Horror is one of the most popular film genres and the horror film landscape is ever changing – what is popular in horror is determined film to film by audiences. Audiences are currently experiencing a golden age of horror cinema and horror films are doing big business at the box office, raking in massive returns for studios.
Last year, IT became the highest grossing horror film of all time with a box office total of over $700 million. And this year horror has seen some great returns for films like Hereditary, Insidious: The Last Key and The Nun to name a few.
So with this in mind, it looks like horror films will continue to appeal to audiences and studios alike. The twenty first century has seen dozens of great horror films released and the last five years is no exception.
10. Don’t Breathe (2016)
Summed up in three words: Terrifying home invasion.
Three friends who spend their spare time breaking into wealthy people’s houses decide to break into the house of a blind veteran who has won a major cash settlement following the death of his only child. Figuring that he will be an easy target, the friends soon find themselves fighting for their lives after making a shocking discovery about their victim.
Don’t Breathe was directed by Fede Alvarez and co-written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues. Alvarez has said that in a lot of ways Don’t Breathe was a reaction to his debut film Evil Dead (2013).
The film was criticised for being too gory and being too focused on shock tactics. So Alvarez wanted to make a film that used less blood and focused more on tension and suspense. Don’t Breathe was well received and had largely positive critical reviews. It made $157 million against a budget of $10 million.
Trivia: Stephen Lang, who plays the bind man, wore contact lenses that greatly restricted his vision. The other actors wore contact lenses for the in the dark scenes that made their pupils look dilated.
9. Raw (2016)
Summed up in three words: Disturbing, cannibalistic horror.
Desperate to fit in at her new veterinary school, strict vegetarian Justine strays from her principles and eats meat for the first time. Soon, Justine’s true self begins to emerge with terrible and unexpected consequences.
Written and directed by Julia Ducournau, Raw was not a box office success; however it was met with critical acclaim. The film was the subject of some controversy after there were reports of some members of the audience fainting and having to receive emergency medical treatment at a screening at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival due to the graphic content. Ducournau was shocked to hear this. There would be more reports of the same thing happening in multiple theatres.
Trivia: The raw chicken that Justine eats out of the fridge is actually sugar. Garance Miller later said that it put her off eating sweets for life.
8. Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Summed up in three words: Don’t have children.
Two inseparable twin boys welcome their mother home after reconstructive surgery. Unnerved by her bandaged appearance and strange behaviour, the twins grow suspicious and begin to suspect that the woman in their house is no longer their mother.
Goodnight Mommy was written and directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. The film grossed $2.2 million at the box office and was well received critically with many critics calling it a perfect film for horror enthusiasts. The film was selected as the Austrian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards but it was ultimately not nominated.
Trivia: Throughout filming the actors did not work with a script, thus improvising most of the horror. Eventually a script was written but Elias and Lukas Schwarz, the two child actors, never saw it or worked with it. In fact, Elias and Lukas still have not watched the film yet and have no idea how the film turned out.
7. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Summed up in three words: Intense, visceral horror.
A father and son coroner team find increasingly bizarre clues when they work on the body of a young Jane Doe. Soon they are plagued by strange and terrifying phenomena.
Directed by Andre Ovredal and written by Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing, The Autopsy of Jane Doe grossed $6 million at the box office and was met with largely positive reviews. Ovredal was inspired by The Conjuring and its roots in classical horror. He wanted to do a horror film that would be pure horror and be like going back to basics. One of the most important aspects of the film for Ovredal was the casting of the Jane Doe. He cast Olwen Kelly who he said had the most difficult role in the film.
Trivia: Olwen Kelly was the first person that Ovredal auditioned for the role and although Ovredal auditioned further people, he said that he knew instantly that Kelly was the right person for the role. One of the reasons that she was picked was because of her knowledge of yoga. This enabled her to control her body and breathing whilst being laid on the autopsy table.
6. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Summed up in three words: Treat women nicely.
In a worn down Iranian city, the residents encounter a skateboarding vampire who preys on men who treat women badly.
Described as the first Iranian vampire western ever made, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the feature film debut of director Ana Lily Amirpour who also wrote the screenplay. The film received positive reviews and grossed $628,000 at the box office. The film was based on a short film of the same name by Amirpour. The short film was screened at film festivals before an Indiegogo campaign was launched in order to fund the feature film.
Trivia: Amirpour bears a similar resemblance to the Shelia Vand (The Girl) and so as lifelong skateboarder, she actually performed the skateboarding sequences in the film for the long shots.