Another COVID year in the bag. While it has been a long, stressful, and isolating year, there has been a shocking amount of amazing horror for us to consume. So much so, in fact, that instead of having my usual Top 10 Horror films of the year, I’ve had to expand to 15 for 2021 because I just couldn’t narrow it down. Below you will find my top 15 horror films of the year, as well as my top horror books and shows of 2021. Note: While I put these lists in a relative order, I’m a very indecisive person so the order of my favorites (in my head) will be quite different over time.
BEST FILMS OF 2021
15. JAKOB’S WIFE
Not only is this film a creepy vampire flick, but it also is a wonderful story of how it’s never too late to find yourself. Barbara Crampton delivers one of her best performances and creates a character many woman can relate to. Full review here.
14. SAINT MAUD
I’m personally a huge fan of films that let the audience decide if the protagonist is experiencing something truly supernatural or if they’re losing their mind. Saint Maud is a fantastic example of that and includes a truly haunting performance from Morfydd Clark.
Including one of the most disturbing single images of the year, Caveat is one you won’t want to miss. It’s a dreary, unsettling, horrifying puzzle that becomes more disturbing as the pieces are put together.
12. COME TRUE
This film has what is quite possibly the most haunting dream sequence imagery I’ve ever seen. Come True is so unique in its premise and has wonderful visuals. The final scene can be a bit polarizing (it’s actually my least favorite part of the film), but in general this is a fantastic film.
11. SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (2021)
This is a perfect example of how to make a successful remake. The latest iteration of Slumber Party Massacre gives a ton of great nods to the original film while also being entirely its own thing. It’s feminist, it’s hilarious, and I love the core friend group.
10. WHEN I CONSUME YOU
One of the surprise hits from my film festival coverage this year, When I Consume You grabs hold and doesn’t let go. It’s a fantastic supernatural mystery, it’s driven by a pair of wonderful characters played by great actors, and the mythology it creates is quite eerie. Full review here.
9. WEREWOLVES WITHIN
I’m always a fan of horror-comedies, and I’m always a fan of werewolves. This film expertly brings the two together in a hilarious werewolf whodunit that is a great time from start to finish. Full review here.
8. THE VIGIL
There really needs to be more Jewish horror. The Vigil brings a fresh take on religious horror and introduced me to a whole new set of faith-based terror. Strong performances and subtle scares make it one of the best films of the year. Full review here.
Malignant is truly the surprise horror film of the year. Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny it is a memorable film and definitely a conversation starter. I for one thought it was a unique, balls-to-the-wall good time with absolutely fantastic visuals/effects.
6. CANDYMAN (2021)
Nia DaCosta’s Candyman is definitely one of the highlights of 2021. It perfectly adds to the mythology established in the original film and addresses much of the same social/political issues, but it perfectly updates the film for the issues of today.
5. LAST NIGHT IN SOHO
This film was everything I hoped it would be. Visually stunning, fantastic music, truly wonderful performances, and it even managed to surprise me. Edgar Wright should really delve into horror more often.
4. THE MEDIUM
The Medium is a Thai horror film that tackles the issues of generational trauma/curses and the power of belief. It’s a great mockumentary and has some of the best performances of the year. It also has some of the best scares I experienced in 2021.
3. THE NIGHT HOUSE
Subtle scares tend to get me the worst (or best, depending on how you look at it). The Night House has many absolutely terrifying moments. It also has a wonderfully unique plot with visuals to match. It reaffirms why Rebecca Hall is one of my favorite actresses.
I went into this film knowing almost nothing about it. It ended up being one of my favorite films of the year. There are so many things that make this a fantastic film including the great story, strong performances, creepy visuals, and the way it perfectly transports the audience to a different time. It’s definitely a must-watch.
This choice for my number one film of 2021 will likely come as a surprise to no one. I’m a big Julia Ducournau fan, and she did not disappoint with Titane. It’s visceral in how it conveys body horror, ideas of good and evil, found family, trauma, and so much more. It is also one of the most beautifully shot films of the year.
BEST BOOKS OF 2021 (new to me, but not necessarily new in 2021)
5. The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Great mythology, compelling characters, and perfectly makes you empathize with all characters, making it difficult to decide who is right and wrong.
4. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
Probably the single most heart-wrenching book I have ever read in my entire life, but int he best way possible.
3. The Troop by Nick Cutter
Perfectly blends disgusting body horror with the fragile power dynamics of young boys becoming men.
2. The Sounds of Breaking Glass: And More Weird Tales by Christine Makepeace
A truly fantastic short story collection. I adored every single piece, each with very unique plots and fascinating mythos.
1. Goddess of Filth by V Castro
Blending elements of THE CRAFT with Mexican folklore, this book wonderfully conveyed the importance of connecting with your roots as well as the importance of lifelong friendships. Made me cry and I can’t stop thinking about it.
BEST TV SHOWS OF 2021
5. Chucky – Season 1
A great continuation of the Chucky franchise. It was fun, fresh, hilarious, gory, and I can’t wait to see more.
4. Black Summer – Season 2
So glad we finally got a season 2 of this one. Great characters, a true survival story, and the non-linear plot kept me on my toes.
3. You – Season 3
Is it trashy? Yes. Is it also highly entertaining? Yes. This season took the characters in unexpected directions and it makes me eager to see the next season.
2. What We Do in the Shadows – Season 3
This is truly one of the most entertaining shows currently on tv. The characters are delightful and I practically die laughing every episode.
1. Midnight Mass
Mike Flanagan really knows how to craft beautifully haunting stories. It’s just as likely to terrify as it is to rip your heart into a million pieces.
SHOUTOUTS OF 2021
(Last year I introduced a shoutout section to my best of the year list. I’ve decided to continue that spread of positivity to send off 2021!)
Matt Donato & Matt Monagle & Certified Forgotten for always being supportive of my writing and giving Uterus Horror a home.
Christine Makepeace for being a fantastic editor, friend, and a huge supporter.
Sean Abley and Tyler Doupe for believing in me enough to include me as one of the co-authors of the upcoming Queer Horror Film Guide.
Andrew Hawkins and the MENTAL HEALTH AND HORROR team for including me as a cast member for the documentary.
Chelsea Stardust and Sean Keller for helping to make my one big vacation this year extra special and just generally being great humans.
And everyone else who helped get me through the year without completely losing my mind.