People love horror movies. They give us a safe way to experience the heart-pounding adrenaline rush of a life-or-death situation. Filmmakers use them to push boundaries or tackle serious issues in a creative way. Then there are movies that are just an excuse for a gory special effects romp.
There's a lot of variation in the horror genre, but the goal is always the same — they want to scare you. And what better way to be scared than to watch them all alone with no one there to protect you? Unless you want to sit up all night with the lights on, maybe grab a friend before watching any of these.
10 The Blair Witch Project
This classic low-budget indie movie sparked the popularity of found-footage horror. When it was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, it was marketed as footage recovered from the film crew's equipment, and the actors were supposedly missing or dead. The plot follows a group of film students setting out into the Black Hills forest to make a documentary about the legend of the Blair Witch. The slow, tense build up and the commitment to realism make this one hard to watch on your own.
9 The Shining
The Shining is known as one of the greatest and most influential horror films ever made. Based on the Stephen King book of the same name, it follows the Torrance family as they winter in the historic Overlook Hotel, with patriarch Jack (Nicholson) acting as caretaker. His young son Danny has a psychic ability called "the shining," which allows him to see the many ghosts that also inhabit the hotel.
Over the course of the film, Jack's slow breakdown is harrowing to watch. The forces at work in the hotel do a number on his sanity and turn him against his own family. Despite King's criticisms over the differences between the film and the book, The Shining remains one of the most terrifying horror movies ever.
In a genre full of sequels and adaptations, sometimes you need to go back to one of the all-time classics. One of the films that invented many tropes still utilized today, the 1978 John Carpenter slasher Halloween is just the place to start. Featuring Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut, it tells the story of killer Michael Myers returning to his hometown on Halloween night and stalking a group of teens. It spawned a massive franchise that frequently took dives into the ridiculous, but the first movie is still a fraught and haunting experience.
7 It Follows
Every now and then the genre delivers us something original and unexpected. It Follows has a surreal, dreamlike quality to it that only serves to heighten the sense of unease. The plot follows a college student named Jay who starts being pursued by a supernatural creature after a sexual encounter with her new boyfriend. The creature, which only Jay can see, takes on many different human appearances and is always approaching at a unsettling walk. The terror of the unknown and the implacable march of death makes it a frightening experience even in a group, let alone braving it on your own.
6 The Conjuring
As the first film in the popular Conjuring Universe and directed by prolific horror director James Wan, The Conjuring is considered by many to be one of the best horror movies since The Exorcist. It's based on the lives of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and draws inspiration from hauntings they've researched. The series begins with the Warrens coming to the assistance of the Perron family, who are experiencing disturbing supernatural events in their Rhode Island farmhouse. The film was widely praised for its use of exceptional cinematography and classic but effective scares. It doesn't try to reinvent the genre, but instead refines it down to a terrifying good time.
5 The Thing
Another John Carpenter movie makes the list. What can we say? The man's good at inspiring terror. The Thing is iconic for its commitment to practical special effects that make the body horror visceral and realistic. However, when it was first released it was almost universally hated, described by many as "instant junk." Little did they know it would come to be one of the most well-regarded horror movies of all time, inspiring a variety of spin-offs and merchandise.
The movie expertly crafts a sense of paranoia. The characters are completely cut off from the outside world and don't know which of their companions might be a monster in disguise. This film is terrifying to watch alone, but it might be just as scary to watch with others.
Everyone knows how good Ari Aster's debut masterpiece Hereditary is, both for its dread-inducing plot and its incredible acting. It features a family being hunted by a demon after the death of their matriarch, Grandma Ellen. But the horror isn't just limited to the supernatural elements.
What Hereditary does really well is make you feel the tragedy of the family's situation. It shows how grief and lack of support can grind people down, and makes them vulnerable to evil. The sense of dread never lets up and you might have to sleep with the lights on after the credits roll.
3 The Descent
The Descent actually first premiered at the Edinburgh horror film festival Dead By Dawn, but has exploded in popularity from this humble beginning. The film tells the story of a group of women going caving together on vacation and it quickly deteriorates into a struggle for survival against the creatures that call the cave home. It was critically praised for its creature design and horrifying imagery, and Roger Ebert even gave it four out of four stars. This dark, claustrophobic nightmare will make you grateful you're safe in your own home.
2 Lake Mungo
If this were a list of criminally underrated horror films, Lake Mungo would be at the very top. It's an Australian psychological horror that uses the mockumentary style to tell the story of a family's experiences following the death of their daughter. They cast low-profile actors and didn't provide any written dialogue, instead instructing them to improvise to maintain the illusion of authenticity. The film is a finely detailed exploration of grief, and saying too much would ruin it, but maybe watch it during the day.
Hush is guaranteed to make you feel unsafe in your own home. It portrays a deaf-mute woman named Maddie as she's being tormented by a masked killer through her isolated woodland home. It was dropped without advertisement at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and met with overwhelming positive reviews. The performances of the two leads really sells the experience and it's a more creative premise than other modern slasher movies. After watching this, you'll be questioning every little sound while trying to fall asleep.