If you’re a true horror aficionado, you don’t need some dumb list telling you to see Babadook. You’ve SEEN Babadook. Although, full disclosure, there IS a wildly popular film from 2015 on this list that so many people from our regular life said they hadn’t actually seen, so we included it. And if you’re one of those people who haven’t, specifically the third act, buckle the fuck up. The rest are a smattering of different films that vary in tone but unify in this: They will utterly ruin you. The second one down, for example, will mean that a little girl in a red coat will stay in your mind, even just subconsciously, for the rest of your life. So like, sure, this is an internet post about a list of scary movies, but also, be warned a little bit.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Netflix)
A young, skateboarding lady vampire roams the abandoned streets of Iran to prey on men who disrespect women in this thoroughly unique take on the bloodsucking genre. The all-Farsi script makes the untraditional viewing experience extra mysterious, with each conversation more and more suspenseful.
Don’t Look Now (iTunes)
Most old horror movies read as dated, but this 1973 British-Italian indie psychological thriller is as good as ever. Watch for its unique editing style, reoccurring motifs and overall influence—Casino Royale, In Bruge, and American Horror Story all reference the film. Most horror movies reach a resolution, making Don’t Look Now‘s increasingly complex and explicit plot all the more haunting.
Martyrs (Amazon Rental)
The French-Canadian drama was first screened at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and focuses on a victim of childhood abuse who seeks revenge. Her quest unravels a disturbing and complex plot; the film has several overt references to French philosopher Georges Bataille’s views on death. Director Pascal Laugier doesn’t shy away from depravity, and some of the more disturbing scenes linger long after the movie is over.
A controversial Danish arthouse horror film from the director of Nymphomaniac, the movie Antichrist focuses on a couple who descends into madness while mourning the death of their infant son. The film spans both psychological depression and physical mutilation—Legend has it that four Canne audience members fainted in their seats, making this movie not for the faint of heart (or stomach).
The Mothman Prophecies (iTunes)
Richard Gere plays a newspaperman haunted by a moth-like supernatural being in a movie that claims to be based on real events that occurred in Point Pleasant, W. Va., between November 1966 and December 1967. The audio from one scene’s phone call will scare you so much that you’ll screen all calls for the next month. Expect to come away with a lot of questions.
Jodie Foster plays a mysterious young girl with dark secrets and absent parents in this dramatic thriller. When the landlady and her sleazy son begin asking questions, the body count begins to rise. Most horror movies have just one spooky character, but this movie will have you frightened of almost everyone.
Alice Sweet Alice (Amazon Rental)
A young Brooke Shields plays a girl murdered on the day of her First Communion in this classic ‘70s slasher flick. Her brooding older sister is the prime suspect, but their father’s hunt for the true murderer leads him to unexpected places. The killer’s masked face will be burned into your retinas for weeks.
Repulsion (Amazon Cinefest)
Roman Polanski’s first English-language film is a doozy, focusing on a beautiful manicurist afflicted with androphobia, the abnormal fear of men. Repulsion, along with later films Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant, make up Polanski’s “Apartment Trilogy” of horror films. Watching the protagonist succumb to true terror will make you equally scared.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (Netflix)
A horror comedy in its truest sense, this cult favorite follows a pair of well-meaning hillbillies who are mistaken for crazed killers in an increasingly zany series of events. This movie’s also got the ultimate hipster horror seal of approval: the SXSW Midnight Audience Award. This movie isn’t exactly the scariest horror film, but it’s got enough blood, guts and laughs to make up for it.
This new, Netflix-exclusive horror film focuses on a deaf woman who is unknowingly hunted by a serial killer—until she begins to fight back. Experimental audio mimics the experience of the deaf protagonist, adding a layer of hyper-realism (and horror!) to the already terrifying film.
Goodnight Mommy (Amazon Prime Instant Video)
Twin brothers Elias and Lukas are convinced their mother has been replaced with a stranger after she returns from surgery a changed woman. What follows is a deeply sinister exploration of family relationships, trust and perception. This movie isn’t rooted in gore, but a creeping sense of dread. Plus, there’s something about twins that’s always extra creepy.
The Descent (Hulu)
Claustrophobes, be warned. The Descent follows six women who enter an unknown cave system and are systematically hunted by carnivorous, humanoid figures. Watching the climbers franticly attempt to escape monsters in increasingly confined spaces will have you biting your nails and watching through splayed fingers.
The Invitation (Netflix)
Seeing an ex-spouse is rarely pleasant, but The Invitation takes the uncomfortable situation to the next level. The psychological thriller, which premiered at the SXSW film festival in 2015, focuses on a sinister dinner party thrown by a man’s ex-wife and her new husband. The killers’ normal appearance is shockingly suspenseful and will have you questioning the intentions of everyone you know.
The Nightmare (Hulu)
Part documentary, part thriller, The Nightmare recreates the experiences of real sufferers of sleep paralysis. The stark visuals are immersive, and the interviews are heartbreaking. The style may be unconventional, but knowing that this is literally based on real life events hits home. Don’t watch this if you’re planning on sleeping anytime soon.