MovieGainz Top 10 Modern Horror Films

This top ten list describes the modern horror renaissance. Simply put, it’s the surge of new horror that began in 2010 starting in indie filmmaking.

10. IT

For the studios this is what the horror resurgence has been leading toward… the highest grossing horror film of all time, ‘IT’ (2017). The resurgence didn’t just mean an explosion of creativity and interest from the film industry, it meant money too. It started small with ‘Insidious’ (2010), then ‘The Conjuring’ (2013), ‘Annabelle’ (2014), ‘The Conjuring 2’ (2016) and finally studios saw the potential and decided it was time to capitalize on it. The result? A terrifying horror complete with a solid and goofy cast, a frightening monster, and a truckload of money. It also spurred on a slurry of Stephen King adaptations to be made by both film studios and streaming services, from ‘Castle Rock’, ‘Mr. Mercedes’, and much much more.

9. A Quiet Place

This is the kind of film that goes unsuspected within the horror genre, perhaps because it borders the fragile line between horror and sci-fi, but the reason this film is so important to the horror genre is because it proves something. It proves that horror has become a starting point for new directors, whether they were originally writers (like Leigh Whannel) or actors (like John Krasinski and Dave Franco) – horror allows first time directors to attain recognition. Horror may still not be respected by awards shows, but within the industry, it is a challenging genre brimming with potential.

8. The Conjuring

at can really be said? This here quite literally started a horror universe, one so extensive it would come to rival even the most extensive horror franchises of all time. ‘The Conjuring Universe’ is the second most lucrative in horror history, behind only ‘Godzilla’… long live the king. I could spend multiple paragraphs explaining why James Wan is the key to all of this and how his impact on horror is completely underappreciated, but the truth is, if you’re a film fan, you’ll know why, if you’re a horror fan, you’ll especially know why.

7. Insidious

Just like its name suggests, ‘Insidious’ has had a secretively potent impact. This film put director James Wan back on the map and stands as the foundation of all Wan-like horrors that followed, upwards of 15 of them; from ‘The Conjuring Universe’ to the Ouija films, and even the IT films all followed the James Wan structure and all attempted to imitate his tone in one way or another. James Wan was building the face of modern horror for mainstream audiences and continues to do it very successfully.

6. The Babadook

If ‘Insidious’ was responsible for resurging classic horror into the modern age, then ‘The Babadook’ is responsible for breathing life back into psychological indie horror. What ‘The Babadook’ achieved cannot be understated, it paved the way for horrors that would follow for the rest of the 2010’s and beyond, proving that there is plenty of room to depict that mental illness and horror go hand-in-hand quite well, especially in the modern age where so much more about these diseases is understood than they once were. 

5. It Follows

This indie sleeper hit is what really drove the resurgence into new territory – finally, serious indie filmmaking and horror were joining forces to form creative narratives and horror concepts for the modern age – ‘The Babadook’ hinted at potential, but ‘It Follows’ really marked the sign that we were in for a special decade of horror as these films released practically side by side that year – the 2010’s were shaping up to be the best decade of horror since the 1980’s.

4. Get Out

This right here was a defining moment in horror – one where people could see that the genre had limitless potential in how to show struggle, pain, and even delicate social issues. ‘Get Out’ in many ways has come to start its own subset of horror – racially driven horror. Films like ‘Antebellum’, ‘Spell’, ‘Candyman’, and ‘His House’ have all followed the example of Jordan Peele’s socially disruptive and potently enriching horror.

3. The Cabin in the Woods

This satirical critique of the torture-porn genre brings about the freshest breath of air that horror as a whole so desperately needed, as the early 2010’s still lived with the fresh memory of the pointlessly gratuitous horrors that marred the genre like ‘Hostel’, ‘Martys’ and even the later ‘Saw’ films. The raw and excessive violence in those films certainly had their place within film history, but they resulted in many people’s perception of the horror genre being one of contempt. The horror genre needed recovery. ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ is a response to this. This fantastically structured horror comedy may not have pushed the genre to the unsettling tone it has today, but it was a vital part of the recovery process that the genre needed to go through in order to transition to this new age of horror.

2. The Witch

Not only was this film deeply unsettling and cleverly written, it’s a film that truly put A24 on the map, being their first major success.‘The Witch’ by acclaimed director Robert Eggers essentially became the blueprint for A24 horror films, almost becoming a genre on its own. ‘The Witch’ was the beginning of many great things – from a new subset of horror, a new visionary director, and even actress Anya Taylor-Joy as a major act within Hollywood. This film lands so high on the list not just because it was the beginning of something truly great, but because the film itself is phenomenal in its own right.

1. Hereditary

To say this film is historically significant within horror is an understatement. ‘Hereditary’ is a film that embodies what the modern horror renaissance has been building towards. It is not uncommon for people to openly state that ‘Hereditary’ could potentially be the best horror film ever, period. This is the kind of film that will madden future generations as to how its lead actress did not receive so much as a nomination for her performance at the Oscars, it’s the kind of film everyone will turn to when trying to define how to do horror “right”. It is the base blueprint going forward for psychological horror, it is simply in our view the best horror of that decade, even this century.

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