After the incredible year the genre had in 2022, it is safe to say that horror is going through its own renaissance. Horror has always been a divisive genre. Fans of the genre are extremely devoted while critics and award shows rarely ever give these films the recognition they deserve. However, the genre has been going through a period of reinvention that has restored some of the best aspects of horror films while improving on others.
Films such as Barbarian, Smile, and Nope have revitalized the genre by switching up typical horror characteristics and keeping audiences on the edge of their seat. This has put horror at the forefront of many conversations about movies in recent years, especially this past year, and has fans of the genre feeling good about what’s to come next.
While this is true for all the horror genre, it is especially true for the slasher subgenre. Slasher movies have been a favorite since the ’70s with films such as Black Christmas and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The subgenre saw another resurgence in popularity in the ’90s with the late Wes Craven’s Scream, in which the film’s self-referential nature took slashers to a new level by purposefully criticizing horror tropes.
Recently, slasher movies have seen another resurgence in popularity with films that have reshaped what it means to be a slasher. A great slasher is more than just a homicidal maniac in a mask, so let’s take a look at some recent slashers that have reinvigorated the genre:
10 Terrifier (2016)
On Halloween night, a young woman named Tara Heyes (Jenna Kanell) finds herself the obsession of a sadistic murderer named Art the Clown. Even though Terrifier is the film that Art the Clown became known for, his first appearance wasn’t in this film. It was actually in the 2011 short film of the same name, and his first appearance in a full-length film was in the 2013 anthology horror film All Hallow’s Eve. The film is definitely not for everyone as the kills are brutal and gruesome. Art is an exceptionally cruel killer who uses vicious tactics to harm his victims. It’s different from other slashers in the sense that Art is an unpredictable and truly heartless villain.
9 You’re Next (2011)
In an attempt to mend their estranged family, Paul and Aubrey Davidson invite their grown children and their partners to their weekend estate to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The weekend gets off to a rocky start when masked assailants invade the home to hunt down each member of the family. You’re Next completely reinvents the genre by offering a fresh twist on the home invasion and the slasher subgenres. It blends horror with dark humor seamlessly and features a final girl that is somehow an expert at fending off masked killers. It is certainly a bit over the top at times, and some of the character actions are not plausible, but the writing is smart enough to make up for it. If brutal gore and pitch-black humor are your speed, then you will enjoy this.
8 Creep (2014)
Low on cash and full of naïveté, a videographer responds to an online ad promising $1,000 for one day of filming in a remote mountain town. His assignment is to film the dying messages of a man named Josef (Mark Duplass), but as the man’s messages become darker and darker, the videographer begins to realize that his client is not what he initially appeared to be. Creep is an odd yet intelligent take on both the found-footage and the slasher subgenres of horror. Not particularly gory for a horror movie, but Mark Duplass’ unhinged performance keeps the viewer reeled in. Josef’s strange and unsettling tendencies may not be very bloody, but they are horrifying and almost comical.
7 Green Room (2015)
A punk rock band finds themselves trapped in a secluded venue in the Pacific Northwest after witnessing a horrific act of violence. Since they witnessed this crime, the band becomes the deadly target of a gang of white power skinheads who want to eliminate all evidence of the crime. Green Room has the violence and thrills that one would expect from a slasher film, but what sets it apart from others in the genre is that the killers here are unapologetic bigots with motives, unlike other slashers. It is also smartly written and well-acted, which is not always a guaranteed combination in horror films. It’s a wild and unexpected ride from start to finish and is relentless in its suspense.
6 Happy Death Day (2017)
On her birthday, college student Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) finds herself stuck in a seemingly never-ending loop that forces her to relive the day of her death repeatedly until she discovers her killer. A near-perfect blend of comedy and horror, Happy Death Day offers a refreshing change of pace in the slasher genre. Utilizing a Groundhog Day-esque premise, it adds new ideas to both slashers and time loop movies. Tree realizes that she’s stuck in a loop relatively quickly, but both her frustration and acceptance of the reality of her situation drive her sheer determination to reveal her killer and take them down for good. Smartly crafted, the film puts a darkly comical, almost sci-fi spin on slashers that sets it apart from slasher movies and has fans desperate for a third movie.
5 Halloween (2018)
Years after the fateful Halloween night in Haddonfield, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) confronts her long-time foe, Michael Myers, who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree four decades ago. David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy is majorly divisive among fans of the franchise, mostly because of the storyline in Halloween Ends. Despite this, most fans can agree that the first film in Green’s retconned sequel trilogy is a rather excellent continuation of Laurie Strode’s story. She is a hardened survivor who has become a recluse living in her fortress of a home. Her relationship is strained with her daughter as a result of her lifestyle, but her reclusive, battle-ready tendencies prove to be more than useful when The Shape returns to this traumatized town.
4 Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
A group of rich 20-somethings gathers together for a hurricane party at one of the friend’s remote family mansion. As the storm rages on outside, the spoiled young adults engage in a murder-mystery party game called “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies.” The game takes a turn for the worst when one of the players ends up dead, and the narcissistic friends begin to turn on each other.
A sharp, humorous commentary on backstabbing, and fake friends, Bodies Bodies Bodies is a fresh take on the behavior of both young people and wealthy people. It’s also a rare movie that more accurately portrays Gen Z’s mannerisms and their sense of humor. These characters by nature are both ready and willing to stab each other in the back with little explanation or hesitation. They barely take a moment to process what happened or how it happened, and instead launch into full-on attack mode. It’s dark, hilarious, and will frustrate you right up to the end.
3 Pearl (2022)
Released only a few months after the first film, this prequel tells the origin story of X’s incredible villain, Pearl. Stuck on her family’s secluded farm in rural Texas while her husband is overseas fighting in World War I, Pearl has dreams of becoming a Hollywood star and escaping farm life and her devout mother’s watchful eye for good. Pearl does an excellent job of building tension and using the audience’s uncomfortableness against them. We get to see that there has always been something sinister within Pearl, but we get to see that underlying madness slowly but surely edge its way into her central personality.
Shot and edited to pay homage to films of Hollywood’s Golden Age, the vibrant colors and costumes are atypical of a slasher film, but that makes it even more effective. Pearl lusts for a life of fame and fortune, but that doesn’t seem to be her motive for her violent tendencies. It has simply always been part of her.
2 Scream (2022)
25 years after the infamous killings that forever changed the suburban town of Woodsboro, a new killer picks up the Ghostface mantle and begins a spree of violent murders to resurrect secrets of the town’s deadly past. Scream breathed new life into the already successful franchise that has once again set a new precedent for slashers and horror movies in general. The self-aware dialogue and continuous breakdowns of the horror genre are what have made the franchise last for as long as it has, and this fifth installment kicked it up a notch. It introduced a new generation of characters that are inextricably tied with legacy characters which now allow the franchise to continue on for multiple entries.
It’s a Scream film made for a new audience while still maintaining the appeal of what made it so popular in the first place. It’s hyper-aware of the current state of Hollywood, endlessly picks apart horror tropes, and fully acknowledges that its characters are in a requel. It’s modern without being in your face about it, and truly captures the same essence of the first Scream film.
1 X (2022)
In 1979, a group of young filmmakers travel to rural Texas to start production on their adult film at a cabin they have rented from an older couple. When the elderly hosts catch them in the act, the group ends up fighting for their lives to escape the farmhouse property. Ti West outdid himself with X in a victorious return to his horror roots. It’s whip-smart, deliciously entertaining, and unexpectedly brutal. Repugnant and gory, X is also rather thought-provoking. It plays on fears of aging and fading relevance while keeping the tension ever-present.
The characters are fleshed out and the acting is superb, specifically from Mia Goth and Jenna Ortega who give stand-out performances. The film is also painstakingly detailed as it is building towards a bigger story spanning decades. It’s a bit atmospheric for a slasher film, but that works in its favor. The suspense-fueled atmosphere in addition to the grindhouse feel of the film makes for a slasher that has undoubtedly reinvigorated the genre.