We made it; 2021 is coming to a close, and what a year it has been. However, even in the darkest of times, there is a light and that light was bright for horror lovers! 2021 was one heck of a year for the horror genre. We had a little bit of everything; a new Halloween, a new Saw and a new The Purge, but we also had a whole host of brand new stories. While it was incredibly difficult to narrow it down and choose favorites, here is a list of the six best horror movies of 2021.
Antlers is a tale about the Indigenous legend of the wendigos. There are a few different versions of the wendigo legend, but in all versions, the creature is a malevolent spirit. In this movie, a man named Frank (Scott Haze) ventures where he should not go and encounters the wendigo. The man’s young son, Lucas (Jeremy T. Thomas), garners the attention of his teacher Julia (Keri Russell), who tries to help him only to discover that the problem is so much worse than she could have ever imagined.
The movie Antlers is based on Nick Antosca‘s short story The Quiet Boy.
This movie is on my list of best horror movies of 2021 for several reasons. First, it is a truly creepy movie with a terrifying “monster.” Second, it goes deeper than the average horror movie. The subplot delves into the lives of people that society would call broken—people who have dealt with more in life than the average person. Finally, the story dives into the original legend from the Algonquin tribe.
In The Unholy, viewers follow a disgraced journalist, Gerald (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who now works for a sensationalist “paranormal phenomenon” publication. He goes to a small town for a potential alien story but accidentally stumbles upon something much more sinister. When a local deaf girl, Alice (Cricket Brown), gains the ability to hear and verbally speak, claiming it is the works of the Virgin Mary. This would not be the last “miracle” the small town would see. Suddenly, Alice can heal others from the community. She says the Virgin Mary gave her this ability. Gerald suspects that something else is going on and begins to investigate. Be careful who you pray to…
There are a few reasons this movie made it onto my list. The story looks at the effects of what happens when the masses believe a lie and trust the wrong person, creating a type of herd mentality. I feel this makes it incredibly interesting. Also, the acting is absolutely amazing. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Cricket Brown take this movie to the next level. Finally, it has that atmosphere that I love in horror movies. That edge of your seat, nail-biting, what’s going to happen next, feeling prevails throughout The Unholy.
Last Night in Soho
Last Night in Soho is a paranormal horror about a girl named Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) who gets a unique look into the past. She learns the story of Sandy (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her suitor, Jack (Matt Smith). After her mother’s death, Eloise, who is dealing with some mental health issues, moves to the city to pursue her dream of designing clothes. When things don’t work out at her school dorm, she finds a room for rent and moves. On her first night there, Eloise finds something interesting happens when she falls asleep in her new bed. She is transported back in time. Not only does she get to see what happens to Sandy, but she also becomes the other woman. The two are completely integrated. At first, Eloise loves being Sandy and experiencing her seemingly romantic and fascinating life. Soon, however, things take a dark turn; her newfound gift is no longer fun. Eventually, Sandy’s life seeps into Eloise’s waking life and things get very bad, very quick.
This movie may well take the top spot for me when it comes to the best horror movies of 2021. For that matter, it is at the top of my list for all-around best movies of 2021. The filmography is exceptional. The blending of Eloise and Sandy, the many scenes showing both women experiencing the same things at the time, is amazing, a work of art. The acting is also fantastic. To be honest, the primary reason I decided to see this movie in the first place is the fact that Matt Smith is in it. However, within the first few minutes, I knew it would be something special.
Candyman 2021 picks up years after the events of the original movie. It is caught somewhere between remake and continuation, which seems to be a popular direction for horror movies as of late. A young artist, Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), finds inspiration for his new art pieces in the story of the Candyman. Soon, people start turning up murdered and each gruesome death is somehow connected to Anthony’s art. As things progress, he finds himself drawn more and more into the story and finding out what really happened on that fateful night. When Anthony discovers that he has more ties to the Candyman than he thought, everything takes a downward spiral.
This movie is so much more than just a basic horror movie. Jordan Peele goes all out with this movie and absolutely nails it! The story goes deeper than many horror films in that it is not just a sadistic killer running around offing anyone he comes in contact with. Instead, it seamlessly weaves in a deeper tale, looking at how society treats and perceives those they deem “different,” especially African American individuals. Also, I feel like this is the perfect ode to the original film and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is the perfect successor to the role Tony Todd first brought to life.
In Malignant, the viewer follows Madison (Annabelle Wallis) as she experiences terrifying visions. Each vision features a gruesome and terrible death. As time goes on, she discovers that the events she sees are not just taking place in her head. The murders are happening in real life. Traumatized and unsure what to do, Madison begins trying to figure out what is happening to her and why she is witnessing all of these murders in her head. What she discovers will change everything.
I include this movie because of the incredible twist at the end. More often than not, I figure out whatever “twist” a given movie is trying to pull off fairly early on. However, this one got me. I did not figure it out until very shortly before it was revealed on screen. This alone impressed me enough to call Malignant one of the best horror movies of 2021. Otherwise, the atmosphere is good and the jump scares are decent.
Wrong Turn 2021
In this newest edition to the Wrong Turn franchise, a group of friends goes hiking on the Appalachian Trail. While there, they encounter The Foundation, who does not take kindly to “outsiders” intruding on their land. Soon, the friends face difficult choices that mean the difference between life and death. When Scott Shaw (Matthew Modine) gets worried, he looks for his daughter Jennifer (Charlotte Vega), who was part of the group. Little does he know; he may be risking everything to find her.
I surprised myself with this choice. This is mainly because I am quite loud about my intense dislike for the franchise as a whole. The reason for this is that I refused to watch any of the sequels after the original induced anger in me. This anger came from the horrible stereotypes and portrayal of West Virginia, which is a place near and dear to my heart. Honestly, I don’t even know why I decided to watch this one. BUT, I did and I was pleasantly surprised. This is what the original should have been. Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with a horror movie being set in West Virginia. I have a problem with the offensive stereotypes and overall portal that the film perpetuates and reinforces. So, whether you are a fan of the original or, like me, want to give the franchise a chance, this movie is awesome!
There you have it, the six best horror movies of 2021, according to one horror nerd who spent way too much time watching movies this year. Congratulations on making it to the end of another difficult year. May 2022 bring nothing but positivity and even more amazing movies!
Do you agree with this list? Let us know in the comments which movie is your favorite!