10 Best Horror Movies of 2023, Ranked

Pradeep
13 Min Read

Best Horror Movies: The year 2023 may have presented challenges for many films, but it proved to be a highly successful year for the horror genre. While movies like Wish, The Flash, and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning faced difficulties in gaining attention and making profits, horror movies consistently achieved blockbuster status throughout the year.

Additionally, horror films had a strong presence on various streaming platforms, including Hulu, Peacock, Prime Video, and Shudder, with the release of original content.

10 Best Horror Movies of 2023

Horror movies are still a popular choice for Friday-night moviegoers, proving to be resistant to economic downturns. It’s a go-to genre for guaranteed box office success and provides the kind of excitement that sells popcorn. Additionally, it allows filmmakers to be creative and daring on a low budget, and gives industry leaders like Jason Blum, Jordan Peele, and A24 the opportunity to bring new and innovative ideas to the screen.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, the top 10 horror movies of 2023 are:

10. Sick

A girl runs to a car in Sick
Blumhouse

Ever since the pandemic, Hollywood has tried to create COVID stories … but nobody wants them. From Katie Holmes’ box office bust, Alone Together, to NBC’s Connecting, which was canceled before it even completed its first season, COVID is a topic still too miserable and raw for most viewers.

But Sick was different. In the movie, a group social distancing at a secluded lake house is stalked by a masked killer. The COVID setting added a good sense of groundedness to the movie and was a great plot device to explain why the group was so far from others and why nobody came to help. Granted, the movie certainly has similarities to The Strangers, but if you love that style of endlessly suspenseful horror, Sick is a movie you need to watch.

9. M3GAN

M3GAN the doll from M3GAN movie
Blumhouse

Released in January, M3GAN had very little competition in theaters. Avatar: The Way of Water was still dominating the box office week after week, and hardly any other new films besides forgettable titles like Plane and House Party were being released. Luckily, a cheesy, campy romp of a horror movie swooped in to become a cultural phenomenon.

M3GAN centered around an AI-powered, life-sized companion doll who becomes murderous and chops up anyone who gets in her way. Also, she dances. Before long, social media was buzzing with M3GAN. Drag queens dressed up as her, people performed her now-iconic dance moves, and she even showed up at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. The demented doll was everywhere, and for good reason. The movie was cheesy but self-aware of its absurdity, which made it tons of fun.

8. Five Nights at Freddy’s

Chica the Chicken in Five Nights at Freddys
Universal Pictures

Five Nights at Freddy’s earns a place on this list because, even though it isn’t that great of a movie, there are a lot of great aspects to it. No, it wasn’t very scary, and sadly, the movie is completely void of the jump scares the game is famous for. And yet, it became a roaring hit. Everyone out there remembers that deep-seated fear we all secretly had of Chuck-E-Cheese, knowing that something about those large, emotionless animatronics was just … not right.

FNAF knows how to prey upon our secret childhood fears, so audiences flocked to theaters and Peacock to watch the movie despite lackluster reviews. Not only did the film gross over $287 million at the box office, but it also became Peacock’s most-watched movie ever. Thanks to cult-favorite Matthew Lillard and a bunch of Easter eggs for fans of the franchise (including a few deep cuts), the movie knew how to draw viewers in, regardless of what critics thought. FNAF ended up becoming the highest-grossing horror movie of 2023, a distinction it deserved.

7. The Blackening

A group of friends play a game in The Blackening
lionsgate

Like a demented horror take on Jumanji, a group of Black friends are forced to play a board game…or risk losing their lives. The game challenges them on their knowledge of Black culture and forces them to sacrifice someone when they get a question wrong. The Blackening is hilarious yet morbid and has a deeper story to tell about race and discrimination.

But like Get Out, the meaning isn’t heavy-handed like some children’s PBS special but is instead wrapped up in a deliciously fun and compelling plot. The movie asks who the real bad guys are and has some incredibly smart lines and great moments along the way.

6. Saw X

Billy the puppet in Saw X
Lionsgate

Another successful sequel this year was Saw X, which actually takes place between Saw and Saw II. Both fans and critics loved the movie’s return to form, praising the return of Jigsaw and Amanda, and the film’s story-centric plot – reminding everyone that Saw movies can be more than just pointless gore and can actually have gripping storylines.

It’s not only one of the best horror movies of 2023, but it’s also one of the best Saw movies ever and earned a much-needed win for the franchise that many had thought died out years ago. Saw X also has some truly heinous and sadistic traps (True story: My roommate literally passed out when he watched the movie), so it’s perfect for gorehounds and anyone who misses the era of “torture porn” from the 2000s.

5. No One Will Save You

A young girl hides from an alien in No One Will Save You
20th Century Studios

No One Will Save You features Dopesick actress Kaitlyn Dever, who has to escape an alien invasion and her own tragic past in this unique first-contact film. The movie starts off feeling more like a home invasion film, with Dever being chased around the house by an alien intruder. But by the end, it becomes clear that aliens have started taking over every human in her town and intend to conquer the world.

Making the movie even more memorable is the fact that it has virtually no dialogue, so the plot isn’t spoonfed to viewers, and it’s up to them to interpret it. No One Will Save You can best be described as unusual – it doesn’t easily fit horror or sci-fi norms, and its vibe totally changes as the film plays on. But it captivates you and makes you want to keep watching, all the way to the shocking (and hilarious) ending.

4. Evil Dead Rise

A deadite from Evil Dead Rises
New Line Cinema

Bruce Campbell returned to the franchise that made him famous (this time as Executive Producer) for Evil Dead Rise. In the standalone sequel, a family must escape their apartment after the Deadites return, bringing more blood, gore, and macabre. The movie received rave reviews, became a hit at the box office, and even stirred up some controversy at its SXSW premiere.

During a Q&A after the film, someone in the audience began screaming about how much they hated the movie, to which Campbell responded, “What are you doing here? Get the f*ck out of here.” The audience then erupted in cheers, and the incident went viral. Considering Evil Dead Rise‘s 84% Rotten Tomatoes score and its $146 million box office haul, it seems the heckler’s opinion wasn’t shared by the rest of the public.

3. Totally Killer

The masked killer in Totally Killer
Blumhouse

After premiering to rave reviews at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, Totally Killer became an exclusive on Prime Video. In the movie, Julie Bowen (Modern Family) plays a mother who survived a serial killer 30 years ago. But after the killer somehow returns and murders her, her daughter decides to travel back to the 80s to prevent her mom’s death.

Complete with time travel and a campy 80s vibe, Totally Killer is a kitschy and witty movie that’s outlandish and funny while also being a genuinely smart and solid entry in the slasher subgenre. The movie also scored an impressive 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn’t easy for a straight-to-streaming horror film. But Totally Killer proved that sometimes the best movies aren’t found in cinemas.

2. Scream VI

Ghostface stands in an empty theater in Scream 6
Paramount Pictures

After the Scream franchise returned with Scream V, complete with a new generation of stars that included Wednesday‘s Jenna Ortega, 2023 saw another sequel, Scream VI. And in classic Scream style, it was bigger and wilder than its predecessor, this time placing Ghostface in New York City. The new setting worked flawlessly, and the movie was just as suspenseful and smart as ever.

The new cast continued to grow in their roles, delivering better performances than Scream V, and the movie even saw the return of Scream 4 fan-favorite Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere). Plus, new additions to the cast, like Jack Campion and Dermot Mulroney, fit the franchise’s vibe perfectly. Scream VI went on to make over $168 million at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing Scream film since Scream 2 in 1997.

1. Talk to Me

The infamous handshake from Talk to Me
Causeway Films / Causeway Films

One of 2023’s biggest surprise hits was Talk to Me, an Australian film that put a unique twist on the classic “monkey’s paw” trope. In the movie, a mysterious severed hand gives people the power to communicate with the dead, but if the connection lasts too long, a spirit can possess the victim and cause carnage and mayhem.

Talk to Me had a very successful run in the film festival circuit, premiering to rave reviews at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival before heading to Sundance and SXSW in 2023. Everywhere the movie screened it received acclaim, eventually prompting a worldwide release. Made on a budget of just $4.5 million, Talk to Me ended up grossing almost $92 million in theaters, making it one of the highest-grossing horror movies of the year.

Talk to Me is the best horror movie of 2023 because it’s truly terrifying while also doubling as a great metaphor for familial trauma. This isn’t one of those critically-acclaimed “horror” movies that plays out more like a drama, though; it’s got some real scares, and, like all great horror movies, it leaves a lasting impression.

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