The search to find new films, particularly of the horror variety, can be arduous. Finding good ones can be even more challenging. From the intense and obscure to the dark and creepy, the world of horror has so much to offer—and true horror fans have probably already seen much of it. So if you find yourself all alone on a Friday night and desiring something with a few decent scares that’s not already in your well-watched library of films, here are a few horror gems you may not have heard about, but need to see.
1. Goodnight Mommy (2014)
This Austrian film follows two twin boys’ growing suspicions that their mother—returned home swathed in bandages—has been replaced by someone else. Directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz rely on the dynamics of a real condition (known as Capgras or imposter syndrome) to lure viewers into a perfectly sustained, anxiety-induced state of fear through the film’s final revelations.
2. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
When a father-son coroner team is brought a body uncovered under bizarre circumstances, they find themselves dealing with something much more than the typical autopsy. The chemistry between actors Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch, as their characters face down something both supernatural and sinister, helps makes this spin on “family-friendly horror” truly and frightfully engaging.
3. We Are What We Are / Somos Lo Que Hay (2010)
With a horrific emotional simmer similar to that of Let The Right One In, this Mexican horror film offers a coming of age tale with a cannibalistic twist. As the family of a recently deceased watchmaker must learn how to provide for themselves, the secret of their ritualistic diet is at risk of being exposed.
4. Honeymoon (2014)
In this relationship-driven horror film, director Leigh Janiak cleverly plays on two of our most prominent marriage fears: cold feet and not knowing who we’ve just married. After Paul finds his wife Bae naked in the woods, their honeymoon takes a disturbing turn. As Bae’s behavior becomes increasingly paranoid and violent, Paul becomes more desperate to find a way to help his wife and to save his marriage.
5. The Transfiguration (2016)
A quiet, creeping slow burn about identity, belonging and young love, The Transfiguration sees the vampire myth embody a new form. Milo has recently lost a parent and since has seen his obsessive interest in vampires grow—to the point of actual bloodsucking. The film can be both gory and frightening, but also, at times, romantic and sensitive, as Milo struggles with being an outsider alongside that his new (and romantically interested) neighbor, Sophie.
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6. Kairo (2001)
Two storylines run parallel in this underrated, but startling tale of ghostly technological terror adapted for American audiences in 2006. When a man hangs himself in his apartment after working on a mysterious disk, two co-workers attempt to get to the bottom of a shadowy room in his apartment and a terrifying face on a computer screen. Meanwhile, after witnessing the disturbing death of an unknown man online, an economics student realizes that the dead are using technology to cross over.
7. I Saw The Devil (2010)
This South Korean psychological drama sees the hunter become the hunted after an agent discovers his fiance savagely murdered by a bus driving sadistic psychopath. As the bloody and brutal chase picks up, the line between good and evil—and the reach of the devil’s touch—becomes increasingly blurry in this action-packed, gory thrill ride.
8. The Woman (2011)
When a man catches the lone remaining member of a savage cult that roamed the land where his family lives, an effort to “civilize” her raises questions about who the real savages are. Unlike several other films on this list, The Woman isn’t creeping horror. It’s downright creepy, disgusting and unapologetically gruesome, leaving little of the gory mess to the imagination.
9. Demon (2015)
This tale of marital horror has a folk story twist, as a groom becomes possessed by a dybbuk—a malicious spirit from Jewish mythology—after uncovering a skeleton in the backyard of a home belonging to his fiance’s family. As the man slowly loses his mind and body to the spirit bent on finishing their earthly business, the bride’s family attempts to keep what’s happening from the wedding’s guests in this tale about how the past can come back to haunt us.
10. The Void (2017)
In this 80s-esque sci-fi horror trip, a drug fiend is found injured on the side of a rural road by a local deputy. After taking the man to the hospital, the deputy discovers they’ve been followed by a set of unnerving (and eventually violent) cultists. After surrounding the building and trapping its inhabitants inside, the frightened soon learns that what’s inside the hospital may be much more frightening—and deadly—than the group of hooded figures outside of it.
11. The Devil’s Candy (2015)
Horror is chalk full of haunted house stories, but this film from writer and director Sean Byrne's offers a fresh spin on the Satanic-Panic narrative and one man’s struggle to keep his family safe. When a struggling artist and his family move into a home once owned by a man who murdered his mother, he must figure out how to fight off both the former inhabitant and the demonic entities that haunt his mind.
12. Raw (2017)
An intense but nuanced coming of age tale, Raw will satisfy horror fans eager for a horror story with a carnal edge. When a vegetarian vet student is forced to eat rabbit liver as part of her hazing, she is overtaken by urges to devour more than animal intestines. As the need grows, the young woman discovers she is not alone in her deadly cravings as her sister, her roommate, and other students become inadvertently caught up in a long history of unusual consumption.
13. The Innkeepers (2011)
A horror movie list would be incomplete without a haunted hotel story in the mix. Shot in an allegedly haunted hotel, The Innkeepers follows the last seemingly quiet days of a seen-to-be-closed hotel. As a remaining guest and two staff poke and prod around the building in an attempt to awaken spirits, this architectural journey (both literally and figuratively) delivers a handful of decent but not over the top scares.
14. Jug Face (2013)
While not a bastion of horror or gore, Jug Face, the film debut of director Chad Kinkle, certainly delivers on tension. In a southern backwoods community, a man has crafted in the image of a clay jug the community’s next sacrifice. But when said sacrifice—a young pregnant woman— discovers her fate, the cultish practice of throwing people into a bubbling red mud hole gets majorly interrupted.
15. The Loved Ones (2009)
Date night never looked so bloody (or pink) in this film from director Sean Byrne. A fun, gruesome twist on high school horror, The Loved Ones centers on some deadly effects of rejection that will have you thinking twice about saying no to school dance offers. While at times a bit overindulgent, its bloody payoffs will have you cheering.
Featured still from "Jug Face" via Modern Distributors