Film & TV

Kill List: 2015's Best Horror Movies

One of our most enduring cinematic genres, horror is also among the most difficult to do right. This may sound obvious — countless attempts are made to scare moviegoers every year, whether in theaters or, increasingly, streaming online — but it's brought into focus by the few that actually make our pulses quicken. Whether about the anti-Santa, a Skype session gone awry or the terror of sexual awakening, here are a handful from this year that did just that. —Michael Nordine

"As Josef, Duplass has a boyishly skittish quality that makes his character's unwittingly desperate attempts to bond with Aaron that much more upsetting. You can anticipate that Josef's about to pull some dopey prank on Aaron in a couple of scenes, like when Josef pounces on Aaron and then lectures him about having the kind of 'near-death experience' that Josef has every day. But Duplass's self-serious tone makes this unpredictable and exciting." —Simon Abrams

The Gift
"From the trailer, and just from its initial vibe, Joel Edgerton's directorial debut The Gift looks like your stock 'when bad things happen to good people' thriller, complete with a soulful pet dog you just know is going to get it. But dog lovers, and everyone else, should know that Edgerton (who also wrote the script and co-stars in the film) isn't out for the cheap, predictable jolt. The dog ends up being OK; it's the humans who suffer, but even then, Edgerton is more interested in exploring the darker reaches of human culpability, regret and compassion — and in building and sustaining a simmering tension — than in loading up on gore or violence." —Stephanie Zacharek

Goodnight Mommy
"Would their real mom refuse to speak to Lukas? To give him dinner? Lukas is certain this mummied monster is a fake, and Elias is unable to say otherwise. Even if she unwrapped herself, what new face would they see? Since we've never met her — and Goodnight Mommy smartly doesn't do flashbacks — we can't be sure. At night they huddle in their bunk beds and listen to a cassette of their real mom singing them to sleep." —Amy Nicholson

The Hallow
"It's a common complaint about modern haunted-house movies: 'Why don't they leave?' How many paranormal activities have to take place before the families in the Paranormal Activity flicks exit, screen left? To their credit, the couple in Corin Hardy's chilling The Hallow come to their senses almost immediately. Not that it does them much good." —Pete Vonder Haar

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LA Weekly Film Critics