There probably won’t ever be a definitive, agreed-upon list of the top scariest movies, so we’ve rounded up 15 varied options that should satisfy your taste for horror, whatever it may be. We’ve included a few creepy classics that everybody should see at least once, a couple of well-crafted thrillers that will have every muscle in your body tensing up, and a little something for those who can’t get enough blood and gore. You’re also covered if you’re the type of person who just loves a bad scary movie, complete with clichéd plot twists and no shortage of characters being eaten alive by spiders. Whether you love ghoulish figures popping out from every corner or subtle storylines where the villain isn’t exactly who you thought they were, rest assured that this Halloween you can take a break from watching Hocus Pocus and get into the stuff that will give you nightmares!
Without giving away too much, this film will definitely remind you to think twice before you take loveable-looking orphans into your home! A great psychological thriller of the late ‘00s, Orphan is the story of Kate and John Coleman, who adopt a Russian orphan named Esther when their third child is stillborn. It soon becomes obvious that things that aren’t quite right with Esther. She’s violent with other children, and strange things tend to happen whenever she is around. The relationship between Kate, John, and their two children strains as they disagree about whether they should trust Esther or not, and let’s just say, it certainly all boils over. Isabella Fuhrman does an amazing job of portraying the cold-faced Esther, and we can guarantee that you won’t be able to look away from the screen for a second as you try to figure out what the heck is up with this child.
14 'Long Time Dead'
After seeing this, you’ll be totally mind-boggled as to how anyone would ever want to touch a ouija board. When they can’t find anything interesting enough to do, a group of U.K. college kids pull out a ouija board. Great idea, guys! The glass spells out the word “djinn” and when asked if it can predict the future, it replies with “yes”, followed by the cheery, good news: “all die”. One of the participants takes his finger off the glass, which means that whatever spirit they’ve summoned can’t return to its home, so in doing so he pretty much condemns his friends to be tormented by this thing. There are a few gruesome scenes, and with so many characters, you end up rooting for certain ones to make it despite knowing deep down that the djinn is after all of them. But is he working alone? Our lips are sealed.
13 'The Ring'
Just letting everyone know that the original film Ringu (1989) on which The Ring was based is equally as terrifying and worth checking out too! This story revolves around the urban legend of a cursed videotape that causes anybody who watches it to die after seven days. So, from the beginning, you’re already shaking in your boots because it brings up questions like, “Is this video cursed, and am I going to die in seven days too?” Although watching it today you’d probably suspect your USB or Netflix to be cursed instead of an ancient VHS tape, but it’s no less scary! You get to see the content on the video itself, which is creepy AF, plus the story behind the curse is interesting. To sum it up, this is the one where the little girl crawls out of the TV screen, and we highly recommend it for a scare!
12 'Urban Legends: Bloody Mary'
This direct-to-video film is by no means the scariest movie you’ll ever see, but every now and then you need to indulge in the stereotypical horror movie that features a walking urban legend hiding under the bed. What Bloody Mary lacks in complex characters and divine plotline subtlety, it makes up for in angsty teenagers, shock value, and motives of revenge. There is a bit of mystery and a little twist that leaves you wondering who the real villain is. The film also deals with a few really scary issues that plague us in the real world, like drink-spiking. It might not be a masterpiece, but we think the ending especially will weirdly leave you feeling inspired. You may have to shut your eyes in a few scenes if you have a fear of spiders, you love dogs, or you like to use a tanning bed every now and then.
Some people have claimed that this movie wasn’t scary, and boy, we wish we had that sort of backbone! Sinister is the story of author Ellison Oswalt, who writes about true crime and moves his family into a house in which another family was murdered. At this point, you already feel like he deserves whatever’s coming to him, because who would move into a murder house? Moving on. Ellison soon finds a box of old tapes, which reveal footage of several other families being murdered, and may we add that the music accompanying these videos might be the scariest part of the whole movie! Ellison then goes on a mission to find out what happened to these families, who filmed their deaths, and what happened to their missing members. When he finally learns the truth about the murders, it might be too late to stop his family from being next.
10 'Wolf Creek'
There’s nothing more horrifying in a scary movie than the following four words: based on true events. Wolf Creek is an absolute must for anybody who loves gory horror movies about serial killers. British backpackers Liz and Kristy team up with their friend Ben and have the time of their lives as they make their way across the rugged Australian outback. On their way to Queensland, the trio stops their car in Wolf Creek National Park for the night, which is essentially in the middle of nowhere. They leave their car alone in the pitch black to go exploring (again, who would do that?) and when they return, their car won’t start and their watches are broken. Then out of the dark, two headlights appear and an outback stranger pulls up and offers them some help…Don’t watch if you plan on backpacking to Australia, because as we mentioned, this comes from a true story.
9 'Hide and Seek'
Hide and Seek might lean more towards being a thriller than a horror movie, but it will still give you a right old scare! Another one that’s perfect for people who like to try and solve the mystery before the protagonist and love a good plot twist, this movie follows the story of the recently widowed psychologist Dr. David Callaway and his daughter, Emily, who move to Upstate New York. Emily soon starts talking about her imaginary friend whom she calls Charlie, but when unexplainable events start taking place and Emily insists that they’re the work of her friend Charlie, David gets a little bit concerned. And rightfully so! You’ll spend the duration of the movie trying to figure out who or what Charlie could be, and the ending is too good to miss! Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning star in this psychological thriller, and their talent will speak for itself.
8 'The Sixth Sense'
We doubt there’s a person alive who doesn’t know the iconic ending of this movie, but we won’t spoil it, just in case you don’t! Everybody deserves the exhilaration of witnessing The Sixth Sense twist completely by themselves. After psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe and his wife are attacked by one of his now grown-up child clients, he begins working with a new client called Cole, who suffers from hallucinations. As the relationship between Malcolm and Cole blossoms, Cole confides in Malcolm about what’s really bothering him. We’re sure this part won’t be a spoiler because even if you don’t know the ending, you’ve definitely heard this legendary line before: "I see dead people." A few of the ghosts that have been tormenting Cole pop up to scare the audience, and the viewing experience definitely includes a few jumps! Additional pro: Mischa Barton pre-Newport makes an appearance as one of the ghosts.
7 'Rosemary's Baby'
There’s a certain creepiness to old movies that just can’t be imitated today, and Rosemary’s Baby definitely falls into that category. Rosemary and her husband, Guy, move into a new apartment in New York and soon meet a few of the other strange tenants on the block, including a suspicious older couple. Guy is a struggling actor and mysteriously starts gaining momentum in his career around the time that Rosemary falls pregnant. Her initial symptoms are not indicative of a normal pregnancy, however, or do all pregnant women lose lots of weight and have uncontrollable cravings for raw meat and liver? The weirder her pregnant symptoms become, the more suspicious her new friends in the apartment building begin to act, and when her husband joins them in their creepy antics, Rosemary suspects something is up. Of course, she’s right, but you’re just going to have to watch it yourself to find out!
6 'The Conjuring'
Also based on true events, this movie tells the story of the Perron family, who move into a dilapidated farmhouse in Harrisville in 1971. They should have known from the second that their dog refused to enter the house that something evil was afoot, but oh well. When it becomes obvious that the dog was right, the family enlists the help of real-life ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren (who are real people and say this is a real story!) to get rid of whatever it is that is stopping the clocks, breaking the furniture and terrorizing their children. Lorraine uncovers an evil so much worse than anything she’s encountered before, and the story expands to include witches, spirits, possession and just about every other scary idea. This is the movie that introduced us to the infamous Annabelle doll, and after watching it, you’ll cover your ears every time someone claps.
5 'The Shining'
If you’re in the mood for a piece of classic horror, look no further than The Shining. Jack Torrance is looking for a bit of solitude to help his writing, so he applies for the role of caretaker at a spooky, isolated hotel and brings his family there, despite learning that the previous caretaker went mad and murdered his own family. Do we need to tell you the rest? In what really is one of the scariest movies of all time, ballrooms full of ghosts, axe-wielding fathers and elevators full of blood come together for an iconic frightening experience designed to scare the stuffing out of you. It’s not just that the movie itself is fantastic or that Jack Nicholson is amazing in it, but you just have to see it at least once in your lifetime. Be warned: this movie is probably way more terrifying than you might expect, so get ready!
Even if you haven’t seen this Hitchcock-directed classic, chances are you’ve heard of the Bates motel, and you’ve at least seen recreations of the famous shower scene. Poor Marion’s decision to check into the Bates motel proves very regrettable in hindsight, and the events that take place there under the spine-chilling proprietor, Norman Bates, lead Marion’s sister Lila and her boyfriend Sam on a wild goose chase to pick up the pieces. Don’t let the black-and-white color or the 1960s special effects put you off; Psycho has been scaring audiences for over 50 years, and you have to join in the fun if you haven’t already. A lot of millennials don’t want to bother with older movies like this, but that is a big mistake of Julia Roberts-ish proportions. Seriously, this one is so frightening that you probably will have to put on Hocus Pocus afterward, just to get to sleep.
3 'The Others'
Why are the thrillers always so much more disturbing than the gory horrors? Nicole Kidman plays the role she was made for in The Others—that of the strict mother Grace, who lives in an old, isolated house with her two photosensitive children. Exposure to too much light will cause the children to die, so the family must live in darkness, and they also have no electricity, and the house is also constantly surrounded by thick, impenetrable fog. What a perfect setting for a ghost story! Grace hires three servants to help her look after the house, one of which is a mute, and it’s later revealed that they used to work there under the former owner. When the children start seeing other children in the house and Grace starts hearing unexplainable noises, the thrills soon begin! Be warned that you’ll probably pull a muscle in your neck during the communion dress scene.
2 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'
Dreams that can kill you will ironically cause nightmares for weeks because you’re secretly afraid that every time you fall asleep, you might die. Just be prepared for that side effect of watching A Nightmare on Elm Street! This is the story of Freddy Krueger, a disfigured man who attacks teenagers in their sleep and then somehow, manages to kill them. Nancy and her boyfriend Glen try to figure out how they can defeat a villain who attacks in such a way, all the while trying to avoid getting taken out themselves as their bodies can’t help drifting into slumber. The sight of Freddy alone is pretty scary, but the concept is terrifying because dreams are really the one place where we’re all vulnerable! All we can say is make sure you’re watching this one with somebody else, and make sure they sleep over afterward, just in case.
1 'The Exorcist'
The horror movie of all horror movies, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen this one. If you have seen it a zillion times, Halloween is still a great night to watch it once more. The green pea soup, the head spinning, the crucifix scene and all those profanities that made us so done before being done was even a thing -- none of it ever gets old! The Exorcist is the story of 12-year-old Regan MacNeil who becomes possessed by a demon after messing around with a ouija board (damn, why can’t people leave those things alone?!). Regan does a bunch of disturbing things that you have to see to believe, and as the demon totally takes her over, her mother turns to an exorcist to save her daughter, after the totally baffled doctors give up. This isn’t one we’re comfortable watching with our grandmas, but it’s perfect for Halloween with the gang!