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16 Best Horror Movies

Updated on October 10, 2018
Kenna McHugh profile image

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

Horror - painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay

— Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Horror Movies

When I think of horror film, I think of a movie that stimulates both a physical and emotional response like drawing my knees into my chest and placing my fingers in my mouth as my eyes go wide with horror.

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 these movies, they experience revulsion, terror, fear, and nightmares.

Popular 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.

Pet Sematary

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

Overlord

Overlord is produced by J.J. Abrams and directed by Julius Avery. The 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 some creditable 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.

The Little Stranger

I am so excited about this horror movie because it is based on a bestseller. It is a 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. He made a name for himself as the son of a housemaid. He put together a respectable life and practice as a country doctor.

In the summer of 1948, he is called 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 history is about to become twisted around with his own history.


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.

Suspiria

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 is set 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.

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 very short. It says, “If they can’t hear you, they can’t hurt you.”

That line sends chills up my spine. I am a huge fan of Blunt but not scary movies. I just might have to see this movie and hope for the best.

The clips I have seen of the movie promote American Sign Language (ASL) through death actress Millicent Simmonds, whose character in the movie places the family in danger because she doesn't know when she is making noise. Noise will kill the family. Noise is what causes the creatures, aliens, to attack.

Emily Blunt has 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 plays the husband in the movie.

Hereditary

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 its 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 at the beginning because it seems like an innocent diversion of “Truth or Dare” surrounded by friends, but it clearly 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.

Winchester

I am not sure you’d call this a horror movie, but it is most certainly scary and has a touch of horror. 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. An abbreviated venture that lasts for years and years.

Ms. Winchester continues to construct the house for her niece (Sarah Snook) but it is not quite clear in the story because she might be constructing it for her Doctor - Eric Price (Jason Clarke.) It would have been nice if the directors clarified this better.

The story focuses on how she is constructing the house in order to imprison hundreds of revengeful ghosts. The worse of the ghosts want to get even with Ms. Winchesters’ family because of the firearms they make, which harmed thousands and thousands of people through wars and such.

The Winchester house is a notorious tourist attraction not far from where I live, but I have never thought to visit the place. Not because I heard it was haunted because I never had. 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 both 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 young couple being tormented by three masked murderers. Interestingly, the movie was helmed by Bryan Bertino who co-scripted Prey at Night.

IT

I hope you don't freak when you see this trailer. IT is based on Stephen King's book of the same title, though the book is actually two books in one.

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 the 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 was 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.

Short Horror Movies About Mothers

XX

You ever ask yourself, “Why horror movies are so popular?” Here is a collection of short horror movies about mothers. They answer that question for you. XX comes as a DVD helmed by four talented female directors. The shorts will 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 collection will catch your interest because overall, they are worth the time and cash. Each short is produced and acted intelligently well. The fourth one I like the best. The Box makes the whole collection a scary, fun time to share with your friends. The movie is deep and kind of meaningful. The kids grow up and become who they are and you can’t do anything but be their mom. What they do to their mom is horrific.

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

Being a horror fan, you will want to see these four shorts. The overall theme threads through the movies – motherhood nightmares – fears of what could happen to your children or to you. 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 pretty clever 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.

The 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 hope you get a chance to see these scary movies, and being a horror fan, I hope you get a chance to view them.

© 2018 Kenna McHugh

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    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      8 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 

      8 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 

      8 months ago from Northern California

      Noel,

      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 

      8 months ago from Gold Run

      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 

      8 months 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 

      8 months 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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