2017 saw more quality, big-budget, major-studio horror movie releases than just about any year previously, and the response from both hardcore and casual genre fans has been immense. Contenders for best fright flick of the year include: Split, Get Out, Kong: Skull Island, IT, It Comes at Night, 47 Meters Down, Annabelle: Creation, mother!, and others.
But there were also a ton of amazing horror movies that never got national or international releases; instead, they were relegated to limited theatrical runs or went straight to VOD and/or Blu-ray/DVD. This means those who only look at films that were released on big screens are missing many (if not the bulk) of 2017’s best.
Related Article: SCATHING Reviews of 10 Objectively INCREDIBLE Horror Movies
If you’re looking to finish 2017 having seen all of the genre’s best offerings, the films below are all must-watch experiences. While many are less mainstream than the movies that hogged the limelight, they include top-notch thrills, compelling characters, and arresting terror.
Have a look and let us know what you think in the Comments section! Have you seen other less-celebrated horror movies in 2017 that are contenders for the year’s best? Let’s discuss!
Hounds of Love (Directed by Ben Young)
Release Date: May 12, 2017
Official Synopsis: Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted from a suburban street by a disturbed couple. As she observes the dynamic between her captors she quickly realizes she must drive a wedge between them if she is to survive.
Fans of horror movies inspired by true-crime will definitely want to check out Hounds of Love, but be warned: This is an emotionally devastating movie. The cinematography is brilliant and milks every moment for maximum intensity. Think The Girl Next Door meets I Spit on Your Grave.
Personal Shopper (Directed by Olivier Assayas)
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Official Synopsis: A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.
While people spent passionate hours debating whether or not mother! and/or Ghost Story were actually horror movies, Personal Shopper fell through the cracks. Perhaps it was its arty aesthetic, or knee-jerk aversion to leading lady Kristen Stewart, but genre fans haven’t given this film the scrutiny it deserves. If nothing else, you’ll appreciate a truly original supernatural creeper—one that really makes you think.
Related Article: (SPOILERS) “Personal Shopper” Ending Explained
It Stains the Sands Red (Directed by Colin Minihan)
Release Date: July 28, 2017
Official Synopsis: In the throes of a zombie apocalypse, a troubled woman from Las Vegas with a dark past finds herself stranded in the desert with a lone and ravenous zombie on her tail.
It Stains the Sands Red lulls viewers into thinking we’re trekking through gross-out, horror comedy territory, but this flick is surprisingly deep and unexpectedly emotional. Things go from slap-stick to gut-wrenching on a dime, and Act 3 sees a change in focus and momentum that’s nothing short of heroic.
Tonight She Comes (Directed by Matt Stuertz)
Release Date: October 29, 2017
Official Synopsis: After a girl goes missing, two of her friends and a mysterious set of strangers find themselves drawn to the cabin in the woods where she disappeared. They will laugh, they will drink, they will kiss, they will make love, and THEY MUST ALL DIE.
Okay, Act 1 is a mess, but stick with it, because Tonight She Comes is an epic example of the cabin-in-the-woods subgenre and a deceptively subversive meditation on female sexual frustration. If you think Excision took the menstrual blood motif too far, you haven’t seen anything yet!
The Lure aka Córki dancing (Directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska)
Release Date: 2017, USA
Official Synopsis: In Warsaw, a pair of mermaid sisters are adopted into a cabaret. While one seeks love with humans the other hungers to dine on the human population of the city.
I’m always skeptical of horror musicals, but usually pleasantly surprised—and The Lure is no exception. It’s a complete reimagining of The Little Mermaid told against the backdrop of a sleazy burlesque club teeming with vice and unusual couplings—and you’d be a fool to hope for a happy ending! This one uses color and surrealism to create an alternate reality that beckons us to enter.
The Bad Batch (Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour)
Release Date: June 23, 2017
Official Synopsis: Arlen is abandoned in a Texas wasteland that is fenced off from civilization. While trying to navigate the unforgiving landscape, Arlen is captured by a savage band of cannibals led by the mysterious Miami Man. With her life on the line, she makes her way to The Dream. As she adjusts to life in the bad batch, Arlen discovers that being good or bad mostly depends on who’s standing next to you.
This post-apocalyptic drama is unlike anything you’ve ever seen; a poignant mix of survival horror, cannibalism, revenge, and love (yes, love!). Jim Carrey is almost unrecognizable as a mute wasteland dweller and Jason Momoa proves he’s more than just a hot bod with a mean sneer—he’s a thespian of unusual talents.
The Crucifixion (Directed by Xavier Gens)
Release Date: October 6, 2017
Official Synopsis: When Nicole comes in contact with Father Anton (Corneliu Ulici) more and more inexplicable events occur. The pair begin to believe that the priest lost the battle with a demon.
When I heard that Xavier Gens, the French director behind Frontier(s) and The Divide (two relentlessly brutal films) was helming a movie about demonic possession, I expected the most terrifying religious horror since The Exorcist. Instead, Gens delivers his most mainstream offering to date, an experience that casual horror fans can enjoy as much as gore hounds. The approach is more academic than visceral, making The Crucifixion more akin to The Exorcism of Emily Rose than anything with serious teeth. Let’s face it, sometimes we want horror movie that isn’t going to devastate us!
XX (Directed by St. Vincent, Karyn Kusama, Jovanka Vuckovic, and Roxanne Benjamin)
Release Date: February 17, 2017
Official Synopsis: Filmmakers Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin and Karyn Kusama present four horrific tales of terror. In “The Box,” a boy (Peter DaCunha) starts to display strange behavior after looking inside a mysterious gift box. In “The Birthday Party,” a woman (Melanie Lynskey) refuses to let an untimely death ruin her son’s bash. In “Don’t Fall,” an innocent camping trip turns deadly, and in “Her Only Living Son,” a mother (Christina Kirk) must deal with the child from hell.
While Chapter 1, The Box, is far and away the most compelling installment of this anthology film, each is compelling, bizarre, and unique. Her Only Son plays out like an unauthorized sequel to Rosemary’s Baby, one that fits the core mythology of Roman Polanski’s classic creeper.
Related Article: Top 15 Terrifying Horror Anthology Movies
Creep 2 (Directed by Patrick Brice)
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Official Synopsis: A video artist looking for work drives to a remote house in the forest to meet a man claiming to be a serial killer. But after agreeing to spend the day with him, she soon realizes that she made a deadly mistake.
Creep 2 is one of those rare sequels that’s at least as exciting and compelling as its predecessor. This is not a rehash or a quickly slapped-together production looking for a cash-grab. I was stunned by the creativity presented, the unbelievable twists, and the brilliance of the acting. Not only is Creep 2 a powerful viewing experience, it’s the kind of film that worms its way under your skin, remaining in the forefront of your consciousness for days.
Ghost House (Directed by Rich Ragsdale)
Release Date: 2017, USA
Official Synopsis: Lost in the Thai countryside, a young American couple find themselves haunted by an evil spirit. Desperate for a solution, they spiral deeper into a surreal, supernatural world that leads them into a frenzied, terrifying confrontation with pure evil.
The vacation-from-hell motif takes some creative turns in Ghost House, a tale of supernatural culture clashes with echoes of It Follows and The Ring. While the foreign setting is essential to creating a sense of isolation, Ghost House also employs some surprisingly effective special FX.