Top 16 Horror Films of 2019: The Good, The Gruesome and The F**ked Up!

Top 16 Horror Films of 2019: The Good, The Gruesome and The F**ked Up!

2019 really has been a great year to be a Horror fan, so much so that the ‘Top 10’ formula just doesn’t seem to cut it! As the decade draws to a close 2019 has made sure not to disappoint genre fans. From Creature Features to returning Killer Clowns all the way into Indie Exorcisms. We’ve invited a new generation of Horror Auteurs into our nightmares and re-immersed ourselves into some old classics with remakes and sequels abound. So pack up your preferred musical instrument, throw on your rose tinted nostalgia glasses and join me on a summer getaway…Sweden seems nice this time of year. 

If you’re interested in listening to a podcast rundown of the Top 5 from this list then check out Episode 6: Top 5 Horror Films of 2019 on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Podbean or Anchor

Zoe Margaret Colletti and Michael Garza in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

16. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Where: Amazon Prime & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 23/08/2019

Who: DirectorAndré Øvredal Cast – Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Austin Zajur, Gabriel Rush, Dean Norris & Gil Bellows

Why: Anthology Horror can be a complicated beast to tackle but Øvredal, along with producer/writer Guillermo del Toro, managed to create a stunningly visual and compelling film with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Adapted from the Horror anthology book of the same name by Alvin Schwartz, there was a lot of childhood nostalgia to live up to with this film. Of course there were already some visual guidelines set out in the beautifully macabre illustrations by Stephen Gammell which were clearly utilised in the creation of Harold the Scarecrow and the Pale Lady. There are definitely some hiccups in the creation of a potential 18 Rating film that’s slightly watered down to a 15 Rating, but overall the wrap around story is strong, the effects looking incredible and they even sprinkle in a few good scares that managed to make it past the censors. 

Richard Brake, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Bill Moseley in 3 from Hell (2019)

15. 3 From Hell

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 14/10/2019

Who: Director Rob Zombie Cast – Sheri Moon Zombie, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Emilio Rivera, Danny Trejo & Clint Howard

Why: Rob Zombie’s Firefly trilogy has been long in the making with House of 1000 Corpses gracing screens in 2003 followed swiftly by The Devil’s Rejects in 2005 and finally 3 From Hell releasing this year. Somehow Baby, Otis and Captain Spaulding survived the ‘Free Bird’ shootout at the end of Rejects and are now being tried for their crimes. We also get a new member of the Firefly family with Richard Drake’s brilliantly performed Foxy entering the mix. The nightmare ends not with a bang but with a wild twisted road trip full of all the things we have come to expect from Zombie. It’s a trippy, hyper violent finale which celebrates our vile anti-heroes in all their glory. Sid Haig’s Captain Spaulding may not grace this finale for long but when he does it’s clear exactly why the character, and Sid himself, holds legendary status in the Horror Community. Thank you Sid.  

Laura Vandervoort in Rabid (2019)

14. Rabid

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 07/10/2019

Who: Directors Sylvia Soska & Jen Soska Cast – Laura Vandervoort, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Phil Brooks, Greg Bryk, Stephen McHattie & Hanneke Talbot

Why: There is one thing that is very clear in Rabid, the Soska Sisters bloody love David Cronenberg. This remake of the 1977 original is a funny and well paced homage to the original, laced with Horror intertextuality galore. Of course this body Horror film isn’t just a straight copy of it predecessor and the Soska’s have managed to expand on the world of our lead character Rose, played sympathetically by Laura Vandervoort, who must traverse the fashion industry minefield. They also bring their own idiosyncrasies, such as body modification, to this infective film. There are some brilliant practical effects in Rabid, especially the aftermath of the bike accident whose image graces the grisly poster. Rabid keeps its pace throughout and brings high energy to every scene including the intense, and beautifully lit, Frankenstein-esque ending. Here’s to more from the Soskas. 

Lauryn Canny in Darlin' (2019)

13. Darlin’

Where: Currently Unavailable in UK

When: 25/06/2019

Who: Director – Pollyanna McIntosh Cast Cooper Andrews, Kristina Arntz, Mackenzie Bateman, Bryan Batt, Eugenie Bondurant & Lauryn Canny

Why: Darlin’ sees another trilogy of Horror films rounded out, but unlike 3 From Hell this one doesn’t rely on prior knowledge of The Woman (2011) or The Offspring (2009). This standalone sequel follows the story of The Woman, a feral female who was captured and tortured by the men of the Cleek family before violently liberating herself along with the two daughters Peggy and Darlin’ bringing them into her wilderness home. After growing up wild Darlin’ is dropped off at a hospital by The Woman when she requires medical care, this leads to her ‘adoption’ into a Catholic boarding school and a shocking discovery. McIntosh’s directorial debut is a dark comedy, gory Horror, coming-of-age, social commentary film which is one hell of a mouthful to say and one hell of a wild ride of a film to watch. Plus, it has one of the funniest car journey scenes I have ever seen! 

Bill Skarsgård in It Chapter Two (2019)

12. IT: Chapter 2

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 06/09/2019

Who: Director – Andy Muschietti Cast – Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone & Bill Skarsgård

Why: Pennywise is back and ready for a new round of nightmares in IT: Chapter 2. After receiving a phone call from Mike the Losers Club must reassemble as adults to protect a new generation of children in Derry and finally rid themselves of the monstrous clown. Skarsgård transforms once again into the drooling demon clown who torments his victims to baste them in fear before devouring them. The practical elements work perfectly, it’s a shame that there’s an overuse of CGI around it, but there’s still a good selection of fearful creatures to shudder at. IT: Chapter 2 may not be as intense as it’s predecessor but it definitely is a fun follow up with a perfect ensemble cast of adults who clearly embody their younger counterparts. It’s definitely not the best Stephen King adaptation of 2019, but it also isn’t the worst. 

Kaya Scodelario in Crawl (2019)

11. Crawl

Where: Available On Demand and DVD/Blu-Ray on 16/12/2019 

When: 23/08/2019

Who: Director Alexandre Aja Cast – Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Ross Anderson,Anson Boon, George Somner & Ami Metcalf

Why: “See ya later Alligator, in a while Crocodile”. Crawl is a high octane Creature Feature that knows exactly how to smash expectations. A true B-Movie that keeps the audience pinned to their seats with their feet off the ground, just in case. After a Category 5 hurricane hits Florida, Hayley must rescue her father Dave from the rapidly flooding basement that’s also teeming with alligators. Crawl is a great example of the motto ‘Less is More’. It takes a simplistic concept and utilities claustrophobic cinematography and sympathetic character building to invest the audience in the characters struggle to survive. There’s also a dog, which of course sends tension levels soaring whenever Sugar is anywhere near the reptilian bulldozers. Not every Horror film needs to be drenched in social commentary, some just needs to revel and drown in fun, and that’s where Crawl comfortably lives. 

Tales From the Lodge

10. Tales from the Lodge

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes & DVD

When: 01/11/2019

Who: DirectorAbigail Blackmore Cast – Mackenzie Crook, Dustin Demri-Burns, Laura Fraser, Sophie Thompson, Johnny Vegas & Kelly Wenham

Why: Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A group of long term friends head to an isolated cabin in the woods to scatter the ashes of the friend they lost three year prior. It’s a typical set up in the Horror genre that often yields similar results, but this indie British Horror manages to add a new twist to it. The group begin to entertain each other with scary campfire stories that play out to the audience in hilarious fashion. The use of a storyteller voice over is a unique and clever way to throw some humour into the mix that works perfectly with this stacked comedian cast. Due to the portmanteau style there’s a little something in here for everyone, from a sexy possision story to an apocalyptic future with a chunky Kiefer Sutherland type. The wrap around still stands as its own story and delivers a twist on the unkillable lake stalker trope we often see in a ‘cabin in the woods’ Horror. 

Logan Browning and Allison Williams in The Perfection (2018)

9. The Perfection

Where: Netflix

When: 24/05/2019

Who: DirectorRichard Shepard Cast – Allison Williams, Alaina Huffman, Steven Weber,Logan Browning, Milah Thompson, Glynis Davies & Winnie Hung

Why: Musical prodigies Charlotte and Lizzie become deeply connected in a short space of time after they meet at a showcase in Shanghai. The two set off together for a trip through Western China but, while riding a rickety bus through the middle of nowhere, Lizzie becomes violently ill, with bugs crawling under her skin and maggots in her vomit. This is the turning point of this film, or one of them, that takes us from psychological Horror to body Horror. The Perfection manages to flip between the two throughout its run and amps up to an ending that is both visually alluring and disturbingly grotesque. The film may not live up to its title but it is something new, something different and definitely something interesting. It’s a well created film with the cinematography, composition and colour design deserving enormous praise in this weirdly twisted musical terror. 

Lords of Chaos (2018)

8. Lords of Chaos 

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 29/03/2019

Who: DirectorJonas Åkerlund Cast – Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jon Øigarden, Jack Kilmer, Sky Ferreira & Valter Skarsgård

Why: I may not be a die-hard fan of Norwegian Black Metal but I am most definitely a fan of the film it has spawned. Based on ‘truth, lies, and what actually happened’ this shocking biopic/mockumentary/whatever-you-want-to-label-it follows the life, and numerous deaths, of the band Mayhem. This film really explores the dangers of ‘poser’ culture and the depths some people will go to for fame, or maybe more fittingly infamy. Rory Culkin as Euronymous, the egotistical leader of Mayhem, delivers a solid and ruthless performance of a man torn between what he says and what he does. Lords of Chaos has one of the most intense, drawn out and brutal scenes I have witnessed in a while, which clearly cements it’s right to be on a Horror genre list. I may not be downloading the soundtrack anytime soon but I would happily revisit this film.  

Harpoon (2019) Top Horror of 2019

7. Harpoon

Where: Amazon Prime (Arrow) & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 18/10/2019

Who: DirectorRob Grant Cast – Brett Gelman, Munro Chambers, Emily Tyra & Christopher Gray

Why: What happens when three dickeads board a boat and get stuck in the middle of the ocean? Secrets are spilled, seagulls are culled and tempers are well and truly flared. Harpoon plays off of intimacy very well with around two settings and only three characters to explore. Sasha, Jonah and Richard are not good people so watching them fall apart before our eyes is oddly satisfying, if not a little sadistic. The gore is flowing, the comments are snarky and the tension is palpable. The script for this film is definitely it’s highlight. This is a Horror-Comedy that succeeds at being a character study as well. For good measure the film has an omnipresent narrator, voiced sarcastically by Brett Gelman, who points out every mistake and pitfall these three are sailing into. This is a nasty little film in the best of ways and well worth getting lost in for an hour or so. 

Satanic Panic directed by Chelsea Stardust

6. Satanic Panic

Where: Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 21/10/2019

Who: Director – Chelsea Stardust Cast Rebecca Romijn, Arden Myrin, Hayley Griffith, Ruby Modine, Jerry O’Connell & Jordan Ladd  

Why: In 1992 a little film called Reservoir Dogs opened up with a discussion on the necessity of tips in American society. In 2019 Satanic Panic takes that discussion and enacts it with humour, twisted morals and demonic delight. When Sam is stiffed for the tip on a big delivery she takes it into her own hands to demand better treatment for service workers. Unfortunately she stumbles into the middle of a satanic ritual with wealthy cultist and to make matters worse she is the one thing you do not want to be in that circumstance…a virgin. Satanic Panic invites a cunning mixture of social commentary, sardonic humour and B-Movie gore to the demon altar and lets rise a highly amusing and well paced Horror-Comedy. With Fangoria behind the production it’s clear that Satanic Panic is inspired by B-Movies of the 80’s, Teen Horror of the 90’s and Hammer Films of the 60’s all at the same time. Hail Baphomet for this devilish Horror gem. 

Rebecca Ferguson in Doctor Sleep (2019)

5. Doctor Sleep

Where: Available in February 2020 on Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 31/10/2019

Who: DirectorMike Flanagan Cast – Ewan McGregor, Kyliegh Curran, Rebecca Ferguson, Jacob Tremblay, Cliff Curtis, Emily Alyn Lind, Zahn McClarnon & Bruce Greenwood

Why: Stephen King has already graced this list once but this time he’s made it to the Top 5. The Shining is a film of legend in Horror circles and is on most genre lovers must watch list. That’s what makes the creation of Doctor Sleep such a hard thing to do successfully, especially whilst trying to make sure everyone (from fans of the book, to fans of the Kubrick film, to King himself) was going to be happy with the end result. Yet, the impossible was made possible and Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep has so much heart and empathy combined with absolutely beautiful visuals. There may be moments that fall fowl of nostalgia bumping but the combination of familiar visuals with a new leading man had me ready to check in. It may have been 40 years since the original but the Overlook still has some life in it and delivered an interesting and haunting tale of a grown up Danny Torence. 

Samara Weaving in Ready or Not (2019)

4. Ready or Not

Where: Available in February 2020 on Amazon Prime & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 27/09/2019

Who: DirectorsTyler Gillett & Matt Bettinelli-Olpin Cast – Samara Weaving, Andie MacDowell, Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, Henry Czerny & Nicky Guadagni

Why: Hide and Seek is just an innocent childhood game, that is until you involve ritualistic sacrifice and a wealthy family with a menagerie of vintage weapons. When her wedding night turns deadly Grace, played with full dedication by the ever stunning Samara Weaving, must fight for survival and last until dawn in a locked down house with the odds stacked heavily against her. Ready or Not’s script is darkly impressive, the production design is strikingly beautiful and the ensemble cast are playing for keeps in this cleverly spun tale of the lengths the rich will succumb to in order to maintain the status quo. Once again on this list we are faced with a prepared alter and an unwilling victim, and our heroine is so courageous and lovable throughout that all we can hope is that she wins this game in the end.   

Barry Ward and Maeve Higgins in Extra Ordinary (2019)

3. Extra Ordinary

Where: German DVD released and US theatrical run in 2020

When: 01/11/2019

Who: DirectorsMike Ahern & Enda Loughman Cast – Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward, Will Forte, Claudia O’Doherty, Jamie Beamish & Terri Chandler

Why: Some films fall perfectly under the Horror-Comedy bracket, Extra Ordinary however is probably better labelled a Comedy-Horror with a side of Darkness. After being alone for quite a while Rose thinks she may have finally found someone special in her life. There’s only one problem, he’s being haunted by his dead wife and his daughter is being targeted for a Satanic ritual…wait, maybe that’s two problems. Extra Ordinary proves that not all hauntings are Amityville style with swarms of flies, cloven hoof prints and bleeding walls. Sometimes it’s just a dancing toaster, a flappin bin lid or a message burnt into your toast. For those kind of hauntings you don’t need an exorcist, you need Ireland’s answer to the Ghostbusters. This debut feature for Ahern and Loughman has a perfect Irish humour and brings back the aesthetic of shows such as Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.

Florence Pugh in Midsommar (2019)

2. Midsommar

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 03/07/2019

Who: Director – Ari Aster Cast – Florence Pugh, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor,William Jackson Harper, Liv Mjönes & Julia Ragnarsson

Why: A horror movie set entirely in the sunlight just doesn’t seem like a logical option, but for a director like Aster it is just another element of discomfort to play with. After the tragic loss of her parents and sister Dani finds herself heading to Sweden with her partner and his friends for a once in a lifetime festival. Dani and Christian must work through their relationship baggage whilst also attempting to comprehend the unusual and unnerving rituals taking place around them. Midsommar is a deeply affecting film with nightmare imagery and dreamlike logic. The beauty in the way this film is directed and shot is intense and yet the harrowing devastation of what happens to those within it is unforgettable. This film build slowly until its intense and animalistic finale that creates just as many questions as it answers. A trip to Sweden can be lovely, but if you find a hair in your food and your drink is a shade darker than everyone else’s then start running. 

Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex, and Shahadi Wright Joseph in Us (2019)

1. Us

Where: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play & DVD/Blu-Ray

When: 22/03/2019

Who: DirectorJordan Peele Cast – Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex,Shahadi Wright Joseph, Anna Diop & Elisabeth Moss

Why: Peele impressed the world with his directorial debut Get Out in 2017, cementing himself as someone to watch out for in the Horror industry. His follow up Us may not have as clear a message but it is still a deeply allegorical film with substance, humour and resonance. Horror fans could have a field day dissecting every subtle nod, every intertextual reference and every purposeful symbol within this twisted fairytale. The cast are astonishing in their dual performances, embodying the tortured family and the primal tethered as distinctly different and yet organically the same. Everything about this film works in tandem, the darkly humorous script, the symmetrical visuals and the ominous soundtrack that combines menacing beauty with pop culture references. There’s political, social and racial commentary within this film and it may not be as poignant as Get Out was but it is a more holistic look at the world, by which I mean America. 


Let me know what you think!