The year in horror

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Clockwise from left: A Quiet Place Part II (Photo: Paramount); Old (Photo: Universal Pictures); Malignant (Photo: Ron Batzdorff / Warner Bros.)

Clockwise from left: A Quiet Place Part II (Photo: Paramount); Old (Photo: Universal Pictures); Malignant (Photo: Ron Batzdorff / Warner Bros.)

It’s a scary time to be alive, and to go to the movies. But have the movies themselves been scary? With Halloween coming this weekend, critics A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife discuss the year in horror movies—the state of the genre in these uncertain times, the trends that defined these past few months of fright fare, and our spooky favorites of 2021.

It’s Horrors Week here at The A.V. Club, so be sure to check out all our horror related content, including this week’s Ultimate Slasher Franchise Tournament, where we crown the greatest slasher-movie franchise of them all. In the final round, Michael Myers and the Halloween franchise faces off with Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare On Elm Street series. Head over to the link above to see who won, or check out an excerpt below:

Maybe it was always going to come down to these two. The unholy monsters of suburbia. The leading bogeymen of the box office. America’s favorite unkillable killers. One basically kicked off the whole slasher-movie craze of the ’80s—his was the blank, rubber William Shatner face that launched a thousand ships through a thousand bays of blood. The other arrived right when the subgenre was beginning to peter out, extending its life by introducing a different kind of homicidal villain: smaller frame, bigger mouth, powers his masked contemporaries couldn’t, uh, dream of.

With apologies to Jason Voorhees, whose series got knocked out of this tournament a couple rounds back, Michael Myers is the true strong and silent yin to Freddy Krueger’s yang. Mike is death personified. He just keeps coming and killing, a Duracell battery of malevolence. He has no pretensions, just unquenchable bloodlust. Freddy is his opposite number, the McEnroe to his Borg, the demonic clown to his pokerfaced straight man. He’s the rock star, the showman. He’ll make a whole production out of ripping out your insides. The two could be a classic comedy duo, a study in contrasts.

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