Some of the best horror movies in recent history were released throughout 2016. Depending on the year, it can be difficult creating a Top 10 list of the best horror movies because of a lack of great content; 2016 is not one of those years. Last year was such a great one for the horror genre that many high-quality films, like Don’t Breathe and Ouija: Origin of Evil, didn’t make the list. The litany of horror movies was so superb in 2016 that most of the titles below could easily be argued as deserving the No. 1 spot.
10. Lights Out
This ghost story is a buffet for jump-scare tactics that fill its 81-minute runtime from beginning to end. Not only did the filmmakers make horror tropes from yesteryear feel new again, but they also gave us a story to actually care about. You’ve seen this type of film before, but rarely are similar horror movies this suspenseful and satisfying.
It’s been a long time since there was a shark movie that was actually scary, or at least suspenseful. In fact, one could easily argue that there hasn’t been one since the Jaws franchise (no offense, Deep Blue Sea). And while this may not be Jaws, it is genuinely suspenseful and a whole lot of fun. Most of the film is a one-woman show performed by Blake Lively, and she hits it out of the park! The majority of critics and audiences rightfully loved The Shallows and appreciated it for what it is—a really good monster movie.
8. Phantasm V: Ravager
Nearly 40 years after the 1979 original was released, horror fans were treated in 2016 to the fifth and final (presumably) addition to this iconic franchise. This is a must-watch for longtime fans of horror movies. What gives a horror franchise staying power is the quality of the featured villain. There wouldn’t be a litany of Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street movies if Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger didn’t scare or entertain people. And Phantasm’s Tall Man deserves to be ranked among the best of horror baddies.
Sadly, Angus Scrimm passed away in 2016 at the age of 89. The legendary actor was able to treat horror fans with a final performance as Tall Man, and neither his performance nor the movie was a disappointment. Phantasm: Ravager successfully delivered the same witty horror in this addition that made the original movies so popular.
7. Under the Shadow
This international horror film is, at times, terrifying. Even if movies with subtitles aren’t your thing, you should make an exception and treat yourself to this horror masterpiece. Critics and audiences alike raved for the picture, and RogerEbert explains why it’s one of the scariest horror movies of 2016.
“When the background noise drops out, the silence is deafening. Something terrible is happening. The chaos in the outside world infiltrates the interior. Under the Shadow, a Farsi-language debut feature written and directed by Babak Anvari, creates a world where reality itself is suspect. In a year filled with great first features, add Under the Shadow to the list.”
6. The Autopsy of Jane Doe
This film’s plot is simple and straightforward: a father and son run a local morgue, and when a mysterious corpse arrives, supernatural chaos ensues. Strong performances paired with brilliant nuances make this feature a cut above other paranormal horror movies from 2016. The imagery of Jane Doe on the coroners’ table, with her blank eyes wide-open, is simply chilling. The filmmakers also did a great job with the climax and resolution of the story; they gave horror fans a unique explanation to the evil happenings, and that’s hard to accomplish these days.
5. The Monster
A mother and daughter try to survive the night when their car breaks down leaving them stranded, and a mysterious monster starts stalking them.
This film did an amazing job with the characters’ back story, giving the audience a reason to care and cheer them on. The Monster is as dramatic as it is intense, building to a climax that pays off. Monster movies are often silly or feel generic; this one is absolutely terrifying and brilliantly unique.
4. Green Room
Where both Patrick Stewart and the late Anton Yelchin gave us fun-filled entertainment throughout the Star Trek universe, they provided us with absolute terror in Green Room. This is one of the most highly-rated horror movies from 2016, and the praises are well deserved. Made in the same vein as horror movies like Last House on the Left and The Collector, this is a brutally violent movie. But unlike movies that use gore needlessly, the violence has purpose; the bloodshed adds to the realism and intensity of the film.
3. The Witch
This slow-burn tale is a throwback to horror movies from years gone by like The Exorcist, and The Witch is just as frightening. At no point does the audience feel at ease during this story of the macabre. There’s no subtle humor or quick one-liners to give us a breather in between all of the intensity, just pure drama and horror. The film has a stunning score of 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and the site’s Critics Consensus describes why this is one of the best horror movies of 2016.
“As thought-provoking as it is visually compelling, The Witch delivers a deeply unsettling exercise in slow-building horror that suggests great things for debuting writer-director Robert Eggers.”
2. 10 Cloverfield Lane
John Goodman is an amazing actor; he’s starred in movies where the audience wants to hug his character. He’s given us countless laugh-out-loud moments in TV shows and on the big screen. And he’s scared us in films like Barton Fink and Fallen. But he has never been more terrifying than in this 2016 blockbuster film produced by J.J. Abrams.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead also gave a powerful performance that transcends the screen; when she feels scared the audience believes her, thus making them feel scared too. And though it’s not a direct sequel to Cloverfield, the (very) subtle nuances that link the two films together in the Cloverfield universe are brilliant.
The next paragraph contains minor spoilers for the movie. So if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to move on to the final title on the list.
This movie brilliantly works as a horror flick on many levels. Most of the film is a claustrophobic thriller featuring a psychotic killer. The movie finishes by transcending into a sci-fi nightmare featuring aliens. And somehow it all works smoothly, leaving fans wanting more additions to this strange series.
A deaf and mute woman lives in seclusion, and unfortunately, a masked lunatic stumbled upon her home.
Exclusively distributed by Netflix, coming in at the top spot on the list is Hush. The best horror movies are often those that suck us into the film, making the audience feel like a spectator, and that’s exactly what Hush does. This cat-and-mouse story between the killer and his would-be victim is likely to have you on the edge of your seat. Similar to movies like Wait Until Dark and Sorry, Wrong Number, Hush pays homage to films from long ago, while adding unique ingredients allowing it to stand on its own.
TheFrightFile perfectly explains why this is the best horror film of 2016.
“So tense and involving as to make everyone watching a flinching, wincing, cheering participant, Hush ought to join the best works of Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter and Brian De Palma as a future teaching tool in genre film courses. This is how it’s done.”
OTHER HORROR MOVIE ARTICLES FROM THE INQUISITR
Whether you approve of this Top 10 list or disapprove, there is one thing all genre fans can agree on; 2016 was an amazing year for horror movies.
[Featured Image by Paramount Pictures]