I am a long-time horror fan, though I’ve only recently gotten into reading horror and not just watching it. I’ve always loved clutching a blanket to my face while my heart beat way too fast and then nearly crying by the end, I was that terrified. And I am so easily scared! Paring down this list was really freaking hard, though, that said, but we’ll chat about why each one is on this list. Enjoy!
I live on a dead end street with fairly thick woods right across the street. Blair Witch Project came out in 1999, so by the time I got around to it, it was probably early 2000s, which meant I was about 13 or so, making my brother around 9/10. All of this is just bad. We’re too young to be watching scary movies, especially found film ones that take place in a forest when we live across from a forest we’ve been forbidden from wandering too deep in, and, to make matters worse, we decided to watch it at night with all the curtains open.
Of course I think this movie is scary. Objectively, it’s not really all that scary, but it makes me tense because I know something is coming the entire movie, and it just feels so real that between the nostalgia and the found film aspect, this does me in every time.
Found films are my favorite horror subgenre, so there’s a couple in here, but I think the ones from the late 90s/early 00s are the best. This is about a group of teenagers researching a local legend. There’s a lot of drama caused by being out in the woods for too long and what seems like people messing with them, and though many people will say the ending is a cop-out, it’s what scares me the most.
Oh, The Conjuring. If you’ve seen it, you know how awful the clap game is, and I actually paused the movie as a knee-jerk reaction and had to pace around my room for a second to calm down because it’s a big old Nope for me. Released in 2013, this is not found film, but it’s similar. It’s based on real events, and it doesn’t rely on the spooky stuff you see in most horror films, just scary af people and possession. Because what’s a top ten scary movies list without at least one possession film?
This follows a couple who research hauntings and help families who think they’re being haunted/possessed. It’s got all the trappings of a good possession film–terrifying postures the human body should not be able to do, upside down crosses, a few solid jump scares, and my least favorite, wrong voices.
The worst thing ever in horror movies is kids, either because a) they’re gonna get it, or b) they’re gonna freak you the heck out. 2013’s Mama is one that I don’t see talked about a lot, especially because it stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastain. It’s got a very weird ending that relies on some lore that doesn’t have enough backstory, but it’s ultimately a very creepy movie, and mostly because it has to do with children.
Nikolaj plays an uncle who is given the care of his two nieces after they’ve been living in the woods, and slowly becoming feral children, for a few years. No one realized their father was dead. Killed himself? I really can’t remember how it happened. Jessica is kind of goth, and it’s awesome. But really, the way these two little girls creep around is just terrible.
Who doesn’t love The Purge? I’ve seen a few of the films in this series, and not the TV show, but the first one is the best from what I’ve seen. It’s downright spooky, and it plays on a very real fear–people breaking into your house to kill you. Not only that, but as the years progress, this movie seems more and more like a realistic future, and thus, it kind of gets scarier with each year.
Released in 2013, the US is given one night of pure mayhem–anything is legal, including murder. As a response, rich people start securing their homes into legit fortresses until those participating in the Purge have had enough and take matters into their own hands.
I’ve never played the games (video games in general are not my thing, but horror games are like movies, they give me the jump scares), but I’m a long time Silent Hill fan. Pyramid Head is one of my favorite anti-heroes, and the whole concept of this franchise is just incredible. And not just that, but Sean Bean doesn’t die! I don’t know how, but miracles happen sometimes.
When Sean Bean’s daughter is lost, though, his ex(?)-wife follows clues until she finds the mysterious and usually foggy town of Silent Hill. She’ll stop at nothing to find their daughter, even if that means descending into hell itself. Oh, and the siren? You better believe I have nightmares with that sound in it sometimes.
Aw man, I hate that this poster gives away one of the creepiest scenes of The Strangers, but I guess that gives me the go-ahead to say PAY ATTENTION TO THE BACKGROUND! This 2008 film could be so chill until the end if you were just focused solely on, drum roll please, Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, but WAIT A SECOND
THIS IS INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS???
I DIDN’T KNOW THAT
THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE HORROR FILMS
Okay, seriously, what the hell, why does no one tell me anything? Yes, this is totally one of my favorites because Liv & Scott are a dream team, but also, it’s hella scary. But, as I was saying, you have to really pay attention to what’s going on in the background to catch the truly creepy stuff.
This is about a weekend away for a couple that was meant as a romantic getaway after a yes proposal, but when the proposal turns into a no, they’re really not looking forward to spending time together. What makes it worse is when a psycho family breaks into their house and tries to kill them.
Don’t @ me, this movie is the best. I’m not sure how many films I’ve watched in the Paranormal Activity franchise, but definitely not all of them. The first one was released in 2007, and is, of course, the best one. One of my favorites parts is that it doesn’t rely on a soundtrack, so whenever there’s noise, it’s either normal, everyday life sounds, or it’s a demon banging on your ceiling in truly epic proportions.
This is another found film one, and one of my favorites in the subgenre. It’s just so good, and you should probably just stop after this one. The others still make me jump because of the no soundtrack thing, but the plot’s pretty stupid beyond this first one, which is about a family being haunted by something that makes loud noises and drags the wife about the house.
Priest is the only fantasy/scifi movie on this list! I even knocked a couple others off so that it could stay on. While it’s maybe not deserving of a Top Ten, I wanted to include it because it’s the only one of its horror subgenre. Released in 2011 and starring Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, and Lily Collins, this vampire movie is surprisingly unique. This is one of my favorite renditions of vampires, particularly with the lore backing it, and that doesn’t even get started on the excellent lore of the priests.
In a post-apocalyptic world, the only true safe zones are the guarded cities under control of the Church. Others have chosen to live in the wastelands outside, though, what with the vampire epidemic considered extinct. But what is leftover from the last war gives birth to the coming wave of darkness.
It was either 2011’s The Rite or a Hannibal Lecter movie, but no matter what, I was including Anthony Hopkins on this list. Because if Hopkins doesn’t scare you just a little bit, there’s something wrong with you, not him. His role as Hannibal solidified him as one of my favorite actors, and also birthed a love for that franchise that will never end, but his role as a priest that performs unsanctioned exorcisms? Oh boy.
This is a true possession movie. It’s got the Vatican, it’s set in Rome, it’s got another priest questioning if God and the Devil even exist, it’s got wrong voies & convoluted bodies, and it’s got one of my favorite twists–an actual demon! I’m so sick of everyone naming themselves Lucifer or just making something stupid up, but this straight up pulls Ba’al out of lore and gives him some screen time. It’s interesting right up until it’s scaring you half to death.
Let’s start with the fact that I think M. Night Shyamalan’s 2004 The Village has a fantastic ending. It does! I’m not jumping on the cop-out ending propaganda, I think the ending makes this movie even better than it already is. This is very similar to Blair Witch Project in that not a whole lot actually happens until the end, and you get absolutely no answers by the end, but it still manages to make me want to hide behind a pillow.
Starring a truly stacked cast of Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, and Sigourney Weaver, this is the story of an isolated village that lives by a very specific set of rules. You do not go into the woods unless you’re trained to because otherwise, you dead.