Horror has always been a home for some of the most iconic performances of all time. They may not clean up at the Oscars, but when you think about the most enduring characters and performances — Jack Nicholson in The Shining, Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs — they’re so often the result of a stunning actor taking on genre without flinching.
And the last decade has been an absolute bounty for the horror genre, from indie horror made more accessible with each new development in digital photography and studio horror that endured as one of the few non-superhero, non-Star Wars guarantees at the box office. So it should come as no surprise that the decade was absolutely jam-packed with phenomenal performances, elevated by a peak era in horror storytelling that has seen some of the best actors in the world turn to genre for their meatiest roles.
This isn’t a list of the best horror performances of the decade — that list would be impossibly long, including plenty of performances that slipped under the radar in indie and foreign cinema. For the purposes of this list, we’re looking back at the most iconic horror turns of the last ten years. These are the screaming faces that will endure in the zeitgeist; the terrified and terrifying character and creature creations that will spring to mind for generations to come when they think back on the decade in horror cinema.