The Best Horror Movies In Sundance History

EJ Moreno looks at Sundance and its very long heritage with horror…

In lots of ways, Sundance Movie Pageant is a horror movie territory. The iconic Utah-based movie festival has been residence to countless memorable horror debuts for many years. From fashionable classics to classic defining times, we have observed the best of the most effective appear by way of this pageant. 

Now, as we prepare for yet another 12 months of festival delights, let us glance back again at the horror historical past of Sundance. We’ll appear at ten motion pictures that debuted at the film festival and investigate their legacy and what built them so very good.

Dead Alive

Let us search at the 1993 Sundance Movie Festival to establish the relationship concerning Sundance and horror. We see the “Park Town at Midnight” period in whole result, enabling more obscure and weird movies to showcase during the usually awards-welcoming film competition. The Midnight area is in which films like Peter Jackson’s Useless Alive / Braindead experienced a minute to shine in their debut.

Peter Jackson is obviously much better regarded for his operate with Lord of the Rings, but his gross-out horror moments dwell on in style fans’ minds for many years. In Useless Alive, the filmmaker throws excellent style to the wind and helps make just one of the most outrageous items of horror cinema at any time. Ass-kicking monks, evil toddlers, and a lawnmower scene with gallons of gore all appear collectively for a unforgettable film that shook its viewers at Park Metropolis.

The Babadook

2014 is a person of people peaceful banger several years for horror. A great deal of indie favorites would go on to make a long lasting perception. You just can’t mention movies with an effects like that with out mentioning The Babadook. The movie created its worldwide premiere at the 2014 version and speedily discovered its way to horror iconic status.

At the time, the film was off to a unforgettable start. The competition opinions were being favourable, and the movie was quickly picked up by IFC Midnight subsequent its Sundance premiere. The buzz kept on to its debut, and shortly, The Babadook observed a way to develop into a horror icon and a meme machine. It was odd to see, but looking again at the competition debut, all people should’ve found The Babadook dominance coming.

The Night time Dwelling

The most up-to-date film on this listing, The Night Property, is a contemporary basic. So substantially of this film performs like traditional horror, giving you a bit of Polanski but even now feeling wholly original. This film is exactly the form you’d hope to find at a movie pageant, and it served as a modern-day reminder that Sundance is nevertheless the household for horror.

Sadly, the pandemic messed up the film’s release as it had its pageant debut in January 2020 but would not see a release right up until August of the pursuing calendar year. Hell, even the streaming debut wouldn’t transpire until Spring 2022. The Night House could’ve slayed 2020 as its defining genre entry, but it even now designed a splash on release. The Critics’ Alternative Super Awards nominated it for Very best Horror Film and Ideal Actress for Rebecca Hall’s unforgettable transform.

The Witch

To think Robert Eggers only entered the life of horror fans in just 2015. The filmmaker took the festival by storm that calendar year, declaring 2015 Sundance the 12 months of The Witch. The people interval horror turned out to be the most memorable movie of that year’s party and would go on to be a paradigm change of kinds.

As we have noticed what this movie has performed for A24 and the careers of director Eggers and guide actress Anya Taylor-Joy, it is wild to feel of its daring beginnings. The film won Robert Eggers a director’s award at Sundance and launched Pleasure to a occupation wherever she just earned nonetheless yet another Golden World nomination. The Witch is a drive in the horror earth and specifically the bold debuts that make Sundance that early go-to.

The Blair Witch Venture

It was 1999, just a further midnight in Park Town, when the planet of horror saw a seismic shift. The Blair Witch Undertaking was unleashed on the planet with its Sundance Competition debut, and it shortly turned the marketplace typical for several years to occur. Boundaries ended up pushed, designs have been formats Blair Witch was the second.

This little indie motion picture produced for fewer than $700,000 was bought for a million dollars due to the fact of its robust pageant exhibiting. Together with its revolutionary advertising and marketing campaign, we saw the start of what so several artists are continue to executing today to make daring hits. But not a lot of motion pictures featured on this listing actually had the affect and genre implications we observed birthed at the 1999 Sundance Movie Competition.

American Psycho

“The term on the internet is that American Psycho is likely to be this year’s Battle Club.” That is what The Guardian wrote in 2000 about American Psycho, the Mary Harron masterpiece based mostly on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel. If they only understood how suitable they were, American Psycho created a legacy.

The 2000 horror movie properly adapted the resource materials, but we observed real masterful route breathe new everyday living into the operate. It’s grotesque, acquiring an NC-17 upon its unique slash, and declared by itself just one of the most noteworthy films at the year’s jam-packed festival. American Psycho also gave us adult Christian Bale, in a role that would outline his career and make him 1 of the most significant actors of the 2000s.


A modern-day genre grasp was born at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Adhering to a single of the most infamous small films, Ari Aster introduced Hereditary to the world, building each and every style fan incredibly joyful that working day. The simple fact the film left the function without the need of a one award is thoughts-blowing.

As we await Aster’s future undertaking, this season is the best time to mirror on the horror debut that shocked us all. A clean new director providing up a style traditional with significant talent concerned, it’s a best storm. The chilling and, at times, darkly amusing movie feels like the kind of venture tailored designed for Sundance. It helps elevate Hereditary as a single of the vital Sundance movies in modern instances.


If you’d seem at the genre in 2004, no one particular could’ve witnessed the increase of films like Observed. Debuting early in ’04 as component of the Midnight motion picture choice, the torture-loaded slasher would later come to be all the rage adhering to this occasion. We also saw the scarce “purchase prior to Sundance” hit below.

What also stands out about the movie is how it released the professions of two industry titans. 2004 Sundance observed the increase of Leigh Whannell (Upgrade, The Invisible Person) and the horror master James Wan. We all know how stacked Wan’s resume would turn into shortly just after this film, and it practically feels wild to see how the film introduced as a humble tiny midnight horror film. So a lot of filmmakers would afterwards check out to recapture what Wan introduced right here.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

An underrepresented genre on this list is the lovable horror comedy. Sundance can carry the thrills and the chills, but it can also get some bloody superior laughs. One particular of the finest illustrations is the rewatchable and hilarious Tucker & Dale vs. Evil from the 2010 Sundance Movie Pageant.

There is been loads of challenging-hitting movies from this competition, but it claims one thing when two chuckle-out-loud splatter-fest built the listing. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil experienced rigid competitiveness at this year’s function, with 2010 being a person of the current standout yrs. What can help this 1 stand out, in certain, is the long lasting perception it tends to make on viewers. You see this as soon as, immediately know the estimates, and the gory goodness stays with you.

Get Out

Get Out is a person of the most prosperous horror films in modern years, permit alone from the Sundance Movie Pageant. It is protected to say that Jordan Peele’s debut shook the table and permit viewers know that the filmmaker was not participating in all over when entering the horror style.

The Academy Award-successful film felt like nothing at the time, and as plenty of filmmakers endeavor its twists & turns, we see there is continue to nothing at all fairly like Get Out. To this day, I never know if a single horror film has designed the splash at Sundance that this did. Hell, most videos would like they could have the cultural impact that this motion picture created. Peele built a thing unique and proved at the time yet again that horror belongs at Sundance.

Sundance 2023 operates from January 19th to 29th. Be certain to follow Flickering Fantasy for exclusive protection and horror critiques from this year’s event.

EJ Moreno


Shirley McQuay

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