The 2010's decade is coming to an end... what a morbid fast-ball getting ready to crack me right in the face. 10 years ago, I didn't think this would come at me so fast, yet here it is. Some overall amazing films have come out during this time- way too many to name- and some not so great ones, but all in all, we can say that beautiful art was made this decade of cinema. And more than that, some amazing horror films have made their debut, as well as made way for a contemporary genre of horror- elevated horror. I believe we have been truly blessed with this decades horror filmography, and we have some real classics and gamechangers.
To close out this spooky season and the 2010's, I have decided to rank my favorite horror movies from 2010 to 2019. Now that is a lot of horror movies to think about, and honestly, I love a great deal of them. So, how do I make this ranking as fun, short, simple, and understanding as possible? I want to talk about and share all of my favorites, but I don't want to overwhelm and clutter this list with movies that I enjoy, but don't necessarily love, so I have decided to break this down in 2 parts. The first part will be covering the first half of the decade and so on with part two. Also, I have decided to limit both lists to 30 films each, totaling 60 for the entire decade.
Let's get started with my favorite, must-see horror films from the years 2010 through to 2014!!
30. Maniac (2012), dir. Franck Khalfoun
To start off this first half of the decade, I'm going to reserve my 30th spot for Franck Khalfoun's 2012 remake of Maniac. This film makes some interesting choices and contains some seriously disturbing and squirmy scenes. Told completely from first person POV (which is always an interesting choice for a film, especially a horror one), it tells the story of a serial killer with some very serious mommy issues, who scalps women and makes mannequins of them. Is Elijah Wood truly a convincing serial killer? Not so much to me, but that doesn't mean the material and his dedication to the role doesn't make this an absolutely twisted, psycho-thriller for the decade.
29. The Last Exorcism (2010), dir. Eli Roth
Many films of the early 2010's and late 2000's set the stage for what would be popularized as the years went on. This can definitely be said for Eli Roth's 2010 film- The Last Exorcism. I believe it was this film that really helped push "the possession renaissance" in horror cinema. Using the then-popularized documentary style filming of the time, the story follows Nell Sweetzer, a young girl who is possessed by true evil (sound familiar?) It is then up to Cotton Marcus to expel the evil for good. However, don't expect to know how this film will end.
28. My Soul to Take (2010), dir. Wes Craven
I am, admittedly, a Wes Craven stan. I love all of his work, from The Hills Have Eyes to his phenomenal Scream franchise. I even love his 2010 film My Soul to Take, which has received much negative criticism since its release. Aside from it being a Wes Craven original, this film is another perfect example of how Craven took your classic, horror movie formula and added his own original twists. My Soul to Take follows in line with his "who's the murderer" trope, kind of like Scream, but with a 'ripper' twist. I appreciate this film for all of the effort put into the original story that's crafted from older ideas, and Max Thieriot's 'Bug' is one of my favorite Wes Craven antagonists ever.
27. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010), dir. Troy Nixey
This 2010 remake of the made-for-television film, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, is another one of my 2010s favorites that has received mixed reviews. Co-written by Guillermo Del Toro and Matthew Robbins, its production was an international effort. What I truly appreciate about this film is the creativity put into choosing the sets, the design of the fairies, and the twist added to a classic, children's bedtime story. The movie stars a young Bailee Madison as Sally, an introverted girl who gets sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend. As Sally struggles with being handed off by her parents like a hot potato, she also unleashes tooth-eating fairies who put her life in danger. This film, along with Madison's performance, have been one of the most memorable for me.
26. Lords of Salem (2012), dir. Rob Zombie
Part of Blumhouse's "Hauned Movies," Lords of Salem is a truly disturbing film, and only a few people could have pulled it off. Rob Zombie definitely did. Lords of Salem is about Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a recovering addict, who lives in Salem, and who gets caught up into a whirlwind of witches and Satanism after she listens to a record by "The Lords." Rob Zombie makes some bold moves with this film, and the practical effects are golden, but what I love about this film is all of the visuals and cinematography. No matter how creeped out this film made me feel, I couldn't help but love how abstract and modern it is. It's one of a kind.
25. Tusk (2014), dir. Kevin Smith
There's almost nothing I love more than a weird-ass horror movie that has an out-of-this-world premise and utilizes maximum, realistic practical effects. Kevin Smith's 2014 film, Tusk, absolutely succeeds in that. Plus, it has the talent of Justin Long under its belt- meaning I cannot ignore this film and its necessity to be on my top 30 list. Tusk is the first in Smith's True North Trilogy, and it's about an insufferable, arrogant radio-show host who takes a trip to Canada for a special taping of his show. From there, the plot is incalculable- showing the sheer derangement and creativity of Kevin Smith's mind. This film reminds me of The Human Centipede- had it been done right, with a better story, a better cast, and so on. It's wretched and weird and funny, and Justin Long continuously proves to be the overlooked gem of Hollywood.
24. Starry Eyes (2014), dir. Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer
How badly do you want to be a star? Kevin Kolsch's and Dennis Widmyer's 2014 film, Starry Eyes, explores how dark and satanic the answer to that question can be. Alexandra Essoe plays Sarah, an aspiring actress who works at a fast-food restaurant and is working for her big break. When Sarah auditions for the lead role in a film called "The Silver Scream," she slowly finds out the lengths she is willing to go to achieve her dreams. This film leans heavily on the performance of Essoe, and she nails her part in this stomach-churning role about desperation and the rotting of one's soul.
23. Shutter Island (2010), dir. Martin Scorsese
Raise your hand if you needed to watch this film more than once to understand it? *Raises hand.*
Shutter Island is definitely one of the best horror films of the decade for me and one of the best performances from Leonardo DiCaprio. He plays Teddy Daniels, a man investigating the disappearance of one of the patients at Ashcliffe- a mental hospital for the criminally insane. This period-thriller explores the depths of guilt and PTSD in such a masterful and innovative way. Scorsese is able to use his beautiful cinematography to peel away the layers of reality to reveal a memorable twist at the end.
22. Cooties (2014), dir. Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion
This film is consisted of two of my favorite things- zombie comedies and great teachers. A good zombie comedy has lots of gore, some hilarious dialogue and deaths, and a good heart at its core, and Cooties has all of that. Rainn Wilson steals the spotlight in this film about elementary teachers who must battle through a playground of ravenous, zombie children in order to get to safety. Good teachers deserve so much appreciation, and this film captures the heart of that gratuity, while also creating some unforgettable deaths and a satirical conversation about society.
21. Prometheus (2012), dir. Ridley Scott
Prometheus is one of my favorite Alien films. It takes a new direction on the franchise: tracking man's creators. It stars Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth Shaw) as its main protagonist and Michael Fassbender as David, your favorite space android. This space horror is not only beautiful to look at, but it's production, costume design, and storyline make it my 20th choice for this list. There are some memorable scenes in the history of the Alien franchise, but that alien abortion scene is top tier.
20. The Cabin in the Woods (2012), dir. Drew Goddard
This film said, "Let me take all of your horror movie tropes, but make it fashion," and I'm here for it. Cabin in the Woods is one of the best horror movies of the decade, because it relishes in not having to take itself too seriously, therefore it has fun with its subject matter. It follows 5 college students who vacation in a cabin, but unbeknownst to them, there are higher forces- specifically, an underground facility- that are trying to have them murdered by monsters and sacrificed. This crazy premise is carried out through a hilarious and gory 95 minutes, using the comedic timing of Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins, the abs of Chris Hemsworth, and a surprise appearance from Sigourney Weaver.
19. We Are What We Are (2013), dir. Jim Mickle
Sisters, Rose (Julia Garner) and Iris (Ambyr Childers), are the superstars of this film, and it's their performances that make it one of my favorites of the year. We Are What We Are is the remake of a 2010 Mexican film of the same name (which I have yet to see.) It is about the reclusive Parkers and their cannibalistic, ritualistic way of life in a modern society. When their mother dies, Iris and Rose must take on her role, which is something they find harder than they thought. This film is a slow, daunting ride throughout, but it leads to a heightened climax that elevates its overall status.
18. Scream 4 (2011), dir. Wes Craven
Wes Craven reinvented his Scream franchise with this 2011 film, while also keeping the same, original theme and self-awareness throughout. Scream 4 is my third favorite film of the overall franchise, mainly because of the new characters. This sequel follows Sidney Prescott, who hasn't returned home in years. She also hasn't been tormented in years, but when she finally decides to make a stop in Woodsboro for her book tour, the nightmare of Ghostface begins again. Gale and Dewey remain the elite horror movie couple. Kirby, Charlie, and Jill are so fun and well-written; they remind me of contemporary versions of the original cast and were my favorite additions to the franchise.
17. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010), dir. Eli Craig
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is another film that enjoys twisting around classic horror movie tropes for its own pleasure, all the while never taking itself too seriously. However, I believe this film succeeds far more in this attempt than many others. The movie is about a group of clueless college students who go camping and mistake the well-meaning Tucker and Dale for serial killers. This horror film has so much fun and heart and gore, I had to put it at my number 18 spot. As Tucker and Dale spend the entirety of the film in an honest and confused state trying to do the right thing, the true villains aren't who you expect.
16. You're Next (2011), dir. Adam Wingard
Before there was Ready or Not (2019), there was You're Next- another film about how crazy the wealthy are for their money. Erin (Sharni Vinson) goes up to her boyfriends vacation home with his family, but immediately, things spiral out of control into a bloody mess after the first arrow is shot- killing the initial victim. Erin, then, must fight for her life and come to terms with the reality of her relationship through this black-comedy film. This film takes a twist on the home invasion trope, and Sharni Vinson delivers one of the best performances on this list.
15. The Conjuring (2013), dir. James Wan
There were ghost movies, there were possession movies, and then there was The Conjuring. I watched this movie in broad daylight, on a Sunday morning, and I still felt the darkness and fear consume me in that movie theater. When I walked out, I felt like I hadn't seen the light in years. The Conjuring is about Ed and Lorraine Warren's "scariest case"- the Perron family. The Perron's had just moved into a farmhouse when they started to experience 'paranormal activities,' and as each day passes, they realize that something truly evil has infiltrated their lives. This film tapped into some of my greatest, irrational fears, and it deserves the recognition for being one of the scariest films of the decade for me. I still sleep with my feet covered and close to me every night, fearing that someone- or something- will pull on them.
14. Let Me In (2010), dir. Matt Reeves
This is a vampire romance film. Matt Reeves' Let Me in is a remake of the 2008 film, Let the Right One In. Let Me in is about a bullied 12 year old boy named Owen who befriends his new neighbor, Abby. Both of these children live macabre and lonely lives, but they find a use and comfort in each other. Abby is a young vampire who lives with her "father" and who spends every moment dealing with the tragedies attached with her lifestyle. Owen is not only bullied, but he is also ignored by his mother and deprived of protection and love, making them a perfect match for each other. This is one of Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee's career-best performances, and the cold, depraved atmosphere of this movie, along with the tender relationship between our main characters, gives it my 16th spot.
13. Oculus (2013), dir. Mike Flanagan
This film keeps the audience on a continuous leash, and just when you think you've caught up with the story, you realize you're still too many steps behind. That is, until the end, when it's already too late for you and our characters. Karen Gillian gives one of her own career-best performances in this film, and her dynamic with Brenton Thwaites- the relationship between a brother and a sister- is what drives the entire movie. Oculus is about Kaylie (Gillian) and Tim (Thwaites), siblings who experienced a terrible childhood trauma that they believe to be caused by a haunted mirror. This film traverses between reality and one's own mind, making you guess what's real and what's not in a classic ghost story.
12. Insidious (2010), dir. James Wan
Insidious set the stage, theme, and overall blueprint for every possession/demon movie that would come after it. It was Insidious that opened the doors for entire possession universes! This film is about Dalton and his rescue from soul-thirsty ghosts and demons. When Dalton falls into an inexplicable coma, his mother begins to experience terrible entities roaming the house. There are some clever visual choices of this film, but what truly made it a standout was the original ghosts that brought upon chilling fear and the performances from Lin Shaye and Rose Byrne that made them memorable women in modern horror- especially Shaye, who will go down in horror history, I'm sure of it.
11. Under the Skin (2013), dir. Jonathan Glazer
This film is a dark, encompassing void that consumes you in a different way than any other horror film of the decade. It's sheer creativity and depravity is what made me put it on this list. It felt like mental bloodletting, so for me it wasn't in your face scary, but it offered that spine-chilling thriller that many look for in any horror movie. Under the Skin is about a woman/alien who lures lonely, secluded men to their deaths by a dark and soundless void in an abandoned building. Scarlett Johansson delivers a beautiful and believable performance as the mystery woman, and she offers a grueling insight into humanity and isolation.
10. Creep (2014), dir. Patrick Brice
I remember putting off watching this movie for so long, because I expected it to be slow and uneventful... Boy was I wrong. Creep is a 2014 film about Aaron, a videographer, who agrees to record a few videos of Josef to give to his unborn son before he dies. It's crucial that this film is shown from the point of view of Aaron's camera, because it traps the audience in the situation with our two characters. You have nowhere to go, and you find yourself growing more and more uneasy as the film progresses. Creep does so much with just two characters, and by the end you have experienced 82 minutes of an uncomfortable thriller full of awkward hilarity.
9. Life After Beth (2014), dir. Jeff Baena
Zombie comedies have made a special place in my love for horror films. Shaun of the Dead still is one of my favorite horror films of all time and has been since I first saw it at the age of 11. Life After Beth continues to strengthen my love for the subgenre and is one of my favorite roles from Aubrey Plaza and Dane Dehaan. It's a fun, but also ugly, look into grief and loss. When Beth (Plaza) dies while hiking, her boyfriend Zach (Dehaan) is left completely devastated. That is, until he finds Beth, at home and alive and also unknowing of her own death. Not long after being reunited with his love, he realizes that she is a zombie. This film has all the gore, deaths, and hilarity of a horror film, but at its heart is the pain that comes with the question, "What if I had this person back," while also handling the grief of saying goodbye.
8. Evil Dead (2013), dir. Fede Alvarez
Evil Dead is one of the best-crafted horror movies of all time in my opinion. I have not seen the original, but this remake makes a stand for itself and also makes my number 6 spot of the list. This film is about Mia (Jane Levy) and her road to recovery. She calls all of her closest friends and her brother to a lake house for their support in her quitting drugs cold turkey. Less than a couple of hours in and an evil force is released on the group, causing gruesome, toe-curling deaths and a bloody ending. I love how this film is just amped up gore and spewing black tar that makes your squirm in your seat.
7. Goodnight Mommy (2014), dir. Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala
I thought I loved kids until I saw this film. I also thought I had this whole film figured out, but I was completely wrong. Goodnight Mommy is an Austrian horror film about twin boys whose mother has just gotten home from having surgery on her face. She's all wrapped in bandages, and soon enough, the boys are convinced that the woman is not actually their mother. This graphic thriller explores many fronts of familial relationships and the world of these 9 year old boys, bringing the audience in on their confusion and frustration. The twins, Elias and Lukas, deliver a chilling performance and really keep the audience intrigued and guessing on what crazy shit they'll do next.
6. What We Do in the Shadows (2014), dir. Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement
Taika Waititi, you damn comedic genius. Horror-comedies, when balanced properly, are a genre of film that delivers a perfect relationship between two of the strongest emotions (fear and laughter.) What We Do in the Shadows is a "real-life" modern vampire film. It's funny, weird, wholesome and bloody as hell. What We Do in the Shadows is a 2014 mockumentary about 4 vampire flat-mates sharing their lives with a documentary crew. Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr welcome new victim-turned-vampire Nick into their lives and home, and all the while, the film plays out a hilarious 85 minutes with werewolves, familiars, bloody fights, and Stu. What I loved most about this film is the balance Waititi and Jemaine Clement were able to curate between vampirism, comedy, and the realities of life. It's the perfect horror comedy.
5. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014), dir. Ana Lily Amirpour
What happens when little red riding hood and the big bad wolf are the same person? This film perfectly answers that question with a vampire girl (Sheila Vand) who roams the nights in numbing loneliness watching, terrorizing, and eating the people. There is also Arash (Arash Marandi), a man who also experiences defeaning loneliness due to the harsh realities of his life. The two characters come together in a string of fateful events in this Persian-language horror romance. Sheila delivers one of my favorite performances of this list as a music-loving vampire with a yearning soul (or non-soul), but who also captures a carnal taste for blood that puts a haunting shadow over this beautiful black and white film.
4. It Follows (2014), dir. David Robert Mitchell
Taking my number 4 spot for the first half of the decade is It Follows, also known as the "killer STD film." It took a second watch for me to appreciate this film for what it is, but once I did, I absolutely loved it. It Follows is a psychological-horror film about Jay (Maika Monroe), who sleeps with her boyfriend and soon finds out that he has passed down a murderous entity that follows her, and the only way she can escape it is to pass it on to someone else. I joke that this film is the "killer STD film," but it is one of the most creative and artful horror movies of the year. No matter how you interpret it, It Follows intends to awaken you with a fear of others and the marks (or murderous demons) they can leave behind for you when you let them in.
3. The Babadook (2014), dir. Jennifer Kent
What happens when you mix a deranged child, overwhelming depression, and a shapeshifting shadow demon? You get The Babadook and also one of the best horror movies, hell one of the best movies, of the decade. The Babadook is an Australian horror film that stars Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman, who play a mother-son duo, dealing with the loss of their father/husband, and a lurking darkness in their home. This film captures the looming, possessive fear of many ghost/demonic films, better actually than many others of its kind, but it also has the emotional depth of any dramatic film, as it covers the complexity of grief and depression in a symbolic way that no other film has achieved.
2. Sinister (2012), dir. Scott Derrickson
This film tops my list as #2 because of the absolute terror it placed in me. It's one of the most underrated and misjudged films of the decade. It took me so long to revisit this film after my first viewing because of how much it shook me to my core. The design and creation of Mr. Boogie haunted my nightmares more than any other gory, slasher or any other demonic film of the decade. Sinister is about Ellison (Ethan Hawke), who is a true-crime writer and who moves his family to the home where a gruesome murder happened so that he can solve the murders and hopefully, find some inspiration. Just like you would imagine, moving your family to the house where gruesome murders took place isn't the best idea, and Ellison soon finds out how deadly and terrifying it can actually be. Very few films can make me sweat with fear of my nightmares like this one has, so I believe it deserves this number 2 spot on my list.
1. Black Swan (2010), dir. Darren Aronofsky
Yes, Black Swan is definitely a horror movie, and it's a damn perfectly made horror movie. There are two types of horror- one that's right in your face, blood dripping and all, and then there is the other that festers and grows in your soul. Natalie Portman's performance from the very beginning to the very end, pulls you into her turmoil and presents to you that festering fear. Portman plays Mia, an innocent and driven dancer who lives in New York City. When the lead role of the "Swan Queen" opens at her dance company, Mia is determined to nail the role and deliver a perfect performance. The dialogue for this film and the amazing acting from every person involved are enough to make it the best of this decade, but Aronofsky's vision takes the audience further. This film explores the pressures of perfection in Mia's world while also following a white swans descent into darkness and giving in to her most sinister desires. It shows how her repressed nature clawed its way out and consumed her like a revenge for being pushed away for so long. More than any other on this list, this film is a well thought-out, crafted masterpiece of horror, drama, sexuality, and loss of grip.