It’s scary how good the best new horror movies are. Even if we limit ourselves to the last five years only, it’s clear that the genre is having a resurgence, fueled—as it was by George Romero, Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter in the ’60s and ’70s—by independent filmmakers working on the fringe. These are not movies that rely on special effects or loud noises, nor do they dip into the gore pool of the “torture porn” of the Bush years. Rather, they bring braininess and subtlety to a demanding audience that’s seen it all. Consider these 10 titles essential for your own personal kill list.
The 10 best new horror movies of the last five years
If the recent crop of new horror movies from film festivals is to be believed, it’s a great time to be a superfan
Best new horror movies
Here’s a horror film that’s been made with no reasonable way to discuss it beforehand. (You know the boat sinks in Titanic, but these surprise-laden plot twists are another matter entirely.) Let’s just say: cabin, woods, cute collegians. The trade-off is a movie that’s akin to looking under the hood of a Stephen King novel—a joy for mechanics.
Deceptively, this one starts off with a horror too many know firsthand: the depleted savings account, the dinner-table squabbles and the demoralized glares that come with joblessness. Our heroes are low-rent British criminals who lunge at a new gig, one that tips toward something especially dark: the cultish witchery of The Wicker Man.
A timid British sound recordist (Toby Jones) heads to early-’70s Rome for a gig on a gory giallo thriller, directed by a pretentious, Dario Argento–esque artiste. A mental breakdown is imminent, and impressively, Peter Strickland’s film snaps, too, tearing itself apart in a collage that’s close to experimental, yet never unmotivated.
The elements are familiar—a rural house, a vulnerable family, some pissed-off demonic spirits—but filmmaker James Wan (the first Saw) knows how to use them. In both its setting and rock-solid craft, this blockbuster is a throwback to horror’s early-’70s heyday, a model that ain’t broke and don’t need fixing.