30 for 10: The Best Horror Movies of the 2010s

The 2010s were a great decade for horror movies. There was a small renaissance of sorts, where horror regained some of its mainstream appeal while at the same time seeing a resurgence of art house terror.  People Like Jordan Peele and Ari Aster did a lot shape the conversation and to remind people that horror is the best genre to work in if you want to say something about societal ills.

Couch Thing would like to present our picks for the 30 Best Horror Films of the 2010s:

30. Let Me In
 A touching story of childhood loneliness that just happens to feature vampires.

29.  Don’t Breathe
A tense thriller that pretends to be a home invasion horror flipped on its head, but is really more interested in urban poverty following the housing collapse.

28. The Purge: Election Year
The Purge series started with a mediocre home invasion horror. The series has bucked the normal trend by actually improving with each entry. This one manages to be a strong class satire with a lot of insight into American politics. The horror is solid as well.

27. The Perfection
This Netflix original flips the viewer’s expectations, then flips them again.  What looks like the start of a travelers in danger pic quickly shifts into body horror, then torture porn, then revenge drama, then a different type of revenge drama.

26. Hush
Another home invasion tale, this one changes it up by having the heroine be deaf. Hush is a taut, well paced thriller that amps up the tension so high it could shatter glass.

25. Raw
A French Feminist cannibalism story. Raw is unendingly clever. It never achieves any scares, but leans hard on the cringe factor.

24. The First Purge
This entry in The Purge franchise is a prequel in which we get to see how the entire thing began. It’s a nasty satire that has teeth and isn’t afraid to use them.

23. You Might Be the Killer
YMBTK is a slasher comedy that has some real fun deconstructing the tropes of the genre. It’s held together by two strong performances from Alyson Hannigan and Fran Kranz.

22. IT
Stephen King’s monster of a monster story had to be daunting for a director to approach. It’s been filmed before (as a well loved if badly flawed mini-series).  Andy Muschietti does a great job condensing the action and shifting the time period to make it relevant to today’s audience.  Pennywise is incredibly creepy and unendingly weird. This movie could have been a wreck, but we all got very lucky.

21. Train to Busan
This Korean gem is a  fast-paced zombie story that takes place mostly on a moving train. It’s the very definition of a thrill ride.

20. Halloween
This sequel / reboot follows the original Halloween and retcons all the other sequels out of existence. We catch up with Laurie Strode 40 years after the fateful Halloween night. This movie manages to be true to the original vision and paints a beautiful portrait of post traumatic stress.

19. Bird Box
Lovecraftian horror with a new twist. Creatures that drive people into suicidal madness at the very sight of them overrun the world.

18.Bone Tomahawk
Westerns and Horror don’t get mixed nearly often enough. This gory tale of old west cannibalism is a delight from start to finish.

17. Green Room
This thriller about a punk band trapped and harassed by Neo-Nazi skinheads is an adrenaline shot to the heart. Patrick Stewart reminds us that he isn’t just Jean-Luc Picard, but is in fact one of the greatest living actors. This film stars Anton Yelchin in what would sadly be one of his last roles before his untimely death.

16. Under the Skin
Sexy female alien hunts men is something we’ve seen before. Think Species or Life Force. This is different, though. More of a vague outline of a movie hung on the skeleton of moody lighting and noise music than a normal film. This arthouse film is a real mind blower.

15. A Quiet Place
If the monsters hear you, you’re dead. This movie is all about sound design, and boy does that sound design work. The flick has some real guts. This is one of those movies where the child can absolutely die.

14. The Babadook
A film that uses a monster unleashed from a pop-up book to teach lessons about how to live with depression isn’t what I expected based on the poster for this movie. I’m glad that’s what I got.

13. It Follows
A lot was made of the way this movie flips the sexual ethics of the normal horror film on its head. I think even more should be made of when this movie takes place. Is it the past? The future? Is this even on Earth? Whenever and wherever this is, it’s a marvel of a movie.

12. The Cabin in the Woods
This is one of the best horror deconstructions ever made. Equal parts funny, smart, and terrifying. It works on every level, and is the only horror film I know of to feature a killer unicorn.

11. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
This movie has been described as a black and white Iranian Western with vampires. That’s accurate. It is delightful in so many ways.

10. The Blackcoats Daughter
Girls left alone at an empty boarding school is a setup that sends the mind in a certain direction. This movie isn’t interested in anything that lies in that direction. Instead it wants to surprise you. Moody, scary, gory, and beautifully acted. The film plays a trick with timelines that changes everything we think we know about the story. Then there is that final shot, which is one of the best of the decade.

9. Suspiria
I was worried when I heard that Dario Arento’s classic was being remade. In reality, it wasn’t. Both films feature a European Ballet academy and witches, but other than that they are completely different animals. This film is surreal, creepy, beautiful, and mind-bending. Tilda Swinton turns in the performance(s) of her career. A true accomplishment.

8. Midsommar
Ari Aster followed up Hereditary with this Wicker Man-esqu, weird village tale that zigs where other movies zag. It thinks about feminism, depression, relationship related trauma, and the messiness of life in ways that you have to keep digesting long after the movie is over. Add the fact that this is one of the best looking films of the decade and you have an instant classic.

7. Annihilation
Lovecraftian is the first word that comes to mind. This film shares things with The Colour out of Space. It’s environmental horror. It has some of the best effects of anything Hollywood has produced this decade.

6. Mandy
Panos Cosmatos is insane. That’s clear. Luckily for us, his brand of insanity meshes with the brand of insanity that Nick cage is living in. This film swims the far shores of reality. It’s about a lumberjack who goes on a drug fueled revenge spree after a gang of demonic bikers murder his girlfriend. And that description does not even begin to do it justice.

5. One Cut of the Dead
This Japanese zombie comedy is beyond inventive.  It is the rare film that is best seen with absolutely zero knowledge of the plot, so I wont say more.

4. The VVItch
This period drama that slowly reveals itself as a supernatural horror story is about family and abuse as much as it’s about devil worship. It has one of the best  (happy?) endings to grace the screen in years.

3.  Hereditary
Ari Aster’s first feature. A demon possession story that is really a very sneaky parable about the hereditary nature of family trauma and the long term effects of mental illness. This is a wicked film. It’s a tough watch, but insists on being re-watched. A masterpiece.

2.  Get Out
Racial horror. This film has a lot in common with The Stepford Wives but also with Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It is perfectly constructed. Jordan Peele came out of the gate a fully formed genius. This film is smarter than it needs to be, and that’s a good thing. 

1.   TIE: US / It Comes at Night
These two films have a lot in common.

Jordan Peele's sophomore entry is about economic class in America. It’s a film about how the privileged classes pull the strings, and how the “tethered” lower classes exist in service to those above. It functions as Swiftian satire, and the horror elements support that purpose. Peele proved that Get Out wasn’t just a fluke and that he is truly one of the great directors of this age.
It Comes at Night is a post-apocalyptic yarn in which humanity has been ravaged by a disease that caused society to crumble.  This film is about fear of the other. And the hatred that that breeds. It’s about how the desire to protect one’s own leads to the destruction not only of the distrusted other, but also of the self.  It’s a smart movie that leaves you with more questions that answers.   

Did we leave your favorite out? Get something terribly wrong? Sound off in the comments.


  1. This list was very tough. I had to leave out so many great movies. I went back and forth over the top five for days. What do you think?


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