Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are going to be looking at 20 Awesome Australian Horror Movies. Being a Welshman, I grew up watching the soap opera Neighbours at tea time and cheering on the Aussies as they played England in the rugby. But it turns out there is more to Oz than just binge-able soap operas, fantastic sports people and gorgeous scenery. They also knock out amazing horror as well. Australia is one of those countries that saw what the rest of the world was doing and said.. “Nah, Mate! That’s not for us.”. Scrapped the entire approach and went in a completely different direction. The result is a country that has been producing some of the best horror movies ever for nearly two decades.
It might sound like hyperbole, but I’d actually put Australia up there as my favourite place on earth for horror movies. It might sound ridiculous but it is true. I am sure most viewers aren’t exactly oblivious to just how important the land down under has been to the horror genre in recent years. I mean, some of the movies on this list have legitimately changed the way horror is made today. But I don’t know if people realise just how many good movies you can find coming out of Oz. For a country with a population of around 26 million. You might be surprised to find out that it is a lot.
So Many Fantastic Films
Don’t get me wrong, we can’t ignore some of the shite. Australian horror seems to only work on either end of the scale. It’s somewhere between excellent and completely unwatchable. With Outback and Uninhabited being two great examples of just how terrible it can be. But, for the most part, Aussies just get it. They understand how to produce movies that stick with you, they don’t follow typical Western blueprints. They aren’t at all ashamed to do their own thing and they are never shy about making you laugh. I always know when going into an Aussie horror that there is fair chance it will blow me away.
If somebody asked me to recommend a country’s modern era of horror to binge. My suggestion would be between Australia 2005-Present and Japan 1998-2012. Which brings me onto this list. I’ve wanted to put this list together for the longest time but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Some of the movies here are in my top ten modern horror movies of all time. A couple of them are probably top five. Which is crazy when you consider that horror is the only genre I ever watch.
I have reviewed a lot of these but some I haven’t. Rest assured, I will get around to it but this site is still very new. I have only been working on it extensively for just under a year. So I need excuses to go back and watch older horror movies which means I tend to only do it in October. I have watched all of these movies, though and can attest to their greatness. Some of them aren’t exactly my cup of tea but I recognise them for how much the audience likes them. Others are among my favourite movies. I’ll point out, as well, that most of these are modern horror movies. I know Australia was putting out some amazing horror in the 70s and 80s. But that is a subject for another list. Without further ado, let’s take a look.
20 – Storm Warning (2007)
This is one that critics tend to like a bit more than the audience. Storm Warning doesn’t do a single thing new but what it does, it does pretty well. A couple on a boat trip find themselves stuck in the middle of nowhere. After making their way to a seemingly abandoned house. The couple realise that there may actually be worse things that being lost in the middle of a storm.
Storm Warning is very much of its era when it comes to Australian Horror. Playing on tropes of weirdos from the backwoods tormenting unsuspecting people. This is a movie that is quite content to never really push the boat out. It’s simple, derivative, unoriginal but, also, quite effective. Not a brilliant movie by any stretch but worth a watch nonetheless. If you don’t ask too much, you may really enjoy it.
19 – Wolf Creek (2005)
Back to something more traditional now and another movie that couldn’t not appear on this list. Wolf Creek is marketed as being based on a true story. And while it bears similarities to the backpacker murders of Ivan Milat. Wolf Creek is fiction outside of a few nods to its real life inspiration. This movie could best be described as torture horror with little to no shame in what it is. Following the story of a group of backpackers being kidnapped by a crazed man and brutally murdered. Wolf Creek fits right alongside movies like Hostel thanks to its approach to ultra violence.
Not a perfect movie by any stretch. Wolf Creek is unrelenting, never letting up for one moment and maintaining tension throughout. The arid location provides the perfect, hopeless, backdrop for the horror the characters go through. It’s an important movie as far as Aussie horror goes. Having been one of the key movies to kick off a new era of fantastic Australian horror, but it might not live up to the hype. At the end of the day, it’s brutal torture porn and if that’s what you are looking for you will be satisfied. You can check it out right now on Tubi.
18 – Killing Ground (2016)
An example of Australia’s tendency towards brutally realistic and uncomfortably violent horror. Killing Ground follows the blueprint of movies like Snow Town and Wolf Creek by being utterly disturbing and, in parts, rather unnecessary. A family on a camping trip stumble on the scene of a crime. Only to find themselves in a desperate fight for survival.
Director Damien Power reaffirms that the most disturbing monster of all is fellow humans in this horrifying crime horror. Not a movie I would recommend to watch with your parents and definitely bogged down under the weight of a repetitive and mundane middle section. Killing Ground still has its fans and may be worth checking out. We awarded it 2/5 in our review and you can check it out for free on Tubi.
17 – Black Water (2007)
More survival thrills next as a group of people attempt to avoid being eaten by a huge saltwater crocodile while exploring a mangrove swamp. Much like The Reef, Black Water is another example of Aussies doing the whole “people trying to avoid becoming large predator food” thing well. I guess they have plenty of experience with things like this over there, though. No CGI, no silly props, just lots of tension and a very scary crocodile. Black Water is a decent movie that might just scratch that very specific itch for a creature movie that isn’t about sharks. You can check Black Water out on Tubi right now.
16 – The Tunnel (2011)
I often point out how I am a big fan of Found Footage and Mockumentaries. They are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine but when done right they can be incredibly effective. The Tunnel is no exception. Following a group of journalists investigating a government cover up that leads them to a network of abandoned train tunnels. This movie features some incredibly unsettling locations and some genuinely fantastic tension.
The Tunnel manages to keep the viewer engaged. Continually hinting at a mystery that goes deeper and deeper the longer it goes on. As the movie plays out, it feels like there is something missing. With the story never managing to completely satisfy but this is still worth a watch. The Tunnel is Mockumentary horror done right. We featured The Tunnel in our list of Found Footage Horror You May Have Missed. You can check it out for free on Tubi.
15 – Rogue (2007)
Rogue is another movie that came out in 2007 about killer crocodiles. In my eyes, Rogue is better than Dark Water. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near as successful despite having a more interesting plot and a scarier croc. Inspired by the true story of massive toothy bastard Sweetheart.
Rogue follows the story of a group of tourists desperately trying to survive the attacks of a man eating crocodile. Tense, effective, and featuring some real high points. Rogue is a fantastic option if you are looking for more of the same after watching Black Water. This is another great example of Australia nailing survival horror.
14 – Dead Calm (1989)
Shall we go back to the late 80s? A time when Nicole Kidman wasn’t quite a megastar yet and Billy Zane still had hair. Sam Neill stars in this Psychological horror thriller about a couple on a sailing trip after the loss of their son. Stumbling across a suspicious man requesting help after the crew of the ship he was on died of food poisoning. The Simpsons recently parodied this movie in a Halloween special which makes you wonder how many of its young audience actually got it?
Still, this movie is as tense and effective as ever. I first watched this as a wee nipper back in the 90s and it always stuck with me thanks to Nicole Kidman’s crazy hair and the site of her naked ass. Isn’t it weird what young minds choose to store away? It’s held up pretty well and definitely deserves a watch if you are after a thriller with a distinctly 80s feel.
13 – The Reef (2010)
Perhaps this one doesn’t really count as a horror but I think it fits pretty well despite this. I mean, what is more horrifying than becoming shark chow? The Reef follows the simple story of a group of friends being in a boat that capsizes off the coast of Indonesia. While awaiting rescue, the group are stalked by what appears to be a Great White Shark. Forcing them to make a drastic decisions in the name of survival.
Shark Movies are always a bit hit or miss. In fact, some of them are utterly shit. There isn’t much middle ground and whether you are a fan of the genre, or not, often determines your level of enjoyment. The Reef is one of the better ones and, despite it being a little on the slow side, it feels a little more well thought out that some of its toothy compatriots. The Reef doesn’t tend to fall foul of some of the genre pitfalls that so many other movies do. Instead content to slowly build tension and unsettle the viewer throughout. Well worth checking out. You can watch The Reef on Tubi for free.
12 – Triangle (2009)
Perhaps cheating a bit here as this movie is a technically a British production in collaboration with Australia. Christopher Smith’s psychological horror tale of a woman trying to find her way off of a ship that carries a bizarre secret. Is a tense and, often, unnerving exploration of time loop concepts and survival set against a claustrophobic backdrop.
Triangle can feel a bit messy in parts and doesn’t always hit the mark with its scares. But, despite this, it’s hard not to appreciate what it attempts to do. It is an intelligent horror movie that felt particularly fresh when it came out in 2009. Melissa George’s fantastic performance only helps make the movie all the more enjoyable. Smith’s later religious horror Consecration explores similar themes but never manages to hit the same stride as Triangle.
11 – Sissy (2022)
Hannah Barlow’s chaotic and hilarious Sissy is a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. Following the story of a social media influencer reconnecting with her best friend from school. Only to find herself dealing with past trauma that she believed to be long buried. Sissy is gory, clever, witty and tons of fun. It slips up in parts and the social media aspects might not appeal to everyone. But it’s hard not to enjoy a movie so utterly nuts as this.
Clearly aimed at a younger generation. This is a movie that might be boxing itself in a little too much. But Barlow achieves a lot with this low budget flick. An easy recommend and a great option when you are looking for something a little less serious. We awarded Sissy 3.6/5 in our review. It was also featured in our list of Social Media Influencer Horror Movies.
10 – The Invisible Man (2020)
Wait, this is Australian? Hell yeah it is… Well, kind of. It is an Aussie and US collaboration filmed, at least partly, in Australia and directed by an Australian. What’s more, it’s a bloody good film that is actually quite scary. Who would have thought that an Invisible Man film could be so effective in 2020? Following the story of a woman escaping her horrifically abusive husband. Only to feel as though he is watching her continually.
This movie taps into the darkness around the story of the invisible man. While also managing to be an inspirational tale of strength and regrowth. Awesome stuff and far better than I ever expected it to be. This is a great example of how old stories can be reworked in a way that creates genuinely fresh feeling horror.
9 – Relic (2020)
Disturbing, compelling, unsettling and a little bit depressing. Relic is the story of a woman returning to her childhood home to care for her ailing mother. Only to discover that something far more sinister has taken hold of her. Relic leans far closer to the psychological drama side of things than anything else. Again proving that Australian horror is among some of the deepest in the genre.
Despite advertising itself as horror and having a few moments that are somewhat unsettling. There is a deeper story at the heart of this movie that will speak to certain groups of people who have experienced similar situations to the characters here. Relic can be pretentious and a little on the nose with its metaphors. But it is also an effective movie that is sure to stay with people long after watching. Emily Mortimer’s fantastic, nuanced, performance bears mention, as well. We awarded Relic 3/5 in our review.
8 – You Won’t Be Alone (2022)
Maybe the most unique movie on this list but, perhaps, the least Australian feeling of the bunch. You Won’t Be Alone is an international collaboration between Australia, the UK and the USA. You Won’t be Alone follows the story of a girl being kidnapped in Macedonia and transformed into a witch. Comparing this movie to The Witch would be understandable and a good place to start for reference. But it also doesn’t really do You Won’t Be Alone justice.
This is a movie that takes established lore and twists it up to create something thoroughly strange and unique. The subtitles, slow pace and rather bizarre nature of the movie may put some people off. But fans of movies that feel a little bit different may find a hidden gem in Goran Stolevski’s interesting folk horror. Oh and Noomi Rapace stars. What could be better?
7 – Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism (2023)
As some of you may know. I have covered a ton of low budget horror on Tubi as of late. Many of which were Tubi Originals. The prevailing thought I was left with, after doing this, is that most of the horror movies on Tubi are awful. Especially the Tubi Originals. Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism bucks that trend. Managing to be the best Tubi Original horror movie by quite a long way.
Based on the real life case of Joan Vollmer. Godless follows the story of a mentally ill woman being forced to undergo an exorcism by her highly religious partner. Not feeling at all like the majority of exorcism movies. Godless is actually another example of a brilliant crime based Australian horror film. With a shocking plot and some fantastic performances. Expertly capturing the true horror of the case that inspired it. Godless might not be for everyone and doesn’t feel much like a horror movie. But it is definitely worth a watch. We awarded Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism a strong 4/5 in our review. We also explained the ending for it if you have watched the movie and want a little more insight. You can check it out for free on Tubi right now.
6 – Better Watch Out (2016)
Is this cheating, again? I mean, the director, Chris Peckover, has an Aussie mother and the movie is made by an Australian production team in Sydney. But I am sure a lot of people see this movie as a good, old fashioned, traditional American Christmas horror. The truth is that an Aussie producer offered Peckover a substantial budget to film the movie in Oz after hearing that Peckover’s mum was Australian. The result is a movie filmed with a bunch of Australian cast members and a multi-national crew.
Following the story of a babysitter defending a 12 year old boy from home invaders while his parents are at a Christmas party. Better Watch Out feels every bit the dull home invasion horror until things switch up and the movie reveals itself to be something quite different. This one tends to split people a bit with some really disliking the movie’s lack of Christmas cheer. I, personally, love it and think it is an annual Christmas viewing essential. Great fun, violent and with a detestable villain the likes of which you rarely see. Better Watch Out is brilliant fun. We awarded Better Watch Out 4/5 in our review. We also featured it in our Christmas in July feature. You can check it out right now on Tubi for free.
5 – Hounds of Love (2016)
If Killing Ground and Relic left you feeling a little depressed. Things aren’t about to get any better with the crime horror, thriller, Hounds of Love. Based on the real life story of couple David and Catherine Birnie who kidnapped and murdered four women in Perth, Australia. Hounds of Love is a dark and depressing tale of a young woman being held captive by a demented couple and fighting desperately for her survival.
Much like the aforementioned Killing Ground; Hounds of Love is brutal and effective in its depiction of a person fighting against the odds. It’s also incredibly well acted. Like a number of Aussie horror movies, it does step into the torture horror genre a little too often. But this is a movie that is essential, albeit grim, viewing. Especially for fans of horror based on true crime. Just like the next movie on our list.
4 – Snowtown (2011)
Not really a horror movie, more of a horrific true crime tale. Snowtown is an utterly depressing movie based on the real life case of the snowtown murders. Following a young, misguided, man becoming accomplice to some horrifying events. Snowtown is a completely joyless movie that will stay with you for a long time after. It is affecting in its realism and entirely unrelenting in its portrayal of the horror and atrocities that surround the “body in the barrel” murders.
This one is less for enjoying and more for experiencing. Not at all something to throw on if you aren’t in the right frame of mind. Snowtown is a tough recommend, almost indulgent in its portrayal of the events that took place, but it is a powerful movie nonetheless. You can check it out on Tubi right now.
3 – The Babadook (2014)
You know I can’t put together a list of Aussie horror without talking about this one, right? The Babadook follows the story of a grieving mother attempting to raise her troubled child after the death of her husband. All while dealing with a monster that appears to have invaded their home. The Babadook attempts to explore the subjects of grief and loss through the lens of a horror movie. Something that it accomplishes extremely well for the most part. This is a movie that is genuinely unsettling in parts and deeply moving in others.
Whether, or not, The Babadook has been a net gain for horror is a matter up for debate. Much like the way The Blair Witch Project spawned a whole generation of copycats. The Babadook has done the same. Leading the horror industry to be bombarded with a deluge of movies steeped in metaphor. And plots that lean heavily into examinations of the human condition. But it is still an effective horror that is extremely enjoyable. The Babadook’s transcending of horror into something altogether more arthouse and important has lead to an immense amount of critical hype. Something that the movie simply can’t hope to live up to. But if you go in blind, this is still a very enjoyable horror with some amazing high points. You can check it out right now on Tubi.
2 – Lake Mungo (2008)
If you are a veteran horror fan then you knew this one was coming. You will likely already have an opinion on this movie as most people do. Lake Mungo is a found footage mockumentary following the story of a family seemingly haunted by the spirit of their recently deceased daughter. Slow moving and methodical in its approach to scaring the viewer. Lake Mungo is one of those horror movies that divides audiences down the middle. It is riding a wave of hype in recent years. With some viewers claiming it is one of the scariest movies they have ever seen. Something which leads others to come away disappointed.
What Lake Mungo really is, is a haunting and affecting tale of grief and loss set against a backdrop of horror. A family attempting to cope with the death of a loved one in any way they can. Slowly unravels as the mystery of their daughter’s death grows deeper and deeper. Lake Mungo takes a few risks that might not pay off. Leading to some viewers checking out about a third of the way into the movie. It also relies heavily on atmosphere and careful following of the story to get the most out of it. But at its heart, Lake Mungo is a horror movie like no other. Deeply unsettling, powerful, and tragic. I love this movie. It isn’t for everyone but it is so worth seeing whether or not it is for you. Awesome awesome stuff. We awarded Lake Mungo 4/5 in our review. You can check it out now on Tubi.
1 – The Loved Ones (2009)
This has to be one of my all time favourite horror movies. Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones sees a young man being kidnapped by a demented class mate after refusing her invitation to the dance. Brutal, hilarious, and completely twisted. The Loved Ones takes teen drama and smashes it together with Wolf Creek to create a movie that is both hilarious and genuinely disturbing in parts. It has a witty script, a demented bad guy, some serious gore and a story that is completely engaging.
Featuring an amazing performance by lead crazy girl Robin McLeavy as Lola. This is one of those movies that thrives off of its villain. Keeping you continually guessing as to what sick thing she will do next. Brilliant stuff but with an end that disappoints, leaving you wanting more. The Loved Ones is the perfect example of a horror movie that only the Aussies could make. It probably won’t win any awards for narrative and isn’t going to change the minds of anyone who dislikes gory horror. But if that sounds like your thing, The Loved Ones is essential viewing. We awarded it 4/5 in our review.
Thanks for Reading
So that is 20 Awesome Australian Horror Movies Ranked. This list isn’t close to exhaustive. There are a ton of Aussie horror movies we have missed. The list would be incredibly deep if we covered all of them. Hell, this list doesn’t feature a single movie from the 70s and early 80s when Australia was in something of a horror heyday. That’s something that I might revist in the future. I wanted to keep things modern and add in a few movies you may have missed.
I’ll be adding full reviews for many of the movies here that I have missed in the near future. I may even expand on this list somewhere down the line. For now though, thanks for reading. Why not stick around? Check out our horror movie reviews, our horror movie ending explained articles and more horror lists.