-spanning list and my inevitable “Top 10.” You can’t imagine how hard it is to rank personally adored films against one other, already causing me heart palpitations in this second “tier.” That said, a reminder, these are still the best horror films of the past 10 years. Nothing to scoff at coming in at #75. Have I hit on some of your favorites already?
Sometimes homes hold secrets, which is the crux of Gerard Johnstone’s frequently comical house arrest scenario. When talking about this decade’s funniest horror comedies, I feel like Housebound is often unjustly left out of the conversation. Staying pretty vague with this explanation because I’d rather y’all go out and discover what lurks within the walls of an otherwise quaint rural homestead (that’s thought to be haunted).
74. The Last Exorcism
“Why isn’t Ashley Bell a bigger genre star?” Since The Last Exorcism, I find myself repeating this question too frequently. The way she contorts and sells her ungodly possession is Daniel Stamm’s secret weapon, especially from a found footage perspective that’s spelled generic defeat for so many filmmakers. Theological farmhouse horror runs rampant as Bell ensures scare after scare, surrounded by barnyard hay bales and choking on Louisiana’s humid air. Let’s just not talk about the sequel that shall not be named.
73. Cold Fish
Cold Fish delves into the secretive racket of tropical fish sales – yes, apparently there is a seedy backstory in Japan for this market – and follows store owner Mr. Syamoto (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) as he’s taken under the wing of rival superstore store owner Mr. Murata (Denden). What else did you expect from Sion Sono? There’s some daughter drama thrown in, true crime horrifics, and an ever-unwinding disasterpiece as only Sono can orchestrate. Massively underseen, and another shout-out to Bloody Disgusting Selects for distributing genre affairs other companies were afraid to touch.
As far as grief-stricken horror tracks, Anguish is one of the decade’s touchstone examples. A movie that starts with tragedy and ends not much farther away. Ryan Simpkins’ “Tess” becomes the voice for a deceased girl, yet goes unbelieved because of medical conditions that include hallucinatory side effects. Sonny Mallhi works within his film’s confines to mix paranormal cinematography with terror, sorrow, and an emotional breakdown that oozes empathy over destruction. For those who argue horror doesn’t have a heart, here’s my counter.
71. A Lonely Place To Die
Melissa George stars in this cliffside dangler all about extreme mountain climbers on the run from thug pursuers. Mother Nature has a way of making us feel treacherously insignificant, and filmmaker Julian Gilbey exploits said isolation. Rockface scaling is dangerous enough, but then you spin a pseudo-slasher twist? Rappels and slippery patches of stone become a question of survival, as sabotage leads to some of the worst untimely deaths adventurers can dream.
70. Ghost Stories
How do you adapt a spooky British teleplay into a successful paranormal chiller? Ask Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, whose “anthology” Ghost Stories takes their wildly popular theater experience and translates on-stage complexities into on-screen haunts. Three tales of demons, ghost babies, and spooked night guardsmen play subtle mind tricks as a skeptic paranormal investigator is forced to face his disbeliefs, then fears. Such a brilliant experience that unravels in the most unique and inexplicable ways, featuring one stellar Martin Freeman performance.
“Worksploitation” horror will forever appeal to my office worker alter-ego, and Joe Lynch hits all the right paper-pusher frustrations. Mayhem utilizes contagion thrills to incinerate corporate America from the inside out. Steven Yeun the chewed-up, scapegoat cog in a larger machine; Samara Weaving one of many “average” citizens taken advantage of by greedy CEOs. This movie is seething mad, bloody brutal, and the tag-team chemistry between both revolting “heroes” is glorious rage-fueled comradery. Oh, and that Faith No More needle drop? It doesn’t get better.
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead became filmmakers to watch minutes into their feature debut. Resolution is high-concept, genre-bending independent cinema done more than right. As their storytelling ambitions spin farther and wilder out of control, audience engagement only increases. Unanswerable questions about faceless deities translate into a unique blend of existential pondering and dread that never subsides. Sometimes horror doesn’t require jump scares, just the ability to linger in our minds far longer than any cinematic detail has any right to overstay.
Midsommar is Ari Aster’s breakup movie, and what a solstice spectacle it is. Some argue the relevance of Florence Pugh’s journey, but one thing’s for certain – Aster has all but mastered the art of horror’s visual impact. More than that? Skinsuits and martyrdom give way to a legitimately comical outsiders-looking-in sabbatical doomed from the start. I’m sure you’ve all read my piece on “Sunny Scary” horror, which was indeed inspired by Midsommar. Aster, so far, has proven himself an immediate genre standout.
66. Starry Eyes
Starry Eyes isn’t just your average slow-burn punctuated by a dynamite third act. It’s a sacrificial and satirical look at the corrupt, disgusting world of “selling one’s soul for fame.” Studios that take advantage of any dreamers’ desperate nature. Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer invigorate recycled Hollywood backlash and churn out something gratifyingly fresh, led by the immensely talented Alex Essoe. Her work a blend of innocence and insanity, covered in practical gore which assures memorably aggressive commentaries.
Demon clowns are all the rage these days thanks to Pennywise 2.0, but one of my favorite red-nosed killers comes in stand-up comic form. Conor McMahon’s Stitches morphs circus zaniness into a slasher comedy, starring Ross Noble as the titular jester. “Stitches” returns from the grave to hunt those children who caused his death, now preteens being killed in hilarious and extravagant ways (that balloon inflation death). Better yet, most (if not all) the effects are practical and gruesome, adding to the hilarity of this goofball midnight hoot.
64. The Collection
Where The Collector is a more mysterious “Saw meets home invasion horror” meld, The Collection chucks corpses into a meatgrinder in Marcus Dunstan’s slasheriffic sequel. The opening minutes alone spill more fake blood than entire features, and it only gets more grotesque. Trophy case amalgamations of human body parts and glance-from-the-screen deaths ensure quite the morbidly curious atrocity. Dunstan and co-writer Patrick Melton know their way around a slaughterhouse, and it’s a damn fun time for the right midnight crowd.
63. Witching & Bitching
Álex de la Iglesia’s cinematic creativity never ceases to amaze this critic. Witching & Bitching, as the title suggests, is frightful fun from a robbery gone wrong to said criminals needing to fend off a coven of witches in order to cross the Spanish border. Attention to detail paints vivid accents whether they be Gothic architectures or sinfully seductive “witchplay.” Actresses portraying the film’s ritualistic bitch-witches drink up their manipulative manhunt, while fleeing male actors blend confusion and desperation with welcome hilarity.
62. The Eyes Of My Mother
Nicolas Pesce’s brand of formative corruption in The Eyes Of My Mother unsettles with such rewarding stakes. In black and white, Pesce hones what some might call “arthouse horror” into a character study about family, tragedy, and inherited traits. Kika Magalhães makes the most of her performance as she navigates life in the shadow of her parents, left alone with only perverse direction. It’s meditative in all the right ways, and deeply disturbing on a psychological level unlocked by Magalhães performative comprehension.
61. Little Monsters
How many movies offer Lupita Nyong’o playing Taylor Swift ukelele covers to distract her toddler students from hungry zombies banging down their door? Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters juxtaposes the sweet innocence of schoolteacher Miss Caroline (Nyong’o) against a petting zoo school trip that’s cut short by undead threats. Nyong’o is a *delight* as she keeps her sunny optimism beaming for the sake of innocent children, while Josh Gad shines as singalong celebrity Teddy McGiggle – now broken and psychotic with the presence of flesh-eating monsters. Long story short, one of the funniest and vicious horror movies of 2019.
60. Goodnight Mommy
Eternal fact: children are terrifying. Movies that can bastardize adolescent innocence automatically earn double scare points. Goodnight Mommy uses one parent’s nightmare to ruin our days, nights, and lives. Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala cut to the heart of psychological torture while also working in some despicable visuals (cockroaches), ensuring you’ll find yourself shaken and stirred in all the worst (best) ways. Pure, disturbing evil.
59. Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil
Eli Craig is responsible for one of the decade’s best horror comedies in Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are a comedic dream team as two yokels who find themselves under attack by college students who keep killing themselves on their fixer-upper’s property. That’s because everyone thinks they’re ruthless backwoods serial killers, when in reality neither Tucker nor Dale would hurt a fly. It’s a reverse slasher scenario that roasts horror tropes over a pit and has too much fun doing so. Where the heck is our “Tucker & Dale” sequel on a college campus that was teased while the property’s stock skyrocketed?!
58. Stake Land
Jim Mickle rocked the vampire genre in a time of glittery skin and pick-up baseball by giving bloodsuckers their fangs back in Stake Land. Nick Damici stars in a film he co-wrote as a wanderer turned mentor, guiding an orphaned boy across vampire territories and safe havens. It’s feral, grimy vamp storytelling that gets back to despicable basics, maximizing the primality of survival. A surefire subgenre win that tipped the scales back towards horror once again, with a sequel that shouldn’t be ignored either.
57. Anna And The Apocalypse
John McPhail’s – *takes breath* – Scottish zombie horror comedy musical set during Christmas is unbridled genre joy. Between choreography that splices walker decapitations into dance sequences to a quotable tracklist bursting with musical jubilance, horror fans have a new holiday staple. Impossibly energetic, decked with seasonal delights, and finished by the purest notes of sing-along savagery. Try getting “Hollywood Ending” out of your head.
56. This Is The End
“But Matt, This Is The End is a comedy.” Yes, but it’s a horror comedy. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen haven’t been funnier this decade than open underworld portals in James Franco’s backyard. A slew of celebrity cameos meet horrific fates – none better than “Sip Boy” Michael Cera – as familiar Hollywood faces attempt to save their souls before divine judgment. Frankly, this is how you do a mainstream horror comedy.
55. Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead
Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow is a rather straightforward Nazi zombie flick, but Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead is where he unlocks the concept’s riotous potential. Wirkola builds out his undead universe to include warring zombie factions, historical references, and body modification of the most rotten stench. Martin Starr shows up as a conspiracy theorist proven right, there might be a tank involved – kudos to Wirkola for having too much fun in his wildly enjoyable sequel.
Adam MacDonald’s Backcountry is Jaws for campers. It’s no Grizzly or Into The Grizzly Maze aggressor, but MacDonald needn’t continuous action with tension this thick. Missy Peregrym and Jeff Roop project their backwoods survival despair in spades, while the haunting silence of isolation trumps what basic creature feature generics might attempt – but don’t worry, you’ll still get a few gory bits. Plus some sweet “Donato Reds” (copyright pending).
53. The Lure
Rarely do feature debuts make such a splash as Agnieszka Smoczynska‘s Eurotrash cannibal mermaid musical, The Lure. Yes, you read correctly. Concert interludes are decked in disco showmanship while a story of two landlocked sea sirens turns violent for a family of traveling entertainers. Smoczynska shows a suction-tight command of alluring style, captivating stage presence, and ferociousness never lost within teenage pop-idol stardom. The energy of this film is on Chernobyl levels, always about to spill over.
52. Super Dark Times
Eesh, Super Dark Times is just as heavy to recall as it was to watch. I mean that to compliment the film’s effective gut-punch of 90s “boys will be boys” cinema that’s so, SO much more. As I’ve said before, Super Dark Times? More like Super Fuckin’ Dark Kick-Your-Teeth-In Stressful No Good Very Bad Times. Again, this is exclaimed with nothing but admiration for Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski’s devastating script and Kevin Phillips’ unflinching direction.
51. Stage Fright
My love for Stage Fright isn’t echoed by all audiences, but I’m a sucker for musical horror comedies. Doubly so when they take place in satirical theater scenarios, especially a camp for aspiring Broadway stars run by Meat Loaf. Triply so when the villain is a slasher killer who screeches 80s-metal ballads while dismembering actors and crew members. I’ll never stop screening this title for friends while laughing along the whole time – even after multiple viewings.
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