The Best Horror Movies of 2021 (2023)

Despite featuring a wide range ofcreatures andspirits, horror movies in 2021leaned into the power of the psychological fear of others.Knowing who to trust and when can be the difference between death and life, and 2021 horror spotlighted both sides.

2021 marked the second year of living within the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when isolation and being wary of others are considered integral survival tools. In that light, it shouldn't come as a surprise thatthis year's horror films would turn toward theterrors of the mind as a starting place tocraftstories aboutdeceptive realities and manipulative monsters. During ayearwhen it was hard to know who to trust (ourselves included), horror delves into the consequences of smart and poor choices.Here are the eight best horror feature films of 2021 that not only explore this terrifying theme but bring something new to the genre.

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Caveat

The Best Horror Movies of 2021 (1)

Written and directed by Damian Mc Carthy,Caveat delivers the best jump scares in recent horror cinema. Crafted on a micro-budget, the independent Irish feature film relies on suspicion to keep most of the story's terror at the forefront of audiences' minds. The plot is straightforward:Isaac (Jonathan French) accepts the odd job of babysitting his landlord's (Ben Caplan) traumatized niece Olga (Leila Sykes) for $200 per day. However, Isaac's landlord, Barret, failed to mention that he needed to be chained up for the job. A strange and supernatural game of cat and mouse ensues that escalates with each new discovery. Caveat is a must-watch for how it chooses the simplest of set-pieces (a box) to elicit the most unnerving of moments -- proof that CG isn't always needed to tell a thrilling ghost story.

(Video) Top 10 Best Horror Movies of 2021

Caveat is streaming now on Shudder.

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The Queen of Black Magic

Joko Anwar'sThe Queen of Black Magic remake is not for the faint of heart. The feature film doubles down on its creepy crawlies and showcases some of the harshest scenes of body horror that horror has ever seen. To its credit, children are not excluded from the terrors that awake in an old orphanage that has a secretive link to a black magic witch.The Queen of Black Magic is a film that's best to go into without knowing too much as its twists are part of its charm. However, it's fair enough to say that it's centered around a family reunion of sorts that uncovers sins from a father's past that puts everyone in harm's very bloodyway. Vengeful spirits aren'tnew to horror, butThe Queen of Black Magic pulls off a substantialfeat -- by the end, viewers will root for the witch and want to borrowher menacing wardrobe.

The Queen of Black Magicis streaming now on Shudder.

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The Boy Behind the Door

The Best Horror Movies of 2021 (3)

The Boy Behind the Dooris a master class in horror pacing. No beat feels misplaced. Co-written and directed by David Charbonier and Justin Powell, the film follows best friendsBobby (Lonnie Chavis) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey) on the worst night of their lives. After getting kidnapped, the duo seeks to escape. But what sets this film apart from, say,Saw (or really any psychological thriller), isshowing how one step forward for Bobby's freedom might be a step back for Kevin's. The Boy Behind the Doorconsistently shows these young boys weighing their survival efforts against what it'd cost their friend. Charming is a strange way to describe this film, but it nevertheless elicits heartwarming feelingsamidst its tension. To its credit, it is not shy to break horror taboos either byshowing theabuse toward the boys, which only makes their capture and survival attempts all the more harrowing.

(Video) The 10 Best Horror Movies of 2021

The Boy Behind the Door is streaming now on Shudder.

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Slaxx

The Best Horror Movies of 2021 (4)

Directed byElza Kephart andco-written by Kephart and Patricia Gomez,Slaxxmight be this year's most inventive horror premise. Joining the ranks of films likeRubberandAttack of the Killer Tomatoes,Slaxx is a horror-comedy focusing on a pair of homicidal jeans running rampant in a boutique fashion store. However, what sets this film apart from other inanimate-objects-turned-killer horror movies is that it also pulls off a scathing social commentary about the fashion industrial complex. While it's consistently a romping ride, it also asks audiences to consider a harsh reality: what lives are lost or impoverished in the name of the clothes that people wear? Yet, the film never steers into preachy territory as it rips apart everything that fast fashion stands for and holds sacred.

(Video) Top 10 Best Horror Movies 2021

Slaxx is streaming now on Shudder.

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Candyman

The Best Horror Movies of 2021 (5)

Nia DaCosta's Candymanis a stunning sequel to 1992'sCandyman. Although the feature film stands on its own, it works even better in conversation with the original film that inspired it. With DaCosta's vision, audiences can see just how much the original avoided showing thepeopleliving inside Cabrini Green's housing projects. Whereas the original follows sociologist Helen (Virginia Madsen) as she observes the housing project (and its people) like an experiment, DaCosta shows what the people of Cabrini Green lived through and still push through while adding an entirely new and cathartic dimension to the boogeyman.Centered onAnthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), audiences follow an artist's obsession to understand the Candyman and his roots, and the answers that are found expand into what could be a thrilling new mythos for the world of horror to continue to build upon in the future.

Candyman is available to rent and buy on Prime Video.

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The Medium

The Best Horror Movies of 2021 (6)

Directed byBanjong Pisanthanakun and co-written byNa Hong-jin (The Wailing) and Choi Cha-won,The Medium is hands down the best possession-themed horror film of 2021. Unlikemany entries in the genre, there's never a moment in this film where the audience can quite guess what comes next.Pisanthanakun deftly moves between what begins as a found-footage documentary into a tragic family drama to abrutal possession story. While it's not necessarily perfect in its construction, the draw of the film is how unapologetically it takes bold risks. For once, a possession film dares to ask: Do I really trust in my faith to save the day?

The Medium is streaming now on Shudder.

(Video) Patient Seven | Free Full Horror Movie

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Psycho Goreman

The Best Horror Movies of 2021 (7)

Directed byThe Void'sSteven Kostanski,Psycho Goremantells the tale of what happens when the precocious Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna)finds an object that allows her to control an ancient alien overlord, P.G. As onemight expect, Mimi shows fairly little mercy to bullies and embraces controlling P.G. -- even if it might mean the fate of the world is at stake. Mimi decides to trust P.G. as a friend and their blossoming friendship is hilarious to watch unfold. It's truly a bloody good time for horror fans and would be a great gateway horror film for younger audiences who aren't afraid of a little splatter amidst silly, dodgeball-like battles with aliens.

Psycho Goreman is streaming now on Shudder and AMC+.

Martyrs Lane

The Best Horror Movies of 2021 (8)

Written and directed by Ruth Platt, Martyrs Laneis 2021's most heartbreaking ghost story. The feature film is told through the eyes of its child protagonist, Leah (Kiera Thompson), and follows her as she stumbles upon her mother's tragic secret. The beauty of this film is how much Leah questions everything and everyone and makes the kind of mistakes that only curious children can make. By its end,Martyrs Lane weaves a moving story about what happens to people when they don't process their grief. When people don't deal with their pain, it's sure to seep out and cause havoc for others, andMartyrs Lane shows this truth with deep empathy.

Martyrs Lane is streaming now on Shudder.

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FAQs

What is No 1 horror movie in 2021? ›

91% Critics Consensus: A nerve-wracking continuation of its predecessor, A Quiet Place Part II expands the terrifying world of the franchise without losing track of its heart.

What is the No 1 horror movie in the world? ›

1. The Exorcist (1973)

What is the best scary movie out right now? ›

Best Horror Movies of 2022 Ranked: New Scary Movies Best to Worst
  • #1. Hellbender. 97% 55% #1. ...
  • #2. The Innocents. 96% 71% #2. ...
  • #3. Saloum. 96% 75% #3. ...
  • #4. X. 94% 69% #4. ...
  • #5. Prey. 93% 72% #5. ...
  • #6. Mad God. 93% 66% #6. ...
  • #7. You Won't Be Alone. 92% 0% #7. ...
  • #8. Barbarian. 92% 68% #8.

Why horror movies are the best? ›

“[Horror] can actually teach us how to handle real-world stress better,” Oaklee said. “During a stressful film, we are intentionally exposing ourselves to anxiety producing stimuli. We usually don't engage in the same unhealthy coping mechanisms that we utilize in real life.

Is the fear street scary? ›

There's a reason the movies landed an R rating, and it's because they are remarkably intense. The 1994 edition that opened the series might have a serial killer in a silly skull mask, but he is a knife-wielding terror. In terms of suspense and jump scares, the film is pretty compelling.

How scary is the new IT movie? ›

It's very scary, and not just in a typical gory slasher or jump scare way; it generates actual tingles. (And if you're scared of clowns, it's even worse.) Things get pretty gory; characters are stabbed, impaled, and beaten with rocks and blunt objects.

Is the black phone based on a true story? ›

Joe Hill's Short Story Used a Serial Killer for Inspiration

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hill explained that, though his story took inspiration from real serial killers of the era, The Black Phone is not based on an actual case.

Which is the most horror movie in the world in 2022? ›

1. X. Ti West's X is as glorious and malevolent a return to horror features that anyone could ask for from the indie filmmaker turned prolific television director. IGN's official review gave X an 8 out of 10, which I come in a little higher on myself.

What movie has the most jump scares? ›

1. The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013) The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia is far and wide the most 'jumpy' horror movie ever made with 32 jump scares to enjoy throughout the film. Set in 1993.

What is the world's scariest horror? ›

65 of the scariest horror movies of all time
  • 'X' (2022) ...
  • 'Nope' (2022) ...
  • 'Halloween' (1978) ...
  • 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968) ...
  • 'Prometheus' (2012) ...
  • 'Orphan' (2009) ...
  • 'Orphan: First Kill' (2022) ...
  • 'Alien' (1979)
4 Oct 2022

What's the scariest film on Netflix 2022? ›

13 Netflix horror films and TV shows that will keep you awake at night this Halloween 2022
  • Midnight Mass. ...
  • 1408. ...
  • The Midnight Club. ...
  • The Haunting of Bly Manor. ...
  • In the Tall Grass. ...
  • Fractured. ...
  • Gerald's Game. ...
  • Bird Box.
17 hours ago

What scary movie is based on a true story? ›

"The Exorcist" (1973)

Often referred to as the scariest horror movie in history, “The Exorcist” is based on a true story.

What movie has the most jump scares on Netflix? ›

The show, a horror mystery-thriller that debuted on October 7, has broken a world record for its plethora of jump scares, according to a news release from Guinness World Records. Igby Rigney and Iman Benson in Netflix's spooky teen drama 'The Midnight Club.'

What is the funniest scary movie on Netflix? ›

Comedies
  • Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2.
  • The Babysitter.
  • Girls With Balls.
  • The Babysitter: Killer Queen.
  • Vampires vs. the Bronx.
  • Izla.
  • He Never Died.
  • Target.

What's a scary movie on Netflix? ›

At various points in the last year, for instance, Netflix could boast The Shining, Scream, Jaws, The Silence of the Lambs or Young Frankenstein, along with recent indie greats like The Witch, The Descent or The Babadook.

Do horror movies affect the brain? ›

The study revealed that parts of the human brain process the horror movie as if the threat were real, which prepares the body to react in the same way it would in a real-life situation--the heart rate increases, pupils dilate, and blood pressure goes up.

Can horror movies make you smarter? ›

It's a well-known fact that horror films improve brain activity. Several scientific studies found that frightening scenes in horror movies help increase the adrenaline level and release neurotransmitters in the brain. Simple words, watching horror films, people not only look at their monitors.

Does watching scary movies make you braver? ›

There is little evidence that watching horror films makes you better equipped to deal with real-life scary situations. However, the hyper-vigilant state one experiences after watching a horror film could be beneficial in terms of staying away from similar scary situations.

What were the top 10 movies for 2021? ›

Best Movies 2021
  • #1. Spider-Man: No Way Home. 93% 96% #1. ...
  • #2. In the Heights. 94% 85% #2. ...
  • #3. Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) 99% 93% #3. ...
  • #4. Pig. 97% 77% #4. ...
  • #5. The Power of the Dog. 94% 57% #5. ...
  • #6. CODA. 94% 91% #6. ...
  • #7. Raya and the Last Dragon. 94% 86% #7. ...
  • #8. West Side Story. 91% 86% #8.

How scary is the new IT movie? ›

It's very scary, and not just in a typical gory slasher or jump scare way; it generates actual tingles. (And if you're scared of clowns, it's even worse.) Things get pretty gory; characters are stabbed, impaled, and beaten with rocks and blunt objects.

What are the newest horror movies out right now? ›

Latest News
  • Nope: Final Trailer.
  • The Black Phone: Trailer 2.
  • Watcher: Extended Trailer.
  • Men: Movie Clip - First Encounter.
  • Umma: First Ten Minutes.
  • Halloween Kills: Final Trailer.
  • Candyman: Trailer 2.
  • The Night House: Trailer 2.

Is the black phone based on a true story? ›

Joe Hill's Short Story Used a Serial Killer for Inspiration

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hill explained that, though his story took inspiration from real serial killers of the era, The Black Phone is not based on an actual case.

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