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From humble beginnings to powerhouse company, Blumhouse has been cranking out film success after film success. Most notably known for horror, they use a micro-budget strategy when making a movie that really promotes the director and cast’s creativity in their roles. Started by Jason Blum in 2000, he really focuses in on what is trending and what grabs the audience’s attention instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. With the smaller budget, intricate CGI isn’t viable either, so character and plot development is incredibly important. Over the last 20+ years, Blumhouse has released some of the most popular horror films of all time, and these are how I would rank the top 20.
20. Paranormal Activity (2007)
Blumhouse’s first huge success, directed by Oren Peli, Paranormal Activity is what ultimately gave us the production company we know today. Bringing back the found-footage genre, this film is about a suburban couple who start to experience strange happenings in their normal home. In order to figure out what’s going on, they install cameras in every room and rewatch the footage the next day to see if their suspicions are confirmed. The couple is wildly unprepared for the sinister things that are happening while they’re asleep. The story is fantastic and the acting and jump scares really sell the found footage aspect of the film, even down to the main characters, Katie and Micah, being actually played by actors named Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat. There are periods throughout this film that feel very drawn out but ultimately, Paranormal Activity is one of the best found footage films of all time.
19. The Visit (2015)
Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) take a trip to Pennsylvania to meet and visit their mother’s parents for the first time ever. However, the grandparents aren’t exactly who they seem to be, and the kids start to get suspicious. Being an M. Night Shyamalan and found footage film, we can expect it to be a little weird and have a great twist, and it delivered. This movie provided some good laughs as well and in addition to the suspense, we had some witty dialogue to keep us intrigued. The whole tone of the movie is slightly uncomfortable from start to finish, and you can’t really tell why until the twist is revealed. The Visit was a refreshingly different story that we haven’t seen too much of.
18. Oculus (2013)
If you don’t know Mike Flanagan, it’s likely that you aren’t someone who keeps up with recent horror. He has directed The Haunting Of Hill House, Midnight Mass, and a few other films that’ll be later on this list. Oculus was really the first film that drew audiences attention towards Flanagan. Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites) are adult siblings who lost their parents tragically when they were younger. Kaylie and Tim believe that an antique mirror is responsible for the unraveling and ultimate loss of their family, as well as Tim’s psychosis that put him in a mental institute. Kaylie obtains the mirror and plans to document the strange happenings and destroy it. Flanagan does a great job telling a story across two timelines and connecting the trauma between childhood and adulthood, much like we continue to see in the rest of his work.
17. Unfriended (2014)
Taking a different found footage approach in the form of webcam footage, Unfriended was a unique horror movie that released at an appropriate time when online chat rooms and webcams were really getting popular. The premise of the film is centered around a group of friends who receive Skype messages from a classmate who killed herself one year previously. Not taking it seriously at first, the friends all push it aside as a prank someone is playing on them until the messages start to reveal their darkest lies and secrets that only this girl knew. Unfriended did a nice job of subverting the found footage genre and delivered a movie that was more accurate of the technological advances of it’s time.
16. The Purge (2013)
Directed by James DeMonaco, The Purge has spawned a franchise consisting of five films all centered around the concept that, for twelve hours, all criminal activity is legal. From theft to assault to murder, anything goes. The first in the franchise focuses around a wealthy family, starring Ethan Hawke as the patriarch of the family, who have to decide how to survive together when a stranger breaks into their house while the Purge is happening. This film definitely boasts the topics of morality, socioeconomic status, and survival instinct. The Purge really focuses in on the violence and what people are really willing to do or wanting to do when they feel the stigmas being lifted from their innermost desires. It wasn’t too loved by critics, but without this film, we wouldn’t have the rest of the dystopian franchise to marvel at.
15. Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016)
Another Mike Flanagan film, Ouija: Origin Of Evil is one of those rare times when the sequel is better than the original, and that is likely because of Flanagan’s takeover of the film. Elizabeth Reaser plays Alice, a paranormal scammer in the 1960s who uses tricks and deceit to get money from those who want to contact loved ones in the afterlife. In adding a Ouija board to her arsenal, she unknowingly lets in a demon who inhabits her daughter, Doris (Lulu Wilson). The use of a real life toy in the form of a Ouija board really propelled the film to scarier heights, since audiences knew they could get their hands on such a powerful and scary object. The imagery and scenery of the film is also a standout, and it really gives off the 1960s feel.
14. Freaky (2020)
Christopher Landon really nailed this slasher film, adding a unique Freaky Friday element to the plot. Vince Vaughn plays a serial killer named The Butcher who swaps bodies with high school student Millie (Kathryn Newton) and chaos and gore follows. The two magically swap bodies and, desperate to get her body back before she becomes stuck as The Butcher forever, Millie is on a blood-soaked quest to undo the magic that swapped them. This is a film that blends horror and comedy together very well. A lighthearted and even sometimes emotionally charged script coupled with bloody and inventive kills makes watching this movie truly entertaining. Freaky is innately unique and will likely eventually be one of those films that receives subsequent cult status.
13. Ma (2019)
Octavia Spencer delivers as Sue Ann in Ma, a movie about a lonely middle-aged woman who lets a group of teenagers party in her basement. Sue Ann insists that all the teens call her Ma and make them commit to the rules for using her basement, such as never going upstairs and no cursing. Ma eventually becomes obsessive and things go downhill for the friend group that was just looking for a good time. Spencer gives an excellent, unsettling performance as Ma, really hitting all the lingering stares and subtle dialogue to let viewers know that something isn’t quite right with her. The movie has such a campy and sinister feel to it from start to finish especially given that you don’t really know what’s going to happen at any point in the movie.
12. Happy Death Day (2017)
Another Christopher Landon film on the list, but this time he is giving us the slasher version of Groundhog’s Day with his film Happy Death Day. Jessica Rothe stars as Tree, a college student who wakes up in bed one day with a strong sense of deja vu. As she goes about her day, she realizes she has lived this before and comes face to face with a baby-masked killer who murders her. After she’s murdered, she wakes right back up in the same bed again to restart the same day. Tree is slowly realizing that, until she figures out who is murdering her and how to stop it, she will continue to relive the same day over and over again. Happy Death Day combines horror with comedy and science fiction pretty seamlessly and delivers on its unique premise.
11. Hush (2016)
Mike Flanagan strikes again with Hush, one of Netflix’s first original films. Hush is the story of a deaf writer Maddie (Kate Siegel) who lives in a very desolate and isolated home in the woods. As she’s working on writing her next novel and speaking to friends online, she realizes that she is being stalked by a masked killer. Hush takes home invasion films up a notch by really dialing in on the tension building throughout the movie. There are various scenes where you just want to yell at the screen to help Maddie and warn her of what’s coming. Even with limited use of dialogue throughout the film, the cast is able to portray their emotions, from sinister to scared, perfectly so the audience never has to guess how the characters are feeling.
10. The Invisible Man (2020)
Universal Monsters haven’t really nailed it in more recent times except The Invisible Man. Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia, a woman who works her way out of an abusive relationship with her scientist boyfriend, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who staged his own suicide just so he could continue to torment and stalk her, invisibly this time. Leigh Whannell brought a breath of fresh air into this story by changing the viewpoint from monster to mistreated and abused girlfriend. Whannell and Moss together delivered an incredibly impactful film of psychological horror and added in such small scares to make audiences feel uneasy the whole time. Plus, I guarantee every time you walk into a room after watching this, you’ll question if you’re actually alone.
9. Halloween (2018)
David Gordon Green takes over the franchise from John Carpenter in building a legacy sequel with Halloween and bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. The 2018 version follows Laurie 40 years after Michael Myers initially started terrorizing her. She now lives an extreme survivalist lifestyle in preparation that Michael will eventually break out of the institution and come back for her. Of course, she’s correct but at least this time she is ready for him and plans to take her revenge. This legacy sequel really helped to bring the franchise back to life, modernize it, and wipe our slates clean from some of the other terrible sequels. We got David Gordon Green directing and still kept the John Carpenter scoring of the film that made the original so iconic. This Halloween stayed true to its roots but pumped up the killing and honed in on the psychological trauma that made Laurie one of the OG scream queens.
8. Split (2016)
Kevin (James McAvoy) is a man who is living with 23 different personalities and one single suppressed personality in Split. He is compelled to abduct and kidnap three teenage girls and hold them hostage in a basement room in his home. After kidnapping them, each of Kevin’s personalities is put on display for the girls, and they are desperate to try and escape before the boss of all bosses personality comes out to play. M. Night Shyamalan with another film on this list that delivers in his true twist-ending fashion and plays into his ability to create a truly unsettled scene and character. McAvoy is absolutely brilliant as Kevin and even with juggling all the different personalities, you can distinctly tell which one is which from simple facial expressions and mannerisms. Split builds from psychological thriller all the way to straight-up horror from start to finish.
7. Creep (2014)
Creep is one of the lesser-known horror movies out there, but it deserves to be in the top 10 on this list. This one is another found footage film starring Mark Duplass as Josef, a man who hires a videographer to film him for a day. The premise is that Josef wants to make a film for his unborn child, but Josef’s mannerisms and request just get more and more awkward and unsettling as the day goes on, and the audience is constantly left to wonder what the hell is up with Josef. Making found footage more modern can be challenging, but Creep delivered in such an artistic way. Subtly witty and hilarious even during awkward moments, the tension and suspense is palpable the whole time.
6. Creep 2 (2017)
Another rare instance where the sequel is actually better than the first, Creep 2 brings back Mark Duplass, this time as Aaron but the same premise of a videographer being hired by him to come and film whatever odd requests that he has in store for him that day. This time, Aaron is honest about being a serial killer and that is what inevitably draws in this videographer to get a story. We get the same uneasy, awkward, and hilarious moments as the first, but the story itself gets more interesting and more unsettling. Regardless of how uncomfortable the film makes you feel, you can’t help but sit at the edge of your seat in anticipation for what strange thing Mark Duplass will do onscreen
5. The Black Phone (2022)
The Black Phone was one of the most highly anticipated horror films of 2022 and with a disturbing performance by Ethan Hawke as The Grabber and Scott Derrickson directing, this movie will likely always be listed in the top of Blumhouse films. Finney (Mason Thames) plays a 13-year-old boy who is abducted by The Grabber and held hostage in his basement fortress. The only thing in the room is a dingy mattress and a disconnected black landline telephone on the wall. When Finney starts receiving phone calls on the black phone from the killer’s previous victims, he is determined to make it out alive for all the boys that came before him. The Black Phone excels in the very real possibility of this plot happening with the addition of supernatural elements, as well as appropriate jump scares and a truly unnerving antagonist.
4. Us (2019)
Jordan Peele has made quite a few waves in the horror genre in the last six years and his sophomore film Us continues to bolster his reputation as a horror master. Lupita Nyong’o stars as Adelaide Wilson who travels with her family back to her beach house childhood home. A large portion of this film is centered around trauma, and Adelaide’s trauma keeps resurfacing and causing her anxiety to tell her something bad is going to happen. Her fears become reality shortly into the film when four masked strangers come to the house and her and her family are forced to fight for their lives. Peele is inventive and succinct in his storytelling and ability to deliver a twist that is incredibly unsuspecting. His dark and twisted stories connect the real life hardships and trauma that we all inevitably face with a strange, sci-fi horror infusion story line.
3. Sinister (2012)
Ethan Hawke delivers again, but this time as a true-crime writer named Ellison who is desperate to write another book after a ten-year slump. In his new home’s attic, he finds a collection of old 8mm films depicting gruesome murders of families that lived in the house before him. Ellison takes it upon himself to try and solve the mystery of why the murders happened, discovering that there may be supernatural and demonic forces at work in present day with his family. Sinister has some of the more unique kills that I’ve seen in horror movies, and they don’t shy away too much from showing you, or at least showing enough for you to create your own visual. The lawnmower scene will be forever burned in my brain. Tension and suspense is built well throughout the film, and it follows a relatively standard horror formula but becomes ultimately unforgettable in execution.
2. Insidious (2010)
Directed by James Wan, Insidious is a story about a mother and father (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne) whose son falls into a coma after a demon leeches onto him and the home they live in. We see an incredible performance from Lin Shaye as Elise Rainier who comes to the home to help rid the family of the malevolent force. The standout from Insidious is how the environment and scenery is so vivid and really sets the mood for the scene you’re watching. There are so many instances of memorable imagery and the use of Tiny Tim‘s “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” song dials up the creepy factor for the fantasy driven horror scenes. It is not surprising that this movie inspired a franchise that audiences can’t get enough of.
1. Get Out (2017)
Topping the list, Jordan Peele set the standard incredibly high with his first film, Get Out. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), are heading out to meet Rose’s parents for a weekend getaway. Rose’s family is awkward and fumbles every conversation, seemingly to Chris because him and Rose are in an interracial relationship, but as the weekend goes on there are indications that something strange is up and her family may not be who they seem. Get Out was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor as well as winning for Best Original Screenplay. Not only that, but Get Out was also featured from The Writer’s Guild of America as the number one greatest screenplay of the 21st century. Combining incredibly relevant social commentary, stunning visuals, and the fear of what human beings are actually capable of despite good intentions makes Get Out so original in the horror universe.
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