With October in full swing, Halloween movie season is upon us. That means we’re regularly watching all our favourite horror movies on repeat until November 1st. Over the years, Screen Rant’s team has reviewed many horror movies – not all of which have been great. But the goal here is to tell you about the ones the team really, truly loved. There are no duds here, just the best of the creepiest vampire, zombie, ghost, and alien movies you should have in your genre film arsenal.
Read on to find out which creepy horrors and thrillers we gave 4, 4.5 or 5 stars to since we first started reviewing films over a decade ago. And let us know if you think there are any glaring misses – what should have been on this list? What shouldn’t have? With that in mind, here are Screen Rant’s 15 Highest Rated Horror Movies Ever.
15. Drag Me To Hell
Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell impressed Screen Rant writer Vic Holtreman. After directing the Spider-Man franchise, Raimi went back to his Evil Dead comedy-horror roots with this one.
When a young loan officer is up for a big job promotion at the bank, she wants to prove her boss wrong and show her she can make the hard decisions needed for the job – and subsequently denies a very creepy old woman an extension on her mortgage. The woman immediately places a curse on her, where she will experience three days of pure living hell before something even worse happens. You’ll have to watch to find out what exactly that is.
Holtreman also loved Zombieland, giving it 4 stars. The comedy horror doesn’t skimp on the gore, and both Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson give note perfect performances for such silly roles.
They star as a duo trying to survive after the zombie apocalypse has destroyed the world. Eisenberg’s character is an introverted shut-in with a fear of clowns, while Harrelson’s is the exact opposite – a redneck who has finally discovered his true talent in life – killing zombies. Many, many zombies.
One managed to survive because he spent his life avoiding the outside the world, the other, because he is good with a gun. Together they take us on a hilarious, if disgusting journey of how to survive in the worst of times. If you love blood and gust as much as you love comedy, this is one you film you likely watch every year, and we don’t blame you for it.
13. The House Of The Devil
Ti West’s 2009 film The House Of The Devil impressed Screen Rant writer Rob Frappier. The film manages to combine the best of ’70s horror into one absolutely creepy movie.
When a young co-ed is desperate for cash, she answers an ad looking for a babysitter, only to find out she will be babysitting a strange man’s elderly mother. Despite her initial attempt to get out of the job since it wasn’t what she signed up for, the man offers her far too much money to turn down. In her precarious financial situation, she feels as though she has no other option.
While this plot has been done to death in horror too many times to count, West’s dutiful direction and focus on what made ’70s genre films so great – slow burning suspense – is what pulls it up in ranks against movies of the same nature, no matter how cliche the plot may be.
12. The Crazies
This remake of George Romero’s original The Crazies scored well with the Screen Rant team. Of course, when it comes to remakes, they’re rarely necessary, and usually pretty damn terrible. Lucky for us, this time that wasn’t the case.
Set in a small idyllic town in Iowa, the film follows a sheriff and a doctor couple whose life is about to be turned upside down when an infection spreads, causing citizens to turn into raging murderers. Soon, all communication is cut off in the town, and soldiers appeared wearing gas masks, ready to separate the infected from those they deem safe.
When the sheriff’s wife is thought infected due to her pregnancy and he is separated from her, he does everything he can to get her back to safety and away from the infected madmen. Told with as much humor as horror, this is one remake that doesn’t disappoint.
11. [REC] 2
Part 2 in the franchise, the terrifying [REC] 2 gained a 4 star review from Screen Rant writer Ross Miller. Managing to revive a genre as overplayed as the zombie movie is, the [REC] series has gained incredible reviews from horror fans as one of the scariest films in the history of the genre.
The end of the first film made it clear there would definitely be a sequel – they set it up that way – and this one picks up just 15 minutes after the first. A SWAT team is sent to the building to find out what happened when the virus first broke out (the plot of the first film). While it doesn’t manage to be quite as scary as the terrifying original, for horror fans, it easily manages to live up to the precedent the first film set. And for loyal zombie fans, even a lesser version of the first movie still makes for an incredible film about the walking dead.
The Guillermo del Toro produced Splice was met with a 4 star review for good reason. The film focuses around a couple played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley, scientists who are at the forefront of genetic engineering. Having had success splicing genes from various animals together to create living amorphous blobs that are used to make preventative medicines, they are eager to take their science a step further and start splicing in human genes. They present the crazy idea to their bosses, who are not on board at all due to the moral implications of such an experiment.
Despite this, and due to her underlying desire to create a child of her own, they decide to secretly go against orders and pursue this dream project. Unfortunately, the creature they create is not quite right. Part sci-fi, part horror, this one is as weird as you’d expect it to be.
Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick loved watching Ryan Reynolds get Buried in this 2010 film.
When a U.S Contractor working in Iraq is kidnapped and buried alive in a coffin as an extreme form of ransom, he must strategically use a partially charged cellphone he finds in the coffin with him in order to get himself out of this horrific situation. Spending 90 minutes with Reynolds inside a coffin is claustrophobic not only for him, but for the viewer, and requires a high level of performance the usually comedic actor pulled of seamlessly – making us fear for his life the entire time.
The kidnappers use the phone to bully and threaten our protagonist, but his survival will depend on how he chooses to deal with their requests. Talking to family, friends and the FBI on the phone, he has to make a life or death decision on who to trust.
8. Paranormal Activity 2
With a 4 star review, this followup to the first incredibly low budget and hugely successful film didn’t disappoint. Since the original was made for only $11,000 and raked in almost $200 million, a sequel was always going to happen – that’s how successful horror films work. Studios live for milking successes like this, even if the follow up is rarely as good as the first.
Playing out as a sort of prequel to the first film, this one follows Katie’s sister’s family two months before the original film’s timeline. With the birth of their newborn son, her and her husband install video cameras everywhere, and when their house is one day seemingly trashed (except for their son’s nursery) despite nothing being stolen, they up the security even more. Strange things slowly start to happen, but as with the first, it’s the pace of the film that leads to its unique brand of horror storytelling.
The highly hyped Cloverfield lived up to the team’s very high expectations. In his review, Holtreman notes that “This is what the ridiculously weak American version of Godzilla that came out a few years ago should have been. Cloverfield exemplifies what a Screen Rant review is all about: In the end does the movie entertain the audience without insulting their intelligence? If the answer is yes, it gets a great review from me.”
Told in the Blair Witch shaky handheld documentary style, a young Manhattan couple celebrating with friends one evening has their party interrupted by the arrival of an alien in Central Park. We watch as they film the destruction of New York City once the alien, known to the government as Cloverfield, starts on its destructive path. This isn’t a film about aliens so much as it is a tale about five friends who experience a terrifying situation in real time.
6. District 9
The team felt District 9 was an instant sci-fi classic, earning it a 4.5 star review.
Initially told in a documentary fashion, the format slowly reverts into a standard film narrative. From the beginning, we learn that an alien ship appeared stranded in Johannesburg, 20 years prior. Integration was attempted between the aliens and humans at this time, but it failed on a massive scale, leading to the aliens being segregated to a huge refugee camp dubbed District 9. An allegory about the city’s racially segregated past, the film works as more than just a gross out alien movie.
As the city residents continue to clash with the “prawns” as they call them, a decision is made to migrate the constantly growing 1.8 million population of aliens to another camp over 100 miles away, and the fallout from this migration leads to the kind of gory alien battle sci-fi fans live for.
5. The Road
The Road managed to be just as gut-wrenching in its post-apocalyptic horror as Cormac McCarthy’s original novel was – which came as a relief to fans of the author’s incredible body of work.
The futuristic tale of America in a full on dystopian state scorched by disaster sees our two main characters, The Man, and The Boy, walking south down the road from the northern climate, in hopes of avoiding freezing to death during the cold winter. Their wife and mother has already succumbed to the horror of trying to raise a child in this nightmare. Their only goal here is to survive, but in order to do this, they must avoid gangs of cannibals whose entire goal is to rape, kill and eat them – meaning it was the feelgood movie of 2009.
4. Attack The Block
With a glowing 4.5 review, this little indie alien-invasion film showed the rest of the world how to do sci-fi that appeals to modern audiences. Being released during a wave of alien focused films meant it had an uphill battle, as writer Kofi Outlaw noted: “Attack the Block is an unlikely contender in the currently overcrowded ring of alien invasion flicks. The film has no real headlining stars; it was shot on a small budget; the main characters are a gang of young, unapologetic hoodlums; plus, they’re young hoodlums who speak in thick British accents, while dropping slang that requires Urban Dictionary to decipher.” Its success despite this, therefore, speaks for itself.
The story centres around a London street gang whose robbery is interrupted when a strange object falls from the sky. A battle ensues between the gang and the mysterious creature, which of course leads to the entire block being attacked by aliens.
The prequel to the beloved Alien franchise was seen as a return to form for legendary director Ridley Scott, according to the Screen Rant team. Die hard fans of the franchise were not disappointed in this origin story, which sees two archeologists paired with a 15 person crew aboard the spacecraft Prometheus, headed to a distant moon where they feel that – based on a series of cave drawings they discovered – they will find answers to an ancient truth about the beginning of humanity. Those new to the series could also use it as a good place to jump in.
Shot entirely using 3D cameras, it managed to avoid the general consensus that 3D makes a film worse, and stands out as the kind of film that, like Avatar, can actually benefit from the use of this technology when in the right hands. Michael Fassbender also stood out from the strong ensemble cast, with a stand out performance playing the ultra creepy David.
2. The Conjuring
With a 4.5 star review, horror director James Wan (known for his work on Insidious and Saw) brought his best work yet to The Conjuring. The film portrays the story of the 1970s haunting of the home of the Perron family, who hired the Warrens – a real life couple who were known as the best paranormal investigators in the business – to exorcise their farmhouse of a demonic presence. As tends to happen in these situations, the hunters soon become the hunted. With a creepiness that references back to classics demon centered films like The Exorcist, it manages to scare without relying on heavy special effects or monsters.
By foregoing special effects and taking horror back to basics, Wan is able to create a sense of fear that, while it still relies on familiar horror tropes – ensures you leave the theatre feeling terrified, and anxious to turn off the lights come bedtime.
1. Let The Right One In
Universally beloved and praised as one of the greatest vampire films in cinematic history, it’s no surprise Let The Right One In is the only horror film on Screen Rant to receive a perfect 5 star review. The Swedish 2009 adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s stunning novel wowed audiences with its revelatory take on what a vampire film could be, when done with taste and class.
The story centres around an awkward young boy, Oskar, who doesn’t fit in at school, and whose home life is equally as troubling. Once Oskar meets Eli, his equally strange nextdoor neighbour, an unlikely youthful love story blooms while the town is suddenly met with a string of bloody murders that may or may not be connected to her sudden arrival. Let The Right One In manages to surpass the limiting genre movie label and embody the spirit of truly incredible filmmaking, despite the gore.
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