Are you afraid of the dark? Or feel like you're being watched in what appears to be a completely empty room? Horror movies have a tendency of introducing us to stories about monsters, sprits, and sometimes the unexplainable. Our mind runs wild with these stories and makes us paranoid to the reality that everything is okay.
And yet, watching the right horror movie, especially in the dark, can bring up all your bottled fear on things that go bump in the night. After watching these movies, some rating as the best horror movies on IMDB, you’ll be sure to be double checking under your bed, in the closet, and over your shoulder.
"The Exorcist" is perhaps the most classic horror film of all time. The most famous member of the spiritual horror subgenre, "The Exorcist" is full of supernatural "unseen" horrors. And, what's more, frightening than the enemy you can't see but has the power to dominate your soul?
This cult classic film's frights didn't stop in the movie theatre. The set of "The Exorcist" also had documented mysterious happenings and information that trickled into the news, making viewers wonder if there was more to the film than horrifying special effects.
Recently released, “Us” starring Lupita Nyong’o, is a horror film that brings up a fear that no one can escape: Yourself. While most movies may have you wondering who the masked killer has been all along, “Us” quickly introduces the monster as the dopplegangers of the protagonists. Wouldn’t that be a turn of events?
The thing you’re most afraid of looks exactly like you. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, “Us” follows the Wilson family on what is supposed to be a calm family vacation that soon turns into a fight for their lives.
"Don't Breathe" is a modern horror film that will subvert all of your expectations. The entire movie is a compelling mix of tension, mild-action, and plot twists.
"Don't Breathe" is one of the best movies to watch with friends, one with the ability to command silence from the whole room.
What I like to consider an American classic, Alfred Hitchcock's “The Birds” will have you looking up at the sky and running if even more than a few things seem like they are flying in your direction. Tipi Hedren stars in this film as Melanie Daniels, a young socialite following her recent beau to his Californian hometown. Sooner rather than later, things start to get weird.
First, Melanie is attacked by a single seagull and then the movie culminates with her being attacked by hundreds of birds that fight their way into the barricaded home where she has sought refuge. The bird attacks go unexplained throughout the film. Released back in 1963, “The Birds” remains on the top of my horror movie list as well as IMDB’s, where it received a 7.7 out of ten star rating.
"The Shining" is another cult classic and one of the highest-rated and best horror movies IMDB has reviews for and it's well-deserved. "The Shining" is a classic cerebral horror film full of not only frightening scenes but symbolism, uncomfortable dialogue, and imagery.
It's a horror film that begs you to watch it multiple times to catch the easter eggs you undoubtedly missed. And, one that should be required viewing just for the countless pop culture references. “Here’s Johnny!”
"The Strangers" scares the hell out of viewers because of how it disrupts our sense of safety in our homes and toys with our need for things to make sense. We get by engaging with other people on a day to day basis by seeking to understand them even on the most basic level.
Your home is supposed to be your haven, your cave, and your place to escape to. It's only when you leave your home that you must traverse the dangers of the world. But, what happens when strangers violate your sacred space and without reason? "The Strangers" confronts us with those two plot problems and leaves us feeling moments of hope that may or may not be real.
Imagine being a single woman, living alone in the middle of nowhere, unable to call anyone for help, and hunted by a masked stranger. “Hush” is about a deaf and mute woman who must try to find a way to either survive the night, or find a way to communicate for help.
“Hush” is a terrifying game of cat and mouse that will make you wonder how you’d escape the same situation.
"The Thing" is an 80s cult classic horror film starring Kurt Russell, and a remake of the 1954 film, "The Thing From Another World." The film, set in Antarctica, taps into our fear of isolation and unfamiliar environments while challenging the viewer's wit. It's another horror film that capitalizes on the unknown as the main protagonist's survival depends on unraveling a web of confusion.
In one science-fiction monster movie, you get a captivating plot, excellent practical effects, and stellar acting that has solidified "The Thing" as one of the best horror movies of all time.
“Halloween” - 1978
John Carpenter's 1978 "Halloween" has been remade to infinity, launched Jamie Lee Curtis's career and sparked an entire franchise. Still, none come close to this classic horror film. Yet another film on our list that disregards our need for logic. A masked man slashes his way through an otherwise quiet suburban town and there's no rhyme or reason for it. What does he want? Why is he here? What is he capable of?
The loose ends of "Halloween" were intentional because there was never supposed to be a follow up to the original film. It was to be the first in a series of anthology horror films but its reception turned a one-hit-wonder into a decades' long fan-favorite.
Starring Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist, “Annihilation” follows a group of women who attempt to explore “the Shimmer,” a quarantined area where plants and animals begin to mutate after a meteor falls in Blackwater National Park, Florida. Lena is married to Kane, Oscar Isaac, who after coming home from a covert mission falls unconscious and on life support.
Lena hopes the quarantined area will offer her answers about her husband's condition. But with only one way in and and no apparent way out, will the group fall prey to the monsters that lurk within?
“Suspiria” is a 2018 remake of the 1977 film by the same name. The film is a visual masterpiece that uses a framework of contemporary dance to connect scenes and further the storyline. The backdrop of the film depicts historical political turmoil in Berlin, a country torn. So, while the viewer is confronted with a film about the occult, there are infinite levels of discovery when you really explore the elements of the film.
"Suspiria" is a horror film that is easily enjoyed by those who love cerebral films, gory horror, and occult horror alike.
“The Amityville Horror” - 2005
"The Amityville Horror" remake is an easy choice for a binge-watch. The fresh take on this classic horror film stars Ryan Reynolds and Mellissa George as George and Kathy Lutz, a couple seeking to start their new life in a massive yet budget-friendly mansion.
"The Amityville Horror" follows the classic horror film trope of when living "house poor" goes wrong. Still, it features some really fun visual effects and jump-scares that are exciting as they are frightening.
“Before I Wake”
Whenever I was scared of something I thought I saw move in the shadows, I would just cover my head with my blanket and pretend like nothing was there until I eventually fell asleep. However, nightmares are something you can’t escape from while asleep.
“Before I Wake” introduces us to Cody, portrayed by young actor Jacob Tremblay, whose dreams become all too terrifyingly real. It comes to the point where Cody is too afraid to fall asleep in fear of what his imagination will ponder up next. His new foster parents believe he is just having a natural fear as a kid. Will Cody ever escape his nightmares and the monster he calls “the Canker Man?”
"The Conjuring" is one of the few modern horror films that was captivating enough to spark a successful franchise. From "The Conjuring," the horror movie community received the Annabelle franchise and regrettably "The Nun."
Beyond being a wonderfully scripted and directed scary movie, the film has a cool backstory."The Conjuring" universe is based on real-life adventures of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a couple who operated as paranormal investigators for years. “The Conjuring” and subsequent films all take references from Ed and Lorraine’s documented experiences, which makes the franchise all-the-more terrifying.
"Sinister" is a unique horror film starring Ethan Hawke a somewhat depressed writer that moves his family to a new home where he hopes to write his last hurrah of a book. To put it plainly, "Sinister" scared the hell out of audiences when it debuted. The film features some rather disturbing imagery and an interesting folklore subplot that will easily leave you captivated.
It's one of the few modern horror films that'll make you afraid of the dark and its jump scares will burn themselves into your memory. It may very well be the creepiest film you'll ever see.
I’m sure we all know about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that happened in 1986 in Soviet Ukraine. We’ve read and seen pictures of the abandoned nearby town of Pripyat whose only inhabitants seem to be gangs of wild dogs. To this day, the area is off limits due to levels of radiation...unless you are on an official guided tour. In 2012, the film the “ Chernobyl Diaries” was released and explored the disaster zone in modern day.
The movie follows a group of friends on vacation in the Ukraine. Before they can head home from their European adventure, they decide to hire an extreme tour guide who claims can get them past security and into the abandoned town of Pripyat. Sooner rather than later, they come to the conclusion that the ghost town of Pripyat, Ukraine isn’t abandoned after all.
"The Others" is a romantically shot gothic supernatural psychological horror film. Nicole Kidman brings a certain air of fragility to the film that draws the viewer in. Initially, it's hard to decipher what sort of a horror film it intends to be.
It's a period film, set in 1945, that taps into our fears of isolation and the unknown but it also is a film with one of the best twists in cinematic history. The acting in the film is creepy, and the mansion is creepy. Everything about this film is unsettling in an incredibly artistic way.
“28 Days Later”
In my opinion, no horror movie list is complete without mention of a zombie outbreak type film. My recommendation: “28 Days Later.” Released in 2002, the film is a British post-apocalyptic horror movie that follows four survivors. The first we are introduced to, Jim, wakes up in an abandoned hospital in London. He wanders the streets searching for answers before finding a safe place with people who can offer him help.
If you are a fan of the show “The Walking Dead,” you’ll find it interesting to see how the opening scene of Rick waking up in the hospital completely unaware of the outbreak that has turned most of society into “walkers,” resembles that of the “28 Days Later” opening scene. “28 Days Later” is “credited with reinvigorating the zombie genre of horror film.”
"It Follows" takes the classic horror movie sex trope of punishing sexuality and glorifying virginal characters and gives it a modern twist. Instead of making sexuality an undertone, "It Follows" makes it core to the plot in an exceptionally frightening way.
With "It Follows" you get an unexplained antagonist of unknown origin, lots of creepy moments, and solid jump scares wrapped in a retro themes and production
“10 Cloverfield Lane”
"10 Cloverfield Lane" is a tense-isolative thriller starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. While it exists in the same universe as the earlier "Cloverfield" movie, there isn't a lot of direct correlation beyond the acknowledgment of an alien force lingering outside. This is actually because as the viewer you really don't know what to expect. And, frankly, neither does Michelle who's played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
You'll spend the film trying to figure out what's going on, and it's an incredibly satisfying experience backed by top-tier acting and directed tension.