1. Barbarian (2022)
Georgina Campbell stars as a woman who accidentally books an Airbnb-type stay at the same time as a stranger (Bill Skarsgård). While the mysterious tenant trope is well-worn, Barbarian heads in some new and interesting directions. Maybe too interesting: Director Zach Cregger has said he spent several years trying to get wary producers and financiers involved, owing to the radical twist in the film’s plot (which you definitely won’t see coming).
2. The Babadook (2014)
A single mother (Essie Davis) tries to protect her son from a malevolent storybook character. The film took an unusual financing route, securing part of its budget from Australian government grants as well as via crowdfunding.
3. Annabelle (2014)
The killer doll from The Conjuring franchise gets her own spin-off in this hit flick. When a well-meaning husband gifts the porcelain collectible to his wife, things go south quickly. Director John Leonetti once said he believed the set of the film was home to a series of unexplained occurrences, including some mysterious fingerprints on a window and a glass fixture falling on a crew member’s head.
4. Personal Shopper (2016)
Kristen Stewart stars in this eerie, low-key ghost tale about a woman who can communicate with spirits but has trouble deciphering their true intentions. Stewart and director Olivier Assayas previously worked on 2014’s Clouds of Sils Maria.
5. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Writer Kevin Williamson’s follow-up to 1996’s Scream is another effective, postmodern teen slasher. A very ’90s cast (Freddie Prinze Jr., Ryan Phillippe, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, and Sarah Michelle Gellar) find themselves stalked by a hook-handed killer after they cover up a fatal car accident. Teens being hunted by a hooked maniac has been an urban legend for years; Williamson actually wrote this script before Scream, but that movie’s success got this one green-lit.
6. Censor (2021)
Set in England in the 1980s, film censor Enid (Niamh Algar) recommends trims to make “video nasties” more palatable for a wider audience. But when Enid sees a film that seems to hold a connection to her missing sister, she finds herself immersed in a horror movie of her own. Director Prano Bailey-Bond said one of her influences for scenes set in the censor’s office was Watership Down and “this strange underground warren of the censors ... In Watership Down, you have the whispers of rabbits going through tunnels and in the censor’s office, we have the screams of people being murdered in films in the next room.”
7. No Exit (2022)
A runaway from a drug treatment center finds herself snowbound at a rest area with a small group of peculiar people—and one young girl kidnapped in a van outside. The film is based on a 2017 novel by Taylor Adams.
8. Fresh (2022)
Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones meet through an online dating app, only for Edgar-Jones to discover that her date’s interests include a very unhealthy appetite. Stan, not knowing he already had the role, sent director Mimi Cave a video of himself dancing to ease her concerns about a specific scene in the film.
9. Escape Room (2019)
A group of strangers find themselves isolated in a trendy escape room experience. After arriving, they discover that the game has fatal consequences. A number of scenes in the film were shot using practical sets, including some with moving walls.
10. Willy’s Wonderland (2021)
Nicolas Cage brings his singular style to this frenzied tale of a drifter who agrees to clean up a Chuck E. Cheese-style attraction overnight but instead finds himself facing off against its murderous animatronic occupants. Director Kevin Lewis said he and Cage discussed how to frame scenes in the movie using comic book panels they both knew as a reference.
A version of this story was originally published in 2019; it has been updated for 2023.