Some are terrified by ghosts, and others can’t stand blood and gore. Regardless of your preferences, a good scary movie should reel you in with an engaging story while keeping you on the edge of your seat.
If you’re looking for a good scare, we’ve got you covered; we hand-picked some of the most downright terrifying horror movies from a range of subgenres.
Our list includes genre-defining classics and some modern masterpieces to haunt your dreams.
We’re starting this list of terrifying horror movies with the 1992 cult classic Candyman.
It begins like all great horror movies, with a cynical character who ignores a long-held legend. In this case, that would be postgraduate student Helen Lyle.
While researching local myths and legends for her project, Lyle accidentally unleashes the hook-handed serial killer. But she soon discovers why locals are terrified of the Candyman.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t for the faint-hearted, as it will scare your pants off. It centers around the creepy serial killer Leatherface.
Since the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie was released in 1974, there have been several sequels and even a comic.
What sets the Scream franchise apart from other slasher movies is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The comedic spin lightens the mood between brutal, violent scenes.
There have been six Scream movies. But most people will agree that the first one released in 1996 is the best.
This movie follows a high school student and her friends who are targets of a masked serial killer, Ghostface.
From the shadows, Ghostface teases his victims, often describing his violent intentions in great detail before striking.
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
In this 2003 South Korean horror thriller, twin sisters return from a mental institution. At home, they meet their widowed father and his new wife, whom they hate.
And that’s just the start of their problems, as strange things start happening in the house.
A Tale of Two Sisters begins slowly, and you won’t get any jump scares in the first few minutes. But this is only building up for the many creepy events of the latter half.
It was an instant hit at its release, quickly rising to become the highest-grossing South Korean horror movie.
The Exorcist (1973)
Even half a century after its release, The Exorcist remains one of the most chilling horror films. This timeless masterpiece is particularly terrifying because real-life events inspire it.
If there’s one lesson to learn from seeing this movie, it’s to never mess with Ouija boards!
The Exorcist is a simple story about a possessed girl. After failed medical and psychological interventions, her family seeks spiritual help by calling on a priest.
In the post-pandemic world of Zoom meetings, Host explores if malicious spiritual entities could reach you virtually.
In this 2020 horror mystery, friends perform a seance over a Zoom meeting. We watch through the computer screen as each person experiences unusual activities at home.
Host has a handful of jumpscares to make you squirm. Granted, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, as the characters make some questionable decisions.
If you love found footage-style movies, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy this.
Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)
Few found-footage horror movies manage to maintain the horror element during storytelling. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is one of the good ones that doesn’t abuse jumpscares to make a point.
This movie is about a group of seven ghost hunters who livestream their exploration of a haunted asylum. They hope to get views and ultimately make money.
At first, they’re skeptical of the creepy stories about this place, but their opinions are about to change. The once-fun exploration turns chaotic as ghosts reveal themselves in the creepy, poorly lit-corridors.
The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring stands out among the modern horror movie franchises. It follows the adventures of ghost-busting couple Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Among supernatural horror movies, The Conjuring is top tier, plus it’s based on actual events, adding another layer of terror.
You can cut through the tension with a knife, but the director doesn’t overdo jumpscares just for dramatic effect. Instead, each one serves the purpose of driving the story.
Here’s another movie franchise that’s sure to give you the shivers. The first Insidious movie, released in 2010, tells the story of a family that moves to a haunted house.
In Insidious, there’s no blood or gore to make you feel queasy. But it has enough spine-tingling images and creepy jump scares that still do a great job of scaring the viewer.
Midsommar is a captivating fusion of horror themes, spanning from psychological torment to visceral gore.
The story commences with Dani and Christian, a troubled student couple embarking on a summer vacation.
However, their journey takes an unforeseen and ominous twist as Dani finds herself entangled with a sinister cult in rural Sweden.
Midsommar is a hauntingly beautiful and profoundly unsettling experience that will continue to haunt your thoughts long after the credits roll.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This 1984 classic slasher movie blurs the boundary between dreams and reality.
Whatever happens to the characters in the dream, including scratches and cuts, follows them to the real world.
And if the deformed dream monster with knives for hands, Freddy Krueger, kills them in the dream, they die in real life, too.
The kids try to figure out why it’s happening to them and how to stop it. But it’s a struggle against time, as they can’t stay awake forever.
The Shining (1980)
The Shining, released in 1980, is about a family vacation to a remote location gone wrong.
When Jack Torrance brought his family to the remote Overlook Hotel in Colorado, he hoped to overcome his writer’s block.
But the events that followed are nothing more than a fever dream.
The longer they stay, the more Jack sinks into insanity, terrifying his wife and son. This psychological horror plays games with your mind and emotions with hauntingly beautiful scenes.
Malignant dares to be different with a fresh storyline in the era of primarily disappointing, predictable modern horror movies.
The film’s main character, Madison, is tormented by horrific dreams about murder. But on waking up, she realized they mirrored real-life murder cases.
This movie is like an insane rollercoaster ride, as you probably won’t see the crazy plot twists coming.
The Wailing (2016)
The Wailing begins when an odd stranger from Japan moves into a remote South Korean village. A string of illness and death follows his arrival.
Local policeman Jong-Goo is suspicious that there could be a link between both events. The case gets more personal for the good officer when his daughter gets the same mysterious illness.
Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Goodnight Mommy, released in 2014, is an Austrian psychological horror movie. In this film, a woman returns to her large, isolated house with her face covered in bandages.
Her twin boys welcomed her, and at first, all was well with the little family.
Soon, the kids start noticing odd behaviors and wonder if the woman behind the mask really is their mother.
Convinced she’s an imposter, they tie her up and torture her, hoping to learn the whereabouts of their real mother. Things spiral out of control, eventually leading to death and destruction.
Whether you’re a die-hard horror enthusiast or just looking for a thrilling movie night, this collection has something for everyone.
So, gather your courage, dim the lights, and prepare for a heart-pounding journey through the world of horror cinema.
Just remember: these movies are not for the faint-hearted, but they are guaranteed to deliver unforgettable scares that will make your night truly chilling!