The Best Modern Horror Films to Watch this Spooky Season

Hush (2016) © Netflix

October has rolled around once again, and with that comes Spooky Season. Halloween is on the horizon and so horror films should be at the very top of your watchlists.

Here are some of the best modern horror films, from 2010 onwards, to watch this Spooky Season. Beware of some upcoming spoilers!

12. Us (2019)

Us (2019) © Universal Pictures

Beloved director Jordan Peele gets this Spooky Season list kicked off with his second feature film release. Us came out in 2019 and saw Peele push the boundaries of the horror genre once again. An intensely dark and macabre story is taken to new heights by the performances of lead duo Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as Addy and Gabe Wilson respectively. Michael Abels’ music makes a real impact and Peele makes the film both scary and humorous at various points with this.

11. Sinister (2012)

Sinister is another horror film that is driven forward by the performances: this time it is Ethan Hawke who is the difference maker. Haunting is the best word to describe this 2012 release from director Scott Derrickson. Videotapes and/or found footage is an asset of the horror genre that has been revisited multiple times in the last decade, and Sinister is one of the best examples of it.

10. Scream IV (2011)

Slasher franchises trying to live up to their iconic originals is always a challenge, as can be seen with both Halloween and Scream reboots. Regarding the latter, Wes Craven’s best attempt at rivalling his 1996 release came in 2011 with Scream IV. Emma Roberts is sensational as one of the two Ghostfaces and the ability to play on the classic tropes of yesteryear works so well. Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) and Robbie Mercer (Erik Knudsen) are a pair of movie fanatics giving nods to the past and they understand the rules that these films follow, seamlessly intertwining them with the whole story and the main characters.

9. Train to Busan (2016)

Train to Busan (2016) © Next Entertainment World

Train to Busan is the only film on this list not in the English language and it addresses some very heavy moral dilemmas. Director Yeon Sang-ho’s characters have to decide whether they look out for themselves, their loved ones, or even the complete strangers around them. Zombie films aren’t for everyone, but the compelling, emotional story that develops in this 2016 release makes it a must-see. Seok-Woo, played by Gong Yoo, begins the film as a business-orientated man whose daughter is being neglected only for him to have to look at the bigger picture once the chaos descends.

8. Midsommar (2019)

Most lists that discuss modern horrors will include Ari Aster for his debut feature film, Hereditary. Whilst it is greatly terrifying, it has to settle for a spot on the honourable mentions list, with his second feature Midsommar making the list instead. It is easy enough to just talk about performances and nothing else for horror films, but Florence Pugh’s in this psychedelic nightmare has to be one of the best of the 21st century. Aster’s mind is wild and allowing it to run free is at the benefit of the watcher of his films, with this particular film putting the spooky in Spooky Season.

7. Candyman (2021)

Candyman (2021) © Universal Pictures

Revisiting a 1990s classic is no mean feat and Jordan Peele being onboard as a producer shines through in Nia DaCosta’s Candyman. Playing into an old myth makes this film so devilish and is certainly one that would give any young audience members nightmares for weeks to come. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is the lead and after a brilliant minor role in Us, he reaches new heights in this 2021 release. A lot of people prefer to stick to the original films, but it has to be said that this is a nigh on perfect take of the 2020s.

6. Get Out (2017)

Peele is at it again with a twisted story that blew everyone away in the form of his debut, Get Out. His way of exploring race is truly something special and the barbaric subject is displayed in a fictional nature with the history of racism in the USA also being highlighted at the same time. Alisson Williams excels as the mysterious girlfriend of Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), with his best friend Rod’s (Lil Rel Howery) rescue mission bringing the film to the perfect crescendo.

5. A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place (2018) © Paramount Pictures

The idea that modern filmmakers have no original ideas to bring to the table is blown out of the water by A Quiet Place, directed by and starring John Krasinski. This film and the sequel that has come since have you holding your breath with every footstep, speaking to the brilliance of it all. Silent films may be a thing of the past but the way in which Krasinski combines that element with his own take on shocking horror works a treat. It is gut-wrenching from start to finish as Lee (Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) have to do all it takes to protect their family.

4. Scream VI (2023)

The Scream franchise features once again, but not with Wes Craven at the helm due to his sad passing in 2015. Scream VI is the latest instalment, with a seventh currently in the works. The sixth sees a group of unlucky teens take to the streets of New York City. Feeding in the subways and the New York apartments really gives the series new air to breathe, and when you add in the repeated slasher references, Jenna Ortega’s best performance to date, and the killers paying homage to those that have come before them, it is most definitely a recipe for success.

3. Ready or Not (2019)

Ready or Not (2019) © Fox Searchlight Pictures

Ready or Not is a lot more subtle and sophisticated when it comes to being a slasher film, and yet there is still blood and guts everywhere. Alongside Pugh in Midsommar, Samara Weaving turns in a generational performance and glues the viewer permanently to the edge of their seats. A nail through the hand is the most squeamish moment in a film about an unstoppable, independent woman. Adam Brody delights in his performance as a brother-in-law who no-one can really gauge.

2. Hush (2016)

Hush is a horror film that isn’t talked about enough, especially when you can draw such basic parallels between it and A Quiet Place. Very few words are spoken due to Kate Siegel’s lead character Maddie being deaf; it is in this silence that the viewer is left to wallow. Any film of this nature that has you asking questions as to the sanity of the main character is sure to be a hit. Fans of Mike Flanagan’s various Netflix shows, including 2023’s The Fall of the House of Usher, will be better off for having watched his 2016 film release.

1. The Menu (2022)

The Menu (2022) © Searchlight Pictures

Some may dispute whether The Menu is even a horror but due to the dramatic twist that it takes, it surely fits into that genre. The brutality of it all makes it the modern horror to watch this Halloween, with the twists and turns of the story keeping you on side every step of the way. It has terrific performances galore as well with Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes, Hong Chau and Nicholas Hoult leading a superb cast into battle, literally. The way in which class divides are analysed here may be off-putting for some but the more we can see from Mark Mylod going forward in this genre, the better.

  • Honourable Mentions:

Pearl, Last Night In Soho, Talk to Me, Evil Dead Rise, The Resurrection of Charles Manson, Bones and All, Hereditary, The Woman In Black, Halloween Ends.

Words by Jamie Rooke

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