After enduring the worst summer at the box office in recent memory, the powers that be in the film industry would be forgiven, if they didn’t have a glass-half-full approach to the backend of 2017. The summer season resulted in about $3.8 billion in domestic box office sales, representing a staggering 14.6% decline from the previous year. Given that nightmarish reality, it’s only fitting that the horror genre would be the hero Hollywood needed.
Almost by accident, we are entering what’s being called the “golden age” of horror films. From big-budget studio projects like “It,” to small-scale indie films like “Get Out,” scary movies really cashed in at the box office and scored big with critics this year. By the start of November, horror movies had grossed over $1 billion in ticket sales, easily the most in history.
Still, how do this year’s horror films stack up against each other? To answer that question, we’ve created an index called the Stacker Score, which incorporates a movie’s IMDb Rating, Metascore, and Tomatometer. In order to qualify, a movie had to have available ratings for all three score components and at least 1,000 IMDb votes.
Among the top five horror films of the year are two Stephen King adaptations — the aforementioned “It” and “Gerald’s Game;” the latter was released on Netflix. The rest of the bunch features ill-conceived sequels (“Rings”), comedy-horror hybrids (“Dave Made a Maze”), and perhaps the most polarizing movie of the year (“Mother!”).
Stacker Score: 25.75
IMBD Rating: 4.1
With a rare 0% Tomatometer rating, “The Gracefield Incident” secures the worst Stacker Score of the field. This film follows a group of friends on a weekend cabin trip, when a nearby meteor crash unleashes havoc. Filmed from the point of view of the protagonist — who captures the action using a self-inserted camera in his prosthetic eye (seriously) — “The Gracefield Incident” is the latest entry in the long list of movies that have tried, yet failed to replicate the success and style of “The Blair Witch Project,” (1999).
Stacker Score: 26.25
IMBD Rating: 4.5
Another film that was shot out by the Tomatometer, “Eloise” is about a group of friends who misguidedly break into an insane asylum called Eloise in order to find a death certificate that would grant one of them a hefty inheritance. In the abandoned building that contains terrors none of them could have imagined, the team gets more than they bargained for, unsurprisingly. For the most part, “Eloise” is as routine a horror movie as it gets, and was described by Dennis Harvey (Variety) as “reasonably slick but empty.”
Stacker Score: 30.50
IMBD Rating: 4.5
“Rings” is the third installment of “The Ring” series, which includes “The Ring” and “The Ring Two” starring Naomi Watts. Set 13 years after the events of “The Ring,” the latest edition centers on Julia, whose boyfriend becomes involved with a group obsessed with the notorious, cursed video from the first two films. In order to save him, Julia watches the tape herself, and the pair is stuck in a race against the clock, to rid themselves of Samara’s deadly curse. Lenika Cruz (The Atlantic) wrote a review of “Rings” titled “Rings Would Be Better Off at the Bottom of a Well,” and that’s really all you need to know about this sequel, which still managed to pull in over $83 million worldwide on a $25 million budget.
Stacker Score: 33.00
IMBD Rating: 5.0
Despite featuring a talented cast led by Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Kiefer Sutherland, “Flatliners,” — a remake of the 1990 film of the same name — well, fell flat with critics and audiences (we’re sorry). The movie is about a group of medical students who share a curiosity of the afterlife. This proves costly after they undergo dangerous experiments, using a defibrillator to temporarily stop their heartbeats, resulting in them experiencing haunting visions that put their own lives in peril. “Flatliners” made over $33 million worldwide, on a $19 million budget.
Stacker Score: 33.75
IMBD Rating: 5.2
Based on the popular 2007 novel of the same name, “The Snowman” should have worked as a major motion picture. Set in harsh winter, it stars Michael Fassbender as Detective Harry Hoyle, sent to investigate the crimes of a serial killer known as “The Snowman.” The film was derided for its lack of clarity and scattered plotline; a surprise given the track record of director Tomas Alfredson, who previously helmed tight, acclaimed thrillers such as “Let the Right One In,” (2008) and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” (2011). “The Snowman” made only $6.7 million domestically and $36.4 million worldwide, on a $35 million budget.
Stacker Score: 36.50
IMBD Rating: 4.3
“The Bye Bye Man” posits the question that there is one singular, evil being, the Bye Bye Man, responsible for all of the horrible things that occur throughout the world. Once his name enters a person’s mind, they are doomed. The film follows a group of friends who discover the terrible truth and must fight against the Bye Bye Man in order to survive. Though it was criticized for its largely formulaic and uninspiring plot, “The Bye Bye Man” performed well ($26.7 million worldwide) for its modest $7 million budget.
Stacker Score: 37.75
IMBD Rating: 5.1
The plot of “Wish Upon” sounds like a mash-up of “The Box” and “Final Destination.” When 17-year-old Clare finds a magical music box that grants her seven wishes, she becomes hooked on getting everything she ever wanted. However there’s a catch — each time a wish is granted, someone in her life dies in dramatic and complex ways. “Wish Upon” is directed by John R. Leonetti, who helmed the 2014 hit horror movie “Annabelle,” which pulled in over $256 million on a mere $6.5 million budget. “Wish Upon” didn’t fare nearly as well, making $20.7 million worldwide on a $12 million budget.
Stacker Score: 38.50
IMBD Rating: 4.6
“Ghost House” is basically a film meant to warn any would-be naive tourists from doing anything that might upset the locals. The film follows a young, American couple vacationing in Thailand who unwittingly upsets a demonic spirit which haunts them as they try to escape. Bemoaned by Justin Lowe of the Hollywood Reporter for its cultural and creative appropriation, “Ghost House” was labeled “too foolish to be frightening.”
Stacker Score: 40.00
IMBD Rating: 4.9
In what’s remarkably the 10th installment of the “Amityville” film series, “Amityville: The Awakening” is framed in the “real world,” whereas the previous films are all works of fiction. “Awakening,” follows a family that moves into the infamous 112 Ocean Avenue, where the real-life murders committed by Ronald DeFeo Jr. took place in 1974. The family soon becomes haunted, proving that the horrors of the previous films aren’t as fictional as they originally thought. The Weinstein Company produced the film which in its opening weekend pulled in a mere $742 domestically. It was released shortly after the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein came to light.
Stacker Score: 40.75
IMBD Rating: 4.7
“Jackals” is about a cult deprogrammer who is called upon by a family to rescue its son from a deadly cult. In the midst of trying to cure the boy, the cultists come to reclaim their former member. John DeFore of the Hollywood Reporter called the film “competent but completely forgettable,” which isn’t the worst thing to say about a movie, but certainly not the best thing to say either.
Stacker Score: 43.50
IMBD Rating: 4.7
“The Vault” follows a pair of bank-robbing sisters who, in pursuit of millions of dollars, unwittingly enter a haunted vault. In a positive review, Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times praised the film as a “gripping mystery, punctuated by gory violence.” “The Vault” stars Francesca Eastwood and Taryn Manning, with an appearance from James Franco.
Stacker Score: 43.75
IMBD Rating: 4.6
Based on the Japanese Manga of the same name, “Death Note” is about a high school student who finds a notebook that brings death to anybody whose name is written in it. The film was released on Netflix to mixed reviews, and stars Nat Wolff as protagonist, Light Turner and Willem Dafoe as Ryuk, a demonic god of death.
Stacker Score: 43.75
IMBD Rating: 5.1
The eighth film in the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise, “Leatherface” serves as a prequel to the 1974 original horror classic. It is an origin story of sorts for the titular character, who becomes the primary villain in previous installments of the series. “Leatherface” stars Sam Strike as Leatherface and Stephen Dorff as a Texas Ranger in pursuit of the murderous Sawyer family.
Stacker Score: 45.25
IMBD Rating: 5.2
Inspired by the ‘Phoenix Lights,’ — a mass reported UFO sighting that occurred in Phoenix on March 13, 1997 — “Phoenix Forgotten” revolves around the disappearance of three teenagers who set out to discover the truth about the event. The film relies on found-footage style camerawork and barely made an impact at the box office; making $3.6 million on a $2.8 million budget. Like “The Gracefield Incident,” “Phoenix Forgotten” was unfavorably compared to “The Blair Witch Project” and failed to make a positive impact on critics.
Stacker Score: 46.75
IMBD Rating: 5.6
“VooDoo” is about a young Southern girl named Dani who moves to Los Angeles to escape her mysterious past. As the film unfolds, we learn that her past involves an affair with a married man. The problem with this is that man’s wife is a voodoo priestess who, for revenge, is out to curse Dani. In his review for RogerEbert.com, Simon Abrams praised the “intoxicatingly deranged” depiction of Hell that makes up most of the finale.
Stacker Score: 48.50
IMBD Rating: 6.2
Seven years after the release of “Saw 3D” — which was presented as the finale of the gory “Saw” franchise — comes “Jigsaw,” which picks up about 10 years after the Jigsaw killer from the previous films has died. The plot focuses on the investigation of a new series of murders that resembles Jigsaw’s modus operandi. “Jigsaw” drew lackluster reviews but scored well at the box office, making $79.3 million worldwide compared to a $10 million budget.
Stacker Score: 55.00
IMBD Rating: 5.7
“47 Meters Down” — the surprise, small-budget, summer hit starring Mandy Moore — is about two sisters whose cave diving trip in Mexico goes horribly wrong when they are forced to fight for survival against a herd of sharks. The film cost $5.5 million but pulled in nearly $54 million internationally. That success has led to the announcement of a sequel, creatively titled “48 Meters Down,” set for a 2019 release.
Stacker Score: 57.00
IMBD Rating: 4.6
“XX” is an anthology film comprised of four vignettes, each by a different director. One of the entries, “The Birthday Party,” is directed by Annie Clark— better known by her musical stage name St. Vincent— in her directorial debut. All four stories are directed by women, and the film scored well with critics.
Stacker Score: 63.25
IMBD Rating: 6.6
“Life” follows a group of astronauts aboard the International Space Station as they are on the brink of discovering life on Mars. The organism proves to be hostile and more powerful than expected, putting the crew and humankind in danger. “Life” stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds, and made $100.5 million worldwide on a $58 million budget.
Stacker Score: 64.50
IMBD Rating: 6.6
In what’s basically a grizzly reboot of “Groundhog Day,” “Happy Death Day” centers on college student Theresa, who becomes trapped in a time loop on her birthday during which she is repeatedly murdered. After being killed, she wakes up each time, to start the whole day over again, and the only way out is to find her killer and prevent her death. “Happy Death Day” stars Jessica Rothe and was a hit at the box office, making $88.3 million on a mere, $4.8 million budget.
Stacker Score: 65.25
IMBD Rating: 6.2
“Dave Made a Maze” is a low-budget, genre-bending film about an artist who unwittingly builds a supernatural, dangerous maze out of cardboard boxes, in his living room. The plot focuses on his girlfriend, Annie, as she assembles a team to go in and rescue him. Meera Rohit Kumbhani stars as Annie, while Nick Thune plays Dave in what Justin Lowe of the Hollywood Reporter described as “a likeably goofy creative achievement.”
Stacker Score: 66.00
IMBD Rating: 6.5
“Alien: Covenant” is the sixth installment in the “Alien” franchise, and the sequel to “Prometheus,” (2012). It stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride as members of an excavation crew in search of a remote planet to be used for colonization. Their mission is disrupted by the encounter of a hostile, extraterrestrial life-form. “Covenant” received generally positive reviews and made $240.7 million worldwide from a $97 million budget.
Stacker Score: 66.50
IMBD Rating: 6.7
“Annabelle: Creation” is a prequel to “Annabelle” (2014), depicting the possessed doll’s origin. Like its predecessor, “Creation” cost little to make ($15 million), and was a smash with audiences, scaring in over $305 million internationally. Collectively, the “Annabelle” films are part of the “Conjuring” film series, with a fifth installment — “The Nun” — set to be released in 2018.
Stacker Score: 67.00
IMBD Rating: 6.3
Based on Melanie Joosten’s novel of the same name, “Berlin Syndrome” is about a young, female tourist in Germany who has a one-night stand that turns into a nightmare—the man traps her and keeps her prisoner in his house. The film follows her attempts at escape and also scored well with critics.
Stacker Score: 71.25
IMBD Rating: 7.1
In one of the most controversial movies in recent memory, this Darren Aronofsky-directed film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem whose calm, rural life together is jolted by the unexpected arrival of a mysterious couple. The disturbing plot of this Arthouse Film rubbed audiences the wrong way, although “Mother!” scored well with critics. Coming from the director who has made movies like “Requiem for a Dream” and “Black Swan,” generating such a strong reaction is not a total shock.
Stacker Score: 71.50
IMBD Rating: 6.4
Based on the Stephen King novella of the same name, “1922” is about a rancher who, with his teenage son, plots to murder his wife for financial gain. It stars Thomas Jane (lead) and was released on Netflix in October.
Stacker Score: 72.75
IMBD Rating: 6.2
In this post-apocalyptic thriller, “It Comes at Night” centers on a family of survivors who take another family into their home. The two sides form an allegiance to keep the unknown evil outside, while distrust festers within the house. “It Comes at Night” stars Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott and Carmen Ejogo, and made $19.3 million on a $2.3 million budget.
Stacker Score: 75.50
IMBD Rating: 6.8
Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, “Gerald’s Game” is about a couple’s sex game gone horribly wrong. The two are on a romantic, weekend getaway at a remote cabin. While Jessie is handcuffed to the bed, Gerald suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving Jessie trapped. Tasha Robinson of The Verge described the film as one of the best Stephen King movies, adapted from one of his worst books.
Stacker Score: 77.00
IMBD Rating: 7.9
In “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” Colin Farrell plays a renowned cardiovascular surgeon, whose connection to the son of a former patient has a drastic effect on his family. The film is one of mystery and revenge that earned favorable reviews from critics. “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is the second pairing of Farrell and Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, who previously teamed up in “The Lobster,” (2015).
Stacker Score: 77.75
IMBD Rating: 7.8
“It” is the second adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel, and is the poster child for the current swell of success in the horror film genre. With a worldwide gross of $683 million, “It” is the highest-grossing R-rated, horror movie of all time. That’s the second-highest total of any R-rated film, only trailing “Deadpool” ($783 million, 2016). The film is about children in small-town Derry, Maine, who are stalked by “It” — an evil being that takes the form of each child’s worst fear.
Stacker Score: 83.50
IMBD Rating: 7.5
In the latest effort from acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water” is a fantasy horror film about a mute woman named Elisa, who works as a janitor in a government laboratory. She discovers the classified secret of the lab: a large, scaly, aquatic creature. The two form a bond, and Elisa tries to save the creature from a dark fate. “The Shape of Water” stars Sally Weaver, Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer, and has been heralded as del Toro’s best film since “Pan’s Labyrinth.”
Stacker Score: 84.25
IMBD Rating: 7.7
This directorial debut from Jordan Peele — best known as half the comedy duo from Comedy Central’s sketch show, “Key & Peele” — examines race in an authentic, psychological horror setting. The film focuses on Chris, a black man, as he travels with his white girlfriend to meet her family for the first time at their isolated, countryside estate. Once there, he uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in which black people are being captured and held against their will. “Get Out” received widespread acclaim and was a rousing financial success, grossing over $253 million worldwide on a $4.5 million budget.