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17 Enthralling Horror Movies to Watch on a Cold Night

Updated on January 15, 2020
Kenna McHugh profile image

I've written, contributed to books on film, and worked in the film industry. I like to share insights into the movie-making business.

The Secret of Marrowbone - Lions Gate International
The Secret of Marrowbone - Lions Gate International

Horror - painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay

— Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Horror Movies to Watch on Halloween

Horror movies stimulate both the physical and emotional response like drawing the knees into your chest and placing your fingers in your mouth as your eyes go wide with horror. Some even include Halloween as a premise.

The producers and directors of horror movies seek to use fear and shock, so the audience responds in kind. They use themes like supernatural, macabre, fantasy, and thriller. When people watch scary movies, they feel revulsion, terror, fear, and experience nightmares.

Notable components of a horror movie are evil witches, ghosts, demons, extraterrestrials, monsters, zombies, fierce animals, vampires, evil clowns, werewolves, torture, psychopaths, serial killers, and cannibals. The following list of movies offers enough choices to choose the ideal movie to dare watch on Halloween.

Pet Sematary

The cast alone drives horror fans to the movie theaters with the superadded benefit that Pet Sematary comes from one of Stephen Kings' most horrific novels. John Lithgow, Jason Clarke, and Amy Semietz star in this demonic movie. It is a remake from the 1989 movie that a sequel followed in 1992.


Produced by J.J. Abrams and directed by Julius Avery, Overlord is a horror movie takes place during WW II and follows two American soldiers who parachute behind enemy lines on D-Day and get in a whole bunch of trouble.

The horror trailer is fun to watch because it's intense and scary. Scripted by a couple of talented screenwriters, Billy Ray, and Mark L. Smith, the movie will move at a fast past with lots of suspense and thrilling action.

Billy Ray wrote incredible screenplays such as Shattered Glass and The Hunger Games. Mark L. Smith most notable screenplay is The Revenant.

Avery helmed other movies including Jerrycan and Son of a Gun. His directing credits are unlike the screenwriters but watch the trailer. Overlord is a good horror movie to watch.

The cast includes Bokeem Woodbine, Wyatt Russell, and Pilou Asbæk.

The movie trailer shows several Americans dropping from a plane parachuting into occupied German countryside and facing a Nazi experimental lab. The lab beholds some scary and brutal work by a psychiatrist.

Jamie Lee Curtis Takes on Michael, again, in Halloween

Jamie Lee Curtis is, once again, Laurie Strode. She never gave up on finding Michael Myers, the knife carrying, masked figure. He's haunted her for 40 years because she barely escaped his killing spree on that dreadful Halloween night.

Now, it's pay-back time, and she needs to protect her granddaughter.

The Little Stranger

I am so excited about this horror movie because it is based on a bestseller. It is typical British suspense, a horror movie with a dynamic storyline.

Lenny Abrahamson directs the suspense, horror movie as the story focuses on Dr. Faraday, played by Domhnall Gleeson. Dr. Faraday made a name for himself despite being the son of a housemaid. He put together a respectable life and practice as a country doctor.

In the summer of 1948, he calls upon a patient of this mother’s former employers - Hall - the home of the Ayres family for over two centuries.

Surprisingly, the doctor finds the former Hall in decline and its inhabitants - mother, son, and daughter - are haunted by something more sinister than death itself.

He proceeds to take on the new patient without realizing how intimately, and how dreadfully, the family's past is twisted around with his past.

A Quiet Place

The movie stars Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Noah Jupe, and Millicent Simmonds. A Quiet Place is a scary movie in the supernatural sense of horror phenomenon. Directed by Emily Blunt’s husband and co-star, John Krasinski, the movie’s synopsis is short. It says, “If they can’t hear you, they can’t hurt you.”

That line sends chills up my spine. I am a fan of Blunt. The movie is scary but in a suspenseful way. I recommend seeing A Quite Place because it is a unique story that held my attention. The direction and acting are hands in a glove - seamless and tight.

Scenes in the movie promote American Sign Language (ASL) through deaf actress Millicent Simmonds. She is not aware when her younger brother makes a noise. Noise kills the family and causes the creatures, aliens, to attack humans.

Emily Blunt said in an interview that the script was so good that she asked her husband if she could play the mother in the film. She was delighted that he said yes. Her husband, John Krasinski, is co-writer, director, and is the husband in the movie.

Hell Fest

Gregory Plotkin directed Hell Fest focusing on three teenagers who attend a local Hell Fest. The teenagers are played by Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, and Taylor-Klaus. Because it is an amusement attraction, everyone believes all the scary scenes and death threatening antics are fake.

Once they get through the gauntlet of horror, it will be just a horrific memory of fun. That is not the case because of an urban legend where a teenage girl was killed last year during Fest.

Plotkin is known best as an editor for both Get Out and Happy Death Day. He cut his directing teeth helming one of the Paranormal Activity movies.

Ready or Not

Co-directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, Ready or Not is impressively cast. The story follows newlyweds experiencing a deadly ritual based on the grooms family's traditions.

His family is not only eccentric but wealthy. The cast includes Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell, and Henry Czerny.


From the director of Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino guides three strong female actresses, played by Dakota Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton in a rather horrific but fantasy and mystery called Suspiria. The story happens at a distinguished dance company. The mysterious movie focuses on the artistic director, a determined young dancer, and a wretched psychotherapist.

The movie is about those who surrender to the nightmare while others will decisively wake up.


Ari Aster wrote and directed Hereditary, and it stars Toni Collette. She plays a daughter whose mother passed away and left frightening secrets about the family. The whole family becomes immersed as the mystery unravels. As they discover more about their ancestors, they realize the ominous fate they must inherit.

This movie is Aster’s feature debut as both the writer and director. Watch the movie trailer because the movie is a complete nightmare that is severely disquieting. The story pushes horror into a nerve-wracking depiction of heritage departed to hell.

The movie also stars Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, and Milly Shapiro. Shapiro is genuinely creepy as the daughter. In the trailer, she is horrifyingly entertaining.

Sometimes it's hard to find the best scary movie or the best horror movie that you haven't seen yet because you have seen them all.

Don't Breathe

Directed by Fede Alvarez, Don't Breathe is an award-winning horror movie. The story is not your particular horror story because it is about three young people, played by Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto, looking for an easy heist from a wealthy blind man.

The blind man, played by Stephen Lang, is not what they expected, and they are in for a torturous and horrific undertaking. Lang is so believable and horrific. Lang has developed a terrific list of acting credits from stage to movie screen. He celebrated the most for his role in James Cameron's Avatar. He also has earned a Tony nomination for his Broadway performance in The Speed of Darkness.

Slender Man

The premise behind this movie is a tale of Urban Legends. Slender Man arrives from the imagination of Eric Knudsen, who created a pen name Victor Surge to keep Slender Man alive. A fabled creature formed through Surge’s visualization and introduced through an Internet platform known as Something Awful.

That is far as Knudsen goes with the storyline, which is nothing compared to American Horror Story. The movie is penned by David Birke, who is known for scripting Elle and 13 Sins.

Directed by Sylvain White, Slender Man introduces four girls in high school who live in a Massachusetts small town. The girls get together and carry out a ceremony in an attempt to uncover the lore of Slender Man.

One of the girls strangely vanishes while her three friends are suspicious and believe she is indeed Slender Man’s newest victim.

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare gives me the creeps. Jeff Wadlow directed the movie that focuses on Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) as young women playing a deadly game of truth or dare.

The undercurrents drive the movie because the story is not an innocent diversion of “Truth or Dare” surrounded by friends, but it becomes a scary, horror movie. The game spins fatal when something unknown punishes the characters who fail to tell the truth or decline to do the dare.

If you are a super fan of horror, you will enjoy this one because it is unrelenting in its campy material.


The movie doesn't seem like a horror movie, but it is scary with some horrific undertones. The Spierig brothers directed Winchester with Helen Mirren starring as Sarah Winchester.

The elaborate story is genuine as it focuses on Sarah Winchester (Mirren.) Sarah Winchester was a real person who was quirky.

In the movie, she resides on a stretch of land that is remote, 50 miles beyond San Francisco. Today, it is in the heart of San Jose on a busy street in Silicon Valley. Reportedly, Winchester lived in one of the most haunted houses in the world. The heiress to the Winchester fortune of the Winchester rifles never stops building her house and continues for years and years.

Ms. Winchester continues building the house for her niece (Sarah Snook,) but it is not clear if that is true. She could be constructing it for Eric Price (Jason Clarke) - her doctor. It would have been nice if the directors clarified this better.

The story focuses on her constructing the house to imprison hundreds of ghosts who are revengeful. The worse of the ghosts want to get even with Ms. Winchesters’ family because of the firearms they make. They harmed and killed thousands and thousands of people through wars and such.

Not because it's haunted since I never thought of it as haunted. I don’t like tourist traps.

The Strangers: Prey at Night

The Strangers: Prey at Night is about a family road trip that turns horrific. Johannes Roberts directs the scary movie from a script by Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai. The family arrives at a mobile park that reminds me of Bate’s Hotel in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, too bad the movie isn’t as good as Psycho.

Prey at Night focuses on the family, who plan to stay with relatives at the mobile park but discover the place abandoned, which is amateurishly scary as the movie plays out to the finish.

In the darkness with the spine-chilling music, three masked psychopaths jump out from the shadows and lash out at the family. The family fights back on the edge of madness as they thrash out to stay alive.

The horror movie follows the same theme as the 2008 horror movie The Strangers with a similar story concerning a young couple being by three masked murderers. Interestingly, Byran Bertino helmed the movie, and he co-scripted Prey at Night.


I am hoping you don't freak when you see this trailer. IT tells the story based on Stephen King's book of the same title.

King is a master at writing scary stories. This movie appears to be just as scary. While watching the trailer, I was compelled to look over my shoulder about five times to see if I was alone, and no one was sneaking up on me. Even the sounds of my house unsettling were playing with my mind.

At this point, you are witnessing a quintessential horror movie from King’s classic book of horror.

Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day is similar to Bill Murray's Groundhog Day and Zoey Deutch's Before I Fall. Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies where a weatherman keeps living the same day, which is Groundhog Day, over and over again. Before I Fall is about a high school girl who relives her day over and over again after dying in a car crash.

Though Happy Death Day is different than Murray's or Deutch's movies, it still has the same premise as a horror movie about a college student who relives the day she gets murdered with the intent of finding her murderer.
The movie is not original since it copies Groundhog Day and Before I Fall.

Still, watch the trailer and get your fix on scary and horror with a touch of funny.

The producer and director were so pleased with the box office return that the director wrote and directed a sequel, right away, called Happy Death Day 2U. It is just as good with a similar premise.

Short Horror Movies About Mothers


You ever ask yourself, “Why horror movies are so popular?” Watch the collection of short horror movies about mothers, and they give you the answer.

XX comes as a DVD helmed by four talented female directors. The shorts give you a chance to evaluate the popularity of horror movies because these are not your usual horror movies. They are awkward and confusing at times.

The movies will catch your interest because each short is produced and acted intelligently well. I like the fourth one the best. The Box makes the whole collection a scary, fun time to be shared with your friends. The movie is deep and meaningful. The kids grow up and become who they are, and she can’t do anything but be their mom. What they do to her is unbelievably horrific.

Only Living Son is my next favorite choice out of the four shorts. The story is about a mother left on her own at a stressful party, and the rest of her life. It’s a mother’s nightmare for real. The production is good, and the acting is believable.

Being a horror fan, you will want to see these four shorts.

The overall theme weaves through the movies – motherhood nightmares – fears of what could happen to you and your children. Each director has a distinctive and modern-day expression.

"'The Ranger' is one of the most punk horror movies that has ever punked."

— Bloody Disgusting

The Ranger

The teaser horror movie trailer is entertaining with the retro-look of camping in the 1950s or 1960s. Directed by Jenn Wexler, The Ranger follows a group of punks. The cops confront them, and they head for a national park. Chelsea, played by Chloe Levine, and her pals bolt from the city. They decided to lay low in an old cabin that is abandoned by Chelsea’s family.

They fall prey to the watchful eye of an obsessive park ranger, played by Jeremy Holm. The ranger holds a secret concerning Chelsea's past.

The horror movie is about surviving in the forest while someone is chasing and killing your friends. Humor and glitter mix with the gore to keep the pace moving.

Best Scary Movies

I recommend all these horror movies and hope you get a chance to see each one. Some are higher budgets than others, but they each are entertaining to watch.

© 2018 Kenna McHugh


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    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      24 months ago from Northern California

      Sherry, Thank you for visiting my article. Some of these movies are foreign movies while some haven't been released yet or went directly to DVD and streaming. I love your idea of writing an article on comedy movies. I will do that.

    • Sherry H profile image

      Sherry Haynes 

      24 months ago

      I watch horror movies with my little sister every weekend. This has almost become a routine now. Its strange that I did not know about some of the movies listed.

      I would also love to read your pick of comedy movies!:)

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      24 months ago from Northern California


      I was wondering if it would be a little cheesy. Mirren is so gifted. At first, I was amazed the film got produced. Then, I heard Spielberg was attached to it for about 11 years before the Spierig brothers picked it up.

    • Noel Penaflor7 profile image

      Noel Penaflor 

      24 months ago from California

      Excellent Article-- Just saw WINCHESTER and I thought it was a lot better than the previous Spierig movie JIGSAW. Helen Mirren makes Winchester bearable when it gets too cheesy

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      2 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you for reading my article. Yes. I am interested in Winchester as well. Helen Mirren is an awesome actress and she will make the movie great.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      I've heard of the Winchester House. The story is interesting. Supposedly there are doors leading no where and I think some that just open onto air. I may want to watch this. :)


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