Director: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman
The mummy’s curse
The territory where scary movies overlap with social realism remains largely unexplored by filmmakers. Horror has traditionally been a genre bent on entertainment – however twisted – and so reminders of real-world tragedy tend to stifle the fun. So props to first-time filmmaker Jennifer Kent for never shying away from her central character’s predicament: yes, our heroine Amelia is being stalked by something supernatural, but we’re never sure if it’s made the life of this grieving single mother appreciably worse. And as women continue to be shut out of filmmaking roles, how satisfying that The Babadook was one of the best-reviewed horror movies of the decade so far.
There’s a lot of patter about how we live in a golden age of fright. Boutique distributor A24 has become the paragon of ‘elevated horror‘ thanks to the elegant scares of Hereditary, The Witch and Saint Maude. Indie darlings like David Gordon Green have taken the reins of the Halloween and Exorcist franchises. James Wan keeps cranking out blockbuster funhouse fare like The Conjuring. Jim from the American Office has become a horror icon thanks to his A Quiet Place franchise and former sketch-comedy headliner Jordan Peele netted an Oscar by tapping Rod Sterling and The Stepford Wives for the zeitgeisty Get Out.
But the truth is, horror’s golden age has spanned the entire lifetime of cinema, eternally lurking in the shadows like Count Orlok and tempting more respectable cineastes to live deliciously by indulging in their baser emotions. Video Nasties and seedy B-movies have been reappraised as brilliant. Slasher films have been re-evaluated as art. And genre filmmakers like Wes Craven and John Carpenter have been elevated to the same storied tier as genre forebears like Michael Powell and Hitchcock… directors whose credentials belied a bloodlust that shocked audiences like a maniac lurking behind the shower curtain.
As with our picks of the best comedy movies or best thrillers, the below list is a proper smorgasbord of horror movies, including genre-busting science fiction like Alien and murderous serial killer thrillers such as The Silence of the Lambs. The list is also full of the classics, as well as some recent releases that left us terrified and a generous helping of B-movie monster mania. Prepare for many sleepless nights: here are the 100 best horror films of all time.
Written by Tom Huddleston, Cath Clarke, Dave Calhoun, Nigel Floyd, Phil de Semlyen, David Ehrlich, Joshua Rothkopf, Nigel Floyd, Andy Kryza and Alim Kheraj