Top 10 Best Horror Movies of 2021



Top 10 Best Horror Movies of 2021

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
2021 was another excellent year for the horror genre. For this list, we'll be looking at the most popular and critically acclaimed horror movies that were released throughout 2021. Our countdown includes “Fear Street Part Three: 1666”, "Titane", “A Quiet Place Part II”, and more!

Top 10 Best Horror Movies of 2021

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Horror Movies of 2021.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most popular and critically acclaimed horror movies that were released throughout 2021. While some of these may have debuted internationally or at festivals in previous years, they’ll be included so long as their domestic releases came in 2021.

Did any of these films scare you? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: “Fear Street Part Three: 1666” (2021)

During July of 2021, Netflix experimented with a horror trilogy, with three movies releasing in back-to-back-to-back weeks. (xref) “1994” was a fun if underwhelming start, but “1978” effectively kicked things up with an enjoyable take on the summer camp slasher. But a story is nothing without a good ending, and “1666” provides a great one. The movie is an effective conclusion to the overarching story, and its 17th-century setting is both creepy and visually interesting. The last act is particularly fun, concluding the series with abandon and bravado. We hope Netflix continues with similar traditions, because “Fear Street” was an undeniable win.

#9: “The Night House” (2020)

Premiering at Sundance 2020 before receiving its wide release in the summer of 2021, “The Night House” stars Rebecca Hall as grieving widow Beth. Beth turns to alcohol to help cope, but she eventually unearths a dark secret relating to the house she and her husband used to share. The movie contains a few interesting subversions of the traditional haunted house narrative, but the real attraction here is Hall. She gives a commanding lead performance as Beth, imbuing her with both unmistakable flaws and an undeniable sense of tragedy. “The Night House” is a psychological horror with brains and new ideas, and it’s powered by a terrific lead actor.

#8: “Slaxx” (2020)

Who says a movie about a sentient pair of pants can’t be good? This quirky Canadian horror comedy is about a possessed pair of jeans and the retail employees it targets. The movie is undeniably low-budget, but then again, some of the best horror films are. Not only does “Slaxx” contain an engrossing and never-before-done idea, but it’s executed well by director Elza Kephart. Of particular note is the comedy and satire on display throughout the film. The comedy touches on many aspects of modern consumer culture, including social media infatuation, fleeting trends, and exploitative labor. The themes are all quite smart, and they’re presented through an enjoyably gonzo story.

#7: “PG: Psycho Goreman” (2020)

Another independent Canadian film, “PG: Psycho Goreman” is hard to classify. A very unique film, it blends elements of many disparate genres, including science fiction, horror, fantasy, and family comedy. The story follows brother and sister Mimi and Luke who accidentally unearth a bloodthirsty monster while digging in their garden. The movie is a loving ode to cheesy B-movies from the ‘80s, complete with some cheap but nevertheless inventive sets and costume design. It’s nothing short of ridiculous fun, and the violence is gruesome enough to satisfy the gorehounds. “Psycho Goreman” is an outrageous good time, and that’s exactly what the world needed in 2021.

#6: “Lamb” (2021)

A bizarre Icelandic film, “Lamb” toes the line between family drama and horror. The story follows a grieving couple named María and Ingvar, who have recently lost a stillborn child. They soon become attached to an otherworldly human-sheep hybrid that was mysteriously born on their farm. The film is spooky and has an undeniably charming atmosphere, playing out much like a folk tale passed down through generations. The story is touching and inventive, and the rural Icelandic setting is nothing short of gorgeous. Add in two very strong performances from its lead actors, and you have one of the most unique and enjoyable horror films of the year.

#5: “A Quiet Place Part II” (2021)

After countless delays, the world finally got “A Quiet Place Part II.” And the results were well worth the wait. The sequel is significantly more ambitious than its predecessor, with its roughly $60 million budget being triple that of the original. The ambition works well for the movie’s post-apocalyptic atmosphere, depicting a terrifyingly empty country ravaged by monsters. Emily Blunt and her co-stars are unsurprisingly excellent, and Cillian Murphy makes a great addition as a hardened man who lost his family. Unlike most horror sequels, this movie was made with thought and care, and it easily stands toe-to-toe with the first. It also signalled the return of blockbusters, becoming the first movie of the pandemic to gross over $100 million at the domestic box office.

#4: “Candyman” (2021)

Like all horror movies written by Jordan Peele, “Candyman” effortlessly blends social commentary with thrilling horror set pieces. The “Candyman” IP has always been used to comment on racial themes, going all the way back to the 1992 original. This direct sequel is no different, proving both smart and socially incisive. It’s also directed with visual flair by Nia DaCosta. The unique images are not only beautiful, but they also help comment on the story’s themes. With “Candyman,” the horror genre once again proves that it can be used for things greater than blood and jump scares.

#3: “The Vigil” (2019)

This film was a long time coming to America. It originally premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival back in 2019, but it wasn’t until February of 2021 that IFC Midnight distributed the film throughout the States. “The Vigil” is based heavily in Jewish theology and centers around an ex-Orthodox Jew named Yakov Ronen. Yakov is approached by an old friend and asked to keep vigil over a recently deceased Holocaust survivor. Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds, and things begin to get positively nightmarish. It’s a well made independent movie that mines many effective scares from its claustrophobic setting, utilizing lighting and sound to great effect. It’s a solid haunted house thriller with some riveting religious twists.

#2: “Titane” (2021)

This is French director Julia Ducournau’s first film since 2016, when she released the critically acclaimed “Raw.” Somehow, “Titane” is even better. It’s just as provocative as “Raw,” proving both difficult to watch and relentlessly disturbing - not to mention complex. “Titane” is a horror movie with intelligence, and it’s made with a filmmaker’s vision. In fact, it won the Palme d’Or, the top prize at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, making Ducournau the first solo female to win the prestigious award. It’s a historic moment, and it proves that the horror genre can indeed be taken seriously as a legitimate form of filmmaking art.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“The Boy Behind the Door” (2020)
A Great Kidnapping Horror From a Promising New Writer-Director Team

“My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To” (2020)
A Visually Beautiful Movie About Siblings…One of Whom Is Very Sick

“Last Night in Soho” (2021)
Edgar Wright’s Foray Into Horror Is Inventive & Visually Ambitious

“Lucky” (2020)
A Smart & Socially Conscious Horror Movie About a Woman Being Stalked

“The Stylist” (2020)
A Stylish Slasher About a Killer Hairdresser

#1: “Saint Maud” (2019)

This is the feature debut of English writer-director Rose Glass, and if “Saint Maud” is anything to go by, she has a very bright future ahead of her, one that we will certainly be watching. The movie mixes many different elements of horror into one disturbing whole, and Welsh actor Morfydd Clark is electrifying in the lead role. The film earned widespread acclaim and numerous accolades, including a staggering seventeen nominations at the 2020 British Independent Film Awards. It’s an exceptionally made movie with a haunting atmosphere, and it’s easily the greatest horror film released in 2021.
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