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10 Best Serial Killer Movies Of The 2010s


10 Best Serial Killer Movies Of The 2010s


Summary

  • Serial killer films of the 2010s intensify violence for social commentary, confronting audiences with harsh realities.
  • ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ excels in mystery, cast performances, and direction, offering a new level of storytelling.
  • ‘I Am Not a Serial Killer’ and ‘Beast’ offer unique perspectives on killers, focusing on suspense and blurred lines between victim and perpetrator.



Many horror films in the 2010s have a premise revolving around a timeless subject: serial killers. It’s unlikely for audiences to come in contact with a masked villain or supernatural antagonist seen in other horror films, but there’s an uncomfortable likelihood with serial killers that keeps viewers fascinated with the subject. The mere possibility that a serial killer could be lurking around allows such a criminal to be the perfect starting point for a horror film.

Violence and gore are not unusual for horror films, but in a variety of movies about notorious killers, the cruelty is intensified. While some films from the 2010s do such a thing purely for shock value, others include it as a means of social commentary. For the longest time, media reporting of real-life serial killers has been sensationalized, and films like I Saw the Devil and Snowtown ask audiences to directly confront the harsh realities of these crimes.


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10 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The 40-Year-Old Mystery Is Investigated By Two Individuals

Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo looks very serious while wearing a black leather jacket.

The second film adaptation of the 2005 novel of the same name, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, ranks highly among the best David Fincher movies. Following a hacker and a journalist teaming together to investigate a 40-year-old disappearance, the technical aspects of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo excel in amplifying the film’s mystery. Direction and cinematography by Fincher and Jeff Cronenweth and a reinforcing score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross take the film to another level above the 2009 Swedish film adaptation.


Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are also well cast in the film and the latter earned sweeping praise from critics for her dedication to the role of Lisbeth Salander. A vulnerability in Salander was needed by the actresses to play her and Mara hit the nail on the head. Typical gore found within serial killer films isn’t heavily present in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but there are enough disturbing scenes to keep thriller fans duly unsettled.

9 Snowtown (2011)

Retelling Of One Of Australia’s Most Famous Cases

The Snowtown Murders


Based on the true Australian criminal case, Snowtown, also known as The Snowtown Murders, doesn’t shy away from the gruesome facts. Snowtown follows Jamie (Lucas Pittaway), who becomes increasingly closer to the bigoted and murderous John (Daniel Henshall). Accompanying its acute violence, a crucial part of the film is the captivating portrayal of John’s ability to use Jamie’s trauma to lure him into taking part in his killing spree.

Snowtown is the directorial debut of Justin Kurzel and this emotional arc is something he and writer Shaun Grant knew was important to focus on in the film. The mentor relationship that slowly forms between Jamie and John adds a needed depth to the overall story. The final moments of Snowtown add to the emotional weight of the film as audiences are hit with details about one of Australia’s longest and most followed trials.

8 Summer Of 84 (2018)

Group Of Teens Connects Local Disappearances

Cory Gruter-Andrew, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, and Graham Verchere Summer of 84


Following a group of friends suspicious of their neighbor’s involvement in recent local disappearances, Summer of 84 is an entertaining teen horror film. There is a slow and steady suspense built for a majority of the film’s runtime, but overall, Summer of 84 has great laughs and fun characters that keep audiences engaged. Summer of 84 is praised most for its screenplay and humor, which is wonderfully supported by its cast.

A few notable performances in Summer of 84 are Judah Lewis from Netflix’s slasher film The Babysitter, and Rich Sommer from Mad Men, who acts as the suspected culprit. Set in the titular decade, Summer of 84 is chock-full of nostalgic references and has a similar tone as other teen-focused horror films such as It. The story may feel predictable at times, but there are enough jump scares that keep even the most familiar horror fan on their toes.


7 I Am Not A Serial Killer (2016)

Back And Forth Between A Teenager And A Supernatural Killer

Max Records in I Am Not a Serial Killer

I Am Not a Serial Killer is a supernatural horror film with an unusual antagonist. John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records) is fearful he may develop murderous tendencies one day and when a supposed serial killer has been murdering people in his town, John takes it upon himself to stop him. Differentiating itself from other films with a similar subject, the violence in I Am Not a Serial Killer is not intense and the film mainly relies on more suspense over jump scares.


Described as a cat-and-mouse relationship between John and the town’s murderer, it’s unclear just how far the teenage boy will get before he gets caught up in an inescapable situation himself. I Am Not a Serial Killer doesn’t push the horror genre forward in any way, but performances by the cast earned praise, including Records’ portrayal of the inquisitive teenager and a notable career highlight from Christopher Lloyd as his suspicious neighbor.

6 Beast (2017)

A Troubled Girl Befriends A Suspected Murderer

Johnny Flynn and Jessie Buckley driving in Beast

Inspired by “The Beast of Jersey,” Beast is a gripping psychological thriller that blurs the lines between perpetrator and victim for its two main characters played by Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn. The unanswered thought-provoking questions about right and wrong as posed by Beast have the potential to divide audiences, but never knowing which character to trust, Beast is richly suspenseful. Whenever either character appears to be the “hero,” the film flips the audience’s understanding.


It was a purposeful choice made by Beast‘s writer and director Michael Pearce, who aimed to gain a moderate amount of sympathy from audiences. In a 2018 interview, Pearce said, “With all of the characters…I want you to connect with them, but for your relationship to become more complicated as the film wears on.” (via Dazed). Therefore, the storytelling demands an engaged viewing, but it’s one that’s easily accomplished due to the clever twists and unexpected ending.

5 Tragedy Girls (2017)

Murder-Obsessed Best Friends Dive Deep Into Their Interests

McKayla and Sadie in masks and wearing all black in Tragedy Girls


Tonally different from other films listed, Tragedy Girls is a comedic spin on the slasher genre. Tragedy Girls sees its leading best friends McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) and Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) obsessed with true crime and gaining social media followers. These interests are combined when the two decide to carry out murders around town to earn attention. There’s very little suspense and the plot is loose in a few areas, but it doesn’t present a problem for a film that never takes itself too seriously.

The reasons for each murder are comical, such as when the girls kill one of their ex-boyfriends after he gains a higher level of engagement on social media. Shipp and Hildebrand are a delightful duo as two best friends with a nonchalant outlook on their life choices. Among the heavy and sadistic themes within other serial killer films, Tragedy Girls is a much-needed breath of fresh air.

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4 The Clovehitch Killer (2018)

Inspired By A Real-Life Serial Killer

A couple hiding and looking scared in The Clovehitch Killer.

Pulling inspiration from the actual criminal known as the BTK Killer, The Clovehitch Killer shows a teenager (Charlie Plummer) uncovering the dark truth about his father (Dylan McDermott), whom he suspects is a local serial killer. Plummer and McDermott give excellent performances and play into the film’s high levels of suspense. This suspense in The Clovehitch Killer lingers and helps establish an eerie atmosphere.


The Clovehitch Killer doesn’t use all of its thrills at once and spreads them out throughout the movie. The result is a largely still film, but it pays off with a chilling ending. The Clovehitch Killer is one of the more underrated serial killer movies of the 2010s, as author Stephen King put it, “Sometimes an excellent small movie falls through the cracks. That’s the case with THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER (Netflix)…Your mileage may vary, but be warned. Not for the faint of heart.” (via Twitter).

3 Creep (2014)

Creep 2014-1

Compared to other horror films about serial killers, Creep doesn’t do the best job of getting audiences on the edge of their seats in anticipation of a big reveal. Creep stars Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice as its two main characters, Josef and Aaron, with the latter being hired by the former to film his day-to-day life as a gift for his unborn child. Tension rises as Aaron learns more about Josef’s life, but Creep doesn’t try to hide who the antagonist is.


The suspense would have been more effective if the actor’s performance had been more subtle to make room for the mystery surrounding his motives. However, though it’s clear who the antagonist is, it’s not easy to guess what he’s going to do next and the ending of Creep perfectly teases the possibility of revolving victims of the killer. Creep 2 was released in 2017 and in June 2024, Duplass announced a Creep TV series is on the way.

2 The House That Jack Built (2018)

Jack Details His Crimes

the house that jack built movie

As an art film by Danish film director Lars von Trier, The House That Jack Built is a unique look into the crimes of the film’s serial killer, Jack (Matt Dillon). Using flashbacks, The House That Jack Built has Jack recalling his killings over the past few years. During these flashbacks, his actions are portrayed through graphic violence, which can make the film difficult for some audiences to stomach.


The unyielding violence in The House That Jack Built has divided many viewers and critics, who are split on the integrity of its use within the film’s story. Some view it as purposeful to avoid providing audiences with “guilt-free violence,” while others argue there’s not enough substance in the story to justify the means of bloodshed. Regardless, the imagery of The House That Jack Built‘s ending is a fascinating way to close the film, and it’ll likely stick with viewers for some time.

1 I Saw The Devil (2010)

Kim Soo-hyun’s Dark Twisted Path To Revenge

Lee Byung-hun as Kim Soo-hyun looks around a corner in I Saw the Devil.


The South Korean thriller I Saw the Devil follows its lead character, Kim Soo-hyun, who seeks revenge for his wife’s murder committed by the serial killer, Jang Kyung-chul. The brutal violence and shock value of I Saw the Devil makes it easy to pass the movie off as nothing more than that. However, there is more substance to the film than the premise and violent scenes suggest.

The lead characters are well-written and the emotional journey of Soo-hyun gets audiences hooked as he chooses an unexpected, torturous path of revenge. It’s because of I Saw the Devil‘s brutality that the film might be difficult to watch for some, but the way these scenes are constructed makes it all worthwhile. Kim Jee-woon and Lee Mo-gae are a dream team and the director and cinematographer, with their dark and upfront work elevating I Saw the Devil beyond an ordinary thriller.

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