Slasher films are often criticized for being overly formulaic and outdated. The genre rose to prominence in the late '70s and into the '80s with all-time classics like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th. Many of the films that followed struggled to get out of those movies' shadows and were criticized for being too similar in either premise, tone, or both.
That criticism isn't entirely valid. Sure, there are still plenty of movies about teenagers being targeted at summer camp, but there are also plenty of slasher movies being made today that are inventive, timely, and downright terrifying. The most quintessential 2010s slasher movies not only define horror of the decade, but they are also solidified as innovative classics across the genre.
Here are 12 of the best slasher movies from the 2010s.
- Photo: Lionsgate
If you're not into meta, 2012's The Cabin in the Woods may not be for you, but there's a reason why meta works so well in horror. Fans of the genre tend to see many horror movies, so they learn to recognize the techniques and tropes that directors and screenwriters rely on to get scares. The Cabin in the Woods's production crew knows it's increasingly difficult to surprise savvy audiences. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, they embrace the familiar and find a way to make it new.
The Cabin in the Woods, directed by Drew Goddard and produced by Joss Whedon, starts off with about as cliched a horror movie premise as you can imagine: Five teenagers go to a cabin in the woods, and bad things happen to them. The reason bad things happen, however, is different than in any other horror movie. The world is secretly ruled by bloodthirsty gods who demand teenager sacrifices, and the monsters going after the teens are actually controlled by a group of corporate-types who just want to keep the gods happy. The teens' ordeal is an entirely stage-managed production that unravels as they figure out what's happening to them. At one point, the zombies who have been menacing the teens are revealed to be just one particular type of monster out of hundreds that could have been used. When these monsters are released from their cages, The Cabin in the Woods transforms from a zombie movie into a zombie/slasher/werewolf/mummy/mutant family/every horror villain ever-movie.
The gods are supposed to represent the horror movie audiences whose appetite for onscreen mayhem will never be satisfied. A film that's scary, funny, and makes you reconsider your fandom all at once is definitely worth the ticket.
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- Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver, Amy Acker, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins
- Released: 2012
- Directed by: Drew Goddard
- 2Photo: Netflix
As far as movie premises go, a home invasion is already tense, but when the main character has to overcome a physical disability, it ratchets up the pressure. We've known this ever since Jimmy Stewart had to fend off his neighbor while rehabbing a broken leg in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. And in 2016, director Mike Flanagan's Hush proved this technique still worked.
Kate Siegel stars as Maddie, a woman who lives alone in an isolated house in the woods. She's also completely deaf since losing her hearing as a teenager. One night, a masked man shows up at her window with the intent to harm her, and Maddie is forced to defend herself despite not being able to hear who's coming after her.
Hush makes it painfully clear just how much people rely on sound in their daily lives - and how difficult it would be to ward someone off when you can't hear their footsteps or movements. Without the ability to hear, Maddie is forced to get creative and lean on her other senses to turn the tables on her assailant. In the end, she proves more than up to the task.
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- Actors: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan
- Released: 2016
- Directed by: Mike Flanagan
- Photo: Lionsgate
You're Next could have been just another forgettable home invasion thriller, but screenwriter Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard took steps to make sure that didn't happen. The 2013 film follows Erin, (Sharni Vinson) an Australian woman who accompanies her boyfriend Crispian (A. J. Bowen) to a reunion with his wealthy family at a spot in rural Missouri that conveniently has no cell reception. A trio of animal masked-wielding assailants shows up and starts taking people out.
It sounds similar to movies like The Purge, The Strangers, or Them, but Barrett and Wingard made sure to develop Erin as a capable heroine character without objectifying her. She proves to be the most adept at defending herself. And rather than having the villains motivated by simple thrill-seeking, Barrett and Wingard give them concrete motivation (spoiler): because they were hired by Crispian, who wants to inherit his family's millions.
Barrett and Wingard's efforts to breathe life into the genre paid off, turning a million-dollar budget into a $27 million worldwide gross.
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- Actors: Sharni Vinson, Barbara Crampton, Amy Seimetz, Larry Fessenden, Joe Swanberg
- Released: 2011
- Directed by: Adam Wingard
Halloween (2018)Photo: Universal Pictures
Whenever a beloved movie franchise announces a sequel, fans are conflicted. On the one hand, there's going to be another installment in a series they love. On the other, there's always a chance the sequel won't live up to its predecessors. After several disappointing Halloween sequels, fans were apprehensive about David Gordon Green's 2018 reboot. Thankfully, it proved to be a worthy entry in the series.
Critics complained the endless Halloween sequels of the '80s and '90s got too bogged down in the Michael Myers mythology without delivering enough scares. Then, the Rob Zombie-directed installments in 2007 and 2009 tried too hard to be different and left fans disappointed. Green and co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride made the wise decision to ignore everything except the original John Carpenter film and focus on what the series does best: Michael Myers targeting Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
It's 2018, and Laurie has spent the last 40 years preparing for the day Michael Myers might return. While it has kept her safe, it's also alienated her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), who just wants to live a normal life. Halloween offers up plenty of classic jumps while adding depth to the Laurie Strode character. Survival has a price.
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- Actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Nick Castle
- Released: 2018
- Directed by: David Gordon Green