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Killer Chords

Best Horror Movies of 2024 So Far, Ranked

As we pass the half-way point of 2024, it’s clear that horror fans have been spoiled for choice with an abundance of exceptional fright-filled films this year. While the big-budget Hollywood blockbusters have certainly delivered their fair share of scares, the true standouts have arguably come from the independent horror scene, with a number of low-budget sleeper hits emerging from the shadows and proving that ingenious storytelling and inventive filmmaking can go a long way, even with limited resources. From nerve-wracking psychological thrillers that burrow deep under the skin, to gruesome slashers that make the most of their modest means, the sheer variety and quality of horror on offer in 2024 has been truly staggering.

So, without further ado, CinemaChords proudly presents its Top 10 Horror Movies thus far in 2024.

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever, the belated sequel to the 1994 thriller Nightwatch, follows Martin’s daughter, Emma, as she takes a night watch job to uncover the truth about her parents’ disappearance 30 years ago. Meanwhile, a meeting with the incarcerated serial killer Wörmer rouses him from his coma and sets off a chain of fateful events.

Demons Are Forever delivers a gripping narrative and the return of beloved characters, providing fans with a satisfying continuation of the story, despite initial doubts about the need for a follow-up. Fanny Leaner Bornedal, the director’s daughter, plays the lead role as Emma and brings a fresh and youthful energy to the character. Ulf Pilgaard reprises his role as the murderous former detective, portraying an aged and now blind character with a contrasting performance that is much slimier and more skin-crawlingly gross than before.

Wormer is not the only thing that has changed. Compared to Nightwatch, the sequel takes on a much darker and creepier tone. The director’s shift into slasher territory adds a new layer of intensity to the story as someone begins killing for the incarcerated sicko, drawing Emma, her friends and family deep into mysteries old and new.

As a whole, Nightwatch: Demons are Forever is a sequel that was well worth the 3 decade wait, effectively combining just the right amount of nostalgia and grippingly-fresh plot devices.

Benjamin Brewer’s film replicates elements that made A Quiet Place a hit, but avoids feeling like a mere copy thanks to strong performances and ingeniously designed creatures that were wisely kept concealed in the trailer.

Arcadian follows Paul (Nicolas Cage), and his twin teenage sons, Thomas and Joshua (Max Jenkins and Jaeden Martell, respectively), as they struggle to survive in a remote farmhouse after a mysterious apocalyptic event. Wasting no time on exposition in terms of what catastrophe has befallen humanity, instead immediately dropping the audience into the action as the small family unit barricades themselves against some unknown external threat that emerges after nightfall, everything moves along at a brisk and frantic pace, creating a constantly palpable sense of alarm throughout. Cage’s emotional performance as an overwhelmed father trying to protect his sons adds further intensity but what really buoys the aforementioned sense of alarm are the two stand-out performances from the brothers who have their fair share of differences but both ultimately want the same thing. Ultimately, Arcadian succeeds as one of the more engaging recent entries in the post-apocalyptic survival genre by focusing on a perfectly paced narrative, non-stop thrills, and some of the most visually striking creature designs ever put on film.

The film follows Ryan (Nick Stahl), a talented chef who, after running up a staggering gambling debt, has fled to the “supposedly” safe haven of an unnamed Latin American country. Here, he is welcomed by his old friend Jack (Brian Groh), a more prestigious chef with issues of his own, who he hasn’t seen in 12 years. Impressed by Jack’s extravagant lifestyle, Ryan naturally wants in on the spoils and volunteers his services as sous-chef. But in a cruel twist of fate, Jack’s riches are served up on a platter as Ryan adopts his friend’s identity. Unfortunately, he soon finds himself wishing he hadn’t, as he learns of the unsavory methods Jack had been resorting to to maintain the lavish lifestyle he so desperately craved.

Director Nicholas Tomnay (The Perfect Host) crafts a deliciously sinister premise that deftly avoids becoming another “torture porn” project, despite its exploration of seriously sadistic subject matter. Instead, the film provides an intelligent and taut vehicle to provide a biting social commentary on the stark divide between the haves and the have-nots.

As a child, Claire witnessed the abduction and murder of her best friend. Now, 25 years later, in a quest to uncover the truth behind the tragedy, the dead boy’s father, Bill, with the help of psychic Eleanor venture into a haunted moor, where a dark and sinister force seems to stir at their arrival.

Director Chris Cronin‘s debut feature explores a chillingly realistic premise, drawing comparisons to the horrific crimes of the Moors murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Aided by Paul Thomas’ gripping script, Cronin sustains a slow-building tension throughout the 2-hour runtime, allowing the characters, particularly the increasingly desperate and obsessed Bill, to develop in a way that imperils everyone. The vast, open expanse of the moor adds to the eerie atmosphere, making the supernatural elements even more terrifying by affording the characters no escape or hiding place.

The film centers on Jess (Hayley Erin), a desperate woman fleeing an unknown threat, determined to cross the Canadian border undetected and leave her troubles behind. But the threat that Jess is so desperately running from is far more critical than she realizes as Elsa (Sonya Walger), a skilled agent, is tasked with intercepting her before she crosses the border. But Elsa’s pursuit of Jess is hindered by her recent ALS diagnosis, which is quickly robbing her of her particular set of skills. But, despite the debilitating disease threatening Else’s future, she remains as sharp and determined as ever to complete her mission and protect the greater good. Both women, searching for meaning and redemption in their plight, find themselves racing towards a climactic confrontation that this review will avoid spoiling.

First-time feature writer-director John Rosman‘s New Life is a gripping, high-stakes thriller that blends elements of pandemic chillers like Outbreak with the tense cat-and-mouse chases of say The Hidden or Species. Yet despite drawing inspiration from such well-known titles, Rosman forges his own unique voice. On the surface, Rosman’s ingenious debut feature is a riveting, tightly-plotted thriller. But beyond the taut narrative, Rosman has written an important commentary on the human experience. Specifically, New Life provides a fascinating window into the timeless question of how much humans can really determine their own destiny when so much lies outside of our control.

Shocking parables of cultural malaise have always been a part of the zeitgeist, but this is especially true now that everyone who isn’t living in a vault is talking about the recent “Fallout” TV series. So Caitlin Cronenberg‘s feature directorial debut couldn’t come at a better time, delivering a similarly satirical yet startling treatise that reflects our current unease.

Set months after a worldwide ecological collapse, Humane unfolds over the course of a single day. In an effort to curb overpopulation, global leaders have implemented extreme population control measures, including state-sponsored euthanasia. It is against this dystopian backdrop that a retired news anchor invites his adult children to dinner, with the intention of announcing his plan to enroll in the government’s euthanasia program. However, when the father’s (Peter Gallagher – Palm Springs, “Grace and Frankie”) announcement backfires disastrously, family tensions boil over into outright deadly chaos.

Humane immerses the viewer in an unsettling future that, while perhaps hyperbolic in its presentation, hits disturbingly close to home. Both hugely entertaining and thought provoking, it continues a long tradition of shocking, revelatory parables that jolt audiences by holding a mirror to the ills of our world. Deftly balancing horror and humor – always a difficult feat to pull off – Cronenberg’s unique creative voice and confident style announces the arrival of a bold new directorial talent.

Following her breakout role in a killer clown horror flick, Bowie now finds herself struggling to capitalize on its success, but when she is suddenly held hostage by an unhinged fan posing as that same killer clown, horror becomes her reality as she fights to survive the night and escape before he completes his sinister plan to recreate the film’s fatal plot.

Jenna Kanell’s electric and vital performance anchors this nuanced social commentary, which explores the complex issues of toxic fandom and parasocial relationships. Through Kanell’s dynamic portrayal, the film examines the profound impact of obsessive fan behavior on both individuals and society. The exploration of mental health struggles adds another layer of complexity to the narrative, shedding light on the often-overlooked consequences of toxic online communities.

This highly thought-provoking film ultimately challenges viewers to reflect on their own relationships with the media-saturated world around them, sparking vital conversations about the increasingly blurred line between admiration and unhealthy obsession.

Johnny, a vengeful spirit driven by a horrific crime committed 60 years ago, is resurrected when a medallion is removed from a collapsed fire tower in the woods where his rotting corpse is buried.

With his debut feature film, In a Violent Nature, writer and director Chris Nash has delivered an absolute doozy, showcasing his talents after previously contributing to the anthology film ABC’s of Death 2 with “Z is for Zygote.” The 94-minute runtime unfolds at a deliberate pace, yet Nash’s skilled direction sustains an unyielding momentum that builds the viewer’s anticipation with each gruesome death. When those cleverly calculated deaths take place, they do so in such uniquely wince-inducing ways that has had audiences gasping. While some may criticize a certain lack of character development, that is not the focal point here. The true draw is witnessing the relentless vengeance of our undead protagonist. In a Violent Nature is an ingeniously immersive slasher that grabs its audience by the scruff of the neck, dragging them, kicking and screaming, along for a richly atmospheric, shrewdly savage shockathon.

The First Omen serves as a prequel set a year before the original film. Taking place in Rome, the movie follows Margaret, a young American novitiate who hopes to make her pledge to God and Christ by serving at the Vizzardeli Orphanage. However, her head is turned by an ostracized orphan Carlita and the unnerving series of events that stalk her. Soon Margaret is thrust into the center of a grueling demonic plot.

Nell Tiger Free carved her name as a bona fide Scream Queen when she starred as the illusive and mysterious nanny in M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV Series “The Servant.”  Here she is simply astonishing. She expertly portrays the character’s evolution from a wide-eyed novice to a troubled soul spiraling into pure insanity in the final act.

With her directorial debut, The First Omen, Arkasha Stevenson delivers a thrillingly terrifying and visually gorgeous film. She establishes herself as a skilled director with this carefully crafted period piece which boasts absolutely stunning cinematography by Aaron Morton. The film is overflowing with vivid, striking images. While staying true to the spirit of the original, Stevenson also imprints the film with her own distinct style and vision, marking the arrival of a distinct and fresh directorial talent.

The Cairnes brothers (100 Bloody Acres) have crafted a delightfully chilling and suspenseful horror film in Late Night With the Devil. The movie gradually builds to a tremendously rewarding climax that pays off the viewer’s patience. Unfolding in a real-time found footage format reminiscent of the British mockumentary classic Ghostwatch, the film’s perfectly paced 90-minute runtime cleverly evokes fond memories of that ahead-of-its-time narrative. Like Ghostwatch, Late Night With the Devil revolves around a TV show – in this case, a wonderfully realized late night chat program called “Night Owls.”

The shows host, Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) is determined to slay the ratings and finally beat out legendary late-night king Johnny Carson. However, tonight’s 1977 Halloween special is going to change all that with a spooky lineup that includes a deliciously hammed-up psychic (Fayssal Bazzi), a sanctimoniously dickish skeptic (Ian Bliss), a mild-mannered parapsychologist Dr. Ross-Mitchell, and an mysterious child named Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) who may just be possessed by…well, check the title. This diverse lineup promises a wicked twist on the usual late-night antics.

Dastmalchian, so frequently a scene-stealing supporting player, richly rewards the viewer with a fully immersive performance, finding just the right balance of smarm and charm to make Delroy an eminently memorable character as well as being highly reflective of male hosts of the era. Beneath the TV façade though, lies a man so hungry for fame that he’s prepared to do anything to get it. As the show progresses and it becomes clear that his actions may well be putting Lilly in jeopardy, Jack is torn between protecting her and chasing the spotlight. Ultimately, fame’s siren song proves too powerful to resist.

Late Night With the Devil emerges as the most mesmerizing horror film of the year thanks to a star-making turn by Dastmalchian and a wonderfully entertaining morality play that warns audiences about the perils of unchecked ambition.


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