Before compiling this list I was thinking 2016 was a weak year for horror, at least in the movies anyway, real life is a different story, but after looking over what came out this year I had a terribly tough time whittling this list down to just ten.
2016 saw the continuing trend of supernatural flicks with the house of Blum still dominating the genre by nearly constant quality releases. While I’m definitely tiring of ghost stories, a couple solid entries made it to this list, which is more than what I can say about found footage, a genre that was thankfully barely visible this year. I also noticed a decent number of witch-themed horror films this year, which is refreshing.
Anyway, take a look below at my top 10 horror movies of 2016, presented in no particular order with a bunch of honorable mentions at the end.
Don’t Breathe – Easily one of the most suspenseful films of the year, Fede Alvarez follows up the chaos and carnage of Evil Dead with a film where silence is the key to survival for a group of burglars.
Green Room – Jeremy Saulnier’s followup to Blue Ruin was every bit as brutal and tension-filled as I hoped it would be. With its gritty, realistic, almost difficult to watch spurts of violence, this isn’t the easiest movie of the year to watch, but it’s one of the best.
The Witch – Drawing from New England folklore, The Witch is an atmospheric nightmare filled to the brim with dread that resonates long after the credits roll.
The Eyes of My Mother – Presented in stark black and white, this horrid tale of loneliness and isolation is as unsettling as it is beautifully shot.
Scherzo Diabolico – A nasty little exploitation film about a kidnapping gone awry, many will not be able to get past how demoralizing this thriller is, but it continuously subverted my expectations and shocked me on more than one occasion.
The Love Witch – As a fan of Viva, director Anna Biller’s last film, I was beyond excited for The Love Witch and it exceeded my expectations. She absolutely nails the aesthetic and delivers one of the most visually unique films I’ve seen this year.
Southbound – I’m always wary when it comes to anthology films, but this is the rare exception where none of the segments broke the momentum of the film as a whole despite each one being very different from last.
Ouija: Origin of Evil – I had little hope for this one considering how mediocre the first was, but I cannot stress enough how different the two Ouija movies are, with this sequel proving to be an intensely creepy and stylish possession story.
Under the Shadow – Drawing apt comparisons to The Babadook, this slow burn (and I mean slooww burn) Iranian horror film builds ridiculous amounts suspense as a mother and daughter are battling malevolent forces in their home as their country sits on the brink of war.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe – A fascinating father-son story that falters a bit at the end, but the strong first and second act easily make up for it.
10 Cloverfield Lane – A fantastic sudo-sequel that I didn’t quite consider a horror film, but hey, if you do pretend it’s on the list.
The Invitation – An incredibly intriguing mystery that again I don’t know if it qualifies as horror, but is certainly worth a look.
Lights Out – Another supernatural film that not only has an interesting hook, but utilizes it to great effect.
Emelie – A nice twist on the slasher genre where the babysitter is not the victim but the perpetrator.
Baskin – Weird, surreal Turkish horror that’s gross and strange.
The Purge: Election Year – The best in the series. It’s far from perfect, but it revels in its ridiculous premise and I appreciate that.