Director: Lynne Ramsay

We Need to Talk About Kevin isn’t technically horror, though you’d be hard-pressed to find a horror flick that’s as bleak, unsettling, and haunting as Lynne Ramsay’s emotional knockout. Based on author Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel, Ramsay’s overwhelming domestic nightmare centers on a remorseful outcast of a mother (the amazing Tilda Swinton) who’s struggling to understand why her troubled son, Kevin (the extremely creepy Ezra Miller), went on a murder spree at his high school.

Which is in no way a spoiler, since co-writer Ramsay’s script bounces around in time to present the Columbine-like massacre as the possible culmination of years’ worth of parental neglect and just plain old inherent malevolence. By the film’s distressing shocker of a climax, We Need to Talk About Kevin has already fastened a noose around the viewer’s throat; once the true horror occurs, the box is kicked out from under your feet. Though it’s not an easy watch, Ramsay’s meticulous examination of domestic terror is incredibly vital.