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10 Terrifying Short Horror Movies to Watch in the Dark Tonight

These horror shorts will have you screaming in just a few minutes flat.

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  • Photo Credit: David F. Sandberg

Horror films don’t always need a full two hours of build-up and suspense to pack in the scares . The following bite-sized shorts will have you screaming and hiding behind the sofa in just a few minutes flat. The genre, after all, lends itself well to the short film format, as just the merest flash or suggestion of something unusual is often more effective. The merest glimpse of terror can leave you unsettled for hours after. And with the rise of YouTube and creepypasta, the folklore of the digital age, directors have found new and inventive ways to terrorize their audiences.

While there are plenty of horror shorts available on the internet, we’ve picked out a selection of the very scariest for you. Just remember to turn the lights down low as these mini scream fests are best enjoyed in the dark.

1. The Smiling Man

Like many great modern horror stories, this one has its roots in the internet folklore breeding ground, Reddit. The four-minute film is a scene-for-scene adaption of a story posted by Reddit user blue_tidal about his late-night encounter with a David Lynch-like villain in the form of a smiling, dancing man. After watching this, you’ll never go for a late night walk alone again.

Related: Unsettling Audio Recordings that will Haunt you Long After you Finish Listening 

 2. The Maiden

This surprisingly effective 8-minute film follows an unscrupulous real estate agent who is determined to close on a mysterious estate. As she goes about her business, she begins to discover that the house is not as deserted as it seems. The plot of the film was inspired by director Michael Chaves’s thoughts on the real estate crash of the mid-2000s and the corruption of the current housing market. It clearly hit the mark: The Maiden has been so successful that it’s been optioned for a feature-length film. Stay tuned for more. 

 3. Intruders

This nine-minute beautifully shot horror film earned honors at the Toronto Film Festival, Cannes, Screamfest, and Toronto After Dark among others. The Intruders follows a young boy, a local teenager, and a town police officer who find their lives in a state of upheaval when a mysterious entity starts to invade their home lives. 

4. Alexia

Alexia is a hauntingly good ghost-story for the digital age. After Franco’s ex-girlfriend Alexia commits suicide, he still feels her presence through her Facebook page. When his new girlfriend finally convinces him to delete Alexia from his friend’s list and move on with his life, he learns that a simple click isn’t always enough to leave the past behind.

Related: 31 Terrifying Real-Life Horror Stories That Will Chill You to the Bone 

 5. Cop Cam

This very short (under three minutes) horror film packs a pretty big punch for such a simple concept. Shot with a POV style by using a police officer’s body cam, a cop responds to a call about an eerie abandoned house and the strange inhabitants waiting inside. 

6. Mama

This is the scariest short film that director Guillermo del Toro has ever seen—so scary, in fact, that he made it into a feature film of the same name in 2013. The short begins with a young girl as is woken by her sister, who tells her "Mom is back." As the girls creep through the house to make their escape, they come face-to-face with a supernatural apparition that could only be imagined in your worst nightmare. 

7. Charlie

The longest short film on this list, clocking in just under 17 minutes, Charlie explores the concept of the email chain letter and the possibility of the consequences when the chain is broken. In this film, Dan, who ignores a creepy email warning him to forward it to 15 people, finds himself taunted and hunted by an entity known as Charlie. 

Related: 10 Best Horror Books and Paranormal Classics 

 8. I Heard it Too

Chances are you’ve heard some variation of the tale this film is based on. A young girl is playing in her bedroom when she hears her mother call to her from the kitchen. As she’s running through the hallway, the door to the cupboard under the stairs opens, and a hand reaches out and pulls her in. It’s her mother. She whispers to her child, “Don’t go into the kitchen. I heard it too.” What started as a quick and effective creepypasta is now an eight-minute horror film. What this film does differently, however, is to quickly establish which mother is the real one, turning it into a monster chase through the house, rather than the psychological guessing game of the original story. 

9. Bedfellows

For being only two minutes long, this short film has certainly packed a punch for those who viewed it in the few years it’s been available online: It prominently features a flip phone, to put its age in perspective.  Bedfellows features a simple premise of a woman waking up in the middle of the night and fumbling for her phone while her husband sleeps soundly next to her. When she answers, it’s her husband calling to explain that he’s going to be home late. As realization dawns, a ghoulish figure emerges next to her. 

10. Lights Out

What list would be complete without the runaway hit Lights Out? This now legendary horror short (which was recently made into a major Hollywood feature film of the same name) follows a woman getting ready for bed, who discovers that something is lurking in the shadows. Each time the lights go out, the closer and closer it creeps until … well, to find that out, you’ll have to hit the play button. 

Related: 5 Insane Conspiracy Theories that Actually Turned Out to be True 

This Story Was First Published on Occult Museum. 

Featured still from "Lights Out" via  David F. Sandberg 

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