Scary Movies To Watch In The Dark

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Syra Lundergan, Writer

We’ve all been there, indecisively surfing the home page of Netflix. Although “spooky season” is nearing its end, movie nights will not be denounced anytime soon. Horror features can date back decades ago, often inspired by folklore, dystopias, or superstitions. Horror writers seek to evoke fear in their audience for entertainment purposes; the movies listed below accomplish just that. At last, you can find a movie for your next night in.

15. Hush (2016)

Though I have ranked this film last, it is most certainly not the least. Hush explores the story of a deaf writer who lives a solitary life amongst her residence in the woods. That is until a masked killer appears in her window, and she must defend herself in silence. If I were to rank these movies based on the most anxiety-inducing, this perfect suspense-slasher would easily move its way up in ranking.

14. The Platform (2019)

Set in a dystopian future, The Platform takes place in a 333 floor prison. The platform itself is a levitating, elevator-like mechanism displayed with lavish food rations. Each day, the platform starts at the top floor and maneuvers down through each vertical cell until reaching floor one. The inmates change floors each month; the lower floors often starve to death. While this film is more of a psychological thriller, it is just as horrific.

15. A Quiet Place (2018, 2020, 2024)

Similar to how the Covid-19 pandemic crept up on us, so did the mysterious creatures that hunt by sound in this timeline. A Quiet Place shows us the challenges of a family that must live in silence to avoid the dangers of this new world bestowed upon them. Regardless of the lower ranking, I loved watching both parts one and two, and am patiently awaiting the third movie. If you are someone that doesn’t necessarily love horror movies, I recommend this dystopian thriller as an easier watch.

12. Scream (1996, 1997, 2000, 2011, 2022, 2023)

Scary movie fanatics may disagree with me on this ranking, however I fancy paranormal movies over slasher franchises. I will still be one of the first to watch Scream 6 once released in theaters, and furthermore, I admit to binge-watching the Scream Netflix series, but these features don’t hold a sentimental place in my heart. For those unfamiliar, the Scream plot revolves around grieving victims being targeted by a succession of murderers who adopt the guise of Ghostface. When it comes to Scream, “gory” is an understatement of an adjective.

11. Halloween (1978, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2009, 2018, 2021, 2022)

On a cold Halloween night, long, long ago, Michael Myers brutally kills his older sister and is sentenced to jail for 15 years. At the age of 21, he makes his escape back to his hometown where his murder streak does not end, but rather is just getting started. As I’m sure you can tell by the number of movies, Myers never seems to get rid of his treacherous habits. While I can agree that the Halloween universe is solid, it also has become repetitive at discretion.

10. Smile (2022)

A psychiatric therapist witnesses the bizarre suicide of a patient, who oddly enough, dies smiling. She begins to go through disturbing experiences foreshadowing she may be nearing her own death. I can guarantee you will want a pillow and blanket before sitting down to indulge in this film, and solely for the purpose of having an object to cover your eyes with.

9. Exorcist (1973, 1977, 1990, 2004, 2005, 2023)

Based loosely on real events, a troubled mother believes her daughter may be seized by the devil. After seeking help, the church sends a priest to perform an exorcism, a gut-wrenching one at that. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, a seamless blend of both horror and tragedy.

8. The Shining (1980)

A struggling writer moves his family out to Colorado, taking the job of a hotel caretaker, in hopes to cure his writer’s block. An ill-willed presence influences him to become violent. His son begins to have disturbing premonitions that unravel the dark truths and manic behaviors of the hotel. If you have already seen The Shining, a sequel was released in 2019 titled Doctor Sleep, following the adult life of the son. The movies were originally books written by Stephen King; both are classics and recommended a must-watch/read during this time of year.

7. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, 1986, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2006)

Inspired by true crime stories, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre embodies the gruesome killer by the name of “Leatherface.” Five friends going to visit a family farmhouse and gravesite are met with an outcast man who wears a mask made of human skin. Leatherface comes from a cannibalistic and equally disturbing background, never seeming to be caught for his actions.

6. Midsommar (2019)

A group travels to Sweden to visit their friend’s rural hometown for its annual mid-summer festival. What begins as a tranquil retreat, quickly spins into a violent and somewhat competitive ritual of a pagan cult. Though this movie seems off-putting to some, the intensity makes it grimly fascinating.

5. Sinister (2012)

When a troubled true-crime writer discovers the existence of ghastly films showing the deaths of a family, he vows to solve the mystery. He moves his own family into the victims’ home and gets to work. However, when the old footage and other clues hint at the presence of a supernatural force, living in the house becomes fatal.

4. Annabelle (2014, 2017, 2019)

A new dad thinks he’s found the perfect gift for his expectant wife: a vintage doll in a beautiful white dress named Annabelle. However, when devil worshippers invade their home and launch a violent ritual against the couple, they smear a bloody rune on the nursery wall and drip blood onto the doll. The doll turns it into a conduit for ultimate evil, doing way more harm than good.

3. The Conjuring (2013, 2016, 2021)

Based on a true story, The Conjuring observes paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren when summoned to the Perron home. The Perrons and their five daughters have recently moved into a secluded farmhouse, one with a macabre history. A supernatural presence has made itself known. Though the manifestations are relatively congenial at first, events soon escalate into a horrifying reality.

2. Hereditary (2018)

The Graham family has been cursed by a demon passed down through generations, hence the title Hereditary. With the recent death of the grandmother, the mother inherits the demon who then passes it on to her children. The cult that the curse originated from has a goal to use a young male as a host for the demon Paimon, whom they worship. This demeaning description does not do the movie’s cinematic production half justice.

1. Insidious (2010, 2013, 2015, 2018)

The first two films hone in on a couple whose son mysteriously enters a comatose state and becomes a vessel for evil entities. The family is continuously haunted by demons from a forbidden realm known as the Further. The third film focuses on the psychic who helped the family only this time she comes to the aid of a young girl who calls out to the dead. The fourth feature follows the psychic when her own family becomes haunted. The series as a whole is my favorite of the horror movie franchises considering Insidious doesn’t just rely on jump scares to make itself scary.