Horror has been going through a renaissance in recent years, with new franchises dominating the box office and home-streaming charts. On top of this, the birth of streaming has meant that many smaller and foreign horror films have found new audiences — people who have never had the chance to see them can finally give them a go.
This 2016 slasher film pushes the genre in a fascinating new direction and shows off some memorable scares. The movie is directed by Mike Flanagan, and it stars Kate Siegel. The film follows Maddie Young. Maddie is deaf and mute, but makes a good living as a horror writer. When Maddie decides to move to a house in the woods, everything seems idyllic until a masked man starts to stalk Maddie, forcing her to use all her wits to survive the night.
A very clever subversion of the usual tropes, Hush shows that the slasher genre can still surprise viewers. And Maddie is a fantastic character you can’t help but root for.
14. Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Released in 2017, Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil is a fascinating and unusual film. The movie is a fantasy, horror, and comedy hybrid. And it is inspired by a classical Basque folktale. Also, the film’s dialogue is in the Basque language, which is very rare for international releases.
The story follows a government advisor searching for a rebel. Many years previously, this rebel killed all his captors by getting help from a demon and is now believed to be hoarding stolen gold. The government advisor finds this man working in a forge in the woods. However, things soon turn dark when Usue, a young girl, sneaks into the rebel’s home. There she learns the truth about the demons and the rebel’s previous life. A delightfully unique film that defies simple classification, Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil is a rollercoaster ride from beginning to end with plenty of stunning twists.
13. Secrets in the Hot Spring
A horror comedy from 2018, Secrets in the Hot Spring, follows student Xiao Gin. One summer, Xiao Gin is convinced to return to the hotel that his dead parents founded. However, when Xiao Gin and his misfit friends turn up at the hotel, they find something amiss with the place. And several events suggest the hotel might actually be haunted. So, this group of unlikely friends has to solve the mystery and put the haunting to rest.
Packed with goofy gags and over-the-top moments, Secrets in the Hot Spring feels like a fresh take on the ’80s comedy horror format. While horror lovers may find the movie a little light on scares, the comedy makes up for it, especially as the cast has fantastic on-screen chemistry.
12. Coming Home in the Dark
2021’s Coming Home in the Dark is a psychological thriller from New Zealand. Directed by James Ashcroft, the film follows Alan ‘Hoaggie’ Hoaganraad, a school teacher who is in the middle of a road trip with his wife and sons. Everything is going well until they spot two men watching the family while on a hike. These two men appear later and kidnap Alan and his wife, trapping them in a horrific situation. However, as the kidnapping continues, it is revealed that these two kidnappers may have a link to the family. And this link will uncover some dark truths about the family members and their past deeds.
A white-knuckle ride from start to finish, this film is a very terrifying experience — not because it is full of monsters or ghouls, but because of how it presents human nature. It really is a can’t-miss experience for thriller and grounded horror fans.
11. The Swarm
First released in 2020, this French horror film presents an interesting take on the classic creature feature. It follows single mother Virginie as she attempts to raise locusts as a protein source. However, she can’t get the locusts to breed fast enough, causing her problems and stress. However, when the locusts feed on an open wound, Virginie realizes that her locusts seemingly have a taste for flesh. Virginie starts to feed the locusts her blood and flesh, causing them to multiply quickly, but when they escape, chaos ensues as it turns out these locusts will eat anything — and anyone.
While there was a risk that this movie could become overly goofy, the filmmakers perfectly nailed the tone, meaning that this film really is horrific. Especially because Virginie’s slow spiral into desperation is played perfectly, giving this film an understandable and relatable core.
10. Crimson Peak
Crimson Peak was a controversial movie when it first came out in 2015, but it quickly generated a cult following. This is to be expected; when Guillermo del Toro directs and co-writes a film, you shouldn’t expect something safe.
Crimson Peak is a gothic horror romance that follows American heiress Edith Cushing, who is visited by her mother’s ghost. This ghost tells her to beware of Crimson Peak. However, when an older Edith falls in love with Sir Thomas Sharpe, she finds herself pulled into a twisted web of murder, suspense, and horror.
Packed full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing, Crimson Peak is a fantastic del Toro film. While not the scariest movie ever made, it still offers an atmospheric experience that calls back to classic gothic horror novels and stories, making it great for viewers who want character and thrills more than scares.
9. The Platform
2019’s The Platform is often compared to cult-classic The Cube, and it’s easy to see why. Directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, this Spanish-language film is set in a massive vertical prison. This prison is called The Pit. Inside, the food is delivered via a platform that slowly descends, meaning that while those on the top eat well, those near the bottom struggle. People are randomly reassigned floors every month to keep the prisoners on edge.
The audience follows Goreng, a prisoner who tries to understand the structure, but all he discovers is suffering, pain, and intense violence as he struggles to survive in these hellish conditions. Combining brilliant visuals with a chilling premise, The Platform is a creative movie and a unique horror offering for those who like non-traditional settings.
8. Vampires vs. the Bronx
Directed by Oz Rodriguez and written by Rodriguez and Blaise Hemingway, Vampires vs. the Bronx, as the title suggests, finds a group of Bronx locals battle against a group of vampires who plan to take over the area. However, in a delightfully modern twist, the vampires’ biggest weapon isn’t fangs or dark magic but rather gentrification as the vampires are buying up property all over town, literally and spiritually forcing the Bronx natives out of the area.
A horror comedy that draws heavily from 1980s horror genre films, Vampires v. the Bronx is memorable, funny, and stylish. It effortlessly blends its social commentary with comedy and horror tropes without any part feeling half-baked or extraneous. This is the perfect film for viewers who want their horror to be low on scares but full of biting social commentary.
7. The Babysitter
2017’s The Babysitter was overlooked on release, but quickly became a cult classic thanks to its unique plot and stylish direction. Directed by McG and written by Brian Duffield, the film features a great cast including Samara Weaving and Bella Thorne.
Pre-teen Cole does not have an easy life because his neighbor, Jeremy, frequently bullies him. Cole’s babysitter, Bee, stands up for him; however, when Cole learns that Bee is part of an evil cult, he must do his best to discover the truth about the cult and survive the night in this inventive and fun movie that blends an old-school slasher movie with some hilarious dark comedy. Samara Weaving’s portrayal of Bee is the highlight as she perfectly merges evil, stylish, and relatable, creating a character that will stick in your memory for a long time.
Gareth Evans can seemingly do no wrong as a director. No matter what he creates, it turns out well, and 2018’s Apostle is a stunning horror movie that proves Evans can handle visual flare just as well as intense action.
Set on a remote Welsh island in 1905, the film follows Thomas Richardson as he attempts to infiltrate the cult that has kidnapped his sister. However, once on the island, Thomas finds that infiltration might not be as easy as he imagined, and that the cult is much darker than he first believed. Atmospheric and packed full of creeping dread, Apostle effortlessly mixes supernatural fear with grounded fears, showing just how far people will go to protect what they believe in.
Horror is usually associated with dark, dingy places, but 2019’s Sweetheart bucks the trend by setting the scares in a tropical location. After a storm wrecks her boat, Jennifer Remming washes up on a desert island. Alas, Jennifer’s travel partner Brad doesn’t survive the crash and Jennifer has to bury him on the beach. But, after finding some other graves on the island, Jennifer returns to find that Brad’s grave is uncovered and the body is gone. To make matters worse, Jennifer soon learns that the island is much more dangerous than it first appears.
Kiersey Clemons’ performance really carries this movie, as she perfectly captures Jennifer’s fear, confusion, and overall drive to survive whatever this strange island throws at her. Sweetheart is a fantastic movie with a rather unique premise that needs to be seen to be believed.
Creep made waves in the horror community when it was released in 2014, and it isn’t hard to see why, as the film is a real original⏤a feat that is even more impressive when you realize that it is Patrick Brice’s debut as a director.
Aaron is a videographer who is struggling for money, so when he’s offered the chance to film Josef in a cabin in the woods, he takes the gig, presuming it is merely a video diary for Josef’s unborn child. However, Josef’s strange behavior soon leaves Aaron feeling uneasy and, as Josef becomes more erratic, Aaron learns that he is not all that he seems.
Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice deliver mesmerizing performances as the two leads, turning this film into an uncomfortable thrill ride that will keep you guessing the entire time.
Cam got a lot of critical and viral praise when it came out. It was also quickly forgotten. This is a shame, as it is one of the most original horror films in recent memory and focuses on a highly unique main character.
Directed by Daniel Goldhaber and written by Isa Mazzei, the film follows camgirl Alice Ackerman. Alice loves her work and is determined to become the number one ranked girl on her cam site. Things take a dark turn when Alice’s account is taken over by another girl who looks and acts just like her. This leads Alice into a spiral of confusion as she tries to deduce what is going on, all while trying to manage her real-life relationships.
Chilling, twisted, and utterly mesmerizing, Cam is a must-watch horror film. If you like movies like Us, you owe it to yourself to watch Cam.
2. Under the Shadow
This 2016 Persian-language horror film presents a unique take on the ghost story genre. Set in 1980s post-revolutionary Iran at the height of the War of the Cities, it finds Shideh, a former medical student trying to survive in the war-torn city with her daughter, Dorsa. When a shell hits their home, things take a turn for the strange as odd events start to unfold. Dorsa insists that there is a ghostly presence in the building and both mother and daughter soon find themselves being tormented by strange creatures.
Under The Shadow is a tense and atmospheric movie packed full of supernatural scares and grounded dread. Having the outside war-torn world be as dangerous as the creatures in the building makes the whole situation feel much more threatening. On top of this, Shideh and Dorsa are very relatable characters, making their suffering feel all the more harrowing.
1. His House
Haunted house films have been seeing a resurgence recently. However, most haunted house media tends to focus on sprawling older properties. His House, however, changes the formula by bringing the haunting to a small English council house.
The film follows Bol and Rial as they flee from war-torn South Sudan. After a long and dangerous journey, they arrive in England as refugees. The immigration service assigns them a small, shabby house with peeling paint and other damage and tells the couple that they must tread carefully or they’ll get deported. However, the home isn’t the refuge they think it is, and soon they start experiencing strange events that leave them scared and confused. And this happens while they are also dealing with racism and anti-refugee sentiment. His House adds a socially conscious twist to the haunted house format and pulls it off perfectly.