2017 was the biggest year for horror since… well, ever. Not only was the year’s most profitable movie–in terms of budget to gross–a horror film, the year also saw the release of what now stands as the most financially successful horror movie ever made. And while big box office is not always a mark of quality, in the case of Get Out and It, it absolutely was. Beyond that, the year was marked by an incredibly diverse mix of films, with zombies, cannibals, demons, killer dolls, and demonic clowns all vying for attention. So let’s take a look at the best horror movies that 2017 had to offer.



15. Happy Death Day


Blumhouse Films have had a great year. The production company made 2017′s two most profitable low budget movies–Get Out and Split–and it also delivered one of the most purely-fun horror films in the shape of Happy Death Day. From the title to the concept–essentially a slasher movie remake of Groundhog Day–it’s a ridiculous film that embraces its ridiculousness 100 percent. Happy Death Day is never particularly scary, but it is damn funny and has a winning lead performance from Jessica Rothe as the college student forced to relive the day she is murdered by a masked killer over and over again.



14. Cult of Chucky


It’s hard to think of many horror hits that haven’t had at least one follow-up, and as any fan knows, many spawn a vast number of sequels and remakes, mostly with a rapid decline in quality. The exception is the Child’s Play series, which, eight films in, is still finding new and surprising angles on the saga of the killer doll Chucky. This is one has Chucky infiltrate an psychiatric hospital in order to kill the woman who survived his last rampage. There’s in-jokes, returning characters, outlandish murder sequences, and the glorious sight of three Chuckys on the rampage, all voiced with foul-mouthed glee by Brad Dourif once more.



13. The Girl with all the Gifts


Zombies are so ubiquitous on both the big and the small screen that it’s getting increasingly hard to do something interesting with them. The post-apocalyptic road movie The Girl With All the Gifts proved that there’s still life in the genre. The girl of the title is Melanie, a 10-year-old who is host for the viral infection that has turned the rest of the world into crazed flesh-crazed creatures. The big difference here is that, unless she gets too close to other humans, she is in complete control of her body and mind. A strong supporting cast includes Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton, and Paddy Considine, and the movie mixes thrilling zombie action with thought-provoking moral questions and an affecting emotional undercurrent.



12. The Blackcoat’s Daughter


Director Osgood Perkins is the son of Norman Bates himself–aka actor Anthony Perkins–so his horror credentials were strong even before he stepped behind a camera. But his debut movie, which was shot in 2015 but not realised until 2017 in the US, proved that he has seriously potential to be one of the great horror filmmakers over the coming years. It’s a disturbing, slow-burning tale of a teenage girl who is forced to stay at a largely-deserted boarding school at the start of the Christmas vacation after her parents fail to collect her. Stand-out performances from Emma Roberts and Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka, a brooding, oppressive atmosphere, and a knock-out twist make for a movie that lingers long after the end credits.



11. Tragedy Girls


Horror comedy is one of the hardest sub-genres to pull off–if the balance between frights and scares needs is not expertly judged, then what results is a movie that is neither or funny or scary. Luckily, the high school slasher satire Tragedy Girls gets both right. X-Men universe stars Alexandra Shipp and Brianna Hildebrand (aka Storm and Negasonic Teenage Warhead) deliver gloriously committed performances as best friends who share two great passions–social media and serial killers. They set about creating their own murders in an attempt to boost the popularity of their true crime blog. The results is a smart, fast-moving movie that has much to say about the way we consume information these days, while still delivering some hilariously gruesome set-pieces.



10. Raw


French filmmakers have delivered some of the most effective horror movies over the past 15 years; films such as Martyrs, Switchblade Romance, and Inside have pushed the genre forward into dark, uncomfortable places. The latest movie to join this club is Raw. It’s is an affecting, dream-like story of a veterinary student who must deal with both her new life at vet school and an emerging taste for human flesh. Director Julia Ducournau crafts a movie that is both emotionally fraught and, at times, unwatchable gruesome. You might not feel like going for burgers after watching Raw, but you won’t forget it in a hurry.



9. Gerald’s Game


2017 was truly the year of the Stephen King adaptation, with a wide variety of movies and TV shows bringing the great man’s words to the screen. There was some rubbish (The Mist, The Dark Tower), but some really great adaptations too. Gerald’s Game was one of the best, and given that the movie consists almost entirely of a woman tied to a bed for several days after a sex game goes wrong, the one adaptation that simply might not have worked. Luckily, director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) has already proved himself to be one of the best young horror filmmakers working, and with Carla Gugino delivering an outstanding lead performance, the end result was a gripping, inventive, daring treat.



8. Mother!


No one really knew what to expect from Darren Aronofsky’s new movie ahead of release. While the director had skirted round the edges horror over the decades, in movies such as Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream, early trailers suggested that this could be the film that saw him fully embrace the genre. Of course, this was only part of the story. While Mother! certainly used many of the conventions and imagery of horror, the film was a mad, polarising, stunningly-made allegory that addressed any number of subjects–environmental destruction, religious fervour, artistic ambition–that climaxed in the year’s most insane, disturbing final 30 minutes. Anchored stand-out performance from Jennifer Lawrence, Mother! infuriated and angered as many viewers as it enthralled. While ultimately it was not a box office success, this is a movie that will be discussed and dissected for many years to come.



7. The Hounds of Love


The year’s most harrowing movie, this beautifully directed Australian abduction drama is actually fairly restrained in its depiction of on-screen violence, preferring instead to disturb psychologically. Set in the mid-1980s, it’s the story of a high-school girl who is kidnapped and kept prisoner by a psychotic man and his girlfriend. Despite her brutal experience, she sets about exploiting the fraught relationship between her abductees with the intention of turning them against each other. Much of the movie’s disturbing power comes from the bland, suburban setting, where residents get on with their boring lives and never ask what the neighbours are doing behind closed doors. A hugely impressive debut from director Ben Young.



6. Fear The Walking Dead Season 3


When Fear the Walking Dead debuted in 2015, it was met with a collective shrug. The Walking Dead was already breaking audience viewing records and delivering compelling zombie drama every week, so why did we need a spin-off prequel? Two years later, it is a different story. The main show is undergoing a major decline in both audiences and quality, and Fear has emerged from its shadow as the superior show. Its third season screen was by the far best yet. Compelling, morally-complex characters, bold choices (and entire episode almost entirely in Spanish), and some truly thrilling episodes. Episode 13 (“This Land is Your Land”) in particular was a standout and better than anything the main show has delivered in years.



5. A Dark Song


A Dark Song is proof that, with the right material, you don’t need anything more than a couple of actors and a house to make a highly effective horror movie. This British production explores the months that a grieving woman spends inside an old house with the occultist she hires to make contact with her dead son–or so she tells him. Intense performances from Catherine Walker and Steve Oram, a sustained sense of dread, and an unpredictable plot makes this one of the year’s stand-out indie horrors. It’s very scary in places but never once resorts to the sorts of lazy shocks we usually find with this kinds of movie, instead emerging as something deeply moving.



4. Annabelle: Creation


Scary dolls have long been a staple of horror, so it’s no surprise that Annabelle, the creepy Victorian from James Wan’s 2015 smash The Conjuring has been given her own spin-off series. The second Annabelle movie was a big improvement over its predecessor. Director David Sandberg uses the atmospheric 1950s setting to his advantage, and avoids a modern, flashy style to instead invoke the feel of old-fashioned horror movies such as The Haunting and The Innocents. And considering she’s only a couple of feet tall and made of porcelain, Annabelle remains one of the scariest horror villains of the year.



3. Channel Zero: No End House


Anthology shows are a vital part of horror, going all the way back to the Twilight Zone in the 1960s, and on through the likes of The Outer Limits, Tales From The Darkside, and Masters of Horror. Channel Zero is the latest show to use the format; the second season was the year’s standout slice of horror TV. The show uses creepypastas–online viral horror myths–for its story inspiration and for the second season, was based on Brian Russell’s “NoEnd House.” Four friends enter a spooky house, where every room is supposedly more terrifying than the last. What makes Channel Zero so impressive isn’t just the level of sustained terror and the inventive, bizarre make-up effects and camera trickery, but that it still finds time for the characters and drama amongst the frights.



2. It


It was not only the best Stephen King adaptation of the year, it also now stands the highest grossing horror movie ever made. Director Andy Muschietti wisely adapted only half of King’s 1987 epic, focusing on a group of kids and their fight against the evil shapeshifting creature of the title. As a result, and unlike the 1990 TV version, the movie really finds the time it needs to breathe and allows the viewer to become fully invested in the kids’ experiences. In addition, Bill SkarsgĂ„rd delivers an unforgettable performance as the terrifying Pennywise, the creature’s most iconic guise. Smart, scary, and hugely entertaining, It was mainstream horror filmmaking at its best. Roll on part 2.



1. Get Out


Long-time viewers of Jordan Peele’s sketch comedy show Key & Peele may well have been aware of his love of horror, thanks to such classic sketches as this and this. But few will have expected his directorial debut to be the best horror movie in 2017. There is a grand tradition of socially-conscious horror and sci-fi, from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Night of the Living Dead, and Get Out is a worthy addition to the list. Peele’s scary, clever satire taps directly into many of the issues of race that continue to play a major part in our society, and incorporates them into a twisted, unpredictable Twilight Zone-esque mystery. It’s provocative without being hectoring and while frequently tense and unnerving, remains an entirely accessible film whose huge box office success proved that horror movies can have have something to say while still delivering crowd-pleasing frights.