The 10 Best Horror Movies Released in the First Half of 2023

Where does the time go? We’re now halfway through 2023, so you know the drill. It’s time to reflect on the year so far with a look at the best horror movies released in 2023… so far.

This summer’s only getting warmed up for horror releases, and the Halloween season ensures a packed Fall to come. So far, though, 2023 offers no shortage of horror gems that run the gamut from highly anticipated sequels to genre-benders and viral sensations.

As a refresher and to ensure great movies don’t fall through the cracks, here are the ten best horror movies released in the first half of 2023…

Huesera: The Bone Woman

Huesera Best Horror Movies 2023

When so many pregnancy horror movies isolate the mother-to-be, breeding mistrust from everyone around her, Huesera internalizes it. Refreshingly, it’s less about motherhood and more about the loss of self. Director Michelle Garza Cervera, who co-wrote with Abia Castillo, repurposes a Mexican folktale for a modern tale of maternal fears. Cervera uses the Huesera to create unsettling moments that build tangible dread and suspense. More prominent than the atmosphere, though, is how the haunting figure is employed to crack open main character Valeria’s (Natalia Soliá) psyche and expose repressed emotions and anxieties. 


Missing Best Horror Movies 2023

This twisty screenlife thriller tracks June’s (Storm Reid) search for answers when her mother (Nia Long) goes missing on vacation. June creatively uses all the latest technology at her fingertips to try and find Mom from thousands of miles away, but the more she digs, the more unsettling questions she uncovers. Written and directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson, Missing moves at a breakneck pace and keeps you guessing.


Jessica Sula in Malum

In a rare turn of events, director/co-writer Anthony DiBlasi gives a new update to his own 2014 horror film Last Shift with Malum. DiBlasi reunites with Last Shift co-writer Scott Poiley, creating an expanded story that strengthens the original narrative and offers even bloodier occult mayhem. DiBlasi’s Malum serves as a perfect introduction to his twisted demonic realm while supporting his original film as a fascinating companion piece. Combine that with gloriously gory FX from Russell FX, and you’ve got a recipe for a ghoulishly bloody time.

Candy Land

Candy Land review

Candy Land unfurls its sleazy slasher filled with broken dreams, religious repression, and a sensitive depiction of sex workers right before a grim turn. Writer/Director John Swab introduces a group of tight-knit sex workers dubbed “lot lizards.” They live out of the motel and spend their days chatting near the gas station, snowballs and soda in hand, between sexual encounters in bathroom stalls or truck cabs. It’s this humanizing depiction and world-building that bolsters a familiar setup. The dead bodies begin to accrue once all characters and the setting are thoroughly established. It marks the tipping point from a sensitive portrayal to a grim, bloody path of broken dreams and hearts.

Beau Is Afraid

Beau is Afraid Best Horror Movies 2023

“Nightmare comedy” is the perfect phrase to describe Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid, a darkly funny Kafkaesque odyssey that defies easy categorization. The writer and director of Hereditary and Midsommar is back with yet another emotionally complex saga, this one his most ambitious yet. The visionary combs his literary and cinematic influences, infusing them into a surreal, emotionally tumultuous journey that’ll prove divisive for its cryptic, unhurried storytelling. That makes for a polarizing film, but Aster’s ability to wring palpable tension from even comedic scenarios and a commitment to practical effects (including a 15-foot monstrous penis) makes for a wild genre-bending journey.

Evil Dead Rise

evil dead rise image

Writer/Director Lee Cronin transports the familiar franchise cabin setting to a Los Angeles high-rise apartment to plunge a family into Deadite hell. In Cronin’s attempts to forge new ground, the filmmaker always retains sight of what makes an Evil Dead movie, well, Evil Dead. The filmmaker pays tribute to the features that came before through iconic camera work, quotable lines, hero shots, beloved weaponry, and an admirable commitment to spilling the most blood possible. But it’s Alyssa Sutherland’s absolutely demented performance as the central Deadite foe that makes this sequel a standout horror film of 2023 so far.



Writer/Director Jalmari Helander delivered a delightfully wicked twist to Santa Claus in 2010’s genre-bender Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Helander’s latest, Sisu, sees the filmmaker reteaming with some familiar Rare Exports faces for another crowd-pleasing genre-bender, this time an R-rated journey through Lapland near the end of World War II. The period action-adventure goes hard on hyper-violence and has a sense of humor to match. While this classifies as an action feature, not horror, Helander’s gleeful revelry in splattering Nazi guts all over Lapland, slasher style, makes this an action film for the horror fan.

The Blackening

The Blackening Antoinette Robertson and Sinqua Walls

Antoinette Robertson as Lisa and Sinqua Walls as Nnamdi in The Blackening. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson

Directed by Tim Story and co-written by Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip, Harlem) and Dewayne Perkins (“The Amber Ruffin Show,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), The Blackening skewers genre tropes to an infectiously entertaining degree. It follows a group of Black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway only to find themselves trapped in a remote cabin with a twisted killer. The slasher setup and skewering of tropes lay the foundation for a crowd-pleasing horror comedy. It’s not the kills or the horror that makes this so compelling, but the natural chemistry among the cast that instantly endears their characters to the audience and leaves you singing the O’Reilly Auto Parts jingle along with them.

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool - June streaming

Writer/Director Brandon Cronenberg returns to the deep well of surreal, grotesque sci-fi horror for his latest. It sees James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) thrown into the deep end of depravity when fellow affluent tourists teach him a loophole to avoid punishment for crimes. It’s not just the shocking escalation or Cronenberg’s approach that keeps Infinity Pool so engaging and occasionally repulsive, but the committed performances by Skarsgård and co-star Mia Goth. The increasingly complex layers added to James and Gabi reveal there’s far more to Infinity Pool than simply the rich eating the rich. Cronenberg’s sense of style, an unrelenting sense of dread and tension, and two utterly captivating, depraved leads ensure these provocative waters are worth wading into.

Scream VI

Scream VI Ghostface

Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group’s “Scream VI.”

Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Scream, Ready or Not) continue their streak of hitting that perfect blend of suspenseful thrills and biting humor. Here the filmmakers up the ante, delivering inventive, edge-of-your-seat set pieces that showcase the urban setting and how savage Ghostface is this round. The kills are merciless and visceral, and the chase sequences are impressive and plentiful. It’s also surprising how this sequel engages with Scream 2 in plot and theme. Dense arcs and themes aside, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett ensure that you’ll never want for entertainment here; it’s a bloody feast for the slasher fan.

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