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Categories: Features

Like your horror with a little more edge? Looking to test your limits? Here’s our list for the most intense horror films of the 2010s (so far).

Not for the faint of heart. These are the horror films that you don’t put on unless you’ve already desensitised yourself good and proper to the more conventional shocks of modern horror. For something a little more light-hearted, check out our top ten horror-comedies of the 2010s list or even our regular top twenty horror films of the 2010s list for that matter. Watch all of these films too, just don’t say we didn’t warn you.


10. The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

Kika Magalhaes creates a true psycho for the ages in, writer and director, Nicolas Pesce’s disquieting debut The Eyes of My Mother. After a random encounter with a serial killer at a young age, we follow Magalhaes’ Francisca as she uses the surgery skills imbued to her by her mother to steadily graduate to being a killer of her own, with a penchant for particularly sadistic surgical alterations designed to keep her victims trapped in her childhood home; just like her.


9. Emelie (2015)

Sarah Bolger creates another memorably dead-eyed nutcase for our times in the form of the titular Emelie. A psychologically broken woman with severe boundary issues and a complete emotional detachment from violence, none of which would be so bad if she hadn’t got herself into a babysitting job for three small children. As the evening goes on, her behaviour becomes steadily creepier and creepier; drastically forcing the kids to grow up in ways that will make any parent squirm in their seat.


8. Unsane (2018)

When Claire Foy’s guarded stalking victim gets sucked into a mental hospital in the practice of, what is essentially, industrialised gaslighting – things seem pretty bad. They get even worse when it turns out that her stalker is working there. With nowhere to run, Steven Soderbergh’s stripped down (filmed on iPhones) horror forces both the main character and the audience to face the gruelling realities of for-profit healthcare, harassment and the sensation of powerlessness that comes with it.


7. Cold Fish (2010)

A meek exotic fish store owner has a, seemingly, chance meeting with a charismatic man who owns a far more successful version of the same store. Caught up in the man’s aggressive sales pitches, he quickly finds himself losing control over his entire life. Slowly being twisted and corrupted to the point of being an accomplice in his new business partner’s chief passion of being a methodical serial killer. Drawn from the weirdness of real life incidents, Sion Sono’s eccentric horror film is uncomfortable in all the ways you can think of.


6. The Ritual (2018)

A group of approaching-over-the-hill friends decide to spice up life with a good, old fashioned, hiking holiday but even in the beauty of the Nordic forests they’re forced to confront their deepest anxieties on a path leading to the physical manifestation of fear itself. David Bruckner makes his feature debut after a number of years making the best segments in popular horror anthologies and he does not disappoint. The Ritual is more creative, and well-acted, than it has any right to be and it carries a big bag of moments that will stick with you for days, or months, to come.


5. Bedevilled (2010)

When a moderately well-to-do bank teller from Seoul travels to a remote Korean island to see an old friend, Bok-nam, she finds her abused from all sides by the remaining community of that island. Trapped between a violent husband and a gaggle of patriarchal old women who run everyone’s daily lives, Bok-nam finds little help from her old friend and her situation gets rapidly worse. The degradation that she suffers in front of people who simply do nothing is kind of stupefying, and ultimately sickening in its realism, but it makes the blood-saoked finale all the more satisfying.


4. It Follows (2014)

You can’t hide but you can run. Through a curse passed on via sexual intercourse, a group of teens find themselves relentlessly pursued by an unstoppable supernatural force that takes humanoid forms, kind of like a liquid Terminator from hell. It can’t really be understood or reasoned with and there’s something just so terrifying about a force that has no discernible desires other than to kill you, limiting your options to simply prolonging the inevitable.


3. Gerald’s Game (2017)

Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel is a tough, but rewarding, experience. When Carla Gugino’s middle-aged trophy wife finds herself chained to a bed, with no hope of escape or rescue, things really start to take a turn for the worse. Trapped with only her self-denigrating mind to keep her company, she’s forced to face the demons of her past as well as a few new ones lurking in her bedroom. Claustrophobic horror at its finest and surprisingly, deeply, scary. Flanagan uses low, quiet, tones in place of shrieking jump scares and the effect is so much more frightening.


2. The Devil’s Candy (2015)

A well-meaning, but struggling, artist, as they always do, gets a lot more than they bargained for when they buy their new, secluded, country home at a discount price. As darker muses than he’s ever known before begin to take a demonic hold over his work, his relationship with his teenage daughter begins to become increasingly tested by the unquiet mind that once lived in his new home. Sean Byrne’s pulse-pounding horror may take its time to reach full pelt but, once it gets going, nothing can stop the sheer force of it as it hurtles towards its gruesome, shocking, finale.


1. Bone Tomahawk (2015)

S. Craig Zahler’s Horror-Western fully earns its reputation as a film that very occassioanlly has to be watched through your fingers. If the cannibal gore doesn’t get to you (and it almost definitely will, even with the most hardcore horror fans) then the surprisingly emotional performances from the outstanding ensemble will. In terms of sheer gut-wrenching horror (you may have already heard about its most famous, terrifyingly transfixing, kill scene) it sets a new benchmark. One that will, hopefully, never be topped.



Mark Birrell

Mark is the editor of The Spread as well as a freelance copywriter and lifelong cinephile. For writing enquiries, you can email him at mark@cinemajam.com and you can follow him on Twitter @markwbirrell

Posted on Oct 31, 2018

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