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10 Best Horror Movies of 2023

From a lo-fi haunted house masterpiece to the big-budget return of Godzilla — it was a good year to be terrified at the movies

Best horror movies 2023


IT WAS THE creepiest of times, it was the here’s-more-comfortable-I.P.-reboots of times….

Horror continues to be one of the few Friday-night multiplex staples that’s the movie equivalent of recession-proof, one of those go-to genres that guarantees good opening weekends and the sort of thrills-chills-spills combinations that sells popcorn. It also remains a low-budget way for high-minded filmmakers to be experimental and subversive, as well as for name-brand patron saints like Jason Blum and Jordan Peele and distributors like A24 to keep introducing fresh blood — metaphorically and literally — into the mix. This was also the year that Shudder, the streaming service that caters to die-hard horror nerds, seemed to step up their game in terms of picking up and putting out smart, sly, and downright scary stuff from all over the globe.

And — no surprise here — 2023 was also a year in which legacy franchises continued to get rebooted, requeled, resurrected and often run into the ground (more SAWs and Screams), while a couple of new up-and-comers laid down what they hoped will be the foundations for long, beautiful friendships. Some felt like they were straining for insta-cult status (M3GAN, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey). Others showed enough potential that they suggested a sort of watch-this-space approach once they got a few more movies under their belts. We’re looking forward to seeing where the creators of It Lives Inside and Talk to Me might take those potential series, or at the very least what these filmmakers do next.

There were surprises, discoveries, left-field takes on established subgenres, and premises that knocked us sideways. It was almost enough of a bounty to make you forget the attempt at turning the Five Nights at Freddy’s video games into the Next Big Horror Thing and the fact that the execrable Exorcist: Believer is the first entry in a new trilogy. Almost.

Our picks for the 10 best horror movies we saw this year run the gamut from kaiju-legend reimaginings to folk-horror nightmares, auteur-driven apocalypses to lo-fi creepypasta dreadfests. We may be in between renaissances and new wave-crestings at the moment, but there’s still enough solid work out there to offer traditional jolts and suggest there’s more to this ever-evolving genre than just jump scares. (Also, some honorable-mention shout-outs to Angry Black Girl and Her Monsters, The Blackening, Evil Dead Rise, Final Cut, The Five Devils, Influencer, It Lives Inside, The Outwaters, Run Rabbit Run, and Talk to Me.)

From Rolling Stone US


‘Huesera: The Bone Woman’

Filmmaker Michelle Garza Cervera’s feature debut isn’t the first movie to connect pregnancy with body horror, but it’s certainly one of the most unsettling riffs on this notion in recent memory — especially if the sound of creaking, cracking bones is like nails on a chalkboard to you. A young woman named Valeria (Natalia Solián) is both excited and apprehensive about becoming a mother. Then she begins seeing visions of faceless females who can contort themselves like double-jointed spiders and seem to be stalking her. Brujas are consulted, and the idea that is floated is that once the baby is born, these manifestations of her anxiety might go away. That… turns out not to be the case. Cervera’s slow-burn method of introducing supernatural elements into play suggests she’s got a future in the genre; ditto Solián, whose psychological unraveling is truly upsetting to watch.


‘The Last Voyage of the Demeter’

OK, class, get out your copies of Dracula and go directly to Chapter Seven, where Bram Stoker replicates a captain’s log detailing a fateful voyage from Eastern Europe to London. Now — because why not expand a bit of vampire-lit trivia into a full-blown feature? — that brief interlude in the novel becomes the whole bloodsucking enchilada. In lesser hands, this detailed recounting of the Count’s doomed commute across the ocean might be a little more than a convenient excuse to spill some fake Type O. Thankfully, André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe) decides to turn the assignment into a Master and Commander for horror nerds, in which authentic recreations of 19th century sea travel shares screen time with a bat-like Dracula picking off innocents left and right. It’s a threadbare high-concept story given the high-thread-count treatment — a lovely piece of luxury pulp that more than earns it’s intellectual-property passage. Read our review here.


‘El Conde’

History books tell us that Augusto José Ramón Pinochet died on December 10th, 2006. Filmmaker Pablo Larrain would like to set the record straight: The Chilean president who cast a permanent shadow on his country isn’t really dead, he’s a vampire that’s been living in the countryside for decades, subsisting off his riches and blender-made heart smoothies. This pitch-black political satire offers the last word on fascists as actual monsters — not to mention Larraín’s way of trying to come to grips with what happened to his country when a madman bent it to his corrupt, power-hungry will. And the way that the Post Mortem director employs a century of Gothic horror movies and vampire lore to spin this fantastic tale is absolutely breathtaking; few images have haunted us as much as the sight of the dictator floating over Santiago, prowling for victims as his cape flaps in the moonlight. Read our review here.


‘Infinity Pool’

Brandon Cronenberg’s surreal resort-horror flick imagines a vacation spot where the international One-Percent community commit crimes, only to have an endless supply of clones take the rap… and then things get really weird. We may be up to our necks in eat-the-rich satires at the moment, yet this surreal thriller distinguishes itself by going to some genuinely unsettling, hallucinatory places — it’s The White Lotus dosed with Orange Sunshine. Alexander Skarsgard shows a knack for switching between alpha and beta male personae at a moment’s notice, while Mia Goth makes an even stronger post-Pearl case that she’s the single most interesting actor working in genre movies at the moment. Read our review here.


‘Enys Men’

Imagine The Shining on a remote island off the southern coast of England — that may be the best comparison we can offer for Mark Jenkin’s brilliant, bone-chilling folk-horror opus. Although even that description doesn’t quite do it justice, as the Cornish filmmaker channels the fractured, druggy look of the great midnight-movie nightmares of yesteryear. It may be a tale of a woman known only as “the Volunteer” (Mary Woodvine) slowly losing her mind, and how being isolated out in the pastoral fringes can gnaw at the sanity of even the most stable people. Or it may be a pagan ghost story, dipping into the legacy of Old, Weird Britannia and how the landscape can absorb trauma, tragedy, grief, violence, and the loss of innocence. Either way, you’ll wonder if your drink has been dosed. Read our review here.


‘No One Will Save You’

A local pariah (Kaitlyn Dever) suspects something fishy is going on her small town. Like, for example, an invasion of bug-eyed aliens. It turns out she’s not wrong, she just needs to avoid being attacked by these Area 51 rejects, abducted by her neighbors who are now under the visitors’ control, or being sucked up into the mothership for further “inspection.” If that were all that there was to writer-director Brian Duffield’s clever update of those old 1950s “watch the skies!” drive-in movies, it would still be an impressive exercise in style. But he’s added a degree of difficulty by making this a virtually dialogue-free endeavor as well… and the result is one of the most incredible examples of genre-based tension and release in ages. The comparisons to the Buffy episode “Hush” are well-earned, yet Duffield’s extraordinary cat and mouse nail-biter is its own beast in terms of taking advantage of a gimmick without being eclipsed by it. And it helps, of course, when you have an actor like Dever playing humanity’s final girl, who can express everything from fear to ferocity in a literal blink.


‘When Evil Lurks’

A reminder that whenever you come across someone bloated, pus-exuding, and harboring the spirit of an unborn demonic spirit inside their body, do not kill that person. The host’s death will only make the evil much more powerful — and transmittable. An absolutely ingenious melding of both possession and pandemic horror, this splatterrific movie from Argentina’s Demián Rugna was one of those outta-nowhere surprises that left jaws on floors. This is one of the few horror films of 2023 where you will suddenly find yourself involuntarily screaming at the screen: No, don’t put that infected hellspawn in the truck and drive him into the woods! Hey, you, the handsome farmer played by Ezequiel Rodríguez — stay away from your ex-wife’s house in the suburbs! And the family pets! And your kids! (Yeah, this film definitely goes there.) Dear lord, don’t shoot that harmless-looking goat… he’s actually the devil! Oh my god, put that ax down! It’s stomach-turning, vomit-inducing, and nerve-shredding, in the best possible way.



Had Canadian filmmaker Kyle Edward Ball’s singular take on the haunted-house tale done nothing but turn a $15,000, lo-fi production into a minor box-office sensation and TikTok fixation, it would still be the most welcome up-from-the-underground Cinderella story of 2023. But this ghost story adapts the grainy look of found-footage horror and the cut-and-paste vocabulary of experimental movies to stunning effect — it’s the rare genre flick that fans of both Paranormal Activity and Maya Deren can love. A four-year-old boy (Lucas Paul) finds himself alone in his house late at night, seemingly by himself; his mother, father, and older sister (Dali Rose Tetreault) disappear one by one, as do many of the doors and windows leading to the outside world. Odd images of dolls and chairs affixed to the ceiling suggest something wicked this way comes, and that’s before an unknown voice whispers for the boy to pick up a knife. Anyone with longstanding abandonment issues may want to have their therapist on speed-dial before they dip into this waking nightmare. You don’t need a firsthand knowledge of trauma, however, to appreciate the way the Canadian filmmaker so deftly channels the free-form fear and anxieties of childhood. Appreciate, and feel extremely unnerved by. Read our review here.