By Clark Collis
June 15, 2019 at 03:25 PM EDT
Kerry Hayes/Paramount Pictures

A resurrected cat! An evil Superman! Acid-crazed voguers! Mickey Rourke! 2019’s crop of horror movies has it all. But what are the best terror tales to be unleashed in the first six months of this year? You’ll find EW’s chilling choices, below.

Climax
This mind-melting phantasmagoria from Gaspar Noé tracks the mental deterioration of a dance troupe whose communal bowl of sangria gets spiked with acid at a post-rehearsal party. Come for the jaw-dropping choreography at the start of the movie, stay for the second half’s descent in a sex- and violence-filled hell worthy of Hieronymus Bosch.

 

Pet Sematary
Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, and young actress Jeté Laurence star in a hugely satisfying adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, with directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer both fulfilling and slyly subverting expectations. Already seen it? Then check out the pair’s previous, and maybe even creepier, film, the devilish Starry Eyes.

 

Starfish
Virginia Gardner, from last year’s Halloween, must save the world from monsters with the help of some mixtapes. At least that’s what we think is happening in this gorgeous, gnomic directorial debut from musician A.T. White.

 

Us
While some thought writer-director Jordan Peele’s doppelganger horror tale became somewhat, well, untethered from reality by its conclusion, Us boasts memorable performances and twists. The movie may also be the first time an Oscar-winner has found quite so much (self-admitted) inspiration from the horror film C.H.U.D.

 

Brightburn/Prodigy/The Hole in the Ground
2019 has proven to be a vintage year for the creepy kid horror movie thanks to Pet Sematary, Us, and this trio. Brightburn tracks the gorily destructive coming-of-age of an evil Superman-type; Prodigy finds a serial killer being reincarnated as a baby; and the The Hole in the Ground mines atmospheric scares from a young ‘un who returns from the Irish countryside not quite the same.

Greta
Isabelle Huppert is utterly magnetic (but, then, when is she not?) as a Frenchwoman living alone in New York who develops a very unhealthy obsession with Chloë Grace Moretz’s wide-eyed waitress in this return to the horror genre from Interview with a Vampire director Neil Jordan.

 

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror
A fascinating examination of the African-American community’s complicated relationship with the horror genre, Horror Noire features a stellar, and engaging, lineup of contributors, including Rachel True (The Craft), Ken Foree (George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead), Keith David (The Thing, They Live), and Jordan Peele. If the result is not technically a narrative horror film it is hardly short of real-life horror stories.

 

The Ranger
Jenn Wexler’s directorial debut, which recently debuted on the streaming service Shudder, is a mayhem-filled punk-rock slasher with a stand-out performance from Jeremy Holm as the titular wilderness-protector and oddly likable maniac.

 

The Perfection
The Perfection stars Allison Williams and Logan Browning as classical musicians—and that’s all we’re going to say about this twisty tale. We’re not even going to post the trailer.

Happy Death Day 2U
Chris Landon’s sequel to his Groundhog Day-meets-Scream box office hit Happy Day Death switched lanes, with a vibe which evoked Weird Science. That may have hurt its chances at the box office, but Jessica Rothe remains absolutely winning as the repeatedly decease-ing Tree.

 

Escape Room
This story of folks attempting to survive a series of deadly escape rooms really doesn’t make a lick of sense, but director Adam Robitel attacks the material with such skill and enthusiasm that you really don’t care.

 

Hagazussa
Set in the Alps during the 15th century, Hagazussa stars Aleksandra Cwen as a single mother, and a hermit, and maybe a supernatural entity. One of the slowest-burning horror films you’ll ever see, the movie makes The Witch look like a Fast and Furious film, but Cwen’s performance, and the amazing locations, will reward the patient.

 

The Wind
Another horror film centered around a haunting performance by an actress, Caitlin Gerard is perfect as a woman becoming unglued at an isolated Old West homestead.

Level 16
In Danishka Esterhazy’s gripping dystopic tale a group of teenage girls are raised to be perfect candidates for adoption in a windowless, prison-like environment. Imagine if David Fincher remade Annie and you’ve kind of got the idea.

 

Nightmare Cinema
Mickey Rourke takes a Cryptkeeper-ish role as the sinister Projectionist in this deliciously diverse anthology movie (out June 21). Nightmare Cinema features segments directed by Masters of Horror Alejandro Brugués (Juan of the Dead), Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins), Ryûhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train), David Slade (30 Days of NightBlack Mirror), and Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers, The Stand miniseries). Every segment will be someone’s favorite, but Brugués’ kinetic slasher homage “The Thing in the Woods” certainly makes for an attention-getting opening salvo.

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