While there are many different horror movies out there, not all of them are equal when it comes to making you jump. In fact, some may not even make you feel the slightest bit scared. If you’re looking for a movie that will truly send a chill up your spine, then check out our list of 25 of the scariest horror movies ever made. From classics like “The Shining” to newer releases like “Get Out”, these films are sure to scare the pants off of you! So, if you’re looking for a good scare this Halloween, be sure to check out some of these movies. Happy watching!
The 25 best horror movies of all time
1. Get Out (2017)
The 2017 film Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele, is a brilliantly crafted horror film with subtle social commentary. The protagonist, Chris, is an African American man visiting his white girlfriend’s family for the first time. As the film progresses, Chris uncovers a disturbing secret about the family and their community. Peele expertly builds tension and fear through incredibly suspenseful scenes and haunting imagery.
Unlike many horror films, Get Out doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares or graphic violence to garner a reaction from its audience. Instead, Peele uses brilliant symbolism and unsettling themes to send shivers down your spine. Not only is Get Out a fantastic film in its own right, but it also sheds light on important issues surrounding race relations in America. Overall, Get Out lives up to the hype and deserves all of the recognition and praise it has received. I highly recommend watching this haunting masterpiece for yourself.
2. The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film “The Shining” remains a classic in the horror genre. Jack Nicholson gives a chilling performance as Jack Torrance, a writer who takes a job as the winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel. As the snow sets in and cuts off all communication with the outside world, Jack descends into madness and attempts to murder his wife and son. The film’s use of steadicam shots and slow, methodical pacing adds to the haunting atmosphere and makes for some iconic scenes, including Jack’s terrifying “Here’s Johnny!” moment. However, some viewers have criticized the ending as being incoherent or rushed. Overall, “The Shining” is a beautifully shot and unsettling film that continues to captivate audiences forty years later.
3. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, released in 1974, follows a group of young friends who end up at the mercy of Leatherface and his cannibalistic family. Though it was met with controversy upon its release due to its graphic violence, it has since become a cult classic and been praised for its unsettling atmosphere and clever use of cinematography. It’s not for the faint of heart, but fans of horror can appreciate its chilling realism and shocking twists. Additionally, the film has served as inspiration for numerous other horror movies and cemented Leatherface as one of the genre’s most iconic villains. Overall, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a macabre masterpiece that horror fans should definitely check out. But beware: you may never view power tools the same way again.
4. The Thing (1982)
The Thing, a cult classic horror film released in 1982, tells the story of a team of researchers in Antarctica who discover a shape-shifting alien creature. Director John Carpenter creates a sense of paranoia and distrust as the members of the team turn on one another, unsure of who may be infected by the entity. The special effects still hold up remarkably well, and Kurt Russell delivers an excellent performance as the determined yet haunted leader of the group. The film also offers social commentary on imperialism and assumptions about otherness. Overall, The Thing is a must-see for fans of science fiction and horror alike. It will leave viewers feeling tense and unsettled long after the credits roll.
5. Hereditary (2018)
It’s no surprise that Hereditary was one of the most talked about horror movies of 2018. The film follows a family coping with the aftermath of their secretive and troubled grandmother’s death. Toni Collette gives a standout performance as the mother, unraveling as she discovers disturbing secrets about her family’s past. It’s not just jump scares that make this movie terrifying – director Ari Aster skillfully builds tension through cinematic shots and precise pacing, leaving viewers feeling tense and on edge throughout the entire film. For fans of psychological horror, Hereditary is definitely worth watching – just don’t expect to sleep well afterwards.
6. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist, released in 1973, is a horror classic that has gained cult status over the years. The film follows the story of a young girl possessed by a demon, and the desperate attempts by her mother and two priests to cleanse her of it. Filled with terrifying special effects and performances, the movie is a rollercoaster of fear and suspense. Though some may find its content too disturbing for their taste, for those who can stomach it, The Exorcist is a landmark film in the horror genre. The attention to detail in set design and cinematography adds another level of creepiness to an already spine-tingling plot. Whether you’re a seasoned horror fan or just looking for a good scare, The Exorcist is sure to leave you shaken.
7. Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a psychological thriller that has become a classic in the horror genre. The storyline follows Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, as she steals money from her employer and goes on the run. She ends up at the infamous Bates Motel, owned by the unpredictable Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins. The film brilliantly builds tension and suspense, leading up to the iconic shower scene and its shocking twist ending. Despite being released over half a century ago, Psycho continues to terrify and captivate audiences with its brilliant direction and masterful use of music, editing, and cinematography. This film is a must-watch for any fan of the horror genre.
8. The Ring (1998)
The Ring, a 1998 remake of the Japanese horror film Ringu, tells the story of a cursed video tape that kills anyone who watches it in seven days. The film follows journalist Rachel Keller as she investigates the tape’s origins and tries to break the curse before it claims her own life. The movie excels at creating a sense of constant dread and suspense, thanks in large part to an creepy performance by actress Naomi Watts and some truly unsettling visuals. However, the plot becomes increasingly convoluted as it goes on, leading to a somewhat underwhelming finale. Overall, The Ring is worth watching for fans of horror movies, but casual viewers may not find it particularly memorable.
9. Don’t Look Now (1973)
Don’t Look Now is a 1973 psychological thriller directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. The film follows a married couple who travel to Venice after the tragic death of their young daughter, only to become embroiled in a deadly mystery involving a psychic and supernatural beings. Roeg masterfully uses suspenseful cinematography, haunting score, and unexpected plot twists to keep viewers on the edge of their seat. Sutherland and Christie give raw, emotionally charged performances as they navigate grief and fear. Don’t Look Now is not for the faint of heart, but it remains a classic within the horror genre nearly 50 years later. Overall, I highly recommend checking out this unsettling yet thought-provoking film.
10. Halloween (1978)
When it comes to classic horror movies, Halloween definitely deserves a spot on the list. Directed by John Carpenter and starring Jamie Lee Curtis in her debut role, this film follows a young woman being stalked by her psychopathic brother on Halloween night. The pacing is slow, but the tension is expertly built throughout, creating an atmosphere of fear and suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The soundtrack, composed by Carpenter himself, adds an eerie feeling to the already chilling scenes. Overall, Halloween is a terrifying and well-crafted film that I would recommend to any fan of the genre. However, those with a weaker stomach may want to steer clear. This movie isn’t for the faint of heart.
11. Inside (2007)
The 2007 film “Inside” tells the story of a pregnant woman named Sarah who is brutally attacked by a stranger on the same night that her husband dies in a car accident. As Sarah fights for her and her unborn child’s life, she must also confront dark secrets from her past. “Inside” explores themes of motherhood and survival with an unrelenting intensity. The tension builds precisely and effectively, leading to a shocking and satisfying conclusion. Actress Alysson Paradis delivers a powerful performance as Sarah, conveying both vulnerability and strength in equal measure. Overall, “Inside” is a visceral and suspenseful horror film that fearlessly delves into taboo subject matter while delivering gut-wrenching thrills. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.
12. The Wretched (2019)
The Wretched tells the story of a teenage boy named Ben who helps his estranged father fix up a summer house. As he starts to unravel the strange occurrences at the neighboring property, he realizes that an ancient witch has been causing trouble in the town. The film delivers on the traditional jump scares and eerie atmosphere that are expected from a horror movie, but its true strength lies in the slow burn of mounting tension throughout the plot. The acting is strong, particularly from leading actor John-Paul Howard, and the special effects are impressive for a low budget indie film. Overall, The Wretched is worth watching for fans of supernatural thrillers with a creepy twist.
13. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead, directed by George Romero in 1978, is a classic example of a horror film done right. The zombie apocalypse setting is all too familiar now, but Dawn of the Dead was one of the first films to explore this concept in depth. With criticisms of consumerism woven throughout, the film offers more than just jump scares. The protagonists are realistically flawed and their actions believable, adding to the tension as they struggle to survive. However, it’s not all doom and gloom – there are plenty of darkly hilarious moments as well. Overall, Dawn of the Dead is a must-see for any fan of horror cinema. It managed to successfully balance intellectual themes with gut-wrenching terror, cementing its place in movie history.
14. Alien (1979)
“Alien,” directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver, consistently draws praise for its innovative visuals and gripping tension. The film follows a crew of space miners as they are terrorized by a deadly alien creature that has stowed away on their ship. In addition to its intense action sequences, the film also adds depth with complex themes surrounding human vulnerability and corporate greed. Overall, “Alien” is a masterpiece of science fiction horror that continues to impress modern audiences. It’s not just a thrilling ride – it’s a thought-provoking commentary on our society and the dangers of unchecked ambition. This film is a must-watch for any lover of the genre.
15. Scream (1996)
When it was released in 1996, Scream forever changed the landscape of horror films. Taking a self-aware approach to the genre, director Wes Craven expertly toys with audience expectations while also paying homage to classic slasher films. The ensemble cast, including Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette, delivers strong performances as they navigate a web of secrets and lies in their small town. Though some of the special effects may appear dated by today’s standards, Scream remains a tense and entertaining watch thanks to its clever script and smart direction. Overall, fans of the horror genre will definitely appreciate Scream for its impact on the industry and for its ability to still frighten audiences almost 25 years later.
16. 28 Days Later (2002)
The 2002 zombie horror film 28 Days Later, directed by Danny Boyle, set the standard for modern zombie movies. The story follows Jim (played by Cillian Murphy), who wakes up in a deserted London hospital after being in a coma for 28 days. As he ventures out into the empty city, he quickly realizes that a virus has turned most of the population into mindless, rage-filled zombies. Along with a small group of survivors, Jim must fight to stay alive and find a cure for the virus. The film’s use of hand-held camera work immerses viewers in the chaotic and terrifying world, making it an intense viewing experience. Additionally, the social commentary on societal collapse adds depth to the story and leaves audiences thinking long after the credits have rolled. Overall, 28 Days Later is a must-watch for any fans of the horror genre.
17. The Witch (2015)
If you’re in the mood for a slow burn horror film with a chilling atmosphere, look no further than The Witch. Set in 17th century New England, a family is forced to leave their plantation and set up a new home on the edge of a dark, mysterious forest. As their eldest daughter rebels against the strict religious beliefs of her family, strange events start to occur, leading them to suspect that they may be dealing with witchcraft. Without relying on cheap jump scares or gore, The Witch uses unsettling visuals and haunting sound design to invoke fear and keep the audience on edge throughout the entire film. Despite mixed reviews upon its initial release, The Witch has since garnered a cult following and cemented its place as a modern horror classic. Overall, I highly recommend it for fans of psychological horror.
18. Sweetheart (2019)
The horror movie Sweetheart, released in 2019, tells the story of Jen, a woman stranded on a deserted island. She soon discovers that she is not alone – the island is also inhabited by a monster who feeds on human flesh. Despite some exciting moments and interesting twists, overall the film falls short. The pacing is slow, and many scenes feel overly drawn out and repetitive. The character development is lacking as well – it’s difficult to draw strong emotional connections with the characters or understand their actions and motivations. The special effects are decent but not particularly groundbreaking or original. Ultimately, Sweetheart fails to truly scare or surprise its audience. It may be worth a watch for diehard horror fans, but doesn’t offer much new to the genre.
19. The Mist (2007)
The Mist, directed by Frank Darabont and based on a Stephen King novella, tells the story of a small town being besieged by a mysterious fog filled with unknown terrors. Starring Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden, the film follows the townspeople as they attempt to survive both the creatures in the mist and their increasingly paranoid and murderous neighbors. The tension is palpable throughout, leading to an ending that will leave you questioning humanity’s true nature. Overall, The Mist is an excellent addition to the horror genre and definitely worth a watch for fans of intense thrillers.
20. Incantation (2022)
Incantation, the latest film from director Fright Night’s Tom Holland, follows a group of friends who accidentally awaken an ancient evil while vacationing in the mountains. As they try to escape its wrath, they must also confront their own dark secrets and betrayals. This skillful blend of horror and drama keeps the tension high throughout the film, with shocking twists and scares around every corner. The actors all bring depth to their characters, allowing for genuine emotional investment in their fates. Overall, Incantation is a brutal yet compelling watch for fans of horror movies. Highly recommended for a night of frightening entertainment.
21. Blair Witch (2016)
The 2016 film “Blair Witch” is a sequel to the original cult classic “The Blair Witch Project.” While it follows the same found-footage format, this movie unfortunately falls flat in comparison. The characters are one-dimensional and their actions often make little sense. The scares and tension are few and far between, relying too heavily on cheap jump scares. At times the movie even devolves into unintentionally comical moments. Overall, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the original, “Blair Witch” isn’t worth watching. It fails to capture the excitement and terror of the first movie and adds nothing new to the found-footage genre. Stick with the OG and save yourself from disappointment.
22. There’s Someone Inside Your House (2021)
Released on Netflix in October of 2021, “There’s Someone Inside Your House” is a slasher film based on the book of the same name by Stephanie Perkins. The plot follows a group of high school students as they are targeted and killed by a masked killer while rumors of a similar event that took place years prior at the same school begin to surface. While the film had some potentially interesting plot twists, it ultimately fell flat with dull characters and cliched scenes. Additionally, the pacing was slow and there were several unintentionally comedic moments – not exactly what you want from a horror movie. Overall, I would only recommend this film to diehard fans of the genre looking for some easy Halloween entertainment. Otherwise, there are plenty more exciting options out there.
23. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)
With the release of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, director André Øvredal brings the terrifying book series to life on the big screen. Though there are plenty of jump scares to enrapture audiences, the film also offers smart storytelling and creative visuals. It follows a group of teenagers in 1968 who stumble upon a book filled with haunting tales, unaware that the literary terror has become all too real for them. Øvredal does an excellent job at staying true to Alvin Schwartz’s original stories while still adding his own exciting twist. Overall, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark offers a refreshing addition to the horror genre with its chilling atmosphere and inventive monsters. It’s definitely a must-see for fans of the books and anyone looking for a good scare this season.
24. Rec (2007)
“REC” is a Spanish horror film about a TV reporter and her crew who are filming a segment on firemen for the evening news. However, their routine assignment turns terrifying when they become trapped inside an apartment building with a mysterious, deadly virus. What sets “REC” apart from other found footage-style horror movies is its intense, visceral approach to scares. The camerawork is dizzying and chaotic, immersing the audience in the characters’ panicked attempts to escape. In addition, the sound design ramp up the fear with unsettling noises coming from all sides. While some may find the ending unsatisfying, “REC” offers plenty of intense thrills that will have viewers on the edge of their seats. Overall, it’s a must-watch for fans of horror films.
25. It Follows (2015)
The 2015 horror film It Follows tells the story of a group of teenagers being haunted by a mysterious entity that can take on any form and only moves at walking speed. However, it only targets those who have been passed an evil curse through sexual contact. The slow pace and eerie soundtrack heighten the creep factor, but it also forces viewers to pay attention to the details and develop a deep investment in the characters’ survival. Despite its indie budget, writer-director David Robert Mitchell manages to create spine-tingling suspense without relying on cheap jump scares or gratuitous gore. It Follows is a clever commentary on teenage sexuality and the lingering effects it can have, making it a must-see for fans of smart, high-concept horror.