At this point, it's no secret that Australian horror movies are pretty much a staple of the horror genre. These films offer a distinctive blend of cultural influences, atmospheric settings, compelling characters, and creative storytelling. This unique combination has contributed to their popularity, captivating horror enthusiasts worldwide and establishing Australia as a powerhouse in the genre.
Australian filmmakers excel in building tension and creating a palpable sense of dread. The best of Aussie horror captures the beauty and terror of the country’s unforgiving landscape and the individualism and isolation it can spawn.
Why Australian horror movies are so darn good
Distinct among horror movies, Australian filmmakers often draw inspiration from the country's rich cultural heritage and folklore. They weave narratives influenced by indigenous legends, mysterious landscapes, and historical events, creating a distinct flavor that sets them apart from other horror fare.
So, fasten your seatbelt, mate, and prepare for a bone-chilling expedition through the terrifying world of Australian horror cinema. These 10 Australian horror movies are the best of the best, and range from found footage to creature features and beyond. But beware: they may make you cancel any upcoming travel plans you have in the land down under.
Best Australian horror movies for hours of entertainment
This unsettling mockumentary follows the Palmers, who are grieving their 16-year-old daughter Alice (Talia Zucker) after she drowned on a family outing. Through ‘interviews’ with the family and found footage, the movie explores whether Alice is haunting the site of her death and her family home, and what secrets she kept in life. Lake Mungo’s horror comes from showing how humans and the supernatural can be equally evil—and from one grim jump-scare that has become notorious since the film was released in 2008.
A surprisingly-great creature feature, this 2007 indie film centers around a very, very unfortunate tourist outing. A river cruise in Kakadu National Park goes awry when the boat crashes into a wreck. The passengers are able to make their way to a small island in the river, but soon learn that they’ve been trapped in the territory of a massive and violent croc.
Loosely based on the real-life murders committed by Australian serial killer Ivan Milat, this 2005 film was praised as “boundary-breaking” by Time Out. British backpackers Liz (Cassandra Magrath) and Kristy (Kestie Morassi) are traveling across the outback with the guidance of their Australian friend, Ben (Nathan Phillips). When they drive through remote Wolf Creek National Park, their car breaks down. A local named Mick (John Jarratt) offers assistance, and the backpackers become trapped in his web of torture and murder.
Widowed single mom Amelia (Essie Davis) learns the hard way that “You can’t get rid of the Babadook,” after reading her son Sam (Noah Wiseman) a book called Mister Babadook. Sam becomes preoccupied with the tall, top-hat-wearing protagonist of the story, so much so that Amelia decides to get rid of the book. But Mister Babadook keeps appearing in their house, and Sam’s fixation becomes increasingly violent. As Amelia is hunted in her own home by the long-fingered ghoul, she must face her own past to keep her and Sam out of the Babadook’s clutches.
This 2012 shark movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and takes full advantage of its unique setting. Josh (Xavier Samuel), a former lifeguard traumatized by witnessing a shark attack, is working at a grocery store when a catastrophic earthquake hits. In the ensuing tsunami, the store is flooded, and the waters carry two great white sharks into the store. Huddling on shelves above the water, the survivors must use the supplies left behind in the destroyed grocery store to fight off the sharks—and stay alive.
The Snowtown Murders
Between 1992 and 1999, John Justin Bunting, Robert Joe Wagner, and James Spyridon Vlassakis killed 12 people and hid the remains in a deserted bank in Snowtown. This 2011 film dramatizes the events leading up to the real-life murders, and the murders themselves. It captures the abuse, trauma, and homophobia that led to these unbelievable crimes.
In this unique 2017 zombie movie, Andy (Martin Freeman) has been bitten by his wife, a recently-turned victim of a rampant new rabies virus. Stranded in the outback, Andy must find someone to care for his baby, Rosie, before he turns. He’ll encounter enemies and allies in this race against time, including Thoomie (Simone Landers), an Aboriginal girl who believes the zombies can be cured.
The original 1981 Roadgames stars Stacy Keach as Patrick, an American meat truck driver working in Australia who begins to notice a strange green van along his route. After a female hitchhiker is killed, Patrick begins to suspect that the man in the van is doing something to women along the road. Patrick teams up with an enigmatic hitchhiker (another American, Jamie Lee Curtis) in his quest to uncover whether his suspicions are founded, or the result of an out-of-control obsession.
Related: 10 Totally Creepy ’80s Horror Movies
This 2020 psychological drama follows three generations of women forced to confront evil growing among them. Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) arrive at the home of Edna (Robyn Nevin), Kay’s mother, and discover Edna missing and her house molding and in disrepair. Eventually they find Edna, and she’s given a bill of relative clean health by doctors. But what about the mysterious bruise on Edna’s chest, or Kay’s vision of a cadaver hiding in the woods?
The Loved Ones
Called “Pretty in Pink meets Wolf Creek” by The West Australian, this 2009 teen horror movie proves that prom can be truly terrifying.
Several months after the mysterious car crash that killed his father, Brent (Xavier Samuel) turns down his classmate Lola Stone’s (Robin McLeavy) invitation to prom, preferring to go with his girlfriend Holly (Robin McLeavy). Lola doesn’t take this well.
Soon Brent wakes to find himself imprisoned in Lola’s home, which has been crudely decorated for prom, and trapped with her and her creepy parents. Lola knows what she wants from her big night, and it involves lots of torture.