1. Martyrs -- One of the most intense horror movies of recent memory, this is an extreme movie for those looking for such thrills. It's hard to talk about the movie without giving too much away. The movie starts off as a dark tale of revenge and then turns into something much more sinister. The movie has a strong task to accomplish and it certainly gets its point across. Just like in the movie, the audience gets broken down just like the title character and challenged in hopes of coming out cleansed. This certainly is not everyone's cup of tea, but those who do take the chance to watch this will most likely be blown away. It is amazing how engrossing the movie is given its extreme violence, yet through all the sadism and brutality, its very difficult to take your eyes off the screen. (Again, do not read too much into this movie, it will surely spoil the surprises, including the trailer). (Full Review Here)
2. Inside -- Hands down one of the best horror movie since Scream. The stand out point being the villain, portrayed by Beatrice Dalle. This is a very bloody cat and mouse game set in a very small house which adds excitement because all the action is packed so close together. This is a simple movie, but its so well put together with the right actors, practical effects and setting that it makes for a fantastic horror movie. The slow building tension with the intruder walking around the house unnoticed is unnerving to say the least, and that's before all Hell breaks loose. Once the killer reveals her presence in the house, the movie is full of non-stop carnage, disturbing imagery, and pure chaos. At its core, Inside is a home invasion movie where we see the intruders point of view during times of distress (versus having them hidden in the house with their whereabouts unknown). (Full Review Here)
3. It Follows -- Easily one of the most polarizing movies of recent memory, some people swear by it (me for instance) and some others find it to be extremely mundane. To those who think the movie is too slow or one dimensional, I say to you, you're crazy. It Follows is one of the most original horror movies in years and easily one of the best the past few decades have to offer. The beauty resides not only in the story itself (a fantastic allegory for STDs and much more) but the technical aspects are flat out brilliant. The wide angled lens used creates tons of tension in the frame for the viewer to constantly scan the screen for the monster. Throw in one of the greatest soundtracks of all time and you have something special. This isn't your typical 21st-century horror movie, the kill count is in the low single digits and the gore is minimal, but that's part of what makes the movie stand out. It Follows proves you don't need a large body count with over the top gore to create tension, you just need the constant threat of danger that can attack you at any given moment, day or night.
5. Frailty -- A true hidden gem within the horror genre. This movie takes the classic conception of 'God made me do it' to a different level. What makes it particularly effective is that the story is told from a child's point of view, which makes the movie have a large impact. This isn't a movie that relies on gore or jump scares, but rather it's psychologically rich. The whole time the movie questions the viewer's beliefs and forces them to choose a side (son vs father). This is a darker tale telling the story of a righteous fighter supposedly doing God's work. In the end, it really gets you thinking about right and wrong and the morals that come with it. This movie does everything right, builds a strong/effective story, throws in interesting characters going through a struggle, and has a fantastic ending that brings the story full circle. (Full Review Here)
6. Drag Me To Hell -- Sam Raimi returns to the horror genre with another brilliant entry. Drag Me To Hell is classic Raimi, to say the least, a strong lead character, grossness, silliness, and a strong sense of dread. This is what a great horror movie should be, scary with tension, but sprinkled in with a few lighter/funny moments. This is more of a popcorn horror movie than pure terror, but that doesn't make it any less spectacular. But between all the laughter, there is still a strong sense of 'something' sinister getting closer and closer to the lead actress. This is the type of movie you watch with a group of friends and enjoy the laughs and scares together. Hopefully, Raimi returns to the horror genre once again, it surely needs his fantastic sense of style and storytelling!
7. The Babadook -- Probably the most polarizing movie on the list, people tend to either love this movie (like myself) or hate it with a passion for being mislabeled as a horror movie. It has unfortunately been over-hyped so much that the vast major of viewers seem to have been let down quite a bit. That comes as no surprise, however, seeing as how the movie draws its scares from a more psychological standpoint, versus copious amounts of gore or jump scares. The Babadook basically can be seen as a character study of how the protagonists must deal with the guilt of losing a loved one and how that affects the ones around them. This movie was a high point in the horror genre, certainly going down as one of the best foreign horror movies ever made.
8. Let The Right One In -- I can quite confidently say Let the Right One In is the best vampire movie of all time. It takes the best qualities of the vampire genre (blood sucking, the thirst, scariness, weakness) and adds its own ideas of adolescence, love, and childhood. Its story takes a bullied outcast, who seeks friendship from a vampire trapped inside a young girls body. Together they form a first-love (at least for the boy) romance as they each deal with the struggles of being children. The movie mostly focuses on the challenges of being a young boy and then throws in the vampire elements that both help and destroy lives around the boy for better or worse. The movie builds to a wonderful climax, worthy of the horror genre. There also is an English remake, Let Me In, which is slightly inferior, but still a very high-quality horror movie worthy of mention.
9. Planet Terror -- A Midnight Movie plain and simple, Planet Terror is a guilty pleasure to say the least. More of a black comedy than true horror, this movie does a great job poking fun at horror tropes. The movie starts off as an anthology type horror movie (I personally love anthology), before all the characters band together in hopes of survival. Each story is bizarre and unique, yet strong enough to stand on its own before coming together as a whole in the end. 'Planet Terror' is fast paced mayhem with 70's flair thrown in to really make it something special. If you are someone with a short attention span and likes you gore to flow freely, Planet Terror is a must see. This is a zombie movie that stands tall among the completely overdone zombie genre! (Full Review Here)
10. Cabin In The Woods -- This is probably at the top of most peoples favorite horror movie of the past 5 years. Cabin in the Woods starts off on a familiar note and then completely turns the tables with its mystery of 'the man behind the curtain'. It isn't until the 3rd act that things get truly bizarre and the movie transitions from being pure horror to Sci-Fi with horror elements sprinkled in. But what truly stands out are the scenes behind the camera and the motives of those involved because of the heinous, sinister acts they put the main characters through. The film totally turns the horror genre on its head in its 3rd act and its amazing to see the events unfold. This is a movie that has to be seen in order to believe, let alone comprehend. Cabin in the Woods is sure to gain a solid cult following as the years pass by.....another certain crowd pleaser. One of the few mainstream, Hollywood horror movies to actually be worthy of being mentioned!
11. The Loved Ones -- A 'torture porn' movie, but rather than wanting to be taken super serious (like most in the genre) this movie provides plenty of dark humor to balance out equation. The plot here may be simple, but its execution and style more than make up for that. Some truly diabolically scenes, this movie gives one of the best horror villains of recent memory. The movie hardly ever lets up on the mayhem and excitement, except when it cuts to another couple having the time of their life at the high school dance! The movie isn't particularly scary, but instead it creates a strong, uneasy and eerie vibe where just about anything can happen and lets the brutality do the talking. This is a very strong entry in the foreign horror department and shows us a very promising, up and coming director. (Full Review Here)
12. The Descent -- This gem is on just about every critics favorite horror movies lists of the past 20 years, and with good reason! The Descent truly shines over the competition, because of its unmatched atmosphere, setting, and internal group tension. The movie slowly builds up the tension between the characters to the breaking point, just in time for the real danger appear. It's the backstory between the female cast members that truly shines in this movie! As the group fends off the dwellers of the cave , the truth from the past comes out to haunt them as well, both creating and destroying alliances. The Descent also features a spectacular ending, its simple, yet so very effective! (Note, the US changed the ending for its theaters, which is less memorable and completely random, make sure to see the original, British ending). (Full Review Here)
13. Hard Candy -- This really is another hidden gem in the horror genre, it certainly is not your typical run of the mill home invasion movie either, this is something much different. Its a modern take on the whole 'be careful who you chat with online' and it does not disappoint. This is a movie that challenges you as a viewer and really makes you wonder who is good and who is bad. And the great thing about the movie is that it's ending is gleefully unpredictable. You never really know where the movie will go next, especially with Ellen Page's character at the helm, controlling the movie. This is the type of movie that shines by creating a ton of suspense and tension rather than an over abundance of gore and a high body count. (Full Review Here)
14. A Tale of Two Sisters -- I'm sure a lot of people reading will agree with me when I say, Asian horror movies are creepy as hell and A Tale of Two Sisters is no different! Though the movie can seem confusing at times, it does a great job creating suspense and building its mystery narrative. What makes this a better J-Horror movie than say, Ringu or Ju-on, is it actually has a good, quality story. (though it can be confusing at times). Japanese horror has given us some of the creepiest movie atmospheres of recent memory, and A Tale of Two Sisters is no different....its unnerving.
15. Saw -- The movie that paved way for the whole 'torture porn' genre...when in fact it isn't until it's sequels that the gore levels go to the extreme. Saw reinvigorated the horror genre with its unique and fresh narrative. The movie offered a horror movie with a very engrossing mystery element thrown in to keep the viewer interested. The movie isn't without faults, the editing where the camera is shaking (trying to create nauseating/chaotic effect) is terrible and spastic. But if you can get past some technical issues, the movie has a solid mystery build around it. The movie has been out for a decade now and surprisingly the movie seems to have lost some appeal. That may be because the movie was franchised (It's a shame but not surprising) or because movies made today make Saw look tame in comparison to the amount of violence shown on screen. And of course, its ending is one of the more memorable, if not polarizing of recent memory, you either buy into it or refuse to believe.
16. High Tension -- Where to start with this movie....its fantastic gore/effects and tension (pun intended) that lives in the first 90% of the movie or its abysmal twist ending? Regardless of its polarizing ending (I would recommend not looking too far into this movie just like Martyrs), you cannot argue that the movie is not thrilling and scary leading up to its ending. High Tension along with Saw and Hostel are said to be the movies that started the horror sub-genre, 'torture porn'. What most people tend to forget is that the original Saw isn't as graphic as its made out to be, High Tension on the other hand, certainly can take the title of being the godfather of 'torture porn'. That may or may not be something to brag about, depending on your preference, but you've been warned. Outside of the violence, the movie is suspenseful as hell, the main character is trapped traveling along with the serial killer as he makes a few pit stops before finishing off his final victim.
17. Eden Lake -- This is one of those movies where a romantic weekend on an isolated lake turns into one of the worst experiences of your life. What sets Eden Lake apart from the others, is its gritty, realism (granted it is taken to the extreme at times). Some people might have a problem with the group of kids ages, but that is basically the point. It really gets you thinking about how you would tackle the situation given their young stature. Things certainly get out of control as the kids are willing do anything and everything to find the main character and punish her the only way they know how. Eden Lake is a terror in the woods type of horror movie, there is no Jason Voorhees or cabin in the woods out there, just pure thrill of the hunt and survival. It also has one of the darker, surprising ends in recent memories, plus it makes a pretty strong statement as well. (Full Review Here)
18. Stake Land -- A low budget, indie horror movie. This is like Zombieland without the humor and instead of zombies, its vampires. Where Zombieland seems to sugar coat the actual apocalypse, Stake Land portrays the bleak future as gritty and brutal. But the real danger isn't the vampires themselves, but rather a ritualistic cult hell bent on getting revenge on the main characters. The movie does have its problems however, most of them show up in the final climax and remain a mystery as to their explanations. In the end, the movie feels a bit thin in the story department and never quit leads to a solid resolution, but the ride was fun none the less! This is a fast paced movie, so for anyone looking for a fun horror movie, this is more than likely to please you. Stake Land is the type of movie that would be perfect as a television series (reminiscent of The Walking Dead, but would be far superior). (Full Review Here)