What's the best horror movie of all time? And how do we define "best?" Based on box office profits? Cultural impact? Or maybe we leave it up to a combined personal taste.
More than any other review-aggregation website around, audiences rely on the ratings from Rotten Tomatoes. When A24's recent horror release X hit theaters, the film boasted a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes for a few days, which only drove audiences to see it in droves. Conveniently enough, the site also offers the top 100 reviewed films across a variety of genres.
Related: The Worst Reviewed Horror Movies on Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes ranks movies with at least 40 reviews from critics, using weighted scores in the interest of fairness. The votes of critics are weighted equally, but as some films have much higher numbers of reviews, those with a lower percentage of positive reviews may rank higher. With that in mind, here are the 15 best horror movies of all time, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
15. Let the Right One In
98% with 192 reviews
This 2008 Swedish horror film does the creepy kids trope right. Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a 12-year-old boy who is overlooked and bullied. Through a strange girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson), he finds love and revenge. Eli has given Oskar a whole new strength to fight back, but when Oskar finds out Eli needs the blood of humans to survive, he has a dark choice to make.
89% with 382 reviews
Few people can deny that Hereditary is one of the most unsettling horror films in the last decade. In the wake of a terrible tragedy, a family begins to unravel. Matriarch Annie (Toni Collette) finds comfort in the supernatural, while her son Peter (Alex Wolff) seems to drown in his guilt and grief. But the otherworldly connection Annie has tapped into may have had a hand in their lives for far longer than they think, and for far more sinister purposes.
13. It Follows
96% with 267 reviews
After what started out as a normal sexual encounter, 19-year-old Jay Height (Maika Monroe) finds herself stalked by a relentless entity. It doesn't matter how far she runs, it will follow. It can look like anyone. And there's only one way to pass it on to someone else...
12. The Lighthouse
90% with 382 reviews
In the 1890s, a man by the name of Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) joins seasoned lighthouse keeper Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) on a remote New England island for work. Struggling through the brutal tasks of the job, the men have no one but each other to turn to during their isolation, building a deep, burning resentment for each other. And as time drags on, sanity becomes harder and harder to hang on to.
100% with 52 reviews
This film from 1931 is an adaptation of the ultimate classic horror novel, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is a brilliant scientist obsessed with uncovering the key to creating life. Cobbling together a body made of corpse parts, he uses electricity to bring his creation (Boris Karloff) to life. Though the creature exists with childlike innocence, the world around him is a cruel reality he is not fit for.
10. The Babadook
98% with 242 reviews
Amelia Vanek (Essie Davis) struggles with life as a widowed single mother to her six-year-old son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman). As her son becomes consumed with a fear of monsters, his behavior grows erratic. After Amelia and Samuel read a disturbing pop-up book about a terrifying creature known as the Babadook, Samuel is convinced the creature is real. But as the terror the book promises takes root in their lives, Amelia fights for a way to keep her small family safe.
9. The Bride of Frankenstein
98% with 47 reviews
How often can you say a film's sequel does better than the original? Dr. Frankenstein (Clive) and his monster (Karloff) have survived the gruesome events of the last film. Frankenstein denounces the aberration of life he has created, but his mad mentor, Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), has plans to create a mate for the monster.
96% with 105 reviews
The inclusion of this Hitchcock classic on the list should surprise no one. Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 from work and sets off to run away with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin). On her way to his California home, she checks in for the night at the Bates Motel, run by the unsettlingly quiet Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and his domineering mother. Cue one of the most famous jump scares in film history. When Marion's sister, Lila (Vera Miles), comes looking for her, some disturbing and deadly truths are revealed.
7. King Kong (1933)
98% with 66 reviews
While the effects in this film might read as silly to audiences of today, these were cutting-edge techniques in the 1930s. Director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) has the perfect location to finish his exotic film: Skull Island. However, he and his film crew stumble across the unexpected—a colossal ape who has a deep fascination with their leading lady, Ann Darrow (Fay Wray). While Carl and the first mate of their chartered ship, Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), rush to rescue Ann, they encounter the many chilling mysteries of the island. But when the towering beast is brought back to New York City, the trouble is just beginning.
6. Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror
97% with 69 reviews
A triumph of German Expressionism, this silent film from 1922 is an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) is an estate agent sent to Transylvania to meet with a new client, Count Orlok (Max Schreck). As a series of unsettling events unfold, Hutter comes to suspect Orlok of being a vampire. However, as Hutter returns to his German hometown, Orlok follows, bringing death and an obsession with Hutter's wife, Ellen (Greta Schröder).
5. The Invisible Man (2020)
92% with 412 reviews
This anxiety-inducing film paints a classic horror story with a fresh, modern take. Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) has just escaped her abusive, controlling boyfriend, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Following his death, Cecilia is left his massive fortune—but she's certain the whole thing is a hoax meant to toy with her head. As her carefully won peace is disrupted by death and destruction, Cecilia tries to survive against a merciless hunter that no one can see.
Related: 12 Mind-Bending Horror Books for Fans of The Invisible Man
4. A Quiet Place
96% with 387 reviews
The Earth has been brought to its knees by vicious, extraterrestrial predators who hunt with a keen sense of hearing. The only chance for survival is to live in complete and utter silence. Tucked away on an isolated farm in upstate New York, the Abbot family is struggling to move on after a familial tragedy. With a deaf daughter, the family has the advantage of being able to communicate through sign language, but with a new baby on the way, the impending bundle of joy puts their long, safe silence at risk
3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
99% with 68 reviews
This classic silent horror film from 1920 proves that some scares are timeless. During the annual fair in Holstenwall, Francis (Friedrich Feher) and his friend Alan (Hans Heinz v. Twardowski) visit an exhibit called The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The strange doctor (Werner Krauss) displays a somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt), who awakens from his deep sleep to predict ghastly futures. But as murder strikes, Francis's fiancée, Jane (Lil Dagover), finds herself at the heart of the eerie trouble.
2. Get Out
98% with 398 reviews
This 2017 horror flick is perhaps one of the most notable social horror films of all time. Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is a young Black man in a relationship with a white woman, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). On his way to meet Rose's family for the first time, he is consumed by a feeling of uneasiness. Upon arrival, their odd, overly accommodating reception speaks to racial discomfort. But as the weekend unfolds, it proves to be a much more disturbing truth.
Related: 13 Essential Black Horror Movies
93% with 553 reviews
Reigning at number one, this 2019 film is writer and director Jordan Peele's second on the list, keeping him firmly at the top of the horror game.
Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) and her husband (Winston Duke) and kids (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) take a family vacation to a Santa Cruz beach—the same area in which Adelaide suffered a traumatic experience as a child. When four mysterious strangers break into their vacation home, the terror only increases when the Wilson's find them to be grotesque doppelgängers. As the family fights desperately for their survival, other members of the beach community aren't so lucky...