Horror Films in 2016

12:01 AM

With Ouija 2 hitting cinemas this past weekend and Halloween being just days away, it's that time of the year again where we look back at what the horror genre has provided us in 2016. Unusually, 2016 has been a pretty good year for horror films with many being both commercial and critical successes - the latter is one that is very rare! How does 2016 compare to previous years? What are the best and worst horror films of 2016 so far? Which horror flick is winning the box office race? What horror films are remaining for the year? Find out in this post!

Box Office
Here are the 5 highest grossing horror films of 2016 so far:
1. The Conjuring 2 - $320.2 million
2. Lights Out - $148.0 million
3. Don't Breathe - $147.1 million
4. The Shallows - $119.1 million
5. The Purge: Election Year - $118.1 million

That's right unlike in 2015, where only one horror film was able to crack $100 million internationally, all of the top 5 were able to in 2016 - that is fantastic for the genre! The Conjuring 2 is almost definitely going to keep the top spot by the time the end of December comes around - without adjusting for inflation, the second instalment was able to surpass (just) the total gross of the first film which shows there is still plenty of interest in this franchise. The Conjuring 2 also beat 2014's Annabelle. Annabelle 2 is hitting cinemas next year so numbers may still be strong then and it may be able to beat the original Annabelle's total? Out of the films in the top 5, The Conjuring 2 had the highest budget - $40 million - so it needed to make at least $80 million to break even and it definitely did that...the film has a profit margin of 300.09% - that is fantastic! The rest of the horror films in the top 5 were all made on reasonably low budgets so it's no surprise that they all are profitable. Currently, Lights Out and Don't Breathe are the most profitable films released out of all the films 2016 has offered - with profit margins of 1,400% and 650% respectively. One important thing to note is that Blumhouse currently only has one film in the top 5 which is very unusual for them - they haven't offered as much this year but The Purge 3 was able to become the highest grossing film in the franchise so far and secure the studio a spot in the top 5. It's debatable whether The Shallows is a horror film as it is more of a horror hybrid but who would have thought the Blake Lively shark flick would do so well? This is fantastic for Lively's career. All 5 films mentioned have done extremely well.

Other horror films released in the year didn't too well and weren't able to crack the top 5 (they were pretty far off). These include The Boy ($64.2 million), The Witch ($39.3 million), The Forest ($37.6 million) and Blair Witch ($35.7 million). The latter really should have done much much better considering the first film is considered a horror classic. None of these were financial disasters as they all had reasonably low budgets and credit must go to The Boy from STX Entertainment - if 2016 was any ordinary year, The Boy's performance would have actually ranked quite high and it was the studios biggest film yet until recently. The Witch also did pretty well - it isn't a mainstream film and definitely played much better with audiences than similarly targeted flicks such as It Follows and The Babadook. The Forest was a January release which is a quiet movie watching month but the biggest disappointment this year so far is definitely Blair Witch  - horror was truly on a roll until this film came along. Initially, it was expected to open with around what the final total has ended up being!

So what horror films are left for 2016? The jury is still out on Ouija 2. The first film was able to make over $100 million worldwide but it was also one of the most critically panned films of that year as well so I don't see many audiences returning for this second instalment. It does have quite a good release date though near Halloween so that could encourage audiences to show up. Early reviews have remarkably been very positive so the future could be bright for this sequel and franchise. Ouija 2 is probably the last 'big' horror release for the year but other films that could make an impression include Shut In and Incarnate. I expect the top 5 for the end of the year to look pretty much the same as it does now though.

Previous Years
So let's compare 2016s horror offerings to the past few years. Unlike 2015, I believe 2016 has provided films that audiences are going to remember - Don't Breathe was critically acclaimed and has had strong legs at the box office which suggests that word of mouth is strong. The Conjuring 2 also outperformed its predecessor internationally so 2016 has the highest grossing horror film in years (without adjusting for inflation). The Conjuring 2 easily beats last years horror box office winner Insidious 3 ($112 million) and also comes out on top against the winners of 2014 and 2013 - Annabelle and The Conjuring. For some reason, 2016 has been an impressive year for horror - studios seemed to have finally learnt they can't keep making cheap and low quality scary flicks and actually making something different - each member of the current top 5 are all unique in comparison to each other whereas previous films have been full of jump scare packed low budget flicks.

Critically
2016 has been a very good year for horror films and their critical reception. Don't Breathe holds 87%, The Conjuring 2 is at 80% (6% lower than the first), Lights Out is at 77%, The Shallows holds 77% and The Witch is at 91% - there are actually many more positive reviewed horror films than there have been in any year in recent memory. However, there still definitely were the critically panned ones - despite starting off with strong reviews, Blair Witch is at 35% but the big critically hated films so far have been The Forest (10%) and The Darkness (4%) - I was expecting Ouija 2 to join this list but it has been yet another horror film to receive critical acclaim. It is actually interesting that the better reviewed films did better at the box office which truly does show audiences were sick and tired of poor quality horrors and really bought into the ones that were actually good - this suggests that studios may finally learn that quality sells tickets! Out of the 5 highest grossing horrors of 2016, 4 are fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the only rotten one being The Purge 3 which is at 55% which is actually pretty strong for a horror (usually).

Personally, my favourite horror films of the year have been Don't Breathe and The Conjuring 2 which I believe are very well made films and both are in contention for making my year end top 10 list. On the other hand, my least favourite horror by far has been Blair Witch - a very tedious film to get through. You can read my full opinions on those films by clicking on the title.

Horror in 2016 is well and truly alive! I am pleased to say that as the genre was slowly dying as the years went on but for some reason, studios actually produced well made horror flicks that audiences connected to and liked. The bin men aren't needed this year as there hasn't been much trash - The Darkness was both a critical failure and financial flop which is clear evidence that audiences do care about quality. This Halloween, if Don't Breathe is still playing in your local cinema go see it or go and watch Ouija: Origin of Evil as it is meant to be pretty good!...if not The Conjuring 2 has just come out on DVD so I'd recommend purchasing that! 2016 has really set the bar for 2017 - we have Annabelle 2 which is looking to win the year and hopefully beat the first film but we also have Insidious 4 which is part of a franchise that has previously topped the year end charts. What will 2017 bring? Was 2016 just the odd-year out?

Happy Halloween! 

See You Soon!

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