The 17 Best Horror Movies of 2017

Rewind Horror

Horror is alive and well on the big screen — and small too thankfully with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and VOD picking up the slack — and 2017 was home to fantastic frights of all kinds from all parts of the world. Monsters, ghosts, serial killers, the terrifying thought of growing up… and two musicals? It’s been a year.

Keep reading for a look at 2017’s best horror movies.

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The Mansion

17. The Mansion (France)

Horror/comedies are among the toughest sub-genre to get right as tone can be a real pain in the ass for most filmmakers to wrangle, but this French gem blends the best elements of April Fools Day and Housebound into a highly enjoyable and frequently bloody romp. Just as impressive? For an ensemble horror movie it accomplishes the impossible by avoiding the presence of even a single unlikable character. [Currently unavailable in the US]

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Revenge H

16. Revenge (France)

Rape/revenge tales are rarely presented as attractively-shot daylight affairs, but that’s precisely what’s accomplished with Coralie Fargeat’s feature debut. She wisely avoids forcing viewers to witness the assault and instead focuses her film on the pursuit of the title. It’s gorgeous outdoor landscape offers a fantastic backdrop for the chase and vengeance. [Currently unavailable in the US]

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Geralds Game Carla Gugino Bruce Greenwood

15. Gerald’s Game (USA)

Stephen King’s 2017 resurgence (which also includes 1922, a few TV shows, and another feature further down the list) got a real boost with Mike Flanagan’s thrilling adaptation of King’s supposedly “unfilmable” book. Nightmares are the focus here — those of our past, present, and future — as one woman works to overpower them all and retake control of her life. Having Carla Gugino front and center throughout doesn’t hurt either as she delivers an intensely compelling performance. [Available on streaming]

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Les Affames

14. Les Affames (Canada)

The familiar trappings of a zombie apocalypse are just the beginning here, but they’re taken in directions most similar films don’t attempt. The undead are in fact still human, their pain is still very real, and their purpose is a mystery in its own right. It’s beautiful, bloody, and sad to boot. [Currently unavailable in the US]

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Hounds Of Love

13. Hounds of Love (Australia)

Harrowing is the most apt word to describe this grimly satisfying abduction tale from down under. Loosely based on a real event, it rubs viewers’ faces into the harsh and sleazy lives of a sadistic couple and the innocent teen they force into their home. More emotionally graphic than visually, it’s a painful and tense watch that manages the unlikely feat of also being beautifully-shot and highly satisfying. [Available on streaming]

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Get Out

12. Get Out (USA)

Jordan Peele’s “social thriller” became something of a well-deserved pop culture phenomenon this year, and part of its appeal rests in a horror story blending Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with The Stepford Wives. It plays smartly with identity, value, and culture in fascinating ways while offering some jumps and murder along the way, and regardless of what label you apply it’s a fun, thrilling ride. [Buy on Blu-ray from Amazon]

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Boys In The Trees

11. Boys In the Trees (Australia)

This 2016 film only just reached the US this year, so I’m including it here both to recognize it and get the word out about its sad, haunting beauty. Its horror elements are found mostly in its autumnal Halloween setting, but in addition to spooky imagery there are other themes at play here that feed into the fears we’ve all felt growing up — along with a few more we’ve been lucky to avoid. Turn off the lights, power down your phone, and settle in for an atmospheric time capsule about youth, friendship, and the terrifying truth of discovering who you really are. [Available on streaming]

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Transfiguration

10. The Transfiguration (USA)

Writer/director Michael O’Shea’s film is a beautifully restrained coming of age tale featuring bursts of bloody violence amid the dark calm and seemingly doomed romance between a boy who believes he’s a vampire and the girl who he loves. It’s the kind of film that would survive without its genre trappings and still be a compelling drama about a boy growing up in a rough neighborhood, but those additional elements — namely his thirst for blood and where that need takes him — elevate it even further. [Buy on DVD from Amazon]

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Discs The Lure

9. The Lure (Poland)

If it feels like I’ve been talking up this mermaid musical for a couple years it’s because I have, and now that it’s finally seen an official release here in the States I can include it on one last list. It’s the utter definition of a genre mash-up with romance, comedy, social commentary, and bloody bites of horror wrapped up in gorgeous production design and catchy nightclub numbers. Even more shocking? It’s the first of two musicals to make this list. [Buy on Blu-ray from Amazon]

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Tragedy Girls Movie New Picture

8. Tragedy Girls (USA)

Slasher comedies don’t get much funnier, bloodier, or social media friendly than this delightful romp about two friends looking for popularity in all the wrong places. Part Heathers, part Scream, and all original, it leaves you rooting for friendship over accountability and cheering on this very bad duo on their way towards a surprisingly killer ending. [Available on streaming]

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The Blackcoats Daughter

7. The Blackcoat’s Daughter (USA)

Quiet, atmospheric dread isn’t the tone everyone wants in their horror film (and that’s fair), but for fans of moodily-paced tales that simmer until they bubble over in blood, terror, and violence this is a movie guaranteed to check all your boxes. A deserted girls school during winter break is the setting, and the icy chill moves effortlessly from the screen to your veins as three young women finds themselves at the heart of something devilish and deadly. [Buy on Blu-ray from Amazon]

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Devils Candy

6. The Devil’s Candy (USA)

Sean Byrne’s long-awaited follow-up to The Loved Ones actually made our 2015 list too based on the strength of its festival showings, but I’m including it again as it finally got a real release this year. It also just deserves the attention anyway for delivering a fast, suspenseful, thrill ride with characters we actually care about. The music is loud, the intensity is high, and it remains a killer flick. [Buy on Blu-ray from Amazon]

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Anna And The Apocalypse

5. Anna and the Apocalypse (Scotland)

It’s pretty shitty of me to continue singing the praises of a movie that only played festivals this year and has to yet to secure distribution, but that’s a ridiculous situation for such an epic blast of genre fun. It’s a zom-com Christmas musical from Scotland, and its bloodletting, wit, and aurally-addictive songs deserve to be in the eyes and ears of people who love awesome things. Which should be everyone. [Currently unavailable in the US]

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Better Watch Out

4. Better Watch Out (USA)

Chris Peckover’s (Undocumented) smart, mean, and very funny home invasion film actually made the list last year too, but that was before it had distribution and was still under the title Safe Neighborhood. It’s such a craftily-designed little movie with strong characters and performances, wickedly fun story beats, and an underlying theme about the toxicity of male expectations. All that, plus homages to two 80s classics and it lands the perfect ending. [Buy it on Blu-ray from Amazon]

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Super Dark Times

3. Super Dark Times (USA)

Two teenagers see their friendship tested by an accidental death, and the result is a darkly beautiful film that immerses viewers fully into both the drama and horror of it all. It perfectly captures the feelings and fears of our teenage years, and the uncertainty of youth fuels a combination of simmering rage and uncomfortable lust to the point of real terror. Director Kevin Phillips immediately marks himself as a talent to watch with a quietly haunting debut, and you owe it to yourself to discover that sooner rather than later. [Buy it on DVD from Amazon]

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Mon Mon Mon Monsters

2. Mon Mon Mon Monsters (Taiwan)

Writer/director Giddens Ko previously delivered the sweetly affecting coming of age tale, You Are the Apple of My Eye, but his latest shows him to be equally adept at exploring a far darker look at the pains of youth. There are mean and sad themes at work here, and the fact that it hits those bloody, nihilistic, and painfully honest beats while also being incredibly funny is something of a minor miracle. It’s a story featuring monsters, both human and otherwise, telling a tale of bullying, consequences, and accountability, and its ultimate observation devastates and haunts us long after the credits roll. [Currently unavailable in the US]

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It

1. It (USA)

This might feel like too obvious a choice for the #1 spot, but for a Stephen King fan like myself it marked the end of a decade-long dry spell of worthwhile onscreen terrors. It meets and exceeds expectations, it crafts an effectively chilling film from a complex novel, it uses a fantastic blend of practical/digital effects, and it mines the familiar fears of childhood in ways that speak to a wide audience. The film leaves viewers excited for a sequel while still crafting a fully satisfying horror experience in its own right. It’s a big, scary studio movie, and that’s a rare beast worth celebrating. [Buy on Blu-ray from Amazon]

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Honorable mentions: Among the Living, Awakening the Zodiac, The Babysitter, A Cure for Wellness, Killing Ground, Life, Raw

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