A funny thing happened in the 2000s: Audiences became much more vocal online about the movies they love, most notably on websites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. Genre film fans have made the most use of review aggregator sites to provide more accurate ratings for horror films rather than rely on genre-averse critics.
As the 2010s progressed, critically acclaimed horror films began to intermingle with horror films lauded by audiences, giving us a pretty solid list of the highest-rated horror films of the modern era. But just because they're rated highly doesn't mean they're perfect.
For every Certified Fresh rating the following horror movies have, there are some serious issues lurking right under the surface.
- Photo: RADiUS-TWC
It Follows should be called It Is Complicated. The film "follows" a young woman who learns she's being followed by a mysterious entity that wants to drain her life force, and the only way she can shake it is by sleeping with someone and passing the entity along to them.
Visually jarring and really creepy, It Follows hits hard for the first two acts, but it's the third act where things fall apart. The simple narrative becomes convoluted when the characters plan to kill the entity in a swimming pool with electrical equipment and a handgun, but everything sort of goes wrong? Maybe?
The film's dream logic works for audience members who enjoy philosophical horror, but if you like answers, then the ending is going to bum you out.
- Photo: Universal Pictures238 VOTES
Lupita Nyong'o goes for it in Us. Her dual performance as Adelaide and Red should have earned her an Academy Award - it's impossible to take your eyes off her when she's on-screen, and all you can do is think about her when she's not there. Unfortunately, the rest of the film isn't firing on the same cylinders as Nyong'o.
The performances in Us are all fantastic, but the actual film is just a bunch of weird ideas thrown into a blender. In just over two hours, the film throws together "tethered" clones, an underground series of tunnels that span across America, a switcheroo between a clone and a normie, and a tethered revolution. Oh, and the only thing that the clones (or whatever they are) have to eat in the underground are rabbits.
Us is a fun watch. Really, when are you going to be able to see a mother set the clone of her only son on fire? But the moment you start pulling at the film's narrative threads, it just falls apart.
- Photo: Netflix317 VOTES
‘Gerald’s Game’ - Watching This Feels Like You’re Handcuffed To Boredom
Mike Flanagan's adaptation of Gerald's Game is a fascinating watch. The director is clearly enamored with Stephen King's writing, and aside from a small change to the end of the story, this is a really, really straight adaptation of one of King's better mid-period works. The adaptation is so faithful, the audience really feels like they're handcuffed to a bed for two hours.
The film concerns, Jessie, a woman who wants to put some oomph back in her marriage, so she and her husband, Gerald, go off to a cabin in the woods for some light BDSM. Gerald has a heart attack and dies after handcuffing her to the bed, and Jessie spends the rest of the movie trying to escape while having conversations with an apparition of her deceased husband.
It's a cool concept that works better in the novel, a space where the reader's mind is able to make the situation as terrifying as they can imagine. Flanagan's adaptation isn't bad - the guy knows how to wring horror out of a mundane situation, and he does it quite well here - but for whatever reason, he's not able to create the sense of claustrophobia that he's going for.
- Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
Don't Breathe follows a group of downtrodden, 20-something thieves as they attempt to rob a blind man who lives in a rundown area of Detroit. The trio of thieves think they're in for an easy ride, but they're in a horror movie and quickly find themselves in a bit of a pickle when it turns out the blind guy has been preparing for someone to rob him. Oh, and he's holding a woman captive that he impregnated with a turkey baster. So there's that.
This twist is either going to make you go all-in on Don't Breathe, or it's going to completely turn you off. There's really no in-between. Audiences unfamiliar with the work of director Fede Álvarez are likely expecting a straightforward thriller, but Álvarez likes to play with violence and gore in ways that can feel overwhelming and gross.
If you're not into watching a couple of scenes that are going to make you regret having a big lunch, then it's best to avoid the spectacular (but gross!) Don't Breathe.
- Photo: RLJE Films
Mandy is the perfect midnight movie. It's bright. It's super violent. It makes zero sense, and it stars Nicholas Cage. If any of those things sound good to you, then you'll enjoy this modern cult classic, but if you want something with substance, then you'll want to steer clear of this psychotic head-eff of a movie.
Weird for the sake of being weird, Mandy doesn't try to tell a cohesive story or even make all that much sense. Some members of the audience love that kind of thing, but this movie can also feel like someone explaining a dream that someone else had. It really is a fun ride, but it's important to keep in mind that the ride is all there is.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures641 VOTES
‘It’ (2017) - Separating The Flashbacks Into Their Own Movie Makes You Realize Just How Repetitive The Story Is
It's not easy to adapt a Stephen King novel. Not only are they lengthy, but he also has a legion of fans who love his work. On top of that, the original It adaptation is a beloved miniseries that helped form the viewing habits and personalities of many horror fans. The one thing it doesn't do is give both of the timelines in this story enough time to breathe.
Don't get it twisted - Andy Muschietti's remake expands on the horrific world of Derry, ME, in a way that no TV miniseries ever could. However, by splitting the narrative into two different movies, it highlights just how repetitive King's story is. It: Chapter One follows each kid as they go somewhere spooky by themselves. They see something scary that turns out to be Pennywise and repeat for about two hours. It's not boring by any stretch of the imagination, but this kind of repetitive scare loses its luster fairly quickly.