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Best horror movies from the last decade

  • Best horror movies from the last decade

    While franchise installments continue to populate the horror genre, the last decade has seen a wild uptick in terms of breadth and diversity. As such, the best horror films of the last 10 years incorporate a full spectrum of styles and influences. For example, “Get Out” works just as well as dark comedy or social commentary as it does classic horror. Then there’s the just-released “The Lighthouse,” which underscores psychological themes and art-house atmosphere with genuine horror tropes.

    Additionally, the last decade has seen the consistent emergence of what might be best described as underdog horror hits. Representing genuine vision and originality, movies such as “It Follows,” “The Witch,” and “Hereditary” made waves in the festival circuit before taking audiences by storm. In the process, they helped maintain an ongoing auteurist trend, which provides a much-needed counterpoint to the standard blockbuster and franchise fare. All the while, they still delivered the chills and thrills that audiences expect from the genre.

    Celebrating one of cinema’s purest pleasures, Stacker presents the best horror movies from the last decade. To create the list, Stacker compiled recently released data from Letterboxd—an online film database and cinephile community—on the highest-rated horror films of the decade. To qualify, the film had to be listed as "horror" on at least one of the other major movie databases (IMDb, Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.), released in the U.S. theatrically or on streaming services between Jan. 1, 2010 and October 2019, and watched by at least 1,000 Letterboxd users. Letterboxd scores are out of five. Any ties were broken by the number of votes.

    As one will soon discover, names like Jordan Peele, Ari Aster, Sion Sono, and Robert Eggers are at the forefront of the modern horror genre. Meanwhile, five female directors appear on the list: Ana Lily Amirpour, Julia Ducournau, Juliana Rojas, Anna Biller, and Jennifer Kent. Along similarly forward-thinking lines, the list is overflowing with international titles, from countries like South Korea, Japan, Iran, Mexico, Estonia, and others. Refusing to be pigeon-holed, the horror genre has arguably never been as diversified as it has been for the last decade.

    Genre can be tricky: We believe it helps describe and communicate the vibe of a film, not to serve as a limiting factor on what films can and cannot be. There are no hard and fast lines that define horror, and we, like Letterboxd, agree that leaning into more open interpretations of what fits into genres is best practice for getting a pool of films that represent all possible expressions of a particular genre. Every film on the list has been considered according to the cinematic history and development of horror. Without further delay, here are the best horror movies from the last decade.

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  • #50. The Babadook (2014)

    - Director: Jennifer Kent
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.51
    - Votes: 98,091
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 86
    - Runtime: 94 min

    While still grappling with a personal loss, a widow and her son battle a mythical storybook creature. Or is the seemingly real terror all in their heads? Inspired by films like “The Shining,” Jennifer Kent’s full-length directorial debut walks a fine line between the psychological and supernatural.

  • #49. Sleep Tight (2011)

    - Director: Jaume Balagueró
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.52
    - Votes: 4,892
    - IMDb user rating: 7.2
    - Metascore: 70
    - Runtime: 102 min

    The phrase “misery loves company” gets a film all its own with this Spanish psychological thriller, which was later remade in South Korea. Determined to spread his unhappiness to others, an apartment building concierge goes to disturbing extremes. It’s one among several beloved horror films from director Jaume Balagueró, who helped create the “REC” series.

  • #48. The Love Witch (2016)

    - Director: Anna Biller
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.53
    - Votes: 19,200
    - IMDb user rating: 6.2
    - Metascore: 82
    - Runtime: 120 min

    Paying homage to a bygone era of gothic horror, Anna Biller’s second full-length feature centers on a witch named Elaine. Equipped with various love spells and potions, Elaine seduces a string of men to disastrous results. Bringing the film’s influences further to life is a lush Technicolor-style palette.

  • #47. Under the Shadow (2016)

    - Director: Babak Anvari
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.54
    - Votes: 13,359
    - IMDb user rating: 6.9
    - Metascore: 84
    - Runtime: 84 min

    Set in 1980s Iran, this supernatural horror film goes down against a backdrop of perennial warfare. While coping with the real terrors outside their door, a mother and daughter must face a new enemy from within. It won a BAFTA Film Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

  • #46. Ready or Not (2019)

    - Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.54
    - Votes: 25,916
    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Metascore: 64
    - Runtime: 95 min

    When a young bride joins her new husband for a weekend with his wealthy in-laws, she ends up playing a deadly version of hide-and-seek. Fans of the short story (and subsequent film adaptations) “The Most Dangerous Game” will surely recognize the premise which gets upgraded with various twists and a comic sensibility. To date, the film has earned over $57 million worldwide on a reported budget of just $6 million.

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  • #45. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

    - Director: Drew Goddard
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.54
    - Votes: 112,612
    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Metascore: 72
    - Runtime: 95 min

    Drew Goddard’s cult classic sends five friends to a remote cabin in the woods, where they get picked off one by one. If it sounds like a generic slasher premise in the making—that’s exactly the point. Hovering just beyond the textbook surface is something far more creative and unique.

  • #44. The Guest (2014)

    - Director: Adam Wingard
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.55
    - Votes: 33,189
    - IMDb user rating: 6.7
    - Metascore: 76
    - Runtime: 100 min

    On the heels of the surprise hit “You’re Next,” director Adam Wingard returned to terrorize another family in a violent and comedic fashion. Their name is the Petersons and they experience a string of horrific events after bringing a young man into their home. As it turns out, the man has some twisted ideas about standing up for one’s self.

  • #43. The Conjuring (2013)

    - Director: James Wan
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.56
    - Votes: 101,153
    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Metascore: 68
    - Runtime: 112 min

    Delivering a lucrative jolt to the “exorcism” sub-genre, this hit horror flick kicked off an entire franchise. Set in 1971, it follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) as they investigate a haunting in Rhode Island. According to legend, the reportedly true story upon which this film is based is even scarier.

  • #42. The House That Jack Built (2018)

    - Director: Lars von Trier
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.57
    - Votes: 34,136
    - IMDb user rating: 6.8
    - Metascore: 42
    - Runtime: 152 min

    Lars von Trier’s controversial drama stars Matt Dillon as a serial killer named Jack, who recounts 12 years of unchecked murder and madness. Sparing no gruesome detail, it prompted outrage and walkouts as early as its Cannes debut.

  • #41. Bedevilled (2010)

    - Director: Jang Cheol-soo
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.58
    - Votes: 3,105
    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 115 min

    Hoping for a change of pace, a young bank employee visits her friend on the small island of Mudo. Once there, she discovers that the friend has been subject to brutal torture and abuse from various locals. It all paves the way for an attempted escape plan and gruesome revenge story in this South Korean horror thriller.

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