The fact that horror films are so entertaining is a little strange. Why do we find it so fun to scare the crap out of ourselves? As the writer Neil Gaiman famously put it, “Fear is good in small doses.” It is comparable to visiting a haunted home theme park. Once you come out the other side, you know you will be secure.
Speaking of terrifying cool stuff, Halloween is quickly approaching. All things spooky are celebrated at the festival. It comes just before winter really begins, making it the perfect time for fans of scary movies and television shows to cuddle up on their couch or bed and watch spooky content with their loved ones.
Here is a list of the top 10 horror films ever made to get you in an eerie mood. Fans of all different kinds of scary movies should find something to enjoy because there is a fair variety of subgenres here. There is no shortage of things to view in the era of streaming. Finding something that is genuinely worthwhile can be difficult, thus it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Even if you disagree that The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever, the fact that it came in first on our list with a whopping 19% of the votes cast indeed isn’t much of a surprise. The first R-rated horror film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, as well as the highest-grossing one, was William Friedkin’s adaptation of the same-named novel about a child who is possessed by a demon and the attempts to drive the monster from the child (it received nine additional nominations and won two awards). But aside from its reputation among critics and audiences, the movie is well-known for the widespread frenzy it caused across the nation, from protests over its contentious themes to tales of audience members fainting and feeling queasy.
The Shining is a movie that everyone has heard about, even if they haven’t seen Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece. You will be familiar with Jack Nicholson’s (obviously improvised) “Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny” and you may even be aware that if you are given the keys to room 237 in a hotel, you may wish to switch it for another suite. What if you haven’t, though? What if you were stranded in a weird hotel while it was snowing and had no other guests than hedge animals? In The Shining, a man and his family are followed as he assumes the position of winter caretaker at a resort hotel called The Overlook.
A dark family drama about the nature of grief wrapped up in a supernatural horror movie, written and directed by Ari Aster, made a big impression with his feature directorial debut. Toni Collette’s performance as troubled mother Annie earned her a place in the pantheon of famous Oscar snubs, but the biggest surprise in the film came from… Well, we won’t reveal it right now. Let’s just say that Hereditary was such a hit with viewers that it immediately elevated Aster to second place on our list and made him a director to watch.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Some movie names are ambiguous, letting you figure out their significance as the story unfolds before your eyes gradually, like a delicate flower in tea. Then there is the ugly, sweating horror film from Tobe Hooper. Nothing delicate is involved in this. Although The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a blunt instrument of terror, its namesake weapon needs to be sharp. Five young individuals leave the protection of the outside world and travel through dusty America in this tour de force of violence. When they innocently enter a house looking for gas, what they discover inside is such horror and depravity that, decades later, watching the movie is still a terrible endurance test.
Who would have imagined that a vintage Star Trek mask could be so dreadful? When he handed his villain a blank William Shatner mask to wear while he hunts babysitters around the made-up hamlet of Haddonfield, Illinois, director John Carpenter produced a contemporary classic. Jamie-Leigh Curtis, who would become a scream queen in her own right and the role model for all final girls, was also made into an icon by the film. Who cares that the opening scene is illogical? If the opening scene of this film, in which a little boy kills his sister while donning a clown mask, is not frightening, you need to have your status as a horror lover revoked right away.
Numerous Stephen King books and short stories have been adapted for the big screen, including Pet Sematary, Misery, and Carrie. These adaptations don’t even take into account non-horror works like The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me. But without a doubt, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining is the best of them all. The Shining is a masterpiece of set and production design, a really unsettling retelling of the classic haunted house tale, and it stars an iconic Jack Nicholson performance. Even though there aren’t many jump scares in the movie, they are nevertheless incredibly terrifying, but their real strength comes from the way it gets under your skin and causes you to feel Jack Torrance’s gradual spiral into madness.
With movies like Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious, and this chiller based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, James Wan has established himself as one of the current masters of horror. The Warrens were portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who gave weight to the scares and freak-out moments with a convincing sense of exhaustion. The Warrens are well known for their work on the bizarre case that served as the basis for the Amityville Horror films and was a factor in The Conjuring 2.
Going from something that works well in one culture to trying to properly adapt that formula for another is always a tough idea, but Gore Verbinski did it with The Ring. Verbinski’s version of the acclaimed thriller regarding a cursed videotape by Japanese director Hideo Nakata kept the original’s striking visual imagery, including the apparition of a young girl in a white dress with long black hair that almost hid her face, and discovered that it terrified audiences from all over the world. Although the movie wasn’t as well-liked as its predecessor, Naomi Watts gives a strong performance, and for many people, it was their first exposure to East Asian horror movies.
We’ve reached the movie it named the scariest, for those who didn’t read the “scientific study” described at the beginning. Director Scott Derrickson has made a number of horror movies before breaking into the MCU with 2016’s Doctor Strange, several of which gained cult followings. One of these was a small-scale haunted house/possession tale starring Ethan Hawke as a true-crime author who relocates his family into a home where a family was murdered only to learn the new residence may already be occupied by a fairly terrible tenant.
However, James Wan and Patrick Wilson previously collaborated on this supernatural thriller about a young child who enters a coma and starts to channel a malicious spirit before they filmed The Conjuring, which has already appeared higher on the list. The plot itself wasn’t particularly ground-breaking, but Leigh Whannell, a regular collaborator with Wan, gave it a compelling enough mythology to inspire three additional films.