Over the past several months, the social media video sharing app TikTok has caused several relatively unknown horror movies to garner an incredible amount of popularity. The community known as #horrorTok offers insight into some of the genre’s most unsettling, disturbing, and haunting movies available. Recently, there have been numerous challenges that have emerged that dare others to watch specific movies that have traumatized viewers or threatened them with the possibility of walking away from it with a curse.
Among some of these terrifying challenges are conversations on nuanced horror movies such as Ari Aster’s Hereditary and Midsommar. They work together as a community to uncover Easter eggs, foreshadowing, symbolism, and more. While some movies with questionable scares may dip in and out of popularity on the app, here are thirteen horror films that are indisputably horrifying and have remained in discussion on TikTok.
Warning: spoilers ahead!
Megan is Missing
When Megan is Missing started circulating on the app, users were posting their reactions to its contents. They recalled becoming deeply disturbed by some of the situations the characters were placed in. This movie is not for the faint of heart, as it features the very real situation of young women being abducted by strangers online and being forced into human sex trafficking. Even the director, Michael Goi, released a statement to warn viewers against watching it if they do not believe that they can handle what comes after the words “photo number one” pop on screen. This public service announcement horror movie lives in infamy among viewers who first watched it when it released in 2011, and now impacts an entirely new generation of people looking for a scare.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes
Found footage movies are reaching a new level of popularity on the video sharing app. Similar to Megan is Missing, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is composed of found videos, news reports, interviews, and other first-hand accounts of what took place in Poughkeepsie, New York. While the movie is entirely fictitious, its structure has led people to believe that it is entirely real. There was never a discovery of 800 video tapes in Poughkeepsie, nor was there a mass murderer of this caliber on the loose. Regardless, the found footage tapes feature disturbing imagery that is sexually and bodily horrific, accompanied by depictions of assault.
Jennifer’s Body isn’t necessarily a horrifying movie, but a new generation of viewers are analyzing its actual message, which was largely ignored when it released in 2009. Viewers have uncovered that the movie is actually about the abusive power dynamic between men in power and innocent women who they view as pawns in their rise to success. Even Megan Fox, who portrayed Jennifer Check, has confirmed their theories in an interview where she equated the sacrificial scene to how she was treated by men in Hollywood. The satirical movie may not terrify hardcore horror fans, but its message is one of the scariest realities that a horror movie has confronted in the twenty-first century.
The movie Antrum begins with a warning against watching the movie. According to its own mythos, this movie is cursed, and anyone who watches it will walk away cursed as well. In the beginning mockumentary, several fictional historians and filmmakers discuss the deaths that occurred shortly after people had watched the movie. What comes after is the actual movie, about siblings who travel to a suicide forest to dig to hell at the spot where Lucifer fell when he was banished from heaven. During the summer of 2020 when the film was released on Shudder, viewing it became a challenge on TikTok. Users were daring each other to watch it in its entirety, in hopes of discovering whether or not the curse was real—some of whom claimed that it was.
Ari Aster’s directorial debut, Hereditary, follows the Graham family shortly after the death of their matriarch. As the movie unfolds, it's revealed that their grandmother was a part of a cult that worshipped Paimon, one of the kings of Hell from the Lesser Key of Solomon. Its physical horrors have caused it to gain notable popularity among TikTok users, but even more than that, the final song that plays over Peter’s ascension has been used on the app to showcase other people’s experiences with the unsettling.
The Works of Cecelia Condit
Cecelia Condit is a surrealist director who does not currently have a feature-length movie available for viewing, but her shorts have garnered a large following from TikTok. Once users discovered Possibly in Michigan, they started using the music to reenact scenes from the short and lip-sync over it for fun. Condit’s short is about two women who are stalked by a cannibal while they are at the mall. When they get home, they discover that he has followed them. The duo then takes revenge by killing and eating the stalker. It comments on women’s position in America, specifically in the 1980s when it was created, and is categorized as a feminist revenge short movie.
Aster’s follow-up to Hereditary released in 2019, and focused on the mid-summer festival in Sweden. Midsommar is a disturbing break-up movie whose characters are impacted by their surroundings and manipulated by a Swedish cult. Just like fans of Aster’s 2018 movie utilize the music from the ending, TikTok users have donned Dani Ardor’s (Florence Pugh) floral May Queen dress and reenacted the movie’s ending. Viewers may consider this folk horror movie to be more disturbing than Hereditary, especially considering the couple costumes that came from Christian’s (Jack Reynor) demise and Dani’s ascension.
Begotten fell under the radar on TikTok after having a brief moment in the spotlight. Regardless of how long it was popular, its general popularity is attributed to the app, and it is one of the scariest movies that has ever been featured on it. The movie is shot entirely in black and white, and features disembowelment, corpse arousal, trances, and umbilical cords. It is just as much a body horror movie as it is a torture porn film with religious influences. Begotten’s short-lived fame can be attributed to how difficult it is to find a streaming service that offers it.
IT: Chapter Two
After Bill Hader portrayed Richie Tozier in Andy Muschietti’s IT: Chapter Two, TikTok users everywhere reenacted the dinner scene between him and Eddie, as well as the moment he calls Pennywise a “sloppy bitch.” IT and IT: Chapter Two are adapted from Stephen King’s original novel of the same name. Muschietti’s movies feature some of the lesser known themes that were largely absent in the 1990 miniseries. TikTok users in the #horrorTok community pointed out the sexual abuse that Beverly may have experienced, as well as Patrick Hockstetter’s history of molestation and murder. The horror community on the video sharing app has highlighted the horrifying aspects of the original novel, as well as the hilarity in the movie adaptations.
Hush follows a young deaf woman who must fight off an intruder. This movie is particularly scary due to the fact that the audience knows more than the characters. Many TikTok users pointed out that there is a distinct feeling of hopelessness that is entrenched throughout the entire movie. It is deeply unsettling to watch someone suffer and fight off an individual they’d have an easier time taking down if they had the capability to hear. Regardless, she does come out on top, but #horrorTok pointed out the complex feelings that Hush evokes.
Gerald’s Game was adapted by Mike Flanagan from Stephen King’s novel of the same name. For years, it was regarded as the only King story that could not be adapted into a movie due to its gruesome contents, horrifying setting, bizarre sci-fi elements, and its intense depiction of isolation. Flanagan proved everyone wrong when he released his adaptation, and he even retained all of the elements that qualified it as one of the least adaptable King stories, causing #horrorTok to recoil in disgust at its disturbing contents.
Released during the COVID-19 pandemic, #Alive is a Korean zombie movie that begins with an eerily familiar setting. As the news announces an unknown virus that causes people to become deranged and cannibalistic, people are forced to remain in their homes in order to wait out this viral pandemic. It directly reflects how people felt during the early days of lockdown in March 2020. As the leading characters contemplate how they will survive with a lack of resources, they ration their food, water, and power supply. The uncertainty of the future and the reflective nature of the movie’s depiction of a lockdown caused TikTok users to draw attention to how similar it is to the early days of the pandemic.
Bride of Chucky
Jennifer Tilly is largely celebrated on TikTok, especially in the #horrorTok community. As such, Bride of Chucky grew popular on the app for her iconic role as Tiffany Valentine, the bride of the murderous Chucky doll. The Child’s Play franchise is known for its gory murder scenes and bizarre sexual overtones. Tiffany Valentine is a source of comedy in an otherwise horrifying tale. While Bride of Chucky didn’t necessarily rise to popularity on the app due to how scary it is, it is still one of the most horrifying movies that the app popularized.
Featured still of "It: Chapter Two" via Warner Bros.