Back by popular demand is the SP HorrorFest. 2019 has been a good year for horror in both mainstream and indie fields, but as you know from last year’s list, we don’t just talk about recent titles. I’m here to dig up the best from all years and, if possible, tell you which streaming platforms you can find these on right now. If you didn’t see the 2018 movie list, you can find it HERE. There are some great titles there as well that won’t be found on this list. So grab your favorite blanket, hit the lights, and let’s find you something scary to watch.
I will start with a recent title that is still current to horror enthusiasts, but in the off chance has remained unseen by some. Us is Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort and shows us more reasons why we need to be excited for him coming up as a writer and director. Us doesn’t seem to be for everyone, but it is still loaded with great moments, great performances, and a haunting score. Liking Get Out doesn’t guarantee you will enjoy Us, however, it is refreshing to see someone bringing original horror ideas to the screen and not remakes or reboots. You can’t deny the creepy moments by Lupita Nyong’o and all she brings to this picture. SP’s other Chris wrote an in-depth review of the film when it released which you can find HERE.
Storm of the Century (1999)
Now we go from highly popular to extremely obscure with Storm of the Century. This was a mini-series but is now only found in one long format. Stephen King wrote this for the screen, so this is not an adaptation, and it is my favorite movie with his name attached. It feels like him through and through without anyone stepping on his material. Yes, it is long, but oh so worth it if you can find it. It goes from genuinely horrifying to tears streaming down your face in 240 minutes. Don’t be put off by the runtime; I have seen this many times, and it never felt overly long. If you are a King fan you need to see this by any means possible.
Now we move from Stephen King to another great author, Dean Koontz. Phantoms has always been a film that I enjoyed along with the book it was based on. This movie has plenty of detractors, but I love the feel of the town and putting myself in the shoes of the cast. It is such a good premise that it is hard to be mad at it. The first half and the second half have very different tones, but both have great moments of horror and dread. The cast of Ben Affleck, Rose McGowan, Liev Schreiber, and Peter O’Toole should have you interested if nothing else.
Streaming On: HBO Go
Wrong Turn (2003)
I’m glad I didn’t use this one last year because this is a favorite in my household, and I am happy to share this one. Die-hard horror fans know about this one and for good reason. The scenario of being stuck in the backwoods of West Virginia hunted by cannibals may sound cliché now, but this movie stands above most with the wall to wall suspense and the memorable inbred cannibals. The effects are practical and well done, reminiscent of The Hills Have Eyes. It is a must-see.
Streaming On: FuboTV and SyFy
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Last year I had The Conjuring on this list, and it is only right to have the sequel on the list this year. Unlike many horror franchises we see these days, The Conjuring maestros were able to make an extremely strong sequel that some would consider better than the first. The director, James Wan, seems to be what holds these movies together because when he is not at the helm the Conjuring universe movies just can’t reach the high marks; movies such as The Nun and Annabelle have been uneven, to say the least. The third entry is on its way, and I have high hopes after these first two.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
This one flew under everyone’s radar in 2016 despite having actors we all know. It takes place exclusively in a morgue housed in a basement that is tended by a father and son coroner team. The premise is fresh, and the autopsy on this seemingly normal corpse just reveals more and more layers of mystery. Watch this one to the end for the final surprise. Director André Øvredal is planting his flag in the horror genre from back in 2010 with Trollhunter and this year’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Streaming On: Netflix
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Another Stephen King film! I’m sorry, folks, but this one checks a lot of boxes for this list. One of the main reasons is that it was made by Netflix and is available for streaming. However, I have revisited this film already, and it just grabs me for the full runtime. Very well acted and manages to take place in a single room for most of the time and sprinkled with flashbacks to tie everything together. The Moonlight Man is the stuff of nightmares, and I love seeing him portrayed so well here. Director Mike Flanagan has been on a roll with horror like no other director, and aside from his work on the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House, this is my favorite of his films.
Streaming On: Netflix
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
S. Graig Zahler put himself on the map with Bone Tomahawk and has since made good films, but none have been quite this close to horror. What starts out as a typical Western slowly gets more horrifying, introducing the audience to some of the most brutal images they have, and will ever, see. It all boils down to cannibalism once again, but Zahler made sure watchers left with unforgotten scenes and tension ratcheting like a belt.
Streaming On: Amazon Prime
Terrified (Aterrados) (2017)
Get your reading glasses on North Americans because Terrified comes out of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is entirely in Spanish. Don’t let that sway your decision because Demián Rugna wrote and directed one creepy horror flick about a neighborhood with strange phenomena. A group of people decides to dig deeper and find out what exactly is happening, and while each house is a different type of evil, they are all interesting. Rugna doesn’t exactly pull the third act off, but it is still very effective and worth any horror fan’s time.
Streaming On: Shudder
The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)
I enjoyed the first The Strangers, but I enjoyed this sequel more because it seemed to have more fun, and like the first movie, you could feel the anxiety and the desperation of the protagonists. The Strangers in the film are just as creepy as they were the first time around, and besides one glaring detail, these two movies do stand alone, so you don’t NEED to watch the first movie, but it’s also worth your time.
Streaming On: Amazon Prime
Into the Dark: New Year, New You (2018)
Hulu and the famed Horror production house, Blumhouse, have partnered to create a horror film for each holiday in a collection called Into the Dark. These movies are exclusive to Hulu and are a mixed bag. I think New Year, New You is one of the standouts, but don’t expect it to feel like a theatrical film. None of them are worthy of screening in a cineplex, but you can’t shun them completely because it is ambitious and the fresh idea that the Horror genre needs. Most, if not all, of these films are drowning in tropes, but this is one of two that stand out to me. Maybe the other will be on next year’s list.
Streaming On: Hulu
Friday the 13th (1980)
I need to dig farther back so I decided on this classic. Last year I had Halloween on the list and there was a lot to say about that one and this one deserves some coverage. Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th didn’t invent the slasher film, but it did start the “killer camp” stereotype that movies like Sleepaway Camp and even the current season of American Horror Story: 1984 are based on. It might have birthed a horror icon in Jason Voorhies, but even he doesn’t make an appearance until the final shot. Cunningham was not the first director to use the first-person camera so we could see what the killer was seeing, but he does put this Hitchcock method to constant use, also used by numerous others in the following years. I still enjoy this original just as fondly as when I first saw it.
Streaming On: Fubo TV
Midsommar is lucky number 13th on this list, but it is truly unique and should not be forgotten. It is Ari Aster’s follow-up to Hereditary, and while it was shot very quickly, it is packed with so much content and easily missed easter eggs that it begs to be rewatched. Yes, it is slow. Yes, it is long, but Aster used a lot of history, religion, and cultist knowledge to create a distinctive discipleship and commune. Combine that with a realistic portrayal of a relationship on the rocks and Midsommar just hits harder. It’s hard to say if this movie is better than Hereditary, but I was more satisfied with Midsommar’s finale. Watch carefully, because everything is a clue and I can assure you won’t see them all along the way. SP’s own Ryan Easby was a huge fan as well and you can read his in-depth review HERE.