Horror movies are subjective, but what is most agreed upon, is that horror movies have the ability to reflect the fears of the real world into their stories. Let’s have a look at some of the scariest movies of the past decade, the good kind of scary.  

10 – The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The Cabin in the Woods on the surface appears to be a slasher cliche film on a giant scale, with familiar tropes such as the overly sexualised blonde girl, the stoner bro in the corner, over the top gore and the final girl. However, what makes The Cabin in the Woods a masterpiece is its underlying story that subverted fan’s expectations in the best way possible. The movie is in a sense a love letter to horror, awarding long-time fans of the genre while being accessible to the new viewer. It also offers a critic on fans of what we expect from horror, and what kind of people it makes us.

The movie is incredibly meta, funny, scary and with more than 100 different monsters in this film, most using practical effects, that alone is a spectacle that warrants many viewings and overall love. 

9 – Babadook (2014)

A rise in female directors, writers, and main leads have arisen in horror movies this last decade. Babadook, written and directed by Jennifer Kent and starring Essie Davis offers a new take on horror and the theme of motherhood. The main character Amelia is a single mother, pushed endlessly to the point of breakdown by her overbearing six-year-old son Samuel – who is very difficult to handle, constantly screaming, clingy, has fits of anger and is weirdly obsessed with wooden weapons and monsters. The increase in stress, sleep deprivation and frustration makes Amelia begin to lose more and more of her mind, a situation going to insanity when the Babadook shows up. A creature from a children’s book that appeared on their doorstep. The movie is shot with very washed out tones, pale white, grey blurring into black, mirroring the mentality of Amelia and conflict she has to go through. The movie is a great representation of the weight of past trauma, isolation and the struggles of being a single mother with nowhere to turn to for help.  

8 – What We Do In The Shadows (2015)

Not all horror movies have to terrify us to the point of no sleep. What We Do In The Shadows, was one of the funniest, outlandish and crazy inventive movies to come out in the past decade. Directed by Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, the movie sticks to their comedic style and offers the story of a group of vampires, living in a flat and invite a documentary film crew into their home. shot in the style of a mockumentary, the characters constantly talk to the camera and showcase their lifestyle and vampiric abilities. The film pokes holes into vampire stereotypes, flips expectations and references many favourite vampire movies, including The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview with the Vampire. The movie is very clever, smart, and one you’ll never stop laughing at.

7 – You’re Next (2011)

You’re Next is a refreshing new take on the cliche “Home Invasion” plot, centering around a large family, joined for a reunion as they’re picked off one by one by a group of masked killers. What makes this movie stand out from the other “Home Invasion” movies is it’s final girl Erin. She is awesome. We all go through the same angry feelings when we watch a horror movie around a group of young adults “Why don’t they stick together?!” “Why don’t they make sure the killer is dead?!“ “Why don’t they arm themselves?!” – Erin does all the smart things we want to see characters do in a horror movie. She is quick on her feet, constantly saving all the other annoying characters, manages to fool the home invaders many times, and keeps a weapon clutched in her bloody hand. With a home alone style to Erin’s traps, this movie is full of dark humour, the sudden burst of gore and some unexpected laugh out loud moments. It also has a great plot twist at the end you do not see coming. This twist re-defines the movie that makes repeated viewings more enjoyable to watch as you understand specific glances, emotions, and words of dialogue characters have with one another, that would seem confusing on the first watch. 

6 – It Follows (2014)

It Follows is a unique supernatural, psychological horror, that gained a cult following after its release.  The main character Jay has sex with a boy and then discovers he passed a curse through intercourse, and she will die if she does not pass it herself. Throughout the movie, she is tormented by a shape-shifting entity, constantly following her until she passes on the curse, dooming another individual to the same fate.

It Follows is an eerie film, with the entity taking on different forms as it stalks after Jay, though slow, and patient, it never stops, and it’s constant presence never lets Jay and the other characters feel a moment of ease. Using sex as the way the curse is passed on the movie has sparked many interpretations and theories on what “it” is and what the movie’s message is. It could be about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, or the anxiety over intimacy itself. Whatever you decide the movie conveys to you, it is one of the most unnerving unique experiences put to film. 

5 – A Quiet Place (2018)

This last decade has brought us many end-of-the-world themed films, but A Quiet Place stands out amongst the crowd for good reason. Any big horror fan will tell you that sound design and music the key to a good horror movie, as it creates tension and drastically can change the tone. The majority of A Quiet Place is completely silent, with only the tiniest moments of sound, like the movement of clothes, barefoot steps, wind in the background. With only 90 lines of dialogue, this movie is something else entirely and will constantly have you on the edge of your seat. With director and starring John Krasinski and his real-wife Emily Blunt as parents trying to keep their children safe in a post-apocalyptic world by being completely silent as much as they can, relying on sign language, this movie has a clever, stripped-down premise, focusing only on the family and their ability to survive, rather than showing many different characters and exploring the world. It keeps the film very simple but high in tension as we watch fearfully as our characters avoiding making any sound that could result in catastrophe. 

4 – IT Chapter 1 (2017) 

We appear to be in a new resurgence of Stephan King movies, with Gerald’s Game, 1922, The Dark Tower, Doctor Sleep and more released this decade, and this is all because of the succession of IT. IT captures the heart and spirit of King’s best work, the coming of age story around a group of bullied kids known as the Loser’s Club, as they fight against the entity of personified fear, Pennywise the Clown. The movie is set in the nostalgic period of the 80s in Derry, Maine, and very visually captures that period with its costume, references, and appearance of the town. The heart and soul of this movie revolve around the kids of the Loser’s Club, with fun individual personalities and great chemistry on screen, the audience immediately roots for these children and cheers at their every victory. However, we cannot continue talking about this film without mentioning the terrifying villain themselves. Pennywise the Dancing Clown. After Tim Curry’s performance back in 1990, the character has been an icon of horror film history, but Bill Skarsgard took the role into a whole other dimension of terror and uncontrollable fear. With its sadistic nature, creepy laughter and shape-shifting abilities to morph into your worst nightmare, Pennywise has been reborn for a modern age and it is not here to be your friend. 

3 – Midsommar (2018)

After director Ari Aster released his first horror movie Hereditary, he had a lot of hype to live up to with his second movie Midsommar. Hereditary and Midsommar share many themes, including family tragedies, dealing with grief, cults, and its female lead pushed to the edge. However, despite its familiar aspects, Midsommar is very much its own nightmarish delight. The story follows Dani, a protagonist heartbroken with the news of her family’s death, her unsympathetic boyfriend Christian, and his friends, as they travel to Sweden to be a part of a special midsummer festival, held in a rural commune. What’s striking about Midsommar is its constant bright, sunny scenes, very few moments of this movie is set at night. Ari Aster has managed to make the sunlight more spine-chilling than the darkness.

The movie has gorgeous cinematography, with tall, geometrically shaped architecture, beautifully disturbing illustrations on the walls and nature appearing to be breathing and moving on its own. The characters are always out of their comfort zone, and we the audience feel the same unease. With very limited subtitles and translation when the citizens of the commune speak, we are as lost to what’s going on as the main characters (unless of course, you speak Swedish). What’s also so stunning, is Ari Aster’s use of colour. Along with the sunny skies, the ground is lush green, the flowers are blooming in rainbow colours, the buildings are bright and clean. Everything that should be a comfort is twisted to be as sinister as possible. This movie is truly a work of art for its visuals alone, but Midsommar also offers commentary on unstable, toxic relationships and the need to feel loved, and to have a home to belong to. It is a new take on a cult centered movie, like The Wicker Man, but for the modern age. 

2 – Get Out (2017)

Get Out is perhaps one of the most important movies to have come out within the last decade if not, the most important movies of our generation. Mirroring the fear and anxiety of today’s political climate and told through the lens of society’s attitude to race, this movie has never felt so relevant, accurate and so true for so many people. 

The main character Chris, a young black man is in a relationship with his white girlfriend Rose and the two go to meet her parents at their extravagant home. Through the interactions Chris has with her parents, brother and then eventually all their family friends, he goes through plenty of awkward, tiresome situations focusing on his race, and has many inappropriate comments thrown his direction by people thinking there is no harm in them. Chris’s situation becomes more and more perilous when the Armitage family reveals their true purpose as to why they want him, revealing dark lurking secret no one saw coming. What’s different about Get Out, is not having it’s villains be obviously racist. Director Jordan Peel instead has the villains be the closed-minded white liberals.  

This decision pushes the movie into new territories of horror, showing a new perspective that has not been fully explored, where the movie holds a mirror to its white audience and telling them how they behave around black people is not ok, despite what they may think. Not only does this movie have some great scares, blood and gore and fantastic characters, it’s also a defining contemporary movie that will go down in history for breaking barriers and manages to show audiences something never before seen. 

1 – Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan is an amalgamation of magic realism and twisted horror. It is a bewitchingly dark spectacle of a film full of hair-raising imagery and surrealism. The movie follows the story of Nina Sayers, a ballerina played by Natalie Portman, wanting to land the part of the Swan Queen in the production Swan Lake. She is a beautiful, sexually naive and a social outcast, with her only friend appearing to be her overbearing, mentally abusive mother. Her existing qualities make her perfect to dance the White Swan role, however, Nina must also dance the dark twin, the Black Swan, who is powerful, seductive and evil, everything Nina is not. She must dive into this role to succeed, but it isn’t long before the role consumes her, breaking her sense of reality, causing hallucinations, anxiety attacks and acts of violence. This movie is a twisted tale of the dangers of perfection and shows a morbid side to ballet and life dedicated to the stage and baring your soul to an audience. 

Phew! We have covered so much horror in this piece. For sure, this decade introduced us to so many amazing horror movies and who knows the genius that will come out next year. But what do you think? Did I miss out on some of your favourite horror movies of the decade, let us know in the comments below!

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