Every A24 Horror Film, Ranked

·20 min read
A collage of actors in different movies

SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL MOVIES LISTED BELOW

You could die on a boat. You could die with a goat. You could get murdered in the rain or in the dark or on a train. You could get eaten in a car, or in a tree. You'll simply have to wait and see. You could be hacked up in a box. You could be slashed up on some rocks. You could be burned up in a house. You could be poisoned by your spouse. There will be blood both here and there. There will be blood most everywhere.

(Because this is a ranking of A24's 21 horror films, and if there aren't mutilated corpses strewn about by the end credits, then something is amiss.)

For decades the horror genre was dominated by slasher films that relied heavily on jump scares and gore. They were made on the cheap, often with unknown stars, and were looked down on by much of the film community as schlocky "B movies." In recent years, however, that perception has begun to evolve with the arrival of (or at least mainstream exposure to) so-called "prestige horror" — horror films that are more artsy and unsettling than terrifying and that often attempt to convey a message beyond "we hope you can't sleep tonight" even as they find new ways to savagely kill their victims.

At the forefront of this new wave of horror is indie studio A24. Since its advent in 2012, it has slowly amassed a cult following (on any trip to the Alamo Drafthouse, you're destined to see at least one millennial in an A24 hat) especially by championing a crop of young horror directors who are pushing the boundaries of the genre. This year alone, A24 has already released the porn shoot slasher film X and the deadly examination of toxic masculinity Men with the horror comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies set to hit theaters Aug. 5. And with so much buzz, I figured why not rank their catalogue of grisly, murderous mayhem for your reading pleasure.

Since the genre of "horror" is a bit nebulous as it bumps up against thriller, sci-fi, and drama, I opted to let the Wikipedia genre descriptions do the heavy lifting for me as I narrowed down the list of films to cover. This ranking is also based on the film as a whole and my critique of it, not necessarily how it did in the box office or with other critics (although those things often overlap). So without any further ado, let's start piling up these bodies.

Photo-illustration: Brooke Greenberg; A24/Courtesy Everett Collection (Under The Skin, Green Room, The Witch, It Comes At Night, Lamb, Hereditary, Midsommar, Men)

21.Tusk (2014)

Justin Long sits in a wheel chair

Easily the worst film on this list, this early horror comedy from Kevin Smith (of Jay and Silent Bob fame) is about a creepy old serial killer dead set on turning his victims into walruses. (I wish I was joking). Justin Long is the star here, and obviously the whole thing is meant to be ridiculous (it was based on a prolonged podcast tangent), but it is neither funny nor particularly scary. The walrus costume that Long is sewn into is ludicrously bad, the physics/biology of turning a human into a walrus makes no sense (I know I'm overthinking this), and Johnny Depp shows up briefly as a bizarre French Canadian detective. While it's gathered a bit of a cult following online, the film fared horribly at the box office and boasts the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of the bunch (46%). Not worth the viewing.

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

20.Slice (2018)

Joe Keery and Rae Gray stand on a sidewalk

If there is one thing that I will say for A24, it is that they can usually sniff out a stinker before it hits theaters. If they catch on to the fact one of their films is weak, they will disappear it, dumping it unceremoniously into the VOD void and never speak of it again. Such was the case with this horror comedy, which despite starring Chance the Rapper, Atlanta's Zazie Beetz, and Stranger Things' Joe Keery, received no roll out. The film centers on a cursed pizza shop in a supernatural town, where its delivery drivers are being murdered on front porches. There are definitely some interesting ideas present, but the film is CROWDED with bizarre plot lines and with an 83-minute runtime, we never really connect with any of the characters. While horror comedies like Scream, Happy Death Day, and Ready or Not are not uncommon, A24 has struggled with finding the recipe to make one work.

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

19.In Fabric (2018)

Marianne Jean-Baptiste stands in front of mirrors in a dress

Which brings me to our next entry, the one about a murderous red dress that wreaks havoc on all who enter its orbit. Again, the idea here isn't bad, but tonally it's a mess. It's '80s, synth-infused "Total Eclipse of the Heart"-vibe doesn't quite match up with random bits of straight-up dry humor or the erotic department store cult or the domestic mother-son storyline. And then the lead is murdered halfway through, and we follow the dress's next owner. Like Slice, it's just trying to do too many things, and doesn't really succeed in doing any of them particularly well. I would like to say, however, that this is our first instance of death-by-fire on this list, which appears to be A24's go-to mode of homicide. The whole department store goes up in flames here, as it attempts to make the A24 Hall of Flame (I'm feeling very clever about this pun).

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

18.False Positive (2021)

Justin Theroux and Ilana Glazer are in a doctor's office

I promise I'm not anti-comedy. It just so happens that A24 has not quite mastered the horror comedy like they have the straight-forward horror film. This pregnancy-gone-wrong film stars Broad City's Ilana Glazer as a woman undergoing an increasingly sinister round of IVF at the hands of Pierce Brosnan. While this film certainly feels timely given the pending decision regarding Roe v. Wade, its message gets a bit muddled as it bites off a bit more than it can chew. And though it certainly skewers the sexism surrounding pregnancy in the workplace and men's continued attempts to claim women's bodies, its forays into race relations are less successful. Ultimately, though, it relies heavily on dream sequences for its horror elements, has an unsatisfying ending, and I think would have been stronger if it had shed its horror/comedy aspirations and become a straight genre. No walruses though, so we're moving up in the world.

Watch it on Hulu.

Michael O'Neale/Hulu/Courtesy Everett Collection

17.Men (2022)

Jessie Buckley pulls an apple from a tree

A24's latest horror film came with great promise as it boasted the return of Alex Garland to the fold after his Oscar-winning Ex Machina became one of the studio's earliest success stories. And where the film succeeds, it does so beautifully. Both Jessie Buckley, as a woman seeking refuge from tragedy in a quiet English village, and Rory Kinnear, as a host of horrible men dead set on making her life miserable, are giving terrific performances, the cinematography is lovely, and one sequence involving a hike through the woods early in the film is simultaneously gorgeous and terrifying at once. The back half, however, relies too heavily on (often laughably bad) visual effects and hits well-trodden symbols a bit too head on. And while Garland's films have often centered women well, this feels a bit like he's mansplaining toxic masculinity to the audience. You'd be better off watching Promising Young Woman, a female-helmed film thankfully devoid of a 20-minute long scene of grown men giving birth to one another.

Buy tickets on Fandango and Cinemark.

Kevin Baker/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

16.It Comes at Night (2017)

Riley Keough and Christopher Abbott sit at a table together with a camp light

I understand that horror films are not meant to be joyous, happy-go-lucky affairs, but I would argue that the best horror films provide viewers with a twisted sense of entertainment or catharsis. We want to see interesting kills or provocative ideas or justice finally served in the end. It Comes at Night, from Trey Edward Shults, an A24 darling, is mostly just an exercise in misery. The bleak film plods along in a sense of menacing dread for its entire 90-minute run time. From its opening sequence of death through its tense exhausting middle to its bleak, beleaguered end, the film depicts a post-apocalyptic disease-ridden world without the slightest hint of hope. Watching during a pandemic is especially depressing, and while the film is well made, I'm not sure what the point of it being so damn miserable was.

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

15.Lamb (2021)

Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snaer Gudnasan stand in a kitchen

Lamb is a bit of an outlier on this list. First, it's one of A24's few non-English language titles (it's Icelandic), and while it's billed a "folk horror" on Wikipedia, it conducts itself as a quiet folk family drama for most of its runtime. Noomi Rapace plays Maria, a farmer who, along with her husband, raises a half-sheep/half-human baby on their farm. The little sheepman is very cute, and the grossest thing about the film is a couple of birthing scenes prior to the movie's bloody climax. It is not a bad movie by any means, but it is very muted, and compared to some of the bold choices coming later on this list, Lamb just feels a bit out of its league.

Rent it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

14.The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)

Emma Roberts puts bloody hands over her mouth

The A24 horror department does not have many clunkers as evidenced by the fact that we are solidly in the territory of "good movie" on this list only one-third of the way in. Surprisingly, however, despite a starry cast including Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, and Lucy Boynton and solid reviews, this is one of the least well-known entities on the docket. Oz Perkins (the son of Anthony Perkins and director of Gretel and Hansel) made this low-budget horror film back in 2015, where it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival only to be sidelined for two years until its eventual release in 2017 (first on DirectTV and then in theaters). It's a shame this wasn't seen more widely as it's an interesting trio of stories about a boarding school murderer woven together with a solid twist, good performances, and an intriguing ending. Its low budget manifests in a fairly bare-boned shoot with a lot of the action taking place offscreen, but a strong debut nonetheless. (Also I know I promised lots of people burning alive on this list and have failed to deliver so far, but this does have a killer presenting severed heads to a demonic furnace, so that feels tangentially related.)

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

13.The Monster (2016)

Zoe Kazan and Ella Ballentine stand in the woods

The Monster feels like it occupies a similar space as The Blackcoat's Daughter in that both are bare bones, low-budget horror films with small casts that were released without much fanfare. While The Monster seems slightly less original in its trapped-in-a-car/Cujo plotline (sub out rabid dog, sub in fanged monster), it is the scarier of the pair. Zoe Kazan and Ella Ballentine give good performances as the mother-daughter duo stranded on a rainy highway in the middle of nowhere, and the action and suspense have a nice build over the film's tight 90 minutes. We also get a second entry into the A24 Hall of Flame as Chekov's lighter from the film's beginning is put to good use at the end.

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24

12.X (2022)

Mia Goth hides under a bed

While I suppose you could classify Slice and In Fabric as slasher movies (although both rely on more supernatural elements), X is the first true slasher flick on this list. Set in the '70s it follows the cast and crew of a Texas porno who travel to a remote farmhouse only to be murdered one by one. While I LOVE slashers and wish that A24 put their spin on more of them, this one doesn't quite scratch the itches I needed it to. The film is over half done before the horror elements kick in, and SPOILER ALERT — because the murderers are an anciently old couple who would be easily overpowered, the kills are all executed without the porn team realizing things are happening. I need our heroes to fight back a bit. This film also includes one of my least favorite film tropes, which is a film's actor playing a second character in intense prosthetics for no reason. Mia Goth pulls a Lutz Ebersdorf/Tilda Swinton as the farm's old owner, and it's just, like, why? A fun slasher movie, but there is another much better option to come on this list.

Rent it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

11.The Lighthouse (2019)

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattionson stand in front of a lighthouse

When you think of A24 horror films, more than likely two directors come to mind: Ari Aster and Robert Eggers, a pair of young directors who took the world of horror by storm with their freshman and sophomore features, all of which were distributed by A24. It is no insult to say that The Lighthouse is the weakest of the four, due mostly to its sort of meandering ludicrous plot that lacked a bit of the precision of its siblings. Willem Dafoe (who should have got an Oscar nom for this role) and Robert Pattinson star as a pair of lighthouse keepers in this beautiful black-and-white fable. The two drive each other mad farting, drinking, cussing, masturbating, and killing seagulls on their rocky island home. It's certainly an arresting film, but perhaps just a bit too long as its message of "hell is other people" begins to wear on its audience by the end.

Watch it on Prime Video.

Eric Chakeen/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

10.High Life (2018)

Robert Pattinson is gardening

In space, no one can hear you scream, but can they hear you masturbate? A good question to ponder in our second film featuring Robert Pattinson stranded alone with horny compatriots. The first English language film from French auteur Claire Denis follows a group of inmates on a penal colony shipped toward a black hole. It's deeply unsettling as one played by Juliette Binoche performs medical experiments on her fellow exiles. The film is haunting and provocative and has one of the best title cards in recent cinema history. Similar to The Lighthouse, there is a slight lack of cohesion to the story, but I think it's bolstered by an expanded cast and a more interesting setting.

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

9.The Hole in the Ground (2019)

Kati Outlinen looks into a car at Seana Kerslake and James Quinn Markey

While The Hole in the Ground is not necessarily the most original of A24's offerings, it is a very well executed version of the changeling horror trope of "this child is not my child." Similar to The Blackcoat's Daughter and The Monster, this low-budget terror got a relatively small launch in comparison to the likes of The Lighthouse or Men. And while this film is certainly not sprawling, it does seem less restrained with a slightly larger cast, a giant hole set piece, and terrifying creatures. This is a true horror film that moves beyond just unnerving into scary, violent action, and the narrative is well paced and satisfying. This is also another entry into the A24 Hall of Flame as the final tussle between mother and not-son results in a burning house. We also get a bump up the ratings for a smart final shot that really sends viewers off on a perfect note.

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

8.The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

Colin Farrell walks up a staircase

While not strictly a horror filmmaker, another of A24's gifted stable of filmmakers is Yorgos Lanthimos, who broke through into English language films with The Lobster and landed a Best Director Oscar nomination for The Favourite. While his horror film is slightly less well known, its retelling of the Greek Iphigenia myth is captivating as Colin Farrell is tasked with killing either his wife, his son, or his daughter for a past crime he committed. The performances here are strong as is the pacing, and several scenes at the end are hauntingly sticky in my mind. The dialogue is all delivered in a monotone stilted quality that I hated at first, but it sort of grew on me the longer I watched, making the whole film increasingly unsettling. With the Nicole Kidman-Farrell combination, this also somehow feels like A24's most mainstream horror attempt, which gives the whole thing a bit more oomph.

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Saint Maud (2019)

Morfydd Clark leans with her mouth wide open

If The Killing of a Sacred Deer was A24's most star-studded cast, Saint Maud might be the least so. The tiny film stars Morfydd Clark as an obsessively Catholic in-home nurse caring for a dying dancer and attempting to save her soul. The 84-minute-long film is an intimate examination of Clark's Maud as she spirals into a version of religious revelry that grows increasingly self-flagellating and hallucinatory. And while the film's story is confined, it does what it attempts to do perfectly. There is not a second either unnecessary or offkey here, and the film's ending (in a blaze of fire as per A24 protocol) is one of the strongest on this list. I'm very excited for director Rose Glass's follow-up starring Kristen Stewart!

Watch it on Paramount+.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

6.Under the Skin (2014)

Scarlett Johansson sits in a kitchen

A24's initial foray into horror (and setting people on fire) was this sci-fi terror in which Scarlett Johansson plays some form of alien femme fatale criss-crossing Scotland and disappearing men along the way. This atmospheric film has little dialogue and honestly leaves viewers with more questions than answers, a model that many of their later horror films would emulate. The film's director, Jonathan Glazer, has not returned to feature films since, which is a shame given the strength of this outing, but it has been reported he has something new in the works with A24. I would argue that this film, and its creation of the Hall of Flame, is nearly perfect. It just feels smaller and less ambitious than the few masterful enterprises remaining on this list, some of which rank in the best horror films of all time IMHO.

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Green Room (2015)

Callum Turner, Anton Yelchin, and Alia Shawkat stand in a room with a Confederate flag

This is what X wishes it could be. By far one of the best, most inventive, most suspenseful killing-them-one-by-one/slasher horror films of the past decade. A group of up-and-coming actors including Imogen Poots, Callum Turner, Alia Shawkat, and the gone-too-soon Anton Yelchin make up a punk band who are slowly stalked by a group of neo-Nazis in a remote bar after witnessing a murder. Trying to escape from the venue's green room, the group is picked off one by one in an increasingly bloody and stressful chain of events. Unlike X, this wastes little time getting to the horror and forces all its characters into the frenzied hysteria from the jump. This does make me even less likely to go to a punk-rock concert though, so I'm sorry to those bands.

Watch it on Prime Video.

Scott Green/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

4.The Witch (2015)

Anya Taylor-Joy stands in the woods

Welcome to the A24 God Tier! These four films are, in my estimation, near perfect. To start we have Robert Egger's debut about a 17th-century Puritan family who are banished into the wilderness after a religious dispute only to be beset by increasingly demonic forces. Oh and of course set against the backdrop of the Salem witch trials, something wicked this way comes. This is the film that launched Anya Taylor-Joy into stardom as Thomasin, it was A24's first breakout horror box office success, and of course it ends with a massive bonfire (although no one is burning in it that we know of). The Witch also gave us the iconic "Would you like to live deliciously?" and proved Eggers with the clout to make the more expensive and more bizarre The Lighthouse and The Northman. A horror masterpiece!

Watch it on Prime Video.

Jarin Blaschke/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Midsommar (2019)

Florence Pugh cries on the floor with other women

I could wander off into a field weeping from how good this film is. A horror film set in broad daylight that is somehow scarier than 99% of these pitch-black, killer-in-the-shadows bloodbaths. Ari Aster is a modern master, and the fact he has nabbed two slots in this list's top trio is a testament to him as a filmmaker and a storyteller. Florence Pugh should have been Oscar nominated for her performance here as Dani, a woman mourning the death of her family who tags along on her douchy boyfriend's trip to rural Sweden only to be confronted by an evil cult. The kills are gruesome and ominous, the character arc of Dani is one much more profound than that of typical horror films, and we end with someone being burned alive in a bear costume! What more could you want?

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Climax (2018)

A group of dancers dance in a tight clump

When a group of French dancers in the '90s decide to spend the weekend rehearsing at an abandoned school, they are not prepared for someone to spike the sangria with LSD and send the whole crew into a frenzied fever dream. The mostly improvised, EDM-fueled, horror dance film is completely singular. I've never seen anything like it. The extended single-take shots allow the camera to rove around the desolate school, bumping into members of the troupe as they spiral into mayhem to often horrifically violent results. The dancing is brilliant, the way the story evolves is captivating, and the whodunit nature of the film adds an extra element of mystery as you try to figure out who put the LSD in the punch to cause this mess. The opening dance sequence alone is enough to put this in the top 10. Oh, and someone does burn themselves in the mess. #A24HallOfFlame

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

1.Hereditary (2018)

Toni Collette looks shocked

It was Hereditary. It was always Hereditary. Not for one second did I even consider putting a film above this masterclass of horror. This was the best film of 2018, the best horror film of the decade, and deserves a spot on the AFI Best 100 Films of All-Time. Toni Collette was ROBBED of the Oscar she deserved for this captivating performance as a mother sorting through the mixed emotions she's feeling at the loss of her own mother only to face the death of her daughter as well. The kills are gruesome and instantly iconic. The lines ("Hail Paimon"; "I am your mother") are quotable. There are jump scares here unlike anything else on this list, but the film isn't relying on things popping out of the dark to keep its audience entertained. The story, scares, acting, and directing are all airtight. The sets are beautiful and haunting. The images stick in your mind. And of course there will be a body on fire by the end. Hereditary is A24's highest earner globally, and there is a reason for that. It's the best horror film they've got and one I don't see being surpassed any time soon.

Watch it on Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

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