The horror genre continues to impress in terms of quality and financial performance at the box office. In 2023, fans of the dark and twisted savored many high-concept original pictures, great franchise continuations, and plenty of welcome first-time efforts by the next generation of frightmakers.

Below is my list of the 10 Best Horror Films of 2023. I carefully curated this list to represent a primarily objective perspective on the “best” movies of the year, considering the movie’s overall effectiveness as a horror title, public perception, and other factors. But, of course, it is my list, so there is naturally some subjective opinion within…

Read on if you dare!

10. Saw X (dir. Kevin Greutert)

While Saw X did not make my personal Top 10 list, it merits inclusion here for several reasons. Firstly, it is the best Saw entry in years, drawing on the ironically sympathetic tale of John Kramer to bank the audience’s emotional investment. Next, The franchise-defining traps are sufficiently merciless and uncomfortable to watch, and the movie features plenty of Saw’s signature twists and turns. Most importantly, perhaps, Saw X has reinvigorated the fanbase’s interest in the popular franchise thanks to its refocused efforts at crafting an engaging story alongside its more thorny elements.

(Available to rent or buy on VOD)

9. Scream VI (dirs. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett)

Where other franchises have faltered in recent years, Scream persists. There is no better indicator than 2023’s Scream VI, the latest by Radio Silence heads Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett. Continuing the tragic tale of the Carpenter sisters and their friends Mindy and Chad, collectively known as the Core Four, Scream VI transplants the group to a unique location: New York City. The move works wonders, adding a new dynamic to the franchise and its characters as Ghostface stalks NYC’s bodegas and grimy alleyways. The iconic villain is ruthless here, leading to some of Scream’s most stirring kills, and the characters grow in satisfying ways. Despite some minor flaws, the sixth entry remains a fantastic addition to Wes Craven’s meta-breaking brainchild.

(Streaming on Paramount+)

8. Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor (dir. Stephen Cognetti)

Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor - Clowns

A top horror film of 2023 that even I did not see coming, Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor does something similar to Saw X: it follows up on a number of poorer efforts and defines itself as one of the best entries in its respective franchise. That take may be a little harsh to Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel, which was decent, but Part III was a stinker and did not give me—or others—much hope for Origins. However, Cognetti impresses, moving the story away from Hell House/The Abaddon Hotel to a new location and establishing new lore with truly fascinating connections to the first three films. Add in some of the franchise’s most creepy moments and daytime scares that rival some of the found footage genre’s best, and you have—surprisingly—one of 2023’s most terrifying and stimulating horror flicks.

(Streaming on AMC+ and Shudder)

7. Totally Killer (dir. Nahnatchka Khan)

Totally Killer - Jamie Hughes

The emerging trend of gimmicky comedy slashers, à la Happy Death Day and Freaky, gains another commendable title with Amazon’s Totally Killer, an entertaining horror riff on Back to the Future. The inspiration is heavy-handed, sure, as with the other movies mentioned, but that is the point, and Totally Killer sticks the landing. The script is pretty clever, the effects align with what the film presents, the pacing is rock solid, and the central cast puts forward a commendable effort. The result? A witty joyride through time to catch a masked killer before he strikes in the future. The ensuing mystery is enjoyable to try solving, and no matter what happens, Totally Killer offers one of the most fun horror experiences of the year.

(Streaming on Amazon Prime Video)

6. Infinity Pool (dir. Brandon Cronenberg)

The son of legendary body horror auteur David Cronenberg is quickly stepping out from his father’s shadow. With Possessor, Brandon created a uniquely techy body horror experience, and now, with Infinity Pool, crafts a sordid narrative about the implications associated with hedonism and being able to escape the consequences of your actions… At least until you can’t. These are two distinctly different movies, but Brandon’s maturity as a filmmaker is evident here; Infinity Pool captures his father David’s trademark gross eroticism while concurrently showcasing a younger generation’s POV into the morally bankrupt filthy rich class. The story unfolds unpredictably, and the film features some stunning technical work, leading to one of 2023’s weirdest and most jaw-dropping finales.

(Streaming on Hulu)

5. No One Will Save You (dir. Brian Duffield)

No One Will Save You

Coming entirely out of left field, Duffield’s sophomore feature is one of the year’s most talked-about horror films, and for good reason. The alien invasion thriller contains very little dialogue because it primarily follows one character, the anxiety-addled Brynn, as she defends her home from the unwelcome extraterrestrials. Despite the lack of lines, No One Will Save You hits the ground running early on and never lets up, portraying a genuinely riveting sequence of events chockful of unnerving alien stalking and survival scenes. With some excellent VFX for what I can only assume is a smaller budget, No One Will Save You impresses as one of the most thrilling alien horror films in years, regardless of its publicly divisive conclusion.

(Streaming on Hulu)

4. When Evil Lurks (dir. Demián Rugna)

When Evil Lurks - Jaime in Car

These days, horror fans see very few extreme horror movies—certainly not like the days of the New French Extremity. Enter When Evil Lurks, a suffocating but fresh take on the demon possession angle. Rugna appropriately defines the film world’s framework early on, telling audiences that this is a reality in which Biblical evil does exist, and there are measures to contain it. But when ignorance and skepticism interfere, the evil begins to spread, and despite the cast of characters’ best efforts, it dramatically ravages their small Argentinian town. When Evil Lurks quickly becomes a road movie as our focal family attempts to escape the evil, a much larger scope than Rugna’s previous project, Terrified. But the expansion works, giving viewers time to connect with the characters, subsequently making what happens to them all the more excruciating. When Evil Lurks builds on tragedy by utilizing stomach-churning effects and violence, and it is undoubtedly 2023’s most unrelenting horror film.

(Streaming on AMC+ and Shudder)

3. Godzilla Minus One (dir. Takashi Yamazaki)

Godzilla Minus One - Featured Image

Despite what may be a controversial placement on this list, Godzilla Minus One easily cracks the Top 3 Horror Films of the film but fails to reach #1 on a technicality. Some individuals may argue about its inclusion here, period, because of its historical dilution from a horror film into something far more action- and sci-fi-based, and at times even goofy. But Minus One delivers the terror in spades for the first time in years, featuring a genuinely horrifying Godzilla. Granted, Shin Godzilla had its moments, but it was ultimately a politically-fueled disaster film. In contrast, director Yamazaki opens Minus One with a fear-inducing kaiju attack in the dead of night and does not relent. Godzilla Minus One also weaves one of the franchise’s best human storylines to date, pitting an emotionally scarred group of World War II vets against the destructive radioactive lizard. So, although it is a fantastic movie (one of the best of the year overall), and Minus One contains enough horror to merit its spot on this list, it is not purely horror, a fact that must be considered when arguing for the best of the best in the genre this year.

(Not available yet in the U.S.)

2. Evil Dead Rise (dir. Lee Cronin)

It pains me not to put this at #1, which it rightfully is on my personal list, but there is a good reason for that here. Evil Dead Rise is a stellar addition to the Evil Dead canon, marking the second modern effort to transport the franchise back to its demented, isolated horror roots. Cronin takes a risk by moving the action away from the patented cabin in the woods. Still, it is ultimately a monumental decision, as the highrise apartment complex housing matriarch Ellie’s family is just as claustrophobic and creepy. Cronin’s directing perfectly encapsulates the genuinely scary situation of a demonic infestation spreading throughout a tight-knit family; hints of the signature Evil Dead camerawork and Deadite smack talk confirm what this movie is and create suspenseful, nerve-wracking scenes. And I would be remiss not to applaud Alyssa Sutherland for giving the best horror performance of the year as the “Maggot Mommy” herself, 2023’s most gripping horror antagonist. However, while Rise is arguably the scariest Evil Dead film, its script leaves some things to be desired, including a better finale—according to some fans, anyway.

(Streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Max)

1. Talk to Me (dir. Michael Philippou, Danny Philippou)

This was a tossup, but ultimately, Talk to Me is suitable as the definitive horror film of 2023. It is decidedly Gen Z and will likely be the generation’s gateway into the genre, a feat that is too remarkable to ignore. Highlighting the trials and tribulations of a group of naive teens who fail to show a haunted relic the respect it deserves, Talk to Me effectively illustrates the consequences of hubris and the desire for attention and simultaneously interlaces a thought-provoking examination of how loss can lead to the very thing that plagues you. The script by RackaRacka’s Danny and co-writers Bill Hinzman and Daley Pearson is the best penned of the year; it is tight, riveting, and scary in all the right places. The cast of relative unknowns to the Western world stuns, particularly lead Sophie Wilde, who delivers a spellbinding emotional performance under the impeccable direction of the brothers Philippou. Indeed, Talk to Me will come out of 2023 as one of its most memorable horror films in the eyes of many fans. However, given its refreshing take on the suburban possession genre, horror elements, and excellent script, it is also the Best Horror Film of the Year.

(Available to rent or buy on VOD)