The Best Horror Movies of 2015

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Best Horror Movies of 2015

In a perfect world we’d have an annual holiday that lent itself somehow to the appreciation of horror films ‐ just one day out of the year where people were encouraged to share their love for cinema of the scary, creepy, and gory kinds. A pipe dream, I know, so until that day comes we’ll have to settle for end of the year lists like this one to point people towards the best the genre has to offer.

Great horror films that only played festivals and have secured release dates for 2016 ‐ The Invitation, Black Mountain Side, The Witch, Nina Forever ‐ are ineligible for this list, but I am including fest titles that have yet to be so lucky (in the hopes that some smart distributor picks them up soon for release).

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15. Goodnight Mommy

Twin boys suspect their mother, bandaged after a trip to the hospital, might not actually be their mother after all. This Austrian thriller is a three-person show (aside from a pair of pesky Red Cross volunteers), and it does a brilliant job of ratcheting up the suspense and toying with our allegiances as things turn deadly serious. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD] [My review]

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14. The Interior

A man lost in life heads to the forest to find himself, but his journey brings unexpectedly nightmarish results. Writer/director Trevor Juras moves from an oddly comic first act into isolated days and nights of steadily increasing terror ‐ including some of the creepiest tent-set scenes since The Blair Witch Project ‐ that leaves viewers on edge and unsure if the threats are real or imagined. [Currently unavailable]

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13. Deathgasm

A picked-upon headbanger accidentally summons a demon from hell in his search for acceptance, and soon he and his friends are fighting for the lives and souls of the entire town. Jason Lei Howden’s heavy metal horror/comedy delivers laughs and bloodletting in equal measure alongside some of the best dildo action this side of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD] [My review]

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12. Cub

An unstable preteen heads into the woods with his cub scout troop and discovers too late that the only badges available are for woodcarving and murder. Belgium isn’t the first place you think of for horror cinema, but this beautifully shot and scored thriller goes a long way towards changing that with dark themes, intense brutality, and a nightmare-fueled adrenaline. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD] [My review]

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11. The Editor

Cast and crew working on a cheap but artistic slasher film begin dying for real at the gloved hands of a vicious murderer. Good horror/comedies are hard to get right, and great ones are even tougher, but this smart, wickedly creative, and loving homage from Astron-6 to Italian horror films of decades past succeeds in capturing its target’s spirit while telling an extremely funny and bloody tale of its own. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD] [My review]

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10. We Are Still Here

A couple move into a rural home in the dead of winter and quickly discover ghostly squatters in the basement. Writer/director Ted Geoghegan’s feature debut takes a familiar concept and an affection for certain genre classics and mixes them with an energetic narrative spin, a game cast, and the gory goods. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD] [My review]

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9. Backcountry

A couple goes into the woods in the hopes of coming closer together, but what they find might just tear them apart. Animal attack films are commonplace, but the truly terrifying ones can be counted on one three-fingered hand ‐ and Adam MacDonald’s bear-centric nature thriller is that harrowing, intense, and gut-shredding middle finger. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD] [My review]

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8. The Devil’s Candy

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A young family move into a new home only to come face to face with a deranged former owner and possibly the devil himself. The promise of Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones gets a fantastic follow-up with the rare horror film that not only ramps up the intensity to end on a high but that also features characters whose fates we genuinely come to care about. [Currently unavailable]

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7. He Never Died

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Henry Rollins plays a solitary guy who just wants to be left alone, but thugs, gangsters, and a kid he didn’t know he had have other plans. The trailer for this truly great supernatural noir reveals way too much, so skip it and instead go in knowing only that the film is an exciting, surprising, and frequently funny thriller you won’t soon forget. [Opens December 18th] [My review]

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6. Creep

A dying man (Mark Duplass) hires a videographer to document a day in his life for his unborn child, but maybe that’s not actually what’s going on here? Writer/director/co-star Patrick Brice delivers the only found-footage film to make the list this year, and he does it with a smart, fast-moving, funny, and occasionally frightening comedic thriller that’ll leave you grinning. [Available on VOD] [My review]

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5. Deadman Inferno

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A retired yakuza is drawn back into a life and death struggle when his friend’s daughter finds herself trapped on an island overrun with zombies. Gangsters and the undead have squared off before (see the terrific Cockneys vs Zombies), but they’ve never done so before with as much heart, visual creativity, and energy as is on display in this immensely entertaining import from Japan. [Currently unavailable in the U.S.] [My review]

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4. It Follows

A teen girl is stalked by a murderous force only she can see, and the only way to get rid of it is to doom some unlucky guy within reach of her genitals. Regardless of which metaphor you choose as your interpretation, writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s remarkably fresh take on the familiar is a near-classic delivering scares, a dream-like atmosphere, and a hauntingly memorable score. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD] [My review]

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3. Spring

A grieving young man heads to Italy to escape the pains of his life and finds a love with its own set of challenges in a mysterious woman. Horror films are almost never this beautiful, but don’t let the gorgeous visuals and romantic vibe fool you ‐ this is a love story with a nasty bite. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD]

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2. They Look Like People

Two old friends, reunited and suffering from varying degrees of sadness and madness, see their friendship tested by the threat of an impending demonic takeover. Perry Blackshear’s increasingly intense thriller invites us to spend time with friends knowing full well that one or both of them are on a seemingly unstoppable journey toward destruction, and that suspense builds towards an unforgettable and frightening conclusion. [Currently unavailable] [My review]

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1. What We Do In the Shadows

A documentary crew gains access to a quartet of vampires who share a flat in New Zealand. One of two films I’ve watched five times this year, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s brilliant horror/comedy is a modern masterpiece of big laughs, vampiric deconstruction, and heartwarming wit that also happens to include an important guideline on eating sandwiches. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD]

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Honorable mentions: Bite, Cooties, Crimson Peak, Dark Was the Night, The Final Girls, Krampus, Slumlord, Tales of Halloween, Wyrmwood, Zombeavers

Read more of our Best of 2015 coverage!

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