There’s a popular belief that 2016 was a bad year for movies. Not so much. True, the summer was a grim season packed to the brim with unwelcome reboots and sequels, but overall, if you branched out from the Top 10 box office contenders, there has been plenty to love. Nowhere is that truer than in the horror genre, which utterly thrived in 2016 with a year-long calendar packed with one surprising, thrilling release after the next. Historically speaking, horror has always thrived in times of hardship, perhaps that’s why in a year when everything seemed to go wrong, the horror line-up went so right.
Overseas and stateside alike, horror filmmakers brought their A-game, toying with tropes and conventions to deliver innovative spins on well-worn genre staples like zombies, witches, and home invasion. At the same time, horror is a genre that has always offered tremendous opportunity for original, adult storytelling beyond the shackles of mass appeal and the 2016 lineup was no slouch in that regard with a string of terrifying takes on grief, mortality, and religion. It was also an exceptional year for women in horror, both behind the camera and in front, proving we’ve largely left behind the days of shrieking bottle-blondes with big boobs in favor of something much richer, and ultimately, much scarier. It was also an exceptional year for movie titles starting with “The”, but that’s neither here nor there.
With so much greatness on the table, Chris Cabin and I teamed up to look back at our favorites from the year. And only favorites had room to make the cut, meaning plenty of entertaining fare like The Conjuring 2, Lights Out, Hush, The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Southbound, to name a few, didn’t make the cut even though they likely would have ranked in any other year. But without further ado, here are our picks for the best horror movies of 2016.