The Spookiest Films Ever
We compiled 10 of the spookiest films ever produced based on other lists and recommendations from the internet, and we asked you to choose the one that frightened you the most.
Even if you disagree that The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever, the fact that it came in first on our list with a whopping 19% of the votes cast certainly isn’t much of a surprise. The first film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, William Friedkin’s adaptation of the same-named novel about a child who is possessed by a demon and struggles to drive the demon from his body is the highest-grossing R-rated horror movie ever (it earned nine other nominations and took home two trophies). But aside from its reputation among critics and audiences, the movie is well-known for the widespread frenzy it caused across the nation, from protests over its contentious themes to tales of audience members fainting and feeling queasy. There’s no disputing the impact the movie still has on many who view it for the first time, despite its dramatic pacing and perhaps dated effects when compared to some modern horror.
Dark family drama about the nature of grief wrapped up in a supernatural horror movie, written and directed by Ari Aster, made a big impression with his feature directorial debut. Toni Collette’s performance as troubled mother Annie earned her a place in the pantheon of famous Oscar snubs, but the biggest surprise in the film came from… Well, we won’t reveal it right now. Let’s just say that Hereditary was such a hit with viewers that it immediately elevated Aster to second place on our list and made him a director to watch.
With movies like Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious, and this chiller based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, James Wan has established himself as one of the current masters of horror. The Warrens were portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who gave weight to the scares and freak-out moments with a convincing sense of weariness. The Warrens are best known for their work on the bizarre case that served as the basis for the Amityville Horror films and was a factor in The Conjuring 2. Together, Wan and his co-leads discovered new fear in well-known genre clichés, and the result is a vast cinematic universe that only keeps expanding.
Numerous Stephen King books and short stories have been adapted for the big screen, including Pet Sematary, Misery, and Carrie. These adaptations don’t even take into account non-horror works like The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me. But without a doubt, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining is the best of them all. The Shining is a masterpiece of set and production design, a really unsettling retelling of the classic haunted house tale, and it stars an iconic Jack Nicholson performance. Even though there aren’t many jump scares in the movie, they are nevertheless incredibly terrifying, but its real strength comes from the way it gets under your skin and causes you to feel Jack Torrance’s gradual spiral into madness. It is legitimately regarded as one of the best horror movies ever produced, and it came in fourth in our survey.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Six films that each received roughly 3% of the vote came after the top four films on this list, which together received 42% of the votes cast. In other words, there were no more than 60 votes separating these last six movies. This low-budget slasher, which Tobe Hooper directed and co-wrote, is the first of them. It is partially based on the atrocities of Ed Gein. This could actually happen, you guys! Texas Chainsaw’s gritty look helped give it an aura of authenticity, which made it all the more terrifying, while Gunnar Hansen’s Leatherface’s enormous, ominous presence paved the way for other brutes like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. There have been other attempts to revitalise the franchise, and there is one more on the horizon, but none have come close to matching the original in terms of raw, extravagant, power tool-inspired fear.
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Going from something that works well in one culture to trying to properly adapt that formula for another is always a tough idea, but Gore Verbinski did it with The Ring. Verbinski’s version of the acclaimed thriller about a cursed videotape by Japanese director Hideo Nakata kept the original’s striking visual imagery, including the ghost of a young girl in a white dress with long black hair covering her face, and discovered that it terrified audiences from all over the world. Although the movie wasn’t as well-liked as its predecessor, Naomi Watts gives a strong performance, and for many people, it was their first exposure to East Asian horror movies.
The movie that made John Carpenter famous and introduced the world to all-time scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis comes in at number seven on our list. While Halloween may not contain the same level of realistic gore we’ve come to expect from movies in that genre, it does contain a lot of tension and some creative thrills in a relatively small package. This movie is frequently cited as one of the earliest examples of the slasher genre as we know it today. The legacy of the movie is also largely untouchable: Michael Myers’ mask is now legendary, and terms like the “final girl,” “giant, unstoppable murderer,” and “final girl” have been imprinted in the language of horror. After more than 40 years, there is a reason the franchise is still in operation.
We’ve reached the movie it named the scariest, for those who didn’t read the “scientific study” described at the beginning. Director Scott Derrickson has made a number of horror movies before breaking into the MCU with 2016’s Doctor Strange, several of which gained cult followings. One of these was a small-scale haunted house/possession tale starring Ethan Hawke as a true-crime author who relocates his family into a home where a family was murdered only to learn the new residence may already be occupied by a fairly terrible tenant. The tale does have a slight resemblance to that of The Ring due to the eerie snuff video viewpoint. According to reports, writer C. Robert Cargill was inspired to write the script by a nightmare he experienced following the viewing of The Ring. However, for many viewers, the suspenseful revelations and unsettling set pieces far exceeded any possible rehashed genre clichés. Additionally, at least one review claims that it is the scariest movie ever, so that must be significant.
However, James Wan and Patrick Wilson previously collaborated on this supernatural thriller about a young child who enters a coma and starts to channel a malicious spirit before they filmed The Conjuring, which has already appeared higher on the list. The plot itself wasn’t particularly ground-breaking, but Leigh Whannell, a regular collaborator with Wan, gave it a compelling enough mythology to inspire three additional films. Insidious, according to Wan, was created as a sort of counterbalance to Saw’s overt brutality, which forced him to create something on a more spiritual level. The result is a chilling thriller with what is generally regarded as one of the best jump scares ever captured on film.
Even though it has become so usual to declare it, the fear of clowns is a very real thing. If you required any additional proof, we point you to IT’s 2017 box office performance, which broke The Exorcist’s 44-year record for the highest-grossing horror movie ever. IT is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. Oh, and it naturally placed 10th on this list. The big-budget remake by Andy Muschietti used nostalgia to tell the tale of traumatised youngsters, while Bill Skarsgard’s portrayal of Pennywise the wicked, shape-shifting clown was peculiar and scary in all the right ways. The right combination of jump scares, amazing set pieces, and top-notch CGI will result in a horror movie that is both entertaining and terrifying.