It was an interesting year for horror. For a long time, studio-released films and blatant nostalgia plays had been dominating the genre — with movies like The Conjuring, Mama and the Insidious franchise, not to mention a whole host of other remakes and sequels, coming out like a steady drumbeat. But this year, the landscape was dominated by more independent, idiosyncratic films: Oddball festival favorites, loopy genre-crossovers, and auteur passion projects. Even M. Night Shyamalan returned to the genre, with one of his smallest, strangest, most playful movies in years – and won back some of the critical acclaim that had eluded him for some years.
That's not to say that there still weren't plenty of remakes and sequels. This was the year, after all, that someone finally released a Poltergeist reboot — and did just well enough that we can probably expect another one. The good folks at Blumhouse (Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, etc.) still had their fingers in most of the horror pots. And the "mumblegore" movement that had been creating a stir for the Fantastic Fest demographic and in semi-underground horror circles started to make an even bigger noise over the past 12 months (just don't call it "deathwave"). But even the franchises seemed to go in new directions: Sinister 2 wound up being less about scares and more about characters; Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, in what is promised to be the series' last installment, finally showed us just what exactly was going on in those creepily static, digitally-shot shadows.
But even though we lost a legend last fall — rest in peace, Wes Craven — 2015 will be remembered as a year of fresh faces and revivals. New horror auteurs from David Robert Mitchell (It Follows) to Leo Gabriadze (Unfriended) burst onto the scene, and established visionaries like Guillermo del Toro (Crimson Peak) followed their dreams/nightmares. Here are the 10 Best Horror Films of 2015.