The horror genre has seen something of an uptick in recent years. That’s a good thing for the audience, as we’re getting a lot more great movies from it. Gone are the days of almost all of the wide-release horror movies in a given year being awful jump startle-filled disasters. And we’re getting more and more quality movies getting released directly on VOD or streaming services. It’s a great time to be a horror fan.
Here are the 10 best horror movies from 2015.
Imagine Jaws but with only two main characters – allowing them to be more richly defined – and a bear instead of a shark, and it takes place in the woods. That’s pretty much what Backcountry is. It follows a married couple who go for a hike, get lost, and wind up being hunted by a bear. That’s a solid premise if ever there was one, and it’s executed very well. It’s tense and atmospheric, and it has strong lead characters whom we want to see escape the ordeal.
Bone Tomahawk is a slow-burn Western-horror movie with some incredibly brutal scenes, fantastic acting, a strong script, and great atmosphere. It’s not so much scary as it is haunting – the type of movie that doesn’t aim to make you fearful during the moment but whose images will remain, unwanted, in your brain for several days afterward. You want to see someone scalped and bisected alive? Well, here you go.
Crimson Peak is a very enjoyable haunted house movie that has been made by Guillermo del Toro, one of the genre’s most visionary directors. Everything he’s done is worth checking out. The acting is great – it has a very strong cast – but it’s the visuals and the sense of atmosphere that really make it a joy to behold. Its characters are a bit shallow and the plot … well, it sure goes places, but it’s such a visual delight and an enjoyable ride that it’s hard to care too much.
The Editor is a tribute to giallo movies. You know, the Italian horror/mystery movies that are kind of inherently silly but still immensely fascinating? Yeah, it’s made in the style of those. It’s about a film editor who winds up the prime suspect in a series of murders happening on the film set on which he’s working. It looks trashy from start to finish. The gore effects are bad, the dubbing is bad, the lighting is … “interesting,” and the acting isn’t great. And that’s all part of the point. If you don’t find that fun, you won’t like the movie a bunch. But if you are a fan of giallo movies, you’re going to want to see it as soon as possible.
The Final Girls
The Final Girls is a slasher comedy that sees present-day teenagers transported into an ’80s slasher movie and watches them have to deal with that. As such, it gets plenty of time to make fun of slashers from that time period, since these teens watch and make fun of them. But it also delivers on the horror. It’s the type of movie that Scream made possible, but it does enough to differentiate itself from its inspiration.
Goodnight Mommy is an Austrian movie about twins whose “mother” returns from facial surgery, bandage fully around her head, and acting different from how she acted before the surgery. They decide this woman is an impostor, tie her up and, in effect, torture her for the rest of the film. It’s bleak, it’s dark, and it’s scary. Probably even more so because the perpetrators are children. And it’s in German.
It Follows has a very fun premise. There is this being – “it,” and that has nothing to do with the sewer clown – that stalks you until you have sex, which passes “it” along to your partner. “It” will then stalk that person until another pass happens – and “it” does so by taking the form of various people; some you know, while others you don’t. This happens indefinitely. Our protagonist has to figure out how to deal with that, and if it’s worth condemning another person to save yourself. The film is effective due to the way it portrays “it.” The entity will only slowly walk toward you. It’s the impending sense of doom. And director David Robert Mitchell does such a good job of building the atmosphere.
Knock Knock is too silly to take seriously as a horror movie, but I definitely believe that was intentional. It’s about a family man, alone for the weekend in his big house, being propositioned by two young women, eventually giving into them, and then being tortured by them – both physically and psychologically – for the rest of the film. They won’t leave, they mess up his wife’s art, they claim to be underage – and that’s just to start. It’s funny, it’s got some tense moments, and it has a hilariously over-the-top performance from Keanu Reeves as the lead.
The rule of thumb is that the first weekend of December is given to a bad horror movie. I don’t know why we decided this, but it’s been the case more years than not. Krampus was released on the first weekend of December. It surprised us by being pretty solid. It’s nothing special, but it delivers enough thrills and a decent atmosphere. It follows a family around Christmastime as Krampus haunts them, for reasons that don’t really matter. It’s effective and even has a few good laughs.
Unfriended feels truly original. It’s a movie that takes place almost exclusively on a computer screen, over Skype. Something is haunting a bunch of teenagers, picking them off one by one, and the others can’t do anything about it because they’re all just on a computer. It has a couple of good kills and the teens feel authentic. Mostly, though, it has this novelty going for it that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before it.