The horror genre is synonymous with an abundance of cliché tropes. Specifically, the popular “scream queen” and “final girl” tropes. From The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Scream, most successful horror franchises include a resilient and determined heroine who’s ready to battle the killer. However, the men of horror have often been overlooked in favor of their female counterparts. Over time, a changing of the guard has occurred in the popular genre when it comes to men and women in horror. Many believe that Bruce Campbell’s portrayal in the Evil Dead films earned him recognition as a scream king. In recent years, modern-age horror has included several memorable “final guy” warriors. Let’s take a look at modern horror’s five best scream kings.
5) Oliver Jackson-Cohen
The English actor first dabbled in the horror genre when he starred in the British-American television adaptation of Dracula in 2013. Despite its unfortunate cancelation after only one season, Jackson-Cohen received praise and recognition for his involvement. The 35-year old’s breakthrough role came as Luke Crain in the release of Netflix’s massive supernatural horror hit, The Haunting of Hill House. The Haunting of Bly Manor was released two years later, serving as a follow-up series. The series saw Jackson-Cohen return as Peter Quint, a ghostly presence that haunts the mansion’s foundation. As such, he was critically praised and voted a fan favorite by audiences. With that, many fans alluded to his status as a “scream king” in modern horror.
Lastly, Jackson-Cohen’s newly-crowned validation increased for his role in Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man (2020). Considered by many to be his best performance yet, Jackson-Cohen’s venture into elements of supernatural fear and thriller has cemented his name as one of modern horror’s best scream kings.
4) Rory Culkin
The youngest brother of the Culkin clan has established himself as a name in modern horror. Following in the footsteps of his older brothers, Culkin steered his career in a specific direction. Therefore, his dedication to the genre and committed acting prowess lands him on this list. As a child, Culkin first dabbled in science-fiction horror when he starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Culkin went on to star in numerous thriller horrors, such as The Night Listener, The Zodiac, Intruders, and Jack Goes Home. Impressively, most of these roles came before the actor was 20 years old. Due to his acting expertise in horror films, many fans have celebrated his work as a modern horror scream king.
The talented actor’s most notable role came in 2011 when he starred as Charlie Walker in Wes Craven’s notorious Scream 4. Culkin was praised by critics and audiences alike for his character’s manipulative nature and ability to fool the audience. As such, Culkin’s impressive body of work attributing to horror makes him one of this generation’s best scream kings.
3) Daniel Kaluuya
In the prime of his career, the British actor has quickly garnered a reputation for himself as a scream king. Kaluuya’s introduction to the psychological horror sub-genre came to fruition with his involvement in the British television series Psychoville. The actor’s reputation for the genre only increased once he starred in a number of episodes for the British series The Fades and the infamous Black Mirror series. The 32-year-old actor will star in another horror creation, reuniting with Jordan Peele for Nope (2022).
Kaluuya’s career breakthrough occurred for his role as Chris Washington in the masterful Jordan Peele’s Get Out. The horror masterpiece took the genre by storm, and managed to concurrently solidify Jordan Peele’s presence as a horror filmmaker. The role kickstarted a plethora of future projects for his young career, with Kaluuya’s portrayal of Chris being well-received. As such, the role immediately secured his place as one of modern horror’s best scream kings.
2) Evan Peters
A list of modern horror’s best scream kings simply would be pointless without the inclusion of Evan Peters. The 34-year-old actor is synonymous with his various portrayals of characters over nine of the ten seasons of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. For these dynamic portrayals, Peters has been dubbed a revolutionary force in the world of modern horror. Peters’ horror involvement saw further exploration when he starred as Clay in The Lazarus Effect (2015). Still, his collection of American Horror Story characters has earned him the reputation as one of this generation’s best scream kings.
Diving further into his horror roots, Peters will portray serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer for the Netflix miniseries Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Dahmer, of course, was an American convicted serial killer who ate his victims. The miniseries will be lead by Ryan Murphy, with whom Peters has experience working with on American Horror Story. Regarded as a horror icon and adored by fans worldwide, Evan Peters’ gold status in the genre shows no signs of slowing down.
1) Patrick Wilson
The 48-year-old actor has become a legend within the horror world. In 2010, the horror master unexpectedly stumbled on the niche with his role as Josh Lambert in James Wan’s Insidious. Wilson reprised his role as Josh in the film’s sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, three years later. Both plots focus on the ability of astral projection, as well as encountering demons in a deadly dimension known as The Further. Critically applauded and regarded as a horror rising star, Wilson went on to star in James Wan’s The Conjuring (2013). The film spawned a successful franchise, with Patrick Wilson’s portrayal as demonologist Ed Warren earning him renowned acclaim. Wilson reprised his role in both The Conjuring 2 and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.
Following its release, The Conjuring universe expanded with a variety of films. One of these films, Annabelle, focuses on a possessed doll that the Warrens studied. Wilson once again reprised his role of Ed Warren in Annabelle Comes Home, further cementing his horror status. In 2019, the crowned king of modern horror returned to the beloved genre as Ross Humboldt in In The Tall Grass. The film served as an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. Whether it be Ed Warren or Josh Lambert, Patrick Wilson is the undisputed king of modern horror cinema.