And our countdown to the end of the decade continues. For our Decade of Dread Part II, we count down from Number 39 to the Number 30 horror movie of the 2010’s. You’ll find the first of three Stephen King adaptations on our Top 50. In addition, there’s another Yule-inspired horror movie along with not one, but two, movies from a rising star in the genre. And rounding things out is a prequel that shouldn’t have happened and a sequel no on saw coming. Enjoy Part II of the Decade of Dread.
40 – Deathgasm (2015)
Deathgasm rocks, plain and simple. This New Zealand horror comedy about metal-head teens who unleash a demon after playing a secret song called The Black Hymn. For 80’s horror fans, Deathgasm is the perfect throwback. Hilariously over-the-top demon gore, heavy metal music, and a dash of Satanic panic – it all gels together perfectly. And where else can you see someone kill a possessed person with a vibrating dildo? Most importantly, Deathgasm has a sweet, emotional hook at the heart of its story. Like Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, you’ll like like the characters and find yourself heartbroken when some are lost.
39 – Hush (2016)
The 2010’s was the decade that breathed new life into the home invasion thriller. Before The Haunting of Hill House and Doctor Sleep, Mike Flanagan directed Hush. This small thriller puts a simple twist on the sub-genre. Specially, a masked killer stalks Katie Siegel’s ‘Maddie’ – a deaf writer living alone in the woods. What could have easily been a one-note gimmick of a movie turns into a harrowing, non-stop roller-coaster ride. Siegel’s ‘Maddie’ proves to be a strong, resourceful character. And Flanagan wisely elects to tell us nothing about his movie’s killer, ‘The Man’. Hush boasts plenty of innovative movie-making that announced the arrival of a new ‘Master of Horror’.
38 – Better Watch Out (2016)
At Number 47, Better Watch Out marks the second Christmas-themed horror movie on the list. Expect a subversive twist on the tired ‘babysitter-in-peril’ story mixed in with some Rated-R Home Alone. But seriously, you’ll never be able to think about Home Alone’s paint can scene the same way again. Better Watch Out reunites Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould from The Visit. In particular, DeJonge is excellent spinning ‘The Final Girl’ expectations on their head. Darkly funny, well-paced, and trimmed with neat twists, the wicked ending sticks an exclamation point on the whole thing. Simply put, Better Watch Out was one of the more pleasant surprises this decade.
37 – The Blackcoat’s Daughter
The Blackcoat’s Daughter snuck under a lot of horror fans’ radars this winter-set indie horror marks the directorial debut of Oz Perkins, son of Anthony Perkins. Without giving away too much, two teenage girls at a boarding school are left behind over the Christmas break. Alone in the largely abandoned, dreary building, one of the students exhibits increasingly strange behaviour. Meanwhile, a strange drifter, Joan, seems to be on her way to the same school. To say much more about how these storylines converge would ruin the movie. What I can say is that The Blackcoat’s Daughter takes full advantage of its winter setting, unfolding like a lucid dream. With its snow-covered boarding school, Perkins captures a feeling of quiet solitude and loneliness that chills to the bone.
36 – The Last Exorcism (2010)
Found-footage meets The Exorcist. Reverend Cotton Marcus promises a documentary film crew an inside glimpse into his ‘pay-for-exorcism’ con game. But Cotton’s latest case – and his last one – proves that the Devil is all too real. In 2010, found-footage horror hadn’t quite reached its saturation point. In the case of The Last Exorcism, the format is well-suited to the premise. There’s several genuinely frightening, white-knuckle scenes. A night-vision scene offers the kind of ‘hand over face’ scares you want in a horror movie. And Ashley Bell’s contortionist twisting along with the faux-documentary approach just makes the movie feel more real. Fans of nihilistic endings should also enjoy The Last Exorcism’s final reveal.
35 – The Wailing (2016)
Korean horror movie The Wailing defines slow burn. At over two and a half hours, it’s a movie that requires both patience and very close attention. Its story of a stranger’s arrival to a small village and the mysterious tragedies that follow is methodical story-telling. But director Na Hong-jin expertly balances out moments of humour, warmth, and dread over the movie’s run-time. Horror fans will find plenty of disturbing images. And once the movie hits its climax, you won’t be able to look away. This is the kind of horror movie that will have you picking at details for days afterwards.
34 – Ouija – Origin of Evil (2016)
Ouija: Origin of Evil shouldn’t have happened. The 2014 Ouija may have made money at the box office, but it’s a terrible movie. Certainly, it didn’t inspire confidence in the idea of turning a Hasbro board game into a movie. But where there’s money to be made, sequels inevitably follow. Or, in this case, a prequel. Director Mike Flanagan turns up again on our list. With a bigger budget, Flanagan engineers even more elaborate scares. Most importantly, Flanagan remembers audiences will invest more in a movie if they care about the characters. As such, Origin of Evil builds its scares around Elizabeth Reaser’s single mom and her children. The result is a sense of stakes as the movie races to its gripping finale.
33 – The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Single-setting horror is tricky business. But if you had to set a horror movie in just one location, a funeral home seems like an obvious choice. After all, Don Coscarelli made it work in Phantasm. A father and son labour over an autopsy of a young, unknown woman with no evident trauma. Each step of the autopsy reveals another morbid mystery. Director Andre Ovredal, who helmed the fantastic Troll Hunter, wrings every last bit of tension. By and large, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a quiet and restrained horror movie.The old practice of tying a bell to corpses’ toes, for instance, is exploited for maximum scares. And you’ll find the creepiest use of old song, Let the Sunshine In, ever. As a bonus, Brian Cox (Trick r’ Treat) and Emile Hirsch anchor the movie with excellent performances.
32 – Gerald’s Game (2017)
In Stephen King’s 1992 novel, Gerald’s Game, an emotionally distant married couple head to a remote cabin to re-connect. What’s meant to be an evening of sex and some fantasy role play goes horribly wrong. Jessie ends up handcuffed to their bed with her dead husband, Gerald, lying on top of her. Most fans of King’s novel considered it to be ‘unfilmable’. Enter director Mike Flanagan (Hush, Doctor Sleep). Defying expectations, Flanagan adapted Gerald’s Game into a taut thriller and keen psychological study of survival. And ‘The Moonlight Man’ was one of the creepier horror characters introduced this decade.
31 – Split (2016)
If The Visit announced M Night Shyamalan’s return, Split completed the divisive director’s comeback. Though Split caused some controversy with its depiction of mental illness, it scored both critically and at the box office. And it’s not hard to see why. Shyamalan’s story of a man with over 20 split personalities who kidnaps three young women to sacrifice to a soon-to-emerge personality, ‘The Beast’, is suspenseful movie-making at its best. Not surprisingly, James McAvoy mesmerizes regardless of which personality he’s channeling. ‘The Beast’ doesn’t disappoint. And stick around for the final surprise – one Unbreakable fans have wanted for years.