The horror genre, perhaps more than any other division of cinema, benefits from a smaller budget. Without the bells and whistles of flashy special effects and recognisable faces, a horror film can effortlessly expose the confused, unpolished landscape of everyday fears. Though whilst the genre can remain comparatively cheap to make, its recent reliance on special effects and the cheap instant thrill of a jump scare has led to a poor reputation since the turn of the Millenium.
A recent resurgence helped through by A24, however, and horror is becoming more mainstream, elevated to be more than just cheap gore. Instead, it is now a tool by Jordan Peele to make a statement about modern America in Get Out or by Jennifer Kent to speak of the burden of depression in 2014’s The Babadook.
Horror, as a genre had to wade through quagmires of found-footage garbage in the early 2000s and supernatural Insidious lookalikes of post-2010, it has continued to innovate and inspire behind the scenes. Horror films of late seem to be an amalgamation of different genres, creatures of comedy, drama and thriller, here are the best since 2010:
10. Sinister – Scott Derrickson, 2012.
What appears on the surface as a horror cash-grab, complete with found-footage jump-scares and a villain striped straight from cliche, behind the mask Sinister has a lot going for it.
A genuine sense of dread is assembled in an unusually dark tone, pulled together with a terrific soundtrack, story and lead performance from Ethan Hawke. The climax capitulates but the sinister tone is unforgettable.
9. Evil Dead – Fede Álvarez, 2013.
A rare example of a remake done right, Evil Dead takes the general theme of the original cult classic and weaves its own story, ditching the camp humour of Raimi’s film, replacing it with gore and grit.
Where the original feels fun and homemade, the updated version sucks all hope and joy out of the story, contextualising the horror within the battle of drug addiction. It’s a horribly enjoyable watch.
8. Raw – Julia Ducournau, 2016.
Equal parts horror and dark coming-of-age drama, Raw is a disturbing vision of the adolescent struggle as it follows a girl newly enrolled in veterinary college who develops a cannibalistic taste.
A brilliantly realised tale, Raw is surprising that in a film of such animalistic gore, the main takeaway at the film’s conclusion is its deft touch and insightful approach to adolescence, with little to no indulgence in excess.
7. The Babadook – Jennifer Kent, 2014.
Jennifer Kent’s fairytale gone wrong follows a single mother’s journey into despair whilst taking care of her autistic child when a mysterious, insidious book appears in her house.
Terror lingers and builds to insurmountable dread in this terrific debut feature utilising simple monster production design and practical effects.
6. The Borderlands – Elliot Goldner, 2013.
With a very limited cinematic release, The Borderlands quickly came out on digital release to an almost silent reception. If you look past its generic poster and initial plotline, however, The Borderlands is a humble horror film which uses all the limited tricks at its disposal to bring English folk horror to new contemporary heights.
Set within a church sat on a mound in rural England, the film rarely strays from its four lead characters and the horrors they are faced with. Lovingly handmade, this is British horror at its simple best
5. Climax – Gaspar Noé, 2018.
Horror spans many subjective definitions and whilst Climax may not adhere to traditional blood-splattering themes, the environment of hopelessness and dread it creates is truly commendable.
With a background in new French extremity, Gasper Noe brings similar themes of futility to this strange image of a psychedelic hell. Climax is the definition of a bad trip, following a group of energetic, drug-fuelled dance students to a world of psychological torment.
4. Get Out – Jordan Peele, 2017.
Jordan Peele’s surprising foray into horror in 2017 struck a cultural chord, blending ingenious horror with a cleverly contextualised social statement.
Exceptional storytelling sets this apart from the industry-norm, playing off the paranoid fears of visiting one’s in-laws with genuine twists, and palpable tension.
3. Kill list – Ben Wheatley, 2011.
Comparatively quieter now than he was at the start of the decade, Ben Wheatley leapt to our attention with his 2011 horror, thriller Kill List, following two hitmen who undergo a gruelling ‘last job’.
Unbearably intense, Kill List is a puzzle largely left unanswered, an ode to the Wicker Man’s occult tendencies with the mood of something far darker.
2. The Witch – Robert Eggers, 2015.
Bringing traditional folk-horror to the contemporary mainstream, Robert Eggers’ The Witch is a dreaded countryside fairy-tale, perpetuating solitary paranoia in 1630s New-England.
Where folk-tales of witches were once shot in muddy, cheap grain, Eggers adopts a sharp resolution with fantastic cinematography making use of the limitations of natural light. Dreadful in the best sense of the word.
1. Hereditary – Ari Aster, 2018.
A mix of the contemporary suburban supernatural with sprinkles of cult-horror, Hereditary set Ari Aster as an immediate asset in the field of horror.
Horrifically hopeless, dread is built upon within an intense hot-bed of guilt, envy and regret with help from fantastic performances across the board, specifically from Toni Collette. That car scene is, as a single entity, an example of horror at its very best.