What Horror Movie Should You Watch Tonight?

I am a self-confessed horror film junkie. I've seen hundreds of horror films; the good, the bad, the ugly, and rewatched my favourites so many times that I don't think I could ever face them again. Naturally, this means October is my month. It's the time of creative costumes, bucket-loads of candy and constant reruns of classic 90s slasher movies on late night TV.

There's a wealth of horror movies out there. Some of them are artistic, genius and just downright good filmmaking. Others are merely entertaining. And the rest are embarrassingly terrible; sometimes in an inadvertently amusing way - Night of the Lupus or The Evil Dead, anyone? Horror movies are hard to write, hard to act and hard to direct. It makes trying to choose one a bit of a minefield. That's where this post comes in...

I'm going to break down my love of Horror Movies and brief you on some serious recommendations. But if you're short on time, I've curated a list of my to 50 Horror movies and painstakingly incorporated them into a fun, short but super precise Quiz you can take at the end! Your outcome will be completely based on your personal preferences and whatever mood you're in, so let me know what you get! My result was 'The House of the Devil'. Released in 2009, 'The House of the Devil' is a grand ode to the 1980s; a Golden Age for the horror genre, and an era when America was at the height of hysteria over non-existent satanic cults.


The first Horror movie I ever saw was 'Jeepers Creepers 2'. I know, it's a really disappointing start to a life-long hobby. We watched it at a sleepover with one of the new girls at our local primary school. The second film we watched that night was 'Valentine'. 'Jeepers Creepers 2' was unintentionally funny, but 'Valentine' was, whilst equally terrible, an unintentional exploration into the fears of male feelings of entitlement over women's bodies. And, boy, did that scare the fuck out of me. 

It was slightly uphill after that; Sometimes at other sleepovers, we would sneak downstairs to watch films like 'Vacancy'. The first horror film I was allowed to watch at home was 'The Blair Witch Project'; and I spent the rest of the night cowering in bed, listening whilst the cats down our street made strange noises all night. The first horror film I saw at the cinema was 'Paranormal Activity', which I still insist is way better than it's given credit for. A few years later, a group of friends and I were sneaking into the cinema to watch 'Insidious', the only horror film that has made me scream out loud, but the best time of the year was always the end of August, when Film4 ran a late night FrightFest season to promote its annual horror film festival. That was when I first saw the 2006 remake of 'The Hills Have Eyes'; the only horror movie that has ever made me cry. It was a few years after that until I could watch the whole thing through. I've watched countless more since then, and If I was to list my 10 all-time favourite horror movies so far, it would look something like this;

1. IT FOLLOWS (2014)

It Follows is one of the most innovative American Horror movies in years. It is poignantly subtle, original and clever. So much so, it just seems to get more intricate and exciting every time you rewatch it, and notice something new. You really have to pay attention. With a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score, this is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. As one reviewer said: "It's a brilliant concept, tapping the same primitive fears -- body horror, burgeoning sexuality -- that underpinned the slasher genre, while reining in the wanton misogyny."

2. EVIL DEAD (2013)

Scandalous, I know, to include a remake on a list of the best horror movies. But, in my defense, even Sam Raimi hated the first Evil Dead film. The cult classics were at first unintentionally funny, before learning to laugh at themselves a little more, but this film carries on its own without the satirical undertone. If you love a good all-out 80s gorefest, this one is for you. As one critic said: "This blood-soaked remake improves on its cheeky source material, paying homage whilst establishing its own identity for younger horror fans".

3. INSIDIOUS (2010)

Supernatural films are always controversial, and there are a lot of people who don't like this film, but I'm a sucker for the kinds of films packed with ghostly jump scares. This is one of the first horror films I saw that felt cinematic and had people genuinely screaming out loud during the screening. The acting is solid, and the soundtrack is almost perfect. With names like James Wan and Oren Peli attached to it, it's no wonder this film is so good. I've watched it so many times, I don't think I'll ever be able to so much as look at it again, but if you're one of the few people who has never seen it before, it's a pretty safe choice.


Ti West is another one of my favourite horror movie directors, and this is one of his best works. It's another high-scorer on Rotten Tomatoes, bringing in a solid rating of 86%. It's a cinematic ode to the 1980s, completely nostalgic, familiar and subtle whilst managing to remain completely sinister. It builds atmosphere and tension without relying on shocks, or gore. One particular critic says "The House of the Devil isn't just a movie; it's an experience. It joins the league of Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen as one of the most diabolical entries in the modern horror library".

5. YOU'RE NEXT (2011)

You'll find horror fans singing the praises of this film across the internet, and for good reason.  Rated 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, don't be fooled by its package as the average home invasion movie; it's enduringly original. It is energetic, gory and full of black humour that'll appeal to anyone with a love for horror movies. One critic writes; "You're Next might be one of the most audience-gratifying horror films I've seen in quite a long time, rewarding the viewers as much as it likes to screw with them".


It wouldn't be a list of the all-time best horror movies without at least one 70s classic. This legendary low-budget exploitation movie is one of the only 'oldies' that genuinely scares me. That closing scene is hauntingly sinister, and few things make me grit my teeth harder than the sound of a chainsaw. This is where so much of the slasher-genre we are so familiar with today was born, but 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is still one of the best. It is completely brutal, crude and immoral, but that's what makes it so - well - horrifying. Don't bother with the remake. As one critic put it: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre loses none of its intensity as the years go by".  It is currently rated at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

7. CARRIE (1976)

Another 70s classic, 'Carrie' also fulfills another requirement for every horror movie list; Stephen King. I'll admit, I've never been convinced by 'The Shining', but this adaption of King's debut novel is as atmospherically creepy as it gets. Aside from being a good horror movie, 'Carrie' is also a great piece of cinema, and it is completely iconic. As one critic said, Carrie is "an exercise in high style that even the most unredeemable rational of moviegoers should find enormously enjoyable". 'Carrie' is currently rated at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, so it's another solid crowd pleaser.

8. THE WITCH (2015)

Another film that relies on atmosphere over jump scares, 'The Witch' is one of the most underrated films in recent years. With a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes, it is, again, not just a good horror film, but a great piece of thought-provoking cinema. Not bad for a debut, it also avoids the campiness of most stories dealing with colonial paranoia over witchcraft. A critic at the Daily Telegraph wrote; "One of the scariest horror movies in years - and not the creep-up-and-prod-you kind of scary either, but a profound, unsettling dread that gnaws at your bones, and which comes back to find you in the dark".

9. THE BABADOOK (2014)

The Babadook marked a real change in modern expectations about how horror movies should be made. It's not scary, but it is heartfelt and incredibly well-done. It might be pretty low on my list of favourites, but with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98%, there's no denying that this is undoubtedly a good film. The focus is not so much on the horror, but on the relationship between a mother and her son. A film as much about the struggles of parenthood, it turns grief into a monster and makes you genuinely wonder what is real, what is imagined, and whether it could happen to you.

10. SCREAM (1996)

If I had to name my all-time favourite horror movie, it would probably be this one; if not at least on a par with 'It Follows'. Wes Craven is a horror icon, but 'Scream' is his most enduring, original and clever film to date. It's a great piece of satire, and immersive to the point you almost forget you're watching something completely parodic. 'Scream' deconstructed and redefined the horror genre, and every one of its sequels is a demonstration on how to follow through. The characters are clever, the dialogue great, and 'Scream 4' seems to prove that we'll never tire of watching Sidney Prescott on screen. If you liked the recent TV series, it has nothing on the original.


There are others that stick out in my mind. If you want a truly horrifying experience, I mentioned 'the Hills Have Eyes' remake above, but few films have made me feel as queasy as 'Cannibal Holocaust'; the 1980 cult classic which was so realistic, the director was taken to court under suspicion of actually killing his actors. My dad once told me the only film that ever scared him was 'Wolf Creek' and the French horror movie 'Ils' (Them) was so well-constructed, I didn't even care that I couldn't get the subtitles to work. 'The Visit' is a return to form for M Night Shyamalan, 'V/H/S' proved that found-footage movies didn't have to be cheap, whilst 'Absentia' and 'The Taking of Deborah Logan' were both pleasantly surprising. The other week I watched two of 2016's most hyped horror movies; 'Hush' and 'Don't Breathe'. They were both incredibly enjoyable; 'Hush' was gratifying and original, if not a little bit forgettable, but 'Don't Breathe' was cruel and brutal in a way that still sticks in my mind.

If you're in more of a binge-watching mood, there's some great horrifying television shows out there, too. 'The Twilight Zone' is still as clever as it was when it debuted, and completely addictive. It's on Netflix, so go search for a list of it's best episodes and get on it. I wholly recommend 'The Hitch-Hiker', 'Nightmare at 20,000 feet' and 'Time Enough At Last' as a primer. 'Twin Peaks' is another cult classic, and a must-watch for anyone who loved 'Stranger Things'. If you're looking for something a little more light-hearted, Season One of 'Scream Queens' was incredibly fun. For me, though, nothing beats American Horror Story. If you haven't seen it already, it is genuinely great. Since it's an anthology series, you're not tied to a particular chronology, and if I was to order the seasons in terms of quality, it would look something like; Murder House (Season One), Roanoke (Season Six), Coven (Season Three), Asylum (Season Two),  Freakshow (Season Four) and - in last place - Hotel (Season Five).

American Horror Story also created two of the most terrifying villains in horror movie cinema. Although I rated the season pretty low down, Twisty from season four of AHS took the collective fear of clowns to a level that out-creeps Stephen King's 'It'.  The most recent season, number six, introduced us to 'The Butcher'. I won't say much, for fear of spoilers, but Kathy Bates is the matron of horror movie villains for a reason. Leatherface is another villain that never fails to freak me out. The image of him running erratically down the road, wielding a chainsaw, still gives me the shivers. And, whilst I fancy my chances against most scary movies, the thought of facing the demons from 'Evil Dead' makes me want to hide under the covers all night.

But horror movies aren't all about the scary villains. The most beloved characters are always the 'Scream Queens' and the 'Final Girl'.  They're by far my favourite horror movie trope. Some of my favourite so-called 'Scream Queens' are; Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens, Halloween, The Fog), Jane Levy (Evil Dead, Don't Breathe) and Sarah Michelle Gellar (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream II, The Grudge, Buffy The Vampire Slayer). There's no question that my all-time favourite 'Final Girl' is Sidney Prescott (Scream), but I also loved Nancy Thompson (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Maddie (Hush), Laure Strode (Halloween), Max Cartwright (The Final Girls), Sarah Carter (The Descent), and Erin Harson (You're Next).

And to finish off the recommendations, there are also some really solid directors out there, who rarely disappoint. Personally, my favourite icons from behind the screen are Wes Craven and James Wan. Dario Argento is another amazing classic director, as is John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper. They've all earned their status on the horror wall-of-fame. Karyn Kusama is another incredibly promising director, as is Ti West, and I'm a huge fan of Feder Alvarez.

Before we get onto the quiz, I'm going to finish with some horror movies that I don't feel really hit the mark. As a huge fan of the original short, 'Lights Out' was incredibly disappointing. 'The Conjuring 2' never really delivered for me, and neither did 'Oculus', 'The Awakening' or 'Crimson Peak'. 'Hostel' was just plainly gross; and not in a good way. 'Silent Hill' was a mess and most remakes should be wholly avoided. Especially 'The Poltergeist', 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', 'Friday the 13th', 'The Nightmare on Elm Street' and 'Carrie'. Still not sure what'll float your boat? Take the quiz, and don't forget to tell me what you're watching tonight!


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