These Are the Top 10 Horror Movies of the Decade

A look back at how the 2010s revitalized the genre.

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Though by no means a new genre, horror films have come into a new level of prominence in the past decade, with the 2010s seeing the launch of many films that suggest the genre has plenty to say beyond cheap thrills. The decade has introduced a myriad of thought-provoking art house films disguised as horror movies that, ironically, have helped propel the genre into the mainstream again.

Art house films have traditionally been reserved for niche audiences. But, once meshed with the horror genre’s penchant for spectacle, contemporary titles like Hereditary and Get Out have transformed the once-schlocky genre into the must-see event films they used to be in the genre’s heyday of the ’70s and ’80s. We only hope to see the trend continue into the 2020s.

In no particular order, we at HYPEBEAST have curated the top 10 horror movies of the 2010s based on factors such as their importance to the genre, how they elevated the careers of what are now household name directors and, perhaps most importantly, their ability to scare. With Halloween around the corner, now is the perfect time to revisit your favorites from the decade or watch titles that you may have missed upon their initial release.

The Conjuring

Year released: 2013

The Conjuring arguably rejuvenated big studio horror movies, creating a horror cinematic universe with spin-off titles like Annabelle, The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona. The Conjuring not only made $319 million USD worldwide against its $20 million USD budget, but the film also launched the career of director James Wan in the process — who went on to direct Furious 7 and Aquaman, both of which each earned a billion dollars in the box office. It should be mentioned that he also directed 2004’s Saw, which went on to inspire countless torture-porn jumpscare horror films that ultimately oversaturated the genre until The Conjuring reinvigorating the style with a new standard.

The Babadook

Year released: 2014

The Babadook is arguably one of the first independent movies to bring art house-influenced horror to the mainstream. It was one of the best-reviewed films of 2014, and one of the first of its ilk alongside It Follows to showcases a provocative story within a horror film. William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist, has said that the film stands among the most influential horror movies ever made with Psycho and Alien. The Babadook would go on to inspire some of the 2010’s best horror film, including Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us.

Train to Busan

Year released: 2016

Train to Busan is a Korean horror that made waves both in and outside of its home country for its unique take on the zombie genre at the height of the subgenre’s popularity. However, the film retains the core values of traditional zombie movies by offering social commentary on society, in this case social structures, classism, and an emotional core in child actress Kim Su-an and Gong Yoo. Train to Busan was named as one of the “Big 4” blockbusters in Korea during summer 2016 alongside Operation Chromite, The Last Princess and Tunnel. The film grossed $93.1 million USD worldwide on a $8.5 million USD budget.

Get Out

Year released: 2017

Get Out is a psychological horror that relies on social constructs and social commentary to build its plot and scares. But it’s the film’s use of themes of racism for its scares through the perspective of a black lead character during the decade’s political climate that provides its hook, and what ultimately makes its psychological horror so relatable. Get Out built upon what films like The Babadook and It Follows presented to the genre while also adding a twinge of core reliability that makes the film’s scares — and laughs — that much deeper.

IT

Year released: 2017

IT reinvigorated adaptations from Stephen King’s eclectic collection of stories in light of the fact that it became the top-grossing horror film of all time, making $700 million USD on a $35 million USD budget. It also successfully capitalized on the decade’s ’80s nostalgia obsession with its fantastic cast of child actors. However, its most extraordinary feat was giving pop culture a decade-defining horror figure alongside the ranks of Ghostface, Jason, and Myers during a time when real-world horrors outweighed what was in theaters.

Hereditary

Year released: 2018

Hereditary is a perfect example of an art house indie horror. It tells a tight story with a classic set-up, showcasing a provocative, relatable story of inner family drama and inherited mental illnesses within the framework of a classic occult film. Instead of using jump scares or relying on haunting imagery, it uses dread and sorrow to build its scares, with actress Toni Collette emotionally conveying those moments to perfection. It is currently the most successful A24 film of all time and served as director Ari Aster’s directorial debut. His follow-up Midsommar has solidified him as the next emerging director alongside fellow A24 talent Robert Eggers.

The Witch

Year released: 2016

Robert Eggers’ directorial debut The Witch is a masterpiece in filmmaking and a shining gem in the horror genre. The movie is set in the 1600s and is a period piece with New England-appropriate dialogue that may make the film inaccessible to some viewers. However, its slow-build presents the common devil story set-up in a way never seen before. The Witch also showcases a level of cinematic mastery from Eggers rarely seen from even the most seasoned filmmakers.

Suspiria

Year released: 2018

Suspiria is an example of how to properly remake a beloved property. Rather than trying to rehash the colorful cinematography that enraptured Italian audiences in the 1977 original, it instead expounded on the initial film’s rather unengaging plot. Really, the two films are comparable only in name and premise — otherwise, it is an entirely new story that picks up where the original lacked. Strong performances from Chloë Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, and Dakota Johnson helped elevate the film as a horror movie that stands out among the medium’s many careless remakes.

Halloween

Year released: 2018

One of the original franchise horror films made its return this decade to one of its most successful box office openings yet. Where franchises like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street failed in their 2000s reboots, Halloween succeeded a decade later by using the tried and proven Star Wars: The Force Awaken template for remakes, to wondrous results.

Following its opening weekend, star Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted its accomplishments: “Biggest horror movie opening with a female lead. Biggest movie opening with a female lead over 55. Second biggest horror movie opening ever. Second biggest October movie opening ever. Biggest ‘Halloween’ opening ever.” It has since become the third biggest horror movie opening following the debut of IT: Chapter 2 on September 6, 2019.

Cabin in the Woods

Year released: 2012

Cabin in the Woods arrived when audiences had thought they’d seen everything horror had to offer. Even meta horrors that took on the genre’s tired cliches like Scream had become old hat for audiences. Enter Cabin in the Woods, which took horror tropes and meta commentaries through the gamut to make one of the most genuinely fun genre films of all time. Its self-referential humor plays directly into the movie’s framework and breaks all the conventions of horror while honoring them at the same time. It’ll definitely keep viewers guessing until the very end.

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