After the 2000s, a period when most horror films were created solely around the idea of scaring their audiences and not much else, the 2010s saw a reinvention of the genre and proved that horror films can still be more much more than jumpscares and clichéd scenarios. In the last couple of years, talented newcomer directors such as Robert Eggers, Ari Aster, Mike Flanagan, and Jordan Peele gave us some fantastic horror movies that were cleverer than anyone would have expected from the genre.
When it comes to counting how many great horror movies were released in 2019, the number is not impressive and making a 10 titles list proved much more challenging than with other genres. However, the occasional gems were enough to know that horror is still in safe hands. And with how things look right now, chances are that the best horror movies of all time are still yet to come – we just can’t wait to see what the 2020s have in store for us! Until then, here are the best 10 horror films of 2019. Let us know in the comments what were your favorite horror movies of the last year.
10. The Hole In The Ground (dir. Lee Cronin)
After leaving her husband, a mother moves to an isolated near-the-woods house in the Irish countryside and tries to start a new life along her young son Chris. One night, Chris disappears into the forest, and when he returns he starts acting increasingly stranger. Soon, his mother links his unusual behavior with a mysterious sinkhole in the forest.
This horror film has its share of creepy moments, some beautiful cinematography, a great soundtrack and pretty solid performances from its cast. However, its pacing problems and undeveloped story turn it into a middling experience. Still, this is better than most horror movies released in 2019 and you should check it out if you’re a fan of the genre.
9. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (dir. Andre Ovredal)
“Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” is not the scariest, nor the most compelling horror film of 2019. However, this is not a horror film aimed at adult audiences, as neither was its source material, a series of short horror stories books for children written by Alvin Schwartz. For a film to introduce younger audiences to the genre, this is the perfect choice and the better and scarier alternative to the recent “Goosebumps” films.
The movie takes place on Halloween 1968, in a small Pennsylvanian town, where a group of teenage friends stumble upon a mysterious book of horror stories while exploring the local haunted house. Of course, there is something wrong with the book and soon the characters become the protagonists of their own horror stories.
“Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” is constructed as a series of connected vignettes, each of them focusing on one of the film’s protagonists and introducing a new scary monster that the characters have to confront. While some of these vignettes work better than others, there are enough tense moments and inventive monster designs to make this a decent summer horror flick. As we’ve already said, for a movie aimed at younger horror fans, “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” does a great job.
8. Crawl (dir. Alexandre Aja)
“Crawl” was directed by Alexandra Aja and stars Kaya Scodelario as Haley Keller, a young student and professional swimmer who, along with her father and their dog, gets trapped in an alligator-infested basement during a Category 5 hurricane in Florida.
When “Crawl” was announced, everyone dismissed it as another subpar disaster film that ripped off “Jaws”. The film looked like one more bad entry in the list of movies featuring killer alligators/crocodiles/piranhas or whatever shark substitute but to everyone’s surprise it turned out that “Crawl” was pretty good, with Quentin Tarantino even naming it one of his favorite movies of 2019.
Of course, “Crawl” is far from a masterpiece or anything groundbreaking, but for a B-movie about people getting eaten by alligators during a Florida hurricane, it does a great job. The acting is fine, the camerawork is surprisingly competent, the jumpscares are good and not too overcrowded, and for its 87 minutes length it is thrilling enough to keep you entertained.
7. In Fabric (dir. Peter Strickland)
Directed by Peter Strickland (“Berberian Sound Studio”, “The Duke Of Burgundy”) is a Giallo-inspired horror-comedy about a cursed dress and the devastating consequences it has on two of its unlucky owners. This is another highly stylized, surrealistic and very original entry in Strickland’s catalogue and, while it certainly isn’t a film for everyone, if you are into Giallo or you’ve enjoyed the director’s previous work, you will surely find many things to like about “In Fabric”.
The reason why this isn’t higher up on this list is the film’s second part that felt like a repetition of the much more compelling first act and thus a little anticlimactic. While the first hour of “In Fabric” is very captivating and builds up a couple of interesting characters that we get to care about, Strickland chooses to split the narrative into two nearly separate stories and most of the characters from the film’s first half become nearly nonexistent in its second one.
6. Doctor Sleep (dir. Mike Flanagan)
Creating a sequel for Stanely Kubrick’s “The Shining” while at the same time trying to stay true to Stephen King’s vision was not an easy task for director and writer Mike Flanagan, yet he raised to the challenge and the result was, for the most part, great.
“Doctor Sleep” is based on Stephen King’s 2013 novel of the same name and stars Ewan McGregor as the now-adult Danny Torrance. Just like his dad, Danny (who now goes by the name Dan) grew up to become a troubled man, struggling with alcoholism and lacking anything that would resemble a settled life. Trying to make a new beginning, he decides to move to a new city and finds a job as a hospice orderly, where he aids dying old people and gets nicknamed Doctor Sleep. Unfortunately, his restful life only lasts for a blink of an eye: Danny meets Aubra, a young girl with the shining and has to protect her from a mysterious cult known as The True Knot and to once again face the horrors of his childhood.
Mike Flanagan is a great horror director but, just like Stephen King, the thing he is best at is not creating the scares, but the characters. “Oculus” or “The Haunting Of Hill House” were at parts very scary, but the reason they worked so well were their real-life, depthful protagonists. This is also the case with “Doctor Sleep”, a film that really shines when it comes to its characters, especially the perfectly cast Ewan McGregor, who plays a flawless version of the adult Danny and acts exactly like you’d imagine the little boy from “The Shining” to be as a grown-up.
Truth be told, we were much more keen on the first half of this film, which plays like a drama about a psychologically traumatized man and is filled with scenes that give us an insight into Danny’s present-day life. While the final act is the part where the horror aspects are cranked up and “The Shining” references overflow, it is also the part of the film that fell a little flat. Of course, seeing the perfectly recreated Overlook Hotel once again on the big screen was amazing, but in the end, the thrills-packed ending of “Doctor Sleep” was the weakest point of a mostly great sequel.