2021 was a very good year for Horror films, one of the better years in quite a while. The genre had quite the creative time with films big and small offering an array of treats for fans, both foreign and domestic.
The slasher film made a profitable return at both the box office and streaming services, as 2021 offered more films in this subgenre than there had been in years. Body Horror made a triumphant return as well in several films, while the “too long gone” Giallo style found a resurgence in two separate works.
There were tales of ghosts and supreme gore fests that paid homage to the genre films of the 1980s. There were fun creepers and psychological mind benders. 2021 Horror cinema featured wild ideas and Oscar-worthy performances, with one film taking the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Audiences seemed to welcome the genre back with open arms both in cinemas and streaming services, a place where Horror has been thriving for quite some time.
Of the many treats to choose from this year, here are my choices for the 10 finest Horror films of 2021-
10. The “Fear Street” Trilogy– Leigh Janiak (A fun and creative nostalgia-horror series of three films based on the work of R.L. Stine. A good cast, a love for 80’s Horror, and fun slasher set pieces make this entire trilogy a refreshing watch.)
9. “Dark Stories”– Guillaume Lubrano & Francois Descraques (Five hair-raising tales. A welcome Horror anthology full of interesting ideas, some genuine scares, and a playful creepiness.)
8. “Malignant”– James Wan (A batshit crazy smorgasbord of sub-genres from Slasher to Creature Feature to Action to Giallo. Wildly entertaining from beginning to end.)
7. “Detention”– John Hsu (A political statement disguised as a historical thriller tinged with moments of pure, white-knuckled, horror. A unique treasure.)
6. “My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To”– Jonathan Cuartas (A heartbreaking turn from Patrick Fugeit and a comment on the fragility of human life make this an emotional and unsettling piece.)
5. “Repossession”– Ming Sui Goh and Scott C. Hillyard (An effective and disquieting horror film infused with real world human drama. A work of substance filled with inner and outer terrors that speaks to these times.)
4. “Candyman”– Nia DaCosta (Perhaps the finest cinematic translation of Clive Barker’s work. A well-designed horror film with an artful edge and incredible direction that incorporates the Black experience in America.)
3. “Saint Maud”– Rose Glass (A moody and terrifying look at madness and the cultish dangers of religious abandon. Somber, eerie, and potent, this film holds the most effective final shot of 2021.)
2. “Last Night in Soho”– Edgar Wright (A real surprise from this uneven director. A superior film of homages infused with originality. A creative and enthralling nod to British horror films, the “Swingin’ Sixties” London, director Bryan Forbes, and the Giallo genre.)
1.“Titane”– Julia Ducournau (The most inventive and original film of the year in any genre. Creepy, violent, erotically grotesque (or grotesquely erotic?), and shockingly moving. There isn’t anything like it in the cinema of 2021. A stunning vision.)