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Categories: Features

Ghosts, ghouls and gore galore. We count down the twenty best horror films of the 2010s (so far), just in time for Halloween.

Welcome to The Spread’s list of the top twenty horror films of the 2010s (so far). In an effort to keep things as pure, and simple, as possible, we’ve broken it down into classic dramatic, psychological, horror. But adding limitations can often mean you miss off some great titles (there’s at least one title on our best American films of 2017 list that deserves to be on here too) so, if you like your horror a little more bloody, there’s our list of the ten most intense horror films of the 2010s. If you prefer your scares a little more scientific, check out of top ten sci-fi horror films of the 2010s list. If you need a little more humour, we’ve got you covered too with our top ten horror-comedies of the 2010s list.

 

20. Under the Shadow (2016)

Babak Anvari’s Under the Shadow is definitely one of the more atypical horror films out there, in terms of setting. Anxieties manifest in ghoulish forms amidst the bombs of wartorn 1980s Tehran as a mother struggles with a difficult child and her diminished opportunities in post-revolutionary life.

 

19. Julia’s Eyes (2010)

Guillem Morales’ ode to giallo slashers has as much fun as one can have with all the genre’s tricks and traditions, from the black-gloved killer in the shadows to even that weird psychic connection thing, but that trademark heart from producer Guillermo del Toro makes it stand out.

 

18. Sinister (2012)

Scott Derrickson’s crowdpleaser may suffer from some of the more noticeable side effects of Hollywood’s addiction to formula but it’s also an undeniably solid yarn about the perverse fascination lying at the heart of the genre itself. You know the horror is coming, but you keep watching anyway.  

 

17. Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

Peter Strickland’s almost-anti-horror film feels equal parts love letter and hate mail. As the audience watches poor Toby Jones slowly devolve into madness in the sound mixing studio for a particularly graphic giallo film, it becomes quite clear that the real horror is always in what we don’t see.

 

16. Stoker (2013)

Park Chan-wook’s English-language debut is suitably out-there and satisfyingly accomplished. A macabre family drama that mixes sex and violence in the way only Park Chan-wook can, with Chung Chung-hoon’s brilliant cinematography highlighting the method in the director’s madness.

 

15. Oculus (2013)

Mike Flanagan’s classically gothic tale of a haunted mirror, that stands in for the real horror of losing your grip on reality, cemented him as a voice to really watch in the genre and, with his latest series The Haunting of Hill House taking Netflix by storm, he appears to have nowhere to go but up.

 

14. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

André Øvredal’s ghostly chiller may be small in size but it packs quite the punch, with all the creativity and fun of a good old-fashioned campfire story. As a pair of coroners try to explain the death of a seemingly-perfect Jane Doe, their discoveries begin to go beyond the realm of science.

 

13. Super Dark Times (2017)

Kevin Phillips subverts the tropes of the “kids on bikes” genre by moving ahead a decade, to 1996, and suggesting that maybe lost innocence never really existed. A blunt, but painfully honest, take on teenage hormonal horror and maybe the closest we’ll ever get to a live-action South Park film.

 

12. Snowtown (2011)

Justin Kurzel’s first film is a mercilessly unsettling dramatization of events surrounding a famous string of murders in Southern Australia. A mood piece focussed less on the psychosis of the murders themselves and more on the hopelessness of a place that makes murderers seem charismatic.

 

11. Black Swan (2010)

Darren Aronofsky brought psychological horror back to the multiplex with Natalie Portman’s immensely entertaining, and excellently acted, descent into madness. Its best qualities were sadly inverted in its spiritual successor, mother!, when Aronofsky became the Vincent Cassel character.

 

10. Compliance (2012)

Craig Zobell’s small-scale indie horror recounts a tale so chilling that it could only be true as Pat Healy’s, distinctively evil, prank-call troll brings out the more lowkey evil lurking in Ann Dowd’s, arguably, even greater villain. A haunting meditation on culpability and the Milgram experiment.

 

9. The Wailing (2016)

Na Hong-jin’s progressively hypnotising, and hallucinatory, epic of chaos, confusion and demons in modern day rural Korea is a little difficult to explain. Like his other films, it’s captivating and wholly idiosyncratic filmmaking. You can read our full review here but see it for yourself.

 

8. Hereditary (2018)

Cinemagoers have been blessed with a number of great horror debuts over the past decade, particularly the last few years, but Ari Aster’s feature debut may be the one to shout about the most. It’s rough around the edges but mostly due to its ambitiously large, impressively realised, scope.

Aster certainly displays a lot of vision, the journey essentially devolves into a literal nightmare hinged upon the brutal relationships between a mother and son and their collective mental health, but he’s smart enough to understand that the film is scaffolding for Toni Collette’s towering performance.

 

7. Green Room (2016)

Jeremy Saulnier combines the slasher and the siege movie to create, perhaps, their grimmest possible conclusion – a film about a young punk band trapped in the green room at a skinhead club that wants them dead. Exploitation cinema at its finest, delivered with such sincere dedication to detail and delivery that the experience is somehow both uniquely bleak and cathartic.

 

6. The Neon Demon (2016)

Nicolas Winding Refn’s putrid vision of the glamour and excess of Los Angeles is beautifully ugly and abundant in the sense of humour that was critically lacking in some of less beloved films. As he did with Ryan Gosling, Refn pinpoints and extracts the aggression lurking within the beautiful.   

 

5. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

Lynne Ramsay’s disquieting exploration of a terrifying case of motherhood is bolstered by fearless performances from Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller. Miller is requisitely creepy but its the sensation of powerlessness that you feel emanating from Swinton that makes it unforgettable.

 

4. The Duke of Burgundy (2014)

Peter Strickland’s romantic follow up to Berberian Sound Studio is far less structured than its predecessor, and even further away from the conventions of what you would identify as a horror film, yet feels far more complete and much more frightening in much more unexplainable ways.

As a woman struggles to meet the needs of her partner’s increasingly specific sadomasochistic fantasies, the film explores, in equally heartwarming and skin-crawling ways, the dynamics of a subservient/dominant relationship. Providing eloquent insight into the controlling nature of love.  

 

3. The Witch (2015) 

Probably the best out and out everything-is-solely-designed-to-scare-you-silly horror film of quite a good long time. Robert Eggers’ pre-revolutionary, puritanical, American horror story is uncommon in a lot of ways and all of those end up working to its advantage. Built to stand the test of time.  

 

2. Under the Skin (2013)

Jonathan Glazer flips the tables in this somewhat-sci-fi horror where Scarlett Johansson takes to the streets (quite literally, as many scenes were filmed secretly with non-actors) to prey on the predators. It’s a wholly unsettling, alien, view of the world that makes a scary amount of sense.

 

1. The Invitation (2015)

If awkward dinner conversation causes you actual, physical, pain then get ready to die a thousand horrible deaths at the hands of Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation; a film about one of cinema’s most uncomfortable dinner parties.

You’re able to easily see where the story is going in this one. But that’s pretty much what makes it so terrifying. As the tension, incrementally, ramps up throughout almost the entire film, you become as trapped as the characters feel in their uneasiness, anxiety and grief.

It’s a perfectly balanced horror film that, confidently, places itself at the mercy of its ensemble: a believably diverse group of characters and actors who make the, realistically, claustrophobic setting feel enormous in terms of drama.

Click here to check out our list of the Top 10 Sci-Fi Horror Films of the 2010s (so far)

Click here to check out our list of the 10 Most Intense Horror Films of the 2010s (so far)

Click here to check out our list of the Top 20 Underrated Horror Films of All Time

Click here to check out our list of the Top 20 Paranoid Conspiracy Films of All Time

 

Mark Birrell

Mark is the editor of The Spread as well as a copywriter, and lifelong cinephile, who received his bachelors in Film and Comparative Literature from the University of London. You can follow him on Twitter @markwbirrell

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Posted on Oct 31, 2018

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