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The Best Horror Movies Of The 2010s That Didn't Take Place During The Decade

Updated January 2, 2020 2.0k votes 248 voters 4.5k views20 items

List RulesVote up the movies that mined scares from the past to make a great movie for the '10s.

Looking back at the 2010s, it's hard to ignore the impact that horror movies had on the decade. In a landscape dominated by big-budget blockbusters, relatively small-budget horror films began to break out all over the cinematic landscape. It has also been a decade of horror nostalgia, and many scary movies of the last 10 years didn't actually take place in the 2010s. This was true of both indie horror films and bigger-budget movies, like IT (2017), which became one of the highest-grossing R-rated movies of all time. 

Some of these films came from first-time directors, launching their careers into the stratosphere overnight. Others came from the twisted minds of well-established filmmakers. From the 17th-century Massachusetts wilderness to the scorching Summer of '84, these are all of the best horror films of the decade that took place in the past.

  • When Does It Take Place? 1971

    Why Is This Setting Scary? The Conjuring is based on real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and the film follows the duo as they investigate a haunted Rhode Island farmhouse in 1971.

    What's The Best Throwback Scare? When a small child is nearly pulled out of their farmhouse bed.

    • Actors: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Joey King, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston
    • Released: 2013
    • Directed by: James Wan
    One of the decade's best?

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    When Does It Take Place? 1989

    Why Is This Setting Scary? IT is based on Stephen King's hit horror novel of the same name. Set in the 1980s, the story follows the young members of the Losers Club as they uncover a menacing mystery in the small town of Derry, Maine. 

    What's The Best Throwback Scare? Pretty much anything involving Pennywise, who is modeled after Victorian-era clowns.

    • Actors: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard
    • Released: 2017
    • Directed by: Andy Muschietti
    One of the decade's best?


    Every Time Pennywise Was Hidden In The Background Of The 'It' MoviesThe Best Characters In The It Movie#9 of 114 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies

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  • Scary Stories To Tell In The D is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Horror Movies Of The 2010s That Didn't Take Place During The Decade
    Photo: Lionsgate

    When Does It Take Place? 1968

    Why Is This Setting Scary? Set in 1968, the film tells the story of a haunted young girl named Sarah who has the ability to make her terrifying imagination become reality. When a group of teenagers discovers Sarah's home, they become the targets of her spooky stories.  

    What's The Best Throwback Scare? The Pale Lady is a truly monstrous creature.

    • Actors: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Austin Abrams, Gabriel Rush, Austin Zajur
    • Released: 2019
    • Directed by: André Øvredal
    One of the decade's best?

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  • 4

    Annabelle: Creation

    When Does It Take Place? 1955

    Why Is This Setting Scary? A chapter in The Conjuring universe, Annabelle: Creation reveals the origins of the horrifying doll, Annabelle. After the tragic end of their daughter, a toy maker and his wife struggle to overcome their loss. After they welcome a nun and group of orphaned girls into their home, the dark depths of their grief are soon revealed. 

    What's The Best Throwback Scare? The bedsheet ghost in the bedroom.

    • Actors: Talitha Bateman, Stephanie Sigman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto
    • Released: 2017
    • Directed by: David F. Sandberg
    One of the decade's best?
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