Behold: 10 Masters of Modern Horror

Karyn Kusama - Masters of Modern Horror

Masters of Horror was a beloved Showtime series that almost seemed too good to be true. And perhaps it was because the program only lasted two seasons. However, the episodes live on and the short films showcased through the program are available to own on physical media or digital. The two-season run included contributions from Joe Dante, John Carpenter, Dario Argento, Stuart Gordon, John Landis, Takashi Miike, Don Coscarelli, series creator Mick Garris, and more. If the show had continued, we would likely have seen some new blood taking up the reins. But since the series’ last episode ran in 2007, we didn’t get to witness the next generation of horror filmmakers take a stab. And with that in mind, we are gearing up to shine the spotlight on a series of creators we regard as Masters of Modern Horror.  

Leigh Janiak

I have been a fan of Leigh Janiak since seeing her debut feature, Honeymoon. And she has only continued to further impress me from there. It can’t be easy to shoot an entire trilogy without the benefit of seeing the fan reaction to each of the films. But Janiak was up to the challenge and she killed it. Each Fear Street flick is great. And while each installment is different from the last, the respective entries work brilliantly together. 

Image Credit: Amy Sussman

Mike Flanagan

I think Mike Flanagan may have the Midas touch. His breakout, indie feature Absentia was made on the cheap and may show some of its budgetary constraints but it’s chilling and unpredictable. From there, he gifted us with Oculus, HushDoctor Sleep, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, and more. Flanagan has yet to make a major misstep and I always come away from his work eager to see what he has in store for us next.  Mike Flanagan is undoubtedly one of the Masters of Modern Horror.

Mike Flanagan
Image Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

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Ti West

Ti West delighted horror fans with his breakout film, The House of the Devil. And he continued his winning streak with The Innkeepers, The Sacrament, and the “Second Honeymoon” segment in V/H/S. After that, West pivoted to more television, helming an episode of Scream: The TV Series and The Exorcist. Fans of the director are, understandably, anxious to check out his next film, which is being put out by with boutique distributor, A24. His latest venture is simply called X.

Ari Aster

Watching an Ari Aster film is a little like being punched in the stomach. Repeatedly. For two plus hours. But that’s a testament to the writer/director’s ability to take his audience on a journey, encourage them to invest in his characters and then pull the rug out from underneath us in clever and unexpected ways. His feature film debut Hereditary made fans stand up and take note of Aster. And Midsommar proved he is far from a one-trick pony. To say that fans are eager to see where Aster has in store with the upcoming Disappointment Blvd. would be an understatement. 

Ari Aster
Image Credit: Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

Axelle Carolyn

I have the utmost admiration for Axelle Carolyn. She is supremely talented and never seems to be at a loss for great ideas. Tales of Halloween was her brainchild (she also directed the segment “Grim Grinning Ghost”) and her new film The Manor (which will be bowing on Prime October 8th) really demonstrates that she isn’t afraid to deviate from what’s expected. Keep an eye out for our review closer to the film’s release. Carolyn has also impressed horror fans helming episodes of American Horror Story and The Haunting of Bly Manor. 

James Wan

One of the things I love most about James Wan is that, while he has found success outside the horror genre, he continues to come back. Saw put Wan on the map. And he followed that up with the criminally underrated Dead Silence. Wan has since continued to delight audiences by giving life to the Insidious and Conjuring franchises. 

While the creator took a step away from horror to direct Furious 7 and Aquaman, he returned to his roots with the delightfully bizarre Malignant. In twenty years, Wan’s work is likely to be looked back on by a new generation with the same fondness we hold for directors like Wes Craven and John Carpenter. 

Image Credit: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele started out as one of half of the brilliant comedic duo, Key & Peele. But Peele has since proved he is capable of achieving greatness outside the comedy genre. In fact, Peele is so skilled at his craft that he managed to snag an Oscar for best screenplay for his 2017 film, Get Out.  Peele proved, once again, that he is a Master of Modern Horror with his sophomore effort, Us. As if that wasn’t enough, the creator also executive produced a thought-provoking and suspenseful redux of The Twilight Zone.  

Image Credit: Rich Fury/Invasion/AP

Karyn Kusama

Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer’s Body didn’t really resonate with viewers when it was released in 2009 but the witty, feminist horror comedy has gained a massive cult following in the years since its release. Proving her versatility, Kusama played it straight with the slow burn horror thriller, The Initiation, and later contributed the segment “Her Only Living Son” to the horror anthology XX. Legions of loyal fans anxiously await Kusama’s next venture into the horror genre. Whatever that may be, it’s sure to delight. 

Karyn Kusama Masters of Modern Horror

Fede Alvarez

I remember hearing the news that Evil Dead was being remade and thinking there was no way anyone could do justice to Sam Raimi’s original. But Fede Alvarez did a brilliant job of distancing his reimagining from its predecessor and also making a case for the film’s existence. It’s scary, unpredictable, and gory as all hell. From there, Alvarez treated audiences to the impossibly tense Don’t Breathe, further establishing himself as a Master of Modern Horror. 

Image Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Adam Wingard

It’s rare that I leave a theater-going experience as pumped as I did after taking in You’re Next for the first time. That flick subverted so many of my expectations and cemented Adam Wingard as an up-and-comer to watch. From there, the creative mastermind contributed segments to V/H/S and V/H/S 2 and wowed audiences with The Guest. I was taken aback by just how brutal and unpredictable The Guest was. And that’s to say nothing of the nonstop effects bonanza that was Godzilla vs. Kong. 

Adam Wingard


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