The moment you all have been waiting for has arrived: the sequel to Scary Movies to View in the Dark. Like all horror sequels, this list ups the ante and exposes the nerve the way only a worthy sequel could do. Typical horror fare such as The Conjuring and Crimson Peak still have their place on this list. There is something to be said for quality spooky flicks that entertain; however, many exceptional movies of this era are appreciated for pushing boundaries and innovating the genre. Though the rape-revenge subgenre has historically been exploitative, two entries on this list subvert those tropes in exchange for a more satisfying story where women characters possess agency and determine their futures. Other films on this list disrupt long-held tropes by framing stories that offer critiques about toxic masculinity, mental illness, or colonialism. Read on if you dare!
The Bay 2012
Subgenre: found footage, eco-horror
Notable trivia: The idea for this film came to the director after being approached to make a documentary about the Chesapeake Bay and its ecological issues1
The Bay tells the story of a small community on the eastern seaboard of the United States experiencing an ecological disaster. Prioritizing the town’s economy and tourism industry, the mayor ignores urgent warnings about groundwater contamination. Despite the mayor’s assurances that the bay is safe, a rookie reporter begins covering the emergency, compiling footage, and documenting accounts of illness. As the pollution becomes more severe, townspeople begin growing very ill and dying shortly after. The film is presented as footage released by the reporter.
American Mary 2012
Subgenre: body horror, rape-revenge, women-directed, feminist horror
The co-directors, Jenna and Sylvia Soskas’ parents helped finance the film by refinancing their home mortgage. To keep the budget tight, all the special effects were done using practical effects using actors from the body modification community 2.
Summary: The title character Mary Mason is a broke college student going through medical school. After attending a networking party, she is drugged and raped by one of her professors. Subsequently, Mary quits medical school and becomes a doctor of sorts, performing extreme modifications on those in the body modification community. Through her connections to the underbelly of society, she arranges for the kidnapping of her rapist and uses him to hone her body modification skills.
The Conjuring 2013
Subgenre: supernatural, paranormal, possession
Where you’ve seen ‘em:
Vera Farmiga: Bates Motel (2013-2017), Gozilla King of the Monsters (2019)
Lili Taylor: The Haunting (1991), Perry Mason (2020-present)
Summary: Taking place in 1970, a family begins experiencing odd occurrences after moving into a large farmhouse. As the incidents become more escalated wife Carolyn pleads for paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to help them cleanse the home of the spirits. Once they begin their work, Lorraine discovers the intentions of the malevolent presence; to possess Carolyn.
Subgenre: vampire, western-horror, romance, woman directed, feminist horror
Being a lifelong skateboarder, the director, Ana Lili Amirpour performed all the skateboarding sequences for the film.3
Although it takes place in the fictional Bad City, and is a Farsi-language film, A Girl Walks Alone at Night was filmed in California.3
Summary: This spaghetti-western inspired romance, tells of a lonely vampire and young human man named Arash living in a rundown ghost town called Bad City. Acting as a vigilante, the vampire stalks and kills men that disrespect or harm women. In Bad City, there is no shortage of wicked men. Wicked men are responsible for stealing Arash’s car and selling his father heroin, which he has since been unable to kick. Although bleakness and despair surround them, the bond the vampire and Arash share encourages them to feel more hopeful than either had in a long time.
As Above So Below 2014
Subgenre: found footage, supernatural, subterranean horror
Where you’ve seen ‘em:
Perdita Weeks: Ready Player One (2018), Penny Dreadful (2016)
Ben Feldman: Superstore (2015-2021), Cloverfield (2008)
Summary: A team of explorers and a documentary filmmaker go into the catacombs below Paris looking for the philosopher’s stone: a mythological stone that grants eternal life. To record their findings each explorer is equipped with a flashlight and a helmet camera. The part of the catacombs they go into is unexplored and as far as they know, uninhabited. Traversing further into the tunnels, the team gets the sense they are neither safe nor alone. Who is down there with them? What is down there with them?
The Witch 2015
Subgenre: occult, colonial horror, folk horror
Where you’ve seen ‘em:
Anya Taylor-Joy: Split (2016), Emma (2020)
Ralph Ineson: Game of Thrones (2011-2019), Harry Potter series (2009-2011)
Summary: In 1630 New England, a family moves to a plot of land near a secluded forest after being banished from their Puritan community. Soon after, their infant son goes missing and the youngest twins blame the eldest daughter, Thomasin of witchcraft. As the father struggles with failing crops and dwindling resources, the parents also begin to suspect Thomasin of being in alliance with the Devil. While escalating grief and mistrust threaten to further separate the family, a sinister force lurks in the woods, eyeing the remaining family members.
Crimson Peak 2015
Subgenre: gothic horror, romance, supernatural
Where you’ve seen ‘em:
Tom Hiddleston: Marvel universe (2011-present), Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Mia Wasikowska: Alice in Wonderland (2012), Piercing (2018)
Summary: Set in the Victorian era, an American heiress and aspiring writer relocates to a remote manor to live with her soon-to-be husband and sister-in-law. The rundown family estate, residing in the British countryside sits on a bed of red clay, earning its moniker Crimson Peak. At first, her new life and marriage seem pleasant, but something feels peculiar. The ghost of her mother warns of the Crimson Peak. Ghosts of Crimson Peak emerge in the halls with ominous warnings for her. She starts to suspect her husband is not who he claims to be.
Subgenre: rape-revenge, woman-directed, thriller, feminist horror
Notable trivia: : The movie required so much fake blood; the crew had additional batches flown in from Paris.4
Summary: A vivacious and spirited woman named Jennifer accompanies her married boyfriend Richard on an annual hunting trip he takes with his also married friends. While Richard is away for the morning, one of his friends feels entitled to Jen, and despite her protests, he rapes her. Once Richard returns to the villa, Jen tells him what happened and wants to leave immediately. Richard is hesitant to call the authorities or send Jen home. To clean up this mess, he decides to push her off a cliff and leaves her for dead. Although seriously injured, a tree catches Jen, and she survives. Jen decides the only thing left to do is acts of retribution against the men who violated her. Will their underestimation of Jennifer be their undoing?
Subgenre: dark fantasy, crime-horror, woman-directed
Writer-director Issa Lopez describes this movie as mix of the Goonies and Lord of the Flies.5
Since it began showing at genre film festivals, The Tigers are Not Afraid has been nominated for twenty-five awards and won twenty-four.6
Summary: A near Tigers are not Afraid is a near-perfect blend of horror and fantasy that will make fans of Guillermo del Toro swoon. It portrays a group of children living on their own after a drug cartel murders their parents. Following an attack on her school, Estrella, a student, takes magical chalk that grants wishes from her teacher to protect herself. After Estrella’s mother disappears, she wishes for her return home. She begins to experience haunting visions of her mother issuing warnings of danger. Alone and hungry, Estrella then joins the other orphaned children that live on the streets. After one of the children steals a phone belonging to the men that murdered their parents the children become a target for cartel.
Color Out of Space 2019
Subgenre: cosmic horror, sci-fi horror, body horror
Where you’ve seen ‘em:
Nicholas Cage: Raising Arizona (1987), Adaptation (2002), Mandy (2018)
Elliot Knight: Once Upon a Time (2011-2018), Titans (2018-present)
Summary: Adapted from an H.P. Lovecraft short story of the name, Color Out of Space is about a man that moves his family to live on his father’s farm. After a meteorite crash lands onto their property as a magenta explosion of light, they begin to experience disturbances that affect their perception of time and their sanity. As the energy continues to spread, it contaminates the groundwater and the environment causing otherworldly changes to the family and surrounding area.
Daniel Isn’t Real 2019
Subgenre: psychological, thriller, imaginary-friend
Where you’ve seen ‘em:
Miles Robbins: Blockers (2018), Halloween (2018)
Sasha Lane: Loki (2020-present), Hellboy (2019), American Honey (2016)
Summary: After witnessing a traumatic incident, Luke makes an imaginary friend named Daniel. Luke uses the friendship with Daniel to cope with trauma and stress, such as his parents’ divorce. To Luke, Daniel is everything he is not. He is confident, fearless, and cool. Following a near-fatal accident with Luke’s mother, she banishes Daniel to an old dollhouse for the rest of Luke’s childhood. Several years later, a stressed and anxious college-aged Luke releases Daniel, who now appears as a bold, charming man around Luke’s age. At first, Daniel’s reemergence helps Luke. He supplies Luke with exam answers in school and, like a modern-day Cyrano, he tells Luke how to impress women. As time passes, Daniel begins to exhibit aggressive and controlling behavior towards Luke, especially when he does not obey Daniel. Luke only begins to realize how dangerous Daniel is when he attempts to take over his body for good.
Blood Quantum 2019
Subgenre: zombie, apocalyptic, indigenous horror
Jeff Barnaby not only wrote and directed Blood Quantum, additionally he served as co-producer, editor, music composer, and music supervisor7.
The term “blood quantum” refers to a colonial blood measurement system that is used to determine an individual’s Indigenous status8.
Summary: Blood Quantum follows a reservation Sheriff and his family in the early 1980s living on the Red Crow Reservation near Quebec, Canada. An unknown virus starts infecting White people, alive and dead, and transforming them into flesh-eating zombies, but the Mi’kmaq people are immune from developing the virus. Although immune because of their indigenous heritage, the Sherrif must decide how they will respond to this apocalyptic crisis. Should they close the reservation off even if that means leaving survivors to die, or should they allow refugees inside the reservation, possibly putting their people at risk of being eaten by zombies?
Psycho Goreman 2021
Subgenre: creature feature, horror comedy,
During a montage sequence, the title character is seen wearing the same outfit as Sam Neill’s character in the first Jurassic Park movie (1993)9.
The title character hails from a planet called Gigax, a nod to the late creator of Dungeons and Dragons, Gary Gygax10.
Summary: Two siblings, spunky Mimi and unremarkable Luke, unknowingly unleash a powerful creature from a gemstone in their backyard. Although the creature begins a reign of terror that night, the children find him the next day. Though he prefers to be known as the “Arch-Duke of Nightmares” Mimi decides to make the creature her new pet, renaming him Psycho Gore-Man. Having the gemstone, she has total control over him and commands him to accompany her and Luke on family activities, forcing Psycho Goreman to become something like a friend to her. Once the aliens that imprisoned him discover his release, they prepare to come to Earth to kill him once and for all.