Horror Movie Roundup: The Decade

By: Amelia Kimberling

With this decade nearing its end, there are many amazing things to look back on, but today will be focused on one specific genre: Horror. While this genre may not be considered “part of the Christmas spirit,” it can provide a great escape for those who bore of the same movies and songs year after year. You can still cozy up by the crackling fire, drink a mug of sweet cocoa, and admire the Christmas tree, but instead of watching Elf slurp up maple syrup noodles, a more intense movie could be playing. As a Halloween Horror Nights attendee, lover of horror for over six years, and a frequent watcher of horror reviews, I will be bringing a whole new perspective for the love of horror.

Some Pennywise hot cocoa for movie watching! It’s homemade mix to warm any chills caused by scary movies.

Me and my Floridian best friend Victoria posing before the Halloween Horror Nights 28 entrance signed after a long night of scares.

Starting today is the Torch’s monthly segment of Horror Reviews! Here we will deep dive into all things horror whether it be movies, shows, events, conventions, art, and more. What better way to begin than to look back at my personal opinion of the best horror films of each year in the past decade. Get ready to get spooky!

Since this list is long, we will only focus on three areas of ranking per movie: Scariness, Plotline/Characters, and my own Personal score and feelings.

2010: Insidious

IMDB Synopsis:

“A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.”

Scariness: 

Jumpscares galore. This movie is great for newcomers. It’s not overly gory or deep, but it still has a plotline that is very unique for its kind of movie. From the Lipstick Face Demon to the Old Woman, the monsters that seep from the Further are all kinds of creepy. 

Plotline/Characters:

The movie has a big plot twist in the middle. At the beginning, it is easy to think it is some normal haunting/possession movie, but it grows even grander when a psychic expert becomes involved named Elise. The characters are pretty standard as it follows two parents trying to save their comatose son, but you can still feel their pain and distress throughout the film. 

Personal:

I have seen this movie nearly ten times as it is my go-to for horror newcomers, and it never seems to get old. I see it aging well and growing into a classic throughout the years. I even got to experience a haunted house based on it at Halloween Horror Nights 2017. There are four other movies, but I would recommend sticking to the first two as they both tight-knit and strung together.

2011: The Cabin in the Woods

IMDB Synopsis: 

“Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods.”

Scariness: 

While every jumpscare is cheap, that’s the point! This movie is a giant satire that attacks nearly every horror trope in the books. It takes a handful of cliches, and it bends them to its will. Jumpscares included. So, yes, you may jump some, but as for a long term scare, something that will stick with you, it is not so much on a super terrifying level. Despite the massive amount of gore, it’s all comical, and it tends to lighten someone’s mood rather than ruin it.

Plotline/Characters:

The plot of this movie is super tight and twisty! There are many plot twists when it comes to the unfolding of the story. It’s funny, slightly scary, and overall a cohesive good time. As for the characters, I found myself really connecting with the final two, who I will not mention to avoid spoilers. They are both more complex than the tropes they represent at the beginning, and their rapidly developing bond, which is due to the intensity of the situation, is interesting to watch.

Personal:

I love this movie. Normally, I don’t like comedy and horror mixed, and there are a few comedical horror movies that book it high in my lists. This, of course, is one of those movies. It’s exciting and a breath of fresh air from all the overly artsy movies that seem to just turn out bland and the Hollywood trope films who rely on stereotypical characters and loud noises to make a film. 

2012: Sinister

IMDB Synopsis:

“Washed-up true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt finds a box of super 8 home movies that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the crimes of a serial killer whose work dates back to the 1960s.”

Scariness: 

I have seen hundreds of horror films in the past six years, but none of them have haunted me like this particular flick. Some make me feel a little eerie after watching, but the nerves will fizzle out quickly. This movie is the one exception. It’s dark, gritty, and seems to target young people in realizing the state of their own mortality. While there are jumpscares that will get you in the moment, many of the scenes will stick with most viewers. Different movies scare different people, so you watch this and find it silly or unscary. That’s the great thing about horror! Everything is different per person, and this movie happened to be the one to get me.

Plotline/Characters: 

The plot, which unravels with building tension, all comes together at the end with the massive plot twist. The pieces are there, but once it’s confirmed, the twist seems to make people’s stomach drop with unease. The main character Ellison Oswalt, a struggling crime writer, is crippled by his deflating fame due to being just a one hit wonder. With his ego too big, he buys a house in which a family was slaughtered, a cold case, despite his wife’s begging not to. Turns out he should have listened to her. He is not likeable but more so interesting as he breaks typical horror protagonist standards.

Personal:

I deeply respect this movie, yet I have only seen it twice and would like to keep it that way. It’s too much for me, which is funny considering I’ve seen movies with much more graphic and mind-bending content than this. The plot hits home for me, and it turns the fears of the unraveling of a happy family true for me. I would easily recommend it to everyone; however, I will not join in on the viewing.

2013: Oculus

IMDB Synopsis: 

“A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon.”

Scariness:

Like Insidious, Oculus relies primarily on jumpscares. However it is sprinkled with bits of gore and disturbing retellings here and there. The possessed souls are creepy with their glowing eyes and abnormally large smiles, and they add a growing sense of dread as you fear ever seeing another one later on.

Plotline/Characters:

The plot takes place throughout an evening as the brother-sister duo try to uncover the secrets of the haunted mirror that tormented their family when they were kids. As the effects of the evil entity begin to heighten in their house, things grow progressively darker until the chilling climax that leaves you hoping for more. Also, the use of dramatic irony is strong with the flashback portions. As viewers, we know things don’t out good for the family, but we are forced to watch a once stable and loving home fall apart.

Personal:

I really enjoy this film. It has a bit of everything that I love in horror: gore, spooks, and unique sense of storytelling. Over the years, it has lost recognition, and I am hopeful to get it back! It’s another first timer for new horror fans as it hits every base without being to graphic or dark. 

2014: It Follows

IMDB Synopsis:

“A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter.”


Scariness:

This movie is incredibly tense. While it runs dry on the jumpscares, which there is nothing wrong with that, it makes up with the dark imagery and subject matter. The creature, which takes many shapes and forms, it irking with its lack of speech and dry, boney features. 

Plotline/Characters:

For a horror movie, the story is very refreshing. The concept of a “STD” that causes you to be stalked and eventually murdered by an apathetic creature is jarring. It hits close to home, especially for teenagers. The main group of teens are fun to follow, and each character takes on their own individual character than a stereotype.

Personal:

It is not my absolute favorite on this list, but nonetheless it’s still a fun watch. After all, it’s my personal best of 2014. While it is creepy, the mood seems almost too dull and depressing, which makes it a movie I rarely revisit. However, it deserves more recognition! It’s great horror movie for first timers who want a quality film that’s not too over the top.

2015: The VVitch

IMBD Synopsis:

“A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic, and possession.”

Scariness:

Completely void of jumpscares, The VVitch relies on its sheer disturbing story to enforce its own unique sense of terror. From a goat that bewitches two young twins to a disturbing scene involving the Witch and a child, this movie is not for the faint of heart. I would caution with this movie as it contains content in the first ten minutes that can be brutal and unsettling, so if you fear it may be too much, check out the Parent Guide on IMDB for a preview of what you will be seeing.

Plotline/Characters:

When the family arrives at where they will be growing their new life, they are met with a plethora of horrid circumstances: their infant son disappearing, their crops failing, and the eldest son falling ill. Fingers began to get pointed as the family suspects their eldest daughter is entangled with something dark. It unfolds at a steady pace. The first ten minutes hold one of the most disturbing scenes in the whole movie, and the section in between is just a tumbleweed of growing tension until everything bursts at the finale. The Witch, while rarely shown, has a strong presence, and she is shown in the form of many animals in the movie.

Personal:

I believe I’ve seen this movie at least five times. It is really close to my heart, in a strange way, and it something my whole family always goes back to and speaks about. Yet this movie is not for everyone, so please proceed with caution. 

2016: The Wailing 

IMDB Synopsis:

“Soon after a stranger arrives in a little village, a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman, drawn into the incident, is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.”

Scariness:

The problem is solely described as a sickness spreading through a small village. However, it so, so much more. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go too in depth. This movie is dark and gritty. The real fear is watching this father in a desperate tumble to save his daughter. The family relationship is deep and pure, so to watch everything crumble beneath them, is truly terrifying. Plus some of the imagery can be quite graphic, especially when focusing on the sick, the priest, and the woman in white.

Plotline/Characters:

Like The VVitch, The Wailing grows slowly. The emotions are tense, and the series of plot twists are rich and keep interest. During the last twenty minutes, the uncertainty is strong, and the movie keeps tossing the ball as to who the “evil” force is until the father makes his final and detrimental decision. On the note of the dad, he is a character you can’t help but sympathize with. 

Personal:

To put it bluntly, this is my second favorite horror film of all time. I could not include a ton in order to avoid spoilers, but trust me on this, it is incredible. The fact that it tips over a two hour run time and maintains an interesting plot is impressive. I love it to death.

2017: IT

IMDB Synopsis:

“In the summer of 1989, a group of bullied kids band together to destroy a shape-shifting monster, which disguises itself as a clown and preys on the children of Derry, their small Maine town.”

Scariness:

It’s Pennywise! A demented clown who feeds on young kids and takes the forms of their worst fear, so what is not to be scared of? It’s gory and includes a bundle of clever jumpscares to keep you jumping out of your seat. This movie especially hits for younger kids and teens as they are the main target of this crazy monster. As the victim, it makes us fear that maybe there is a Pennywise lurking around our town.

Plotline/Characters

The plot is very standard. It’s entertaining and follows the book to the best of its ability within its 2 hour runtime. The really seller are the main group of kids: Bill, Richie, Stanley, Bev, Mike, Ben, and Eddie. Their chemistry carries the story, and you can’t help but hope for their safety. It tackles themes such as racism and bullying, which makes it compelling to watch at times.

Personal: 

I do really enjoy this movie. It provides us with characters we actually care about and relate to. Without the friend group, it would fall flat. Most people reading have most likely seen this, but if you haven’t, it is a much watch as a horror fan.

2018: Annihilation

IMDB Synopsis: 

“A biologist’s husband disappears. She puts her name forward for an expedition into an environmental disaster zone, but does not find what she’s expecting. The expedition team is made up of the biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and a linguist.”

Scariness: 

The movie is straight unsettling. It is absolutely gorgeous to look at, but extremely unsettling as the beautiful plant life reveal the death and decay of the people and creatures caught in the crossfire of this mystical dome. A few jumpscares lurk in the seems, but it mainly focuses on its graphic imagery for its scares.

Plotline/Characters: 

It’s quick-paced, but just enough to keep it not rushed. Everything unfolds so perfectly, and every question ties together in the end. The main group of girls are fun to watch, and the tensions between some of them make it even more fun.

Personal:

It’s beautiful. Absolutely stunning. Beauty plus gore/fear has always been my favorite juxtaposition in horror movies, and Annihilation takes it to the next level. Watch this movie! If you’re sick of the normal ghosts and demons, this movie provides a good refresher from overdone horror tropes.

2019: Doctor Sleep

IMDB Synopsis:

“Years following the events of “The Shining,” a now-adult Dan Torrance must protect a young girl with similar powers from a cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.”

Scariness: 

The scariest concept to me is the True Knot gang: the group of powerful psychics who prey on child psychics to gain their powers. They are the definition of true evil, and while it may not seem like it on the outside, they are ruthless and willing to do anything for power. Also, the ending scenes in the Overlook Hotel can be creepy as we revisit some of the beloved creatures and ghouls from The Shining.

Plotline/Characters:

The plot takes many turns, and at the beginning, you are not quite sure what you are walking into. It pays off though as the characters take time to establish so that the audience can be closer to them. I especially how they revisited Danny Torrence’s past with flashback scenes that have actors who resemble the iconic looks of young Danny and his mother Wendy. It’s an homage to The Shining and a good very good one at that. Also, Abra, the little girl Danny is trying to save from the True Knot, is super fun to watch as we get a real look into what all her powers include.

Personal:

Long story short, this movie made me teary-eyed. Not because it is inherently sad but because the sheer throwback it gives to such a beloved movie is overwhelming. As soon as they started blasting the theme song from the Stanley Kubrick film, I felt myself getting weepy. Yes, I am weird and I cry over good horror movies, but believe me when I say if you like The Shining, you will love Doctor Sleep.

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