Ready or not — here are the year's best big screen terror tales

By Clark Collis
December 23, 2019 at 09:00 AM EST

2019 has been another terrifyingly successful year for the horror genre. But which films were killer enough to make EW’s top 10 big screen terror tales of the year? Find out below…

Bliss

After a lengthy time away from filmmaking, Almost Human writer-director Joe Begos returned in gore-drenched style with this vampiric homage to Abel Ferrara. Dora Madison gives one of the great horror performances as a painter who overcomes her creative block with a combination of drugs and blood. Please don’t try that at home.

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.

Harpoon

Three friends. One boat. And a harpoon gun. What could possibly go wrong? Absolutely everything in this twisty, deranged horror-thriller from director Rob Grant.

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.

Doctor Sleep

Inexplicably shunned by cinemagoers, director Mike Flanagan’s movie is both a handsome sequel to Kubrick’s The Shining and very much own its own deliciously weird thing.

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.

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 ThingThey Live), and Jordan Peele. If the result is not technically a narrative horror film it is hardly short of real-life horror stories.

Midsommar

Florence Pugh is simply a wonder in Ari Aster’s brutal, unforgiving, and oddly hilarious tale of a Scandinavian cult and how to deal with a bad boyfriend.

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Tigers Are Not Afraid stars young actress Paola Lara as an orphan named Estrella who joins a gang of kids in an unnamed Mexican town and attempts to evade the murderous attentions of a drug cartel. The fantastical twist? She is armed with three wishes. The result is a remarkable and unforgettable mix of real-world horrors and beguiling fantasy. But, hey, no need to believe us. Writer-director Issa López’s film also received the thumbs-up from Stephen King, Guillermo del Toro, and Neil Gaiman.

Ready or Not

For sheer entertainment value, it was impossible to beat the sight of a wedding dress-clad Samara Weaving attempting to evade her rich, murderous new in-laws in this comedy-horror. Extra credit for repeated usage of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

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