Tyler Doupe’s Top Ten Horror Films of 2021
Dread Central’s Tyler Doupe’ recounts the ten films that made the biggest impact on him over the past year.
Every time I’m tasked with writing one of these lists, I find myself marveling at the fact that another year has passed. And 2021 is no exception. Dismay at the unstoppable nature of time aside, I am pleased with the opportunity to compile and present my top picks from a year that delivered an impressive lineup of standout genre offerings. So, without further ado, I present to you my top ten horror films of 2021 (in no particular order).
This nostalgia-fueled ride back to the ‘90s is funny, silly, and violent as hell. Writer/director Steven Kostanski nailed the look and feel of a bygone era and also delivered a clever and unexpected storyline. Young Nita-Josee Hanna (who plays the outspoken Mimi) delivers a powerhouse performance and manages to effortlessly hold her own while playing opposite a homicidal monster from another galaxy.
This tale of vampirism thrills and delights on so many levels. Barbara Crampton gives one of the best performances of her career in Jakob’s Wife. The multi-talented actress also produced this heartfelt story about finding one’s identity while living in the shadow of a domineering spouse. Crampton proves herself to be a chameleon, capable of taking on nearly any persona and selling it, effortlessly. If you’ve slept on this one, I encourage you to make haste to check it out.
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Benny Loves You
This flick about a homicidal stuffy really tickled my funny bone. The wry British wit paired with copious amounts of violence proves to be a winning combination. Accordingly, the Benny character has absolutely emerged as one of my favorite pint-sized terrors in recent memory. Writer/director/star Karl Holt really wowed me with his feature film directorial debut and I anxiously await his next move.
Slumber Party Massacre
This reimagining is comical and brimming with with nods to the original. But it is totally its own thing. The proceedings are far less exploitative this time around. Director Danishka Esterhazy was able to deliver the message of female empowerment the original set out to without the obligatory female nudity. This reimagining is surprisingly clever and surprisingly funny. This time around, the men are the ones being objectified and it is hilarious. The flick features likable characters and wry commentary gender politics.
I really wasn’t expecting much going into Slaxx. It seemed like such a farcical and nonsensical premise that it couldn’t possibly be all that funny, effective, or noteworthy. But I was sorely mistaken. The flick is hilarious; dripping with dark wit; brimming with social commentary; and full of inventive, gruesome kill sequences. Slaxx is a far better film than it should be when stopping to consider it is literally a movie about a killer pair of pants.
Fear Street Trilogy
Wow. I had a fantastic time with the Fear Street trilogy. It was so much fun to see the ‘90s done so accurately and with so much love for the novels upon which the films are based. These flicks were a long time in the making but the wait was well worth it. Each installment is unique and stands on its own as well as fits into the larger picture. Leigh Janiak is a rising star and I cannot wait to see what she does next.
A Quiet Place Part II
The second series installment continues the story with a new character taking on the protagonist role. The sophomore outing is a worthy follow up to its impressive predecessor. And although it’s a sequel we didn’t necessarily need, it is a sequel that I wholeheartedly enjoyed. Writer/director John Krasinski once again delivers a heartwarming tale dripping with suspense.
Nia DaCosta’s Candyman is a film with a relevant cultural message that serves up a series of memorable scares. The flick combines real life horrors with cinematic panache. The film received backlash from some viewers for being “too political”. But horror has long been steeped in social commentary and this is another great example of how effective that pairing can be when it’s done well.
I’ve always thought of James Wan as a very talented filmmaker. But my enjoyment of his films has been somewhat hit-or-miss. This one was a big hit for me. It is completely off-the-rails and combines elements of the giallo with body horror to deliver an unexpected and unpredictable ride. The ending is as surreal as it is unexpected. If you’ve sat this one out due to the polarizing reaction from fans, I suggest giving it a go and making up your own mind. I certainly had a blast watching it.
We Need To Do Something
This tale of a family trapped in the bathroom of their home during a storm really got under my skin. It is eerie, unpredictable, and features strong performances across the board. It’s surprising this marks Sean King O’Grady’s first feature, considering how assured and effective the direction is. Pat Healy is in his element as the unpredictable and often hostile patriarch. But he’s in great company as the entire cast really shines in this harrowing tale.
Can’t get enough Tyler? You can find me on Twitter @FunWithHorror.