ByDavid Opie, writer at
Editor @DavidOpie / [email protected] Still waiting for a Marvel Zombies Ghibli movie directed by Xavier Dolan...
David Opie

Most people watch horror for the thrill of being scared, or even just to frighten their date so that they can cop a quick feel. But there's plenty of educational value in horror movies too, regardless of which era you draw from.

From killer nuns and super persistent sharks to demonic goats that rivalled even the likes of Drag Me To Hell, 2016 was an exceptional year for horror fans. Join us then as we break down the best movies of 2016 and teach you a few important life lessons in the process.

The Witch [Credit: A24]
The Witch [Credit: A24]

Oh and yes, in case you're wondering: Any one of these picks could also double up as a handy tool in the never-ending pursuit of chill, regardless of whether these films are on Netflix or not.

1. The Witch

The Witch  [Credit: A24]
The Witch [Credit: A24]

Why It's Amazing: The Witch plays out like an old-fashioned folk tale for the most part, creeping us out more and more with an uneasy sense of paranoia and delusion — but by the end, it's clear that this arthouse horror is more disturbing than a thousand slasher sequels. Oh, and then there's also that demonic talking goat called Black Philip who gives us all the farmyard goals.

Lesson Learned: If you're going to tease your younger siblings in a superstitious farmhouse in 17th century New England, then probably don't tell them that you're a witch possessed by Satan.

2. The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2  [Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
The Conjuring 2 [Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]

Why It's Amazing: The Warrens investigated a huge number of paranormal cases in real life, but none are more famous than the Amityville Horror and the Enfield Haunting. Both investigations are explored in this hair-raising sequel that represents the very best of big budget horror filmmaking, thanks to the talented eye of director James Wan.

Lesson Learned: Need to figure out if someone's possessed? Get them to chat with you while drinking water. Science!

3. Green Room

Green Room  [Credit: A24]
Green Room [Credit: A24]

Why It's Amazing: Think the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was brutal? Green Room shows no mercy from the get-go, utilizing strong characterization to make each death far more painful than it usually is in your standard horror film. Anton Yelchin also excels in one of his final performances, leaving a lasting impact on viewers amidst a standout cast.

Lesson Learned: If someone books your band a gig in a remote, neo-Nazi skinhead bar, you probably need to think about hiring a professional agent.

How would you die in a horror movie?:

4. Don’t Breathe

Don't Breathe  [Credit: Ghost House Pictures]
Don't Breathe [Credit: Ghost House Pictures]

Why It's Amazing: Those who claim that originality is dead in horror need only look at Fede Alvarez's masterful take on the home invasion genre for proof to the contrary. Don't Breathe flips convention on its head by encouraging us to identify with the invaders instead of the victim. Few horrors can cram so many twists into just 90 minutes without feeling contrived, but Don't Breathe is flawless in execution from beginning to end.

Lesson Learned: If you find a turkey baster in an old man's basement, just know that he sure as hell isn't looking to roast a turkey.

5. Lights Out

 Lights Out [Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
Lights Out [Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]

Why It's Amazing: Definitely one to watch with the lights on if you don't want to soil yourself, Lights Out is a tour de force of supernatural horror, playing on universal fears with a surprising amount of finesse and craftsmanship that one wouldn't usually associate with this sub-genre.

Lesson Learned: You might want to think about investing in a couple of spare batteries for the emergency flashlight. Just saying.

6. The Shallows

The Shallows [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
The Shallows [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Why It's Amazing: While the majority of horrors on this list elevate the genre beyond its cliched trappings, The Shallows takes sheer joy in its absurdity. The story itself revolves around a ginormous and quite frankly sadistic shark who terrorises Blake Lively in what some are calling her version of The Revenant. Ridiculous movies deserve ridiculous comparisons, but despite the insanity of the film's plot, The Shallows is far better made than a film like this has any right to be.

Lesson Learned: Don't rely on seagulls or totally gnarly surfboarders to bail you out when Jaws's disturbed cousin comes after you.

Check out some of the best shark kills on screen in this clip below:

7. Under the Shadow

Under The Shadows  [Credit: Netflix]
Under The Shadows [Credit: Netflix]

Why It's Amazing: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night first put Iranian horror on the map, but 2016's Under The Shadow has taken things to the next level. Winning a bevy of awards upon its release, Babak Anvari's directorial debut has gained worldwide attention for its unnerving portrayal of a mother and daughter struggling to survive demonic attacks in war-torn Tehran.

Lesson Learned: When everyone who lives in your building abruptly leaves at once, it's probably not the time to stick around and hang out with an evil Djinn.

8. Hush

 Hush [Credit: Netflix]
Hush [Credit: Netflix]

Why It's Amazing: Hailed as one of the most inventive horrors of the year, Mike Flanagan’s Hush is a masterclass in building tension, reminding us just how powerful a simple concept and inventive filmmaking can be. Anchoring the entire ordeal is Kate Siegel, the actress who plays the deaf protagonist and who just so happened to also co-write the film with her husband, Flanagan.

Lesson Learned: If you check on your friend who lives in a house that's remote AF, don't trust the random who claims to be a police officer when you show up at the doorstep.

9. Train To Busan

Train To Busan [Credit: Studio Canal]
Train To Busan [Credit: Studio Canal]

Why It's Amazing: Korean horror has been mentally scarring fans of world cinema for years, but it looks like the rest of the planet is finally set to catch up with Train To Busan. This hi-octane thriller set aboard a speeding train hurtles through a zombie outbreak with intelligence and scares alike.

Lesson Learned: It pays to shell out extra for first class seats on the KTX train. If you're going to be eaten alive, you might as well do it in style.

10. 31

31 [Credit: Saban Films]
31 [Credit: Saban Films]

Why It's Amazing: While his work certainly isn't to everyone's taste, it's hard to deny that director Rob Zombie has left a lasting impact on the world of horror, and evidenced by his latest film. The blood pours freely in Zombie's 31, a deranged gore-fest that follows five carnival workers engaged in a twisted game of cat and mouse with a gang of sadistic clowns.

Lesson Learned: Don't eat dinner before, during or even for a few minutes after watching any Rob Zombie movie as there's a strong possibility that you'll throw up. Sure, you'll lose weight, but you'll also lose your dinner along with it.

In case you feel the urge to see more killer clowns, check out the clip below:

11. The Invitation

The Invitation [Credit: Drafthouse Films]
The Invitation [Credit: Drafthouse Films]

Why It's Amazing: Out of all the films on this list, none feel more grounded in the real world than The Invitation, which creepily builds tension during the dinner party from hell. While audiences struggle to figure out whether Logan Marshall-Green's paranoia is rooted in truth or delusion, director Karyn Kusama maturely explores themes of grief and depression with a poignance rarely seen in the genre.

Lesson Learned: When your ex-wife invites you to dinner and whacks out a cult recruitment video, you should probably just make your excuses and leave.

12. Holidays

Holidays [Credit: Vertical Entertainment]
Holidays [Credit: Vertical Entertainment]

Why It's Amazing: By their very nature, anthology films are extremely hit and miss, but Holidays is one of those rare few that succeeds more often than it fails, thanks to the inspired work of directors such as Kevin Smith and Nicholas McCarthy. Just keep on the lookout for anal electrocution, psychopathic love and mutated Easter bunnies. Tis the season, after all...

Lesson Learned: If your sex workers start getting feisty with you, it's time to hire new sex workers.

13. Blair Witch

Blair Witch [Credit: Lionsgate]
Blair Witch [Credit: Lionsgate]

Why It's Amazing: Despite receiving a mixed response upon release, Blair Witch was actually a far worthier sequel than it was given credit for, expanding upon the mythology of the franchise while still connecting with the first film in surprisingly, intelligent ways. Cult classic status awaits.

Lesson Learned: If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise... so you know, maybe just don't go.

14. I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House [Credit: Netflix]
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House [Credit: Netflix]

Why It's Amazing: Despite being a staple of the genre, gothic horror movies are in fact few and far between. Lucky for us then that Oz Perkins, the son of the original 'Psycho', Anthony Perkins, has crafted a vintage horror that oozes atmosphere from every frame. The story itself follows a young nurse who takes care of a mystery writer in what appears to be a haunted house, evoking classic literature such as Shirley Jackson and Edgar Allen Poe.

Lesson Learned: If you work in a clearly haunted house, just join the benefits system instead and get the hell out of dodge.

15. Ouija: Origin Of Evil

Ouija: Origin Of Evil [Credit: Universal Pictures]
Ouija: Origin Of Evil [Credit: Universal Pictures]

Why It's Amazing: It's unusual for a sequel to improve upon its' predecessor and even stranger for a prequel to surpass the original, but Mike Flanagan's take on the Ouija franchise is one of the most underrated horrors of the year, spinning a refreshingly old-fashioned tale out of this well-worn story trope.

Lesson Learned: Stick with Barbies and Action Man, kids. Leave the Ouija boards for the idiot grown-ups who have never seen a horror movie in their entire goddamn lives.

See also:

If you haven't already, do everything in your power to watch as many of these horrors as possible. After all, 2017 is set to bring some huge scares with films such as It, Meg and World War Z 2. You don't want to be left behind now, do you? Didn't our lessons today teach you anything?


What's the best horror movie of 2016?


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