Could any horror film of the past 12 months compete, scare-wise, with the terrors that lurked outside your front door, or that greeted you daily in your news feeds and TweetDecks? In terms of nightmares, 2017 often felt like a waking one, complete with an endless supply of monsters and predators, and no sign that you’d be waking up from it any time soon. It was the year when you could buy a ticket to the long-awaited film adaptation of Stephen King’s It and watch a psychotic clown threaten to snatch all that was dear to its helpless victims – and then turn on CNN and see reports on a real-life version of the exact same thing.
But if you think of horror as being a release valve – the place where we exorcise our collective fears and anxieties – 2017 was the year that we needed scary movies the most. And by the love of all that’s unholy, the genre more than delivered: You could get horror films in a variety of flavors, from the socially relevant (Get Out, a runaway critical and popular success) to sensationally escapist and/or campy, from better-than-average franchise extenders (Annabelle: Creation, the latest in the ever-expanding Conjuring-verse) to slasher-hall-of-fame entries for Jigsaw, Leatherface, etc. Ghost stories, gorefests, slow-burning dread and jump-scare jolts, serial killers and supernatural soul-stealers, legendary auteurs up their old tricks and first-time filmmakers who pushed things in incredible new directions – there was a smorgasbord of fright to be had.
The year gave us disappointments too, of course – the devil help you if you were anticipating Universal’s “Dark Universe” movies being a bounty of thrills and chills instead of D.O.A. from the get-go, and the less said about The Bye-Bye Man (or Rings, or A Cure for Wellness, or …), the better. But it also delivered a handful of films that would easily make our all-time canon. Here are our picks for the 10 best horror movies of 2017.