Horror movies have been one of the most famous cinematic genres since almost the beginning of films. The reason could be our love for a good scary story — as literature centred on the supernatural has proved for centuries.
Audiences never seem to tire of the antics of the paranormal or psycho. This is why we have so many films devoted to either making audiences sit on the edge of their seats or jump out of it.
However, horror movies have evolved over the years and often reflect on important social issues these days as well. Crucial questions such as those on what has been historically been labelled “evil” or “bad” or “unacceptable” are raised through a powerful depiction of the frailty that hides within the human spirit.
Thus, in many horror movies of our time, the “evil” need not be a “blood-sucking” vampire or a “howling” werewolf but a seemingly normal person whose terrible actions and the attempt to conceal them puts everyone else in danger.
Of course, there can be no end to a list of horror movies. But, like a culture we have grown to love, a good horror film (or two) is a must before and on Halloween — a festival which falls annually on 31 October. Thanks to the likes of HBO Go and Netflix, which has revolutionised the way we watch movies, we have a great source of some of the best in the genre in one place.
So, even if you’re not into trick-o-treating, just wear your favourite Halloween costume, grab a big bowl of popcorn and settle down on the couch or the bed or wherever you feel “safe”, because these 10 best horror movies are going to be a thrilling ride.
Consider yourself warned.
(Main and Featured images: Netflix)
The Amityville Horror (2005)
The horror movie is a remake of the 1979 film of the same name. Like the original, it is based on the book, The Amityville Horror, written by Jay Anson in 1977, which chronicles a real-life paranormal incident in a Long Island house.
Set in the 1970s, the film is about a newly married couple — George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) and Kathy (Melissa George) — who move into a house with Kathy’s three children.
Unbeknownst to them, the house was the site of a grisly mass murder. Soon, the family begins to experience strange happenings. As apparitions and demonic entities appear before them, George becomes possessed and attempts to kill his wife and the children.
His House (2020)
The 100-percent Rotten Tomatoes rating is a testament to the widespread critical acclaim that this Remi Weekes directorial has received since its release.
The scary movie is about a refugee couple — Bol and Rial (Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù and Wunmi Mosaku, respectively) — who escape the brutal war in South Sudan to start their life anew in England.
While crossing the English Channel from France, tragedy strikes the couple, and they lose their daughter. Allotted a dilapidated house, the couple tries to adjust to the new culture but a sinister entity from their homeland upends their desire for peace.
The horror movie, which blends the supernatural with real-life horrors such as wars and the struggle of refugees, won three nominations at the 2021 BAFTA, including Best Leading Actress for Wunmi Mosaku. Remi Weekes won for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer.
Watch it here.
Horror genre specialist Kate Siegel plays Madison Young, a writer who is both deaf and mute. Young decides to take a break from the hubbub of city life and moves to a home in the woods, but her quest for solitude takes a dangerous turn when a killer arrives at her door.
Siegel co-wrote the film with her director husband Mike Flanagan. The couple has also worked together in other films of the horror genre such as Oculus (2013) and Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016). Siegel has also played Mckenna Grace in the acclaimed Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House (2018) and a different character in its unconnected follow up The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020).
Watch it here.
Well-received by critics, the horror movie revolves around the lives of the Wilson family who are suddenly attacked by their doppelgängers.
As they try to escape, they realise that the doppelgängers have already begun slaughtering people and taking their place. In the midst of it all is a traumatic past that connects a member of the Wilson family to her doppelgänger.
Directed by Jordan Peele, the film boasts a powerful line-up, comprising Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Anna Diop, among many others.
Watch it here.
Creep and Creep 2 (2014 and 2017)
The 2014 film is about a young videographer Aaron (Patrick Brice) who takes up an offer of recording the last messages of a dying man for the latter’s unborn child. When he visits the client, Josef (Mark Duplass), at a remote cabin, Aaron begins to realise that Josef is not what he claims to be.
Filmed in found footage style, the horror story was written by Brice and Duplass. Creep also marks Brice’s directorial debut. It was met with rave critical reviews following the release.
Brice and Duplass unite again for the sequel Creep 2, where Duplass reprises his role from the first film but goes by the name of “Aaron”. He hires a videographer, Sara (Desiree Akhavan), by telling her that he is a serial killer. Things begin to go wrong for Sara soon after she arrives at the cabin in the woods.
Creep 2 was received with more critical acclaim than its earlier instalment. One of the finest horror movies on Netflix, it holds a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 100 percent.
Watch Creep here.
Watch Creep 2 here.
The Platform (2019)
Directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia is a powerful commentary on inequality and a thrilling ride through the horrific experience of its protagonist, Goreng (Iván Massagué).
In this Spanish film, Goreng finds himself in a cell in a prison tower known as ‘The Pit’. Food is passed via a platform from the top of ‘The Pit’ to the bottom. Due to this, those at the bottom get only the leftovers of those at the top. As anger and frustration mounts, Goreng attempts to survive in the tower even as his cellmate Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) lures him into cannibalism.
Besides Massagué and Eguileor, the film also stars Antonia San Juan as Imoguiri, Emilio Buale Coka as Baharat, Alexandra Masangkay as Miharu and Eric Goode as Sr. Brambang, among many others.
Watch it here.
The Ritual (2017)
When a group of old college friends embark on a hiking trip through a Swedish forest in the memory of a deceased friend, they come across a being from Nordic mythology and its human followers bent on sacrificing the group.
Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Adam Nevill, the British horror film is directed by David Bruckner who perfectly captures the hauntingly beautiful vista of Scandinavia for the screen.
The well-appreciated film, which is also one of the best horror movies on Netflix, stars Rafe Spall as Luke, Arsher Ali as Phil, Robert James-Collier as Hutch and Sam Troughton as Dom.
Watch it here.
Fear Street trilogy (2021)
Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy is based on the book of the same name by R.L. Stine.
The first part is set in 1994 and is about a teenager named Deena (Kiana Madeira) who, along with her friends, stumbles upon a haunting that has plagued their town for over 300 years.
The second part follows the events in 1994, with Deena learning about a camp massacre in 1978 from a survivor, C. Berman (Gillian Jacobs; Sadie Sink as young Berman), and how it is connected to a curse that has continued through to the present day.
In the third part, which travels between 1666 and 1994, the truth about why the town is haunted and how a “witch” is responsible for numerous killings eventually come to light.
All three scary movies were directed by Leigh Janiak.
Watch Fear Street Part 1: 1994 here.
Watch Fear Street Part 2: 1978 here.
Watch Fear Street Part 3: 1666 here.
The Conjuring (2013)
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren in this outstanding supernatural horror, which follows a family’s plight in a home they have just come to occupy.
Set in 1971, the film follows the Perron family after they move into a Rhode Island farmhouse. There, they begin experiencing terrifying occurrences, including the killing of their dog. Believing it to be the handiwork of evil spirits, they approach the Warrens for help.
The Conjuring is the first of the trilogy of the same name, featuring the Warrens and is the most critically acclaimed of the three.
The film is also the first of what is known as ‘The Conjuring Universe’ — a set of horror films where entities or events are somehow connected. Among these is Annabelle (2014) and The Nun (2018).
Watch it here.
Veronica is based on a real incident in 1990s Spain and is considered to be one of the finest horror films by critics in recent years.
In the film, Verónica (Sandra Escacena), a teenager who lives with her mother and younger siblings in Madrid, conducts a séance with an Ouija board at school. She then develops a strange feeling that an extremely evil supernatural entity has entered her home.
Directed by Paco Plaza, Verónica was described by many horror fans as the “scariest movie ever” upon its release.
Watch it here.