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Sunday Scaries: Ranking the Top Horror Flicks of 2021

Paramount Pictures

The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries! Today, the first 2022 installment of the column looks back on the horror efforts of 2021…

What you’ll see below are ten scary movies that were the cream of the crop last year. I’ll mostly be linking to my reviews, but they basically all come highly recommended. Especially the top five, they’re quite good. Enjoy and hopefully you find some new things to watch as 2022 kicks into high gear!

Warner Bros.

Here are some of the best fright flicks of 2021:

10. Fear Street Trilogy – The only title here I didn’t review, it’s actually three connected Netflix films, based somewhat loosely on the book series. I honestly don’t have a lot to say about them, as they’re solid, yet unspectacular, but I know they’re popular. Plus, considering how this is technically three picks, it even makes this list an even dozen in the end…

9. Halloween Kills – I know this one let a lot of folks down, but I was mostly satisfied. From my review on the site: “Halloween Kills is essentially a 106 minute trailer for Halloween Ends, but that’s middle installment syndrome for you. If you wanted Michael to have hacked up more folks last time around, you’re in luck. Now, while this is mostly just mayhem, Green and McBride do try to bring up some new themes, in addition to the prior one of passing down trauma. Here, it’s mob mentality and fear elevating evil. They’re not always successful, but at least it aims to be more than just a throwaway sequel.”

8. Army of the Dead – This one was a debate for me. Is it more action than horror? Probably. Is it also a follow-up in some ways to one of the better modern fright flicks? Absolutely. So, it counts. From my review: “Army of the Dead sees Snyder going back to his undead roots. Far more than superheroes, this is where he should be concentrating. The movie is far bigger than Dawn of the Dead and isn’t a sequel, but it shows that he’s perfectly suited for zombie fare. The scale is impressive and you do get caught up in the action. What more can you ask for with something of this sort?”

7. V/H/S/94 – It took a while for this franchise to find its footing again, but this anthology film is quite good. More from my review: “V/H/S/94 is a return to form for the anthology franchise, albeit with a slight twist or two. Here, it’s a period piece, with the visual palate going all-in on that. Furthermore, there’s not only an interesting and meta twist ending, there’s also a tie-in narratively between the segments and the wraparound story. That’s something we’ve never really seen from this series before.”

6. Werewolves Within – A horror comedy, it still does contain the genre moments needed for inclusion on this list. As a bonus, it’s a video game adaptation. From the review: “Werewolves Within is a horror comedy first and foremost, never overtly appearing like it has video game roots. It’s often silly, sometimes bloody, and always entertaining. Even if the ending doesn’t quite stick the landing, what comes beforehand is so fun, you’ll barely notice. The good very much outweighs the bad, and it’s not even close.”

5. Malignant – James Wan is obviously a horror master. Here, he’s let loose in the genre and puts out one of the most WTF efforts in some time. More from my review: “Malignant is trashy, but in a fun way. It’s also something you’ve never quite seen before, so horror fans may be in for a treat. The movie is pretty absurd, not to mention absurdly violent, but it checks most of the boxes you want from horror. James Wan aficionados will undoubtedly want to see what he’s come up with here. Brace yourself for some extreme violence, but also something fairly new for the genre.”

4. The Night House – As solid a drama as it is a horror movie. Truly, this one works on more than one level. More here: “Normally, elevated horror (or art-house horror) is notable for even leaning into other genres. For example, it wasn’t that something like Hereditary was an amazing drama, it was, at least in part, that it opted to mix drama and horror. Anyone who has hoped for a film to mix the two more effectively is in luck, however, as The Night House has achieved this feat. Not only is it a genuinely affecting experience, handling grief with a deft touch, it’s also a legitimately unsettling fright flick. The mix is hard to pull off, but this movie truly does pull it off.”

3. A Quiet Place Part II – A horror sequel that’s better than it has any right to be. John Krasinski may just be an emerging genre ace. From my review: “A Quiet Place Part II is another thrill ride with impeccable pacing and sound. The series is set apart by what they do with silence and sound, so that should go without saying. While becoming a bigger flick, it still retains an emotional quotient that makes you care about the Abbott family. Without that, this would be just another creature feature. Instead, it’s something more.”

2. Titane – Not strictly horror, but kind of everything, this movie is dementedly brilliant. My rave has this bit: “Titane continually evolves, almost as if it’s several films in one. For those curious about the title, the press materials for the flick uses this definition for the word…”Titane: A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys, often used in medical prostheses due to its pronounced biocompatibility.” Knowing that doesn’t matter too much for enjoyment of the movie, but it does put you in the right mind-frame for this original effort.”

1. Spiral: From the Book of Saw – The best horror film of 2021 is the latest installment in the Saw franchise. Too many people are sleeping on this one, but it’s the cream of the crop. My rave review includes the following: “Spiral will blow away fans of the franchise. Moreover, it will please those who have never even given the series a second thought. One of the year’s best movies, it deserves to be a big hit this weekend, re-launching big screen horror. If you love Saw, this is going to be like a warm hug from an old friend who’s gotten a makeover (drenched in blood). Even if you couldn’t care less, the uniqueness of this one makes it worth checking out. I can’t recommend it enough. Spiral: From the Book of Saw, perhaps shockingly, is a home run!”

What were your favorite horror films of 2021? Let us know!

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Robert Hamer
9 months ago

One movie not mentioned that I would absolutely rank among the top five is Censor. Sure, it drags a little in the middle with an investigation that’s not really an investigation into a mystery that’s not really a mystery, but I think that’s more than made up for in atmosphere, quiet tension, and Niamh Algar’s performance.

It was also really refreshing to see a horror movie didn’t insult its audience’s intelligence and just let its social commentary come out organically instead of lecturing us like we’re stupid children who need themes spelled out for us.

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