5. Under The Skin (2013)
Often compared to “The Shining”, Jonathan Glazer’s sci-fi horror “Under The Skin” has gorgeous cinematography, a fear-inducing soundtrack, a cold atmosphere and a very Kubrickian way of building its horror.
The film stars Scarlett Johansson as a mysterious creature who takes the shape of a young woman and seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland, luring them in her otherworldly liar. However, events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.
It is one of the few movies that, despite a slow-burn, somewhat repetitive narrative, and minimal use of dialogue manages to be tense, disquieting and, as its title suggests, definitely gets under your skin.
4. The Witch (2015)
Robert Eggers’s “The Witch” follows a Puritan family in the 1630’s New England which is unsettled by an unknown evil lurking in the dark woods surrounding their recluse farm. As their animals start to act strange, their crops fail and one of the children is seemingly possessed by an unseen entity, the paranoid family members accuse Tomasin, the teenage daughter, of being a witch.
The historical setting, complex themes of religion, fanaticism and female suppression, the unsettling, dreamlike atmosphere and the lack of horror clichés set “The Witch” apart from all the other horror films of the 2010s. There are no jumpscares or buckets of blood, yet this is still one of the most captivating and creepy horror films A24 has ever put out.
3. Midsommar – Director’s Cut (2019)
Ari Aster blew us away with his 2018 horror drama “Hereditary”, a film that set him up as one of the most promising emerging directors and received widespread acclaim as a masterpiece of the genre. Coming up with a second film that lived up to the mastery of his debut was a hard job, but “Midsommar” proved that he was far from a one-hit-wonder movie director and received widespread acclaim for its ambitious subject and excellent craftsmanship.
Inspired by Robin Hardy’s “The Wicker Man” (1973) and the ancient Pagan rituals of the Midsummer festival, the film follows a group of college students who attend a Swedish summer festival that turns into a daymare. From its very start, which features one of the main characters going through a traumatizing event, “Midsommar” establishes itself as one of the most unsettling movies of the year and for its remaining runtime it only gets more and more disturbing. It is a memorable film and, while less affecting than “Hereditary”, it is bigger in scope and shows even more prowess from director Ari Aster.
Make sure to watch the extended director’s cut if you want to get the “full” experience.
2. The Lighthouse (2019)
Robert Eggers’ second film “The Lighthouse” revolves around two lighthouse keepers from the 1890s (Robert Pattinson and William Dafoe) who live alone on a remote island. When after a storm they find themselves stuck together in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by alcohol, pouring rain, screeching seagulls and mysterious appearances, the two men slowly start to lose their sanity.
Similar to Kubrick’s “The Shining”, this is a slow-burn cabin fever type of horror film. Instead of the all-too-familiar jumpscares and gore, “The Lighthouse” builds its atmosphere of dread with a maddening soundtrack, menacing visuals, indecipherable mythos, and last but not least, the two ferocious performances from Pattinson and Dafoe.
It is also one of the best-looking films of 2019. An ode to the cinema of the 1930s, the film was shot on black and white 35mm film in the nearly square Academy aspect ratio and it looks as if it was filmed in the early days of cinema by pioneers such as Fritz Lang and G.W. Pabst. The unique cinematography combined with the powerhouse performances from its two leads and the masterful direction and hallucinatory script from Eggers place “The Lighthouse” as one of the best horror movies (or movies in general) of the 2010s.
1. Hereditary (2018)
Ari Aster’s debut film “Hereditary” was not just a great horror film, but also one of the most complex and emotionally-charged movies we got the chance to see in the last couple of years. The film is dramatic to the point where it might make you cry and it features some of the greatest performances in a horror movie – ever.
One of the few horror films of the 2010s that really felt like it will have an impact on the future of the genre, “Hereditary” was a game-changer. Refusing to rely on jumpscares to get its audiences scared, Ari Aster settled for less ostentatious, but a much more effective and clever kind of horror. With no remorse, “Hereditary” subjects its characters to some overly-traumatic experiences and the horror is so carefully constructed that, despite the story’s supernatural nature, it feels frightfully real.
“Hereditary” is the kind of film that gets under your skin and slowly fills you with a sense of dread and exhaustion to the point that you will find some of its terrifying moments lingering in your mind long after the end credits roll.