While killer clowns and sorority house slashers remain the genre’s staples, this decade has been a “golden age” for thoughtful and intriguing horror. Independent film or Hollywood blockbuster, these six scary movies gleefully exploit our contemporary uncertainties in an anxious age.
1. The Conjuring (2013)
The beginning of what has now become a franchise (three films so far) breathed new life into the haunted house and paranormal investigators sub-genres. A great cast plays it for all it’s worth and gives us many genuinely scary moments.
2. The Babadook (2014)
Focused on a grieving single mom whose husband has just died and whose young son then starts seeing monsters, first-time Australian director Jennifer Kent has said of her film that, “I wanted to tell the story of a woman who was forced to face the unfaceable.” She did. It’s pretty terrifying.
3. Get Out (2017)
Besides being a wickedly funny satire on our country’s racial divide, Jordan Peele’s debut feature is truly frightening. If you’ve already seen it, watch again for its horror elements. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for?
4. A Quiet Place (2018)
Easily the best alien “creature feature” of the decade, this wonderfully inventive directorial debut of John Krasinski, with an extraordinary performance by his partner, Emily Blunt, gets back to the fundamentals of both horror and cinema in a distinctly innovative way.
5. Hereditary (2018) and 6. Midsommar (2019)
These first two films of writer-director Ari Aster have gotten a lot of notice in the horror genre — Hereditary as an ultimate dysfunctional family story and Midsommar as an ultimate bad breakup story. Go and see the latter on the big screen — in its “Director’s Cut” version — at the Plaza Cinema in Patchogue this Halloween.