News

2019 Is the Best Year For Horror in Four Decades, According to the Tomatometer

Certified Fresh flicks like Us, Ready Or Not, and Midsommar helped make 2019 the only overall Fresh year for horror movies since 1980.

by | December 10, 2019 | Comments

Midsommar

(Photo by © A24)

2019 has been such a strong year for wide-release horror films that the upcoming Black Christmas remake could receive a 0% Tomatometer score and the average for the 23 horror films released in 2019 would still be a Fresh 60%. This may not seem all that important, but this is big news for horror fans. Why? Because in the modern era of horror (which we’ll define as from 1980 forward), there hasn’t been a year with a Fresh overall Tomatometer score.

This Fresh average shouldn’t come as a surprise to those paying attention to the genre this year – Certified Fresh hits like Us, Crawl, Ready or Not, and Midsommar have won over critics and audiences alike. Even remakes/adaptations are over-performing critically as Child’s Play (63%) and Pet Sematary (57%) are Fresh and very close to it, respectively, when historically horror remakes average a Rotten 44% Tomatometer average.

In honor of this Fresh year of theatrically released horror, we pulled the Tomatometer data on the 644 horror movies that received wide releases (defined here as 600+ theaters) in the United States since 1980. We wanted to know how the preceding 40 years of horror films matched up against 2019, and if any year had a higher Tomatometer average.

Quick Note: We chose 1980-2019 because there is greater consistency in Tomatometer data than in earlier years. The 1970s were the bomb though.


THE OVERALL AVERAGE FOR HORROR FILMS RELEASED SINCE 1980 IS A ROTTEN 43.8%

The Descent

(Photo by Lions Gate / Everett Collection)

The overall Tomatometer average for the 644 horror movies that received wide theatrical releases since 1980 is a Rotten 43.8%, and 438 of those movies (or 68%) have scores below 60%. The Rotten far outweigh the Fresh, and for every Green Room, The Descent, The Thing, and Scream 2 , there are movies like Jaws: The Revenge, House of the Dead, I, Frankenstein, Godsend, The Roommate, and Dream House bringing down their average.

Another interesting fact (for data nerds and horror movie lovers who are also data nerds) is that since 1990, only five years have had more Fresh horror films than Rotten: 1982 (7 > 4), 1983 (8 > 7), 1987 (10 > 7), 2013 (7 > 6), and 2019 (12 > 10). This data makes 2019’s Fresh score even more impressive.

On a side note, the years 1997-1999 have a seriously high number of Rotten horror movies that we at RT actually love. Between Anaconda, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, The Faculty, Idle Hands, Blade, Deep Rising, The Relic, The Mummy, Lake Placid, and the king of all Rotten horror movies, Event Horizon (you can read more about Event Horizon as well as Blade in our book Rotten Movies We Love), the years are stacked with Rotten movies that are pretty awesome.


THE BEST DECADE FOR HORROR IS THE 1980s. No Surprise there. 

New Line Cinema

(Photo by New Line Cinema)

Despite having no single year with a Fresh Tomatometer score, the 1980s have the highest overall average with a groovy 52.5%. Buoyed by A Nightmare on Elm Street, Near Dark, The Fly, The Thing, and Fright Night, the 1980s slaughtered the 1990s (43.6%), 2000s (32.2%), and the 2010s (47.1%).

Six of the top 10 years in our data set come from the 1980s, and 1987 came close to being Fresh, but the 0%-rated Jaws: The Revenge and the 9% House 2 kept it at a Rotten 57%. A big reason for the 1980s being the highest-rated decade is that it has only one year in the bottom 10 Rottenest years on the list (1989, with a Tomatometer average of 34.4%).


2006 HAS THE LOWEST TOMATOMETER AVERAGE, AND THE MOST ROTTEN DECADE IS THE 2000s

The Wicker Man

(Photo by © Warner Bros.)

The worst year in our entire data set is 2006, which currently has a Rotten 31.1% average. The distinction is dubious, but at least 2006 kept it interesting with movies like Pan’s Labyrinth, The Descent, Slither, Hostel, Snakes on a Plane, The Hill Have Eyes, and The Wicker Man remake, an amazingly bonkers movie that features Nicolas Cage running all over the place while wearing a bear suit. Also, the first Black Christmas remake was released in 2006, and with a 14% Tomatometer score, the less said, the better.

The 2000s as a whole weren’t much better, as the decade averaged a 32% Tomatometer score. Four of the five lowest Tomatometer years in the data set are from the 2000s, and only 33 of the 189 theatrically released movies in that decade have a Fresh Tomatometer score. The numbers may look bad, but on a positive note, the 2000s are responsible for bona fide classics like Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, The Mist, and Zombieland. Plus, movies like Jennifer’s Body, 28 Weeks Later, 30 Days of Night, Constantine, Frailty, Eight Legged Freaks, and The Happening (it’s awesome, get over yourself), are starting to gain their due popularity.

Random Tomatometer Fact: Imogen Poots, the star of the upcoming Black Christmas remake, made her horror debut in 2007, appearing in the Fresh 28 Weeks Later (the opening scene is awesome). Since then, she’s crushed it the underrated Fright Night remake and in Green Room, which is one of the best-reviewed horror films of recent memory.


2019 HAS THE HIGHEST TOMATOMETER AVERAGE FOR HORROR MOVIES OF ANY YEAR SINCE 1980, AND IS THE ONLY FRESH YEAR,WITH A 63% AVERAGE

Us

What makes 2019 the only Fresh year in our data set might surprise you. While movies like Us, Doctor Sleep, The Lighthouse, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark helped greatly, it’s the remakes, prequels, sequels, and adaptations that greatly contributed to the overall Freshness. 2019 has been a lot of fun because of movies like Annabelle Comes Home, a sequel to a prequel (Annabelle: Creation) of a prequel (Annabelle), which has a Fresh 64% Tomatometer score. Normally, a horror movie so far removed from the original is almost always Rotten. Toss in the Certified Fresh Crawl (82%), a movie about rampaging alligators, and 3 From Hell, Rob Zombie’s 50%-rated sequel to The Devil’s Rejects, and you have movies that are over-performing critically when compared the likes of Lake Placid (46%), Primeval (18%), 31 (47%), and Lords of Salem (46%) from past years.

The 25% Tomatometer-rated Countdown, a movie about a ‘killer’ phone app, has the lowest score of any wide-release horror movie in 2019. Typically, a 25% score isn’t reason to celebrate – but when compared to the Rottenest horror movie of each year in our data set, it’s the least Rotten (the closest is 1984’s 23%-rated C.H.U.D.). In fact, the 10 Rotten horror movies released in 2019 have a 46.3% average, which is the highest average for the Rotten films of all the years in our data set. 2019 has the best of the worst, and that’s why it’s Fresh.

What is your favorite year for horror? Let us know in the comments.


Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

cinemax Western Lionsgate 2017 nature Walt Disney Pictures reviews superhero Stephen King Captain marvel Photos movies HBO Go game of thrones BET Awards dark Broadway E! cars golden globe awards VH1 TV Land Mary Poppins Returns diversity Tumblr History Certified Fresh Kids & Family LGBT Tags: Comedy Black Mirror Tarantino Rocky crime emmy awards fresh Mary Tyler Moore AMC Song of Ice and Fire crime drama anime FX on Hulu Women's History Month Comedy Central Turner comiccon directors teaser Paramount Network Emmys Disney Box Office hollywood Teen rotten worst movies independent Shudder streaming target Exclusive Video Legendary concert Hear Us Out high school ESPN Disney Channel CBS CW Seed 20th Century Fox TBS Cosplay Discovery Channel animated christmas movies Cannes Elton John Heroines IFC Films X-Men spy thriller Best and Worst historical drama toronto period drama basketball comic book movies FOX OWN unscripted ghosts Reality Amazon Prime Nickelodeon japanese Tomatazos Fantasy godzilla doctor who Sneak Peek venice Mystery OneApp Freeform facebook 93rd Oscars PlayStation elevated horror FXX Infographic Columbia Pictures Rom-Com DC streaming service live action RT History Sundance Now richard e. Grant Universal cancelled TV series Pop TV Disney+ Disney Plus Spectrum Originals Sundance TV strong female leads movie art house USA Network japan Hollywood Foreign Press Association obituary lord of the rings 45 MTV FX parents book Academy Awards Musicals Biopics Ellie Kemper HFPA hist Hallmark Christmas movies DC Comics nbcuniversal all-time Food Network YouTube Premium ITV A24 Film Festival scene in color Sundance BET hidden camera Grammys documentary child's play New York Comic Con Valentine's Day free movies HBO Christmas franchise VICE TCA Winter 2020 Lifetime Hallmark MCU olympics reboot American Society of Cinematographers 4/20 GoT foreign popular Fox Searchlight supernatural Pop deadpool Endgame ABC Family social media Pride Month Star Wars 21st Century Fox Oscars suspense spanish language trophy war zombie Quiz Anna Paquin space Spring TV TCA Awards joker marvel cinematic universe justice league cooking comic El Rey james bond true crime Star Trek international kong rt labs marvel comics zombies chucky Hulu Fargo remakes Arrowverse singing competition a nightmare on elm street royal family The Arrangement black Winter TV Tubi Comics on TV documentaries crime thriller aliens Winners Extras DC Universe critics Marvel Studios Crackle APB police drama The Academy dreamworks Super Bowl kaiju series Pacific Islander 99% technology theme song Starz SXSW robots Music docudrama french sag awards trailers batman Polls and Games 2016 71st Emmy Awards cancelled television best YouTube sequel Apple TV+ sequels political drama posters Rocketman 2021 cartoon award winner Turner Classic Movies talk show DirecTV Avengers Esquire mob Comic-Con@Home 2021 streaming movies Marvel Television Nominations spider-man Netflix GIFs transformers universal monsters DGA slasher comic books crossover Showtime Video Games golden globes Amazon Studios Disney Plus Rock BAFTA Neflix Superheroe miniseries TV renewals NBA Podcast indiana jones BBC America natural history vampires 2018 leaderboard Dark Horse Comics vs. 72 Emmy Awards CNN scary movies indie Ovation live event sopranos hispanic heritage month composers comedies films scary Martial Arts Syfy Marvel pirates of the caribbean tv talk National Geographic Mary poppins Adult Swim psycho MSNBC Musical Epix Crunchyroll First Look discovery canceled TV shows AMC Plus jamie lee curtis spider-verse finale Netflix Christmas movies VOD comics BBC One nfl australia Horror casting PaleyFest critic resources Watching Series dramedy science fiction 1990s adventure rt labs critics edition TNT spanish IFC NYCC ViacomCBS Paramount biography adenture Comic Book young adult 90s genre cats Fall TV new star wars movies Sony Pictures zero dark thirty cops Warner Bros. action-comedy Black History Month GLAAD San Diego Comic-Con based on movie PBS TCM Classic Film comic book movie serial killer 007 Cartoon Network Fox News Opinion Sci-Fi name the review wonder woman mockumentary revenge Brie Larson prank Holiday Holidays blaxploitation new zealand green book TV One spain Summer dragons mutant Vudu Superheroes Funimation boxing Creative Arts Emmys 2015 Red Carpet Action Pirates Emmy Nominations HBO Max telelvision Drama YouTube Red cancelled football medical drama TLC stop motion Family ABC blockbuster mcc jurassic park 24 frames renewed TV shows Trailer screen actors guild witnail criterion NBC archives ratings festival Writers Guild of America YA 2019 Mudbound romance ID ABC Signature Schedule mission: impossible legend Shondaland television harry potter new york psychological thriller SundanceTV Image Comics Amazon LGBTQ king arthur travel politics Animation Awards Spike Trophy Talk children's TV Election Instagram Live quibi USA twilight rotten movies we love stand-up comedy The Witch Britbox Mindy Kaling classics dexter RT21 Lifetime Christmas movies halloween thriller Logo satire Country video Film south america fast and furious 79th Golden Globes Awards 73rd Emmy Awards Set visit debate sitcom Pixar Countdown boxoffice The Walking Dead Comedy breaking bad Pet Sematary anthology biopic disaster Chernobyl See It Skip It Interview news Ghostbusters dc Apple TV Plus Acorn TV First Reviews heist movie gangster blockbusters Apple king kong festivals WGN Television Critics Association Chilling Adventures of Sabrina dceu The CW A&E what to watch Calendar saw Disney streaming service canceled superman Marathons book adaptation Bravo sports game show Universal Pictures Reality Competition dogs latino Premiere Dates 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards stoner Awards Tour IMDb TV feel good 2020 BBC Nat Geo SDCC TCA 2017 hispanic romantic comedy Tokyo Olympics Alien Baby Yoda CBS All Access rt archives video on demand laika adaptation binge razzies worst cancelled TV shows screenings Binge Guide rom-coms Paramount Plus italian Travel Channel women Lucasfilm Thanksgiving scorecard Television Academy know your critic monster movies docuseries CMT Prime Video The Purge Year in Review Peacock E3 versus WarnerMedia Toys Character Guide slashers Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt spinoff Amazon Prime Video halloween tv TruTV asian-american kids TV movies werewolf The Walt Disney Company TCA President cults TIFF die hard toy story Trivia Masterpiece aapi TV black comedy Wes Anderson