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Love a Scary Night at the Movies? Have We Got a Watch List for You!

Horror films are hotter than ever — and our critics discover a whole new crop you may never have heard of

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Paramount Pictures

Horror is a hot genre this week, as the much-buzzed Scream VI and School Spirits scare their way onto screens big and small. In 2023, the killer-doll flick M3GAN (now streaming), made for $12 million, earned $173 million at the box office, and Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, made for under $100,000, grossed over $3 million. Scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis’ recent Halloween films broke box office records, proving the viability of 64-year-old actresses and the horror genre.

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Horror is even making inroads among grownup viewers. A recent YouGov poll found that more than one-quarter of people over 65 are horror fans, as are about half of those ages 45 to 64. Most of the cohort right behind them, ages 30 to 44, fancies horror: 64 percent.

But let’s face it, lots of horror hits are shlock. Get with the trend by checking out these 10 recent horror hits that are worth a grownup’s time:

M3GAN (2023)

Allison Williams (GirlsGet Out) executive produced this horror romp and stars as Gemma, the unmaternal Oregon inventor of a life-size, uncannily lifelike tweener girl doll, M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android). When Gemma’s orphaned niece comes to live with her, she has M3GAN handle child care. The doll is infinitely more attuned to the niece’s emotions than Gemma is, and she’s a toy that can dance and sing, and dice and slice humans. It’s more like a Chucky flick than a dark-robot masterpiece like Spielberg’s AI, or Ex Machina or Her, but M3GAN was the best-reviewed Blumhouse studio horror film since Get Out in 2017.

Watch it: M3GAN on Peacock

Scream VI

Call it Ghostface Takes Manhattan. After traumatically battling the big-mouthed slasher in the past, two sisters (Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega) hope to start over in the Big Apple. Unfortunately, so does Ghostface. It’s the arrival of Scream legacy actors — Courteney Cox as TV reporter Gale Weathers and Hayden Panettiere as an FBI agent — who whip up the most audience frenzy. Come for the carnage, stay for the witty, meta dialogue.

Watch it: Scream VI, in theaters March 10

Nope (2022)

Among the best movies of 2022, Nope follows the travails of a Black ranching family in inland California struggling to survive not just drought or flash floods but supernatural shenanigans, too. Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun star in Jordan Peele’s gripping sci-fi suspense flick. Run!

Watch it: Nope on Peacock, Prime Video

Pearl (2022)

In an origin story befitting Lizzie Borden, petite Mia Goth (who cowrote the screenplay) plays the title role, a rural young woman who dreams of becoming a star. The reality? Caring for her ailing father on his Texas farm under her mother’s critical eye. Set during the 1918 influenza pandemic, Ti West’s psychological horror fest doesn’t waste any time getting to the point where Pearl’s repressed anger and frustration explode into bloody rage. Maybe you can’t go home again.

Watch it: Pearl on Apple TV, Prime Video

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The Menu (2022)

Nobody likes a critic, and fed-up Chef Slowik (Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes) has hit his absolute limit. He invites a group of overprivileged foodies and their guests (including Nicholas Hoult, Anya Taylor-Joy and Janet McTeer) to a remote island feast with an incendiary final course. Eat the rich, or eat what the rich eat — either way, cholesterol isn’t the only thing that should worry these fine diners at a dinner to die for. 

Watch it: The Menu on HBO, Hulu

Barbarian (2022)

Don’t talk to strangers — and never share your Airbnb with an unknown man. These simple lessons underpin this contemporary nightmare about the things that go bump in the night once Tess (Georgina Campbell) agrees to share her rental with the unknown Keith (Bill Skarsgård). What kind of review will she share … if she survives to write it? 

Watch it: Barbarian on Hulu, Prime Video

The Black Phone (2022)

Never one to be pigeonholed, four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke goes full-on ferocious as The Grabber. The visceral creep-fest concerns an often-masked magician who kidnaps children — and his victims’ revenge. Answer the phone as if your life depends on it!  

Watch it: The Black Phone on Prime Video, Vudu

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Bones and All (2022)

Young cannibals in love dominate this Romeo and Juliet of horror films, starring Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell. The rough and red-blood-filled road movie also features Oscar winner Mark Rylance as a creepy old-timer with the same insatiable hunger in a movie at the intersection of art house and haunted house, from acclaimed director Luca Guadagnino.  

Watch it: Bones and All on Prime Video, Vudu

A Quiet Place (2018)

When John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, a couple in real life as well as on screen, move to the country, it doesn’t supply their growing family with the peace and quiet they crave. Instead, their bucolic dreams become nightmares as they’re hunted by forces that respond to their every spoken word and every noise they make. The result’s a big, scary shush.  

Watch it: A Quiet Place on Prime Video, Vudu

The Witch (2015)

Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit, The Menu) makes her feature debut in Robert Eggers’ spooky 17th-century slow burn about witchcraft and the devil in a New England village. When her younger brother goes missing, accusations fly and religious hysteria reaches a fever pitch of paranoia and finger-pointing. Did the devil make her do it? 

Watch it: The Witch on HBO Max, Prime Video

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