The Best Horror Movies of 2019 So Far

The year's best horror films (so far) come from Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Scotland, the UK, and the US.

Best Horror Movies Midyear

For more in this series, check out our Mid-Year Report archives.


Ari Aster’s Midsommar is right around the corner, but while I have high hopes for his follow-up to the gruesomely terrifying Hereditary the horror genre hasn’t exactly been sitting around biding its time. 2019 has already delivered some killer flicks. Some of the films below have only worked their horrifying magic on the festival circuit so far, but they deserve a far wider audience and I’m hoping to see each of them find it this year. People need to be scared, grossed out, unsettled, and unnerved, and these movies — including one that might see some of you shaking your heads at its inclusion as a “horror” film — are here to do just that.

Keep reading for a look at 2019’s best horror movies so far.


Belzebuth

Belzebuth

If you’re like me you’re often bored and let down by horror movies featuring possessions and the devil as its main threat. That’s right, I don’t love The Exorcist (1973). They’re just too often dull in their approach to good versus evil, but sometimes a film comes along that overcomes that hurdle through details in its story, characters, and/or happenings. That’s right, I do love The Exorcist III (1990). I also love this Mexican film pitting a gruff cop and some paranormal investigators against a demon with a voracious appetite for dead children. It’s a harrowing, frightening, and suspenseful watch.

Read our review here — no US distributor or release date.


Boyz in the Wood

Boyz In The Wood

Survival horror films are often grim affairs pitting potential victims against threats both human and otherwise, but there’s no reason the most dangerous game can’t also be ridiculously enjoyable. This Scottish romp sends a quartet of unruly teens into the Highlands while a masked man with a silver spoon in his mouth hunts them down, and it still manages to find thrills and heart amid the hillsides and bloodshed. Friends, class warfare, and rabbit shite go a long way.

Read our review here — no US distributor or release date.


Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary

Ghost Killers Vs Bloody Mary

There have already been more than a few horror flicks about Ghost Hunter shows that finally come across a real ghost, and while some have been comedic and others meant to be more frightening, most have also been pretty underwhelming. That’s especially the case when they go the horror/comedy route, but this Brazilian movie turns those expectations on their head by delivering a crass, gory, and very funny riff on an R-rated Ghostbusters. It’s just a gonzo descent into the outrageous in the form of foul language, gags, and more blood than any single film has delivered in some time.

No US distributor or release date.


Hotel Mumbai

Hotel Mumbai

Here’s the deal. This film about the 2008 terrorist attacks across Mumbai with a focus on the slaughter of hundreds at the city’s celebrated Taj Hotel is as harrowing, nerve-wracking, and horrifying as they come. It’s based on a real event, and the terror is tangible. The definition of a horror film is one that intends to scare, unsettle, and/or disgust viewers, and this movie accomplishes that goal. Think of it as a home invasion movie — a sub-genre long accepted as horror — but rather than involve a single house it takes place in a large one with multiple floors, rooms, and innocent targets. It’s an important film for its recognition of quiet heroes, but it’s a horror film for the way it unnerves, disturbs, and horrifies viewers.

Currently available on streaming and Blu-ray/DVD.


Little Monsters

Little Monsters

Every time we think we’ve seen the best of what the zom-com genre has to offer a new one comes around to thrill and delight viewers, and for 2019 that zombie comedy is Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters. Ignore the forced romance and focus on the genius of putting Lupita Nyong’o in the lead role of a dedicated kindergarten teacher ready to face off against the undead to keep her students safe. Big laughs, lots of blood, and a ridiculously fun turn by Josh Gad help make this an entertaining and uplifting winner.

No release date.


The Lodge

The Lodge

Slow burn horror is definitely an acquired taste, but fans of beautifully crafted chills heavy with atmosphere, terror, and uncertainty will most likely love this follow-up from the filmmakers behind Goodnight Mommy. The always fantastic Riley Keough gets a rare lead role here and kills it with a character who shifts effortlessly back and forth between someone we fear and someone we fear for. It’s a gorgeously shot nightmare capturing well the icy dread of winter and the cold breath of the dead on the back of your neck.

Read our review here — no release date.


Piercing

Piercing

Takashi Miike’s Audition remains an absolute gem of madness, brilliance, and darkly comic terror, and while he’s a big part of that the source novel by Rya Murakami is equally deserving of credit. Director Nicolas Pesce takes the reins on another Murakami adaptation, and the results are equally memorable. A young man sets out to kill a random prostitute, but instead, he finds a love story, of sorts, about two people finding each other at the best possible time. Or maybe the worst. It’s really all about perspective (and pain).

Read our review here — currently available on streaming and Blu-ray/DVD.


Snatchers

Snatchers

Horror/comedies are killing it this year, and it’s only April! This delightful romp started life as a web series before being retrofitted into a deliriously fun feature that feels at times like the unholy and hilarious love child of Mean Girls, It’s Alive, and Juno. A status-focused teen is forced to confront the reality of icky creatures, monstrous mind control, and the biological unfairness of mammalian pregnancy, and the result is a movie that’s as sincere in its observations on friendship as it is in its embrace of gooey and gory practical effects.

Read our review here — no US distributor or release date.


Sweetheart

Sweetheart

Blumhouse films vary in quality but are fairly consistent in their low budgets, and that means the best come from filmmakers who have a strong script and the ability to do a lot with fairly little. Writer/director J.D. Dillard has given genre fans one of the studio’s best with his directorial debut — a terrifically entertaining slice of survival horror that drops Kiersey Clemons on an isolated and desolate island in the middle of nowhere. What starts as Castaway shifts into a lively and thrilling creature feature, and that’s all you need to know going in.

Read our review here — no US distributor or release date.


Us

Us Scream

Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out (2017) is better in some ways and a lesser experience in others, but at its core, the film delivers with a thrilling home invasion tale that sees a family of four terrorized by their doppelgangers. It’s a fun watch complete with action, laughs, and one hell of a lead performance by Lupita Nyong’o, and while Peele’s disinterest in narrative logic is clear he has a masterful eye and mind for visuals and metaphor.

Read our review here — currently available on streaming and Blu-ray/DVD.

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