7. The Conjuring
Aside from Insidious: Chapter 2, James Wan continually is improving as a horror director, and The Conjuring is his finest hour. A mash-up of The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and the classics of the 1970s, Wan looks back while surging forward. What makes The Conjuring sensationally effective isn’t just its many genre trappings — including demonic possessions, evil dummies and kamikaze birds — but the sheer skill of the filmmaking. With the help of seamless camerawork, Wan feels effortlessly at home in this haunted house, getting some of the best performances yet out of horror pros Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. However, top honors go to the ethereal Lili Taylor, channeling her inner Sissy Spacek as a woman haunted. The handclap games Taylor plays with her children are some of the scariest sequences you will ever see on film. This is a movie you watch between your fingers.