Written by Shannon McGrew
2016 has been a hell of a year for horror films, whether it was small independent films or blockbuster hits, the horror genre has once again taken the film industry by storm. Regardless whether you like horror or not, you can’t deny the impact that the films have begun to have and the ripple effect it’s caused where those who wouldn’t typically watch horror have become interested. As 2016 comes to a close, I decided to take a look back at what I consider to be the 10 Best Horror Films of 2016.
#10 “The Invitation”
Synopsis: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests. (IMDb)
Thoughts: This is one of those slow burn movies that some may want to give up on in the beginning but I’d advise not doing so as the payoff is more than worth it. The film examines the relationships between those closest to us while also suggesting that trusting your gut feelings about something may be the best advice one can get. The Invitation, to me, was a sleeper hit that left me gasping for her air as the end credits rolled. Since then, whenever I attend a party (especially in Hollywood), I always have those last few minutes of the film in the back of my head, just in case. In the end the film made me wonder, can we really trust anyone?
Synopsis: A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window. (IMDb)
Thoughts: What I love so much about Hush is that it takes the often overused “breaking and entering” scenario and gives viewers a fresh new take. It was interesting to view the film through the eyes of the main character, Maddie (played by Kate Siegel) who is deaf because she doesn’t sense the danger as fast as we do. I found myself yelling at my TV multiple times because I didn’t want anything to happen to her. It’s a very tense thriller and one that keeps you guessing as to the fate of Maddie throughout the entire film.
#8 “Under the Shadow”
Synopsis: As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution war-torn Tehran of the 1980s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home. (IMDb)
Thoughts: I would be lying if I said I wasn’t fascinated with legends and stories that surround the Djinn; however, films that try to adapt this always seem to fall short. In the case of Under the Shadows, we see the story of the Djinn unravel at the same time as Tehran is being bombed. It’s an interesting juxtaposition between what is actually real and what may we may think to be real. Combining real world terror with that of a supernatural creature gave the film an even more terrifying feel and created one of the more unique viewing experiences of the year.
#7 “The Conjuring 2”
Synopsis: Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by a malicious spirit. (IMDb)
Thoughts: I’ll be completely honest, I’m a sucker for any film by James Wan. To me, I consider him to be one of the modern-day masters of horror and he cemented himself on this list with his amazing follow-up to The Conjuring. While watching this film I found myself quite literally on the edge of my seat due to the intense amount of panic and scares that were happening at a rapid rate. Wan knows how to get under your skin and pull quality scares from each and every direction and I believe he did this perfectly in The Conjuring 2. Be ready to have your dreams haunted by The Crooked Man for days on end.
Synopsis: An investigative reporter teams up with a police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister’s family. (IMDb)
Thoughts: There are a lot of films on this list that I could categorize as beautiful, but one that really set that tone for me this year was “Abattoir”. The noir-horror/thriller had some of the best set designs I’ve seen in any movie this year and it’s one of the more unique, in terms of storyline, that I’ve seen all year. The film really is about haunted houses and who inhabits them but it turns the genre on its head when the antagonist constructs a house based off of murders that take place in people’s homes. It’s a smart thriller that will beg the question, how do you construct a haunted house?
#5 “Trash Fire”
Synopsis: When Owen is forced to confront the past he’s been running from his whole adult life, he and his girlfriend, Isabel, become entangled in a horrifying web of lies, deceit and murder. (IMDb)
Thoughts: I would categorize this film as an emotionally charged horror film that incorporates murder, family tragedy, and extreme religious fanatics. This was one of those films that knocked me on my ass as I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. The banter between the lead actors, Adrian Grenier and Angela Trimbur, was spot on and added a taste of comedic relief, in the most unexpected ways. In the end, this film is a perfect example of how humans, specifically those we love, are capable of being just as frightening as the monsters that hide under our beds.
#4 “The Neon Demon”
Synopsis: When inspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has. (IMDb)
Thoughts: Out of all the films on this list, this is probably the most polarizing as people seem to either love it or hate it, with very little in-between. I absolutely loved this film, from the incredible score by Cliff Martinez, to the breathtaking and colorful cinematography, to the social commentary about women’s appearances, to the genuine horror that transpires. This film is the quintessential art-house film but there’s some shocking moments that even true-blue horror fans will appreciate.
#3 “The Eyes of My Mother”
Synopsis: A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her country life. (IMDb)
Thoughts: When you watch as many horror films as I do, it’s hard to find one that truly frightens you. When I went into this film, I had low expectations but by the end of my viewing I was shaken and disturbed. This is one of those films that I appreciate not only because it’s beautifully shot and the acting is superb, but also because it doesn’t rely on overt gore to get its message across. It’s an uncomfortable film and one that touches on topics such as loneliness, abandonment and neglect. You won’t walk away feeling cheerful after watching this but you will appreciate the art and passion that went into constructing this film. This is one of the best films you will see this year, or in years to come, so make sure you add it to your list.
#2 “The Witch”
Synopsis: A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession. (IMDb)
Thoughts: There are not enough words to describe how much I adore this film. Seriously, I could write a love letter about my infatuation with this movie, in particular Black Phillip. When I first watched The Witch I was blown away by the acting, the cinematography, and the overwhelming feeling of tension and dread. I will be the first to admit that this film is not for everyone as it’s definitely more on the lines of an art-house film, but nevertheless, it holds a special place in my heart. As someone who has been a Christian since I can remember, I have never seen a better personification of Satan as I have in this film. I walked away from this film with my mind blown and I can only hope the same will happen to you.
#1 “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”
Synopsis: Father and son coroners receive a mysterious homicide victim with no apparent cause of death. As they attempt to identify the beautiful young “Jane Doe,” they discover increasingly bizarre clues that hold the key to her terrifying secrets. (IMDb)
Thoughts: This is one of those films that has something special. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but if I were to take a guess, it’s because everything, and everyone, worked perfectly together. The acting is top-notch and the feeling of dread creeps at a steady pace that by the time the climax comes, you find that you’ve been holding your breath for longer than you probably should have. Besides that gnawing sense of foreboding, this film has genuine terrifying moments and some quality scares that don’t always need to rely on musical cues and cheap shots. If there is one film you need to make sure you see this year it’s definitely The Autopsy of Jane Doe.
Obviously, there are so many more films out there that deserve recognition and honorable mentions but I think this is a pretty good start. If you have a suggestion that aren’t seen on this list, or movies that you think should be on the list, let us know! We are always looking for new and exciting horror films to add to our collection.