Halloween enables horror fans to indulge an unapologetic celebration of fright, but scary movies aren’t for everyone. It’s a genre that has justifiably earned a rugged reputation, with its exploitative nature and low-budget fare. There have always been an inundation of horror films because of the small production costs — anyone can do it. Furthermore, even Hollywood films can avert certain audiences, who tire of redundancy and cheap jump scares. So it isn’t always easy to share a cinematic enthusiasm for Halloween. But there are particular seasonal delights that even naysayers might enjoy — not exclusively those which circumvent horror altogether, but films that transcend its less accessible traits in a clever, entertaining way.
10 Hotel Transylvania
To begin gently, this is a family movie that isn’t horror at all, which may seem counter-intuitive. However, it’s a charming little comedy, that wasn’t necessarily undone by its lesser sequels. It’s also a fun blend of every Universal monster put to screen, and then some. This makes it a fantastic gateway film for families that want to introduce otherwise totally inaccessible classics. Sure, the movie is tremendously silly, but the reverence for all the familiar players feels genuine. Ultimately, Hotel Transylvania captures the spirit of childhood Halloween — a fun rite of passage worthy of nostalgia.
9 Get Out
Although the plot itself doesn’t necessarily break new ground, it certainly exercises its fandom with skill and substance. The mere study of racism throughout the film is sophisticated, both blatant and nuanced at once. Ultimately, this is the true terror of the story, and either approach is equally effective. This principal subject matter, by scarcity alone, is a refreshing breath of fresh air across all of cinema. Also, Get Out works more as a thriller than outright horror, with some very little gore. Unexpectedly, it’s even a remarkably funny movie. All together, this results in a more inviting film for a significantly wider audience.
8 Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters is a classic horror comedy remains one of the most all-time iconic Bill Murray performances. But truly, the entire cast is utterly memorable. Everything crackles with creativity, embracing a goofy demeanor that keeps it from dating too much. Modern movies about the paranormal have come to take themselves very seriously lately, which doesn’t offer much for the uninitiated. This sly parody is a Frankenstein’s monster of horror tropes, allowing both cozy familiarity and daring novelty. The cast may be terrific, but the script’s distinct understanding of the genre makes it perfect for Halloween.
7 The Mummy (1999)
This is the movie that misled the so-called Dark Universe to its unfortunate demise. This slick adaptation of the classic horror-drama rephrased the entire premise to include adventure. The bugs may literally get under your skin, but despite state-of-the-art CGI, it’s dated enough to feel horror-lite. The Mummy's story is rooted in an atmospheric black-and-white, retaining certain imagery that feels seasonal enough despite the fun. The mummies themselves have a great design, keeping the supernatural elements on point with Halloween. However, it’s incorporated through the fashion of Indiana Jones, which definitely extends a major olive branch.
6 A Quiet Place
This PG-13 thriller was definitely a surprise hit, generating plenty of suspense with an enormously fun gimmick. A Quiet Place is happy to thoroughly explore the full potential of said novelty, but allows investment through the family dynamic. It earns automatic sympathy, and involving a disability in the film doesn’t feel exploitative, but sincere. The opening scene is genuinely heartbreaking, establishing an atypical atmosphere. Although the film certainly features plenty of scares, the tone is moody and reserved. It also relies a great deal on its science-fiction premise, providing a soft barrier for the horror imagery.
5 The Omen (1976)
This classy blend of horror and drama features the likes of Gregory Peck himself, who brings his signature, extraordinary talent. It’s a highly unusual level of performance for the genre, for a story rooted in religion. However, much like The Exorcist, The Omen far transcends the expectations that might lessen its accessibility. The plot unfolds as a mystery, which sustains its intrigue throughout by escalation and originality, particularly the more it traverses various rules and the potential origins of the child. It feels rather like a direct sequel to Rosemary’s Baby, which is far more graphic and disturbing.
Stephen King is a longstanding cornerstone of horror fiction. However, a great deal of his stories haven’t been translated especially well on film. And the source material itself can very frequently indulge in gratuitous gore, or even somewhat cheesy characteristics. However, there’s no such worries to be had with Misery, a total slow-burn thriller. The "hobbling" scene itself is far less disturbing than Kathy Bates. And James Caan’s quiet protagonist has a sturdy level of authenticity. Oftentimes, some of King’s best work is planted entirely in reality. The claustrophobic setting and psychopathic tendencies of Bates derive compelling terror that is specifically bolstered by plausibility.
3 The Ring
For those who aren’t keen on bloodshed and gore, paranormal movies are a significantly safer bet in horror. Furthermore, The Ring is possibly the best adaptation of Japanese horror staples, with very little interest in jump scares. Instead, the film relies on its striking premise, which taps into the fun of urban legends. The incorporation of a VHS tape may feel pretty dated at this point, but the mystery’s ticking clock remains absolutely thrilling. The horror imagery is unique, and the story emphasizes eerie circumstances rather than actual ghostly activity. It’s a gloomy, well-paced thriller with an unsettling score and charged, nuanced performances.
2 The Sixth Sense
Child performances can frequently undermine an entire film, but horror has seen more than a few standouts. And Haley Joel Osment’s tormented, deeply profound performance in The Sixth Sense is arguably the best of them all. Once again, paranormal horror is the most accessible. But even moreso here, where the ghosts resemble actual people. Consequently, the scares are more interested in disturbing you, and the limited jumps are well-earned.
The movie actually treats the spiritual as a genuine phenomenon, which is rare. It focuses on the emotional impact of such metaphysical awareness, thus functioning more as a psychological thriller. M. Night Shyamalan delivers a methodical pace, stunning paranormal authenticity, and an innately sympathetic protagonist. The signature twist ending is hardly the highlight of the film, which offers equal shares of legitimate chills and thematic heft.
For audiences that can’t stand the supernatural, or the implausibility of monsters and ghouls, killer animals couldn’t be more fitting. Natural predators tap into our primal fears, and director Steven Spielberg treats the shark with unrivaled authenticity. Many films of the genre are simple knock-offs of Jaws, using bloody death and pretty young people to print money. But this film in particular far exceeds the expectations of any movie, let alone horror films. The very simple premise allows Spielberg to develop meaningful character work, earning genuine investment. The menacing shark is kept hidden away until a fantastic payoff, stoking your imagination. Instead, John Williams’ score is the shark — an iconic, original, and terrifying theme.
Anyone who may feel horror has nothing to offer need look no further than this. Because the family drama and sense of community are so relatable and sympathetic, the horror is correspondingly affecting. So, although it has a bright 4th of July setting, it remains a reliable choice for even the biggest detractors.