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The Best Australian Horror Movies

You might expect a list of Australian horror films to be teeming with the beasties people associate with the continent: poisonous snakes, deadly spiders, mammoth crocs. Yet while this collection of essential Aussie horror flicks does contain several of those Down Under biters – two crocodile movies, one shark movie, and one about a giant wild boar (didn’t see that coming, did ya?!) – it also features works that tap into something just as threatening: the vast land itself, from the mystery of its desert center to the dark possibilities of its cities’ sprawling suburbs. Movies like Wolf Creek and Road Games play with our anxiety about who, and what, we might encounter dare we venture into the endless Outback, while Hounds of Love and The Babadook explore what might lie behind your neighbor’s door.

Recent international breakouts like Jennifer Kent’s Babadook and Natalie Erika James’ atmospheric haunted house chiller Relic traffic in the slow-building dread of today’s “elevated horror,” but Australian genre films have been largely marked by a certain hard brutality over the years. Consider Wolf Creek and its sequel, or the more recent Killing Ground, which tell ripped-from-the-headlines slasher tales of terrorized backpackers and campers, but do so with an almost merciless insistence on graphic, real-feeling violence. And while we’re talking brutal, check out The Loved Ones, a darkly comic tale of obsession that found new ways to drill into the torture porn trend of the 2000s.

To be included in the list, movies had to be made and set in Australia, by a predominantly Australian crew. They also had to have more than 10 reviews – which is why the great maybe-horror Bad Boy Bubby, with only nine Tomatometer-approved reviews, didn’t make the cut; ditto the excellent anthology Dark Place. We then culled the selection down to the 20 highest-rated movies, which included a couple of Rotten-but-fun (Bait) or seminal flicks (Patrick), and even a Jamie Lee Curtis sort-of-slasher. (Yes, Curtis’s Final Girl phase even took her to entirely different hemispheres.) Purists may quibble with the choice to include Phillip Noyce’s Dead Calm, a twisty and taut three-hander with Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman, and Billy Zane – it’s not horror in the traditional sense, perhaps, but it will have you squirming. As will Justin Kurzel’s The Snowtown Murders (released as just Snowtown in Australia), a crime drama with grisly horror elements you won’t soon forget. Take shots at us in the comments if you must, but won’t regret watching them.

With all that said, here are the highest-rated Australian horror films, according to the Tomatometer.


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#1

The Babadook (2014)
98%72%

#1
Adjusted Score: 106417%
Critics Consensus: The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares -- and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.
Synopsis: A troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son is telling the truth about a monster that entered their home... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Kent

#2

The Loved Ones (2009)
98%73%

#2
Adjusted Score: 99397%
Critics Consensus: Successfully mixing the conventions of the teen and horror genres with a twist, Australian director Sean Byrne makes a striking directorial debut with The Loved Ones.
Synopsis: After a classmate (Xavier Samuel) declines her invitation to the school dance, a teenager (Robin McLeavy) kidnaps him and makes... [More]
Directed By: Sean Byrne

#3

Relic (2020)
92%51%

#3
Adjusted Score: 106668%
Critics Consensus: Relic ratchets up its slowly building tension in an expertly crafted atmosphere of dread, adding up to an outstanding feature debut for director/co-writer Natalie Erika James.
Synopsis: A woman links her mother's increasingly volatile behavior to an evil presence at their family's decaying country home.... [More]
Directed By: Natalie Erika James

#4

Bloody Hell (2020)
91%73%

#4
Adjusted Score: 92561%
Critics Consensus: For genre fans in the mood to watch some darkly funny mayhem, Bloody Hell lives up to its title in all the best ways.
Synopsis: A man with a mysterious past flees the country to escape his own personal hell, only to arrive somewhere much,... [More]
Directed By: Alister Grierson

#5

Hounds of Love (2016)
88%70%

#5
Adjusted Score: 94238%
Critics Consensus: Smartly constructed and powerfully acted, Hounds of Love satisfies as a psychological thriller with a few nasty surprises -- and marks writer-director Ben Young as a promising talent.
Synopsis: In 1987, murderous couple John and Evelyn roam the streets of Perth, Australia, searching for their latest victim. Fate leads... [More]
Directed By: Ben Young

#6

Cargo (2017)
87%66%

#6
Adjusted Score: 89907%
Critics Consensus: Cargo takes a refreshingly character-driven approach to the zombie genre that's further distinguished by its Australian setting and Martin Freeman's terrific lead performance.
Synopsis: Stranded in rural Australia in the aftermath of a violent pandemic, an infected father desperately seeks a new home for... [More]
Directed By: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

#7

The Snowtown Murders (2011)
85%66%

#7
Adjusted Score: 87110%
Critics Consensus: It's a bleak and brutal endurance test, but for viewers with the strength and patience to make it to the end, Snowtown will prove an uncommonly powerful viewing experience.
Synopsis: A charismatic but violent predator (Daniel Henshall) takes his girlfriend's teenage son (Lucas Pittaway) under his wing and makes him... [More]
Directed By: Justin Kurzel

#8

Little Monsters (2019)
80%67%

#8
Adjusted Score: 86395%
Critics Consensus: Led by typically outstanding work from Lupita Nyong'o, Little Monsters is a horror/rom-com hybrid that proves the zombie genre still has fresh brains to savor.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Abe Forsythe

#9

Killing Ground (2016)
74%44%

#9
Adjusted Score: 77994%
Critics Consensus: Killing Ground unnerves and compels in equal measure with a grimly intense story that may be too disturbing for some but delivers a white-knuckle experience for fans of brutally realistic thrillers.
Synopsis: Sam and Ian take off on what they believe will be a peaceful camping trip. Their break turns into a... [More]
Directed By: Damien Power

#10

Next of Kin (1982)
100%56%

#10
Adjusted Score: 39675%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A young woman (Jackie Kerin) and her boyfriend (John Jarratt) witness strangeness in an Australian old-folks home.... [More]
Directed By: Tony Williams

#11

Storm Warning (2007)
100%36%

#11
Adjusted Score: 22860%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A couple lost in a swamp find refuge in a farmhouse only to discover they are dead wrong.... [More]
Directed By: Jamie Blanks

#12

Lake Mungo (2008)
96%63%

#12
Adjusted Score: 90910%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Alice drowns while swimming and her family begins experiencing inexplicable events in their home. The family hires a parapsychologist whose... [More]
Directed By: Joel Anderson

#13

Road Games (1981)
92%61%

#13
Adjusted Score: 79896%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An Australian trucker (Stacy Keach) picks up a hitchhiking heiress (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the trail of a killer in... [More]
Directed By: Richard Franklin

#14

Rogue (2007)
89%54%

#14
Adjusted Score: 67903%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Rugged American adventure-travel journalist Pete McKell (Michael Vartan) joins a cruise along a crocodile-infested river organized by tomboyish guide Kate... [More]
Directed By: Greg McLean

#15

Wyrmwood: Apocalypse (2021)
87%47%

#15
Adjusted Score: 82198%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Wyrmwood: Apocalypse is a post-apocalyptic zombie film that follows soldier Rhys who lives in a zombie-infested Australian wasteland. Rhys is... [More]
Directed By: Kiah Roache-Turner

#16

Dead Calm (1989)
83%63%

#16
Adjusted Score: 84398%
Critics Consensus: Nicole Kidman's coiled intensity and muscular direction by Phillip Noyce give this nautical thriller a disquieting sense of dread.
Synopsis: Rae Ingram (Nicole Kidman) and her husband, John (Sam Neill), struggle to overcome the sudden death of their young son.... [More]
Directed By: Phillip Noyce

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 82461%
Critics Consensus: Rough around the edges but inspired at its core, Wyrmwood is a giddy variation on the zombie genre that will sate gore hounds' appetite for mayhem.
Synopsis: A survivor (Jay Gallagher) of a zombie plague prepares to slash his way through a horde of sinister soldiers and... [More]
Directed By: Kiah Roache-Turner

#18

Black Water (2007)
80%40%

#18
Adjusted Score: 67866%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the swamps of Northern Australia, a killer crocodile stalks a pregnant woman, her boyfriend and her sister.... [More]

#19

The Reef (2010)
80%41%

#19
Adjusted Score: 64660%
Critics Consensus: A gripping example of less-is-more horror, The Reef is the rare shark attack movie that isn't content to merely tread water.
Synopsis: A sailing trip becomes a disaster for a group of friends when the boat sinks and a white shark hunts... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Traucki

#20

Boys in the Trees (2016)
78%70%

#20
Adjusted Score: 78665%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Alienated teens Corey and Jonah begrudgingly find themselves walking home together on Halloween 1997, their last night of high school.... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Verso

#21

The Reef: Stalked (2022)
67%68%

#21
Adjusted Score: 57624%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In an effort to heal after witnessing her sister's horrific murder, Nic travels to a tropical resort with her friends... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Traucki

#22

The Furies (2019)
67%47%

#22
Adjusted Score: 67984%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Kidnapped and afraid, a woman finds herself fighting to stay alive as an unwilling participant in a deadly game where... [More]
Directed By: Tony D'Aquino

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