Nostalgic film fans love to bemoan the death of the art of cinema as the media landscape shifts around them. “Movies are too shallow and puerile these days! There’s no creativity anymore! And every poster looks the same!” While it’s true we get a lot of one-sheets of a dude with his back to us, I would argue that the art of the movie poster has not been lost to us, just like cinema isn’t dead because of a couple TRANSFORMERS movies. Here are ten horror poster designs from the 2010’s so far that just might restore your faith in the craft.
This throwback giallo poster captures the retro magic and lurid coloring of the best Italian horror one-sheets. I especially love the way the poster cuts off the head of the central figure, drawing your eye to their bloody handiwork in the background.
STAGE FRIGHT (2014)
Is it telling that the first two posters on this list are intentionally retro designs? Perhaps, but in my opinion it’s no crime to draw inspiration from the best. This 80’s-style slasher poster captures both the glamor of classic posters (featuring its starlet’s luminous face) and the unrestrained cheesiness of the slasher boom (the reflection in that knife is delightful) in one fun design.
Now, this poster is where things start to get really interesting. Don’t you miss the days when movie posters threw away almost the entire plot of the film in favor of a totally disconnected yet spectacular image? No, this movie isn’t about a girl bursting out of a mirror, but this design gives us a compelling, instantly iconic symbol for the dreamy atmosphere Mike Flanagan’s film provides.
THE BABADOOK (2014)
THE BABADOOK’s poster is sleek and simple, yet totally effective. In addition to the color mimicking a page from an old book, the sheer amount of negative space contrasts sharply with the inky black shape of the Babadook. My favorite thing about the poster is that it works with the same motif of silhouette and shadow as the film itself.
DON’T BREATHE (2016)
I’m not sure I can properly explain why I love this design so much, but it’s just an elegant image, stylized just enough that it seems magical. And those warm colors rising from the black background are enormously pleasing to look at.
IT FOLLOWS (2015)
Just like the film itself, the poster for IT FOLLOWS takes its time telling its story. Below the blurb, your eye tracks downward for what feels like forever until it comes across the car. The figures inside are even smaller, isolated and alone in this vast image that makes their intimate moment seem cold and alien before you even know the nature of the plot.
GREEN ROOM (2016)
This is the perfect poster for GREEN ROOM’s particular brand of mayhem, an unsubtle but beautifully tinted green affair that captures the anarchist punk tone in perfect motion.
SCREAM 4 (2011)
Yes, this poster kind of rips off the design for John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. Ask me if I give a crap. Both posters are marvelous, and this figure that shades the bone white Ghostface mask into the gleaming tip of a knife is light-years better than the SCREAM franchise’s go-to poster line-up of the actors’ headshots.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)
Man, what a great image. The cabin as an M. C. Escher Rubik’s Cube is a glorious design that only gains more meaning after you’ve seen the film.
A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (2014)
This is just a pure work of art, painting an indelible image with broad, color-blocked strokes. Combining the stylization of Saul bass with the intimidating figure of Ana Lily Amirpour’s vampire, this is a design that belongs in a gallery, not just any old bedroom wall.