20 of the Scariest Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween | Savoir Flair
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20 of the Scariest Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween
article SEBASTIAAN STAM/PEXELS
by Lydia Medeiros 5-minute read October 6, 2023

Who needs haunted houses when you can scare yourself silly from the comfort of your own couch?

article ERIK MCLEAN/PEXELS

Costume parties are great, but if you want to get into the Halloween spirit a little early, nothing beats turning all the lights off in the house and curling up in front of the TV for a scare-a-thon.

Sure, there are tried-and-true Halloween favorites that get you into the spooky spirit – Hocus Pocus, Dark Shadows, Beetlejuice, or even The Nightmare Before Christmas – but these are not those movies. These are the movies for those few brave souls who think they can watch the scariest movies ever made without one jump, scream, or feeling of unease. These are the films that will leave you haunted, paranoid, terrified, and sleeping with the lights on afterwards… if you sleep at all, that is.

From slasher films to monster movies to the paranormal, your Halloween weekend movie marathon picks are right here. All you need to do is call up a few friends, unless you think you’re brave enough to watch them all alone?

The Host was officially named the scariest movie of all time by the Science of Scare 2022 and well, we kind of agree with them. An evil, mutant squid monster coming out of Seoul’s Han River has never been more frightening and now we have director Bong Joon-ho to thank for keeping us away from every body of water from now until eternity — just like Jaws spoiled swimming in the deep, blue ocean for us years ago.

The Conjuring is a slow-burn horror film more interested in setting the stage and having its audience identify with its characters before scaring the pants off of them. If you like films based on true stories, horror that is believable and possible, and scare-the-bejeezus-out-of-you moments, then this is for you. If you like blood and gore, then this is not your film.

The Exorcist, a movie about a mother who asks two priests to rescue her possessed daughter through exorcism, starred relatively unknown actors Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair but still managed to be one of the highest-grossing horror films of all time. There are scenes in this film you can never unsee.

Ari Aster‘s feature directorial debut, Hereditary, will chill you to the bone. It’s a family drama that takes gruesome deaths, the occult, and supernatural possession to a level that will probably keep you from sleeping for the next several weeks.

Florence Pugh is magnetic in this psychedelic, folk horror film about a group of friends who travel to Sweden to participate in a midsummer festival, only to find themselves caught within the grasp of a Scandinavian pagan cult. The twist at the end is enough to drive one insane.

Sam Raimi's cult classic, The Evil Dead, not only spurned a whole slew of sequels, creating an entire franchise, but it also turned the hero of the movie, Ash Williams, into a cultural phenomenon. Five college students go out to a secluded cabin in the woods and find a mysterious tape that awakens the damned. It’s horror film genius 101.

The Invitation was inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula and that is pretty much all you need to know. Well, that and the fact that Nathalie Emmanuel gives a hauntingly underrated performance that seals her in the halls of horror fame for good.

The extra-terrestrial Invasion of the Body Snatchers where alien pods begin to take over the bodies, memories, and lives of people sleeping beside them is an oldie but a goodie. For sure go with the 1978 version shot in black and white for jump scares, creepy moments, and an inevitable inability to trust any single person you meet hereafter.

Another Korean horror masterpiece, A Tale of Two Sisters, is actually inspired by a Joseon Dynasty folktale and has been remade many times. But this one is, by far, the most horrifying. It revolves around a teenage girl recently released from a mental asylum and is extremely possessive of her younger sister. The twists and turns and multiple surprise endings will leave you haunted

This 1997 science fiction horror film will never not give us nightmares. Event Horizon follows a crew of astronauts who randomly appear in Neptune’s orbit, but quickly realize they are being hunted by an unknown and sinister force.

In Anya Taylor-Joy's feature film debut – as well as the directorial debut for Robert Eggers – a Puritan family in the 1630s begin to suspect witchcraft when strange things begin happening in the woods outside their home. The Witch is as creepy as it is scary, and the ending will leave you wishing for the beginning all over again.

Kurt Russell stars in John Carpenter's first film of his ‘Apocalypse Trilogy’, The Thing, about a group of scientists who encounter a parasitic alien called the ‘Thing’ when researching in Antarctica, and soon run out of people they can trust.

Carpenter’s third installment of what he calls his ‘Apocalypse Trilogy,’ In the Mouth of Madness follows an insurance investigator who looks into the disappearance of a horror novelist only to find himself caught between fiction and reality.

Tried-and-true slasher film Hush is the story of a writer named Maddie who was rendered deaf and dumb through a bout with meningitis as a teenager. She lives alone in the woods and is found – and subsequently stalked – by a serial killer. Jump scares, blood, gore, and a tense cat-and-mouse chase ensue. You will never go off into the woods alone again.

Roman Polanski's psychological horror film about a pregnant woman who suspects her friendly neighbors of being members of a satanic cult that are waiting for her baby to be born so they can use it in their rituals is just as scary today as it was when it first came out in 1968. Rosemary’s Baby was and instant box-office success and received both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations and wins.

“Here’s Johnny,” “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and “Red Rum” are only a few of the lines from the instant classic The Shining that have been so woven into our pop culture we can’t remember a time when seeing a pair of identical twins didn’t give us a slight double take. May they never remake this bloody masterpiece.

This disturbing movie will haunt you for weeks afterwards, and a special warning should go out as it’s especially hard on all the parents out there. The Mist is a science-fiction horror movie adapted from the Stephen King novella of the same name. The director, Frank Darabont, even changed the ending to make it darker than the original story, an ending to which King himself was agreeable. Although it is a monster movie – Lovecraftian monsters to be more specific – the psychological stress and the jump scares really get under your skin and leave you with the creepy crawlies.

Although it was loosely based on the murders of Ed Gein, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is actually a fictional story that was marketed as a real one to attract a larger audience. The film revolves around a group of friends who fall in with a family of cannibals, and well, they don’t call it a slasher film for nothing.

Annihilation's all-star cast, including Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez, turns up the screams in this science-fiction horror film about a team of explorers who enter ‘The Shimmer,’ a quarantined zone filled with alien-manipulated mutations. The movie was an instant hit and was highly praised for its acting, directing, visuals, and thought-provoking plot. And oh yes, it’s terrifying.

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a movie. But if you are looking for something to completely freak you out, why not try the Netflix four-part docuseries based on the real-life serial killer who admitted to kidnapping, raping, and murdering over 30 women? Released in 2019, you know it’s going to be brutal when Netflix warns its viewers not to watch Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes alone. It includes previously unreleased audio from women who knew the “charming” lawyer as well as interviews with Ted Bundy himself. It’s creepy, true, incredibly disturbing, and will forever make you think twice before talking to a stranger.

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