I didn’t even realize how good of a year it was for horror until I started making this list. The genre was so strong in 2015 that I had to expand my top 10 list into the top 15—awesome! There was just so much great shit out there this year thanks in large part to the indie movie scene, which has totally revived the horror genre in recent years. Hell, if you go back and look at my top picks for 2014, it was, much like this list, largely made up of independent films. So the next time you hear someone say, “they don’t make good horror movies anymore”, tell them they’re looking in the wrong places! Or just slap them (that’s what I do).
Anyway, below is my top 15 horror movies of 2015! And while not all of them are strictly branded as horror, they still found a nice and cozy place under my skin. Enjoy!
In a sea of undead-themed horror movies, Cooties managed to not only stand out from the crowd, but it was ridiculously entertaining while doing it. The cast—Wood, Whannell, Pill, McBrayer, and Wilson—were fantastic, and watching them slaughter a horde of feral children was every bit as awesome as it sounds. [full review]
Nature-run-amok movies are a rare thing anymore (unless you count the stuff SyFy shits out every other Friday), especially ones that are as hard-hitting as Adam MacDonald’s man-vs-bear thriller. A lot of the movie is very calculated and quiet, letting the shadowy presence of the bear loom in the background. It’s what made this movie so damn good, too, because when we finally see the bear (as brief as it is) it’s utterly terrifying. [full review]
13. The Editor
Home to one of the dumbest detectives in cinematic history, The Editor is a delightfully insane giallo-inspired horror film that I absolutely fell in love with. It’s totally weird and ridiculous and perfectly captures the spirit of classic Italian cinema. While it’s a tough film to sell, if you’re into some weird shit and giallo horror, then this is a must see. [full review]
Okay, so horror may not be the first thing you think of when you see Faults, but this psychological mindfuck was just too good to ignore. It has this creeping, mysterious quality to it that was truly unsettling, and that final act was just a nasty little treat. Coming to life through some excellent performances, Faults was a total blast and there was really nothing else quite like it this year. [full review]
11. Crimson Peak
Guillermo del Toro’s gothic romance was unfairly treated upon its release, and I think a lot of that had to do with the studio wrongly marketing it as a straight-up horror movie. While there are certainly scary aspects to the movie—the third act is a murderous, psycho-rage of awesome—the film is really a love story with ghosts in it and I don’t think people really got that. I never had the time to give this film a proper review (I didn’t see it until well after its release), but I absolutely adored it. It’s one of the most gorgeous films del Toro has ever made, the soundtrack is beautiful and haunting, and the snow swept atmosphere was perfection.
10. The Final Girls
Not only was The Final Girls a fantastic nod to the great slasher flicks of the ’80s, but it shined a light on one of horror’s most storied traditions—the final girl. Injected with plenty of humor and over-the-top characters, The Final Girls was a wonderful treat to horror fans that had fun with the genre’s cliches while still being one of the most original films of the year. [full review]
If you haven’t seen Deathgasm yet then you’re missing out one of the bloodiest, most entertaining movies 2015 had to offer. Think Evil Dead to the tune of heavy metal and you have this hilarious, ultra violent rampage of a movie with great characters and a lightning quick narrative that will melt your face off. [full review]
8. Ex Machina
While Ex Machina is much more sci-fi than horror, those final few moments in the movie were the stuff of nightmares and anchored the film as one of the very best of the year no matter which genre you put it in. I loved the dynamic between man and machine, and the fact that the narrative is always one step ahead really made this one a fantastic watch.
While there was no doubting that Dougherty was going to deliver a solid film, I don’t think anyone was expecting Krampus to be what it was. It’s a legit HORROR movie for kids—like, not some watered down jump-scare-riddled mess of cgi ghosts, but instead a wickedly scary monster movie with practical effects that will ruin dreams for a long, long time. The fact that it’s all set during Christmas is just the icing on the cake. [full review]
6. We Are Still Here
We Are Still Here is just so fucking good. It’s not only one of the very best movies of the year, it pretty much owned the haunted house genre since nothing else even came close to being as good (and bloody!). But what really made this movie so special was that it felt like a lost classic that had been sitting on a shelf for 30 years before anyone discovered its greatness. [full review]
5. It Follows
I don’t even think It Follows was particularly scary or anything, but the reason why I liked it so much was that there is so much about it left to be discovered. There’s this intentionally dark cloud of mystery that hangs over the film—what is “It” and how does it work? The characters don’t even know what they’re dealing with (and how would they?) and often contradict their own theories, which I found to be very refreshing because so many horror movies like to lay that kind of information on thick. The soundtrack was gold, too.
Truly a special film, Benson and Moorhead’s romance-horror hybrid was in a league of its own, blurring the genre lines by allowing its narrative to lead the way with passion, heart and breathtaking beauty. It’s such a unique, monster of a movie with fascinating characters and wonderful storytelling that I knew it was going to be on this list the moment it ended. [full review]
3. What We Do in the Shadows
Endlessly quotable and filled with some of the best characters of the year, What We Do in the Shadows is a brilliantly funny movie with a big heart and sharp fangs. It’s such a charming film with great dialog and a it’s a wonderful addition to the storied vampire genre that happens to be genuinely full of heart as well as being absolutely hilarious. [full review]
2. Goodnight Mommy
If you spend any amount of time around these parts then you’ll know how much I adore this nightmare of a movie. And a nightmare is the best way to describe it, too, because the whole film unfolds like some sort of sick and twisted dream, one that you can never wake up from. [full review]
1. Bone Tomahawk
And my number one pick for the best horror movie of the year goes to the shit-your-pants cannibal western Bone Tomahawk. Ho-ly-shit this movie, you guys. The film doesn’t necessarily unfold like a typical horror movie, but what it does so well is that from the moment it starts, there’s a sense of dread that follows the characters around like an unseen monster stalking its prey. And it’s that impending doom type of atmosphere coupled with one of the most wickedly disturbing finales ever that made it my number 1 pick of the year. [full review]
So there you have it, folks, my top 15 horror movies of 2015! As you can see, it was another great year for the genre and I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store. Now you tell me: what were some of YOUR favorite horror films of the year?