The 2022 Thingy Awards!

ATMOSfx! Woo!
possessed woman cutting hair with knife before exorcism

Celebrate the best of 2021 Horror in the 2022 Thingy Awards! Yeah, it’s a little late in the Awards season, but we’re all still recovering from the Will Smith slap heard around the world, and now that we have recovered from being stunned, it’s time to concentrate on the Scariest Things you saw from last year. Once again, you are invited to fill in a ballot for your favorites from 2021!

A Brief Summary of the year that was 2021 Horror:
  • The big studios made a number of movies that played like indie films, with character-driven, protagonist forward stories like Antlers, Saint Maud, and The Night House.
  • Candyman delivered on the promise of Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele recreating the seminal horror-noir classic.
  • Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It gave us reason to have faith in the Conjuring-verse again.
  • A Quiet Place Part II picked up right where it left off and may have even surpassed the intensity of the first film.
  • Foreign films once again brought some particularly good offerings that were festival darlings and are now on streaming services, but don’t get the support of wide theatrical releases like The Feast, Vurdalak Blood, Tailgate, and Gaia. If you haven’t seen them, you really should check them out.
  • Julia Ducarneau returned with the stunning, confusing, and controversial Palmes D’Or winning Titane, but was it horror?
  • Edgar Wright came back to the Horror Genre, or at least horror adjacent, with the stylish and hypnotic Last Night in Soho. Anya Taylor Joy solidifies her run as the hot actress of the moment.
  • We got a bunch of films that were good but couldn’t get into the best-in-class category, like Don’t Breathe 2, Malignant, Old, Army of the Dead, The Forever Purge, Cram, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, Ditched, Shadow in the Cloud, Red Snow, Godzilla vs. Kong, Take Back the Night, and a reboot of Slumber Party Massacre. This is encouraging that we got solid depth in addition to top-shelf horror this year. It made it tougher to make our picks this year.
  • Veteran character actor Sam Richardson and AT&T star Milana Vayntrub led a fun ensemble cast in a surprisingly fun werewolf whodunit in Werewolves Within.
  • Indie films this year brought silly horror in quantity. Keeping Company, Val, Superhost, and An Ideal Host provided laughs and thrills, elevating new young talent that hopefully will get them a larger stage for their next efforts.
  • And Halloween Kills. Oh… where to begin. Let’s just say it’s a divisive movie.
  • But the lasting take from this past year was how good the horror was in TV series form this year. There were so many good options that we have a ninth candidate for your consideration beyond our standard eight selections. Really, who didn’t watch and love Squid Game?
If You Would Like to Vote for This Year’s Thingy Awards:

Here is the BALLOT LINK:

Please vote for ONE candidate. Now, for those of you who do not get out to the horror film festivals, you can leave the question blank if you haven’t seen these films. Fill in what you know. I will request that you make a selection for the Big Categories, but if you haven’t seen the shorts or foreign films, don’t sweat it. Vote for what you know! (Or better yet, go hunting for these films online!) For the short films, I suggest you go to our site, and watch some of them, as we’ve posted any of them that have become available for streaming.

This year, we’ve got a limited jury since we will be asking our contacts to vote on their top 25 in order to assemble a top 100 list for our 5-year plan. So guess what? Your vote counts more than ever! Get your final ballot in by Sunday, May 15, 2022.

Without further ado, and with 100% fewer musical dance interpretation numbers, here are this year’s awards for your consideration:

Best Actress in a Leading Horror Movie Role:

Once again, the ladies dominate. There were so many great performances by actresses in 2021 where these women simply owned the genre. Veteran actresses get real chances to lead films in the horror genre now, and you don’t have to just be the newest pretty face / final girl anymore. Complex, compelling, and textured. These actresses killed it (literally and figuratively) in 2021:

  • Morfydd Clark as Maud, in Saint Maud
  • Barbara Crampton as Anne Fedder, in Jakob’s Wife
  • Natasha Demetriou as Nadja, in What We do in the Shadows
  • Rebecca Hall as Beth, in The Night House
  • Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise, in Last Night in Soho
  • Misha Reeves as Valefar, in Val
  • Keri Russell as Julia Meadows, in Antlers
  • Najarra Townsend as Claire, in The Stylist
Best Actor in a Leading Horror Movie Role

These actors anchored their films in 2021. Whether it was a goofy charm, sad pathos, stubborn will, or raw courage, these actors elevated their characters to hold our attention. The candidates for the best leading man in a horror movie in 2021 are:

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Anthony McCoy, in Candyman
  • Dave Davis as Yakov Ronen, in The Vigil
  • Lee Jung Jae as Seong Gi-Hun in Squid Game
  • Kayvan Novak as Nandor, in What We do in the Shadows
  • German Palacios as Aguirre, in Vurdalak Blood
  • Sam Richarson as Finn Wheeler, in Werewolves Within
  • Jeroen Spitzenberger as Hans, in Tailgate
  • Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren, in The Conjuring III
Best Actress in a Supporting Horror Movie Role

They might not get as much screen time as their lead candidate, but they may have left the biggest impressions on their films. These actresses struck memorable turns in their roles in 2021:

  • Nell Tiger Free as Leanne Grayson in Servant
  • Gracie Gillam as Rebecca, in Superhost
  • Kim Joo-Ryung as Han Mi-Nyeo, in Squid Game
  • Tayonah Parris as Brianna Cartwright, in Candyman
  • Nia Roberts as Glenda, in The Feast
  • Millicent Symmonds as Regan Abbott, in A Quiet Place Part II
  • Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie, in Last Night in Soho
  • Milana Vayntrub as Cecily Moore, in Werewolves Within
Best Actor in a Supporting Horror Movie Role:

This year’s supporting actors are made up of veteran actors. Shoot, even Rupert Grint is a grizzled veteran now. These guys flesh out the movie and are the extra flavor needed to make the story work. Our favorite supporting actors for 2021 are:

  • Coleman Domingo as William Burke in Candyman
  • Larry Fessenden as Jakob in Jackob’s Wife
  • Rupert Grint as Julian Pearce, in Servant
  • Matthew Modine as Scott Shaw, in Wrong Turn
  • Cillian Murphy as Emmett, in A Quiet Place Part II
  • Mark Proksch as Colin Robinson in What We do in the Shadows
  • Anupam Tripathi as Abdul, in Squid Game
  • Oh Yeong-Su as Oh Il-Nam, in Squid Game
The Fay Wray Award: The Breakout Rising Star

You don’t have to be a youngster to be a breakout rising star. Many of these performers are in their first dramatic roles in an independent feature film. Some are character actors who are getting their first lead roles. These are actors who deserve to reap the rewards of bigger and better jobs due to their great performances in 2021 Horror:

  • Devin Das, as Sonny in Keeping Company
  • Emma Fitzpatrick, as Jane in Take Back the Night
  • Gracie Gillam, as Rebecca in Superhost
  • Greer Phillips, as Julia in Turn of the Screw
  • Hoyeon Jung, as Kang Sae-Byok in Squid Game
  • Misha Reeves, as Valefar in Val
  • Sam Richardson, as Finn Wheeler in Werewolves Within
  • Jermy T. Thomas, as Lucas Weaver in Antlers
The Gateway Award: Best Horror Film for Young and/or new Horror Fans

The Scariest Things is proud to be “Your Gateway to the Trends and Tropes of the Horror Genre”. And by that, we want to enlarge the number of horror fans in the world. But unless you are really ready for it, don’t jump into the deep end of the horror pool or you may never get out! The following films are fun and recommended watches for those who want to get into horror without being scarred for life:

  • A Quiet Place Part II
  • Crabs!
  • Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
  • Ghostbusters Afterlife
  • Godzilla vs. Kong
  • Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania
  • Nightbooks
  • Werewolves Within
The Abbott and Costello Award: Best Use of Humor in a Horror Film

Horror and Comedy. Peanut Butter and Jelly. These are compliments to each other, and try to draw the two great and powerful emotions out of you in quick succession. Humor and glee, with dread and terror. When it doesn’t work, it’s almost palpably painful. But when it works: pure gold! Our favorites in horror comedies from 2021:

  • An Ideal Host
  • Crabs!
  • Keeping Company
  • Psycho Goreman
  • Slaxx
  • Val
  • Werewolves Within
  • What we do in the Shadows
The Struzan Award: Best Horror Movie Poster of the Year

We’ve named the Best movie poster after the master of the movie poster, Drew Struzan, who gave us memorable posters like The Thing, The Mist, Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and countless others. Horror movies, as they often don’t have big stars who can demand the Bighead portrait style so prevalent in current poster-making, tend to spin their story on the cover. These are our favorite horror posters from 2021:

  • Jakob’s Wife
  • Titane
  • Wrong Turn
  • Slaxx
  • Werewolves Within
  • Malignant
  • The Last Matinee
  • Val
The Best Looking Horror Movie of 2021 (Cinematography)

We’ve split cinematography off from special effects this year as the recognition is for two distinctly different elements in a movie. These 2021 films were able to show the beauty to juxtapose or heighten the sense of terror and dread in their films in 2021:

  • Candyman
  • Come True
  • The Feast
  • Gaia
  • In the Earth
  • Last Night in Soho
  • Mareld
  • Titane
The Harryhausen Award: Best VFX of 2021

And here is the other side of that visual experience. Whether it’s the lovely shadow puppetry of Candyman, the Vegas-style zombie apocalypse of Army of the Dead, the subtle ghostly surprises of The Night House, or a three-way kaiju throwdown in Godzilla vs Kong we got some real visual treats in 2021. Your candidates:

  • Army of the Dead
  • Candyman
  • Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
  • Godzilla vs. Kong
  • Halloween Kills
  • The Night House
  • A Quiet Place II
  • Shadow in the Clouds
The Best Sounding Horror Movie (Including SFX, Mixing, Soundtrack)
  • Army of the Dead
  • A Quiet Place Part II
  • Cosmic Dawn
  • The Feast
  • Godzilla vs. Kong
  • Last Night in Soho
  • The Night House
  • Titane
The Best International Horror Film
  • The Barcelona Vampiress (Spain)
  • The Feast (Wales)
  • Gaia (South Africa)
  • The Last Matinee (Uruguay)
  • Squid Game (South Korea)
  • Tailgate (The Netherlands)
  • Turn of the Screw (New Zealand)
  • Vurdalak Blood (Argentina)
The Depends Award: What movie crapped its pants and disappointed the most in 2021?

We are careful to point out here, that this isn’t the WORST movie of 2021, but the most DISAPPOINTING movie of 2021. A movie that sounded like it was going to be entertaining, but ended up being a letdown. That’s not to say that some of these moments don’t have some good moments (See below), but as a whole, not what we wanted from them. Then again, a couple of these movies do suck, and we’re here to point this out. Your nominees for the 2021 Depends award are:

  • Demonic (Rotten Tomatoes 15%)
  • Halloween Kills (RT 40%)
  • The Scary of Sixty-First (RT 54%)
  • Blood Pageant (No RT)
  • Things Heard and Seen (RT 39%)
  • The History of Metal and Horror (No RT)
  • Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin (RT 28%)
  • Spiral: From the Book of Saw (RT 37%)
The Bloodbath Award: The Best use of Exploitation or Gore in a Horror Movie

C’mon. This is why you watch horror movies, right? Crunchy, squishy, slicey, stabby, how do you like it? 2021 had its fair share of gory moments and exploitive violence at a very high level. This is where some of even the disappointing horror films of 2021 can make some real hay. Note that because of Facebook, we can’t show you the gory details here. Censorship! You have to account for it. But, those of you who have seen the movies… you KNOW what it looked like. Your top bloodbath scenes from 2021 are:

  • Antlers: Wendigo wears Frank’s old face over its own
  • Halloween Kills – The old couple encounter Michael in their Home
  • The Last Matinee: Double-headed shish kabob kiss kill
  • Malignant – The Prison Rampage
  • Spiral: From the Book of Saw: Subway trap
  • Superdeep: Olga devolves into a pile of mushroom fungus polyps.
  • Psycho Goreman: Frozen thief falls, shatters, and continues to twitch
  • Wrong Turn: Gary gets crushed by a rolling Log
The Best Screenplay in 2021 Horror

Horror movies sometimes get accused of telling the same sorts of stories over and over again. The Scariest Things would disagree with that assertion.

From the snappy dialogue in Val to the bizarre fantasy of Lamb and the mysterious powerful punch of The Feast, 2021 brought fresh takes to the genre. Saint Maud spins a unique tale of faith and frailty that we haven’t seen before. Antlers weaves themes of addiction, abuse, economic decay, and Native American folklore into a singular powerful message.

In some cases, the challenge is to take a previously familiar story and make it BETTER, Candyman and Wrong Turn elevated their respective successful franchises with stronger and more compelling storylines.

  • Antlers
  • Candyman
  • The Feast
  • Lamb
  • The Night House
  • Saint Maud
  • Val
  • Wrong Turn
The Best Movie Monster of 2020

The creature feature lives! There is a large group of horror fans (yours truly included) who loves a good non-human monster. It brings out the little kid in you, as the monsters from your dreams come alive on screen. Big and stompy or twisted and mutated, these beasties touched our imagination in 2021:

  • The Horseshoe Crabs from Crabs!
  • The silo fungus monsters in Superdeep
  • The Wendigo in Antlers
  • Gabriel in Malignant
  • Mecha-Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Kong
  • Psycho Goreman
  • The Bat Monsters in Shadow in the Clouds
  • The Zombie Tiger in Army of the Dead
The Elvira Award: Best Horror TV Series:

So good this past year, we’ve got NINE nominees. And that’s not including some other close calls. Streaming TV has been a huge boon to horror, and as networks have found that audiences will eat up a good horror series, the scary has proliferated on almost all the main services. All of these shows have earned both popular and critical support, suggesting that we may get even more offerings in the years to come! The nominees for the Elvira of 2021 are:

  • Chucky, SYFY
  • Creepshow, Shudder
  • Evil, Paramount +
  • Fear Street, Netflix
  • Servant, Apple +
  • Squid Game, Netflix
  • What We do in the Shadows, FX
  • Yellowjackets, Showtime
Best Horror Short of 2021

We love our horror shorts. These micro-capsules are horror condensed and defined. This is often a way for up-and-coming directors to prove their mettle, and in some cases are created by veteran directors who have simpler stories that are just easier to tell in a one-act showcase. In some cases, these feel like chapters out of a bigger story, but in each film, they give us exactly what we need to feel the impact of their ideas. The best in 2021 horror shorts:

  • The 1st of November (USA)
  • The Altruist (USA)
  • … and then the Darkness (USA)
  • Hello? (USA)
  • Incarnation (JPN)
  • The Relic (USA)
  • Solution for Sadness (ESP)
  • Tinder Tango (USA)
The Best Horror Moment of 2021

You might recognize something here. You don’t have to be a great FILM to have a great horror MOMENT. Each of these moments leaves an indelible stamp on your memory of the movie in your brain. These are the proverbial “HOLY SHIT!” events that will have you talking about it to your friends later. The moments for us in 2021:

  • The Opening Exorcism in the Conjuring III
  • Michael vs. The Firefighters in Halloween Kills.
  • Emily and Gabriel are twins! in Malignant
  • Competitive marbles in Squid Game
  • Invisible Candyman killing spree in the art gallery
  • The town encounters the Death Angels for the first time in A Quiet Place Part II
  • The showdown of the Wendigo vs. Julia in Antlers
The Best Horror Movie Director of 2021

The major studios brought some impressive candidates for the best horror director of 2021. Many of the big releases this year feel like they took the lessons from independent horror to make character-centric stories, but were blessed with bigger budgets, and took full advantage of the opportunities. Our nominees for 2021 are:

  • David Bruckner, The Night House
  • Scott Cooper, Antlers
  • Nia DaCosta, Candyman
  • Rose Glass, Saint Maud
  • Lee Haven Jones, The Feast
  • John Krasinski, A Quiet Place Part II
  • Travis Stevens, Jakob’s Wife
  • Edgar Wright, Last Night in Soho
The Horseshoes and Hand Grenades Award: The Best Horror Adjacent Film of 2021:

One of The Scariest Things’ favorite topics is “Horror movie… or not?” We embrace the horror-adjacent films and wanted to find a way to include them in our celebration of scary films. Many of these films were part of the film festival circuit, and if you haven’t been paying attention, you really should participate in the genre film festivals as there are so many great films, particularly films that are almost, but not-quite horror movies. Our nominees from 2021:

  • The Columnist – Thriller (Netherlands)
  • Gaia – Science Fiction (South Africa)
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife – Action/Comedy (USA)
  • Lamb – Fantasy (Iceland)
  • Last Night in Soho – Thriller (UK)
  • Squid Game – Action (South Korea)
  • Titane – Thriller (France)
  • Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched – Documentary (USA)
Best Horror Feature – Independent/Limited Release

The festival film darlings often give horror fans the most interesting stories. The great thing is now with streaming services, these films are getting seen by more and more people, and platforms like Shudder really help get these movies seen once they are done with the festival run. For the purposes of the criteria, any movie that had a theatrical release in fewer than 100 theaters and/or grossed less than $1 million at the box office will qualify for this category. What we appreciate from the independent filmmakers is the daring and original content that they provide. These are the risk-takers. Last year’s best independent horror films included these nominees:

  • Censor
  • The Feast
  • Jakob’s Wife
  • Keeping Company
  • The Stylist
  • Superhost
  • Val
  • The Vigil
Best Major Studio Horror Movie Release of 2021

The studios had a bunch of “prove it!” opportunities in 2021.

  • Take a gamble to reboot a beloved film and make it better than its predecessor: (Candyman, Wrong Turn).
  • Extend a continuing successful storyline without a hitch: (Conjuring 3, A Quiet Place)
  • Create a new character-centric story with a strong female protagonist (Night House, Antlers, Saint Maud)
  • Bring a goofy ensemble cast with limited actual monster time (Werewolves Within) and make it spooky.

In each case, the filmmakers succeeded in their challenges. The best wide-release horror movies from 2021:

  • Antlers
  • Candyman
  • The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It
  • The Night House
  • A Quiet Place Part II
  • Saint Maud
  • Werewolves Within
  • Wrong Turn

Stay tuned to the Scariest Things Podcast for the final results!

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