Savor the Flavor
There are plenty of contemporary horror movies that don’t stick with the viewer for very long. How many of the Paranormal Activity movies have you seen? How many of them do you remember?
How about movies from The Conjuring universe? Can you describe the plot of REC without consulting Wikipedia?
It’s not entirely the fault of the movies themselves, but rather the sheer amount of media there is to watch at this particular moment in history.
And so it’s pretty rare when a movie breaks through, not only in the year it’s released, but in the years afterward, when it continued to be talked about at universities, get-togethers, and Halloween parties the world over.
Jordan Peele’s Get Out is now an eternal part of the American film canon, and that’s something worth celebrating.
It’s easily one of the most intelligent and socially relevant movies of the last 10 years, especially within the horror genre.
After Get Out’s extreme success, many viewers have been itching to watch more horror flicks that are intelligent and clearly have something to say.
Our list of movies like Get Out will hopefully make the search a bit easier. Each of the movies below is smart, well-written, and will make you think long after the credits roll.
Let’s get into it.
Being John Malkovich – 1999
A few folks might argue that this one isn’t really a horror movie, and that’s just fine. Maybe it isn’t a horror movie, at least not in the strictest definition of the genre.
But it is creepy, unavoidably so. And more importantly, the concept of inhabiting someone else’s body has a pretty clear influence on the plot of Get Out.
Written by Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Anomalisa) and directed by Spike Jonze (Jackass, Her), Being John Malkovich starts in a world that feels familiar then becomes progressively strange.
There’s a tiny hallway that leads into the head of real-life actor John Malkovich, and the hapless characters try to find ways to benefit from their strange find.
It’s a disturbing story, and the wholesale weirdness leaves a lingering sense of unease and fear.
The Cabin in the Woods – 2011
The Cabin in the Woods essentially tries to be every horror movie at once, mostly by creating a surreal explanation for why horror movie plots take place at all.
A control room of stiff office types does its best to make sure that a select few unwitting teens are all killed in, well, a cabin in the woods.
Co-written by sci-fi phenom Joss Whedon, the movie is just plain smart, and the sense of all-encompassing doom and conspiracy certainly deserves comparisons to the overall feel of Get Out.
Oh yeah, and Chris Hemsworth shows up as the embodiment of the high school jock trope, and he does a fantastic job with it. You could say it’s the kind of role he was born to play.
The Shining – 1980
Sure, it might be an obvious choice for a list of intelligent horror movies, but there are quite a few similarities to Get Out specifically.
For one, there’s the element of family members becoming enemies over time, a highly disturbing concept. Each movie also takes place at an isolated building/location, making the lack of outside interference part of the horror.
Also, both movies have something very specific to say about American culture and American history.
Get Out’s commentary is fairly easy to grasp after one viewing, but The Shining’s underlying message is a bit harder to nail down.
Regardless, both movies will keep you pinned to your seat and you’ll want to show them to friends and family immediately after the first viewing.
The Witch – 2015
The Witch is one of the greatest examples of successful contemporary horror. First-time director Robert Eggers pulled off something truly special here.
It’s a period piece about a Puritan town in the early, early days of the United States, long before it was called the United States.
Based loosely on the Salem Witch Trials, the story focuses on a family as they slowly fall apart.
No spoilers for this one, so we won’t be talking about whether or not there are actual witches. But when it comes to similarities to Get Out, these are both movies that are completely engrossing in their vision.
When you sit down to watch either, there’s no getting away. You will follow the story carefully and do your best to guess what’s going to happen next.
These movies are unrelentingly engaging, a trait pretty rare in the days of attention spans cropped by the internet.
Shutter Island – 2010
Scorsese gave us this weird little Leo DiCaprio movie about a fella who needs to investigate the escape of a deranged murderer from a psych hospital.
If you’re expecting a bunch of jump scares, then you should probably look elsewhere. Instead, it’s a slow-moving story that pulls you in and keeps you there.
It’s the environment that’s unsettling, as well as how the main character is treated by staff and patients alike.
There’s always something just a little bit off about the surroundings, and that’s what makes this one of the most enjoyable horror flicks of the 21st century thus far.
Just keep in mind that it’s a long one, and you really have to commit to the overall pacing.
Annihilation – 2018
Ok, so on the one hand, this is a body horror movie almost on par with just about every David Cronenberg movie ever made.
But at the same time, it’s an incredibly slow, incredibly intelligent look at human weakness and the dangers inherent to human relationships.
From director Alex Garland (Ex Machina), Annihilation confused theater audiences upon its U.S. release. Everywhere outside of the U.S., the movie was dumped on VOD or to Netflix.
Maybe it’s just too smart for modern horror audiences, or a bit too slow.
The tragedy here is that it’s actually a fantastic movie, one that has a whole lot to say about what it means to be alive.
It does all of this and more by taking us through an uncanny setting, where awful things happen to anyone who visits, seemingly for no good reason.
Like Get Out, Annihilation is at the top of the horror genre, delivering old-school scares in a package that looks shiny and new.