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The 15 Best Horror Movies of 2021

Some of the year’s best horror movies are bloody, others are funny, and a lucky few manage to deliver both.
Best Horror Movies
By  · Published on December 28th, 2021

This article is part of our 2021 RewindFollow along as we explore the best and most interesting movies, shows, performances, and more from this very strange year. In this entry, Rob Hunter explores the best horror movies of 2021.

As with this year’s Best Action list, 2021’s harsh realities couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm and talent of filmmakers wanting to make memorable horror films. Whether they premiered in theaters, at festivals, or on a streaming service, horror movies were on fire this year gifting genre fans with one bloody banger after the next.

This year’s best horror movies also came to us from all over — in a first for these lists, a whopping four of the films below are from Canada! — and run the gamut when it comes to tone and content. Some are deadly serious while others fill the screen with laughs, some are gory as hell while others share their dark desires without a drop of blood. All of them, though, are fantastic.

Keep reading for a look at my picks for the 15 best horror movies of 2021!

15. Candyman

Best Horror Movies of 2021: Candyman

As the only horror sequel to make this list, co-writer/director Nia DaCosta‘s Candyman is a film that honors what came before while also building on it with new insight and attention. It’s a stylish, beautifully acted horror movie blending American tragedy and mythology in thought-provoking ways. As with Bernard Rose’s 1992 original, it explores these ideas through the American lens of Black experience. Unlike Rose’s film, it’s being told this time by Black filmmakers and protagonists, and the difference is at times profound. The gnarly kills are balanced with real beauty (especially via the paper puppet segments), and the result is an unforgettable return to one of cinema’s most memorable urban legends.

Available on Blu-ray and VOD. Read my full review here.

14. Saint Maud (UK)

Best Horror Movies of 2021: Saint Maud

Religious horror comes in many varieties, from films focused on possession and devilish antics to movies about obsession and mental illness. Writer/director Rose Glass‘ feature debut plays in the latter camp with style and sincere attention for its protagonist. Maud is a nurse tasked with caring for a dying woman, but things get ugly when her pious nature takes precedence over her concerns for the woman’s physical health. Saint Maud charts the danger of extreme beliefs in harrowing ways, and Morfydd Clark’s performance as Maud is both heartbreaking and horrifying. It’s something of a slowburn despite the short running time, but hoo boy does the final frame make it worthwhile.

Available on Blu-ray and to stream on Hulu and VOD.

13. Saloum (Senegal)

Best Horror Movies 2021: Saloum

Real talk, there can never be enough horror/western hybrids. Saloum fits the bill in terrific fashion even as it introduces cultural elements unfamiliar to Western audiences. It’s a refreshing, low-budget genre mash-up that sees three badass mercenaries trapped in a small Senegalese village where local legends, childhood traumas, and vengeance all collide. It’s a stylish ride, albeit one that cuts fiscal corners when necessary, with long stretches communicated only in sign language. You’d be smart to add writer/director Jean Luc Herbulot to the list of necessary talents to watch.

Currently unavailable.

12. For the Sake of Vicious (Canada)

Best Horror Movies 2021: For The Sake Of Vicious

What For the Sake of Vicious presupposes is, maybe a movie can be both deceptively simple and utterly lacking in explanation… while still delivering an incredibly entertaining slice of home invasion action/horror. That’s my take, and I’m sticking with it. A tired nurse arrives home one night to find two men in her home, one angry and the other beaten nearly to death, and things only get worse when a masked motorcycle gang arrives to kill everyone. Co-writers/co-directors Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen may raise questions they don’t care about answering, but they also keep things moving at such a ridiculously thrilling and violent clip that you probably won’t care about the “why” behind it all.

Available on Blu-ray and VOD. Read my full review here.

11. Slaxx (Canada)

Best Horror Movies 2021: Slaxx

The realm of horror movies about sentient killer objects is home to both the brilliant (Rubber, about a homicidal tire) and the weird (Death Bed: The Bed That Eats), and the latest to enter the fray is a little bit of both. A pair of jeans, imbued with the spirit of those who actually make the clothes and suffer in the process, targets the staff of a clothing store as they ready for a big launch. Co-writer/director Elza Kephart‘s Slaxx is as goofy a horror/comedy as you’ll find with the performances to match, but it’s hard to argue with the ingenuity — both in the script and in the visual fx used to bring the pants to murderous life. Add in a sincere and scathing commentary on workplace conditions overseas that American companies bank on, and you have a memorable good time.

Available to stream on Shudder and VOD.

Continue reading our list of the best horror movies of 2021 on the next page…

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.