scariest horror movies

Scariest Horror Movies

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Last Updated on October 31, 2020 by Josh Desair

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Last Updated on October 31, 2020 by Josh Desair

In the season of spooks, thrills, and chills one of the most favored activities is to spend your evenings or rainy fall days, buried in a mound of blankets and pillows, and binge on some of the best horror films you can find. Many of these films you have seen throughout your lifetime, and many of them you will watch repeatedly throughout the fall season. You can be gathered with friends, family, or even alone, but it is no secret that a movie night or binge-worthy day can be just the thing we need to either set off the spook meter or dive into the culture of horror. We have compiled a list of the 10 Scariest Horror movies that you can access from a multitude of platforms and enjoy this spooky season. Collect your blankets from every bed in the house, build your pillow forts, and cook the popcorn – it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show!


13 Scariest Horror Movies in 2020


1. The Thing (1982)

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On par for the alien talk of 2020, let’s take it back to 1982 and discover something wildly ahead of its time in this film. We speak about extraterrestrial activity and events so nonchalantly in this era but could you imagine being a child in the 80’s and somebody mentioning evidence of extraterrestrial activity on Earth? Would you have been scared or excited?

The Thrill

It’s winter 1982, and members of a 12 man search team in remote Antarctic set off to discover what appears to be a 100,000 year old alien buried in the snow. As they recover the frozen alien, and as the alien thaws they are soon presented with a new set of fears as the alien wreaks havoc, creating terror and trouble, and taking out the team one by one.

The Stars

This R rated film is more for that sci-fi thrill seeker. Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and T.K. Carter. With supporting roles: David Clennon, Peter Maloney, and Rock Walker, just to name a few.

Pros

  • On trend for the conversations of current times
  • Sci-Fi thrill expands the realm of thinking
  • Atypical theme for something new

Cons

  • R rated
  • Violence not suitable for minors

2. The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)

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I don’t know about you but just the movie cover alone is screaming at me, and screaming SCARY. With what appears to be zombies, graveyards, and horror this 1985 film is packed with Halloween terror. Turn the night light on after watching or you may find yourself in a spooky situation when you get up in the middle of the night.

The Thrill

What appears to be a zombie takeover; employees of a medical supply company accidentally release toxic gases and trigger a reaction that raises the dead. When the dead rise from a local cemetery they are starved and set out to find human flesh and brain, taking over the small town of Louisville, Kentucky.

The Stars

Bringing horror and comedic relief, this MGM Film stars Clu Gulager, James Karen, and Don Calfa. Shockingly, some of the zombie extras were paid bonuses to eat real calf brains during production of the film. How’s that for a brain buster?

Pros

  • Horror seeker with slight comedic insight
  • The zombie thrill with real zombie effect (calf brains)
  • Shorter film length

Cons

  • R rated
  • Zombie starvation not suitable for minors

3. Signs (2002)

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Director M. Night Shyamalan brings us this suspenseful, mind twisting concept with Signs. We hear about crop fields and we seek out the patterns but what do they mean? What do we do? This plot twist on scare with a sci-fi drama delivers an extraterrestrial thirst that can only be quenched with the signs.

The Thrill

A former minister and his family living on a farm with a vast field of crops discovers a mysterious plot of signs and patterns laid in his yield. As the family attempts to draw a conclusion, the plot thickens and the mystery captures the audience’s attention.

The Stars

Delivering sci-fi thrills, the director chose some of the best for this story, starring: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, and young Abigail Breslin, and Rory Culkin. Tying to his personal life, the birth of the children are based on the director’s real children’s births.

Pros

  • Non-violent for a younger mind to be entertained
  • People’s Choice Award winning film
  • PG-13

Cons

  • Longer film time
  • May not be ‘scary enough’

4. Saw (2004)

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There’s probably nothing worse than being used or betrayed. But think for a moment, that you’re a pawn in someone else’s reality, and the goal of that game is to mutilate yourself out of the convenience of their victory. They are tapping into your psyche, but ultimately, you are free to make your own choices.

The Thrill

Sometimes when you come home from a wild night on the town, you lose memory of the events. And wake up confused on how you got to your current location, and what exactly happened. This wasn’t the case for these two strangers; however, when they wake up in a room with zero recollection of how they got there, it dawns on them that they are pawns in a deadly game brought onto them by a notorious serial killer.

The Stars

Written by Leigh Whannel and directed by James Wan, this mind twisting horror casts: Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannel, and Danny Glover. And supporting roles are delivered to the screen by: Makenzie Vega, Monica Potter, and Shawnee Smith. Filmed in just 18 short days, the bathroom scenes were shot chronologically to provide the actors authentication through their characters’ roles.

Pros

  • Chilling psyche twist
  •  Seamless storyline
  •  Authentic character roles portrayed for effect

Cons

  • R rated
  • Violence

5. The Shining (1980)

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A Stephen King story brought to us in a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson. The Shining delivers horror and mystery with a twist on family dynamics. This film being on the popular end of the spectrum relates to real life stories and events in a fictional manner.

The Thrill

Jack, a writer, and his family stay at a hotel in Colorado in hopes to cure his writer’s block. While staying at the hotel his son, Danny is taken over with a plethora of psychic premonitions. With Jack’s writing meeting a dead end and Danny’s visions becoming increasingly more disturbing, Jack uncovers hidden, dark secrets in the hotel that bring to the forefront a maniac, hellbent on terrorizing his family.

The Stars

A Stephen King novel told on screen by a few of the best names in Hollywood: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd. As a Warner Bros production this film is well known for the “Here’s Johnny!” scene which took the use of sixty different doors, and a total of three days to create.

Pros

  • Familiar faces on screen
  • Relatable stories from a fictional point of view
  • Four time award winner

Cons

  • R rated
  • Long film – over 2 hours (extra popcorn advised)

6. Insidious (2011)

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Often we move into a new home and are curious about its energy and the remnants of memories that may linger the walls. When the Lambert family moved into their new home, they were no different. For horror and suspense, look no further. A haunted house brought to you on screen – from the comfort and safety, or maybe not, of your home.

The Thrill

The Lambert family moves into their beautiful new-to-them home with visions and plans. Unbeknownst to them, the house is haunted. As they begin to unpack and settle in, a series of books begin flying off shelves, and the baby monitor reveals an evil spirit is tapping into their child. They call in the help of a medium friend to hone in on the evil spirits and resolve the mystery.

The Stars

Directed by James Wan and shot in as little as three weeks, this film stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey. With supporting roles played by Ty Simpkons, Lin Shaye, and Andrew Astor. Making this an award winning film for horror and suspense.

Pros

  • Two-time Fright Meter Award winner
  • Horror and suspense filled
  • Reasonable film length

Cons

  • Not scary enough to be R rated
  • May be scary for minors with children playing significant roles

7. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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When you dart off to college your mom’s #1 rule is, “Be safe, honey!” But when it comes to school assignments, you’ll do whatever you gotta do, right? As college students all across the country can relate to the ‘Buddy System’, sometimes it doesn’t really matter if there’s one of you, or three of you.

The Thrill

A gloomy October day in 1994 sparked interest for three film students to hike off into Black Hills Forest on the hunt for a shadow, known as Blair Witch. But after a year long wait and search, the only thing recovered from that hike was the chilling footage that was left behind.

The Stars

This arthouse-horror film blew viewers away with it’s chilling story and documentary style cinematography. With a smaller cast starring Joshua Leonard, Michael K. Williams, and Heather Donahue – all playing their own roles on screen. Breaking records, this film is published in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Top Budget: Box Office Ratio”, with only $1 spent for every $10,931 made.

Pros

  • Arthouse-horror genre
  • Highly raved about
  • Small cast, easy storyline

Cons

  • R rated

8. Salem’s Lot (1979)

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A TV mini series with the storyline riddled with horror. Spooky season brings out the best vampire themes and stories and don’t we all love a good vampire thrill? Imagine you move away from your hometown, only to return to find out that the town has been taken over by vampires. Grab the popcorn and sit back as this Stephen King tale gets portrayed on screen in a suspenseful way.

The Thrill

A novelist, Ben Mears, and a young horror fan attempt to save their small hometown in New England soon after they discover the town has been taken over by vampires. This Stephen King tale gets told in a two part, television mini series.

The Stars

Brought to you by Warner Bros Production, director Tobe Hooper casts this mini series with Lance Kerwin, Barbara Babcock, and Julie Cobb. With supporting roles played by Lew Ayres, Kenneth McMillan, and Geoffrey Lewis. In 1979, an entire home, including the interior could have been made for the same cost of the entire building of this full scale facade – totaling $100,000.

Pros

  • Multiple parts for a larger story
  • NR rated (Not Rated)
  • Based on a Stephen King novel

Cons

  • Lengthy in full time frame
  • Older story of vampires may not fulfill your horror needs

9. Carrie (1976)

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Teenage bullying with a classic case of revenge – use this as a lesson to be careful who you pick on, kids. Carrie has been remade a few times since the original, but the original brings home the cake on high school drama and horror. Sit down with your best gal pals or your mother this season and feast your eyes on this 70’s classic.

The Thrill

Withdrawn and soft in manner, Carrie White receives all that she is willing to handle whether it be at school or at home. At school she undergoes much bullying and taunting and at home she endures wildly outrageous abuse from her fanatically pious mother. As she observes the events around her she begins to understand she possesses supernatural powers. And when invited to prom by her crush things take a dark and bloody turn.

The Stars

Based on a Stephen King novel, MGM Studios brings 70’s stars to the screen for this bloody horror: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, and William Katt. With supporting roles played by John Travolta, Amy Irving, and Betty Buckley. Sissy Spacek brings this movie to life as she would spend her time behind the scenes studying heavy religious iconography, and studying and embodying the body language of people being stoned for their sins, from Gustave Dore’s Bible.

Pros

  • Horror, gore, and bloody
  • Appropriate length of film
  • National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress (Spacek)

Cons

  • R rated
  • High school bullying portrayed

10. Silent Hill (2006)

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You don’t really know somebody, until you do. This chilling horror takes psychological twists and turns and can make you question your child’s traumas or sleep habits. Most of us sleep walk to the kitchen for a late night snack, but what if your son or daughter was sleepwalking through an abandoned town or better yet, a foggy dimension? The spook meter ratings are on with this video-game based film.

The Thrill

Parents Rose and Christopher Da Silva are disturbed by their adopted daughter’s sleepwalking and nightmares about the town of Silent Hill. Against Christopher’s wishes, Rose decides to take her daughter to the town of Silent Hill to seek out answers for her disruptions. As a girl appears in the road, Rose blacks out and crashes. Only to wake up and find that her daughter, Sharon, has now gone missing.

The Stars

Based on a video-game from Konami, this film features: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, and Laurie Holden. With supporting roles played by Kim Coates and Deborah Kara Unger. With this movie stemming from a chilling video-game, it took director Christophe Gans nearly five years to obtain the rights to create the film. He invested his own money initially to create scenes to interview and send to the video-game creator, Konami.

Pros

  • Horror and suspense
  • Interactive video-game available
  • Sequel for continuation, Silent Hill: Revelation

Cons

  • R rated
  • Heavy child haunting scenes – not suitable for minors

11. Jeepers Creepers (2001)

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Car rides with siblings can be rough. Who is playing DJ? Who brought the snacks? Did we even bring enough snacks? Can you slow down? Or, my favorite one, who is that in the middle of the road? Did you see them?

The Thrill

As this brother and sister head home from spring break, they find themselves in a peculiar stretch of road that leads them to question their whereabouts. When they see suspicious activity off the side of the road, they make the decision to stick together to discover the mysterious scene. What they find, soon leads them down a path of being pursued, by a human eating hungry creeper.

The Stars

Director and writer Victor Salva brings together an eclectic cast to deliver this mysterious horror. Starring: Gina Phillips, Justin Long, and Jonathon Breck. With supporting roles played by Patricia Belcher and Brandon Smith. Director Salva wrote the two main characters as siblings to deliberately cut any sexual tension between them, in order to escape the creeper.

Pros

  • Perfect film length
  • Suspensful
  • Sibling relationship instead of a couple

Cons

  • R rated
  • Severe nudity

12. The Grudge (2004)

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Nowadays holding a grudge is just like holding a piece of candy in our hand. We are filled with resentment because we feel wronged by something or something. Even if there’s a disconnect between the mishap, and the feelings. Who or what are you holding a grudge against, and is it fair?

The Thrill

An American nurse moves across the big blue pond and starts a new chapter in Tokyo. Soon after moving she encounters a supernatural spirit who is revenge-seeking and has a tendency to possess its victims. Before the nurse becomes the next possessed victim, she sets out to break this grudge-filled curse.

The Stars

Director Takashi Shimizu brings together some bright lights to portray this suspenseful horror, starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Bill Pullman, and Clea DuVall. With supporting roles played by Rosa Blasi and KaDee Strickland. Shimizu arranged a blessing ceremony prior to filming to add a layer of protection to the cast and crew, so nothing bad could happen.

Pros

  • Fully filmed in Japan
  • Appropriate film length
  • PG-13 rated

Cons

  • Lower rating may not be scary enough for some

13. Paranormal Activity (2009)

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I think it’s pretty common that when you move into a new home, your biggest fear is the activity that may, or may not, be sharing the home with you. A new home can be a challenge in itself, especially adapting a feeling of comfortability strong enough to sleep through the night.

The Thrill

A young, middle class couple moves into a new-to-them suburban starter home with big plans for this new chapter in their lives. But as they begin this journey, each night as they sleep, they feel presence; they are not alone. They set up documentation to capture the activity and the footage they receive is startling, chilling, and horrifying.

The Stars

Starring Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, playing themselves on screen. With supporting roles played by Ashley Palmer and Mark Fredrichs. Director Oren Peli did not give the actors scripts, but instead they were given guidance and feedback for the emotions and behaviors for their scenes. Filming was completed in only 10 days.

Pros

  • Relatable
  • R rated
  • Perfect film length

Cons

  • Violence
  • Sexuality

Our Conclusion

Some of the best films come from some of the best authors. And what better way to bring your imagination to the forefront with a highly rated and reviewed film. We hope that you are able to find a few films from this list to feast your eyes on this season, and relish in the horror and mystery of fantasy or sci-fi. Provided to you from an arrangement of decades, you will be captivated by the array of cinematography and highly respected and award winning names that we have all come to know and love through time. Leave us a comment with your fave picks for this season!

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