The Big List | The 50 Best Horror Movies of the Century (So Far)

20. The Guest (dir. Adam Wingard, 2014)

20 The Guest

PictureHouse

Adam Wingard’s The Guest plays like the delirious memories of a Cannon film – remembered from a distant late night from your childhood – jacked up on steroids. Dan Stevens, as the friend of a fallen soldier, insinuates himself into his comrade’s family with a violent ease, eventually revealing that he may be more than human. It’s the way an exploitation movie ought to be made. ~ Witney Seibold

19. The Babadook (dir. Jennifer Kent, 2014)

19 The Babadook

IFC Films

The very concept of motherhood is challenged in Jennifer Kent’s disturbing fairy tale, about a single mother whose resentment towards her own child becomes exacerbated by a ghost story that may or may not be real. Essie Davis gives one of the best performances in years as our hero, who slowly starts turning into the villain, much to the confused horror of her precocious son. He is helpless to stop her growing madness, and the audience is saddened and terrified that they the same way. ~ William Bibbiani

18. Under the Skin (dir. Jonathan Glazer, 2013)

18 Under the Skin

A24 Films

Sexy Beast director Jonathan Glazer followed his strange, beautiful second feature Birth with this astonishing work, an amalgam of Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce and Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, in which a frequently nude Scarlett Johansson plays an alien that absorbs the skin of a dead woman and then proceeds to slink around Scotland, looking for willing, horny males to seduce and then drag to their inky death. (Many of the initial seduction scenes were in fact shot using real, unsuspecting young men off the street.) Short on dialogue, abstract in its narrative and heavy on mood, Under the Skin doesn’t aim to please all audiences and that divisive nature is one of the things that make it so powerful. Johansson is magnetic and her slow transformation from cold, murderous drone to something resembling human is unforgettable. ~ Chris Alexander

17. Teeth (dir. Mitchell Lichtenstein, 2007)

17 Teeth

Roadside Attractions

Dawn is a girl with a set of teeth in her vagina, ready to bite off the penis of anyone fool enough to attack her. Unfortunately, a lot of guys do try to take advantage of Dawn, but she gains control of her new power and uses it judiciously. Teeth is a bitingly (pun intended) funny and unique film that manages to take an insane concept and prevent it from becoming exploitation. ~ Alyse Wax

16. Let the Right One In (dir. Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

16 Let The Right One In

Magnet Releasing

Not just one of the best horror movies of the century so far, but perhaps one of the best of all vampire films, Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In, about an at-risk 12-year-old boy and the 12(plus)-year-old vampire girl he falls in with, is a brilliant examination of the way children communicate, but also how violent personalities are inexplicably drawn to one another. ~ Witney Seibold

15. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (dir. Eli Craig, 2010)

15 Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Magnet Releasing

Tucker & Dale takes a popular horror trope (hillbillies torturing city folk when they accidentally enter their domain) and slaughters it. A group of college kids spend a weekend in the woods, where they discover Tucker and Dale, also in the woods to fix up their new fishing cabin. The kids can’t see past the hillbilly stereotypes they know from movies, and it literally kills them. Gore and laughs abound in this fresh, smart indie. ~ Alyse Wax

14. The Mist (dir. Frank Darabont, 2007)

14 The Mist

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

It’s a tough gig to adapt Stephen King to screen and no one has done it better to date than Frank Darabont (though Mick Garris has also managed to navigate the task). With The Mist, Darabont (who previously and successfully helmed the King flicks The Woman in the Room, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green mile) gave us the finest King horror film yet, perfectly capturing the sense of dread of the novella. Both sources tells the story of what may or may not be a governmental attempt to open a portal to another dimension, unleashing a thick mist that houses a legion of scurrying, slithering and blood sucking giant insectoid monstrosities that trap select townsfolk in a supermarket. But the beasts are the least of the survivors problems. Hampered only by a tacked on and cruel ending, The Mist is otherwise a masterpiece. ~ Chris Alexander 

13. The House of the Devil (dir. Ti West, 2009)

13 The House of the Devil

MPI Media Group

Ti West’s pastiche of Satanic thrillers of the 1970s and 1980s is not just tonally and stylistically spot-on, but manages to squeeze the appropriate amount of dread out of the audience. The film is equal parts spooky, terrifying, and oddly funny. Plus, the performances are great, and that first kill hits you right in the face. ~ Witney Seibold

12. May (dir. Lucky McKee, 2002)

12 May

Lionsgate Films

May Dove Canady is a quiet young woman, quite taken with dolls, and eager to be loved. The world has other plans for her in Lucky McKee’s powerful and tragic tale. May gradually learns that nobody is perfect, but parts of them are, and so she sets about assembling the perfect companion from sewn together pieces of everyone who ever disappointed her. Angela Bettis is remarkable in the title role: her performance will move you, make your flesh crawl, and then move you again. ~ William Bibbiani

11. The Others (dir. Alejandro Amenábar, 2001)

11 The Others

Miramax Films

Nicole Kidman delivers one of her most intense performances in this melancholy masterpiece from Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar (Open Your Eyes). Taking its cues from Henry James’ novel “Turn of the Screw” and its first film adaptation, 1961’s The Innocents, The Others spins the story of a stern woman, left alone in a mist-drenched English manor with her two children and driven almost to madness by the ghosts that haunt the house. Of course, that’s only scratching the surface of this elegant creeper whose ending is both a genuine shock and unforgettably sad. ~ Chris Alexander

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