10 Best Supernatural Horror Movies of the 2010s, Ranked
Scared? You should be.
Horror isn’t always meant to make us screech in terror. But it sure is fun when it does! And when I’m looking to really cower under the covers, supernatural horror is a go-to. I find it especially disturbing because such forces aren’t easily defeated. A human killer can be stopped by human means, but you can’t just hit a ghost over the head or lock a door to keep it out. And that’s terrifying.
The 2010s was a fantastic time for horror. Some of the greatest modern horror movies came out in the last decade. And it doesn’t matter what subgenre either, there were plenty of movies to appreciate and love. For supernatural horror, in particular, it’s not hard to find great ones from the 2010s.
I’ll be ranking these movies by how scary they actually are. Here are my favorite supernatural horror films of the decade from least scary to “never sleep again” scary.
10. It Follows (2014)
This movie is more of a slow burn than actively terrifying. But that doesn’t diminish what a good horror movie it is! It’s beautifully shot with a unique and creepy premise and is perfect for folks who aren’t fans of a lot of gore or jump scares. It follows (hah!) a young woman who is stalked by a supernatural entity after a sexual encounter. And the only way she can rid herself of it is by having sex with someone else. The monster is creepy and Malika Monroe’s performance captures how frightening the situation would be. But as far as flat-out scares? It Follows isn’t the horror movie for that.
9. Doctor Sleep (2019)
Mike Flanagan is truly a horror genius and has a way of making his horror movies so visually striking. And Doctor Sleep (2019) is no exception. The film is a direct sequel to The Shining (1980) and follows an adult Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor), still struggling with his childhood trauma, who is forced to take on a terrifying group of monsters, called the True Knot. Ironically, the spirits aren’t the scariest part about this film. Unlike The Shining, where Jack (Jack Nicholson)’s madness was by way of the hotel’s influence and resident spirits, it’s the True Knot in this film, especially Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who are the most frightening. And a particular scene involving a baseball boy is very unsettling and hard to watch for many viewers.
Note: Doctor Sleep (the novel) was published in 2013 and some events in the book aren’t the same in the movie.
8. The Ritual (2017)
This movie isn’t one with a high body count by any means. But when people do die at the hands of this god-like entity, it’s horrific. This film follows a group of friends who go hiking in honor of their deceased friend’s memory—only to discover something sinister in the woods, which picks them off one by one. The creature itself and the cult that worships it would make anyone terrified. This is why this British horror film earns a relatively high spot on this list.
Note: The film is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Adam Nevill.
7. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
This film is super creepy and only gets more so as the movie progresses. The plot focuses on a father-and-son coroner duo who experience supernatural phenomena while examining a Jane Doe. At first, that premise may sound boring as hell. But this horror movie is surprisingly effective in its creepiness and how things get really bad for the characters. The scariness isn’t just a bunch of jump scares, it’s the disturbing nature surrounding the Jane Doe and the events occurring because of it. And the actors help drive the movie home with great, unnerving performances.
6. Oculus (2013)
Laugh all you want about the concept of an evil, antique mirror, but this movie sure isn’t funny. Yet another Mike Flanagan horror movie that’s top-notch, this film follows Kaylie (Karen Gillan) who is certain that an antique mirror is the direct cause of her parents’ death. The tragedy Kaylie and her brother Allen (Brenton Thwaites) experienced as children is horrifying—and along with the scares, there’s a tragic exploration of how abuse and trauma continue to affect families and children. One child spent years in a facility, where he was convinced that the mirror isn’t evil, while the other built her life around believing in it and trying to destroy it. Narration is unreliable in this film and it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s a hallucination, leading to horrific things. Knowing you can’t even stop a mirror or trust what you’re seeing and experiencing? Now that’s scary as hell.
Note: The film is based off of Flanagan’s short film, Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan
5. It: Chapter One (2017)
Tim Curry’s Pennywise was so kooky and naturally his performance is memorable. But something about Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise is more frightening—from his facial expressions to how he scares the kids throughout the film. The film follows the Losers Club, a group of bullied friends who band together to stop an evil entity, Pennywise, from feeding on the kids of their hometown, Derry.
It: Chapter One (2017) succeeds in being especially scary and the performances from the kids are excellent. Not to mention that Pennywise literally shape-shifts, feeds on fear, and eats you because your fear makes you taste good. Horrifying.
Note: Some scenes in the film went very differently in Stephen King’s novel.
4. Hereditary (2018)
As much as people hail this movie for being incredibly scary while you’re watching it, it’s even scarier once it’s revealed what was happening all along. Not to mention, the tail end of the movie is when things are worthy of squinting your eyes. The film follows a family who’s haunted by a disturbing presence after the passing of Annie (Toni Colette)’s mother. Everybody suffers throughout the film and it’s basically the disintegration of a family—with a reveal at the end that’s truly unsettling.
3. Sinister (2012)
If I was going to try to summarize this film in one line, it would be “disturbing snuff films and Ethan Hawke’s character drinking to get through shit.” But like many of these films, the premise is only a small part of the terror. The film focuses on Ellison (Ethan Hawke) and his family who move to a murder house. Where he finds snuff films on his quest to write a new best-seller, it puts his family in danger.
One of the scariest parts of this film is that the family often makes smart moves, it’s less of a “why did you go into the basement!” kind of horror and more like, you can’t stop bad things from happening sometimes. And that makes it very upsetting.
2. The VVitch (2015)
Some supernatural horror movies require attentiveness and this is one of those. The VVitch (2015) follows a Puritan family in the 1630s who encounter evil forces in the woods beyond their New England farm. Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is repressed and wants more for herself, but she’s been forced to live a religious life and obey her family’s wishes. Which only makes it easier for her to be swayed by Black Phillip. The atmosphere is so ominous, many scenes are freaky, and it’s quite scary from the beginning. Oftentimes horror that’s set in this time period is just naturally frightening. There are no phones to use to call for help. And these characters are in the middle of nowhere. Rendering them helpless to the events that unfold.
1. Evil Dead (2013)
How groovy is it that I’m placing this at the very top of this list? In terms of this entry in the Evil Dead franchise, it’s a favorite for plenty of fans and there’s no question why. Instead of following Ash (Bruce Campbell), this movie follows Mia (Jane Levy) and her loved ones who are trying to help her get clean at a cabin. Naturally, chaos ensues and they all get possessed, one by one, because of an incantation (that wasn’t supposed to be read). Out of all the Evil Dead films, this is by far the scariest. There’s very little humor and the movie is incredibly scary and gruesome. Imagining yourself in the same situation as the characters doesn’t help either!
(featured image: IFC Films)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]