Ranked: The best horror movies this year (including Stephen King's sequel 'It 2')

Brian Truitt

All the early Oscar bait, indie darlings and critically acclaimed films show up on "best-of-so-far" lists, but how about the movies that really stick with you – as in visiting your nightmares every so often, doling out heebie-jeebies and just freaking you out in general?

Plenty of cool horror films have haunted cineplexes this year, with "Us" as another crafty bit of terror from "Get Out" fear-meister Jordan Peele and the return of killer doll Chucky in a "Child's Play" reboot. The latest is from the master: "It: Chapter Two" (now in theaters) concludes the Stephen King adaptation and revisits the kid heroes of Derry, Maine, when they meet up with the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) for a rematch, 27 years later.

We're dedicated to keeping you on the edge of your seat, so here are the best scare-fests of 2019 so far, ranked:

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In the new "Child's Play," Chucky (left, voiced by Mark Hamill) is a friend to the end to Andy (Gabriel Bateman) — which leads to some violent outcomes.

18. 'Child's Play'

High-tech doll Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill in full creep-out mode) is a best friend to the end for tween Andy (Gabriel Bateman) – which leads to some violent outcomes and Chucky hijacking a bevy of personal tech devices in this savvy remake of the 1988 cult classic.

Ellie (Jeté Laurence) wonders why her cat Church is acting so weird in "Pet Sematary."

17. 'Pet Sematary'

While the 1989 adaptation of the Stephen King novel was forgettable, this sinister redo has some bite with the story of a family who just can't let things go: first with the family cat and then a human youngster, both of whom come back in a supernaturally not great way. Campier than you'd expect but with all the dread you want and need.

Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace) uses the power of prayer in "Annabelle Comes Home."

16. 'Annabelle Comes Home'

Third time's the charm with the devil doll, which is housed by paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) in this 1970s-set tale. When mom and dad are on assignment, Annabelle gets loose and rounds up a demonic posse to attack young Judy Warren (Mckenna Grace) and her babysitters.

Lizzie (Logan Browning, left) and Charlotte (Allison Williams) are two cello prodigies who trained at the same academy.

15. 'The Perfection'

Former cello prodigy Charlotte (Allison Williams) seeks out current string superstar Lizzie (Logan Browning), and they go on a road trip that veers scarily off course in the musically tinged thriller, which is chock-full of disturbing images and storytelling surprises.

Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard) is a frontiersman who feels a sinister force all around her in "The Wind."

14. 'The Wind'

Isolated on the American prairie, Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard) is a 19th-century frontierswoman who feels a sinister force all around her, though her husband (Ashley Zukerman) doesn't believe her. It grows worse when a newlywed couple arrives and Lizzy's home on the range becomes ground zero for darkness.

Rory Culkin (with Sky Ferreira) plays a teenager who starts a Norwegian black metal band in the 1980s in the drama "Lords of Chaos."

13. 'Lords of Chaos'

In the 1980s, teenage musician Euronymous (Rory Culkin) starts a band devoted to "true Norwegian black metal." Instead of just hailing Satan, the dude goes to extreme lengths to prove his metal-ness, and finds an outcast acolyte (Emory Cohen) even more committed to the cause.

Tree (Jessica Rothe) faces another time loop of being stalked by a killer in the sequel "Happy Death Day 2U."

12. 'Happy Death Day 2U'

The first "Death Day" was a slasher take on "Groundhog Day," and the horror-comedy sequel uses "Back to the Future II" as its primary inspiration in sending fed-up college student Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) through yet another time loop where she has to avoid being killed by a baby-masked murderer.

A dance troupe has one crazy night, thanks to some LSD-laced sangria, in the psychological thriller "Climax."

11. 'Climax'

An international best-of-the-best dance troupe (featuring stars Sofia Boutella and a bunch of real-life artists) works hard and plays harder. They spend one crazy night letting loose with cool moves but also unleashing violent tendencies – all thanks to some LSD-laced sangria – in the psychological thriller.

Albrun (Aleksandra Cwen) is a 15th-century goatherd shunned as an outsider in the witchy tale "Hagazussa."

10. 'Hagazussa'

If you liked the occult period weirdness of "The Witch," you'll dig its European cousin "Hagazussa." Albrun (Aleksandra Cwen) is a young 15th-century goat herder and single mom who's shunned as an outsider. Revenge and supernatural goings-on are both afoot in the unnerving German tale. 

Rene Russo and Jake Gyllenhaal are very serious about art in "Velvet Buzzsaw."

9. 'Velvet Buzzsaw'

Netflix's satirical gore-fest centers on a gallery owner (Rene Russo), her ambitious assistant (Zawe Ashton), an eccentric critic (Jake Gyllenhaal) and other oddballs in the highfalutin L.A. art scene who become enamored with the found masterworks of a random dead man with a very strange backstory.

An impromptu family reunion takes a turn for the weird in the slow-burn horror film "I Trapped the Devil."

8. 'I Trapped the Devil'

The slow-burn horror film finds Matt (A.J. Bowen) visiting estranged brother Steve (Scott Poythress) for an impromptu Christmas family reunion. Things take a turn for the worse when Matt finds out that his unhinged sibling has locked a stranger in the basement ("This Is Us" star Chris Sullivan) whom he believes is Satan.

A young mother (Seana Kerslake) begins to wonder if her boy (James Quinn Markey) has become something else in "The Hole in the Ground."

7. 'The Hole in the Ground'

Sarah (Seana Kerslake) is a young Irish mother who's moved with her son Chris (James Quinn Markey) to a rural home right next to a gigantic sinkhole. That's the first sign that something's about to go very wrong – the second is when an elderly neighbor tells Sarah that's not her kid and she seriously starts to wonder about that, too.

A teen girl (Natalie Ganzhorn) finds out she has bigger problems than a pimple in "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark."

6. 'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark'

Co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, this is proof positive that you don't need gore to make an audience cringe. The 1960s-set tale digs into racism and politics in addition to its fear factor pitting small-town teenagers vs. creatures spawned from a haunted tome. Good luck sleeping after you witness the grotesque Pale Lady and a pimple that's totally not a pimple.

"Candyman" star Tony Todd is one of the luminaries interviewed for the documentary "Horror Noire," which looks at black audiences and the genre.

5. 'Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror'

The fascinating documentary explores the complicated relationship between horror and black audiences, as seen through the lens of several luminaries in the genre, including 1990s "Candyman" star Tony Todd, "Blacula" director William Crain and filmmaker Jordan Peele, the latter whose breakthrough "Get Out" gets lots of love in the social-issues discussion.

Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) creeps out the adult Losers' Club in the horror sequel "It: Chapter Two."

4. 'It: Chapter Two'

No one really wants to relive a battle with an evil force that almost killed them as kids, but that's the situation faced by the grown-up Losers' Club in the sequel. Old friendships are reborn as the heroes make their return trip to Derry, though Pennywise is waiting when they come. Uber-bloody and unnerving as ever, the second "It" is also impressively ambitious and succeeds at being more than just its evil clown.

Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) have their relationship tested by tragedy and cult craziness in "Midsommar."

3. 'Midsommar'

Young couple Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) have their not-that-great relationship tested when they bear witness to cult craziness while attending a Swedish summer solstice festival. What will really stick with you, though, is how universally relatable writer/director Ari Aster's messed-up breakup film is.

Grace (Samara Weaving) gets covered in blood and guts but still manages a grin in "Ready or Not."

2. 'Ready or Not'

We dare you to find a more enjoyable 96 minutes of mayhem, gore and gallows humor. Poor newlywed Grace (Samara Weaving) gets put through hell on her wedding night with her wealthy new family trying to kill her in this excellent cross between "Clue," "You're Next" and "The Purge." A star-making vehicle for Weaving, "Ready" also unleashes the old-timey "The Hide & Seek Song" as the spookily catchy cherry on top.

Red (Lupita Nyong'o) brings about a doppelganger revolt inspired by Hands Across America in "Us."

1. 'Us'

Yes, "Us" is also one of the very best flicks of 2019, but don't sleep on the inherent fears mined and villains conjured (i.e., us) in Peele's thought-provoking follow-up to "Get Out." A family is beset one night by their murderous doppelgängers, giving Lupita Nyong'o a killer chance to shine in dual roles.