PopHorror’s Favorite Horror Movies of 2016

The year 2016 has definitely had its up and downs, but despite the depressing and terrible things we’ve had to endure, there have been some great horror movie contributions over this past year. Amid the clunkers and out-and-out bombs, filmmakers have snuck some pretty great horror additions into our midst. To celebrate the New Year, the PopHorror writers have come up with a list of some of our favorite horror movies that were released over the past twelve months. No, you’re not seeing double – some of us were hard-pressed to choose just one. Now, on with the 2016 horror love!

Lights Out

I wasn’t really into most of the mainstream horror movies this year. With that being said, I really enjoyed Lights Out, a full length film based on the horror short by David F. Sandberg. The story dives right into the middle of the home of a broken family of single mom Sophie, her son Martin and her now deceased yet very possessive friend, Diana, who can only be seen when the lights are off. No matter what Sophie and Martin do, Diana just won’t go away, and the mother and son will stop at nothing to keep the lights on. Honestly, this film had fantastic jump scares along with great lighting techniques, the combination of the two actually giving me a few scares… an impressive feat since I don’t scare very easily. Plus, I loved the storyline – it gave meaning to it horror, in my opinion. — Tori Danielle

The Forest

The Forest is my pick for favorite movie of 2016. Directed by Jason Zada, the film is centered around Japan’s Aokigahara, also known as The Suicide Forest. Sara travels to Japan to find her twin sister (also played by Natalie Dormer) who was last seen going into this damndable forest. As she travels with reporter Aiden, she slowly she begins to see the spirits of the forest and they start to have an effect on her. One of the reasons that I chose this film was the story; Sara will do anything to find her sister, whom she believes is in trouble. She goes to a foreign country into an untamed, seemingly haunted wilderness. Another reason I like this film is the fear of what is in her mind; Sara continuously hallucinates all of these creepy Japanese spirits and has to tell herself it’s not real. All of the horror is in her own head, and that is what I find is the scariest of all. — Danielle McKinney

10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane follows a young woman named Michelle who survives a terrible wreck. Howard, a nearby driver, rescues her from the accident scene and takes her to his underground shelter. He tells her that the world is ending and won’t let her leave. However, as tensions rise, Michelle and her partner-in-paranoia, Emmitt, start to believe Howard may be delusional and they plan their escape. But is the world outside such an escape after all?

10 Cloverfield Lane is easily my favorite film of 2016. From the moment the movie was announced, it piqued my interest. I loved the mystery behind it: trying to decipher the trailer and website, looking for clues to the movie’s plot. It was obviously very different from the first Cloverfield film… or was it? I was so nervous that when the film was released, that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. However, when I saw it in theaters, I was blown away. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a thrilling, intense, and dramatic film that’ll stick with you long after it’s over. — Melissa Papelbon

The Shallows

Out of all the survival-horror fare to come to mainstream screens in 2016, it ended up being The Shallows – a Jaws-esque romp with Blake Lively fighting to survive a shark attack – that ended up being one of the most entertaining of the year. The plot (as per the film’s name) is a bit shallow, with very much a Point-A-to-Point-B kind of feeling about it, but somehow the film is able to create a kind of B-movie charm that makes it surprisingly fun. If you skipped it because of its flimsy plot, try checking it out – you may have more fun that you’d think! — Seth Hanson


More often than not, less is more when it comes to horror. That is certainly the case with Hush, a home invasion thriller with a small budget, a tiny cast, and a single location. It is, frankly, better than nearly every other horror film I saw in theaters in 2016. Netflix bought the film in March and debuted it in April, to the delight of horror fans everywhere. Mike Flanagan raised the tension to the limit with a resourceful heroine, a relentless killer, and an arsenal of audio and editing wizardry. It’s not perfect, but it clearly shows why Flanagan is one of horror’s rising stars. I loved it. You will, too. — Kenn Hoekstra

The Conjuring 2

My favorite horror film of 2016 is The Conjuring 2. It was a very solid sequel, and it had everything a horror fan could want… from a very eerie setting to a fantastic and memorable antagonist. The Conjuring 2 didn’t disappoint me on any level. It creeped me out so much, one jump scare actually made me jump out of my seat and curse. No doubt, The Nun will be remembered for decades in the horror world. The Crooked Man really freaked me out, too.

What I love most about this film are Ed and Lorraine Warren. They are definitely the heart of the franchise. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have great chemistry together and I hope that, even after the Conjuring series ends, those two will continue to work together. The Conjuring 2 even shot James Wan into my Top 5 Favorite Horror Directors. This was very well done and I can’t wait to see more from him. — Karli Ray

All Through The House

I personally loved so many scary movies this year. One of them was the Christmas horror, All Through The House. Basically, a killer shows up during the holiday season, killing and mutilating everyone along the way, leaving a trail of bloody footprints in the pure white snow. But who could it be? I absolutely love Christmas themed horror movies, and even though I saw so many good ones this year, overall, All Through the House this was my favorite. I loved the actors, the story, the holiday atmosphere, and the brilliantly awesome kills. — Tori Danielle

Night of Something Strange

Night of Something Strange is, by far, my favorite horror film of 2016. It follows a group of teens on a trip to the beach who stop at a motel for the night, where they run into a group of zombies caused by a mutated sexually transmitted disease. Yes, you read that right. Night of Something Strange is every bit as batshit fucking crazy as you would expect. It’s chock full of bad taste humor, rape, tentacles, cannibalistic vaginas, xenomorph mouth dicks, blood, gore, shit, piss, puke, semen and every other bodily fluid you could possibly imagine. There is never a dull moment and it is funny as hell. The special effects are super gooey. The cast is fucking fearless. It was a welcome breathe of fresh air in a subgenre that had gone stale. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. — Charlie Cargile


In my opinion, 2016 was a pretty good year for horror movies… probably the best year in awhile and certainly has me excited for 2017. It brought us 10 Cloverfield Lane, Hush, The Shallows, and what I thought to be the best mainstream movie of the year, Don’t Breathe. However, for 2016 another film stole this horror loving gir’ls heart and that honor belongs to Carles Torrens’ Pet.

Pet follows Seth, a loner pet shelter caretaker who barely makes minimum wage. Things start to be looking up for him when he runs into his high school crush, Holly. However, after being rejected, Seth takes things into his own hands and takes her captive. The situation is not always what it seems to be and Pet, by far, had the best twist of the year. It’s one of those movies that you make someone else watch to anticipate their reaction. That alone should speak volumes and make you want to watch it. Not only was Pet my favorite horror film of 2016, it is my favorite film of any genre for the year. To say I love this movie would be an understatement. — Lacy Lou

Dolly Deadly

Another one of my favorite films of 2016 is Dolly Deadly. This flick centers on 8-year-old Benji, whose mother died in a hair dye-related accident when he was a baby. The only thing he has to remember her by is her collection of dolls, his only friends. He lives in a trailer park with his grandma and her boy toy who treat him like shit. Benji has dreams of dancing and frequently puts on dance routines for the viewing pleasure of his dolls. This, as well as playing with the dolls, leads to Benji being mercilessly bullied by the other kids in the trailer park. Eventually, this takes its toll on his mind and, at the urging of his dolls, Benji snaps and starts to kill.

Dolly Deadly deals with serious subject matter like bullying and gender identity/roles while filtering it through a John Waters meets Troma sensibility. This film is chock full of trippy stop motion dream sequences, melting faces, and murder by doll parts. Dolly Deadly isn’t afraid to show the lingering effects that a lifetime of bullying has on someone’s mind. You may become comfortable in your own skin but the trauma you went through will always be a part of you. — Charlie Cargile

Don’t Breathe

This has not been a winning year for much, including the horror genre. Releases this year include a plethora of remakes, sequels and copycat titles lacking originality and quality storytelling. However, a select few caught my attention as being marginally better than mediocre. One such film was Don’t Breathe. Hoping to score one final heist, three delinquents break into the home of a blind man, expecting a big payout with ease. When the tables turn, the trio discovers this man is anything but helpless. With a creative story, escalating plot and a twist that goes beyond the obvious, Don’t Breathe is my horror pick for 2016. — Brandon Long

Green Room

Punk band The Ain’t Rights is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is exactly what it sounds like – a perfect storm of a disaster where no one comes out the winner. Both sides of this bloody coin are willing to tear each other’s throats out to come out ahead. Cold, calculating Darcy Banker runs his neo-Nazi movement like the ultimate war game, dropping fight dogs and shotgun-wielding skinheads in place like Bobby Fischer sliding knights and bishops across the chess board. Pat and his band members only want to escape with their lives, but the fact that they’re trapped like rats inside Banker’s clubhouse make them desperate. Desperate people make rash and outlandish decisions, but sometimes this out-of-the-box thinking is the last thing that a war monger expects to see.

The random anti-establishment band names, Confederate flags and fascist white pride stickers splattered throughout the club only go on to prove that punk rockers and neo-Nazis have more in common than not. Both groups are known for their pent-up aggression, pig-headedness and lack of respect for people they don’t agree with – which is why they’re the perfect combination to pit against each other. The bloodshed is raw, intense and personal. There’s not a lot of onscreen gore, but the idea of what’s happening is enough to turn your jaded stomach. I haven’t squirmed in my seat like that while watching a horror movie in years. Do yourself a favor and check it out. — Tracy Allen

The Neon Demon

Despite the crap we’ve all had to deal with over the past year, 2016 was a force to be reckoned with in regards to horror films. When I was asked to choose a favorite, several came to mind. Ultimately, I decided on The Neon Demon directed by Drive’s Nicholas Winding Refn. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful horror films I have ever seen. I know that sounds like a complete contradiction but that contradiction is what makes this movie so creative. Typically, the average horror movie is dark and gloomy. The Neon Demon breaks that stereotype by utilizing many bright colors, despite the dark nature of the film.

Also, Elle Fanning delivers a stellar performance as young Jesse as she tries to make it in the modeling world. It comes naturally to her, so she finds defeating the competition very easy. Little does she know that the competition will do anything to stay at the top. Will she remain humble or will she be filled with a vanity that will crumble her whole world? The Neon Demon is my favorite horror film of 2016 because I left the theater still thinking about it. There are few horror movies I can truthfully say that about. I love when movies get into my psyche. If you enjoy thought provoking cinema and stunning cinematography, I highly recommend this movie. — Nikki Williams

American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock

From my perspective, 2016 has been a pretty bunk year for horror. Indie and mainstream entries take your money and run laughing all the way to the bank while you’re left with little more than a disappointing film and a disc soon to be used as a coaster. But there have been some gems in this year of detritus. One of them comes from the always-dependable Unearthed Films: American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock. The second installment of the American Guinea Pig series finds Marcus Koch taking the directorial reigns and crafting a hypnotic nightmare rife with hopelessness, but also offers a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. As per usual with this series, torture and splatter take center stage with amazingly life-like special effects. Bloodshock is a masterwork that’ll plunder your emotions and ranks as my top horror film of 2016. — Evan Romero


What a wild ride this movie took me on! Slasher.com will really test your limits as a horror fan. What it lacks in budget, it makes up for in shock value and suspense. Director Chip Gubera (Fangoria: Blood Drive 2004) was quite brave in his ability to look at the line and then cross it without a second thought. The antagonists don’t want to just kill their prey. They would like to play with them first. Normally, I’m immediately turned off by a film that delves into the sexually sadistic annals of horror. However, Slasher.com does a very good job at keeping you right on the brink of discomfort and then reeling you back in. That’s one of the things I loved about this film. You get a feeling that writers Gubera and Chelsea Andes (Bagged 2014) has you in the palms of their hands through its entirety. — Preston Holt

I was A Teenage Wereskunk

I was A Teenage Wereskunk is a film I smile and think about all the time; it was such a cheesy film that I completely adored. It’s basically a love note to classic drive-in monster films and I love the old school feeling. The main character gets sprayed by a majestic skunk and slowly turns into a wereskunk, possibly ruining the chances of him every going steady with the keenest girl in school. The characters, especially Curtis (Scott Monahan) and Mary Beth (Shey Lyn Zanotti), were both exceptionally wonderful and the storyline was ridiculously amazing but kept you laughing the whole time. If you love an unusual love story mixed with a horror comedy, be sure to check it out! — Tori Danielle

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories

I would be remiss to end this 2016 list without paragraphs on my two favorite indie horrors of this year. Anyone who’s ever read anything by my here on PopHorror knows how much I love the Volumes of Blood anthology series. The second film, Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, was released this past Halloween and was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Although all of the stories are separate entities and were directed by different people, they’re all tied together in more ways than one. Writer/producer PJ Starks even managed to tie the first and second films together – practically unheard of in anthologies.

The wraparound tale is about a young couple touring a house with their creepy real estate agent as they decide whether or not they want to buy. As they peek through closets and investigate bathrooms, the history of each room unfolds, telling the gory and sometimes supernatural tales of what went on before the house went on the market once again. Not only is the movie a splatterific goregasm, but it’s also hilarious and a bit meta, making it a treat for anyone who’s seen the other projects of any of the contributing directors. If you’re looking for something bloody and fun, look no further than Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories! — Tracy Allen

The Barn

Tied for my favorite indie horror film of 2016 is The Barn. A love letter to slashers of yore, The Barn is about a group of friends who, while traveling to a rock concert, decide to stop off at a local urban legend spot – a barn said to have three demons residing inside. After they accidentally release the Halloween themed horrors known as Candycorn Scarecrow, Hallowed Jack and The Boogeyman, they must find a way to save the town… and maybe get a little partying in besides!

I have no idea how many gallons of fake blood were used in this, but I’m betting they needed a pallet to hold the buckets. The FX team got quite a workout, creating realistic looking body parts, hideous creatures and some fantastic retro Halloween costumes. Everything from the costumes to the kills in The Barn reminded me of my beloved 1980s. Be sure to check it out! — Tracy Allen

This is by no means an official top list, but just one or two films that each writer enjoyed personally. Are any of these horror movies from 2016 your favorite? Let us know which ones you loved the most and stay tuned for our top indie horror movies of 2016 soon!


About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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