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13 Best Horror Films of 2021

2021 saw a wide array of new horror releases—and here are some of the best.

Antlers, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: TSG Entertainment

For the past couple of years, the pandemic has played merry hell with all sorts of supply chains—not least among them, the movies. 2020 saw countless titles delayed or shelved, while other releases straggled out during a time when theaters were only sporadically open—if at all. New titles dropped onto streaming services, often without fanfare, and for the viewer looking to get their horror fix in the midst of all the real-world horror, it was often difficult to know where to look.

Fortunately, while the pandemic may not yet be over, the movie landscape, at least, has returned to something more closely approximating normal. 2021 has seen a wide array of new horror releases—some of them transplants from last year, others new blood in the water. From big-ticket items like Halloween Kills and a third installment in the expansive Conjuring franchise to indie pictures and horror flicks from across the pond, there have been plenty of spooky things to watch.

Related: 70+ Terrifying Horror Movies on Netflix Worth Streaming Tonight

Here are a few of the best horror films that dropped in 2021, in case you find yourself in need of a good scare or two as we head into the new year…


Censor, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Silver Salt Films

Premiering at Sundance, Prano Bailey-Bond’s cautionary tale about the road to hell being paved with good intentions is also a fascinating love letter to the “Video Nasty” era of British horror, when state-sponsored censors demanded judicious cuts be made to horror movies in the name of public morality. With a committed lead performance by Niamh Algar and some eerie stylistic flourishes, this is one indie film that has made a splash with audiences on both sides of the pond.

Related: His House is the Stunning and Heart-Pounding Horror Gem

The Night House

The Night House, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Searchlight Pictures

The latest from David Bruckner (V/H/S), The Night House received high praise for the unique approach taken to its creature—and for the “gripping central performance” offered by Rebecca Hall. Hall plays a woman whose husband has died by suicide. She is haunted by strange events and dark secrets, which lead her to discover an eerie, mirrored version of her own house on the far side of the lake.

Related: 21 Haunted House Books That Will Leave You Sleeping with One Eye Open

Broadcast Signal Intrusion

Broadcast Signal Intrusion, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Queensbury Pictures

This festival favorite received limited VOD release in 2021. Broadcast Signal Intrusion—like manhy movies of late—is a throwback to another time. In this case, that time is 1999, as a video archivist discovers a series of pirate television signals that interrupted public broadcasts, which may have something to do with the disappearance of his fiancé…

In the Earth

In the Earth, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Rook Films Protagonist Pictures

Some movies made during the pandemic can feel a little too real right about now, which might be the case with Ben Wheatley’s hallucinatory latest. This movie covers everything from folk horror to fungal infections (treading on pandemic fears) while also offering up all of the kaleidoscopic weirdness that Wheatley is known for. The film features a small cast of characters thanks to COVID-19 protocols.

Related: 19 Horror Movies Set in the Woods


Seance, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Dark Castle Entertainment

Simon Barrett made a name for himself as a writer via collaborating with Adam Wingard on horror hits like You’re Next, The Guest, and the 2016 Blair Witch. With Séance, he made his feature directorial debut, spinning a ghostly slasher set in an all-girls boarding school. Notably, the film has a very Simon Barrett twist.

Related: American Seance: The Strange Visions of the Fox Sisters

A Quiet Place Part 2

A Quiet Place 2, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Platinum Dunes

Were audiences clamoring for a follow-up to John Krasinski’s 2018 post-apocalyptic horror hit? They certainly got one, and by all accounts, it did very well for itself—raking in nearly $300 million at the box office. This in spite of, y’know, all the pandemic stuff. The reviews were pretty universally good, too, with the critics consensus at Rotten Tomatoes calling it a “nerve-wracking continuation of its predecessor” that “expands the terrifying world of the franchise without losing track of its heart.”

Related: 13 Hair-Raising Horror Movies Like A Quiet Place

Fear Street

Fear Street, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Netflix

Inspired by the classic R. L. Stine book series, this trio of bloody YA slashers that leapfrogs through time was released on Netflix near the middle of the year, taking the horror community by storm. Beginning in 1994—before jumping back to 1978 and then 1666—this ambitious trilogy tells the story of one town’s curse and how it came to be. All three installments share exciting young casts and are written and directed by Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon).

Related: 15 Massively Scary Monster Horror Movies You Can Watch Tonight


Candyman, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwin_Mayor

Helmed by up-and-coming director Nia DaCosta and co-written and produced by horror wunderkind Jordan Peele, this reboot/sequel to the 1992 classic was supposed to come out back in 2020 but the release was bumped all the way to August of 2021. It was worth the wait, though, as DaCosta, Peele, and company breathed thrilling new life into a classic horror legend.

Related: Ruthie Mae McCoy: The Chilling True Case Behind Candyman


Malignant film by James Wan
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  • Photo Credit: New Line Cinema

James Wan’s long-awaited new non-franchise horror project was kept pretty tightly under wraps until its release—a mystery made all the more frustrating as it was yet another title originally slated for 2020 that was pushed to September of ’21. While the end result may have been more stylish than scary, the film’s go-for-broke premise and bonkers third act more than made up for any other shortcomings.


V/H/S/94, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Radio Silence Productions

The latest installment in the fan favorite horror anthology series dropped as a Shudder original in October of 2021, bringing horror hounds a new quintet of found footage-style flicks, including entries from Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Ryan Prows, and others. It also gave the horror community at least one meme, which seems very 2021 for a movie set in ’94. Hail Raatma.

Related: 7 Pranks that Turned into Popular Horror Tropes


Antlers, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: TSG Entertainment

Adapted from a short story by Nick Antosca (Channel Zero) and produced by Guillermo del Toro, this bleak, rainy parable of abject poverty, abuse, and the death of the American small town is also a monster movie featuring a Native American myth brought to all-too-visceral life. Another eagerly anticipated 2020 release that was bumped to this Halloween of this year.

Related: These Bewitching Folk Horror Books Will Haunt Your Dreams

Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Film4 Productions

Ever since Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead—and his memorable trailer for the imaginary movie Don’t, wedged in the middle of Grindhouse—fans have been waiting for him to take a swing at a full-on horror film. He finally does just that in Last Night in Soho, a stylish and stylized slice of nostalgia that reveals how living in the past can be more dangerous than we realize.

The Spine of Night

The Spine of Night, best horror movies of 2021
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  • Photo Credit: Gorgonaut

Harkening back to the rotoscoped animation of films like Heavy Metal and Ralph Bakshi’s Fire and Ice, this extremely adult fantasy cartoon from Philip Gelatt (Love, Death & Robots) and Morgan Galen King brings plenty of cosmic horror back to its sword-and-sorcery roots—not to mention more blood and gore than pretty much the entire rest of this list combined.

Related: 8 Scary Animated Movies That Freak Us Out as Adults