When I started making my list of the best horror movies of 2015, I remember thinking that it would be a tough task, as 2015 didn't really stand out for me as a banner year for horror movies. I felt like there just weren't that many new releases and it would be hard to come up with 10 horror movies I adored this year. However, as I started making my list, I realized that this year it was about quality over quantity, and that there were several stellar horror releases in 2015.
This year (and as usual), indie horror reigned supreme, and while I already had most of the horror movies mentioned below on my radar, there were a few pleasant surprises! Another surprise was how varied my favorite horror movies were, from comedies to romance to gothic to artsy to gory to holiday horrors! Lots of different sub-genres this year, which I always count as a good thing!
I did find a pattern for many of the horror films I did end up enjoying. While some of the best horror movies of 2015 were raucous, fun affairs, I found that the majority of the ones I liked best were actually understated and subtle, films that really stuck with me long after I finished watching them. There were also several challenging horror titles, which I had to watch multiple times to decide whether I loved or loathed them (and at least one of my picks I'm still conflicted about).
So below, please find my top 10 horror movies of 2015!
Please note - some of the official release dates for a few films below were technically in 2014, but I have included them in my 2015 list since they didn't release wide until 2015. Also, I've included Amazon links to the films where possible - please consider clicking through and purchasing something via the links below to support what I do!
Top 10 Horror Movies of 2015
10. Kristy - A woman alone for the Thanksgiving holiday on her college campus is wrongfully targeted by a group of hoodlums who assumes she is rich and privileged, forcing her to fight for her life. This premiered on Lifetime of all places before going on to stream on Netflix, but it was one of the biggest surprises of the year and one of the most enjoyable, tense films I saw. It doesn't really break any new ground, but the lead characters really sell it, along with a fast-paced storyline and plenty of action. And I loved the kick-ass heroine that goes toe-to-toe with the villainess. I wrote about it a bit more on my "Watch Now on Netflix" column here!
9. Crimson Peak - I really thought I would enjoy this more than I did, but it was held back by a weak storyline that didn't quite gel with me. Though it's not exactly a horror film, it has a wonderfully gothic atmosphere and setting that are its saving grace. I could just look at this stunning film and be entertained, storyline be damned! The set dressing isn't the only thing I loved about it though - for some reason it stayed with me long after I walked out of the theater, haunting me and making me re-think my initial impression of the film. Over time spent mulling over the movie, I've come to embrace and love it for its gothic romance.
8. The Final Girls - A girl who is mourning her recently deceased mom gets sucked into her mom's '80s slasher flick with her friends, and they must figure out how to kill the killer and escape back to their world in one piece. The first time I watched this film, I didn't dig it as much as I expected it to. However, a second viewing righted this wrong, and revealed this film to be a fitting tribute to '80s slashers while also managing to be genuinely heart-warming!
7. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night - A lonesome vampire wanders the streets of an Iranian ghost town, stalking the townspeople. Not for everyone, this artsy, cool film about a vampire captivated me with its stylish noir, Western-ish feel. I was immediately taken with the mysterious lead and all the characters she encounters. I loved the character-driven, down-to-earth take on vampires. Read my thoughts on it from earlier this year here!
6. We Are Still Here - A really solid haunted house-ish movie about an older couple who think their new home is haunted by their recently deceased son, but discover something much darker lurking there. This one is a slow burn, but surprisingly pretty bloody towards the end. I loved how the main characters were an older couple, how it was set in the '70s (I believe), and damn, the spirits were the scariest (and perhaps the most sympathetic) characters I saw all year! Kudos to filmmaker Ted Geoghegen on his stunning debut feature!
5. Tales of Halloween - A Halloween anthology that features 10 tales of madness and mayhem from some fabulous indie directors (Axelle Carolyn, Lucky McKee Paul Solet, Darren Lynn Bousman, Neil Marshall, etc.)! I enjoyed almost all the segments, and when I watched it this past October it really put me in the mood for Halloween! Don't expect another Trick 'r Treat, as Tales has a much more wacky, light-hearted approach, but this anthology definitely delivered and is sure to be a new Halloween tradition!
4. It Follows - A lot of people feel like this film didn't live up to the hype, but I am not one of those people. The slow, deliberate pace of the film perfectly complimented the chameleon-like "villain" that just keeps coming and coming, and I loved the unique take of the story and social commentary it provides.
3. Krampus - When the spirit of Christmas is lost, the Christmas devil himself is summoned, forcing a dysfunctional family to band together against Krampus and his evil helpers. I was worried that this film would let me down, but luckily I ended up LOVING it and it was the most fun I had in the theater all year!
2. Deathgasm - I really loved the television show Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, and Deathgasm is in the same vein, with metalheads battling demonic forces that they accidentally (or not so accidentally) summoned. With a likable rag-tag group of misfits going up against a creepy cult, possessed townsfolk, and a big baddie demon, all set against a backdrop of metal, this film was a helluva good time! If Krampus was the most fun I had in the theater all year, Deathgasm was the most fun I had sitting on my couch all year!
1. What We Do in the Shadows - A documentary crew follows around some roommates, who just happen to be centuries-old vampires. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard at a movie! I am normally not a big fan of horror comedy, but What We Do in the Shadows had me doubled over, gasping for air because I was laughing so much! Seriously, if you haven't seen this yet, do it now!
These didn't quite make the list above, but I really dug these other 2015 releases, too!
Bone Tomahawk - If I had seen this horror-Western about a group hunting down a vicious cannibalistic tribe before I made this list, it definitely would have been in the top 10! This film was gripping from the start, keeping me on the edge of my seat with a stellar build-up and characters I actually cared about. Definitely one of the best of 2015, and it's a shame it didn't get a wider release.
Creep - This odd, unsettling little film is a mix of dark humor, horror, and quirkiness and I really enjoyed it! It's also available for instant streaming on Netflix and I recommended it a few months back on my "Watch Now on Netflix" column.
The Visit - Ok, this film was pretty much panned by most critics, but I still liked it. It WAS pretty dorky (dude, leave the rapping back in the '90s), but I was very amused and entertained by M. Night Shyamalan's latest film. And now I have an inside joke about cleaning the oven with Mister Spooky.
A Christmas Horror Story - I think I liked this horror anthology so much because I was expecting it to be so awful. It has its corny moments (I thought the zombie elves bit was laughable, though the twist at the end made up for this), but surprisingly it also has awesome segments (I may have jumped when the teens were exploring the empty high school and the changeling kid storyline was rad!). And, hey, William Shatner as a radio DJ was pretty entertaining. Definitely worth checking out, especially since there can never be enough holiday-themed horror movies.
Last Shift - This is another movie that is on Netflix streaming and it has an excellent, nightmarish vibe! So many WTF moments that really draw you in and make you root for the rookie cop, who is guarding an old police station that recently closed after moving locations when strange events start to happen.
Movies I Wish I Had Liked More:
Spring - I really have mixed feelings on this Linklater-by-way-of-Lovecraft "romantic" horror film, about an American tourist in Italy who meets a woman, falls in love, and discovers she is a kind of evolutionary changeling. I did love the dreamy, hazy atmosphere, the location of a small Italian fishing village, and unique story, but the casual sexism in the film left a bad taste in my mouth.
Goodnight Mommy - I was a bit let down by this film, about brothers not trusting that the woman who returns home from surgery swathed in face bandages is really their mother. On the one hand, it was beautifully shot, and had such a stark, lonely feel to it which really complimented the story well. However, I thought that the story itself was predictable.
What horror films are you looking forward to in 2016?