Let's be honest, it's not easy being a teen. Whether you're dealing with the growing pains of adolescence or just trying to make it through high school in one piece, nightmares lurk around every corner. Pop quiz in Chemistry? Terrifying. And that's not even counting the shapeshifting entity that follows you down the hall or the razor-gloved ghoul that haunts your dreams...
From demonic cheerleaders to masked murderers, from fan favorites to demented new nightmares, these twisted flicks put the horror in horrible teenage years. Here are some of the best teen horror movies.
1. Friday the 13th (1980)
It's the slasher film that forever changed the way we see summer camps. 21 years after the mysterious drowning of a young boy and a pair of gruesome murders, Camp Crystal Lake has been refurbished and is ready to reopen for the summer season. But, dark clouds gather overhead, and the fresh-faced counselors soon find themselves trapped at the camp by a thunderstorm. As the rain moves in, an unknown killer stalks the grounds, and, one by one, the counselors will meet their death. Take a trip down memory lane and revisit the beginnings of Jason Voorhees.
2. Happy Death Day (2017)
It’s already hard being a young person on the daily—now imagine having to relive it again and again... and again. Frequently described as "Groundhog Day meets Scream", Happy Death Day follows college student Theresa "Tree" Gelbman, who finds herself trapped in a time loop and forced to relive her birthday and murder. After being killed on the same day many times, Tree will stop at nothing until she takes down her masked killer. Everyone is a suspect as Tree slowly uncovers the horrifying truth behind her demise.
3. Look Away (2018)
Maria Brennan is a shy high school senior who can’t seem to catch a break. She’s an outcast at school, and her life at home isn’t that much better. Her father, Dan, is a womanizing plastic surgeon and perfectionist who prefers to ignore her mother's depression. Maria finds herself forced to suppress her emotions around others and finds solace in talking to herself in the mirror. However, one day after discovering a sonogram of a pair of twins in her home, the reflection in Maria's mirror begins to talk back. The reflection is the beautiful, charismatic, and cool Airam who initially offers Maria empowering talks on confronting her fears. After Maria is wronged by her friend Lily and her fellow classmates, Maria and Airam agree to swap places in order to find a solution to her problems. Airam will seek vengeance—even if it means crushing a skull or two.
4. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
A 90s teen horror classic, this film centers around four teens who find themselves bound by a tragic accident. After Helen wins the town beauty pageant, she and her friends celebrate with a bonfire on the beach. There, they discuss the legend of the couple who found their car door struck by a bloody hook. While driving home, the group accidentally hits a shadowy figure on the road. In a panic, they decide to dispose of the body by dumping it in the water... but the figure wasn't quite dead. A year later, the friends have gone their separate ways, until one of them receives a cryptic message: I know what you did last summer. Now, the teens must reunite in an attempt to discover who sent the message and soon find themselves trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a hook-wielding murderer.
5. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Written off upon its initial release, Jennifer's Body has recently experienced a thorough reconsideration–and we're thrilled to see it make waves once more. Despite their differences, nerdy Needy and cheerleader Jennifer are the best of friends. After Jennifer and Needy escape a freak fire, seemingly unharmed, Needy begins to notice that her friend seems different–pale and obsessed with romantic conquests. Soon the hunger beneath Jennifer's new needs becomes clear and dangerous.
6. Final Destination (2000)
Is Final Destination the epitome of a deeply silly teen horror movie? Absolutely, but that doesn't stop us from covering our eyes every time another death is threatened. A group of teens is on their way to a field trip in Paris when Alex has a prophetic dream–everyone on board their plane will die as soon as the plane ascends. He manages to convince some friends and spectators to get off, and they escape death, barely. But death doesn't like being cheated...
7. Carrie (1976)
Sometimes you have to watch out for the quiet ones—and Carrie is no exception. Based on Stephen King's high school horror novel, Carrie follows shy 16-year-old Carrie White who is constantly mocked and bullied at school and has to deal with her religiously fanatic mother at home. Unbeknownst to her classmates, Carrie possesses telekinetic powers—the ability to manipulate things without touching them. Currently, her abilities only manifest through small acts. But as the cruelty of her peers escalates, her powers grow. The upcoming school prom will lead to Carrie's ultimate humiliation... and vengeance.
8. Don’t Breathe (2016)
A trio of young, reckless thieves—Rocky, Alex, and Money—enjoy breaking into the homes of wealthy people. Thanks to Alex's father's security company, it's easy to hunt their next house. When Money finds out about the large cash settlement that a blind veteran is set to receive for the death of his only child, the group agrees to invade his home. But their target isn't as helpless as he seems...
9. Scream (1996)
A group of teens are terrorized by a serial killer who knows exactly how to play off of their deepest fears in this meta slasher classic from Wes Craven. We find ourselves in the fictional town of Woodsboro, California where Sidney Prescott becomes the target of a mysterious killer in a Ghostface costume. Nobody's safe as the horror-obsessed masked killer stalks his victims, asking them a series of trivia questions before slashing them to pieces. The film mixes black comedy and terror with a whodunit mystery as you try to uncover just who's behind the mask.
10. It Follows (2014)
A burgeoning sex life has never been so terrifying. Jay is pursued by a supernatural entity after sleeping with her new boyfriend for the first time. Through horrifying visions, Jay learns that the entity passes from victim to victim through sex. As her paranoia escalates, Jay will have to decide whether to flee or defend herself. This original, psychological horror movie will linger in your mind long after the credits roll.
11. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Freddy Krueger was introduced to the world in this classic 80s horror flick. Freddy was once a demented child killer in the fictional town of Springwood, Ohio—until a mob of parents burned him alive. Now, the scarred, razor-gloved ghoul stalks teens in their dreams, seeking revenge. A nightmare that just won't quit... sweet dreams!
Featured still from "Scream" via Dimension Films