The 35 Best Horror Movies on Hulu Ranked (May 2022)

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The 35 Best Horror Movies on Hulu Ranked (May 2022)

In terms of comparing the major streaming services, it’s easy to think of Hulu as “the TV-focused one,” but that’s not entirely fair—the service also has a healthy number of movies at any given time, although its overall library is nowhere near the size of Netflix’s or (especially) Amazon Prime’s. Still, horror geeks who happen to have a Hulu subscription actually have access to a surprisingly large library of quality films.

Kudos to Hulu for eventually creating a horror-specific subcategory instead of “horror and suspense” jumbled together into one category that contained the likes of both The Babadook and Snowden. Now at least everything you see when you visit the “horror” tab makes sense being there. Unfortunately, as we progress through 2021, Hulu has also lost some solid titles they had access to fairly recently, including The Monster Squad or A Quiet Place, but they’ve replaced them with other solid selections. In fact, our Hulu horror list is now the same length as our Netflix one, and it has three entries from our list of the best horror movies of 2021.

After reading about the top horror movies on Hulu, you may also want to consult the following horror-centric lists:

The 100 best horror films of all time.
The 100 best vampire movies of all time.
The 50 best zombie movies of all time.
The 50 best horror movies on Amazon Prime
The 50 best movies about serial killers
The 50 best slasher movies of all time
The 50 best ghost movies of all time
The 35 Best Horror Movies Streaming on Netflix
The 50 best horror movies streaming on Shudder
The 50 Best Movies About Serial Killers

So without any further ado, here are the 35 best horror movies streaming on Hulu:

1. Let the Right One In

3. let the right one in (Custom).jpg Year: 2008
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Stars: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, Peter Carlberg
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

Watch on Hulu

Vampires may have become cinema’s most overdone, watered-down horror villains, aside from zombies, but leave it to a Swedish novelist and filmmaker to reclaim frightening vampires by producing a novel and film that turned the entire genre on its head. Let the Right One In centers around the complicated friendship and quasi-romantic relationship between 12-year-old outcast Oskar and Eli, a centuries-old vampire trapped in the body of an androgynous (although ostensibly female) child who looks his same age. As Oskar slowly works his way into her life, drawing ever-closer to the role of a classical vampire’s human “familiar,” the film questions the nature of their bond and whether the two can ever possibly commune on a level of genuine love. At the same time, it’s also a chilling, very effective horror film whenever it chooses to be, especially in the absolutely spectacular final sequences, which evoke Eli’s terrifying abilities with just the right touch of obstruction to leave the worst of it in the viewer’s imagination. The film received an American remake in 2010, Let Me In, which has been somewhat unfairly derided by film fans sick of the remake game, but it’s another solid take on the same story that may even improve upon a few small aspects of the story. Ultimately, though, the Swedish original is still the superior film thanks to the strength of its two lead performers, who vault it up to become perhaps the best vampire movie ever made. —Jim Vorel


2. Memories of Murder

memories-of-murder-poster.jpg Year: 2003
Director: Bong Joon-Ho
Stars: Song Kang-ho, Kim Sang-kyung, Kim Roi-ha, Park Hae-il, Byun Hee-bong
Rating: NR
Runtime: 131 minutes

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Based on the case of South Korea’s first serial killer, this is Bong Joon-Ho’s take on the cop drama. The tension arises from the clash in styles between an instinctive detective from the countryside (Song Kang-Ho), and his more professional urban counterpart (Kim Sang-Kyung) dispatched to speed the investigation, which steadily derails amid blown opportunities and wrongful arrests. One uses his fists, the other forensics, and both serve as cultural archetypes whose actions play out against the backdrop of the mid-1980s military dictatorship. Strange as it sounds, Murder is also not without laughs, which are both coarse and piercing. Like David Fincher’s Zodiac, which arrived a few years later, Memories of Murder never stops taking advantage of the audience’s unspoken assumption that it will eventually be presented with a neat, gift-wrapped conclusion. —Steve Dollar


3. Possessor

possessor-poster.jpg
Year: 2020
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Stars: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Tuppence Middleton
Rating: R
Runtime: 104 minutes

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The barren, lonely, modest urban landscapes of Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor reflect a familiar perspective. Brandon is, as you either already know or have surely guessed, David’s son; he shares his father’s interest in corporeal grotesquery, physical transformation representing mental transformation, and an unnerving, topical preoccupation with viruses. Brandon cuts deeper than daddy, though, if not (yet) with the same incisiveness, then with a clinical precision that only intensifies the oneiric oddness coursing intractably through Possessor.

This disturbing horror/thriller follows Tasya (Andrea Riseborough), an assassin working for a shady organization that carries out its hits via remote cerebral link between assassin and unwitting host—in this case Colin (Christopher Abbott). Cronenberg charts a horrific journey from mind to mind, plotted along neural pathways but predictably expressed along physical routes. It veers off into an arterial journey, the narrow vessels containing the stuff of life—and death—in a larger body. The film has the feel of a grand sci-fi spectacle shrunk down to a dark, dingy miniature; its crude efficiency belies the potency of Cronenberg’s ruminations on the theme of a foreign invader corrupting a wayward soul in a poisonous society.—Paddy Mulholland


4. Personal Shopper

personal-shopper-criterion-poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Olivier Assayas
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie
Rating: R
Runtime: 106 minutes

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The pieces don’t all fit in Personal Shopper, but that’s much of the fun of writer-director Olivier Assayas’s enigmatic tale of Maureen (Kristen Stewart, a wonderfully unfathomable presence), who may be in contact with her dead twin brother. Or maybe she’s being stalked by an unseen assailant. Or maybe it’s both. To attempt to explain the direction Personal Shopper takes is merely to regurgitate plot points that don’t sound like they belong in the same film. But Assayas is working on a deeper, more metaphorical level, abandoning strict narrative cause-and-effect logic to give us fragments of Maureen’s life refracted through conflicting experiences. Nothing happens in this film as a direct result of what came before, which explains why a sudden appearance of suggestive, potentially dangerous text messages could be interpreted as a literal threat, or as some strange cosmic manifestation of other, subtler anxieties. Personal Shopper encourages a sense of play, moving from moody ghost story to tense thriller to (out of the blue) erotic character study. But that genre-hopping (not to mention the movie’s willfully inscrutable design) is Assayas’s way of bringing a lighthearted approach to serious questions about grieving and disillusionment. The juxtaposition isn’t jarring or glib—if anything, Personal Shopper is all the more entrancing because it won’t sit still, never letting us be comfortable in its shifting narrative. —Tim Grierson


5. Titane

titane-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Julia Ducournau
Stars: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, Laïs Salameh
Rating: R
Runtime: 108 minutes

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Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) had an early connection with cars. Her insistence on using her voice to mimic the rev of an engine as a young girl (played by Adèle Guigue) while her irritated father (French director Bertrand Bonello) drove was so undaunted that one day she caused him to lose control of the vehicle. The accident rendered her father mostly unscathed, and Alexia with a titanium plate implanted in her skull. It was a procedure that seemingly strengthened a curious linkage between her and metal and machine, an innate affection for something hot and alive that could never turn away Alexia’s love. As the doctor removes Alexia’s surgical metal headgear, her father looks on with something that can only be described as disdain for his child. Perhaps, it is because he knew what Alexia would become; perhaps, Alexia was just born bad. Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or-winning follow-up to 2016’s Raw crunches, tears and sizzles. Bones break, skin rips, libidos throb—the human body is pushed to impossible limits. It’s something that Ducournau has already proved familiarity with, but the French director takes things to new extremes with her sophomore film. Titane is a convoluted, gender-bending odyssey splattered with gore and motor oil, the heart of which rests on a simple (if exceedingly perverted) story of finding unconditional acceptance. Eighteen years following the childhood incident, Alexia is a dancer and car model, venerated by ravenous male fans aching to get a picture and an autograph with the punky, sharp-featured young woman. She splays her near-naked form atop the hood of an automobile to the beat of music, contorting and touching herself with simmering lust for the inanimate machine adorned with a fiery paint job to match Alexia’s sexuality. Pink and green and neon yellow glistens on every body (chrome or otherwise) in the showroom, but Ruben Impens’ cinematography follows Alexia as she guides us through this space where she feels most at home. Titane persists as a boundary-pushing exploration of the human form, of gender performance, masculinity and isolation; Ducournau’s script is surprising, shocking, titillating at every turn. And despite her cruelty, and the relative distance from and lack of insight into her character, Alexia remains an empathetic protagonist. This is in no small part thanks to Rousselle’s commanding portrayal which astonishingly doubles as her feature debut. Titane is not just 108 bloody minutes of bodily mutilation and perversion, but of blazing chaos inherent in our human need for acceptance. Ducournau has wrapped up this simple conceit in a narrative that only serves to establish her voice as one which demands our attention, even as we feel compelled to look away. Yes, it’s true what they’ve said—love will literally tear us apart.—Brianna Zigler


6. Censor

censor-2021-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Prano Bailey-Bond
Stars: Niamh Algar, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Adrian Schiller, Michael Smiley
Rating: NR
Runtime: 84 minutes

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If Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio and Alexandre Aja’s High Tension had a kid and raised it on Vinegar Syndrome releases, that kid would grow up to be Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor. A demonstration of refined craftsmanship and a gleeful embrace of horror’s grimiest mores all at the same time, Censor is the ultimate “have cake, eat it too” film, being both exceptionally well-made and stuffed to the gunwales with everything that makes horror worth watching: Creeping dread, paranoia, gross-out violence and inspired fits of madness, with a side of smirking defiance for the conservative pitchfork mobs that have tried to pin all the world’s ills on the genre since always. Bailey-Bond’s film is in conversation with history, the era of Margaret Thatcher and cultural garment-rending over the proliferation of video nasties among impressionable Brits. Enid (Niamh Algar), a film censor, fills her days watching graphically staged dramatizations of brutality, then cutting down their countless offenses to an acceptable size. One such picture too closely resembles a horrible incident from her childhood, one resulting in the disappearance of her sister—or more specifically, it’s the lead actress in the picture who too closely resembles her sister. The encounter sets Enid on a quest to recover her long-lost sibling, which takes her on a descent into insanity…plus a few choice gore shots. But as much as Censor connects with Britain’s past, it connects with horror’s past, too, in keeping with the genre’s tradition of self-awareness and self-critique. When social forces come together to blame horror for the existence of darkness, it’s because those forces can’t stand their own self-reflections. They need an easy way out, and moral panic is easy. Horror knows who the real villains are, and so does Bailey-Bond. Don’t take that as a warning sign, though: Censor isn’t stuffy or preachy, not at all. It’s the reason we go see horror movies in the first place.—Andy Crump


7. Oculus

oculus-2013-poster.jpg Year: 2013
Director: Mike Flanagan
Stars: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan Ewald
Rating: R
Runtime: 103 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

When one hears that the central focus point of Oculus is a haunted mirror, you expect a fairly self-contained ghost story, but this recent release proved to be a surprisingly ambitious concept from a promising horror director, Mike Flanagan. It simultaneously juggles accounts of the mirror’s evil influence in two timelines, following the same characters as children and adults. The segments as children feel a tad by-the-books, but the pleasantly over-the-top performances in the adult portion are particularly enjoyable, as a young woman attempts to scientifically document and then seek revenge upon the source of her family’s misery. The film begins to peter out just a bit by the end, as the two stories become intertwined to the point of confusion in an attempt to blur the lines of reality, but in general it’s a stylish, creepy horror flick that goes out of its way to defy conventions. Look no further than the soul-sucking ending, which leaves the door wide open to all sorts of future possibilities if Flanagan ever wants to revisit the concept. —Jim Vorel


8. Southbound

southbound poster (Custom).jpg Year: 2016
Directors: Radio Silence, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath
Stars: Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Fabianne Therese, Hannah Marks, Larry Fessenden
Rating: R
Runtime: 89 minutes

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Tricksters and demons, vengeful spirits and serial killers, the hope of salvation and the lingering presence of Satan: These are the things that anthology film Southbound is made of. The film has a single vision but is built on a wide variety of grim and ghoulish horror tropes, all the better to satisfy the hungers of even the most niche genre connoisseurs. Best of all, though, the wild variations from one section of the picture to the next enhances rather than dilutes the viewing experience. It helps that there are common themes that run across the film—loss, regret and guilt make up a repeated refrain—and that the sum of its parts adds up to an examination of how people unwittingly architect their own suffering. But Southbound is first and foremost a work of velocity, a joyride through Hell well worth buckling up for. —Andy Crump


9. Castle Rock

castle rock poster (Custom).jpg Year: 2018
Director: Various
Stars: Andre Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Sissy Spacek, Lizzy Caplan, Tim Robbins
Rating: N/A
Runtime: 20 episodes

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Castle Rock is easy to love if you’ve already given yourself up to Stephen King’s brand of campfire story, with all the hokey chuckles and midnight palm-sweating that comes with it. I know I have—I just finished enjoying King’s latest, The Outsider—which makes me a prime target (though, I suspect, not the only target) for Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason’s Hulu original series, based on King’s mythos. Michael Uppendahl directs the solid pilot, which pushes artistry and literary fidelity into its compellingly sketched mystery, and the hooks only sink in deeper over the rest of season one. The plot and environment (because one is inevitably entangled with the other) use the stories of Stephen King as their knitting fiber, intertwining both meta- and textual characters and themes into the afflicted town of Castle Rock (home of Cujo and The Dead Zone). Along with It’s Derry and the oft-abbreviated Jerusalem’s Lot, Castle Rock makes up the Bermuda triangle of fictitious Maine haunts that King keeps coming back to. King’s work loves a polluted system, and towns work just as well as prisons or hotels. The atmosphere works because the series’ thematic and artistic construction do each other plenty of favors. For example, the show treats religion and the supernatural as forces that aren’t necessarily on equal footing, but are certainly enabling each other, like a father pushing his child higher and higher on the swing set. Which is which never stays the same. There’s misguided righteousness, dangerous excitement, and legitimate goodness caught up in the battle for Castle Rock’s soul, which is an exciting spin on the conventional Exorcist-like binary questioning of faith. —Jacob Oller


10. Sea Fever

sea-fever-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Neasa Hardiman
Starring: Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott, Connie Nielsen, Ardalan Esmaili
Rating: NR
Runtime: 89 minutes

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Talk about bad timing. Or good timing? Whether Sea Fever’s release coinciding with the pandemic is to either the film’s benefit or detriment is a question without a concrete answer, but like Nicolas Pesce’s The Grudge, it’s all a matter of strange kismet. How else to take a horror movie about people stuck in tight quarters together, endangered by a heretofore unknown entity that transmits to hosts with but a touch and kills in geysers of blood? And the one person in the cast smart enough to make deductions and offer advisories on how to proceed is routinely ignored by everybody else, especially when that person identifies self-isolation as the safest course of action. Prescient! Sea Fever, however, isn’t about a virus but an undiscovered lifeform that inhabits the photic zone, basically a gargantuan tentacled thing that passes on its spawn to other organisms, which then explode violently from said organisms’ eyeballs. The creature menaces the crew of a fishing trawler off the West coast of Ireland, including Siobhán (Hermione Corfield), the introverted marine life expert brought on board to sort out “anomalies” in the catch. She’s also the only one capable of figuring out what’s happening to the boat, and the crew, in what reads as an amalgam of The Thing and Leviathan, with maybe a bit of The Abyss in there as well. Sea Fever’s gory, claustrophobic paranoia is only part of its pleasure. There’s terror in the depths, but bioluminescent beauty, too, the kind that inspires Irish folklore when it should inspire a moratorium on fishing. Sea Fever didn’t get to pick its moment, but the moment is ripe for movies like it to help put in perspective the matter of quarantine. A great movie at any time, but an unexpectedly thought-provoking movie for the time that we’re in. —Andy Crump


11. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

rare-exports-poster.jpg Year: 2010
Director: Jalmari Helander
Stars: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Per Christian Ellefsen, Tommi Korpela, Rauno Juvonen
Rating: R
Runtime: 82 minutes

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Of all the films that have attempted to tackle Christmastime mythology through the lens of horror, none have done it with half the gonzo weirdness of Finland’s Rare Exports. Although the subject of Krampus became popular horror fodder in the back half of this decade, the Fins were definitely laying some foundations here, dredging up the figure of Joulupukki, the so-called “Christmas goat” of Scandinavian folklore, who like Krampus punishes wicked children for their sins instead of dispensing candy and gifts. We see this particular story through the eyes of rural Finnish kids and their destitute parents, their livelihoods trampled by the engine of economic progress and consumerism, in a message that reflects the cynicism of Joe Dante’s Gremlins. It seems fitting, then, that it’s a government research team that dredges up horrors from beneath the crust of the Earth, representing the greed of adult children as they do. With a magical Nordic setting that perfectly suits its fantastical vibe, Rare Exports settles in alongside chilly, Scandinanvian horror contemporaries such as Let the Right One In or Dead Snow, although it never strives for the emotion or gravity or the former. It does, however, build to a formidable conclusion, giving us perhaps the most oddly unique origin story for Santa Claus that has yet been brought to the horror genre.


12. Drag Me to Hell

drag-me-to-hell-poster.jpg Year: 2009
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Alison Lohman, Justin Long
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 99 minutes

Drag Me to Hell was a colorful, stylish return to director Sam Raimi’s roots, coming off the massive disappointment that was Spider-Man 3. It’s a tight, well-oiled thriller that plays like a Twilight Zone-esque moral play/parable. After Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) lets her ambition get the best of her, spiting an old woman looking for a loan extension at Brown’s bank job, the woman (actually a gypsy of some renown) lays a heavy curse on her. Within a few days, unless she can somehow reverse the process, a demon called the Lamia will appear in broad daylight and grab hold of her soul, literally dragging her to hell. That’s all we need for this humorously mean-spirited supernatural thriller with a quirky but nuanced central performance by Lohman, but what really makes the film stand out almost a decade later is the depth of its subtext. Maybe Raimi has an all-engrossing oral fixation, but the specter of eating disorders haunts the film. It’s hard to say why the writer-director became so obsessed with the concept while plotting the story, but the themes of sustenance, and of things going in and coming out of people’s mouths throughout are too profound to ignore. Anyone who has ever dealt with an eating disorder, whether first-hand or not, in the past will likely feel a connection to these themes, even as they’re being willingly taken along on a classic shock-and-awe horror story—complete with an excellent ending. —Jim Vorel


13. Come True

come-true-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Anthony Scott Burns
Stars: Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron
Rating: NR
Runtime: 105 minutes

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Come True, Anthony Scott Burns’ horror first, sci-fi second hybrid film essentially dramatizes what filmmaker Rodney Ascher gets at in his 2015 sleep paralysis documentary The Nightmare. What if your worst fears manifested in the real world? What if you couldn’t tell the difference between the land of the waking and the realm of the slumbering? What if the difference doesn’t even matter because, whether the nightmares are real or not, they still smother you and deny you rest, respite and sanity? Conceptually, the movie is frightening. In more practical terms it’s deeply unsettling, a terrific, sharply made exercise in layering one kind of dread on top of another. “Don’t you ever feel like you’re seeing something that you’re not supposed to?” Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone) asks Riff (Landon Liboiron), the scruffy Daniel Radcliffe stand-in conducting an ill-advised science experiment masquerading as a sleep study. The ever-present unnerving sensation that follows—that unspeakable terror is hovering over your shoulder—puts the film in close company with It Follows, another movie about disaffected youth on the run from evil they don’t understand and can’t fight. It’s contemporary, atmospheric and cuts deep—and more than that, it’s original. Burns conjures horror so vivid and tactile that at any time it feels like it might leap off of the screen and into our own imaginations or, worse, our own lives.—Andy Crump


14. Unsane

unsane.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, Amy Irving
Rating: R
Runtime: 98 minutes

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Sawyer (Claire Foy) knows she’s not crazy. In Unsane, she’s a young woman who’s recently moved from Boston to Pennsylvania, working an office job she doesn’t much like and enduring not-so-subtle sexual come-ons from her creepy boss who really thinks they ought to spend more time together. When she FaceTimes with her mother during her lunch break, she tries to put a positive spin on everything: Yes, I’m fine, I’m doing well, how are you? But even before she goes on a date that evening, taking the guy home but then having some sort of emotional breakdown before they can sleep together, there are signs that all is not well with her. Very soon, things will get much worse. The umpteenth film from Steven Soderbergh—like his previous two, the kinky thriller Side Effects and the Southern-fried crime comedy Logan Lucky—is a capital-G genre flick, happily luxuriating in its own pulpy proclivities. But it’s also his strongest in a while, in part because its deceptively dashed-off tone is tied to a stronger thematic hook than he’s allowed in a while, and guided by an expertly measured performance from Foy as Sawyer, a woman who refuses to be pegged as hysterical, no matter how much the world wants to slap that straitjacket on her. Sawyer’s in trouble in Unsane, but she never seems helpless—the movie’s black-hearted joke is that, really, she’s always been dealing with guys who are trying to metaphorically imprison her. There’s a weary, sarcastic cackle to the performance that practically spits in the eye of any patronizing damsel-in-distress concerns the audience might have. Shot on an iPhone 7 Plus and supplemented by drone cameras, this psychological thriller brandishes its slightly warped, fisheye-lensed aesthetic, plunging the viewer into a queasy, disorienting mindset from the start. In turn, Soderbergh’s vision of a smart woman eternally held down against her will has a wonderful, nasty kick to it. Sawyer insists she’s not crazy, but that might not matter if the world has already decided she is. —Tim Grierson


15. The Clovehitch Killer

clovehitch-killer-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Duncan Skiles
Stars: Dylan McDermott, Charlie Plummer, Samantha Mathis, Madisen Beaty
Rating: N/A
Runtime: 110 minutes

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Life in small-town Christian America can have a stultifying effect on a person, sucking out all personality and vitality, replacing all individual identity with better living through dogma. In The Clovehitch Killer, director Duncan Skiles replicates this bait-and-switch through cinematographer Luke McCoubrey’s camera. The film is shot stock-still, the camera more or less fixed from one scene to the next, as if affected by the vibe of routine humming throughout its setting of Somewhere, Kentucky. Almost none of the characters we meet in the movie have a spark; they’re drones tasked with maintaining the hive’s integrity against interlopers who, god forbid, actually bother to be somebody. Caught up in this dynamic is Tyler (Charlie Plummer), awkward, quiet and shy, the son of Don (Dylan McDermott), a handyman and Scout troop leader, which brings no end of unexpressed consternation to Tyler as a Scout himself. On the surface, Don looks and acts like an automaton, too, with occasional hints of humor and warmth in his capacity as father and Scoutmaster. Beneath, though, he’s something more, at least so Tyler suspects: The Clovehitch Killer, a serial killer who once tormented their area with a horrific murder spree long completed. Or maybe not. Maybe Don just has a real kink fetish and keeps rope around for fun in the bedroom. Either way, fathers aren’t always who or what they appear.

Horror movies are all about the squirm, the nerve-wracking build-up of tension over time that, done properly, leaves viewers crawling out of their skin with dread. In The Clovehitch Killer, this sensation is wrought entirely through craft instead of effects. That damn camera, motionless and unstirred, is always happy to film what’s in front of it, never one to pan about to catch new angles. What you see is what it shows you, but what it shows you might be more awful than you can stomach at a glance. This is a devilish movie that does beautifully what horror films are meant to—vex us with fear—through the most deceptively simple of means. —Andy Crump


16. Fright Night

fright-night-2011-poster.jpg Year: 2011
Director: Craig Gillespie
Stars: Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, David Tennant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Toni Collette
Rating: R
Runtime: 106 minutes

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What we have here is one of the better modern vampire movies to get left out of conversations on modern vampire movies, presumably because it’s a remake, but this Fright Night is undoubtedly its own film. Colin Farrell is frankly spectacular as “Jerry the vampire,” a character who positively radiates smarmy menace from the moment we meet him. Anton Yelchin is likable as this go-round’s protagonist, but the film is really all about Farrell and a great supporting turn from the Tenth Doctor himself, David Tennant, as magician Peter Vincent. The FX and gore feel visceral and suitably icky, but it’s the moments of Farrell confidently stalking his way through the sets that should win over fans of the original. He seems so very in control and completely invested in the little details of his character that his modern, hedonistic vampire transcends stereotypes of the genre to be one of the most genuinely threatening and capable ghouls we’ve seen in the past decade. —Jim Vorel


17. Bad Hair

bad-hair-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Justin Simien
Stars: Elle Lorraine, Jar Pharoah, Lena Waithe, Kelly Rowland, Laverne Cox
Rating: NR
Runtime: 102 minutes

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The truest statement anyone can make about Justin Simien’s horror-comedy Bad Hair is that it’s very much a Justin Simien movie. Like his breakout feature debut, Dear White People, and the Netflix TV series he wound up spinning the film into, Bad Hair unpacks Black American identities through social and cultural lenses, mixing straight-faced character studies with sharp banter and humor. Unlike Dear White People, Bad Hair has issues balancing the two in tandem with the horror side of the scales, and often finds itself thrown out of equilibrium in the final measurement. Simien’s work is funny, and spooky, but never both together. Comedy and horror historically go together well. Genre film, particularly the grotesque, straddles a fine line, and the grotesque has a way of tipping easily into comedy. In Bad Hair the two share a split-custody agreement: They visit the viewer only in every other scene. —Andy Crump


18. The Other Lamb

other-lamb-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
Starring: Michiel Huisman, Raffey Cassidy, Denise Gough
Rating: NR
Runtime: 94 minutes

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The so-called “Shepherd” sends Selah (Raffey Cassidy) to the hills to deliver a newborn lamb. Instead, she returns with blood-stained hands and the wrath of an almost anthropomorphic ram, who—for the rest of The Other Lamb—follows her around, breathing heavily, angry horns in her face and stony eyes challenging hers. The horror of The Other Lamb accrues slowly. Director Malgorzata Szumowska is a master of world building; the film is told through cult member Selah’s perspective, with the cult leader, the “Shepherd” (Michiel Huisman), existing as a more-or-less silent and cruel specter. Initially, the followers believe that only the male leader has the right to tell stories, but The Other Lamb skewers the male gaze. In the film, to see is to know—and to surveil. The leader organizes his all-women cult into two horrifying categories: Those who wear red frocks are forced to be his “wives” and the ones wearing blue are his “daughters,” many of whom, if not all, are his biological daughters (Szumowska obscures some of these details). He knows everyone’s menstrual cycles, and he seems to always be lurking, trying to pluck the next daughter from childhood and make her his wife as soon as she begins her period. His favorite daughter, the pious Selah, however, begins to perceive his insidiousness and grows fearsome of the impending arrival of her period. As in Ari Aster’s cult thriller Midsommar, viewers can find allusions to fascism and religious extremism in The Other Lamb, but the film is less interested in exploring the leader’s obvious cruelty at length than it is concerned with Selah’s inevitably gory pilgrimage. It’s a resonant tale of a young woman who learns to reject the deeply patriarchal system in which she was raised, to carve out a narrative outside of the one she has been forced to believe. —Isabella Bridie DeLeo


19. Run

run-hulu-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Stars: Sarah Paulson, Kiera Allen
Rating: NR
Runtime: 89 minutes

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Under 90 minutes and without an ounce of fat, Run buzzes with anxiety even in the quietest scenes where technically all’s well but nothing’s right: Repeated sequences, like a daughter’s ritualized mealtimes, grow increasingly uneasy as her questions about her mother and the truth slowly evolve into suspicions and then, at last, fully blossom into horrified disbelief. What would you do if you found out the person you call “mom” may not actually be your mom at all? Earlier in 2020, The Craft: Legacy clumsily posed and answered the same question, but Chaganty and his Searching co-writer Sev Ohanian map Run around that fearful betrayal and give real thought to its consequences—and Chloe’s response. —Andy Crump


20. The Vigil

the-vigil-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Keith Thomas
Stars: Dave Davis, Menashe Lustig, Malky Goldman, Fred Melamed, Lynn Cohen, Nati Rabinowitz
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 89 minutes

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Yakov (Dave Davis) has recently left the Hasidic Jew community after experiencing a trauma that dismantled his faith. He’s struggling to adapt to the outside world—particularly with money—and in the midst of this struggle, he’s approached to serve as a shomer, someone who watches over a body until it is buried. Typically a shomer is a family member, but in desperate circumstances, someone will be paid to serve this role. So Yakov takes up his post looking over the body of the deceased Mr. Litvak. But this isn’t going to be a night for easy money. As soon as Yakov settles in for his five-hour shift, strange things immediately start happening. He sees shadowy figures lurking in dark corners, he hears strange whispers and feels as if something is watching his every move. As the night progresses, he discovers that a mazzik, a type of demon, is haunting the home, its family and Yakov himself. It is feeding on them, using their grief and trauma to fuel its evil. Central to the power of The Vigil is Davis’ performance as Yakov, created by both Davis’ performance and Thomas’ writing. The film has a short and sweet runtime of 90 minutes, and with that short amount of time, Davis and Thomas are able to create a complex character that has gone through a life of both love and despair. Davis’ frustrated and sorrow-filled face tells a story of a man who just wants to live a life that is his own. Paired with those facial expressions, Thomas’ script quickly and effectively showcases both Yakov’s naivety in the world of technology and women—as he literally Googles “how to talk to women”—and his strength, as he prepares to face off with the mazzik. This is not a generic horror character that blends into the wallpaper, but someone worth cheering for until the credits roll. This is a story that, while following the expected story beats of possession films, still feels unique thanks to Thomas’ specificity and dedication to creating something lean and mean.—Mary Beth McAndrews


21. Little Monsters

little-monsters-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Abe Forsythe
Stars: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Kat Stewart, Diesel La Torraca, Josh Gad
Rating: R
Runtime: 94 minutes

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As Lupita Nyong’o was picking up her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2013, one probably wouldn’t have expected that she would be starring in not one but two different critically acclaimed horror films in 2019, but here we are. Most of the horror attention on Nyong’o last year was understandably derived from her scintillating turn in Jordan Peele’s Us, but Little Monsters feels sadly overlooked. This is a frequently uproarious zombie comedy, set in Australia, starring actor Alexander England as a slacker uncle to a precocious young child, and Nyong’o as the kid’s supremely dedicated and charming kindergarten teacher. And wouldn’t you know it—the class field trip to the farm/petting zoo just happens to be interrupted by a massive outbreak of the undead, leaving Nyong’o to shepherd her little flock to safety, all while concealing from them the seriousness of these events. She pulls off a performance that is both touching and generates the occasional belly laugh, while also showing off such a consistent talent for musical performance that you can’t help but wonder if the film was calculated as the launching point for yet another side career. Josh Gad also shows up as a children’s entertainer in a role that takes full advantage of his irritating talents, but the film really belongs to Nyong’o. —Jim Vorel


22. Sputnik

sputnik-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Egor Abramenko
Stars: Oksana Akinshina, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Pyotr Fyodorov, Anton Vasiliev
Rating: NR
Runtime: 113 minutes

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The good news is that, three years later, at least one of Alien’s descendants have figured out that borrowing from its forebear makes far more sense than lazily aping Scott, which explains in part why Egor Abramenko’s Sputnik works so well: It’s Alien-esque, because any film about governments and corporations using unsuspecting innocents as vessels for stowing extraterrestrial monsters for either weaponization or monetization can’t help evoke Alien. Abramenko has that energy. Sputnik’s style runs somewhere in the ballpark of unnerving and unflappable: The movie doesn’t flinch, but makes a candid, methodical attempt at making the audience flinch instead, contrasting high-end creature FX against a lo-fi backdrop. Until the alien makes its first appearance slithering forth from the prone Konstantin’s mouth, Sputnik’s set dressing suggests a lost relic from the 1980s. But the sophistication of the creature’s design, a crawling, semi-diaphanous thing that’s coated in layers of sputum equally audible and visible, firmly anchors the film to 2020. Let the new pop cultural dividing line be drawn there. —Andy Crump


23. I Trapped the Devil

i-trapped-devil-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Josh Lobo
Stars: A.J. Bowen, Scott Poythress, Susan Burke, Jocelin Donahue, Chris Sullivan
Rating: N/A
Runtime: 82 minutes

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Merry Christmas! Have some family dysfunction and possibly an untimely visit from the Prince of Darkness. The man locked up in Steve’s (Scott Poythress) basement might well be Satan himself. He might also be an innocent man, or at least a man innocent of being the devil, but Steve’s brother, Matt (AJ Bowen) and sister-in-law Karen (Susan Burke) don’t really know what to make of Steve’s situation. Is he deluded, or still grieving a loss that at first goes unspoken and later is made explicit? Or does he really genuinely have Old Scratch imprisoned in his home? Director Josh Lobo toes the slow-burn line, doing very little at the start to meaningfully terrify viewers, but he rapidly layers I Trapped the Devil with mood and dread, his finger looped through the pin of a grenade in every interaction Steve has with Matt and Karen, as if at any moment their tentative atmosphere could descend into straight-up chaos. The film’s central question hangs over all until, at long last, Lobo gives an answer, but the answer is so chilling that we might wish he’d kept us in the dark all along. —Andy Crump


24. Land of the Dead

land-of-the-dead-poster.jpg Year: 2005
Director: George A. Romero
Stars: Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, John Leguizamo, Eugene Clark
Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes

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Land of the Dead is the last film in George Romero’s seminal zombie series that anyone is likely to recommend you seek out and watch. That isn’t to say that his following Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead are bad films, per se, but as Romero aged and the zombie genre became only more popular, he was no longer really able to offer a perspective that seemed truly unique and vital. Land of the Dead, thankfully, does build off the strength and continuity of his previous two films, Dawn and Day of the Dead, which helps it immensely in projecting the right tone. Chronologically, it’s the last Of the Dead movie, and it shows us the furthest extent of the zombies’ evolution in Romero’s eyes—whereas in Day of the Dead we discovered that certain zombies could “remember” and be trained, here we see more or less sentient zombies actually in leadership positions, leading the attack on a walled version of the city of Pittsburgh. Dennis Hopper, playing a perfectly Hopperian role, is the evil plutocraft ruler of said community, lounging in the luxury high-rise “Fiddler’s Green” while the rank-and-file live in squalor on the streets. Being Romero, you expect a certain degree of social commentary, and here he’s obviously tackling the wealth gap and class division, although it’s not quite as subtle in its delivery as his previous films. Still, the movie always LOOKS good, and it contains just enough of Romero’s rebellious spark to make it a worthy addition to the series. It’s not on the same tier as his first three films, but few zombie movies are. —Jim Vorel


25. The Feast

the-feast-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: Lee Haven Jones
Stars: Annes Elwy, Nia Roberts, Julian Lewis Jones
Rating: NR
Runtime: 93 minutes

Jones suffuses slow-burn tension, disturbing visual elements and murky folk horror into a film that’s foundation rests on creeping uncertainties—making The Feast pleasantly obscure and occasionally quite upsetting. This is sustained by the world as seen through the eyes of cinematographer Bjørn Ståle Bratberg, whose scenery is as richly textured in the countryside of Wales as in the pristine, vacant modernity of Glenda’s home. The Feast is, among other things, obsessed with space. The empty space of the natural world that surrounds the family like a constant threat; the space within their vast, sterile domicile that separates body from body; the space within Glenda’s private meditation room, her pride and joy, yet which Mair likens to a prison cell. And the space that we, as humans, have imposed between ourselves and the very Earth that we live on. We alienate ourselves from the landscape we need to survive as we turn green into black. We become something uncanny, something not quite human. In The Feast, Mother Nature fights back, but we are more a danger to each other than the Earth could ever be. —Brianna Zigler


26. The Wretched

the-wretched-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Directors: Brett Pierce, Drew T. Pierce
Stars: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Jamison Jones, Zarah Mahler, Azie Tesfai, Kevin Bigley, Blane Crockarell, Ja’layah Washington
Rating: NR
Runtime: 96 minutes

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Ben’s (John-Paul Howard) summer has started out on the wrong foot: His parents are in the middle of a separation that’s calcifying into a divorce, and he’s been sent to live with his father, Liam (Jamison Jones), for the season, working at the local marina in lakeside Michigan and taking shit from hyper-privileged brats. He also has the attention and affections of cool girl Mallory (Piper Curda), and the couple renting the house next door to his dad’s leave the light on when they screw, so it’s not all bad, except for the ancient flesh-eating witch lurking in the woods. Save for minor details like smartphones and Google image searches, Brett and Drew T. Pierce’s The Wretched could be mistaken for an unseen 1990s flick dug up like a lost relic of its era. The film shares in common DNA with classics like The Faculty, in which wolves skulk among the herd and only the kids are open-minded enough to realize it, but The Wretched doesn’t fetishize its cultural touchstones, or function only as genre nostalgia. Practical FX work and creature design help, too, as essential to what distinguishes The Wretched from its influences as the Pierce brothers’ writing. They build tension and avoid playing coy: Something sinister is in the woods, they let their viewers know upfront, and they have a blast dropping clues and hints for Ben to decipher while Liam loses himself in a relationship with his new girlfriend, Sara (Azie Tesfai). The Wretched’s gore quotient likely will fall on the low side for splatter addicts, but the film understands when viscera is called for and when withholding is better. Its best scares tend to involve a glance into the darkness, where nothing should be but in which evil lurks, or through binoculars, which throws the malevolent presence lingering at The Wretched’s edges into sharp relief. The movie can go to gross places and brings appropriate sobriety to sequences of little kids being consumed by the slimy beldam posing as their mother, but the Pierce brothers’ prevailing tone is “haunted house ride”: Even at its most gruesome, The Wretched stays light on its toes. —Andy Crump


27. Little Joe

little-joe-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Jessica Hausner
Stars: Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Kit Connor, David Wilmot
Rating: NR
Runtime: 100 minutes

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Jessica Hausner’s Little Joe may not be as straightforwardly campy as Frank Oz’s Little Shop of Horrors, as squirmy as Carter Smith’s The Ruins, or as pants-on-head stupid as M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, but in its way it’s equally as weird as each. These movies each work to offset the innate unbelievability of their premises, including Little Joe, a deliberately paced bit of Marxist criticism that’s equally as coy as it is chilling. Botanist Alice (Emily Beecham) has perfected her attempts at fashioning a genetically modified plant, designed to emit a scent to stir feelings of deep contentment in any person who catches a whiff of its bouquet. Alice has denied her creation reproductive capabilites because as movies have taught us, taking sex organs away from sentient beings bred in a lab is never a terrible idea. So it goes in Little Joe, as Alice’s colleagues fall one by one under the crimson plant’s sway and quietly devote themselves to its propagation, like genial, low-key pod persons. Whether viewers find Little Joe frightening or funky depends on where they’re sitting. Hausner and co-writer Géraldine Bajard very clearly don’t intend the film as an outright scary experience on the page. There’s a distance between the characters, and in turn between the characters and the audience, an emotional buffer that keeps everybody at arm’s length from one another. No wonder Alice engineers a house plant to induce chemical happiness—joy is a rare commodity in Little Joe. In a nifty little tweak of the botanical horror niche’s formula, the happier a character is, the more likely it is that they’ve been snared by Little Joe’s intoxicating aura, and honestly: Is that really so bad? —Andy Crump


28. Shadow in the Cloud

shadow-in-the-cloud-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Roseanne Liang
Stars: Chloe Grace Moretz, Taylor John Smith, Beulah Koale, Nick Robinson, Callan Mulvey
Rating: R
Runtime: 83 minutes

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The blow-off cliché for describing movies focused predominantly on one actor is to say they’re on screen for the entire picture, even if they’re not literally on screen for the entire picture. Other than the handful of moments where Liang’s cinematographer Kit Fraser peeks down to remind the audience that 30,000 feet is a long, long way away from solid ground, Chloe Grace Moretz is genuinely on screen for all of Shadow in the Cloud. Liang doesn’t let the men into the frame until she’s good and ready, and until Moretz has staked her claim as Queen Ass Kicker on the “Fool’s Errand” by shooting down enemies and fighting off monsters. Even at 23 years old, Moretz has little to prove, having amassed a filmography running the gamut from trashy superhero movies (Kick-Ass) to highbrow French Cinema (Clouds of Sils Maria) to psychothrillers (Greta). In Shadow in the Cloud, she proves herself anyway. —Andy Crump


29. XX

xx.jpg Year: 2017
Directors: Roxanne Benjamin, Annie Clark, Karyn Kusama, Jovanka Vuckovic, Sofia Carrillo
Starring: Natalie Brown, Melanie Lynskey, Breeda Wool, Christina Kirk
Rating: R
Runtime: 80 minutes

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It’s important that the scariest segment in XX, Magnet Releasing’s women-helmed horror anthology film, is also its most elementary: Young people trek out into the wilderness for fun and recreation, young people incur the wrath of hostile forces, young people get dead, easy as you please. You’ve seen this movie before, whether in the form of a slasher, a creature feature, or an animal attack flick. You’re seeing it again in XX in part because the formula works, and in part because the segment in question, titled “Don’t Fall,” must be elementary to facilitate its sibling chapters, which tend to be anything but. XX stands apart from other horror films because it invites its audience to feel a range of emotions aside from just fright. You might, for example, feel heartache during Jovanka Vuckovic’s “The Box,” or the uncertainty of dread in Karyn Kusama’s “Her Only Living Son,” or nauseous puzzlement with Sofia Carrillo’s macabre, stop-motion wraparound piece, meant to function as a palate cleanser between courses (an effectively unnerving work, thanks to its impressive technical achievements). Most of all, you might have to bite your tongue to keep from laughing uncontrollably during the film’s best short, “The Birthday Party,” written and directed by Annie Clark, better known by some as St. Vincent, in her filmmaking debut. XX is a horror movie spoken with the voices of women, a necessary notice that women are revolutionizing the genre as much as men. —Andy Crump


30. The Field Guide to Evil

field-guide-to-evil-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Directors: Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franza, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland, Yannia Veslemes
Stars: Birgit Minichmayr, Claude Duhamel, Jilon VanOver, Fatma Mohamed, Niharika Singh
Rating: R
Runtime: 117 minutes

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Most horror anthologies benefit from having some kind of unifying theme tying their stories together, and The Field Guide to Evil can boast an attractive central conceit: It’s a set of eight tales that are all grafted together from folklore and the campfire warnings of eras past, in locations all around the globe. It makes for a haltingly effective assembly of pastoral folk nightmares, unfortunately undone to some extent by its inconsistency. Still, there are properly unnerving sights here, as well as some beautifully cinematic ones. In Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s “The Sinful Women of Höllfall,” the Austrian countryside is itself a star, as the dark and morose short (which really describes this anthology as a whole) features some incredible forested scenes, benefiting greatly from some superb location scouting in the telling of its tale of a conservative society punishing aberrant attractions among the local youth. So too is Can Evrenol’s minimalist “Al Karisi” segment likely to stick in one’s mind, as a young woman fears her newborn child will be abducted by a Turkish childbirth demon. Shockingly brutal in spurts, in violence both overt and implied, the dread induced by “Al Karisi” feels very much like the product of the same mind that gave us Baskin. —Jim Vorel


31. NOS4A2

nos4a2-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Stars: Ashleigh Cummings, Zachary Quinto, Jahkara J. Smith
Rating: N/A
Runtime: 10 episodes

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With a plot that includes mediums, supernatural happenings and a place called “Christmasland,” I was surprised NOS4A2 was even adapted from Joe Hill’s novel of the same name. The book felt almost too weird to make into a TV show, where you can’t leave a world to the imagination and it must be shown on screen. But summertime is the perfect time to premiere a genre show with a slightly complex mythology that reminds people to be grateful for warmth instead of a lifetime of winter. And NOS4A2 is a solid TV show that’s ripe to watch when you need a day inside to take a break from the heat. It’s refreshing in a TV landscape full of complicated antiheroes that the characters with the most interiority in NOS4A2 are the good guys. The hero of this story is Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), and she has a big heart, and big sad eyes. She has complicated relationships with her family and friends, and her choices and relationships are treated with surprising nuance. In her personal life, there is no one who is all good or all bad, and yet she loves them anyway. —Rae Nudson


32. False Positive

false-positive-poster.jpg Year: 2021
Director: John Lee
Stars: Ilana Glazer, Justin Theroux, Pierce Brosnan, Sophia Bush
Rating: R
Runtime: 92 minutes

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Motherhood is a pretty scary thing. Particularly when it comes to the typical nine-month gestation period that produces a newborn child, the horror genre has been a hotbed of filmmakers exploring the visceral terror inherent in the body-altering state of pregnancy and the bloody act of giving birth. Perhaps this is why False Positive feels so fractured within this realm—for all of the diverse and interesting explorations within this subgenre, co-writers Ilana Glazer and John Lee limit their film by exclusively riffing on the notoriously inimitable Rosemary’s Baby. —Natalia Keogan


33. The Lodge

the-lodge-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Directors: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala
Stars: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Richard Armitage
Rating: R
Runtime: 108 minutes

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Franz and Fiala share a wonderful eye for composition and spooky imagery, as well as a strong head on their joined shoulders for casting. Riley Keough, their lead, along with co-stars Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh, perform nicely under the genre’s conditions, sustaining their sense of discomfit in The Lodge’s meticulously curated visual design. This is the kind of horror movie that looks so physically, tangibly real that you might feel like reaching through the screen and brushing your fingers on the fireplace mantle, or lying down in the snow to make angels. Lacking the sturdy architecture of equally meticulous storytelling, details like these give The Lodge structure. If nothing else, they make it easier to overlook weird script-level choices. Ultimately, The Lodge flirts with too many conceits before deciding on the least interesting of the bunch, which makes any build-up feel like wasted effort. —Andy Crump


34. Fresh

fresh-hulu-poster.jpg Year: 2022
Director: Mimi Cave
Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

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App dating gets its Bumbling psychothriller with Fresh, a movie that Hinges upon its literal and allegorical human meat Grindr. Music video director Mimi Cave adds some glitz to Adam McKay disciple Lauryn Kahn’s script in her feature debut, but the film lacks the necessary bite either in its body horror or humor to truly pull off its cannibalistic commentary. To even get to the fun, Fresh asks a high price: Weathering Noa’s (Daisy Edgar-Jones) played-out dating app horror stories and a psychopathic meet-cute with grocery store creep Steve (Sebastian Stan) that’s clearly leading nowhere good. This goes on for a good half-hour—during which the starry-eyed and bland Noa claims Steve is cute (he is, in a movie star way), funny (he is not, even in a movie star way), and charming (he doesn’t openly neg her)—before we finally get to the title card and the meat (ha!) of the movie. It’s a bold move that would’ve worked wonders if it all didn’t feel a little predictable. —Jacob Oller


35. Pooka!

pooka-2018-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Nyasha Hatendi, Dale Dickey, Jon Daly, Latarsha Rose
Rating: NR
Runtime: 83 minutes

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Talented Spanish sci-fi/weird fiction director Nacho Vigalondo (Colossal) turned his eye toward the Christmas holiday in this off-kilter entry in Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology series, in which a struggling actor is hired to portray the man-in-a-suit version of hot new Christmas doll Pooka, only to find that the big, fuzzy suit may have a mind of its own. Functioning something like a Vigalondo tribute to the claustrophobic, psychological meltdowns of Roman Polanski, especially Repulsion and The Tenant, Pooka! offers up apocalyptic visions, albeit on a shoestring budget. It’s eventually revealed to harbor some of the same mobius strip logic as Vigalondo’s earlier Timecrimes, but mostly gets by on solid performances despite a lack of production value. Zimbabwean-British-American actor Nyasha Hatendi in particular helps carry the film above its “TV movie” trappings. —Jim Vorel