Thrill, gory scenes and breathless suspense: rare are the cinematographic genres as prolific as horror. Every year, new films are added to the great list of horror features that haunt us.
However, some works have stood the test of time by their quality, their originality, their plot… and have become cult films. This article brings you 30 of the best horror and spooky movies based on their reputation and critical reception.
Young American tourists roam Europe in search of sexual adventures. Their journey takes them to a friendly hostel in Slovakia where, according to rumours, all sexual fantasies can be fulfilled. In search of the rawest pleasure, young people will discover that the most lustful women are waiting for them in old Bratislava and are ready to do anything to satisfy their desires. However, all entertainment has its price, and in this sinister establishment with many secrets the price list is written in the blood of its customers.
After a trip to Indonesia, a group of friends on their way to Jakarta airport accidentally encounter a woman who is the victim of an assault whom they feel compelled to take home. The young woman therefore leads them to her home; a country house located in the middle of the forest. Travelers meet her charming family there, very happy to find her safe and sound. The hosts insist that the guests stay for the night and offer them a meal full of surprises. The dark turn of events far exceeds travelers’ expectations.
Mister Babadook (2014) Rotten Tomatoes Score 98%
A few years ago, Amelia (Essie Davis) lost her husband but was able to give birth to a son named Samuel. Now 7 years old, the little boy thinks he sees monsters everywhere. One day, before going to bed, the young boy asks his mother to read him a book that tells the story of a terrible monster. The young widow will then discover with horror that her son is telling the truth about a monster that has entered their home through the pages of a children’s book.
Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)
In a long unoccupied house reigns a terrible curse. Indeed, several years earlier, a man killed his wife there but spared his six-year-old son, Toshio, whose fate remained unknown. This is how, when dying, the young woman cursed the killer as well as the place that witnessed his death. Time passes but the furious ghost brings death to all who dared approach his domain.
This cult Japanese horror film is directed by Takashi Shimizu. It is the first installment of a flagship franchise of the 2000s.
We are in 1971 in a city in France. After months of captivity, a young girl is found in mysterious conditions by the side of a road. She arrives at an orphanage, tries to recover from her trauma while befriending another girl. A few years later, the two still traumatized girls burst into a country house occupied by a middle-aged couple living with two teenagers. They have a score to settle.
Blair Witch Project (1999)
In October 1994, 3 film students embark for a small town in Maryland where the forest of Blair Witch is located. Their project is to make a documentary about a legendary local witch who tortured and killed everyone who wandered in this forest. But the project takes a scary turn when the students get lost in the woods and start hearing horrible noises. An invisible evil still seems to haunt the place. They then disappear without a trace. A year later, the recordings of their journey are found with appalling discoveries.
2 Sisters (2003)
After a long stay in a psychiatric hospital, two sisters return home and notice strange changes. The widowed father has remarried and the younger sisters are beginning to harbor resentment towards his new wife. In the house there remains a tense atmosphere and their mother-in-law is constantly nervous. Soon, as strange situations arise, the sisters begin to suspect a sinister presence in the house.
High Voltage (2003)
Directed by Alexandre Aja, this film is undoubtedly one of the best horror films in the history of French cinema. It tells the misadventure of two student friends (Cécile de France, Maïwenn) who go to the countryside and find themselves confronted with a bloodthirsty killer (Philippe Nahon). Indeed, the revision night they had planned will turn into a prolonged nightmare. A ruthless killer breaks into the isolated farmhouse that houses them and murders all of the sleeping family members. In trying to flee, they cross paths with a man of implacable violence.
Suicide Club (2001)
After a wave of suicides that saw 54 schoolgirls rush under a subway train, the whole city of Tokyo is shaken by turmoil and fear. Detectives Kuroda, Shibusawa and Murata who lead the investigation find a decisive clue. They discover a kind of premonitory website that displays images of people before they commit suicide in reality. Their investigation will also lead them on the trail of a popular pop band, a goofy songwriter, heavy metal minions and clues in the shape of human skin.
The Descent (2005)
A year after the accident that killed her husband and daughter, a young woman is still struggling to recover from the tragedy. To clear her mind, she travels to North Carolina where she explores caves with a group of friends. The group soon finds itself trapped in a hostile environment, without food or supplies. They must then fight to survive and get rid of strange bloodthirsty creatures.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Five hippie friends go to Texas to inquire about the state of their grandfather’s grave which would be ransacked. They come to a sinister farm. The house is adorned with ghastly objects made from human skin and animal bones. Soon, they find themselves struggling with a family of degenerate cannibals.
Released in 1974, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre translates in its own way the fear of the American middle class of rednecks; the famous HillBillies. This bloody franchise launched by Tobe Hooper and built around the maniac Leatherface has had several sequels with varying degrees of success.
After the death of her mother, a series of strange events disrupt the normally calm life of Annie (Toni Collette). She must first deal with another far more painful loss, the guilt of a son she struggles to relate to, and an increasingly sinister atmosphere at home. Added to this, strange figures appear in his life due to a connection with his late mother. Everything suggests that the latter died with dark secrets about the family genealogy.
Breaking a ban, two young women view a videotape that predicts a curse to anyone who watches its contents. They are soon overtaken by the macabre consequences that have been predicted by the rumor. After these events, a young journalist and her ex-husband decide in turn to investigate the content of the famous tape.
Faithful to the recurring darkness of Japanese cinema, the film was a critical and public success. It spearheaded a new wave of Japanese horror films from the 2000s.
The Servant (1960)
Piano composer Dong-sik (Kim Jin-kyu) and his pregnant wife (Jeung-nyeo Ju) move into a new house. The latter has trouble coping with her domestic chores and has to hire a housekeeper. The new servant soon becomes intimate with Dong-sik to the point of developing a passionate love for the man. In the aftermath, the mistress of the house suffers a miscarriage in a house that has become a physical and psychological battlefield. The housewife is now angry with the whole family whom she has sworn to eliminate by all means.
Tracked (It Follows) – (2014)
After a young girl, Jay (Maika Monroe) has sex for the first time with her new boyfriend, Hugh, she begins to suffer from strange visions. Later, the 19-year-old girl learns that she is struck by a curse that affects anyone who has had sexual experiences with Hugh. Thereafter, she feels a heavy and permanent feeling that someone or something is constantly following her. Faced with this haunting and the strange visions it brings, Jay and his friends are forced to escape this seemingly inextricable horror.
This film tells the story of a brilliant vegetarian forced to undergo a hazing at veterinary school during which she eats raw meat. At first reluctant, the young 16-year-old girl manages to pass the test. Afterwards, she realizes that she is now unable to fight the constant urge to eat it again and again.
The Franco-Belgian horror film has everything of a contemporary masterpiece. He explores the unpredictable and sometimes surprising nature of human appetite with great subtlety and without an avalanche of gory scenes.
When two strangers wake up in a chained basement, they barely remember how they got there. But the lying corpse of a man shot in the head near them does not bode well. A voice emanating from an audio recorder then tells them what is at stake: kill his comrade in misfortune or let himself die.
This feature film also inaugurates a saga of horror films with finely developed plots. They are built around the main ‘bad guy’, Jigsaw, who has the art of torturing his victims with complex and ingenious traps.
The Claws of the Night (1984)
This cult film by Wes Craven is the first installment of one of the most famous horror franchises in the United States. Four teenagers from the suburbs of Springwood live the same nightmare in which a man with a burned face and hands with long steel claws tries to kill them. After the death of a high school student, young Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) sets out to investigate the strange phenomenon with her best friend Glen (Johnny Depp). While resisting the monster by depriving themselves of sleep, the young people follow in the footsteps of a dark secret.
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
This second film in the Evil Dead franchise stands out from the series for the realism of its many horror scenes and its touch of humor. Its critical reception is enough to prove that it is of better quality than the inaugural film.
In this memorable sequel, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) must return home to the woods. His girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) is possessed by evil spirits after listening to passages from the ‘Book of the Dead’. Ash alone is forced to fight evil again in a remote cabin in the woods.
During his childhood, a psychopathic killer named Michael Myers kills his own 17-year-old sister on Halloween night. 15 years later, the man escaped from the mental asylum in Smith Grove to terrorize his hometown of Haddonfield again on Halloween.
This film is the first part of a saga with a remarkable longevity. It is created by John Carpenter who knew how to find the recipe to terrorize an audience for decades: a killer under a dismal mask, a paralyzed city and scenes of constant suspense.
A series of bloody murders disturb the usual lull in the suburb of Woodsboro. The compulsive killer who harasses on the phone is a psychopath. He taunts and stalks his victims armed with a long knife. The stranger also seems to be a fan of horror movies who kills his victims just for fun.
This cult saga by Wes Craven explores the world of horror film itself. It has become a self-critic full of references to this genre and builds much of its suspense on the vagueness surrounding the identity of the killer.
The Wailing (2016)
This South Korean horror film directed by Na Hong-jin follows a police officer investigating a series of mysterious murders and illnesses in a Korean village. In this remote forest corner of Gokseong, terrible things are happening. The villagers suddenly cover themselves with ulcers, convulse and violently kill their families. Rumor has it either poisonous mushrooms or a stranger visiting the village. Local policeman Chong-gu will have to put his flair to work to unravel the mystery.
The Exorcist (1973)
A famous actress is distraught when her underage daughter Regan (Linda Blair) starts behaving inappropriately. The mother thinks she is traumatized because often lonely, doctors suspect a mental illness without establishing a clear diagnosis. A specially invited priest suspects the girl of being possessed by the devil.
A classic of horror movie classics, this masterpiece suffers no wear and tear. William Friedkin, its brilliant director, manages to seize an abstract theme to produce a gory work with memorable scenes, gradual intensity and absolutely terrifying characters. Special mention goes to the spectacularly realistic makeup. All in all, it is without a doubt one of the scariest movies ever made.
Get Out (2017)
Chris, a young black photographer from New York (Daniel Kaluuya) is invited by his girlfriend (Allison Williams) to meet his future in-laws in a remote country house. Once faced with this white elite family, the young man is intimidated by the very accommodating reception of the parents. He is even almost nervous about it. But over the weekend, a series of discoveries and intriguing situations will lead him to an unimaginable outcome.
Last Train to Busan (2016)
Addicted to his job, fund manager Seok-Woo (Yoo Gong) doesn’t have time to visit his family who live in Busan. However, he agrees to drive his daughter Su-An to her mother’s on the little girl’s birthday. They board a train when the city is contaminated by a virus that transforms the population into cannibalistic zombies.
This is one of the best zombie films that brushes against a few stereotypes of this genre without its success depending on it. Director Sang-Ho Yeon was able to portray unsympathetic and sympathetic characters that make the story gripping.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Against the advice of their old friend Hutch, Guy Woodhouse and his pregnant young wife Romary move into a quiet but dilapidated New York building. Very quickly, the obsessive attention of the neighbors begins to annoy the young couple who, moreover, are confronted with strange events. The feature film immerses you in an atmosphere of anguish with a remarkably ambiguous outcome.
This film is one of Roman Polanski’s greatest hits. It is a work that has succeeded in cementing its reputation as one of the contemporary directors who successfully explore the universe of nightmare, paranoia and delirium.
The Thing (1982)
In the winter of 1982, a research station and its crew of twelve men installed in Antarctica discovered an extraterrestrial buried in the snow for more than 100,000 years. They decide to defrost the creature, which finally gives signs of life after its multi-millennial hibernation in the ice. But the ‘thing’ is anything but friendly. Cut off from the world, polar explorers must now battle this multifaceted and elusive alien creature.
The Shining (1980)
Winter vacation time, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) plays caretaker at the remote Overlook Hotel in Colorado. The writer takes the opportunity to try to cure his white page syndrome. He travels with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd) who suffers from mental disorders. Over time, Jack begins to behave strangely. Plus, it turns out they’re not alone at the hotel. But with winter and snow blocking the road and preventing all travel, will they be able to escape this haunted place? Is there anyone around who can help them?
Alien, the Eighth Passenger (1979)
The Nostromo commercial craft orbiting in space makes its journey back to earth but intercepts an unidentified signal emanating from an unknown planet. In accordance with the instructions they have received, the passengers of the ship set off on the trail of the signal which seems to be a call for help. They find themselves on a planet populated by giant cocoons. A crew member is attacked in the face by an alien. As the dangers seem to become clearer, a fight for survival is engaged against an invisible, multifaceted and deadly enemy.
Unhappy with her affair with a divorced man, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) steals a large sum of money and goes on the run. It follows secondary roads and leads to the Bates Motel. This small, secluded establishment is run by the polite and high-strung Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). The man suffers from the oppression of his beloved but intrusive mother.
This Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece is a founding film of the genre. It is notable for its memorable characters and unique twist-ending.