The horror genre has always been a wonder, but it gained enduring popularity around 2020. Moreover, it provides one of the best coping mechanisms for dealing with real-life anxiety.

Horror movies are like a two-way street. They reflect all universal societal fears related to technology, lack of privacy, terrorism, mental illness, and more. But they grant something in return – the possibility of examining fear of the unknown, enabling a sense of control over the situation, and reducing stress levels associated with real life. They are also one of the few ways to express anxiety by screaming and feeling scared. Overall, horror productions help us feel more prepared for what may happen.

But there is one rule – all these facts apply to people who enjoy watching horror movies. So let’s assume you’re here for that reason, looking for a wildly scary title for this spooky season. On this list, you will discover all the best movies to watch!

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The Golden Classics

  • “Psycho” (1960) by Alfred Hitchcock

When Marion Crane steals cash from her workplace, she knows it’s time to run. The woman finds shelter in a roadside motel, where she dies in mysterious circumstances. Her boyfriend, sister, and detective Arbogastem follow her to learn what happened and discover a well-kept secret that was never supposed to see the light of day.

The Birds and Psycho are two of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films. Both are considered uncontested cinema masterpieces that influenced the entire genre and showed in which direction it should go.

Before Psycho, horror was merely entertainment for younger audiences until Hitchcock proved such a film could present an artistic hybrid of horror and psychological thriller.

  • “The Shining” (1980) by Stanley Kubrick

When a recovering alcoholic gets a job as a winter guard at a hotel, his entire family moves to the place, hoping for a needed break from ordinary life. But the idyll changes into unspeakable tragedy as the isolation and location’s sinister atmosphere affect his mind.

Jack discovers his violent side. His son sees things that shouldn’t exist, and his wife fights for her life when everything falls apart.

Based on Stephen King’s book, The Shining was not to the liking of its primary author due to many changes and Jack Nicholson in the leading role. That didn’t stop the movie from becoming an absolute classic and a massive success. It was the first horror film to explore disturbing topics like the definition of evil, its source, and the relationship between isolation and madness.

The Shining features many technical flaws, but the omnipresent light, the leading character’s unpredictability, the dualism of human nature, the disturbing soundtrack, and the feeling of trapping isolation overwhelm and delight at the same time.

Supernatural and Haunting

  • “The Exorcist” (1973) by William Friedkin

Twelve-year-old Regan and her mother, Chris, enjoy a peaceful life until the girl starts behaving strangely. According to doctors, she is completely healthy, but terrifying events provoke the woman to summon two priests.

It turns out that Regan is possessed, and that is only the modest beginning of a terrible story about the fierce fight between good and ever-spreading evil.

Despite 50 years of popularity, The Exorcist still scares, revolts, and provokes frightening thoughts. Everything in this movie looks realistic – the scenery, sounds, acting, and special effects. This impression makes the viewers believe they are genuinely participating in the fight between good and evil – and it is not a pleasant feeling.

The movie induces anxiety, tension, and thoughts about the source of all evil occupying the body of an innocent girl. And this particular entity is more powerful than anything you have ever seen.

  • “Poltergeist” (1982) by Tobe Hooper

The Freelings have always been a standard family and welcome neighbors in the suburbs, but their uncomplicated lives quickly turned into a danse macabre of strange events.

When 5-year-old Carol Anne disappeared in the TV, and a bloodthirsty tree tried to devour young Robbie, terrified parents turned to paranormal experts for help. Little did they know that the situation was more hopeless than it initially seemed.

Poltergeist clashes two completely different worlds of quiet suburbs and forgotten frights. Sure, these special effects look uncomplicated compared to our times, but many scenes defined pop culture and became a role model for what the gradual tension building should look like.

This film plays with striking contrasts, like idyllic shots with blood-curdling events, perfectly reflecting the fears of suburban families.

Slashers and Killers

  • “Halloween” (1978) by John Carpenter

It is 1963, and young Michael Myers brutally kills his older sister. Years later, the man escapes a mental hospital and returns to his hometown, Haddonfield. At this point, we meet Laurie Strode – a kind young girl getting ready for Halloween evening with her friends.

But something is watching her, and no one knows this night may be their last.

Halloween created a slasher sub-genre, skillfully combining omnipresent anxiety with scenes of brutal violence. Mike Myers became a horror legend – no one knows whether this man existed. As John Carpenter said: ‘Myers is not really a man – he’s a force of evil.

He’s just a force of nature, he has no character. He’s pure evil. And you cannot kill him – really.’ And that’s reason enough to see this movie and wonder what’s observing us from behind the window!

  • “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) by Wes Craven

During an ordinary party night, the teenage hostess dies in mysterious circumstances. The only suspect is her boyfriend, Rod, who soon commits suicide. The last two teenagers learn this is all the work of a mysterious figure in a hat they only see in their dreams.

Worse yet, their parents know more about this sinister secret.

Freddy Krueger is a genuine horror gem, turning dreams into living and killing nightmares. Following the action, the audience feels powerless because, unlike other film antagonists, this one does whatever he desires.

Accompanied by brilliant music, the tormenting atmosphere of suspense, and a perfectly crafted script, A Nightmare on Elm Street is ideal for any Halloween night.

Psychological Horror

  • “The Babadook” (2014) by Jennifer Kent

All the kids see monsters, but in Babadook, the one haunted by the monster is the kid’s mother. The widowed Amelia cannot cope with her husband’s death, simultaneously looking after her only son blessed with a unique imagination.

One day, the two find a mysterious book about some spooky monster that begins to haunt their thoughts.

The Babadook deals with the complex topics of loneliness, mental illness, and the fight against internal fears. It doesn’t explain anything directly, instead using various exaggerated metaphors.

The viewer has no idea who the real monster is – the mother, the son, the creepy creature, or other people. We don’t know the answers to any of these questions, and that’s why this story is so spooky.

  • “Get Out” (2017) by Jordan Peele

Chris Washington travels with his girlfriend to her parents’ mansion. The man observes the atmosphere in the house is rather strange and suspects it may be due to his dark skin color. The truth, however, turns out far from what he could ever imagine.

Get Out delivers a fantastic story about paranoia, anxiety, and psychological tension. Jordan Peele brilliantly juggles dangerous situations and humorous moments to design an unpredictable thriller that refreshes the entire genre.

Until the finale, viewers don’t even have a chance to predict what will happen. And that makes it a perfect recommendation for anyone wanting something new.

Modern Innovations

  • “A Quiet Place” (2018) by John Krasinski

It is a story about a family living on a hidden farm. In a world overrun by sound-sensitive monsters, people learned to live in complete silence to survive. But when Abbott’s new baby is born, the proven strategy begins to crack.

While most horror productions focus on delivering creepy sounds and terrifying screams, A Quiet Place does the opposite. The characters remain silent or speak very little. The calm soundtrack perfectly emphasizes the anticipation of a potential threat.

This movie oozes complete silence, so any louder sound works like jumpscare, making us pray for the characters’ well-being.

  • “Hereditary” (2018) by Ari Aster

When Grandma Ellen ultimately dies, the entire Graham family seems relieved. Everyone returns to their usual activities, but the atmosphere appears rather tense. That is the first harbinger of things to come, transforming the lives of people who think they are safe.

Hereditary is a spooky horror film focusing on family trauma and grief. But these features prefer to stay secret, only sometimes letting people know what it’s all about. This story exists to make you feel awkward, inappropriate, and hopeless, especially since there are innocent kids involved.

Every decision feels wrong, and until the end, you can’t do anything about it.


Horror movies on this list seem scary by accident. In each, something completely different plays the leading role, whether it is loneliness, mental illness, pathological family ties, or deeply suppressed fears.

All these stories seem to ask more about the mystery of human nature than what awaits in the shadows. This observation can lead to some rather disturbing conclusions regarding the secrets of our minds.

If monsters don’t exist, who is the source of all evil? And isn’t the horror genre just a reflection of something we would be capable of in different circumstances? These are just two simple questions, but scary film enthusiasts probably have more. If you are a fan of horror movies, share your thoughts and observations!