The horror movie genre has seen a surplus of fresh talent in recent years, including newcomer Ari Aster, whose chilling feature directorial debut “Hereditary” is in theaters now. And with that talent has come a bevy of future classics in the genre, including “Hereditary,” “The Babadook,” and “Get Out.”
The genre has produced hit after hit, even if you only look at this year and last. “Get Out” scored $255 million worldwide on a $4 million budget and won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. “It,” based on the Stephen King novel, blew away expectations and pulled in over $700 million worldwide. This year, John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” has made over $326 million globally with a $17 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo.
It’s no wonder that studios are recruiting horror directors for blockbusters. “Saw” and “The Conjuring” horror-master James Wan is finishing up “Aquaman” for later this year, and “Annabelle: Creation” director David F. Sandberg is directing another DC superhero movie, “Shazam!”
But hopefully they don’t forget the genre they came from.
Jason Blum, the producer of “Get Out” and other horror hits like “Happy Death Day” and the upcoming “Halloween” movie, thinks that the genre has been a little too successful. In an interview with Variety, he said there will be a “depression in the horror market real soon, because when you get a bunch of hit scary movies, everyone wants to make them.” Hopefully that’s not the case, because the genre has been churning out some of its best movies in years.
Whatever happens, we know there are plenty of talented filmmakers bringing new ideas to horror who have bright futures ahead of them. Even some veterans, like Guillermo del Toro, are still redefining what the genre can be and accomplish (see Best Picture winner “The Shape of Water”).
Below are 13 of the best horror directors working today:
Most recent film: “Don’t Breath” (2016)
Next film: “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (2018)
First horror film: “Evil Dead” (2013)
Alvarez will be taking on the next chapter in the Lisbeth Salander saga later this year with “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.” His “Don’t Breathe” was a tense thriller about a group of thieves who break into a house where a blind, but dangerous, man stalks them.
Most recent film: “Hereditary” (2018)
Next film: Unknown
First horror film: “Hereditary”
“Hereditary” is proving to be a polarizing movie with audiences, but Ari Aster delivers a brutal and meticulously crafted horror film for the ages with his feature directorial debut.
Guillermo del Toro
- Fox Searchlight Pictures
Most recent film: “The Shape of Water” (2017)
Next film: “Nightmare Alley”
First horror film: “Cronos” (1993)
Del Toro finally won the directing Oscar this year for “The Shape of Water,” which also won Best Picture. Some may argue that it’s not a horror movie, but I beg to differ. Whatever the case, del Toro is one of the horror masters working today, simply because he so often blurs the lines of what a horror movie can be. His career stretches back over two decades, and includes the likes of fantasy superhero movies (with horror elements) like “Blade II” and “Hellboy,” and fantasy horror like “The Devil’s Backbone,” and the critically acclaimed “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Next, he’ll remake the 1947 film noir “Nightmare Alley.”
Most recent film: “The Witch” (2016)
Next film: “The Lighthouse” (2019)
First horror film: “The Witch”
“The Witch” was one of the best reviewed movies of 2016, scoring 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Eggers will return next year with another fantasy horror, “The Lighthouse,” starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.
- IFC Films
Most recent film: “The Babadook” (2014)
Next film: “The Nightingale” (2018)
First horror film: “The Babadook”
Kent made quite an impression with the critically acclaimed “The Babadook.” Her next film, an Australian revenge-drama set in the 1820s called “The Nightingale,” is in post-production, according to IMDb.
David Robert Mitchell
Most recent film: “It Follows” (2014)
Next film: “Under the Silver Lake” (2018)
First horror film: “It Follows”
Mitchell’s next film, “Under the Silver Lake,” will be a crime dramedy starring Andrew Garfield. A24 recently pushed back its release date from this summer to December. Mitchell’s “It Follows,” about a demon that is passed on by having sex with someone else, was one of the best horror movies of the decade, so here’s hoping he returns to the genre.
- Warner Bros.
Most recent film: “It” (2017)
Next film: “It: Chapter 2” (2019)
First horror film: “Mama” (2013)
Mushietti delivered one of 2017’s biggest surprise hits with his adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.” He’ll follow it up next year with the second chapter, which began filming this month.
- Universal Pictures
Most recent film: “Get Out” (2017)
Next film: “Us” (2019)
First horror film: “Get Out”
Peele won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his social-horror hit “Get Out,” and he already has a follow-up on the way. Horror-thriller “Us,” starring Lupita Nyong’o, comes to theaters in March.
David F. Sandberg
- New Line Cinema
Most recent film: “Annabelle: Creation” (2017)
Next film: “Shazam!” (2019)
First horror film: “Lights Out” (2016)
Sandberg had back-to-back well-reviewed horror movies with “Lights Out” and “Annabelle: Creation,” and he’s stepping into the superhero genre next year with DC’s “Shazam!” But hopefully he doesn’t step away from horror for too long.
Most recent film: “Green Room” (2016)
Next film: “Hold the Dark” (2018)
First horror film: “Murder Party” (2007)
Saulnier’s neo-Nazi horror movie “Green Room” was hailed as one of the best movies of 2016 by many critics, including at the A.V. Club. He directed the first two episodes of the next season of HBO’s “True Detective,” but his next film will be “Hold the Dark,” about a writer hired to track down a missing child.
Trey Edward Shults
Most recent film: “It Comes At Night” (2017)
Next film: Unknown
First horror film: “Krisha” (2015)
Shults broke out in the horror genre with “Krisha” and followed it up with “It Comes At Night,” a creepy, claustrophobic thriller. We don’t know what his next movie will be, but hopefully we find out soon.
M. Night Shyamalan
Most recent film: “Split” (2016)
Next film: “Glass” (2019)
First horror film: “The Sixth Sense” (1999)
Shyamalan became a joke a few years back after a series of duds. But the filmmaker has had a comeback recently with back-to-back horror hits “The Visit” and “Split.” His win streak might continue in January, when he’ll finally unveil his long-awaited “Unbreakable” follow-up, “Glass,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis.
- Warner Bros.
Most recent film: “The Conjuring 2” (2016)
Next film: “Aquaman” (2018)
First horror film: “Saw” (2004)
Wan may be dipping into the world of blockbusters recently with “Furious 7” and this year’s “Aquaman,” but his last film was “The Conjuring 2,” the follow-up to his hit horror film that kick-started a franchise that includes the “Annabelle” movies and the upcoming “The Nun.” Before that, he made a name for himself in horror with “Saw” and “Insidious.” After “Aquaman,” he’ll step into the world of Stephen King for an adaptation of his novel “The Tommyknockers.”