We all remember our first horror film. That bone-chilling sensation, the knowledge that nothing had ever been like this before. If you're anything like us, that first glimpse turned you into a lifelong seeker of cinematic fear.
And clearly we're not alone. There are hundreds of threads on Reddit that compile the scariest films people have ever seen. We've gone through all of the (thousands) of suggestions to find the best of the brutal bunch. If you’re a horror film fanatic and haven’t yet seen these pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat flicks, it’s time to add them to your list.
1. Lake Mungo
This low-budget Australian film is told as a documentary of a family dealing with the drowning of their daughter and the paranormal events that surface in the wake of her death. As they struggle to deal with the otherworldly force, they realize this sinister being may be more than they can handle.
2. The Fourth Kind
One of the few films on this list to bleed into the science fiction genre, The Fourth Kind is based on real-life events that occurred in Nome, Alaska in 2000 regarding a series of alien abductions. The eeriest part, no one seems to remember what happened to them until hypnotized and an unsettling truth rises to the surface.
3. As Above, So Below
This story is presented as found footage from a documentary crew’s exploration of the Catacombs of Paris in search of the infamous Philosopher's Stone. When the crew begins having visions of demons and vanishing into the cave walls they realize something sinister is lurking in the caves, something that wants them gone.
"One of my favourites as well, I thought it used the claustrophobic angle loads, but was really well done! It has a cracking soundtrack. I even enjoyed the ending. The last shot was excellent." - Rex-Havoc
4. The Conjuring
Okay, this one isn't exactly underrated—but it isn't talked about nearly as often as James Wan's other horror juggernaut, Insidious. And it really should be. When a family moves into a dilapidated farm house, strange things begin occurring. The clock stops at 3:07 A.M., the family dog mysteriously dies, one of the daughters encounters a malevolent spirit only she can see. And that's just the beginning. Have HBO? The Conjuring is currently streaming there.
Absolutely spectacular. I used to be skeptical (aha) about supernatural horror, assuming it was always just cheap jumpscare flicks all with the same story. But I now really need to check out some more, because I loved this! - Devil_Hand
5. The Houses October Built
This found footage film begins in media res then backtracks to follow a group of friends who, in honor of Halloween, decide to travel around the country finding the scariest haunted houses. Their travels are halted when one house forces each of them confront some of their deepest fears. Stream it on Netflix now.
The film takes place in two different times told parallel to one another, one in the present and the other 11 years prior. The plot centers around a family who moves into a new home. In order to liven up the place, the father purchases an antique mirror. Unknown to them at the time, the mirror induces violent and terrifying hallucinations that terrorize them through the duration of the film. You can watch Oculus on Netflix now.
7. The Hills Run Red
Main character Tyler is obsessed with the legendary horror film, The Hills Run Red, which follows the deranged serial killer Babyface. Tyler and three of his friends venture into the forest where the story was said to have taken place. To their horror, they discover the story may not be over just yet. Babyface is still very much alive.
Fifteen years after escaping her captors, Lucie sets out for vengeance against those who wronged her. Complicating her mission is the presence of a demon, one that's haunted her since her escape and only she can see. While controversial upon its release, Martyrs is bound to provide a good scare.
9. The Witch
The Witch got a lot of buzz when it first came out. Whether you didn't see it the first time around, or were underwhelmed by your first watch, it's worth taking a second look. Though it focuses on the fear of witchcraft in 17th century New England, The Witch makes the fear very real to today’s viewers.
"Given the family's religious beliefs and total isolation, their situation was down right horrifying. I thought the entire thing was very original and very effective. Good acting (children included) and fantastic cinematography. One of the most well made horrors in the last decade or so." - TooShiftyForYou
Related: The Scariest Books You’ve Ever Read
10. Goodnight Mommy
A 2014 Austrian horror film, Goodnight Mommy is based on Capgras syndrome in identical twin boys. After returning home from facial surgery, the twins’ mother begins acting strangely, favoring one boy over another and physically abusing them for misbehaving. The boys begin to suspect the woman claiming to be their mother may be an imposter.
Featured still from "Oculus" via Relativity Media