Top 10 Horror Movies
Horror movies have been a beloved and terrifyingly entertaining genre for decades, captivating audiences with their ability to evoke fear, suspense, and visceral reactions. With the season, I thought it would be fun to list out and discuss through the spooky corridors of cinematic horror as we explore the top 10 Horror Movies. From classic masterpieces to contemporary nightmares, these films have redefined the genre, leaving a mark on the hallways of cinema. I chose to rank them by the arbitrary ranking of my "favorites". I thought about ranking by level of "scary" but since how scary a film is just as subjective as their overall quality, I decided to rank them as my top 10. I don't claim these to be the scariest of all time, or even the best. I am aware of movies that are scarier than ones on this list, or others that are critically more praised. There are a LOT of horror films. Picking my favorite 10 was incredibly hard as there are dozens of high quality ones to choose from, so I imagine many will be missing from those my readers would have suggested. Again, This is just my list of favorites, so please put in the comments on your favorite social media, what your favorite horror movies are!
I am not the type of person who unfairly measures older movies. I feel like much of Hollywood gives such an advantage to older films when it comes to the nostalgia goggles. I don't typically think older movies are really that scary. So much technology and art have evolved to better deliver horror, that going back and watching films from the 60's...to me they're just not scary. I hold very few older black and white films in high regard, as I feel like as films age...that should be a factor in their perception of quality. How much a film ages is subjective to every viewer, and we all have a few decades that we hold higher maybe than we should. That being said, there are a few classic films that I really really enjoy, and will forever be favorites of mine. Coming in at number 10 is the classic original Psycho. It is important to me, as I remember watching this film in film studies in High School for the first time. Even though it has aged, and isn't very scary, it just a fun and entertaining film. It is a revolutionary mark in filmmaking, and foundation for horror.
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
I promise I will get to modern picks in a moment, but another horror classic favorite is one that still to this day can succeed to give you chills. This film is less scary but more chilling even to a modern viewer. The ending is still a chilling ending that I remember, and even though the film has aged, I still think it holds us today.
8. Deliver Us from Evil
Deliver Us From Evil, I saw in a solo showing with another person back when it came out, thinking this was the scariest movie I had ever seen. This film is brutal, dark, very dark, and scary. It is one of the scarier possession / demonic films I have seen.
7. The Babadook
Good lord this film. The creature monster in this thing is the stuff of nightmares. What can I say about this movie? It is terrifying and freaky. Don't watch it on a night you have work early the next day.
6. The Village
This film is probably the least scary on this list. It has some spooky moments and suspenseful moments, but this is easily more suspense than horror. That being said, It is always an easy rewatch. The twist at the end is still something that I enjoy, and the premise of the film is also just really intriguing. It is probably my second favorite M Night Shyamalan films, second to another higher on this list.
5. The "Paranormal Activity" Series
This pick is definitely a little bit of a cheat. I couldn't narrow down a specific pick in my favorite horror franchise. Do I go with the original? I think they got scarier since the original. 4 is my favorite from a story standpoint but maybe not the objective "best". The most recent Next of Kin was unique and actually pretty spooky. I just decided to put the whole franchise here on the list as this my favorite horror franchise, and it kickstarted and invigorated an entire subgenera of "found footage" film.
4. It Follows
It Follows is a film that takes something otherwise normal, and manages to burn into your brain that it is scary. It Follows is about a super natural entity that just "follows" the main characters throughout the film. It creates this eerie image of a distant character ever walking towards the camera. There is just something uneasy about spotting the entity off in the distance just walking towards to the characters who have yet to notice. It takes something so normal as walking someone walk...and manages to make it scary. This film appears on many lists of this nature, and for good reason. It Follows will follow you to your nightmares.
3. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
A more obscure pick ranks high on my list, as I remember for years telling friends and family that this is one of the creepiest and scariest films I had seen. I'm not someone who scares easily in movies...but the premise of this film sets a family in a spooky home (of course) but really delivers on the creepy factor by making the evil antagonist entities these small creepy little creatures. The creature in this film are really just what make the film as scary as it is.
2. Lights Out
Have you ever watched a horror movie, and comforted yourself by asking yourself questions like the classic "why don't they just" questions? Questions that point out how sometimes horror movies use horror movie logic to explain away "obvious" things that the characters should have done. The trapped in a home with an evil entity trope sometimes triggers "Why don't they just call the cops for help" "Why don't they own a gun?"
This movie is built for you. It does things I have never seen. Without spoiling, there is a scene where they actually call the cops and the cops show up, and it's such unique scene for the genre. It also has one of the freakiest creepiest scariest film entities. I would put the entity in this film against most horror monsters. This could easily be number 1 pick if not for my favorite horror film of all time.
HM: No One Will Save You, The Shallows, War of the Worlds,
Before I get to my number one pick I wanted to quick shout out some honorable mentions. I felt selecting No One Will Save You for this list would be some "recency bias" as this film came out this year, and I saw it super recently. However, it is super unique in that the film is nearly completely free of dialogue. It also has super impressive CGI in general and especially for a streaming film in 2023. Next, I almost selected The Shallows, but that felt more like a monster movie than a horror movie. That being said, Blake Lively has an incredible performance in her fight for her life against a shark. Lastly, the classic and original War of the Worlds. This also feels to me like less of a horror movie and more of a retro sci-fi film so I picked Body Snatchers instead. War of the Worlds however is such lifelong classic for me. I wish we could get a decent remake as in my opinion all the many attempts have been terrible.
I want to be clear. I don't think that Signs is the scariest film of all time. I think there are many films, even films on this list that are scarier. But this is by far my favorite of all time. I remember seeing it for the first time as a kid, watching it alone, in a dark room, with the lights off. The feeling of isolation that the film does in the third act, where the family is locked inside, and the aliens are mostly heard, felt, off screen. This film excels as making things off screen seem and feel eerie, that what isn't seen is more scary than what is seen. The sound track on this film is also just impeccable, leaving a spooky solitude. M Night Shyamalan is one of my favorite directors, I love his style and atmosphere, and this is my favorite film of his.