The Big List | The 50 Best Horror Movies of the Century (So Far)
10. Sinister (dir. Scott Derrickson, 2012)
Horror movies don’t scare me – haven’t since I was ten years old. But Sinister is the closest any movie has come to scaring me since the original Halloween. The story is nothing special: a true-crime writer moves his family into the house in which his current book’s subjects died. Things get hinky when dad discovers films of the crimes.
Two things stood out to me about Sinister. First, those snuff films. They were shot on actual Super-8 stock, which gives the murders and the barely-visible visage of Bughuul the grimy, ominous feel of realism. Second, the soundtrack. It is littered with loud, screeching sounds that make your teeth shiver. ~ Alyse Wax
9. The Cabin in the Woods (dir. Drew Goddard, 2012)
It may just be the cleverest horror comedy ever made. Directed by Drew Goddard and co-written by Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods manages to embody every bad fright flick you’ve ever seen, but then add a single smart twist that makes the entire horror genre seem better than it ever was before. A group of college kid clichés travels to the title location, raises the dead, then fights off a vicious attack… but why are two men watching them from behind a console, pushing buttons that dictate our heroes’ fates?
There’s too much going on in The Cabin in the Woods to properly examine here, but it doesn’t take much to interpret Goddard’s film as a satire of horror movie production, of scary storytelling, and of audiences who demand blood and gore but don’t fully understand why. ~ William Bibbiani
8. It Follows (dir. David Robert Mitchell, 2014)
The concept alone elevates It Follows from the spate of endless (as Roger Ebert was fond of calling them) “dead teenager” movies. In it, a young girl thinks she finds love, only to have her sweet, backseat sexual encounter rewarded by contracting the mother of all sexually transmitted diseases; a virus that makes her the target of a malevolent spirit that dispatches the evil dead to torment, terrify and eventually attempt to rip her to shreds. Recalling the gauzy style of John Carpenter, It Follows is, despite its lurid subject matter, a rather classy horror film that favors brooding mood over gore galore. ~ Chris Alexander
7. Drag Me to Hell (dir. Sam Raimi, 2009)
Drag Me to Hell was a return to form for Sam Raimi, best known for The Evil Dead movies. After wallowing in blandness with the Spider-Man trilogy (especially the abomination that was that third film) Drag Me to Hell was something of a palette cleanser, blending Raimi’s campy humor and violent gore.
Drag Me to Hell is a morality tale, as most horror films are: Christine is a sweet, understanding loan officer, who, in order to prove to her boss that she is worthy of a promotion, denies an extension to an old Gypsy woman. Naturally, a curse befalls Christine, and things must get worse before they can get better. But Drag Me to Hell does not enjoy a happy ending, showing that there are just some mistakes you can’t make up for. ~ Alyse Wax
6. The Woman (dir. Lucky McKee, 2011)
Lucky McKee made more than just an effective thriller with The Woman. He also made one of the most salient and hard-hitting commentaries about the insidious tenacity of patriarchy seen since… gosh, ever. A suburban father, while walking in the woods one day, comes upon a wild woman whom he takes in. Civilizing this woman, he declares to the family, will be their new hobby. She, of course, has other ideas. The twists and turns in the plot are astonishing as shocking, and the film is great. ~ Witney Seibold