1980s icon and national treasure Kevin Bacon has just been cast in Blumhouse productions’ upcoming queer horror set at an LGBTQIA+ conversion camp. Sounds very “kill your gays” trope, you say? While this may have been our first thought too, the setting does present the opportunity for some “good for them” revenge moments, and in 2021 they produced the powerful documentary Pray Away about this very issue.
It turns out Blumhouse has delivered many highly-rated horror movies since its inception. With a model that focuses on small budgets and directors’ creative freedom, it all began with 2007’s mega-hitParanormal Activity. If you enjoyed Insidious (2010) and The Purge(2013), there’s more for you to uncover in their doom-filled back catalog.
Happy Death Day (2017)
College student Tree suddenly finds herself reliving her birthday, again and again. The twist? At the end of each day, a mysterious person in a baby mask keeps murdering her. It’s up to the confused birthday girl to discover a way out of the gruesome time loop and, most concerning, who wants her dead?
With a Groundhog Day-esque storyline, this college slasher could have been very predictable and cringe-worthy but thanks to Jessica Rothe’s charming and relatable performance as Tree, this film is a genuine pleasure to watch. Considering it’s the third slasher ever to receive a PG-13 rating, you won’t get Sawgore, but you will get a fun watch for a cozy night at home.
Award-winning writer Jordan Peele‘s second dabble into horror is as twisted as his first. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Us centers on a family vacation to Santa Cruz. The beach escape turns into a nightmare when their home is broken into by their grotesque doppelgängers.
The concept is as wild as it sounds, but it’s well propped up by excellent performances from the main cast. Look, it’s no Get Out, but give Us a chance. Unique and complex ideas are hard to come by in horror, so keep your expectations in check, and enjoy the ride.
The Gift (2015)
When a couple runs into an old classmate, they think nothing of it, until he shows up at their door with a gift. Growing increasingly wary of their uninvited guest, things take a turn for the sinister when a secret from the past is revealed. How well do we really know the person we love?
Australian talent Joel Edgerton directed, wrote, and starred in this slow-burning thriller. The outcome is anything but dull. The performances are immaculate and with beautiful cinematography, this intelligent shocker is surprisingly slept on. If you’re in the mood for mind-bending,The Gift is yours to take.
The Invisible Man (2020)
A woman escapes her abusive ex, but when he decides to take his own life, he leaves his fortune to her. Suspecting his death may be a hoax, she’s wary of the offering. Soon things begin happening that convince her of the conspiracy, but when no one else can see it, is it really happening?
Elizabeth Moss‘ performance in The Invisible Man is fantastic. While you may end up shouting at your screen, it won’t be out of frustration at a hopeless lead. It’s impossible not to root for her, and the filmmakers handling of such a difficult topic. This remake feels entirely new, and the pacing is impeccable. You may even find yourself drawn to multiple re-watches…
The Black Phone (2021)
Ethan Hawke stars in this disturbing abduction story. When a 13-year-old boy is locked in the soundproof basement of a child killer, he begins receiving phone calls on the disconnected black phone. The callers are the killer’s past victims, and they want to save the boy from their fate.
Based on the novel by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), it’s no surprise that the story is incredibly well crafted. Scott Derrickson continues his reign of quality in the horror genre, so don’t take the R-rating lightly. Be ready for jump scares and brilliant performances from the entire cast. The Black Phone has classic horror written all over it.
The long-awaited sequel to M. Night Shyamalan‘s film Unbreakable (2000) was a huge box-office success. James McAvoy masterfully portrays Kevin, a man with 23 personalities, who abducts three teenage girls and holds them captive. When his psychiatrist begins to suspect a shift in Kevin’s behavior, she worries a dark side has taken hold of her patient.
While there has been some heated discussion over the portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder, the character of Kevin isn’t quite what he appears (no spoilers) so we’ll leave it to the viewers to decide on that one. McAvoy is one of the most gifted actors of our time, and he carries the movie from start to finish. The final film in Shyamalan’s trilogy, Glass, was released in 2019.
Soft & Quiet (2022)
Another truly unique offering in the thriller-sphere is Soft & Quiet. The film plays out in real-time as an elementary school teacher gathers with a group of like-minded people. The film is dark, confronting, and escalates from there.
Jason Blum (founder of Blumhouse) said he was on the edge of his seat in discomfort throughout, and couldn’t stop thinking about it after. He subsequently acquired it for Blumhouse. The filmmaker Beth de Araújo is one to watch if you’re a fan of disturbing, confrontational films. She doesn’t shy away from dark topics, and neither shall we.
If you’re a Black Mirror fan, you will love Upgrade. Set in the near future when technology controls most aspects of life, a self-confessed technophobe named Grey finds his existence changed forever. Suddenly, only the thing that took everything from him can give him his life back.
This offering from Saw (2004) writer Leigh Whannell may have slipped through the cracks initially, but it has since garnered rave reviews. Expect occasional but well-placed gore and violence, but most of all this is a deeply disturbing Sci-Fi thriller for any fan of the genre.
Get Out (2017)
Are there any recent horrors as memorable and alarming as Get Out? Daniel Kaluuya, an African-American man, visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s family for the first time. What begins as over-the-top hospitality soon dissolves into something he never saw coming.
Firstly, thank you, Jordan Peele for creating one of the best thrillers of the decade. When a film debuts to such praise often it can be over-hyped, but in this case, Get Out is not. It’s fresh, clever, and has just enough humor with an excellent performance from Kaluuya. See it. Now.