I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We live in a new Golden Age of horror, an era where genre films are increasing in both quantity and quality. The only downside to this abundance of riches is that it’s easier than ever for truly excellent chillers to fall between the cracks; amazing films are buried under coverage of major releases, upcoming projects, and daily horror news.
It’s also true that many awesome films of 2016 weren’t released on DVD or VOD until 2017. The result: In an effort to stay current on new releases, films from last year are often disregarded in favor of the latest and greatest. In the end, an avalanche of horror movies is a good problem to have, and in an effort to steer aficionados towards the absolute best, I’ve put together a list: 15 Amazing Horror Movies from 2016 You Probably Missed!
Have a read and let us know what you think in the Comments section! Did you see an amazing horror film in 2016 that also deserves recognition? Let’s discuss!
Abattoir (Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman)
Release Date: 9 December 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: An investigative reporter teams up with a Police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister’s family.
Those of us plugged into the horror industry pipeline heard the buzz and made sure to consider Darren Lynn Bousman’s Abattoir a must-see. The supernatural mystery ventures deep into fantasy territory with arresting visuals and genuine chills. Fans of the magical realism of Guillermo del Toro will love it.
Trash Fire (Directed by Richard Bates Jr.)
Release Date: 3 November 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: When Owen is forced to confront the past he’s been running from his whole adult life, he and his girlfriend, Isabel, become entangled in a horrifying web of lies, deceit and murder.
A dysfunctional family with deep dark secrets is a solid foundation for a horror movie, but Richard Bates Jr.’s Trash Fire goes above and beyond this established trope. The filmmaker’s follow-up to Excision is just as darkly comic and ultimately tragic. Fans who saw and loved Jack Goes Home in 2016 will also adore Trash Fire.
Found Footage 3D (Directed by Steven DeGennaro)
Release Date: 20 August 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: A group of filmmakers sets out to make the first 3D found footage horror movie, but find themselves IN a found footage horror movie when the evil entity from their film escapes into their behind-the-scenes footage.
It’s not exactly fair for me to include this film on the list, as it’s still not widely available to the masses. Still, almost all of us who saw Found Footage 3D during its run on the festival circuit agree it’s one of 2016’s best. Don’t give up on the found-footage subgenre just because Blair Witch attempted to bookend the phenomenon. This one is loaded with dark comedy, social commentary, satire, and big scares.
Indigenous (Directed by Alastair Orr)
Release Date: 5 January 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: American Tourists travel to Panama and have a very terrifying experience.
Fans of horror movie vacations from hell like Tourista and The Ruins will love Indigenous. It’s not high art, but it’s a solid survival saga that features some truly creepy practical FX monsters. It’s an entertaining romp from start to finish.
JeruZalem (Directed by The Paz brothers)
Release Date: 7 July 2016 (Israel)
Official Synopsis: When a couple of American young adults fly to Israel to visit the city of Jerusalem, a biblical nightmare falls upon the city.
Another vacation from hell—or rather a vacation to Hell! JeruZalem is a potent mix of apocalyptic and religious horror with some awesome winged beasts. The spiritual center of the world is the setting for an inescapable Armageddon, and we get a front row seat for the end-of-days action.
The Veil (Directed by Phil Joanou)
Release Date: 19 January 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: Twenty-five years after members of a religious cult committed mass suicide, the lone survivor returns to the scene of the tragedy with a documentary crew in tow.
One of Blumhouse’s 2016 releases that went straight to Netflix and DVD, The Veil is nonetheless one of the studio’s biggest successes of the year in terms of compelling, inventive storytelling. It’s a cult horror, steeped in the legacy of Jim Jones, but it’s also a gripping supernatural thrill-fest with an amazing cast that includes Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe, and Thomas Jane.
Southbound (Directed by Various)
Release Date: 9 February 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: Five interlocking tales of terror follow the fates of a group of weary travellers who confront their worst nightmares – and darkest secrets – over one long night on a desolate stretch of desert highway.
Horror movie anthologies are all the rage, thanks to an explosion of truly amazing short films from up-and-coming fear practitioners. All roads lead south in this dusty saga that plays out on some of America’s most haunted highways.
Frankenstein (Directed by Bernard Rose)
Release Date: 2016
Official Synopsis: A married couple of scientists create a modern-day monster.
Horror fans know Bernard Rose best as the director who brought Clive Barker’s Candyman to life in 1992. His turn reinventing Mary Shelley’s Modern Prometheus is chilling and poignant—and very dark. It doesn’t break much new ground, but it’s a solid reinterpretation that focuses on terrifying themes and subtexts that are often glossed-over in previous iterations.
Kill or Be Killed (Directed by Duane Graves and Justin Meeks)
Release Date: 1 March 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: In the autumn of 1900, outlaw Claude Barbee puts his ‘retirement plan’ in action, attempting to lead his train-robbing gang across Texas to recover a cash stash hidden after a botched railroad heist.
Horror westerns are becoming less of an anomaly and more of a legitimate subgenre. Bone Tomahawk was widely considered one of 2015’s best genre offerings, and Ti West’s In the Valley of Violence was a minor hit at the tail end of 2016. Plus, HBO’s Westworld is combining old west tropes with the most horrifying aspects of modern sci-fi. Kill or Be Killed has an authentic, old-school feel along with some wicked scripting and delicious violence. It’s a trippy, surreal saga set against the natural beauty of Texas.
Baskin (Directed by Can Evrenol)
Release Date: 1 January 2016 (Turkey)
Official Synopsis: A squad of unsuspecting cops goes through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building.
When word started getting out that Baskin was shocking horror fans overseas, we couldn’t wait to see it. When it finally arrived in America, however, there wasn’t much of a response. I have a feeling it’s because Baskin was more horrifying and intense than anyone could have expected. It’s not a “feel good” horror by any account, filled with characters and imagery that are truly ghastly to behold. It’s a complex, harrowing experience that takes fortitude to endure, but fans of hardcore uncompromising horror will find this trip to Hell heavenly.
Cell (Directed by Tod Williams)
Release Date: 10 June 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: When a mysterious cell phone signal causes apocalyptic chaos, an artist is determined to reunite with his young son in New England.
Full disclosure: I may be in the minority on this one, as I actually saw Cell mentioned on several lists of the worst horror films of 2016. I felt nothing of the sort. John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson were awesome foils in 1408 and it was great to see them reunited in yet another film based on the works of Stephen King. While Cell doesn’t break a lot of new ground, it’s an exciting mix of techno-terror and virus horror that will impress fans of films like The Signal and 28 Days Later.
The Blackout Experiments (Directed by Rich Fox)
Release Date: 22 July 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: This documentary follows a group of people who discover the ultra-scary, psycho-sexual horror experience Blackout, and develop an obsession that hijacks their lives and blurs the line between reality and paranoid fantasy.
Immersive Horror Theater is a surging trend, and The Blackout Experiments documents one of the most controversial and terrifying operations in existence. And while the shows are compelling and unnerving, it’s the explorations of those who subject themselves to this kind of abuse, almost obsessively, that make this film almost unbelievable (and more than just a little bit scary). This is a must-watch for closet voyeurs looking for a peek into a true fringe lifestyle, one that many wonder about, but few dare to try themselves.
The Mind’s Eye (Directed by Joe Begos)
Release Date: 5 August 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: Zack Connors and Rachel Meadows were born with incredible psychokinetic capabilities. When word of their supernatural talents gets out, they find themselves the prisoners of Michael Slovak, a deranged doctor intent on harvesting their powers. After a daring escape, they are free from his sinister institution, but the corrupt doctor will stop at nothing to track them down so that he may continue to siphon their gifts for his own use.
In my opinion, retro-horror works best when it explores the supernatural as opposed to merely recycling overused slasher tropes, and The Mind’s Eye is a brilliant example. Fan of human experimentations like those featured in Scanners, Firestarter, and From Beyond should consider Joe Begos’ movie an essential watch.
Antibirth (Directed by Danny Perez)
Release Date: 2 September 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: In a desolate community full of drug-addled Marines and rumors of kidnapping, a wild-eyed stoner named Lou wakes up after a wild night of partying with symptoms of a strange illness and recurring visions as she struggles to get a grip on reality while stories of conspiracy spread.
Antibirth is the best movie of 2016 that I didn’t see until 2017. This movie is hugely original—and harrowing. The comedy is dark and deep, but the subtext is deadly serious, exploring issues like sexual assault and reproductive rights. Natasha Lyonne rules this film as an uncompromising hedonist, a powerful woman, and a beautiful train wreck personified. Brilliant practical FX elevate Antibirth to truly elite echelons.
Yoga Hosers (Directed by Kevin Smith)
Release Date: 2 September 2016 (USA)
Official Synopsis: Two teenage yoga enthusiasts team up with a legendary man-hunter to battle with an ancient evil presence that is threatening their major party plans.
Part 2 of Kevin Smith’s Great North Trilogy (which launched with Tusk and will conclude with Moose Jaws) isn’t exactly a horror movie, but it’s a rocking good time for fans of irreverent comedy and satirical skewering of youth culture. The disgusting little bratwurst Nazis are hysterical but the monstrous Goalie Golem [Featured Image] steals the show. Like most of Kevin Smith’s films, this one is only enhanced by copious consumption of marijuana while viewing.