10 Modern Horror Movies Shaking Up the Genre
A Quiet Place opens in theaters today (Friday 6 April), and stars real-life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski as Evelyn and Lee Abbott, a mom and dad who must bring up their kids in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.
Like horror movies Don't Look Now or The Shining, it taps into long-held fears that linger long after we've stopped clutching at our armrests. It's also the latest in a recent crop of terrifying films that have sought to expand the horror genre, adding in comedy, grief, satire, dystopian futures, and psychological thrills.
Below is a list of the 10 best genre-bending modern horror movies.
10. Ghost Stories (2018)
This one's a bit of a cheat, as it really is three stories wrapped up into one movie. Andy Nyman stars as a famed TV skeptic who's forced to consider three tales that just can't be explained by natural forces: a driver stranded in the woods (Alex Lawther), a depressive nightwatchman (Paul Whitehouse), and a shotgun-toting toff (Martin Freeman). The weird Wicker Man and Hammer horror elements make it no surprise that one of the co-directors is one of comedy troupe The League of Gentlemen.
9. It Comes At Night (2017)
The title of this film certainly suggests straight up horror, but that wouldn't do justice to this claustrophobic tale. Part horror, part post-apocalyptic chiller, it tells the story of two families coming together and falling apart in the aftermath of a virus that's wiped out mankind.
8. A Ghost Story (2017)
You'd have to be in a very strange state of mind to be frightened of the ghost in this film, but that doesn't mean horror didn't play a part in filmmaker David Lowery's vision. "I wanted to engage with the archetypes and iconography of ghost films and haunted house movies, without ever crossing over into actually being a horror film," he told The Guardian. "Look at any horror film and you can trace it back to a particular social or personal anxiety, and this film is no different."
7. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2015)
Ana Lily Amirpour's debut has been billed as the first Iranian vampire Western ever made, but we think it might be the only one too. It covers classic vampire territory, but mixed in is a Morricone-inspired soundtrack, gorgeous black and white cinematography, and a touching love story too.
6. Cabin in the Woods (2012)
This collaboration between director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon is a smart and immensely entertaining deconstruction of the horror genre, without losing any of its tension or jump-out-of-your-seat scares.
5. It Follows (2014)
This film by writer-director David Robert Mitchell confirms a long-held, nameless fear, just as all good horror movies do — namely, that having sex with your new boyfriend will end up with you being unwillingly inducted into a supernatural death cult. Okay, so maybe that's a little too specific, but it's fair to say the idea of a fatal curse at the heart of this film taps into a kind of primal anxiety. Oh, and it's a coming-of-age film too.
4. The Witch (2016)
Robert Eggers' directorial debut transports audiences to a more God-fearing age, when witchcraft wasn't a joke (and neither was a talking goat). It's set in the Puritan era and revolves around a family excommunicated by their flock and forced to settle on the edge of a dark dark wood. And it's heart-stompingly terrifying, though how much of the horror is supernatural and how much is down to human foibles is blurred.
3. Personal Shopper (2016)
More ghost story than horror, this film about a Parisian fashion assistant (Kristen Stewart) coming to terms with her brother's death and her own mortality has its frightening moments nonetheless. There are the "signs" from her dead twin brother, for instance, so when a stalker starts texting her, we're not sure if they're living or dead.
2. The Babadook (2014)
Writer-director Jennifer Kent's feature debut is really two films in one: on the one hand, it's a terrifying film about a spindly-fingered, top-hatted figure from a sinister children's book, and on the other, it's a heartbreaking tale of a mother and son trying to cope after the death of their husband and father.
1. Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele's story of an African-American photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) meeting his white girlfriend's liberal parents was full of satirical jabs and even laugh-out-loud moments, but it was also laced with genuine menace. It's not just white people who black people have to fear; there's also the "Sunken Place," a state of being that radicalizes Alien's famous mantra "in space no-one can hear you scream," and embodies our ever-present fears of being maginalized and silenced.
Have we missed one?