The 50 Best Sundance Horror Movie Premieres

'Hereditary' made a big splash at last year's Sundance, but it's not the only horror movie to have premiered at the film festival. Here are 49 others.

Sundance Horror Movies

The Sundance Film Festival is known, rightfully so, as a home for film premieres that inevitably wind up in the end of year award season race. But for all the indie dramas that break out to capture critical attention and audience love the fest has also been home to some stellar and significant horror movie premieres. 2019’s fest starts this week with the promise of more genre goodness with new films from the directors of Creep (2014), Goodnight Mommy (2015), Under the Shadow (2016) and others, and we’re pretty damn excited for what they have to offer this year.

To celebrate our genre-oriented joy we decided to take a look back at the horror movies that had their world premiere at Sundance, and because this is the internet we decided to rank them too. We missed a few from past years — we can’t see everything! — so this is just shy of being a complete list, but let’s split the difference and just call this a ranked list of the 50 best Sundance horror world premieres.


50. Yoga Hosers (2016)

Yoga Hosers

You had me at ancient evil. A Canadian camp effort that revitalizes the best part of Tusk, Yoga Hosers is a truly wild ride best enjoyed when you’re halfway deep in a two-four. (Meg Shields)


49. Hell Baby (2013)

Hell Baby

Written and directed by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, the hilarious duo behind cult favorite Reno 911!, Hell Baby delivers a send-up of the Evil Child subgenre that admittedly leans more on the comedic side of horror with the comic chops of its cast featuring Keegan-Michael Key, Riki Lindhorne, Leslie Bibb, and Rob Corddry, among others. While Hell Baby, unfortunately, is more interested in parody than the mode of other modern horror comedies like Little Evil or Deathgasm, it is still a fun experiment in genre blending that assuredly will tickle a funny bone in any horror fan. (Jacob Trussell)


48. Bound to Vengeance (2015)

Bound To Vengeance

The setup to José Manuel Cravioto’s feature is a promising one as a young woman escapes her sadistic captor and makes the risky choice to help the other women in chains instead of simply saving herself. Lead Tina Ivlev raises expectations even further with an engaging and energetic performance. It’s all for naught, though, thanks to a script that makes every decision an act of stupidity. Appreciation turns too quickly to frustration well before the end credits roll. (Rob Hunter)


47. Carnage Park (2016)

Carnage Park

A botched bank robbery ends with the unfortunate hostage left in the middle of the desert where she becomes the prey for a deranged ex-military sniper. A great performance from Pat Healy is the only saving grace for the so-so exploitation throwback. (Chris Coffel)


46. Buried (2010)

Buried

The best thing I can say about Rodrigo Cortés’ low-budget thriller is that it’s exactly as advertised. As the title would suggest, Ryan Reynolds’ Iraq-based civilian worker spends the entire real time film buried in a wooden coffin. This bottle concept is also the film’s downfall, though, as plot machinations and a hit-or-miss script keep Buried from achieving the Hitchcockian psychological highs it aimed for. Not only is Reynolds’ character fired from his job while in the coffin, he also manages to light a snake on fire, all between periods of intense and ill-advised (oxygen levels, dude!) phone-yelling. There are a few directorial flourishes that make Buried memorable, but mostly it’s a high-concept missed opportunity. (Val Ettenhofer)


45. The Woman (2011)

The Woman

Lucky McKee’s adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s novel isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it’s a brutal and effective examination of toxic masculinity and humankind’s savagery. The story follows a patriarch and his family as they keep a cannibal woman captive and abuse her. Of course, the real monster here isn’t the woman who likes to partake in the consumption of human flesh. The premise might sound exploitative, but there’s morality present in McKee’s brutality to elevate this one above the level of a mere shocker. (Kieran Fisher)


44. 31 (2016)

Woo boy, people do not like Rob Zombie’s film 31. And while I don’t believe anything I can say will change that fact, I do see 31 from a perspective that may lend the film more merit than it’s previously been given. When a few of his non-horror projects fell through, I think Zombie was understandably upset. So upset that he funneled all of that pain, frustration, and anger into what is ostensibly “The Most Rob Zombie Film Ever Made”. But I find every single foul-mouthed killer clown in this film to be a gigantic middle finger to his own work. As if Zombie was saying to his audience, “Is this what you want? Again? Fine, then have all of it.” 31 is a cathartic artistic purge for Zombie, filled with raw talent and yearning that was dismissed thanks to its uncompromising anger. But it’s also exactly what makes it so interesting. Something we can all agree on though? As Doom-Head, Richard Brake gives a career-best performance. (Jacob Trussell)


43. Antibirth (2016)

Antibirth

From Cronenberg to Henenlotter, there is something about Body Horror that I find so fascinating as an adult. It’s possibly because the subgenre is at its best when layering in metaphors about pain and lack of control — which I find personally cathartic — while still maintaining its bouncy and sharp tone. Danny Perez’s Antibirth, starring the ever-reliable Natasha Lyonne, mixes the subgenre with a Rosemary’s Baby tilt that touches on themes of addiction and sexual assault in unsettlingly funny ways. This coalesces with a gonzo, “has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed” finale making Antibirth one of the most colorful, bizarre body horror films you’ve never seen. (Jacob Trussell)


42. Black Rock (2012)

Black Rock

Actor, writer, and director Katie Aselton, though working with a familiar concept, made Black Rock an effectively unsettling thriller. Three estranged friends, played by Aselton, Kate Bosworth, and Lake Bell, embark on a camping trip that is turned into a fight after the women encounter several men on a hunting trip. Certain aspects of the film are a bit boilerplate, but Aselton’s vision is strong and the performances from the three leads ensure that the film is engaging throughout. She hasn’t directed a film since Black Rock, but with any luck Aselton has more horror ideas up her sleeve for her next project. (Anna Swanson)


41. Grace (2009)

Grace

I’ll never experience the horror of motherhood, but Grace is all I need whenever I’m feeling broody. The movie tells the story of a grieving mom and her undead fetus its need for human blood. And what’s a mother to do when her offspring gets hungry? You do the math. Unfortunately, though, Grace is too dull to live up to its awesome concept and will make you just want to watch It’s Alive instead. (Kieran Fisher)


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