The problem with 90% of modern horror movies is that they are exclusively populated with jump scares. Gone are the days of suspense building movies that keep audiences gripped and hiding behind a pillow. Think about the likes of Halloween. Michael Myers appearing behind the hung up washing line and disappearing in the blink of an eye. Not knowing where he would appear next. These are the horror movies that defined a genre! They have been replaced by vapid movies that ruin moments of tension.
In recent years, horror movies feature very little in the way of interesting plots and the characters are painfully obvious stereotypes who are bound to trip over when running from the killer, or who will definitely “go in there” despite audiences members telling them not to. Movies such as Insidious, Sinister and The Conjuring do well commercially because they provide their audiences with an easy watch and, while they provide plenty of jumps and squeals, are actually very poor on the whole. They feel thrown together and most of them are topped off with acting that would struggle to make it into a children’s nativity performance. Even big names in the acting world, like Ethan Hawke, can’t save a movie whose villains are children possessed by the boogie man (yes, that’s essentially the actual plot of Insidious…).
But there are some modern horror movies that save the genre and that do more than merely make you jump. These movies will give you nightmares and make you double check that locked door before you go to bed.
10. It Follows (2015)
Now, on the surface, the plot of It Follows seems ridiculous. A curse is passed between unsuspecting people after they have sex with each other. Manifesting itself in whatever form it likes, it hunts and kills, walking (and only walking) after its victims. Yes, this is essentially a killer STD but It Follows does this madcap narrative justice.
The viewer is consistently on edge. When Jay (Maika Monroe) finds herself in the center of the shot, the audience’s focus is very rarely on her but the characters in the background. Any one of the apparently inconspicuous unnamed characters moving towards our protagonist could very well be the manifestation of the curse. It Follows will keep your heart racing and keep you second guessing. As well as suspense there are some genuinely horrific moments that will make you turn away from the screen. Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
9. Hush (2016)
Hush is about a deaf and dumb woman who lives on her own in the woods and enjoys the simple things in life like cooking, writing novels and not being murdered by a masked psychopath. So guess what happens? She gets attacked by… you guessed it… a masked psychopath who is hell bent on killing her! A simple idea, there is no doubt about that.
What this movie does incredibly well is steer away from stereotypes. There are moments of sheer genius that leave you desperate for Maddie (Kate Sagal) to survive this ordeal. For a character who doesn’t speak, she is engaging and has the audience rooting for her from the outset. With some clever twists and some very well placed changes in the plot, this movie will have you needing your blood pressure sorting out. Hush is on Netflix now and is definitely a movie to add to your watch list, particularly if you enjoy a bit of gore and clever, developed characters. Silence has never been so terrifying. RT: 100%
8. You’re Next (2013)
You’re Next is essentially a slasher flick on the surface. But what You’re Next does differently is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, in the same way Scream redefined slashers. It is set during a small getaway for a family wedding anniversary, where an awkward family meal is disrupted by mass murder. Much like the previous two movies on this list, the protagonist is a female who is not afraid to fight back. And fight back she does!
It is refreshing to see a female character with such depth and gusto in a movie genre which, more often than not, allows female characters to be the victim. The animal-masked attackers find out in some gruesome ways that Erin (Sharni Vinson) isn’t afraid to stand up for herself, after they commit some gruesome murders of their own. RT: 75%
7. Poltergeist (2015)
Remakes always stir controversy. There is always too much to compare a remake to and people struggle with that. If there is any way to save a remake it is with two simple words; Sam and Rockwell. Rockwell brings his typical brand of cynical and dry humour to the remake of the ghostly disturbance classic Poltergeist.
When a family home is shook to its core by a poltergeist it is down to Eric and Amy Bowen (Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie Dewitt) to bring them back together, particularly after the spectre kidnaps their daughter – cue a trip into the underworld (or something very similar!)! Poltergeist may not boast the most clever of plots, but it is extremely intense and is far from your typical modern horror movie. If anything, it is worth watching just for Sam Rockwell! RT: 31%
6. 28 Days Later (2003)
Danny Boyle‘s 28 Days Later is swiftly becoming a cult classic in its own right. This is the oldest movie on our list but is undoubtedly one of the most highly acclaimed. After Dan (Cillian Murphy) awakens from a coma, he discovers London has been taken over by flesh-hungry creatures infected by rage induced laboratory chimpanzees. Yes, it’s the original zombie movie plot with a truly disturbing and dystopian twist.
Boyle’s raw and visceral style of film-making throws the audience into abandoned London, alongside Dan in his desperate struggle to survive. Without a massive amount of special effects, Boyle creates a movie that is truly terrifying and genuinely amazingly captivating. RT: 87%
5. Cabin In The Woods (2012)
If there was ever a marmite style horror movie that splits audiences directly down the middle it is Cabin in the Woods. Much like You’re Next, Cabin in the Woods takes itself anything but seriously. It pitches you with a classic stereotypical scenario; the jock, the scholar, the virgin, the stoner and the whore… in a cabin… in the woods (obviously).
Without wanting to give anything away (and it is very hard not to, as even choosing an image without spoilers was almost impossible) you cannot be ready for what happens next. Cabin in the Woods takes you on a journey like no other. You will either think this movie is incredible and revolutionary, or you will demand your money back. Regardless of how you feel about it, it has to be seen to be believed. RT: 92%
4. Saw (2004)
Whatever you think of the Saw sequels and prequels, the original movie was, without any shadow of a doubt, revolutionary in the horror movie genre. There are so many twists and turns in this movie that it’s difficult not to get motion sickness. The beauty of this movie is in its simplicity, contradicted by the mind bending plot that underlies the stark imagery of the neon lit bathroom where ninety-five percent of the movie is set.
If you haven’t seen this movie, I beg you to watch it immediately and try to guess the ending before it comes to a climax. You will be wrong. And if an amazing cast, gripping story line and incredible imagery wasn’t enough, there’s enough gore in one single scene to keep the most desensitized person’s jaw on the floor. RT: 48% (Somehow!?)
3. Evil Dead (2013)
This is the second remake on our list. In the original The Evil Dead the special effects were limited to plasticine melting heads. So Evil Dead decided to go all out. This movie will outdo any nightmares you have ever had and then some. The special effects aren’t over the top, which is great, as some horror movies abuse CGI to the point that scenes become laughable.
Evil Dead uses prosthetics and CGI to create a horrifying menagerie of blood, guts and gore. Some of the most disturbing images in the movie include a young woman pulling her arm from underneath an overturned jeep and an apparently dead girl, wrapped in a plastic bag talking to her brother… who is burying her. It’s an amazing remake that will ensure you require a spare pair of underpants. RT: 61%
2. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Influenced by some of the greatest horror movies of all time and the directorial debut of Rob Zombie himself, House of 1000 Corpses is a horror movie set in the deep south of America. A group of overly optimistic teenagers are aiming to write a book on roadside attractions on the good ol’ U.S. of A. when things take a very grim turn for the worse.
The group meet Captain Spalding (Sid Haig, pictured above) and the Firefly family. The eerie production of the movie only adds to the twisted themes, incestuous characters and mangled creatures that make House of 1000 Corpses a unique horror experience. Critically, this movie has been harshly dismantled, but it has an enormous cult following. RT: 19%
1. Dead Man’s Shoes (2006)
Shane Meadows’ writing and directing style is distinctive to say the very least. It’s gritty and realistic and makes audiences face their fears head on. Dead Man’s Shoes is the furthest away from a typical horror movie on the list… but it is certainly a movie that will do more than make you jump.
Richard (Paddy Considine, who co-wrote the movie) and his mentally challenged brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell) return to their home town to cause bloodshed. Dead Man’s Shoes takes a very simple premise and turns it on its head. Suspenseful, difficult to watch and gripping, Dead Man’s Shoes is a must watch and is possibly the best British movie in years.