There's something about scaring the bejesus out of ourselves that the human race just can't get enough of.
While horror movies are nothing new – and stretch back even further than Universal's Classic Monsters – there's been a resurgence in the genre in recent years. As movies like Andy Muschietti’s It dominate the box office, it's clear the blood is still flowing.
Jumping out of your seats in the cinema is all well and good, but what about bringing the horror home for a more intimate night of popcorn and poltergeists?
From the cavernous halls of the Overlook Hotel to the murky waters of Camp Crystal Lake, a bad night's sleep on Elm Street to carving pumpkins in Haddonfield, here's where you can watch the best horror movies around.
Before sensory horrors were all the rage, Mike Flanagan was making a lot of "noise" with Hush. The Haunting of Hill House director cast Kate Seigel as Maddie Young, a budding writer looking for her next big break. The twist here is that Maddie is deaf, meaning she can't hear the man who's about to break into her home.
Flanagan makes clever use of sound, but with so many tense moments being plunged into absolute silence, Hush is a movie that allows the viewer's mind to do most of the scaring. This is one movie that’s sure to have you shouting "he's behind you" at the screen throughout.
It's no secret that the Halloween franchise was done to death by the time it reached Halloween: Resurrection in 2002. When news first broke that David Gordon Green planned on bringing back 'The Shape', fans were rightly sceptical about what 2018's Halloween would bring to the table. Thankfully, this record-breaking movie ignored the complicated lore that had bogged down its predecessors and picked up where John Carpenter left off in 1978.
Jamie Lee Curtis was back as Laurie Strode, who is brought out of self-imposed exile to take on Michael Myers when her own family is drawn into the game of cat and mouse. To say Halloween was a runaway success would be underselling it, and with two more entries in the trilogy on the way, Michael had better start sharpening his butcher's knife.
Adapting Stephen King stories is a hit-or-miss affair, but thankfully, In the Tall Grass falls into the hit category. Bringing King and Joe Hill's 2012 novella to life, the story follows a pregnant woman and her heroic brother who stop at the side of an abandoned church and are lured into a field to save a lost boy.
Things soon descend into madness in this supernatural thriller, which messes with timelines so much, you might need a pad and pen to figure out what's going on. Although there's a typically King-esque twist at the end, that doesn't make the journey getting there any less harrowing.
Horror-comedy might not be to everyone's taste, but with a splash of neon and a bouncing soundtrack, McG's The Babysitter ticks all the right boxes. Samara Weaving is cast as the titular babysitter (Bee), who helps the downtrodden Cole. Things get a little weird from there on out, but with a meta-commentary on modern horror, there's a clever Scream vibe about The Babysitter.
It's exactly what you'd expect from a movie directed by the man behind the '00s Charlie's Angels movies. With an all-star cast including Bella Thorne and Robbie Amell – as well as its glowing reviews when it premiered back in 2017 – it's no surprise the whole gang was brought back together for The Babysitter: Killer Queen.
Similar to Hush, Bird Box tried something new with horror. In a world where people are driven mad when they see a mysterious presence, survivors strap blindfolds to their eyes and hope to live another day. Sandra Bullock takes the lead as the hardened Mallory, who is tasked with protecting a young boy and girl she never wanted in her care.
As Bullock shares the screen with everyone from John Malkovich to Sarah Paulson and BD Wong, Netflix clearly threw a lot of money at this one. Bird Box broke records in 2018 and became a viral sensation with all those memes. Author Josh Malerman has already written a sequel book, so all eyes are on whether Bullock will be back.
Prepare for the stay of a lifetime at the Overlook Hotel with Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Jack Nicholson swings an axe at the competition in this haunting adaptation of Stephen King's 1977 novel.
The Torrance family ventures into the isolated Colorado Rockies to hunker down for the winter and become caretakers of the sprawling hotel during its off-season. Little Danny Torrance discovers he has the powers of "the Shining", but is this enough to save his mother and father from the sinister spirits who have soaked the Overlook with blood for decades?
Going way back to 1997, Vincenzo Natali's Cube has become an underrated cult classic in its own right. Long before Jigsaw was asking people to hack their own limbs off, Cube was putting strangers together in a deadly struggle to survive.
When five people wake up in a dystopian facility, they have to work together (or fall apart) to escape the deadly maze of moving rooms. Cube is the kind of movie that will get under your skin and stay there. While there's been a whole host of sequels, things go downhill after the original.
Proving not all horror movies have to be swathed in darkness, don't let the floral tones of Midsommar fool you. Ari Aster follows up from the madness of Hereditary with another movie that will leave you horrified and humbled in equal measure.
Florence Pugh's Dani journeys into the heart of Sweden to celebrate the summer solstice with her boyfriend. Despite Dani's hopes that some R&R will fix their troubled relationship, a deep dive into pagan rituals takes Midsommar on a twisted trip that deserves a new category of horror classification all to itself.
Just like kiddie zombies, there's something particularly chilling about child vampires – well, unless you count Twilight. Let Me In is a tale of love and fangs, as a bullied 12-year-old soon falls for a female vampire.
This Hollywood remake of 2009's Let the Right One In stars Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz as Owen and Abby. The actors brilliantly bounce off each other and bring a pulse to the young vampire movie. And Let the Right One In is available to rent, too, with the original just edging over Let Me In in terms of bure blood-curdling suspense.
Sky Cinema/NOW TV
Is there any movie Octavia Spencer doesn't excel in? When it comes to Ma, Spencer chews the rest of the cast up and spits them out for breakfast. Heading to a quiet Ohio town, a group of teens befriends a lonely middle-aged woman, who wants to impress them and converts her basement into the coolest clubhouse around.
Things go a little Misery when the kids try to cut Ma off and she tries to desperately cling onto her youth through the group of friends she never had growing up. Expect to flip between sympathising and hating Ma in equal measure, but either way, Spencer's bowl-haired villain is one for the ages.
The Losers Club is back in Derry as Andy Muschietti juggles a double cast of young actors and their adult counterparts. 27 years after Pennywise the Dancing Clown was seemingly banished, a series of horrifying events have lured the adult Losers back to their hometown to face-off against the evil entity once and for all.
The jump scares aren't quite on a par with Chapter One, but if you’ve tuned in for the first one, surely you need to find out how the story ends? Particular praise goes to Jessica Chastain's performance as Beverly Marsh and Bill Hader's brilliant portrayal of Richie 'Trashmouth' Tozier.
By now, horror hounds have surely heard of Dead Snow? Long before Overlord was combining Nazis and zombies, Dead Snow showed everyone how it's done. Effectively a teen slasher with Nazi zombies, the premise sounds like one of those fake trailers Robert Rodriguez ran before Grindhouse.
A Norwegian ski trip takes a sour turn as the group of teens is hunted down and picked off by the Third Reich. There are more ridiculous deaths and buckets of blood than you can shake a reanimated arm at, and if one movie wasn't enough, make sure you check out the sequel, Dead Snow: Red vs Dead.
Don't expect the fancy budgets of some of the other movies on this list, but Art the Clown has become an icon in his own right thanks to the Terrifier series. Even giving Pennywise a run for his money in terms of sheer creepy clowns, there's an essence of American Horror Story's Twisty the Clown with the black and white harlequin.
Art made his screen debut in the anthology film, All Hallow's Eve, but given his own outing in 2016's Terrifier shows what the character can really do. When it comes to Terrifier, it's the kind of movie that will have you laughing out loud at how ridiculous it is and then sleeping with the lights on after.
Shudder original The Room has the clever premise where a couple's every wish will be granted as soon as they step into a hidden room in their new house. With the pair having always wanted a child of their own, things take a sinister turn when little Shane turns out to be anything other than the bouncing bundle of joy they'd hoped for.
The Room is simple in its premise and barely leaves the confines of its crumbling home, making it an altogether more intimate horror. Either way, it will make fans question the age-old motto of be careful what you wish for.
While the COVID-19 pandemic ground the movie industry to a halt, that didn't stop Host being filmed in the space of just 12 weeks and becoming about as relevant as a movie can get. Filmed entirely over Zoom, some impressive SFX makes you forget you're basically watching one giant work meeting.
Proving that you don't need a Hollywood budget and A-list cast to make horror work, Host ticks all the boxes (and then some). The 57-minute romp was born from a two-word text of "Zoom séance" that one of the writers sent to the other at 4.34am. We'll save the rest of the plot for when you watch it, but one thing's for sure, get ready to jump.
Where to Watch...
Then there are the absolute stone-cold classics that we come back to again and again. But where to find them?
The Exorcist (The Version You've Never Seen, £3.49 iTunes)
'Tubular Bells' is ringing in the background and a young Linda Blair is cementing her right as a scream queen to rival the very best in The Exorcist. Easily one of the most parodied horror movies out there, The Exorcist was a phenomenon that had cinemagoers literally fainting in the aisles.
The movie homes in on Blair's Regan, who is possessed by a demonic entity. Enter Jason Miller's troubled Father Karras as he tries to banish Pazuzu. Even if we've all seen projectile vomiting and comments about your mother's bedroom habits before, there's no escaping the legacy of The Exorcist.
Scream (£1.99 Amazon)
"What's your favourite scary movie?" If the answer is anything other than Scream, you've probably come to the wrong place. Heading back to 1996, the OG of the franchise doesn't look like it's aged a day.
While we won't ruin the big twist here, Scream has one of the smartest stories you'll come across in horror. Given that it comes from the mind of Wes 'Elm Street' Craven, horror aficionados wouldn't expect anything less. Ahead of the long-awaited Scream 5, fans can return to where it all started and see a crop of sexed-up twentysomethings get sliced and diced by Ghostface.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (Shudder, free 7-day trial for new customers)
Freddy's coming for you in another Craven classic. Robert Englund is THE definitive Freddy Krueger, and even if it looks increasingly unlikely he'll be tempted back, check out his first time trying on the razor glove.
When the kids of Elm Street start dying in their sleep, it's up to Nancy Thompson to prove the existence of the burned Freddy Krueger as the adults around her think she's a paranoid teen who just needs forty winks. With imaginative deaths and Johnny Depp's first big acting role, there's so much to love in Nightmare on Elm Street. Just try not having nightmares after this one.
Halloween (1978) (Shudder, free 7-day trial for new customers)
'The Shape' is lumbering into view with Halloween and the birth of Michael Myers. Jamie Lee Curtis plays the virginal Laurie Strode with gusto and kick-starts so many horror tropes that are still used in Hollywood today. It is any wonder the franchise is still going strong 42 years later?
The stoic Michael Myers spends most of the movie lurking in the shadows and ominously breathing. The kills are novel, the dialogue is quick, and Myers is genuinely frightening as the silent stalker. Even though Carpenter only directed the original, his role has spanned the entirety of the franchise.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Shudder, free 7-day trial for new customers)
Leatherface is revving his signature weapon for Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Although the movie originally claimed it was based on real events, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was only loosely inspired by the crimes of Ed Gein.
When a group finds itself stuck in the backwater of deepest Texas, a cannibalistic family soon puts the doomed victims in its sights. The look of Leatherface has changed a lot over the years, but in the original, he had one of his most frightening faces and made his first steps to becoming a horror giant.
The Wicker Man (The Final Cut, £3.49 Amazon)
The artwork alone makes The Wicker Man instantly recognisable, and if you want to revisit the 1973 classic, it's pretty easy. No, not the meme-worthy Nicolas Cage version, but Robin Hardy's original.
Once described as "the Citizen Kane of horror movies", The Wicker Man follows Police Sergeant Neil Howie as he searches for a missing girl on the island of Summerisle. Christopher Lee has a typically unnerving turn as Lord Summerisle, and there's an ending that will leave jaws on the floor. The likes of Midsommar have a lot to thank The Wicker Man for.
Friday the 13th (£3.49 Amazon)
Although Halloween takes the crown for being the one that started it all, it was a trip to Camp Crystal Lake that really brought slashers to the mainstream with Friday the 13th.
Jason Voorhees didn't don his iconic mask until the third movie, but that doesn't stop Sean S. Cunningham's 1980 original being a legend in its own right. It's hard to see how a budget of just $550,000 led to a movie that grossed nearly $60 million worldwide, but is anyone really complaining?
The Blair Witch Project (Shudder, free 7-day trial for new customers)
Shot on a shoestring budget, The Blair Witch Project represents the birth of the found-footage horror. The story follows three student filmmakers as they hike into the Maryland woods to expose the local legend of the Blair Witch. The movie was so realistic, many thought it was an actual documentary and demanded to know what happened to the people involved.
There was a lacklustre sequel in 2000, but thankfully, it didn't tarnish our love for the 1999 showstopper. These days, The Blair Witch Project is held as a defining piece of cinema. Also, who'd have thought the secret marketing of The Woods would actually turn into 2016's Blair Witch?
Another John Carpenter classic is The Thing. The 1982 movie is itself a pseudo remake of 1951's The Things From Another World. A research team is tossed into the Arctic and has to face a shape-shifting alien that could be any one of them.
Even though The Thing was a box office disappointment, it's secured a loyal following over the years and gained plenty of praise for its creature effects. A remake is on the way, but only time will tell if it's going to have the same success of Halloween or be just another Pet Sematary.
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