And the countdown continues. As we review Numbers 30 to 21, we’re crossing the midway point of the Top 50 Horror Movies of the 2010’s. We’ve got two more remakes in this portion, including one of a 70’s Giallo classic. Additionally, two horror trends from the last decade – ‘mumblegore’ and ‘elevated horror – get some representation. Creepy kids, a killer shark, a Groundhog Day-inspired entry, and another home invasion thriller join the fray. Lastly, a couple of anthology movies round things out.
30 – Goodnight Mommy (2014)
This Austrian horror tale of twin boys who suspect the bandaged woman who has returned home is not their mother is unnerving to say the least. Forget jump scares and loud sounds. Most of the movie is quiet tension, relying on suggestion. It’s a master’s class in suspenseful story-telling with an ending that lingers with you. When Goodnight Mommy is violent, it’s some of the most disturbing imagery put on screen in a long time. Beautifully shot, Goodnight Mommy is art-house horror that requires patience, but ultimately rewards.
29 – V/H/S 2 (2013)
Following the success of found-footage anthology horror V/H/S, Bloody Disgusting commissioned a fast sequel. Typically, quick turnarounds for sequels means diminishing returns. To the contrary, V/H/S 2 is not only quite good, but it’s actually an improvement. Similar to most anthology horror movies, V/H/S 2 is a bit uneven. Fourth segment, Slumber Party Alien Abduction, falls short of V/H/S 2’s best chapters. But when the segments work, they really work. Adam Wingard’s (You’re Next) Phase I Clinical Trial wouldn’t feel out of place in Black Mirror. If you’re zombie movies are burning you out, give A Ride in the Park a watch for something that feels fresh. Yet the standout is Timo Tjahjanto (May the Devil Take You) and Gareth Huw Evans’ (Apostle) Safe Haven. This story of a documentary crew visiting a cult’s compound is found-footage at its best.
28 – The Invitation (2015)
An invitation to an ex-wife’s dinner party – what could go wrong? When you think your ex-wife and her new beau are part of a cult with insidious movies – a lot. Director Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation is a perfect blend of slow-burn horror and paranoia. Over the 2010’s, a welcome trend in horror was the resurgence of indie horror, or what’s been labelled ‘mumblegore’. Paranoia or genuine threat – The Invitation plays with expectations as it meticulously builds to its jaw-dropping ending. Simply put, Kusama’s The Invitation is another example that sometimes less is more.
27 – Ghost Stories (2017)
Did I say most anthology horror movies are uneven? Not British horror anthology, Ghost Stories. Though it’s definitely an anthology movie, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman weave their segments together with a wraparound story that holds everything together. Famous paranormal investigator Charles Cameron challenges skeptic Phillip Goodman to re-visit three cases he couldn’t solve. Each segment of Ghost Stories is strong and equally scary. This is the type of horror movie that will have you watching scenes through your fingers. Consistent with anthology horror’s tradition of unhappy endings, Ghost Stories also offers up a dark, bittersweet conclusion.
26 – The Shallows (2014)
Sometimes the simplest premise works best. And The Shallows has a remarkably simple story. Director Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax) strands Blake Lively on a rock 200 yards from shore in a Great White Shark’s hunting ground. In spite of what should be a limited setting, Collet-Serra finds plenty of ways to put Lively in danger and ratchet up the tension. With the movie resting on her shoulders, Lively delivers a star-making performance. And while the shark effects are occasionally spotty, they’re convincing and scary enough. The Shallows isn’t Jaws, but it’s still another good reason to stay out of the ocean.
25 – Suspiria (2018)
Dario Argento’s classic Giallo wasn’t exactly begging for a remake. But Luca Guadaginino’s Suspiria shows that a remake can be more than a cynical cash-in. Specifically, Guadaginino takes Argento’s premise of a dance school run by a coven of witches and re-imagines it as a morally complex thriller. Though it’s probably too narratively dense, Suspiria is a movie that begs for multiple viewings to break down what you’ve seen. Yes, Argento’s brand of Grand Guignol violence is unmistakable. Nevertheless, Guadaginino creates some uniquely grotesque imagery of his own. Suspiria’s dance scene and its climax more than do Argento’s concept justice.
24 – Let Me In (2010)
Another remake finds its ways onto The Top 50 Horror Movies of the 2010’s list. And it’s another remake of a movie that was already pretty good in the first place. Matt Reeves took everything that worked with Swedish horror, Let the Right One In, and crafted it into his own unique movie. Let Me In is an affecting horror movie that puts its touching friendship between bullied Owen and vampire Abby at the heart of the movie. Moody, visually stunning, and restrained, Reeves ensures the movie’s violent moments are genuinely shocking. Ultimately, Let Me In is the rare example of a remake the honours the source material while adding to it.
23 – Midsommar (2019)
Another trend that emerged in the 2010’s was ‘elevated horror’. Whether it’s really a thing or just a new word for indie horror, studios like A24 carved out a niche for themselves making these movies. At the forefront of elevated horror, Ari Aster has quickly made a name for himself. Following the success of his debut effort, Hereditary, Aster got back to work on folk-horror Midsommar. If Hereditary dealt with family breakdown, Midsommar is all about relationship break-up’s. Given its runtime, Midsommar doesn’t always sustain its atmospheric dread. And, at times, it feels a little too pondering. Nonetheless, Aster’s sophomore effort is beautifully filmed, haunting, and delivers an ending as unnerving as The Wicker Man.
22 – Don’t Breathe
Fede Alvarez’s debut, his Evil Dead remake, shows up higher on Top 50 list. But Alvarez’s follow-up, Don’t Breathe, proved he wasn’t a one-hit wonder. Like Hush and You’re Next, Don’t Breathe subverts the tired home invasion subgenre. And it’s a simple twist. Our protagonists are the ‘home invaders’ this time around. Getting into the house turns out to be the easy part; getting out is a different story entirely. Go into this movie expecting a tightly paced thriller that emphasizes tension and psychological scares over visceral horror. Moreover, Don’t Breathe cements Jane Levy’s ‘Scream Queen’ status while also introducing horror’ newest villain, The Blind Man.
21 – Happy Death Day (2017)
One part slasher-lite and two parts Groundhog Day, Christopher Landon and Scott Lobdell’s Happy Death Day was a 2017 box office surprise for Blumhouse. Light on gore and loaded with mostly safe PG-13 scares, Happy Death Day benefits from a well-developed premise and Jessica Rothe’s winning performance. Fun scares, mystery, and a surprisingly effective character arc distinguish Happy Death Day from the pack. This year’s sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, leaned more on the movie’s humour and sci-fi concepts to considerably lower box office returns. It’s too bad because the sequel was a lot of fun and promised bigger things for a sequel that may not happen.