Top 10 Best Aussie Horror Movies, From The Babadook To Wolf Creek

It’s not all sunshine down under.

Australia has a long and storied reputation for wild and wonderful genre cinema – affectionately dubbed Ozploitation – which has included some of the weirdest, goriest, and most terrifying horror films to have made their way to our screens.

From tense Outback slashers, to unsettling supernatural tales, Australia remains one of the finest producers of scary movies in the world. That legacy continues this week, as the excellent paranormal thriller Talk To Me arrives in UK cinemas, proving once more that if you want something dark and twisted, you’d better get an Aussie behind the camera.

To celebrate the film’s release, we’ve compiled a list of ten of our favourite Australian horror movies of all time, from crowd pleasing favourites to cult classics begging to be rediscovered.

10. Next Of Kin (1982)

Roadshow Film Distributors

If you’ve ever wondered what an Australian take on The Shining would look like, then look no further than this Giallo-inspired oddity. Linda Stevens (Jacki Kerin) inherits a rural estate after her mother’s death, which takes in a retirement home – and soon after she moves in, residents start dying or having near-death experiences at an alarming rate.

The key to this mystery lies in the secrets of Linda’s estranged family, building up to one of the most deliriously deranged climaxes you could possibly imagine. After a surreal slow-burn of a ghost story, everything but the kitchen sink is thrown at the screen in the bonkers final act.

It’s easy to see why the movie is starting to get rediscovered by a new generation, who are finally making it the cult horror touchstone it always deserved to be.

9. Wolf Creek (2005)


Can you think of a worse cinematic outing than watching Wolf Creek, a nihilistic slasher in which several tourists are kidnapped and tortured by a xenophobic, Crocodile Dundee-quoting serial killer, on Christmas Day?

And yet, when director Greg McLean’s grueling effort made its debut in the US, the distributors made the bizarre decision of releasing it on December 25th – an error of judgement which, naturally, led to it getting a rare “F” rating from audiences polled by CinemaScore.

Luckily, when watching it outside of the festive season, McLean’s film holds up as a chilling entry to the serial killer genre, even if it isn’t as unnerving as the filmmakers would like you to believe; it is not, in fact, directly based on a true story. Not that this diminishes its power in any way – although, the less said about the sequel, the better.

8. Snowtown (2011)

101 Films

Wolf Creek looks like Mary Poppins when placed in comparison to director Justin Kurzel’s unflinching, often unwatchable true crime drama – a movie that, whilst not horror in genre, is considerably more disturbing than any other film on this list.

The film follows 16 year old Jamie (Lucas Pittaway), as he falls under the spell of John (Daniel Henshall), a violent homophobe who ends up luring in the teen on his killing spree. The end result is one of the best films you’ll never want to watch more than once.

7. Triangle (2009)


One of the most brain-warping time loop films there is – imagine the indie drama Primer reinvented as a slasher, and you’re halfway towards grasping the wavelength Triangle operates on. However, despite the complex, increasingly knotty structure that makes it easy to get lost in, writer/director Christopher Smiths film is surprisingly easy viewing; the less you think about it and just succumb to the sheer strangeness of it all, the better time you’ll have.

The film stars Melissa George as Jess, who is about to go on a yachting holiday with friends, but is certain things about to take a turn for the worse. When they’re caught in a storm, her fears are proven right – but it’s the sudden arrival of another boat that plunges them into a never-ending nightmare.

6. Talk To Me (2023)


Is it too early to declare this an instant classic in the Aussie horror pantheon? This supernatural chiller, the directorial debut of Youtuber twins Danny and Michael Philippou, is more than worthy of the hype, finding a fresh new spin on a classic tale of possession.

Sophie Wilde plays Mia, a young woman who celebrates the second anniversary of her mother by attending a séance, where attendees are encouraged to grab hold of an embalmed hand and welcome spirits into their souls. The results are usually bizarre, with the teens filming proceedings for their Snapchat stories, but things start to go wrong when she stays under the influence for too long – and that’s before the ghost of her departed mum comes into the mix.

It’s an effectively chilling affair, and it builds up to one of the most satisfying endings to any horror movie I’ve seen recently. Make sure you check this one out.

5. Roadgames (1981)


Director Richard Franklin is best known for directing the divisive cult classic Psycho II, but it’s the movie he made directly before that deserved all the attention. A box office bomb upon release, Roadgames has stood the test of time as a satisfying serial killer thriller – one viewed entirely through the eyes of the cocky truck driver (Stacy Keach) who is slowly becoming the top suspect in a case he’s unsuspectingly stumbled into.

Pitched somewhere between a classic Hitchcockian thrill ride, and a tense road bound horror in the vein of Steven Spielberg’s Duel, it’s pure B-movie bliss.

4. Lake Mungo (2008)

Arclight Films

Arriving just before Paranormal Activity reintroduced Hollywood to the power of found footage horror, this indie gem finds its power by spinning its amateur home movies into a true crime mockumentary – one that doesn’t lose its haunting power even as the unsettling images we see are frequently debunked and recontextualised.

Lake Mungo tells the story of a family reeling from the recent death of their 16 year old daughter, who start to see what appears to be her ghost around the house. The reality is far more complicated, and the scares more ambiguous – and as the end credits prove, multiple viewings are a necessity to try and unpack the true nature of the haunting.

3. Celia (1989)

Seon Film Productions

Originally released under the title Celia: Child Of Terror, a moniker that makes it sound like a demonic slasher, this coming-of-age tale is a dark fantasy that acts as a precursor to the films of Guillermo del Toro – all of the ingredients of his Spanish Civil War companion pieces, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, are present here.

Set in the late 1950s, the film follows eight-year-old Celia following the death of her grandmother, where her fantastical nightmares start entwining with the paranoid everyday of the adults around her. Like Pan’s Labyrinth, it’s a tale largely about holding onto childhood innocence as an act of resistance against parents who don’t share your view on the world – the only difference is that this tale has both feet in reality.

2. Wake In Fright (1971)

United Artists

The most famous Ozploitation film of them all – give or take a Mad MaxWake In Fright is the number one movie the Australian tourist board doesn’t want you to see, an increasingly paranoid study of toxic masculinity at a remote village in the Outback.

John Grant (Gary Bond) is a schoolteacher making his way to Sydney, but after a stop over in a place known locally as “The Yabba” leads to him losing all his money in a bet, he becomes stuck there, with nothing to do but drink, fight, and go hunting kangaroo with the locals.

His stay becomes increasingly harrowing, especially as the village starts becoming a prison from which he can’t escape – and what initially begins as a satirical examination of class, pitting the middle-class teacher against the working class townsfolk, becomes a different beast altogether.

  1. The Babadook (2014)

Entertainment One

The most famous Aussie horror icon of all, The Babadook needs no introduction; an eerie children’s book character, a menacing villain – who may or may not be a figment of its adult protagonist’s imagination – and an all-round queer icon, Mr. Babadook really is everything.

Jennifer Kent’s directorial debut quickly became heralded as one of the finest horror movies of its era upon initial release, a stature that has only grown in the near-decade since. A powerful story about post-natal depression and an inability to find closure following an unimaginable tragedy years before, The Babadook is terrifying precisely because of the way in which it grounds its supernatural shenanigans.

It’s a properly horrifying experience – but it would be even if Amelia (Essie Davis) wasn’t haunted by a creepy figure from a pop-up book.

Talk To Me is in UK cinemas now.

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Alistair Ryder

Alistair Ryder


Alistair is a culture journalist and lover of bad puns from Leeds. Subject yourself to his bad tweets by following him on Twitter @YesItsAlistair.