Originally published at Cinema Sugar.
1. The Ring
Seeing this Gore Verbinski joint in early high school did three important things: it initiated my undying love of Naomi Watts, it showed me how artful scary movies can be, and it scarred me so deeply that I subsequently swore off horror for a long time. So congrats to The Ring for killing both the VHS tape and my desire for cinematic scares.
2. Shaun of the Dead
As far as I’m concerned, this remains Edgar Wright’s best film. It establishes the tropes we’ve come to expect from the British writer-director’s oeuvre—snappy editing, ingenious use of music, an alchemical mix of humor and heart—while also injecting some scathing, 21st-century social satire into the zombie horror canon.
In space, no one can hear you scream “oh hell no” when an alien bursts through an astronaut’s chest and then torments the other poor souls trapped inside a spaceship with it. This was only Ridley Scott’s second film and you could argue that, in his now decades-long career, he never topped it.
4. Get Out
Though more psychological thriller than straight-up horror, Jordan Peele’s debut feature holds up beyond its hype and heralded twist simply because of how well it’s made. The cast, the script, and Peele’s attentive directorial eye all come together to create a story and setting that even a horror-averse scaredy cat like me couldn’t resist.
5. The Witches (1990)
Had to give some love to the film I watched at a sleepover as a kid and haunted me long after. Despite having read the Roald Dahl book it’s based on, I just wasn’t ready to see those evil child-hating witches come to life—though now, in retrospect, I’m absolutely here for Anjelica Huston really going for it.