8 Terrifying Non-Horror Movies

Joal Ryan
Movie Talk
Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed in "Thirteen"
Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed in "Thirteen"

Not every scary movie is "Rosemary's Baby." Some aren't supposed to be scary.

Here's our rundown of non-horror films — dramas, documentaries, the occasional children's tale — that can give you the creeps as good as any Halloween classic:

1. "Thirteen" (2003)

What It's Supposed to Be: An unflinching portrait of an out-of-control girl (Evan Rachel Wood) and her wrung-out mother (Holly Hunter).

What It Is: A 100-minute case against having kids, or at least aerosol-huffing teenagers. It's that distressing.

2. "United 93" (2006)

What It's Supposed to Be: A dramatized, but decidedly non-Hollywood look at 9/11 from the perspective of air-traffic officials and the passengers of one of the doomed flights.

What It Is: A white-knuckle ride that is no ride — it's real, and you know it. The worst kind of horror, as audiences of "Schindler's List" or the current "12 Years a Slave" could attest.


3. "Kids" (1995)

What It's Supposed to Be: A fly-on-the-wall look at one day in the sex- and drug-filled lives of New York City teenagers (two of whom are played by Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson, in their screen debuts).

What It Is: It's no "Porky's," that's for sure. The main subject of "Kids," critic Roger Ebert wrote of the chilling Larry Clark film, "is the kind of kid who gives parents nightmares."

4. "Boys Don't Cry" (1999)

What It's Supposed to Be: A biopic about Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank), the transgender Nebraska man who was raped, and later killed after it was learned that he was biologically female.

What It Is: A thing of dread as you wait, as you do in a traditional horror movie, for very, very, very bad things to happen.

5. "Grizzly Man" (2005)

What It's Supposed to Be: A documentary about Timothy Treadwell, a nature buff who lived among the grizzly bears in Alaska.

What It Is: A "Friday the 13th" sequel with Treadwell as the teen who should know better than to go to that deserted cabin in the woods. (Non-spoiler alert: Treadwell and girlfriend Amie Huguenard were mauled to death in 2003 by one of the wild animals Treadwell had "befriended.")

6. "All About Eve" (1950)

What It's Supposed to Be: A witty, behind-the-curtains take on Broadway, pitting an "older" actress (Bette Davis, all of 42 at the time of the film's release) against an ambitious up-and-comer (Anne Baxter).

What It Is: Oh, it's witty, all right. It's also the most sophisticated vampire movie ever made. Recoil as Baxter, who sucks the life out of Davis, finds her own bad self in peril from a bloodsucker (Barbara Bates).

Willy Wonka
Willy Wonka

7. "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" (1971)

What It's Supposed to Be: Per the wholly deceptive movie poster, a "pro-confectionary factory of fun."

What It Is: A funhouse of terror. Which scene still gives you nightmares? Violet Beauregarde (Denise Nickerson) blowing up like a blueberry? Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner) getting sucked into a chocolate vat? The freaky boat trip? Oompa-Loompas. The Johnny Depp-led "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" may not be everybody's idea of bedtime story, but the Gene Wilder version is the ultimate in kid-(un)friendly horror.

8. "Super Size Me" (2004)

What It's Supposed to Be: An entertaining, often-funny, educational documentary about what happens when a man (filmmaker Morgan Spurlock) subsists on the McDonald's menu for 30 days.

What It Is: A monster movie where the monster is fat and greasy and, worst of all, attacking our hero from within. Blech.