I have a very weird obsession with horror films.
When I was younger, before around the age of 13, I was absolutely terrified of everything. In the back of my head, I think, I felt like I should be terrified of "scary" movies. I was scared of anything remotely similar to horror films, like the Harry Potter films and even children films like Monster House. But once I watched my first scary movie that I can remember, Insidious (2010), I was hooked. In my head I made horror films out to be this horrible experience that will ruin me forever and I had heard about people not being able to sleep afterwards so I basically thought I would never survive a horror film. But! Here we are! I survived! I completely understand people who are scared of horror films and find them unpleasant and all but for some reason that just does not bother me and I find horror films to be such a fun and interesting experience.
When I watched Insidious for the first time I remember trying to repress my fear by making fun of the film and making jokes with my friends about it instead. This helped me immensely and I still do that to this day. Horror films are so fun in groups, I find them to be the best genre to watch with a big group of people because you can laugh or scream or just talk it out with others. It is such a fun experience. I also was surprisingly satisfied about how mysterious horror films are. With most horror films, you have no idea why the possession or haunting or who the killer is or why something is happening and the whole film is investigating what is going on and how to stop it or how to survive. Some films get very creative with this mystery, some are just plain crazy or silly but they are all enjoyable to me. I love trying to figure out what is going on and how it may end or even I love trying to guess where they are going to put in a scare. I feel like I know the horror formula pretty well at this point but there are always films that still get me. Even the worst or just plain cringe-y and awful horror films, I still love! I can't help it! I enjoy almost every horror film. Also nothing really scares me anymore so I could truly watch anything and not be very affected by it.
There are some types of horror films that I like better than others, as you will see throughout my list below. I mostly enjoy paranormal, possession, "ghost" films more than a slasher film or a zombie film. Of course, I do enjoy the other horror genres in some cases but some slasher or revenge films are just so gore-filled and at some points it just seems over the top and unnecessary. I enjoy the mysterious vibes of "ghost" films. There are obviously some incredible slasher and home invasion films and so on and those are equally terrifying because those are "real" people situations that "could" happen but I just do not find them as exciting in the horror film world.
Below I have provided some of my favorites (in no order) and some that I recommend for horror film newbies (I marked them with *).
Don't watch these alone! Or do! You do you! Good luck!
If you have any film recommendations to add to this list comment below! Enjoy!
Insidious (2010) James Wan*
Insidious: Chapter Two (2013) James Wan*
Insidious: Chapter Three (2015) Leigh Whannell*
Insidious: The Last Key (2018) Adam Robitel*
I adore these films.
As stated before, Insidious was my first horror film I have ever seen and I completely recommend it for anyone who wants to get into the horror genre. I had some of my friends watch it who do not like horror films and even they enjoyed it! The first two are my favorites, the third was alright and I surprisingly loved the fourth one. Insidious will forever be special to me.
The Conjuring (2013) James Wan
The Conjuring 2 (2016) James Wan
The Conjuring films are genuinely well-made and genuinely scary films. I would not recommend them to someone who is watching horror films for the first time but these are definite must-watches for those who love the horror genre. They are also based on true events which of course makes everything creepier. Basically, they are well-made films that will leave you feeling uneasy and that is when you know a horror film was a good horror film.
It Follows (2014) David Robert Mitchell*
Wow. I love the heck out of this film. This film is not only a perfect horror film but a perfect, beautiful film in general. I could not recommend this film more. The cinematography will blow you away, every single shot is composed beautifully and thoughtfully. The tension and suspense are both wonderful and effective. If you enjoy classic, 80's horror films, this film definitely pays homage to those films. I admire this film so much and everyone must watch it right this second.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012) Drew Goddard*
It is best to go into this film while having no idea what it is about. It such an interesting and fun film, I completely recommend it to everyone even those who do not like horror. Someone who knows horror films and especially the Evil Dead series will appreciate this film more but it is still such a great time and a great film that anyone can get a kick out of. It is not just a horror film, it is a dark comedy because of how it takes horror film troupes and completely messes with them and makes fun of them.
Trick 'r Treat (2007) Michael Dougherty*
This film is Halloween in a film. I have to watch this every Halloween or else it really is not Halloween. This film is an analogy of "scary" stories that all eventually combine and connect. All of the stories are both entertaining and terrifying. The stories all have you questioning what is going to happen next because most of them start out normally. I love the design and the humor of this film, couldn't recommend it more. Don't wait until Halloween to watch this gem! It should be watched all year long.
Creep (2014) Patrick Brice*
Creep 2 (2017) Patrick Brice*
These two films are found footage, more eerie, what-the-heck-is-happening type of films than a ghost story film. They are both funny and scary, more of a dark comedy than a horror film but still horror aspects of course. I do recommend this to newbies and if you are hesitant since it is found footage (and that can be a very iffy type of film), it is a genuinely well done found footage film, I promise.
The Houses October Built (2014) Bobby Roe
Another found footage, sorry. But this found footage actually stuck with me after watching and damn, that porcelain doll faced girl is so freaky. This is about a group of adults traveling to find the scariest haunted houses they can find and characters from the houses start following them throughout their trip. Haunted houses in general is a weird concept, I do enjoy them most of the time but it is very weird that people dress up to scare other people. This film got me thinking hard about haunted houses and questioning them and the honestly, even the workers sanity. The film made everything feel so realistic because of the found footage aspect and that made everything even scarier. I probably would not recommend this for newcomers but I guess if you're up for being creeped out, good luck!
The Blair Witch Project (1999) Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez*
Another found footage! This is, in my opinion, one of the best and most effective found footage films ever made in the horror genre and in any other genre. The Blair Witch was the first of its kind and when it came out many audience members were not sure if it was real or not. The first time I watched this film, I was bored and dissatisfied. I can't tell you it is the most exciting film out there but that just makes it so much more real and scary to me. The fact that we never see what the witch looks like makes us imagine the worst thing possible. This film leaves so much up for interpretation and this again makes it feel believable. I love that this film is so genuine, it is terrifying to me. I also love the ending and it blows my mind every time (I don't want to hype it up much but the first time I watched it, I was stunned). Honestly watch it for the end and while your watching it tell yourself that it is real. Have fun!
Scream (1996) Wes Craven*
Scream is such a fun film I forget that it even is a horror film. Scream is a self-aware horror film that makes fun of its self and of other horror films. I adore it so much!!! It is perfect for new horror film watchers and perfect for people who love the horror genre and are familiar with horror genre troupes. It is humorous and is the ultimate mysterious horror film. Each of the Scream films keeps you questioning who is under the mask and what their motive is.
The Ring (2002) Gore Verbinski*
The Ring is also one of the first horror films that I have seen so it is also close to my heart. I find this film to be more of an almost mystery thriller than a horror film (besides for the scene when she comes out of the television, spoiler, kind of, sorry!). The film is all about Naomi Watts trying to figure out why this tape kills people in 7 days and how she can stop it. This concept is so interesting and keeps the audience trying to figure out this mystery and look at the clues like her character is doing. This film is both eerie and entertaining.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Wes Craven*
My boy Freddy Krueger! I love Freddy and I'm not even sure why. I love all of the classical 80's horror figures but I just enjoy Freddy's humor and how he is not just a man in a mask coming after you but he is this terrifying figure that comes to you in your dreams and you cannot avoid sleep forever! Such an 80's movie and such a fun classic horror film. Must watch!
The Shining (1980) Stanley Kubrick
You can not have a horror list without this film. This film is psychological horror at its best. Whether you like it or not, this film will stick with you and leave you questioning everything and even your sanity. This film is equally beautiful and haunting. Some of Kubrick's best and most memorable work. Watch this for Jack Nicholson's performance, that should be incentive enough. What a beautiful, horrifying film.
The Orphanage (El Orfanato) (2007)*
Juan Antonio Bayona
Wow, this was genuinely fantastic and beautiful. It does not rely on jump scares but instead on mystery and tension. This seems like your typical ghost story but it has it's original flare that made it stick out in my mind. This film was not only scary (and not even like never be able to sleep again scary), but also so emotional and you actually will feel for the characters and the situations and I fell so in love with this movie and the characters.
Rosemary's Baby (1968) Roman Polanski
This film will make you as confused and as ultimately crazy as Mia Farrow's character. This is how you do tension! This is how you do horror! This was so terrifying because you just do not know what is going on and you are in the same shoes as Rosemary. I adore every aspect of this film, the costumes, the tension, the characters, the narrative, the environment, everything so good.
The Witch (2015) Robert Eggers
This film is full of tension and suspense. You are on edge the whole film and sometimes you do not even know what is happening but it is terrifying. It is a slow burn but the tone and environment are all so creepy and uneasy. Wow. Every shot of this film is beautiful and terrifying at the same time. I would also recommend watching this with English subtitles, you're welcome.