Top 25 Horror Movies of the Decade: Do you dare watch them all? – The Mercury News
It’s been quite a decade for horror movies.
The genre has succeeded on numerous levels, producing so many different types of memorable films – from supernatural thrillers and monster movies to horror-comedies and remakes/sequels – while remaining an impressive force at the box office.
It’s even picked up a few Oscar nods.
As 2019 clicks to a close, and with Halloween upon us, we decided the time was right to tally up the horror films that scared/impacted/delighted us the most from the past 10 years.
The list includes offerings from Austria, South Korea, Australia and other countries, underscoring the fact that great horror is being made all around the globe.
The picks are also pretty evenly spread out over the years, a testament to how consistent the genre has been over the decade. (The only year that isn’t represented on the list is 2011 and we came very close to picking that year’s “You’re Next.”)
Here are the 25 best horror movies of the decade (2010-2019), listed chronologically by year. And most, if not all, of these are available to watch online. So, stream away, fright fans!
1, “Let Me In” (2010)
It’s not quite as impressive as the original, the 2008 Swedish film “Let the Right One In,” or John Ajvide Lindqvist’s brilliantly horrifying novel of the same name. Yet, this American-British remake is still, by far, the best vampire film of the last 10 years, with uniformly great performances by a young cast featuring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz.
2, “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” (2010)
You better watch out, indeed. This title might make this one sound like a family-friendly option for the holidays. But this surprisingly scary Finnish film is anything but warm and fuzzy, as it delivers a brutal twist on the story of Santa Claus and his elves.
3, “Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil” (2010)
If you can only watch one horror comedy of the last 10 years – and, truly, we feel sorry for you if that’s indeed the case – make sure that you pick this one. Riffing off nearly every “in-the-woods” scary movie imaginable, this modern cult classic is a laugh-a-minute gross-out of epic proportions, featuring incredible performances by both Alan Tudyk (“Tucker”) and Tyler Labine (“Dale”).
4, “Trollhunter” (2010)
Ever since “The Blair Witch Project” in 1999, the horror genre has been filled – sometimes for better, usually for worse – with found-footage “mockumentary”-style features. But this Norwegian dark fantasy is a definite keeper, skillfully mixing age-old folklore and modern times (such a government conspiracy to frame bears – yes, bears – for all the wrongdoings) into something both fun and frightening.
5, “Sinister” (2012)
Ethan Hawke is brilliant as a once-successful true crime writer, who looks to get his career back on track with a new book about a chilling murder spree. The problem is he decides that the best way to research the case is to actually move his family into the house where the murders occurred. It’s a very bad decision.
6, “V/H/S” (2012)
It might be the most terrifying horror anthology ever made, filled with six short films – all shot in the found-footage format – that play out like pure nightmares.
7, “The Lords of Salem” (2012)
Who could have predicated that metal icon Rob Zombie’s second career would turn out so – pardon the pun – bloody great? This creepy, atmospheric tale of one woman’s fall into madness, as well as into the hands of an evil coven, is another triumph for the man who currently ranks as the greatest horror movie director of the 21 century.
8, “Curse of Chucky” (2013)
It’s the best of the three Chucky films released this decade, which is saying more than you might suspect. This “Curse” stirs the right mix of giggles and scares, just like the other top offerings in what ranks as the most consistently entertaining franchise in horror.
9, “The Babadook” (2014)
The struggle to figure out the difference between what’s real, what’s imagined and what’s pure madness drives this ghostly dark Australian feature, which relays the story of a widowed mother and her young son facing desperation, isolation and something much worse.
10, “It Follows” (2014)
This supernatural tale seems to make everyone’s list of best horror movies of the 21st century – and for very good reasons. This film is a relentlessly menacing march of dread and doom, which uses atmosphere, tone and tension – as opposed to graphic gore and violence – to keep you in fear as “It” moves ever closer.
11, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” (2014)
Heralded as “the first Iranian vampire Western,” Ana Lily Amirpour’s directorial debut is unlike anything else we’ve ever seen in theaters. Mixing genres as boldly and freely as frozen yogurt toppings, this film is nothing short of a stylistic triumph, living in the place where cool meets haunting.
12, “Tusk” (2014)
This might be the most bizarre film on the list, which really says a lot about the second horror feature (following 2011’s “Red State”) from director Kevin Smith. But there’s also something so fascinating about this weird walrus tale that holds our attention even after multiple viewings.
13 “Goodnight Mommy” (2014)
It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s imagined, who’s truly at risk and from what kind of evil, in this psychological roller-coaster ride of a movie, which should have you second guessing from start to finish. “Goodnight Mommy” was the Austrian entry in the best foreign language film category at the 2016 Oscars, although it didn’t end up getting nominated.
14, “Krampus” (2015)
The holidays and horror have often gone hand in hand in the film world, resulting in such gems as 2010’s “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale” (which also made our list), 2005’s “Santa’s Slay,” 1984’s “Silent Night, Deadly Night” and – our pick for the greatest horror movie of all time – 1974’s “Black Christmas.” “Krampus” continues the tradition, delivering plenty of ho-ho-horror as an evil creature hunts down those on his naughty list.
15, “Under the Shadow” (2016)
It’s a horror story within a horror story, as an evil presence has invaded the home of a woman and her daughter living in war-torn Tehran in the ‘80s. The sense that there is no escape – from either the menacing supernatural force or the real-world dangers going on just outside the building – is nearly suffocating in this unforgettable Persian-language film from director Babak Anvari.
16, “The Boy” (2016)
There have been a number of memorable stories of possessed/evil dolls over the years, from “Trilogy of Terror” and “Magic” to “Annabelle” and, of course, the whole Chucky series. This surprising film breathes new life into the genre, as it tells the twisting tale of a woman hired on as a nanny to take care of – you guessed it – a doll.
17, “Train to Busan” (2016)
Attention “Walking Dead” fans: Don’t miss the greatest zombie apocalypse movie of the decade. Like with the finest episodes of that TV series, this South Korean horror masterpiece succeeds by favoring menace, tension, human spirit and heartache over mere blood and gore.
18, “Happy Death Day” (2017)
Taking the familiar “Groundhog Day” scenario and applying it in a college slasher-style film is a brilliant idea, one that was executed in superior fashion in this black comedy horror film about a character reliving the die that she dies, over and over again, until she can catch her own murderer.
19, “It” (2017)
We should all be glad that we don’t live in Derry, Maine, the (fictional) town where the murderous clown Pennywise wreaks havoc every 27 years. And the reasons why are so chillingly illustrated in this equally powerful and popular Stephen King adaptation, which now ranks as the top-grossing horror film of all time.
20, “Get Out” (2017)
It’s smart, original, chilling to the bone and stands as important social commentary. No wonder so many consider Jordan Peele’s directorial debut – which won the Oscar for best original screenplay at the 90th Academy Awards – to be the single best horror movie of the decade.
21, “A Quiet Place” (2018)
Loved “The Office”? You’ll see Jim Halpert (aka John Krasinski) in a whole new light after viewing this massive box office hit, which Krasinski directed, co-wrote the screenplay and starred in. It’s a relentlessly tense story of a family straining to survive in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by monstrous aliens who hunt by sound. The real fear comes from trying to not make a sound, since a simple cough or sneeze could be enough to for them to hear you.
22, “Hell Fest” (2018)
It’s a nightmare that probably thousands of people have had over the years, as they played out in their heads what might happen if someone inside one of those haunted theme parks decided to go on a killing spree. “Hell Fest” welcomes you to that nightmare. But do you dare enter?
23, “Halloween” (2018)
“Halloween” has been made three times. And all three of them – John Carpenter’s original model from 1978, Rob Zombie’s makeover in 2007 and David Gordon Green’s overachieving update to present day – warrant inclusion on their respective best-of-decade lists. And we can’t wait to see where the story of Michael Myers goes from here, with Green already signed on direct two sequels.
24, “Us” (2019)
Santa Cruz gets a freaky close-up in Jordan Peele’s directorial follow-up to “Get Out,” which proves to be another instant horror classic. The tale of deadly doppelgangers in this beachside town is perplexing, but in all the right ways, leading to the need for multiple viewings, with each one likely revealing more than the last.
25, “Ready or Not” (2019)
You think you have problems with your in-laws? We’re pretty sure that the newly married Grace Le Domas (Samara Weaving) has your in-law horror story beat, as she struggles to stay alive during what has to be one of the worst wedding nights of all time. The upside, for us at least, is that “Ready or Not” is the finest horror-comedy since “Happy Death Day.”
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