Best of the Decade: Horror

This is a series called “Best of the Decade.” It’s a list including 10 movies that I found to be the best in a specific genre from 2010-2019.

If I had to describe the direction horror took in the past decade, I’d say it was revolutionary. There has been a lot of creative horror and thriller films from the last 10 years, and it doesn’t look to stop any time soon. Here were my favorites.

The Crazies (2010)

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The only remake on the list, “The Crazies” was a great modernized version of the 1973 film with the same name. The movie is somewhat reminiscent of zombie movies, but the infected people in this film come across as far more aggressive, boosting the intensity.

Making the film even more thrilling is the inclusion of the military and secret agency that’s trying to cover up the situation. They’re just as dangerous, if not more so, than the infected people. The film is really benefited from a great lead performance from Timothy Olyphant. All of the characters are likable, though, and don’t become annoying horror caricatures.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

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Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon teamed up for a really impressive feature with “Cabin in the Woods.” The film strikes the perfect balance between being satirical and scary.

The film properly builds up the suspense and thrills for the lead characters, but also explores and takes jabs at the genre. While the lead characters going through the situation are great, what really steals the show are the operations at the horror movie office. The movie is all capped off with an amazing final 20 minutes.

Happy Death Day (2017)

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Being another PG-13 rated horror, I was expecting a rather forgettable genre entry with “Happy Death Day.” I was wrong. While this movie definitely would have been helped by making the deaths here more R-rated, it was still a fantastic, fun, slasher flick.

Jessica Rothe does great work portraying a character who goes through a solid character arc. The film is also reminiscent of “Groundhog Day,” so much so that it references it.

It doesn’t come across like a rip-off, though, and instead feels more like a genre picture paying homage. It’s funny and has just enough suspense to be a really enjoyable film in the genre.

A Quiet Place (2018)

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John Krasinski has a comedic background but went with a horror approach in this film which he directed and starred in. The film is all built on a family trying to survive and avoid aliens that can track prey by sound.

There’s a lot of clever strategies the family takes to not make a sound. For example, right from the start some of the only food left on store shelves are potato chips.

While there are a few aspects that don’t really make much sense in the long run, such as the two main characters deciding to have a baby in the middle of the apocalypse, the film still works really well. It keeps an audience in suspense and doesn’t let up.

The Conjuring (2013)

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Forget about all of the sequels. Scratch out the prequels. Looking back at “The Conjuring” when it was just a single movie and not a franchise, it holds up as an exceptional haunted house horror film.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are very well cast as Ed and Lorraine Warren. While the real life Warrens were total frauds, the married couple in the movie are likable and an audience can root for them.

The family being haunted are also well done here. They’re not ignorant or take unnecessary risks. They’re reasonable people who go to the Warrens after all of the other options are expended.

With a solid group of characters and a good creepy house for a setting, “The Conjuring ” was already in good shape. It also helped that the film had director James Wan, who really knows how to keep an audience engaged.

It (2017)

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While the second part of “It,” which came out this year, was a rather mixed bag, the first installment worked really well.

The young performers do phenomenal work in portraying the group of characters who’re traumatized by evil. These characters are really what make the whole thing work, their interactions are convincing and they’re a fun group to follow.

While the movie could have traded some of the CGI moments for actual practical effects, many of the fear heavy moments are still quite effective. Pennywise the clown also has some goofy moments, but works for the most part.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

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This movie went sorely overlooked and it definitely deserves to be watched more. The film is a superb psychological thriller, with an amazing performance from Elizabeth Olsen.

The film does great work in exploring Olsen’s character, as she has difficulty figuring out what’s real and what’s not. The supporting cast is well rounded with Sarah Paulson and John Hawkes. The latter is phenomenal as a menacing cult leader.

Hereditary (2018)

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“Hereditary” is an easy choice for this list because it’s easily one of the best horror films of recent memory. Full of shocking moments and intense family drama, “Hereditary” keeps an audience uncomfortable through its whole runtime.

The acting, especially from Toni Collette in the lead role, is fantastic, and the direction by Ari Aster is brilliant. There’s artistic flair in this dark tale and it’s quite scary.

It Follows (2015)

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“It Follows” is a such a fun and suspenseful thriller. It incorporates several aspects from 80s slashers, but it doesn’t feel like it’s just playing on nostalgia.

The best part of the film is how it keeps an audience on the edge of their seat by having shots where viewers can see what’s in the background. As a result, the viewer is always left to wonder if a person in the background is simply a passerby or is the haunting spirit.

Get Out (2017)

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Jordan Peele was another individual with a comedic background who moved to the horror genre recently. His debut, which he wrote and directed, was “Get Out.”

The film was fantastic, and deservedly won an Academy Award for the screenplay. The film is scary, witty and even a little bit funny, all while including social commentary. The film especially benefits from award caliber performances from Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams, as well as a strong supporting cast including Bradley Whitford and Lil Rey Howery.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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