Question: What is the greatest year in horror film history?


I don’t blame horror fans for the passionate debates we get into. It’s almost impossible to be totally objective with a question like that. The most important and invaluable aspect of art is its subjectivity. It creates the possibility for different viewpoints, allowing for discussion and (sometimes) healthy debate. Every person, whether they mean to or not, has an opinion on the pieces that they come across. Sometimes, however, this debate can spiral into a cycle of nastiness that prohibits the free expression of ideas and views.

Horror is no exception. We watch, discuss and rate each movie that we watch, trying to determine its place in the pantheon of great horror cinema. Websites such as Rotten Tomatoes and apps like Letterboxd allow us to share our thoughts and start discussions with other fans about the merits of each film we rate. The problem with these discussions, however, is the very subjectivity that makes art so important. No one can be either “right or wrong”. The conversation often devolves into name-calling and hurt feelings, effectively shutting down our willingness to share our views in the first place. What we need, as a community, is to answer some of these questions once and for all so that we can get back to discussions about how to improve the genre.


The Greatest Year in Horror History

You’re in luck, Fiends! We have taken the numbers into consideration and come up with a definitive answer to the question on everyone’s mind at the end of the year. Which year, officially, is the greatest year in horror film history?



Here’s a quick rundown of how the rankings were decided:

We took a look at all of the horror films from 1970 to 2017. (The early 1970’s were a starting point for us because A) We needed one and B) The frequency of quality and iconic horror films really picked up during this time).

To determine a “score” for each year, we took a look at 5 different rating sources-

  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Score
  • RT Critic’s Average Rating
  • RT Audience Score
  • RT Audience Average Rating
  • IMDB Viewer Ratings

– These ratings were averaged to find the “Fiend Score” for each film. We then combined the Fiend Score of the top three horror films from each year to give that year a total. I admit, the selection of the top three films was sometimes difficult. It was necessary to take other factors into account, such as the size of release, box office total and iconic status to determine which films were included in the top three. These three films were totaled and given an official number which we are calling its “NOFS Score”. These NOFS Scores ranged anywhere from 142 (Ouch) to 255.

Over the next few weeks we will be counting down the years and finally reveal, once and for all, the Greatest Year in Horror Film History! This week, we will be discussing-

#3- 2017

NOFS Score- 239

Several journalists and publications, most notably The New York Times Magazine, have dubbed 2017 “The Year of Horror”. It was a blockbuster year, for sure, with horror films raking in over $1 Billion at the box office. Our official ranking, however, places 2017 at number three. How did we end up with this score? Here are the film with the top three Fiend Scores for 2017:

The Greatest Year in Horror Film History- Split

#3– Split

Written and Directed By: M. Night Shyamlan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy

Fiend Score- 73

As a devoted Shyamalaniac (TM), I couldn’t be happier about his resurgence these last few years. The Visit (2015), while not my favorite film of his, definitely showed that he is still very effective within the confines of a low-budget horror movie. Split was a huge success, bringing in over $278 Million for Blumhouse Productions, and it brought us one of the most satisfying closing scenes of the year.


James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy’s performances make this film the joy to watch that it is. Without their work to back up the story, this film quickly turns into just another “girls trapped by a psycho” movie that we would have quickly forgotten about. Anya’s Casey deserves to be placed in the upper echelon of horror “Final Girls” because of her survival instincts and the quiet strength she shows in the face of a monster. With the confidence that he displayed in Split, I have no doubts that Shyamalan is back and will crush next year’s Glass.


The Greatest Year in Horror Film History- It


Directed By: Andy Muschietti
Written By: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman
Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher and Sophie Lillis

Fiend Score- 80

Here lies my favorite horror film of the year. The first chapter of the new adaptation has grossed a staggering $695 Million at the worldwide box office, making it one of the top grossing films of the year. It has been written about extensively all over Nightmare on Film Street, so going over what the film is about is a bit redundant. Instead, let’s take a quick look at what made the film so successful.

Nostalgia can either be your best friend or it can be the death of your project. The expectations surrounding this film were immense and there was very little room for error for Muschietti and company. What stood out to me was how much of Stephen King’s vision the director was able to get on the screen. Yes, plot points were changed, scares were either combined or replaced and character roles were altered, but the essence of the story was left intact throughout the film. It did not focus solely on Pennywise (interpreted and played beautifully by Bill Skarsgard), but instead followed our Loser’s Club as they each dealt with the Clown and the demons in their personal lives. It was a film that reminded us all about how important those early friendships were, and helped us all to remember those that helped us fight the Dancing Clowns in our own lives.


Greatest Year in Horror Film History- Get Out

#1– Get Out

Written and Directed By: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford

Fiend Score- 86

It may have been my favorite, but Get Out was the most important horror film of 2017. Jordan Peele delivered, in his directorial debut, a tightly-wound thriller that not only delivered the scares, but also started important conversations about race relations in the United States. The film featured a standout performance by Daniel Kaluuya and grossed a very impressive $254 Million at the box office.

The most effective parts of Get Out happened before we even knew what was going on in the film. We obviously knew that something was amiss with the Armitage family, we just weren’t sure what it was yet. It has been years since I have felt as uncomfortable as I did during the outdoor party scene, and it was my favorite horror moment of 2017. The interactions between the older guests and Kaluuya’s Chris were dripping with subtle racism, whether it was how they changed the way they spoke in front of him or the need for one of the guests to mention Tiger Woods. These interactions can be brushed off as out-of-touch old folks just being uncomfortable, but then the bidding begins.

It will go down as an iconic moment in horror history and we are all lucky to have been able to experience it. Get Out is not only the film with the highest Fiend Score of 2017, but it has an extraordinary effect on everyone that watches it. It forces us to look inside ourselves and assess how we treat the people of color in our lives. The comfort bubble that sometimes surrounds us was burst open and we were able to see how our behavior effects people different from ourselves. This is a rare thing in horror, and I hope that more films moving forward are able to comment on social injustice as well as Get Out.


  • Both Annabelle: Creation and Happy Death Day were close to cracking the top three films of the year. They finished with Fiend Scores of 68 and 67, respectively. I feel like both films are still required viewing, however, especially the scarecrow scenes in Annabelle.
  • It Comes at Night sported the second-highest Tomatometer Score of the year, but it was also the recipient of the Newly-Created-By-Me “Garbage Day” Award for the film with the largest disconnect between the critic and audience ratings. The Tomatometer score for the film was 88%, but the audience score dropped down to 43%, a difference of 45%! This is less an indictment of the film itself and more of a failing grade to the studio for marketing it as something it was not. Apparently nobody at A24 learned from their marketing mistakes with 2016’s The Witch.

Join the Discussion:

Let’s start a constructive conversation! What do you think about 2017 being the third Greatest Year in Horror Film History? Is it too high? Too low? Which years do you think will rank above it? Join our official Facebook Group and let us know! Stay tuned to Nightmare on Film Street and we will be posting the top-two years over the next two weeks.