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2022 marks a decade since the founding of A24, the producer and distributor responsible for some of the most memorable indie horror films of the 2010s and, now, the 2020s. In the ten years since it first emerged, A24's reputation for releasing bold and often shocking films has given it a self-contained fandom all its own, and nowhere is that more evident than in the realm of horror cinema.
From shepherding the debut features of some of the brightest minds in the genre, to delivering nightmarish new work from established names, when A24 is attached to a horror film, you know it'll be memorable. Here are the 11 best scary movies the company has released so far.
Note: This list includes both films produced by A24 and films acquired for distribution by A24, to create a broader sense of the company's tastes.
1. The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)
A snow-covered boarding school in February forms the backdrop for Osgood Perkins' feature directorial debut, an intimate chiller that centers on three young women (Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, and Emma Roberts) and their unsettling connection to a dark entity. The film's nonlinear structure, creepy camera work, and evocative production design suck you in, but it's the performances that you keep you there, particularly as Perkins' slow-burn pace shrouds the movie in dread. By the time all that cold atmosphere gives way to a fiery, horror-laden ending, you've experienced one of the best and most underrated horror films in years.
2. False Positive (2021)
Broad City alum Ilana Glazer co-wrote and stars in this effective blend of body horror and paranoid conspiracy thriller, proving once again that comedians and their innate knack for timing often give us some of the best scary stories.
Directed by fellow comedy icon John Lee (Wonder Showzen), the film follows a woman (Glazer) who believes that she's finally found the answer to years of fertility problems, but soon uncovers that what she has truly found is a living nightmare. Featuring terrifyingly-sincere supporting performances from Pierce Brosnan and Justin Theroux, False Positive is a case of some very real fears that women have coming to life in truly shocking and surreal ways.
3. Green Room (2015)
With his incredible 2013 crime drama Blue Ruin, director Jeremy Saulnier proved how good he is at sustaining violent tension in inventive, often surprising ways. With Green Room, he pushed his brand of tension into the realm of outright terror. The setup for the intense film is simple: A touring punk band accidentally books a gig at a skinhead bar, sees something bad go down that they wish they didn't, and must fight to survive the neo-Nazis that want them dead. Saulnier and his incredible cast — including the late Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Imogen Poots, and Patrick Stewart in a rare all-out villain role) — commit fully to the grounded premise as it peaks into heightened, contained horror territory. Tight, vicious, and laced with nerve-shredding moments, Green Room will leave you squirming.
4. Hereditary (2018)
Ari Aster's Hereditary is one of those films that seemed like it might have given all of its best imagery away in its trailer. The promotional cycle was laced with so many dreadful, shocking scenes that fans wondered if the finished movie could possibly live up to all that the marketing promised. Then the movie arrived, and we all realized we how wrong our expectations were. Aster's tale of a family descending into violent madness following the death of a grandmother never runs out of new horrors that lurk around every treehouse corner. And, of course, it's the film that made us forever change the way we look at utility poles while driving.
5. In Fabric (2018)
If you can make "cursed red dress that wrecks the lives of the people who wear it" work on any level, you're already ahead of the curve. With In Fabric, director Peter Strickland took that premise and pushed it into the realm of dark comedy, then went even further into an all-out horror, and the film somehow still works as both. Rich with Giallo-inspired imagery, vivid colors, and an intensely creepy score, In Fabric is unlike any horror movie you have ever seen. It's unique and unsettling mix of humor and scares will haunt you long after the end credits roll.
6. It Comes at Night (2017)
One of the most existentially terrifying releases in the A24 catalogue, It Comes At Night begins with a scene of emotional devastation, then pushes past that into the realm of apocalyptic thriller in ways that keep your heart pounding for most of the run time. Writer/director Trey Edward Shults keeps the over horror elements of his story on a tight leash, only showing you enough to make you scared for the characters, until the film pivots to make you scared of the characters. The result is a paranoia-laced descent into the heart of the worst things that humans are capable of when fear goes viral, and it all wraps up with one of the most horrifying endings of the 2010s.
7. Midsommar (2019)
Ari Aster's much-anticipated (and somewhat divisive) follow-up to Hereditary replaced the shadows of suburbia with the broad daylight terror of an isolate Scandinavian community and its often brutal ways of commemorating the passage of time. Laced with imagery that's simultaneously beautiful and horrific, Midsommar is both the ultimate break-up horror movie and one of the most overt folk-horror films of the 21st century. Aster's gory tribute to years of horror films centers around a weird cult where the circle of life is worshiped in ways that make it both a thing of surreal beauty and a source of unyielding dread. Despite a bloated run time with sophomore film indulgences and tangents, the star-making performance from Florence Pugh makes Midsommar absolutely unmissable.
8. The Monster (2016)
Director Bryan Bertino has made a career out of putting a close-knit group of people into a terrifying situation, then crafting films that are much about survival and suspense as they are about delicate character studies. He did this for A24 with The Monster, the story of a young girl (Ella Ballentine) and her troubled mother (Zoe Kazan) who spend one horrifying night trapped in their car on a deserted forest road, while some...thing lurks in the trees outside. Part survival thriller, part study of the horrors of a home broken by addiction and resentment, The Monster is a tightly-wound, low-fi chiller that'll leave you both scared and surprisingly moved.
9. Saint Maud (2020)
There's a case to be made that Rose Glass' directorial debut, released in the UK in 2020 and in the US in 2021, might be the best horror film of the 2020s so far. Elegant, richly layered and realized with startlingly clarity and beauty, Saint Maud is anchored by both the precision of Glass' storytelling and Morfydd Clark's brilliant performance as the title character. As a home health nurse who undergoes emotional and physical changes after an apparent spiritual awakening, Clark is both captivating and terrifying as Maud. The film's ability to dance on the line between reality and imagination reaches fever pitch, right down to an unforgettable final shot.
10. Under the Skin (2013)
Writer-director Jonathan Glazer's haunting, minimalist film about a mysterious extraterrestrial (Scarlett Johansson) disguised as a human woman, who prowls the streets in search of men she can lure back to her home, hits you with horror on two very distinct levels. On the surface, Skin's visual sensibility creates a shocking juxtaposition between the ordinary and the parts of life that we're too afraid to acknowledge, as our mystery woman's home reveals some instantly unforgettable horrors. Then there's the deeper, more existential terror that comes from watching this being's struggle to survive in an uncaring world, right up to the final sequence. It's a captivating, unnerving sci-fi horror experience.
11. The Witch (2015)
Writer-director Robert Eggers' stunning feature directorial debut is a deeply immersive period film that succeeds by both firmly entrenching audiences into the muddy details of its world and by populating it with the perfect amount of supernatural elements. Is this Puritan family really being tormented by a witch who lurks in the woods beyond their New England home? Is Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) really being seduced by dark forces? Is this family in the grip of something demonic, and paying the price for a curse brought upon them, or is it some Biblical sense of all-consuming guilt as a result of their strict faith? You can still debate these questions, but you can't deny the sheer power of the film's visuals, from the first encounter with the title entity to the dazzling final scene.