Black Water

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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 20 highest-rated Australian horror films, according to the Tomatometer.


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2020’s Best Horror Movies | 200 Best Horror Movies Ever

#20

Patrick (1978)
42%

#20
Adjusted Score: 41392%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Patrick has been in an irreversible coma for the past several years and possesses psychokinetic powers. He ends up falling... [More]
Directed By: Richard Franklin

#19

Bait (2012)
46%

#19
Adjusted Score: 45649%
Critics Consensus: Bait isn't entirely lacking in the shark action department, but a silly story and thinly sketched characters may leave audiences bored between bloody attacks.
Synopsis: A freak tsunami traps a group of people in a submerged grocery store. As they try to escape, they are... [More]
Directed By: Kimble Rendall

#18

Dying Breed (2008)
50%

#18
Adjusted Score: 22756%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Nina leads an expedition into the New Zealand bush to find tigers and meets a cannibalistic family.... [More]
Directed By: Jody Dwyer

#17

Wolf Creek 2 (2013)
50%

#17
Adjusted Score: 51444%
Critics Consensus: After a strong start, Wolf Creek 2 devolves into an unnecessary -- and disappointingly predictable -- sequel.
Synopsis: A young man (Ryan Corr) matches wits with a sadistic killer (John Jarratt) who lives in an underground, booby-trapped lair... [More]
Directed By: Greg McLean

#16

Wolf Creek (2005)
54%

#16
Adjusted Score: 57229%
Critics Consensus: Though Wolf Creek is effectively horrific, it is still tasteless exploitation.
Synopsis: Stranded motorists (Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath) fall prey to a murderous bushman (John Jarratt) who offers to fix their vehicle,... [More]
Directed By: Greg Mclean

#15

Razorback (1984)
58%

#15
Adjusted Score: 58140%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A big Australian pig attacks an old man (Bill Kerr), grabs a baby and kills a newswoman; her husband (Gregory... [More]
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy

#14

Killing Ground (2016)
74%

#14
Adjusted Score: 78496%
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

#13

Black Water (2007)
80%

#13
Adjusted Score: 71737%
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]

#12

Little Monsters (2019)
79%

#12
Adjusted Score: 86600%
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

#11

Wyrmwood (2014)
82%

#11
Adjusted Score: 81703%
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

#10

Dead Calm (1989)
83%

#10
Adjusted Score: 83813%
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

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 85435%
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

Cargo (2017)
88%

#8
Adjusted Score: 91884%
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 searches for a new home... [More]
Directed By: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

#7

Hounds of Love (2016)
88%

#7
Adjusted Score: 94852%
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

Road Games (1981)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 90052%
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

#5

Relic (2020)
92%

#5
Adjusted Score: 108222%
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

Rogue (2007)
94%

#4
Adjusted Score: 71648%
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

#3

Lake Mungo (2008)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 95047%
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

#2

The Loved Ones (2009)
98%

#2
Adjusted Score: 99684%
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

#1

The Babadook (2014)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 106851%
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

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