2021 may have been a long, exhausting year, but it has provided a bounty of great horror films – most of them available at home! According to my Letterboxd account, I watched a record 251 films in 2021, which made picking a top 10 nearly impossible, so I have picked 31 of the best horror films... and one extra just for the nostalgic factor.
THE BEST HORROR MOVIES
Malignant - James Wan's return to horror was an ode to Giallo cinema and his best, craziest film with the best reveal in a decade.
Titane - This French killer thriller with an outlandish premise isn't for everyone but it's stunningly original, brutal, and ultimately, a cathartic wild ride.
Psycho Goreman - PG captures the outlandish fun and eccentricity of hardcore 80s creature features and blends it with the ultimate mean girl from hell.
Candyman - Thoughtfully composed reimagining gets everything right, looks amazing, and features a stellar black cast.
Last Night In Soho - Hypnotic 60's mirth transforms into a haunting mystery of homicide, broken dreams, and the girl who sees too much is this gorgeous London set thriller.
Werewolves Within - The perfect ensemble cast vibrates with charm and humor, making werewolves relevant again, and this a very funny movie.
Sator - A labor of one man's love for horror sci-fi and a discovered real life connection make this a chilling, haunting film that stays with you when you get the whole back story.
Antlers - A moody, dark fable based on Pacific Northwest folklore is captured in this well-produced, straight-forward classic horror movie.
The Night House - An unfolding mystery and ghosts entertain in this harrowing, elegant film that is a deeply personal exploration of loss.
The Vigil - Every moment of this dreadful, terrifying film evokes the mysteries of death intertwined with the disquieting solitude and dead silence of night.
THE BEST FOREIGN FRIGHTS
In the Earth - Atmospheric eco-horror fable is a wildly unpredictable & trippy film.
The Feast - While slow to get to the point, the gut punch is unbelievable.
Gaia - A sorrowful journey into the forest leads one woman to confront ancient ways.
The Medium - Starts like a Thai documentary then turns a corner into horror hysteria.
No One Gets Out Alive - Social commentary gives way to something unexpected.
The Queen of Black Magic - Old curses yield a dark, gory, and hellish night for a family.
THE BEST WEIRD TRIPS
Come True - Cronenbergian horror-scifi that gives creepy nightmare visuals.
Saint Maud - The lord works in mysterious ways and demands a lot of sacrifice.
The Night - Twilight Zone-like Iranian film set in an L.A. Art Deco hotel
Censor - Doing good work is downright maddening in this dreamy, 80s-set UK film.
Lamb - Rooted in Icelandic folklore this doltish slow burn gets darker by the minute.
The Old Ways - Magic and superstition abound in this demonic reckoning story.
THE BEST HORROR COMEDIES
Bloody Hell - A hilarious hanging hunk gets cathartic revenge in this Australian gem.
Vicious Fun - 80s set satire of serial killer movies is perfect fun.
Slaxx - Leave it to Canada to come up with the outlandish, entertaining comedy about killer jeans.
Slumber Party Massacre - Clever slasher reimagined with capable women & lots of guy eye-candy.
Fear Street: 1994 - 90s set slasher is fun, often funny, gory, and a must-see horror fans.
NOSTALGIC PICKS (For Fans Only)
Okay these picks are may not be the greatest movies but they are bold, brash, big budget juggernauts of popcorn fun. For fans of horror movies they are like visiting an old friend.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife - A fun & touching sequel to the first two films gets it just right
Godzilla Vs. King Kong - Big monsters clash, destroy stuff, and entertain the hell out of you.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It - Always good to visit with The Warrens.
A Quiet Place, Part II - A good continuation of the first film even if its just a middle chapter.
Halloween Kills - Also suffers being a middle chapter but shockingly brutal and bonkers. And I know audiences/critics/dogs hated Halloween Kills but the eerie Halloween atmosphere, nostalgic callbacks, and MICHAEL (!!!) are all bewitching. Let the haters hate and bring on Halloween Ends already!
OTHER NOTABLE HORROR MOVIES
Bacurau, Silent Night, The Advent Calendar, The Deep House, Seance, We Need To Do Something, Jakob's Wife, Blood Red Sky, Oxygen, Wrong Turn: Foundations, Benny Loves You, Boys from County Hell, The Power
THE BEST HORROR-ADJACENT MOVIES
These films don't fit the horror genre tenets but they often feel like horror movies or concern horror or suspense-like themes.
The Green Knight - The epic medieval fantasy and coming of age tale is extraordinarily beautiful, and at the center is a fairly terrifying nature demon.
Promising Young Woman - A deeply impactful revenge tale with an iconic performance by Carey Mulligan was not widely available in 2020 and finally made a 2021 debut.
The Humans - Imagine, if you will, a family Thanksgiving dinner in New York filmed as horror film with unexpected jump scares, ceaseless dread, and a fantastic cast.
No Man of God - The charismatic Ted Bundy is the focus of this riveting character piece with two fantastic lead performances.