The Best Horror Movies of 2021 So Far, According to Critics

There’s nothing like a great horror film, but the genre’s gems can be few and far between. Thankfully, despite all the scary movie misses, there are standout horror films released all the time. In fact, this year has seen several worthy entries into the canon—and it’s not even Halloween yet. From spooky spoofs to psychological thrillers to classic haunted house horror, we scoured Rotten Tomatoes’ list of this year’s top-rated films, then focused solely on our favorite genre. Read on to discover the best horror films of 2021 so far.

RELATED: The Best Horror Film of 2020, According to Critics.

Samuel Goldwyn Films

Rotten Tomatoes score: 76 percent

“A wildly entertaining eco-feminist crime caper, anchored by a winning lead performance from Agnieszka Mandat,” writes Los Angeles Times critic Katie Walsh.

shadow in the cloud
Vertical Entertainment

Rotten Tomatoes score: 77 percent

“A sincere but silly mash-up of WWII dogfights, gremlin chaos, and feminism in action,” writes RogerEbert.com critic Nick Allen.

still from son
RLJE Movies

Rotten Tomatoes score: 78 percent

“It’s engrossing and well-made, but you’ll need a strong stomach to get through it,” writes San Jose Mercury News critic Randy Myers.

still from the night
IFC Midnight

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79 percent

“Spooky and unsettling, director Kourosh Ahari’s eerie suspense yarn The Night got under my skin,” writes MovieFreak.com critic Sara Michelle Fetters.

still from the columnist
Film Movement

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79 percent

The Columnist is sharp, funny and uneasy, and speaks to the fallacy of the world we live in. It’s a killer romp,” writes Detroit News critic Adam Graham.

still from in the earth
Neon

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79 percent

“Sinister and hilarious, psychedelic yet grounded, absurdist while still gripping, In the Earth will take root in you,” writes Austin Chronicle critic Richard Whittaker.

still from dementer
Dark Star Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80 percent

Chad Crawford Kinkle’s micro-budget supernatural horror film dementia is unsettling right from the start,” writes Los Angeles Times critic Noel murray.

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Decal

Rotten Tomatoes score: 82 percent

“This slow-burn horror-fantasy narrative prefers a different approach to eco-horror by creating a stunning assault on the senses,” writes Bloody Disgusting critic Meagan Navarro.

still from caveat
Shudder

Rotten Tomatoes score: 82 percent

“An impressive and often terrifying film,” writes RogerEbert.com critic Sheila O’Malley.

boys from county hell
Shudder

Rotten Tomatoes score: 82 percent

“With a cast that’s down for cracking good fun and a bloody wild ride, this vampire tale is alive with surprises, silly and scary,” writes Pajiba critic Kristy Puchko.

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Brainstorm Media

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83 percent

Bloodthirsty does well to build tension and mystery around exactly what Grey is turning into. Her transformation is gradual, well paced, and will leave you on the edge of your seat,” writes AwardsWatch critic Valerie Complex.

still from the power
Shudder

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83 percent

The Power elegantly knits together atmospheric terrors and institutional ones, providing a reminder that it’s not always the things that go bump in the night that are the true threat,” writes New York Magazine critic Alison Willmore.

still from fear street one 1994
Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83 percent

Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is everything a horror fan desires: nerve-wracking sequences, a killer soundtrack, complex characters and twists and surprises galore,” writes San Jose Mercury News critic Randy Myers.

still from candyman
Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 85 percent

“The scares are off the charts, but only as a means to confront the film’s heavy messaging about racial injustice. Dynamite star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and director Our DaCosta make you think hard about everything you see. Welcome to a new horror classic,” writes ABC News critic Peter Travers.

still from the night house
Searchlight Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 85 percent

“Intelligent, emotionally compelling and visually sophisticated, for fans of darker fare and old-fashioned spooky stories, The Night House is unmissable,” writes ABC Radio critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

RELATED: This Is the Scariest Horror Movie of All Time, According to Science.

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RLJE Movies

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86 percent

“By turns funny, grisly, tragic and insightful, Jakob’s Wife carries the smartness of years,” writes Austin Chronicle critic Richard Whittaker.

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IFC Midnight

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86 percent

“The film reaches out, even at its most implausible, and claws at you,” writes New Yorker critic Anthony Lane.

werewolves within
IFC Films

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86 percent

“This goofy horror comedy, based on an online game of the same name, just goes to prove that if you have a great cast, smart direction and witty script you can just about get away with murder,” writes Guardian critic Leslie Felperin.

still from the djinn
IFC Midnight

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88 percent

“There’s not an ounce of fat here, just a streamlined story packed with intensity and scares. The meticulous simplicity lets the suspense do the heavy lifting for this modern fairy tale nightmare,” writes Bloody Disgusting critic Meagan Navarro.

still from oxygen
Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88 percent

“A neat little sci-fi nightmare; a cool-toned exercise in claustrophobia that nearly pulls off the innate improbabilities of its high-concept nonsense,” writes Entertainment Weekly critic Leah Greenblatt.

RELATED: 30 Celebrities You Forgot Were in Horror Movies.

still from violation
Shudder

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88 percent

“It’s grueling, but fiercely intelligent film-making,” writes Observer critic Wendy Ide.

fear street part two 1978
Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88 percent

Leigh Janiak continues her streak with another solid R-rated slasher that delivers brutal kills and likable characters that make those deaths hurt,” writes Bloody Disgusting critic Meagan Navarro.

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Magnet Releasing

Rotten Tomatoes score: 89 percent

“A psychedelic rabbit-hole-drop of a movie from one of the most exciting new directors working in horror today,” writes Empire Magazine critic Terri White.

the queen of black magic
Shudder

Rotten Tomatoes score: 89 percent

“The meaner it gets, the more you care, and The Queen of Black Magic earns every twist of the knife,” writes Austin Chronicle critic Richard Whittaker.

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the oak room
Gravitas Ventures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90 percent

The Oak Room is a small little thriller that demonstrates the potent power of storytelling. For those interested in something far more introspective that plays like an unsettling tale told around a campfire, it’s is an engaging narrative exercise,” writes Bloody Disgusting critic Meagan Navarro.

I blame society
Cranked Up Films

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90 percent

“The writer-director-actor takes a while to hit her stride, but by the end the viewer is likely to be unnerved and amused by this display of egocentricity, homicide and low-budget film-craft,” writes The Australian critic David Stratton.

still from the vigil
IFC Midnight

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90 percent

“It is smart enough, scary enough and unique enough to be worth a watch both for horror fans and for people who want to see more Jewish culture represented on the screen,” writes Salon critic Matthew Rozsa.

pg psycho goreman
RLJE Movies

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91 percent

Psycho Goreman is a hilarious gut-buster in every sense of the term,” writes Detroit News critic Adam Graham.

a quiet place part ii
Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91 percent

“The Abbotts venture into the unknown in a meticulously crafted monster movie that leaves us wanting more,” writes Chicago Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper.

still from lucky
Shudder

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93 percent

[Brea] Grant’s aching heart spills out a story of blood and boldness, dread and defiance,” writes Pajiba critic Kristy Puchko.

RELATED: The One Horror Film Stephen King Was Too Scared to Finish.

still from saint maud
A24

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93 percent

St. Maud marks a stunning feature film debut for writer-director Rose Glass. Understated yet opulent, measured, and intensely creepy, it’s a tour de force in balancing uncomfortable levels of tension and suspense with deep pathos,” writes Vox critic Aja Romano.

still from the boy behind the door
Shudder

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97 percent

“[An] effective use of a simple premise and modest means to create a nicely nerve-jangling thriller,” writes Variety critic Dennis Harvey.

still from slaxx
The Horror Collective

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97 percent

“There’s some blood-spattered pleasure to be had with Slaxx and its amusing twist on a survive-the-night slasher,” writes RogerEbert.com critic Tomris Laffly.

RELATED: The Scariest Movie That Came Out the Year You Graduated.

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