According to IMDB, before Maika Monroe began her career in acting she wanted to pursue her dream of being a professional kiteboarder. She made her acting debut in an episode of the American science-based TV series Eleventh Hour in 2009. Her film acting debut came in 2012 as Cadence Farrow in the drama At Any Price, starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron. She subsequently had roles in movies like The Bling Ring (2013), Labor Day (2013), Hot Summer Nights (2017), and The Tribes of Palos Verdes (2017).
After the thriller-mystery The Guest (2014), she was catapulted into fame with the instant horror classic It Follows (2014). Since then, she has cemented herself as one of the most iconic scream queens in horror movie history, with movies like Watcher (2022) and Significant Other (2022). In 2024 she will reprise her role as Jay Height in the sequel to It Follows, They Follow. She’ll also be starring alongside Nicolas Cage and Alicia Witt in the horror-thriller film Longlegs. Monroe will be playing Lee Harker, an FBI agent assigned to an unsolved serial killer case with a connection to the occult. Her character discovers that she has a personal connection to the case.
Below is a curated list of Maika Monroe’s horror and thriller films, ranked from worst to best, which all prove that she’s one of the most powerful talents in the genre.
This thriller centers around Bob Hightower (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a detective, husband, and father who has lost everything. He’s hellbent on a mission to avenge his murdered wife and to rescue his daughter from an evil Satanic cult. His plan is to infiltrate the cult and hunt down its leader Cyrus (Karl Glusman). In order to achieve this, he partners up with its only victim escapee, Case Hardin, played by Maika Monroe in a partnership that feels rushed and glossed over.
The leads deliver strong acting and bring out realistic emotions in their performances, however the incoherent screenplay feels almost not worthy of the talent on display. There was no real sense of urgency around Bob’s character finding his daughter, nor did it ever feel like he was being pushed to his limits. There were only a handful of moments where it truly felt like he had his daughter on his mind. His anxiety and worry should have been depicted throughout the entirety of the film to build up tension. The movie itself is an overkill—ridiculously brutal and excessively violent. For example, there’s a scene where the cult leader is shooting someone’s face off and it feels like it drags on forever. Robert Daniels writes for Roger Ebert, “Its [God Is a Bullet’s] violence against women, while certainly an intended critique of this barren, apathetic desert landscape, succumbs to gratuitousness.” The ending leaves the viewer wanting more. Maika Monroe shines in her role, but not even her brilliance is enough to save the movie.
Tau is a sci-fi horror from Netflix directed by Federico D’Alessandro from a screenplay by Noga Landau. The movie is a throwback to 1990s low budget sci-fi thrillers. It opens with introducing the audience to Julia (Maika Monroe) and giving us a glimpse at how she makes a living by stealing from patrons at seedy nightclubs. Shortly after arriving home from a long night, she’s kidnapped by who is later revealed to be Alex (Ed Skrein), a sadistic renowned scientist, CEO, and creator of TAU, an advanced AI in control of his house. She awakens in a jail cell with two other “subjects” with a glowing implant in the back of her neck. After multiple brutal sessions of psychological torture, she make an escape attempt in which the two other “subjects” are killed. Alex reveals that the implant is collecting Julia’s neural activity for a project he’s working on—an AI entity which has the ability to learn from human emotions. The rest of the movie follows Julia in captivity as she fights to escape…and for her life. Little by little, she influences TAU to help her.
While the film has an interesting premise and does deliver a satisfying ending, it isn’t distinct from other movies about AI. It feels overdone and rehashed from other sci-fi and AI plots, only done slightly different. Tau leaves the viewer expecting a twist to make the entire film a worthwhile watch, but it never comes. Its plot is weak and illogical at certain points. Monroe delivers a demanding and outstanding performance as Julia, capturing her determination to survive in such a visceral way. However, her character’s backstory was certainly worth exploring and the movie failed to deliver at all in that aspect.
Kate Trefry, a staff writer and story editor on Stranger Things who also worked on Fear Street 1666, brings to life a creepy story about being left home alone at night—from an adult’s perspective. The short film opens with a photographer named Lucy (Maika Monroe) kissing her husband, played by Joe Keery, as he leaves for a late night shift at the hospital. She has a three-step guide for surviving her lonely evening. The first step is to turn on all the lights and the TV. The second is to make a fun plan, hers is to eat cereal, paint her nails, and organize her studio. She also tells herself “no slipping into old habits, no drinking, no smoking, no downers, and stick to the plan.” The third step…well, watch and see. As the night goes on, Lucy’s real life horrors manifest in insidious forms and she’s forced to confront uncomfortable truths about her life, marriage, and the choices she has made. “Call something harmless. Watch it destroy you.”
Truly, the only bad thing about this short film is that it didn’t last any longer. How To Be Alone is visually stunning psychological horror with exquisite cinematography. It’s a fun movie that keeps the viewer on edge for the entirety of its 13 minute runtime.
The Guest is a genre-busting film that defies categorization. It’s thriller, horror, action, and a little sci-fi. It was written by You’re Next’s (2019) Simon Barrett and directed by Adam Wingward. Among the supporting cast are Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Brendan Meyer, and Lance Reddick. The film stars Maika Monroe as Anna Peterson, a teenager whose family is grieving the death of her brother who died in combat in Afghanistan. When David Collins (Dan Stevens), a former U.S. Army sergeant visits the family claiming to be her brother’s best friend, Anna is doubtful of his true intentions. Her mother invites David to stay at their home for as long as he wishes. When a string of “accidental” deaths occur shortly after his arrival, Anna comes to believe they’re connected to David.
The Guest feels so manically over the top at times that it doesn’t feel threatening and almost gives off a black comedy vibe. Still, the film works at compelling the viewer and drawing you in. It’s a bit ridiculous (and almost hilarious) in some instances, but the scenes keep getting wilder and wilder as the film progresses, making for a thoroughly entertaining watch. Although cliche at times, it remains unique and has a fun 1980s feel to it. As usual, Maika Monroe delivers an extremely strong performance. Critics received the film well and it currently holds a score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Greta is a psycho-thriller written by Neil Jordan and Ray Wright, and directed by Jordan. It doesn’t star Maika Monroe as the lead, but rather Chloë Grace Moretz as Frances McCullen. Monroe plays Erica Penn, the main character’s best friend and roommate. Frances, still mourning her mother’s death from cancer, befriends Greta (Isabelle Huppert), a lonely widow and mother, after finding her purse on the train. The pair become fast friends, but soon Greta’s seemingly sweetness and motherly charm begin to fade and the horrors of her true intentions begin to surface to light.
Monroe may not be the character the film revolves around but she delivers a gripping and memorable performance and displays that the best friend doesn’t always have to fade into the background of a story. She’s at the heart of one of the most thrilling sequences, in which Erica is stalked through the streets of NYC by the villainous Greta. Her character is also the center of one of the most clever twists, seen near the end of the movie. Monroe’s character is the sole hero. Moretz and Huppert also deliver phenomenal and compelling performances. Greta may have received mixed reviews, but it’s a gem of a film that delivers peak stalker horror.
Significant Other is an ambitious sci-fi horror that was released for streaming on Paramount+. The film is a thought-provoking exploration of love and relationships, and a little bit of a character study. It opens with a red object falling from the sky into a wooded area and showing a deer being grabbed by a tentacle. The movie then follows Ruth (Maika Monroe) and Harry (Jake Lacy), a couple headed to a backpacking trip in the Pacific Northwest. Early on, the viewer is given a sense of who each character is (and of the underlying tension in their relationship). As they make their way through the wilderness, it’s evident that something is stalking them. Shortly after a rejected marriage proposal amongst the gorgeous scenery, Ruth makes a sinister discovery in the forest. Coming out of those woods, they may never be the same again. This may sound like a movie you’ve seen before, but rest assured that it’s absolutely nothing like you’ve ever experienced.
Full of twists and surprises, this intriguing film subverts expectations time and time again. Each time you think you’re about to go through one door, it’s shut in your face. It’s a satisfying feeling to keep theorizing and guessing between each reveal. Significant Other starts by making you wonder which of its two characters you can trust, if either. The chemistry between both actors is undeniable and their talents are on full display throughout the entirety of the movie. Monroe herself, as usual, gives a commanding performance. The only area which leaves wanting more, for some people, might be the end.
In this brilliant dark horror comedy, Maika Monroe plays Jules, the lover and partner in crime to Bill Skarsgård’s Mickey. The pair of amateur criminals are almost a comic version of Bonnie and Clyde. After robbing a gas station as their last sting before moving to Florida, they run out of gas on a road in the woods. Jules spots a mailbox and they discover a large isolated house which they break into. While looking for things to steal, the couple discovers a little girl chained in the basement. Before they can release the child and save her, the owners of the house return. They become trapped by the couple they were going to rob, played by Kyra Sedgwick and Blake Baumgartner.
The criminals becoming the ones in danger is a unique and clever take. Both Monroe and Skarsgård offer memorable performances and prove the versatility of their talents. The life they bring to their insanely likable characters make them a truly memorable and compelling couple. A successful spinoff movie could be made just of their daily lives. Sedgwick and Baumgartner make for a truly menacing and unpredictable villainous pair. Monroe acts with the perfect balance of seriousness and comedic zing. The movie may be a black comedy, but its sinister elements are never lost on the viewer. Villains is a stand out home invasion movie that completely subverts the subgenre.
Every seasoned horror fan knows It Follows, a true homage to horror flicks of the 1970s and 1980s. For those late to the game, it stars Monroe as Jay Height, a 19-year-old college student living at home in suburban Detroit. Early on in the film, Jay learns that the horrors of dating can never stop exceeding your expectations. She goes on a date with Hugh (Jake Weary), they have sex in his car, and he chloroforms her afterwards. She wakes up tied to a wheelchair in a derelict building where he tells her he has passed on a deadly curse to her. A sinister entity will stalk Jay, moving slowly but getting closer and closer, until she hooks up with someone else and passes it on to them. If she doesn’t, she’ll die and send the curse back to Hugh. He warns, “It could look like someone you know, or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it to get close to you. It could look like anyone, but there is only one of it. And sometimes…sometimes I think it looks like people you love just to hurt you.”
It Follows is profound exploration of many themes: mortality, the inevitability of death and the power things like sex have to distract us from it, how grief can haunt you, trauma and how we can pass it on to others, the cycles of abuse, loss of innocence, and emerging sexuality. It’s a movie that plays differently each time you watch it. New symbolism and motifs emerge with each replay. The film redefined horror by turning the monster and final girl trope on its head. Jay is just a normal girl trying to make it through life while haunted by the death of her father. She gets excited about potential suitors and about going on dates. Unlike a lot of her predecessors, she has sex with multiple partners and it doesn’t define her character, even when sex is what endangers her in the first place. The nameless entity that terrorizes her is unlike anything seen in horror before and has already been a cinematic influence in other horror movies like Smile (2019). It Follows is successful in creating increasing suspense and atmospheric horror. Its aesthetic and cinematography is beautiful, strange, and unique. While many horror films opt for a more cropped view to evoke claustrophobia, It Follows uses a wide lens in its most terrifying scenes. This utilization successfully immerses the viewer into the story, making for a more visceral experience.
This film was written and directed by Chloe Okuno in her feature directorial debut. Watcher is guaranteed to become a horror classic, but if you haven’t yet watched it: The story is centered around former American actress Julia (Maika Monroe) and her Romanian-American husband Francis (Karl Glusman) who have newly arrived at their new home in Bucharest. Francis just got a new job in the city and Julia is left home alone the majority of the time. A serial killer dubbed “The Spider” is on the loose and decapitating young women in their area. Shortly after moving in, Julia notices a mysterious stranger spying on her through his window from across the street. As she settles in and ventures out to get to know her new city, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is stalking her. She’s sure that it’s the unknown neighbor that she’s seen watching her from the adjacent building. His behavior becomes more menacing and erratic, but as is typical, no one believes her. Julia is not only dismissed by the police, but by her own husband. This feminist horror masterpiece is Monroe’s most powerful work to date. It’s a slow burn of a story that wouldn’t work with someone less talented and capable than Monroe. Okuno shared with A.frame that “Maika’s very good at adjusting and doing these subtle changes. You can interpret a lot from a very small expression on Maika’s face.” Monroe’s character says very little in the movie, but her facial expressions convey everything—when being stalked at a grocery store, when experiencing the language barrier, when feeling excluded at parties, when having her valid worries minimized and dismissed by men, when being let down by her husband.
Watcher is claustrophobic, with a genuinely unsettling and uncomfortable atmosphere. Okuno’s choice to omit subtitles from Romanian-speaking scenes evokes the same feelings of loneliness and isolation that Julia feels—of feeling trapped. The creeping paranoia is inescapable, yet the movie is phenomenal in making the audience hold reasonable doubt as to whether or not Julia is in danger. Every woman can relate to the answer Julia’s next door neighbor and new friend gives her when she asks her if she thinks she’s just being paranoid: “Let’s just hope you’ll never find out. The best outcome might be having to live with the uncertainty. Better than getting raped and strangled, and dying with the words ‘I told you so’ on your lips. Right?” Watcher captures the universal female victim experience of not being believed and being brushed off. Its ending is one of the most impactful and memorable in horror history. This movie is a pervasive one that creeps under your skin and stays there.