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24 Good Horror Movies Worth Your Screams

Slasher flicks, gore fests, and supernatural thrillers that are actually good.


If you’re reading this list, we’re pretty sure you don’t need us to tell you that The Shining, The Exorcist, and Poltergeist are in a class of their own. So without restating the obvious, we put together this list of 24 horror movies that are – can you believe it? – good. They’re scary, they’re thrilling, and, most importantly, they don’t skimp on the story or the blood.

1. The Descent

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  • Photo Credit: Celador Films

Tight spaces make you nervous? What about tight spaces and creepy ghosts? What about tight spaces, creepy ghosts, and menacing night-dwelling creatures ready to rip your limbs off? Neil Marshall doesn’t hold back in his all-female cave-diving thriller that puts all five senses on high alert. Just be sure to watch the version with the original ending.

2. The Babadook

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  • Photo Credit: Screen Australia

Jennifer Kent’s highly effective directorial debut is the very definition of good horror. It has a great story, brave performances, and scares the pants off you. With little to no special effects, Kent takes the typical bedtime story to the dark side and shoves it in the closet with the boogeyman. Just try not to run for cover.

3. Black Swan

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  • Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Darren Aronofsky knows a thing or two about great storytelling. But don’t expect a happy ending from this guy. He has a knack for making films that punch you in the gut (he did do Requiem for a Dream after all). And his first horror attempt does just that. A ballerina’s descent into madness is caught on stage in this Oscar-nominated psychological thriller that’s worthy of a standing O and an encore.

4. It Follows

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  • Photo Credit: Northern Lights Films

One of the most successful indie horror attempts ever, It Follows has a relatively retrograde premise: Girl tries to stay alive post-coitus. But under David Robert Mitchell’s deft care, the film’s “gimmick” goes from trivial scares to something way more disturbing. And it sticks with you.

5. Repulsion

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  • Photo Credit: Royal Films International

Most cite Rosemary’s Baby as director Roman Polanski’s strangest contribution to the genre, but that’s because they haven’t seen a sex-repressed Catherine Deneuve succumb to madness and murder in an apartment of horrors somewhere in London. Polanski’s first English film, it’s a classic that puts Baby in the corner.

6. The Silent House

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  • Photo Credit: IFC Films

Not to be confused with the Elizabeth Olsen remake, this original Spanish head trip is based on a true story and follows one girl’s disturbing discovery moment by moment. Told in real time with seemingly one single shot, the film focuses on Laura, a young woman who plans to spend the night in an old cottage to make repairs before it’s sold. Little does she know, the house has other plans.

7. Triangle

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  • Photo Credit: Icon Film Distribution

You won’t see a “best horror movies you haven’t seen” list without this little masterpiece on it. Technically a mystery thriller, Triangle rides a trippy wave of wuh? When bad weather forces passengers on a yacht to board a passing freighter, their vacay takes a turn for the worse. And, we, the audience are in for one warped, waterlogged mindf*ck.

8. You’re Next

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  • Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Part of the mumblegore movement, director Adam Wingard’s character-driven slasher flick turns one family’s annual reunion into a dinner party from hell. Before their wine has a chance to breathe, a few masked strangers show up and start taking out the Davisons like sitting ducks. That is, until one unlikely badass fights back.

9. Audition

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  • Photo Credit: Basara Pictures

Widower Shigeharu, his teenage son, and filmmaker best friend organize an audition luring women on the hunt for their big break. Instead, they’re being sized up for wifey material. Shigeharu makes his choice – and his bed. Hell hath no fury like a woman picked out of a lineup in this Japanese classic.

10. The Brood

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  • Photo Credit: New World Pictures

Supposedly, David Cronenberg used what was going on in his personal life as the inspiration for this film about a guy, his therapy-seeking wife, and the sudden spawn of a bunch of bloodthirsty child-like mutants. It’s super weird and has what may be the most disgustingly awesome “reveal” of all time. But more than that, it’ll make you think twice about having kids.

11. Eden Lake

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  • Photo Credit: Rollercoaster Films

Before Michael Fassbender was Fassy, he was just Steve protecting his Jenny (Kelly Reilly) from a group of sinister dudes in the woods. It’s your typical cat-and-mouse story, but what sets the British action horror apart from the rest are the solid performances – especially those from Reilly and a young Jack O’Connell, who you now know from Unbroken, Starred Up, and ’71.

12. The Others

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  • Photo Credit: Dimension Films

There’s something mesmerizing about Nicole Kidman’s delicate Aussie accent and the jingle jangle of that gimongous set of keys she totes around through Alejandro Amenábar’s supernatural period piece. Kidman plays a widow left to care for her two children who gallivant around their mansion mingling with ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

13. Frozen

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  • Photo Credit: Anchor Bay Films

Blink and you may have missed Adam Green’s dialogue-driven survival tale back in 2010. It came and went like a whisper but is most definitely one of indie horror’s unearthed gems. Three friends get stranded, on a ski lift, near the top of a mountain, over night. As if that’s not scary enough, a storm rolls in, wolves set up camp below, and frostbite, well, starts biting.

14. Lovely Molly

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  • Photo Credit: Haxan Films & Amber Entertainment

Lovely, she is – when she’s not palling around the devil. Newlyweds Molly a Tim move into Molly’s childhood home, housing – you guessed it – secretssss. The more Molly digs, the closer to hell she gets. Again, Sanchez turns to his signature first-person POV horror but this time with a fresh ghost narrative, growling soundscape, and one excellent scream queen in newbie Gretchen Lodge.

15. The Blair Witch Project

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  • Photo Credit: Artisan Entertainment

Whether he was the inventor or not, Eduardo Sanchez is king of found-footage horror. The Blair Witch Project is his queen. What began as a sort of missing-persons’ hoax transformed into a box office juggernaut. Now dubbed a mock documentary, Witch follows three myth busters into the woods. And no one leaves alive.

16. The Skeleton Key

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  • Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

The story belongs to horror writer Ehren Kruger, who also wrote the screenplay for The Ring. For whatever reason his New Orleans-set voodoo story was dismissed by critics, but it casts a spell as intoxicating as its leading lady, Kate Hudson. Though it stars several more familiar faces (including John Hurt), the film with its veritable setting, download-worthy soundtrack, and twisty storyline is one of the most underrated scary movies.

17. The Ring

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  • Photo Credit: DreamWorks SKG

One could argue Gore Verbinski’s stylistic American remake is better than the Japanese original, Ringu. But one thing’s certain, Verbinski’s use of Cinema of the Unsettling, which is the super weird mash-up of disturbing images recorded on the infamous videotape that sparks death in all who watch it, is straight up awesome. Almost as awesome as the storyline’s seven-day odyssey, which takes audiences from a cabin in the woods to the depths of a water well.

18. El Orfanato

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  • Photo Credit: Grupo Rodar

J.A. Bayona, who directed The Impossible and one of the most unforgettable tsunami scenes, is responsible for the nightmares induced by this puzzle of a Spanish movie. A woman moves back into her old home (a refurbished orphanage), and then her son and his imaginary friend take her on a scavenger hunt that culminates in one of the most disturbing reveals to date.

19. A Tale of Two Sisters

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  • Photo Credit: Big Blue Film

You’ve seen the American remake. It’s called The Uninvited and stars Emily Browning and Elizabeth Banks. A solid effort, but if you’re looking for one of those daylight-can’t-come-quick-enough flicks, go with Jee-Woon Kim’s South Korean original. Two girls go from mental hospital to just plain mental thanks to an abusive stepmother and a persistent ghost in this creepy import. It’s literally one of those horrifying watches you may never want to see again.

20. Saw

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  • Photo Credit: Lionsgate

James Wan calls it his “student film.” We suppose looking at the rest of his body of work, one might agree, but his gory project, which spawned six more movies about how far people will go to stay alive, is one of the genre’s masterpieces. We don’t care what the critics – or Wan – say.

21. Let the Right One In

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  • Photo Credit: Filmpool Nord

Atmospheric and frighteningly beautiful, this romantic horror makes Interview with a Vampire look like child’s play. It focuses on Oskar, a boy who gets bullied at school, and Eli, the mysterious girl who saves him. Of course, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. More like eternal darkness and gulp of freshly drained blood once Eli uncloaks her vampiric side.

22. 28 Days Later

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  • Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

If there’s anyone who knows how to throw a rager, it’s Danny Boyle. And his high-octane apocalyptic zombie film is definitely one creep fest you want to attend. A young man (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a hospital to find that humanity is all but wiped out. In its place? A new species we like to call insanely fast humans who only want to eat your face.

23. Paranormal Activity

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  • Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

We thought the same thing: How scary can a movie be that plays out on nanny cams? Answer: Very scary. Now a mega franchise, Paranormal Activity was originally slated to be a one-and-done movie, according to its creator, Oren Peli. But fans  – whether they were booing or shuddering – couldn’t get enough of Katie and her unshakeable demon. There goes any and all chance of getting a good night’s sleep. 

24. Drag Me to Hell

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  • Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

He went for campy in The Evil Dead and succeeded admirably. This time director Sam Raimi goes for absurd and triumphs gleefully. Justin Long and Alison Lohman star in Raimi’s scary comedy about a banker doing everything she can to break a hex put on her by an unhappy customer. And it’s money.

Still from “The Descent” via Celador Films; Still from “It Follows” via Northern Lights Films; Still from "Triangle" via Icon Entertainment International; Still from "The Brood" via Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC); Still from "Frozen" via A Bigger Boat; Still from "The Skeleton Key" via Universal Pictures; Still from "A Tale of Two Sisters" via B.O.M. Production Company; Still from "28 Days Later" via DNA Films; Still from "Drag Me to Hell" via Universal Pictures