Horror is one of the biggest money-minting genre in films. Some of the most famous ones are gimmicky, immature and poorly written with only jump scares to rely on. While 2016 might not have been that great a year overall, it was definitely a fantastic year for the genre.
While Bollywood has had a huge problem with horror films for a long time now (with Bipasha Basu being the face of Indian horror films), world cinema has seen a huge surge in terms of quality and quantity.
Now I know that you might be looking for Conjuring 2 in this list but please note that while it wasn’t as bad as Anabelle, it still wasn’t as good as the original movie. Also, there were far better horror movies that came out this year and you need to take notice of them.
Here are 15 best horror movies to have come out this year:
1. Lights Out (USA)
The frantic pace and the scary ghost will keep you shivering long after the movie is over.
What started off as a viral YouTube short film, finally got a well deserved full length feature film. The movie deals with underlying themes of mental illness and depression but you never feel like the movie is getting too preachy. The opening sequence is one of the scariest to a movie lately. The pace never drops and the jump scares never feel cheap. That is where the beauty of this horror movie lies.
2. Don’t Breathe (USA)
There is a thin line between psychological thriller and horror and this movie treads it with beauty.
The director paints an inverted home-invasion picture that sees the intruders being terrorised by a monstrous homeowner who’s not about to let his assets be snatched by petty thieves. The homeowner is blind and his superhuman hearing abilities add to the woes of the thieves. It’s a gripping ride that keeps you on the edge of your seats throughout its runtime.
3. Train to Busan (South Korea)
The zombie movies genre has now been run to the ground by not-so-talented filmmakers but Train to Busan has definitely marked a return for them.
There are no wasted minutes in Yeon Sang-ho’s zombie thriller. The plot is extremely simple – there is a train that’s going to Busan and the people onboard are oblivious of the zombie apocalypse that has struck the nation. Simple, no? It’s extremely affective as it keeps you on your toes with constant deaths (that, for once, matter in a horror movie). Out of necessity this film moves fast, but it doesn’t sacrifice the depth of connection between its characters for the sake of shock scares.
4. Hush (USA)
What happens when a serial killer who makes no noise is trying to kill a deaf lady; that too in a house full of traps? Hush.
One of the great challenges of horror films is taking well-worn genre tropes and spinning them into something fresh. It’s a standard house-in-the-woods home-invasion movie, but with one big twist; the woman who lives in the house is deaf. Horror is often at its best when done simply, and Hush excels at maximum impact while paring the story down to its essentials.
5. The Neon Demon (France)
The trailers of this movie has our curiosity but the movie blew our expectations out of the water. If you haven’t seen this one, drop everything you’re doing and go watch it RIGHT NOW!
The Neon Demon follows a teenage girl named Jesse who has just shown up in Los Angeles hoping to make it big as a model. She’s a perfect, pure specimen bringing light to those who meet her in a jaded, savage industry. This helps Jesse book jobs right out of the gate, but it also sets her at odds with her industry competitors. It’s a sharp critique at how humans see and consume beauty now and it’s also a commentary on the insane beauty standards that plague our society.
6. The Wailing (South Korea)
Watch it for Na Hong-jin’s brilliance and then bask in the glorious horror movie genre that keeps surprising you with its creativity.
Director Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing incorporates elements of contagion horror, demonic possession, and even the zombie genre over the course of two and a half hours to explore the deterioration of a rural village beset by a rash of heinous murders. This movie is a lot like the Spanish movie Rec, only that the tension and the unanswered questions would gnaw at your idea of what cinematic elements to trust in a horror movie.
7. Under the Shadow (England)
A seemingly mediocre setting is elevated by the brilliant acting and stunning sound design. This movie made me scared of djinns.
This British movie is extremely special because of the fact that it’s shot in Farsi and set in the Middle East. The story follows an Iranian family living in Tehran in 1988, when the city is being shelled during the Iran–Iraq War. The father, a doctor, is called to treat patients on the front lines, leaving his wife alone to care for their daughter. On top of the wartime stress, their daughter’s health is declining fast, and it may or may not be the result of a malevolent spirit known as a djinn.
8. The Witch (Canada)
This movie is easily our favourite from this list because of the sheer absurdity of the plot and the way it gave us goosebumps (in not a very nice manner).
Directorial debuts don’t get much better than what Robert Eggers pulled off with The Witch. This movie is terrifying in its absolute sense. It sucks you in from the first second and by the end of it, you want to run to the washroom but you’re too afraid to go there alone. This is easily the best horror movie of 2016. Mentioning anything about the plot would be a spoiler so please know that the opening shot of the movie has some baby remains being mashed up with a mortar and pestle.
9. The Eyes of My Mother (USA)
The Eyes of My Mother is about a mother’s relationship with her kids. The beauty of this movie lies in the fact that it doesn’t have dialogues yet it manages to hold your attention for over 90 minutes.
It often takes a lot to transcend the barrier of being a gimmick and actually being of use when it comes to shooting a movie in monochrome. Thankfully, The Eye of My Mother is purely about substance more than anything else. Nicolas Pesce is an amazing filmmaker and his skills are clearly seen in this movie.
10. Ouija: Origins of Evil (USA)
A rare horror movie sequel that wasn’t just a great movie but also added to the overall appeal of the original.
When it comes to sequels, horror movies have a terrible track. Generally, a great standalone horror movie gets an inevitable sequel that does more to ruin the reputation of the original than to add to the rich lore. Ouija: Origins of Evil is extremely different in this regard. The evil force that begins to press down on the main characters of the movie is certainly something outside the routine.
11. Creepy (Japan)
The movie is a cat and mouse chase between a run-of-the-mill cop and a killer who is a lot like The Purple Man from Jessica Jones. Watch it for the sheer tension of the plot.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa is the new-age King of psychological thrillers and his Creepy was just like the title suggests. It’s a murder-mystery that is also a thriller. While the movie doesn’t sound like a conventional horror movie, it plays out exactly like one. The villain psychologically kneads his victims, wears them down almost with inane chatter and random mood swings. His colonising of their very ability to make decisions is shown as almost mundane, which makes its power all the more astonishing and terrifying. It’s now up to a cop to bring this man to justice.
12. The Monster (USA)
Like the name suggests, this movie is about a monster who decides to fuck over the happiness of a mother and daughter duo.
Instead of going bigger with his second film, Bryan Bertino enriched the simple story of a mother, her daughter, and a strange, savage beast with a familiar, if still effective, portrait of addiction. This movie is very simple when it comes to plot and characterisation, but it’s so good that it’s mindboggling.
13. The Invitation (USA)
There have been movies dealing with human emotions before but nothing compares to the way The Invitation uses them to portray pure horror.
Grief is a bitch. The loss of a loved one, especially those most tragic, will leave you coiled in the icy hot grip of despair and if you’re not careful, you can drag the people you love down with you into the bitter cold. The Invitation is horror by way of grief, a real-life ghost story about how we are haunted not by spectres and ghouls, but by the places we’ve been, the moments we’ve shared, and the incapacitating guilt of what we might have done differently.
14. 10, Cloverfield Lane (USA)
While the sequel wasn’t as good as Cloverfield, it was still one of the best horror movies of the year. The fact that it is set in a confined space adds to its credibility.
The much acclaimed Cloverfield found footage movie got a sequel that was unknown till a month before the release. The entire movie is set inside a bunker and one character’s curiosity about what is going around in the world outside it. The premise is simple but with great acting, the director manages to build this air of tension that makes it a gripping horror movie.
15. I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House (England)
What happens when the haunted house trope is fueled with paranoia and a supernatural entity that thrives on it? Sounds like a combination to die for, no?
A young nurse takes care of an elderly author who lives in a haunted house. While the nurse has no clue about what the house has in store for her, the name of the movie is sort of a giveaway for the audiences. While the movie might feel a little pretentious at first, the second act of the movie does so well to establish it as one of the best in the genre this year.
So which one of these are you planning on watching tonight?