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Top 10: Horror Films of the 2010s

the witch movie

As we await the reopening of movie theaters, it’s a good time to do some reminiscing. For this post, we’ll be acknowledging some of the best that the horror genre offered this past decade. There have been plenty of masterful offerings. But these ten films stood out for their ability to subvert genre tropes and present creative story ideas. Without further ado, here’s the full list:

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (2017)
dir. Yorgos Lanthimos

the killing of a sacred deer

Director Yorgos Lamthimos is a master at making movies that are horror adjacent. However, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is his first foray into the actual genre. As it follows a teenager (Barry Keoghan) who terrorizes an unsuspecting family, it joins a pantheon of unsettling “creepy child” pictures. It plays with traditional horror machinations while acting as a slight parallel to the duality between God and the Devil. Not to mention, it turns Ellie Goulding music into pure nightmare fuel.

“Attack the Block” (2011)
dir. Joe Cornish

Attack the Block

Before John Boyega battled the First Order and Jodie Whittaker became Doctor Who, they fought off alien invaders in South London. In “Attack the Block,” both actors play a gang leader, and a nurse, respectively, who form an alliance as the aliens take over their apartment building. What follows is a mix of horror, humor, and sci-fi that proves you can do more with less. Made on a $13 million budget, “Attack the Block” provides the adrenaline thrills of a large scale MCU film.

“Raw” (2017)
dir. Julia Ducournau 

raw

College is always a time of exploration and self-discovery. But while other students crave experimentation with sex and substances, Justine (Garance Marillier) discovers a different kind of craving. A hunger for human flesh that becomes a grotesque metaphor for one’s id-driven desires. Ferociously handled by director Julia Ducournau, “Raw” offers a bold, twisted spin on the coming-of-age narrative.

“It Follows” (2015)
dir. David Robert Mitchell

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From the moment “It Follows” begins, it never lets you go. The opening sequence involving a girl running from an unknown entity accompanied by the synthesized score from Disasterpiece sets the mood for the whole film. As the entity above terrorizes Jay (Maika Monroe), her ordeal becomes an allegory for the perils of unsafe sex.

“It” (2017)
dir. Andres Muschetti

It Pennywise

The first chapter of “It” remains a highlight within the current Stephen King renaissance. Whenever Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) appears on the screen, he’s bound to send chills down one’s spine. However, “It” works as both a poignant drama and a horror picture since it emphasizes on the family dynamic of The Losers. Ostracized by those around them, including their kin, their differences are what bring them together. Also, their unity helps each other conquer their fears as they combat the sinister clown.

“Scream 4” (2011)
dir. Wes Craven

scream4

The “Scream” franchise has always thrived on satirizing the horror genre. The latest entry in the series continues that tradition by ridiculing the current onslaught of remakes and reboots. In addition, it taps into the dominance of social media culture to further its timeliness. The best film in the series since the second one, “Scream 4,” offers the laughs and frights that fans of the franchise can expect. Plus, its “Ghostface Killer reveal,” is a real jaw-dropper.

“The Conjuring” (2013)
dir. James Wan

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Before it became a cinematic universe, “The Conjuring” was a simple yet bone-chillingly effective ghost story. Based on the lives of the deceased Warrens, “The Conjuring” follows them as they try saving a family from an insidious poltergeist. As it attempts to frighten its audience, it does so without the use of jump scares or cheaply made CGI monsters. Instead, it relies on tactics like the villainous doll Annabelle and a game of “hide and clap” to elicit fear.

“Happy Death Day” (2017)
dir. Christopher Landon

happydeathday4

The premise of “Happy Death Day” is simple. It’s like “Scream” meets “Groundhog Day” as it depicts a college student reliving her birthday to solve her own murder. Yet, it still breathes new life into the slasher genre by reinvigorating the “final girl” trope. Also, Jessica Rothe is a bonafide screen presence as Theresa “Tree” Gelbman. Rothe offers sharp wit and depth as the prickly anti-hero, giving the kind of star-making performance that makes one hope for bigger things to come her way.

“The Witch” (2016)
dir. Robert Eggers

The Witch

Robert Eggers clearly has a thing for people cooped up in isolation. His sophomore effort, “The Lighthouse,” depicts two men having cabin fever on a deserted island. As for “The Witch,” his debut, it follows a family dealing with life in their isolated village. For young Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), her relatives prove to be as menacing as the titular witch living in the woods, if not more so. Regardless, “The Witch” is an atmospheric masterpiece that probably still shouldn’t be watched in our current period of self-isolation.

“Get Out” (2017)
dir. Jordan Peele

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With all proper respect to the other films on this list, hardly any horror movie this past decade tapped into our sociopolitical zeitgeist the way “Get Out” did. Credit is mainly due to writer/director Jordan Peele who won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for his bitingly funny yet horrifically timely story about liberal racism. It’s unlikely that anyone knew that Peele, an actor known for sketch comedy, had a film like this in him. One that has been a pop culture mainstay and will undoubtedly be talked about for years to come.

What is your favorite horror film from the 2010s? Please share your thoughts!

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Written by Matt St.Clair

Matt St.Clair is a freelance film journalist currently residing in Connecticut. He is a member of the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association and the Online Film & Television Association.

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