The horror genre has been around pretty much since the dawn of the motion picture. The first-ever motion picture was The Horse In Motion, a moving image of a jockey riding a horse that lasts only a matter of seconds. That was in 1878. In 1888, the first-ever film called the Roundhay Garden Scene was unveiled. Then, only about 8 years later in 1896, a French film called Le Manoir du Diable (or The House of the Devil in English) was released, marking the advent of the horror genre of film. Over the years, the genre has progressed remarkably and the newest generation of horror directors has produced some amazing work.
As the history of horror cinema grows, it becomes harder and harder to stay original. Yet there were plenty of horror flicks throughout the 2010s that came across as novel and fresh. Some of these films brought a new perspective to classic horror tropes, others found completely original sources of fear and some were nothing short of groundbreaking.
So, to honor the amazing works in the horror genre that came out during the last full decade, let’s count down the 7 best horror films of the 2010s. This list is in no particular order. It’s up to you to decide which of these freaky flicks is your favorite.
1. Hereditary (2018)
Undoubtedly, one of the best horror films of the 2010s came toward the end of the decade in 2018 when Ari Aster released his directorial debut Hereditary. This film is the story of a seemingly typical family that has a dark history and gets tangled up in demon worship. The film’s lead role was occupied by Australian actress Toni Collete, whose performance was widely lauded by critics. This film had twists and turns around every corner and was supremely scary at times.
Hereditary was full of expertly crafted cinematic devices that make this movie a horrifying delight. The daughter of the family makes a clicking noise with her mouth, a noise that reappears in the most terrifying ways throughout the film. The mother’s profession is building elaborate miniatures and, of course, she ends up erecting miniature versions of some scary scenes throughout the film. Plus, the filmmakers decided to involve a demon straight from The Lesser Key of Solomon, the world’s most famous demonology book.
2. The Invitation (2015)
The 2015 film The Invitation takes an everyday, normal experience and turns it into something spine-chilling. The film stars Logan Marshall-Green as Will, a man who gets invited to a dinner party at his ex-wife’s home in the Hollywood Hills. Though things appear normal at first, throughout the evening, it becomes increasingly evident that something is awry as Will notices some strange behavior from the hosts.
Without spoiling too much, things get pretty desperate for Will and the other party guests. This film benefitted from some expert suspense-building from the writers, an outstanding and melancholy performance from Marshall-Green, and some great acting from the supporting cast. The Invitation makes us question why we trust people just because they invite us over for dinner. What if they have a nefarious reason for gathering us in their house?
3. Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele first made a name for himself in Hollywood with his sketch comedy show Key & Peele. So, when Peele made his directorial in 2017 in the horror genre, most people were understandably skeptical. However, Peele managed to blow people away with Get Out, which proved to be one of the best horror films of the decade. The premise of Get Out was incredibly original, combining aspects of sci-fi and social commentary in an original way.
Before this film, the horror genre had never really touched on the themes of racism and social injustice. However, Get Out managed to do so in a tasteful and effective way. Not only that, but this film was scary as hell and extremely suspenseful. Plus, the performances from lead actors Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams were nothing short of spectacular.
4. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Over time, there have been a lot of tropes that have evolved in the horror genre. The dumb and helpless dame. The smart girl who survives until the end. The macho jock. The funny stoner. Rather than trying to avoid playing into these tropes, the 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods turns these tropes on their heads. The premise of this film is pure genius and it makes for a film that’s every bit as funny as it is scary.
This film also had a pretty star-studded cast with actors like Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Whitford, Sigourney Weaver, and Jesse Williams. It follows the story of a group of friends who go out to, well, a cabin in the woods. However, as the weekend progresses, it seems their actions are being affected by an outside source.
5. Midsommar (2019)
While Florence Pugh is pretty much a household name these days, I think that the 2019 film Midsommar is the movie that really solidified her position among Hollywood’s elites. This film was also the sophomore effort from Hereditary director Ari Aster. Midsommar is the story of a dysfunctional couple that travels to Sweden for the legendary midsummer festival in search of a cultural experience. However, what they end up finding is far more sinister.
Obviously, Midsommar is about a seriously messed-up little town in Sweden and the freaky things they do once a year, but it’s also about a young woman’s journey to free herself from a toxic relationship. With some intense blood and gore, marvelous cinematography, and a noteworthy performance from lead actor Florence Pugh, Midsommar is easily one of the best horror films of the 2010s.
6. The Witch (2015)
Another one of the top actresses of the modern age is Anya Taylor-Joy, who made one of her first big splashes with the Robert Eggers-directed film The Witch. The film is an expertly made period piece about a family in 1630s New England. The mother of the family bears her fifth child at their home near the lake; however, the child is soon stolen by a witch.
The family tries to pray to God in order to return their child to them, but it seems that their God is no match for the very real and very evil magic in their presence. This entire film is incredibly dark and chilling and is guaranteed to bring goosebumps to your skin.
7. The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring is now one of the most iconic series of horror films of all time and it began with the first installment in 2013. The James Wan-directed film follows the journey of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a married couple of prolific paranormal investigators who are hired to deal with a malevolent spirit. The films are, apparently, based on a true story that inspired the book The Amityville Horror. However, the events portrayed in the movie are definitely otherworldly.
The leading roles in the film are played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, both of who deliver fantastic performances. This film will make you sweat nervously and cry uncontrollably at the same time. The film was so successful that two subsequent installments in the series have been made (which are also totally worth a watch).
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