Decade of Dread: Top 50 Horror Movies of the 2010’s PT IV

As December of 2019 winds down, we’re now getting into this decade’s elite horror movies. With Part IV of our countdown of the Top 50 Horror Movie’s of the 2010’s’, we’re taking stock of Numbers 20 to 11 of the genre’s best. In this part of the countdown, there are two more Stephen King adaptations and a third home invasion thriller. Both zombies and a revered horror franchise brought back to life. Rounding things out are two new horror series’ kickstarters, a child-devouring demon, a creepy doll, and a children’s game re-imagined in gruesome fashion.

20 – Sinister (2012)

Technically, Sinister is a bunch of horror tropes strung together with one of the more interesting horror premises. But sometimes execution can overcome lapses in storytelling logic. And director Scott Derrickson executes Sinister with a flair that would later attract the attention of Kevin Feige and Marvel. To his credit, Derrickson balances jump scares with an overall sense of dread. Those ‘snuff movies’ are absolutely disturbing. And the ‘lawnmower’ scene stands up as one of the best jump scares from this past decade. Last, but not least, Bughuul is a reminder that we don’t always need to keep going back to familiar horror villains. Poor Ethan Hawke. Sinister was one of two horror series he was entrusted with kickstarting, but not invited back for the sequels.

19 – Annabelle Creation (2017)

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Following the abysmal Annabelle, The Conjuring Universe took a page from Ouija: Origin of Evil, and went the prequel route. No, Annabelle Creation is not a perfect movie. Things get a little busy near the end. At times, Annabelle Creation also relies a little too much on ‘loud noises’ for scares. Nonetheless, the prequel has fittingly tragic origin with solid performances from veterans Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto and its young stars. Director David F Sandberg (Lights Out) shows why he’s an up-and-coming filmmaker in the genre. Most importantly, Annabelle Creation is well-paced, scary movie that dovetails nicely into the inferior Annabelle.

18 – Doctor Sleep (2019)

And here’s one more Stephen King adaptation on our Top 50 Horror Movies of the 2010’s list. Tasked with following up one the greatest horror movies made, director Mike Flanagan admirably balances fan service with his own style and taken on the ‘Master of Horror’. As a result, Doctor Sleep plays out like a necessary continuation rather than a rehash. While it doesn’t match the atmospheric dread of The Shining, Doctor Sleep still disturbs and scares. Both Ewan McGregor and young Kyliegh Curran are excellent. As Rose the Hat, Rebecca Ferguson is a chilling villain. Moreover, Flanagan tinkers with the book’s ending to allow for a nice coda to The Torrance Family story.

17 – Train to Busan (2016)

Arguably, the latter half of the 2010’s saw zombies run their course. It was a horror sub-genre that didn’t seem to have much room left for new ideas. Consider Train to Busan to be an exception. No, this Korean zombie thriller doesn’t bring much new to the table. There’s bits of 28 Days Later, World War Z, and Snowpiercer in this movie’s DNA. But rabid, fast-moving zombies attacking compelling characters on a moving train makes for a damn good zombie movie. Director Yeong Sang-ho finds news ways to make zombies scary again. One of the movie’s best scenes – the sheer weight of a zombie horde on a tipped carriage’s window falling through the glass.

16 – Ready or Not (2019)

If you were worried Ready or Not would turn out like a ‘Truth or Dare’ version of ‘hide and seek’, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett put those concerns to rest quickly. Stylish, darkly funny, and wildly bloody, Ready or Not was one of 2019’s better horror movies. Family curse or misguided belief? Ready or Not surprises to the end. As this generation’s ‘Scream Queen’, Samara Weaving (Bad Girl, The Babysitter) continues to impress. As an interesting side note, Ready or Not marked yet another where late August wasn’t just a dumping ground for studio leftovers.

15 – Halloween (2018)

Let’s face it. There’s no reason this sequel and/or soft reboot should have worked. Nearly 10 years had passed since Rob Zombie’s poorly-received sequel to his Halloween remake. The last proper sequel was the dreadful Halloween: Resurrection. But Halloween 2018 works. Ignoring every sequel and bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween 2018 is a brutal, back-to-basics horror movie. Curtis shines, Michael Myers is scary again, and there’s a better-than-expected story about the effects of trauma. In addition to being a great horror movie, Halloween 2018 offers a blueprint for resurrecting dormant franchises. You’ll never look at a jack-o-lantern the same way again.

14 – Insidious (2010)

The 2010’s proved to be a great decade for director James Wan. Before he directed The Conjuring, Wan perfected his haunted house routine with Insidious. The story of a family’s child lost in an astral dimension called The Further is jam-packed with scares. No matter how many times you watch it, the Red Faced Demon jump scare will get you every time. What seems like a happy ending gives way to a final, disturbing scene. Of course, Insidious sets itself up for sequel, which turned out pretty well. Two subsequent prequels have drained the series of much of its scares. Nonetheless, Insidious also re-introduced horror fans to the outstanding Lin Shaye.

12 – You’re Next (2011)

And here is the third of the three home invasion movies on our Top 50 Horror Movies of the 2010’s. Like Mike Flanagan’s Hush, Adam Wingard’s You’re Next delights in subverting audience expectations. Watching a privileged family bicker amongst themselves as intruders pick them off from outside lends the movie a dark sense of humour. In addition to the movie’s sly wit, Wingard dials up some brutal death scenes. On one hand, you can blame You’re Next for the decade of ‘creepy animal’ mask-wearing killers. But You’re Next also gave us a strong female protagonist, inspiring movies like Mayhem, Ready or Not, and Hush.

11 – It (2017)

Another trend that emerged in the 2010’s was a Stephen King renaissance. Though a few duds made the rounds (The Dark Tower, Pet Sematary), It reminded audiences of King’s power to terrify. Specifically, Andy Muschietti’s remake effectively blends the nostalgic wonders of childhood friendship with the nightmares of growing up. Despite the sheer volume of King’s novel, the It adaptation wisely cherry picks to create a cohesive, scary movie. Yes, Tim Curry’s Pennywise from the 1990’s television mini-series remains classic. Nevertheless, Bill Skarsgard is no less terrifying. The opening scene with poor Georgie is shocking, even with subsequent viewings. It sets the tone for a movie you’ll often watch through your fingers.

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.