Who doesn’t enjoy the kind of good scare that we get from watching a quality horror film? We love the thrills, the over the top gore, and solving the mystery of why it is all happening. But they work because they are unreal – research shows that if we watched real-life recordings of the same things, we would never make it through the film.
Whatever your reason for liking a good scary movie, they are the perfect film to watch at home after dark, either by yourself or with a trusted friend, over a bowl of popcorn.
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IMDb Score 5.4/10
This is a prequel film to the conjuring series, which are based on the real-life experiences of ghost hunters and demonologists Ed and Lorrain Warren. If you haven’t already seen The Conjuring and The Conjuring II, add them to your list for when they become available on Amazon. Whether you believe the story behind the film or not, all three films do a great job of mixing suspense and shocks with a mystery to solve. The star of the film is a haunted doll named Annabelle.
IMDB Score 6.5/10
This is a British supernatural drama directed by Nick Murphy, so it is a bit more sophisticated than some of the gore-filled films that come out of US studios. Set in the 1920s, it follows Florence Cathcart, played by Rebecca Hall, who works with the police to debunk supernatural hoaxes. Naturally, she finds herself in the middle of a real haunting when she meets a teacher from an all-boys boarding school, played by Dominic West, which is currently being haunted. This is an atmospheric mystery with enough twists to keep you guessing.
IMDB Score 6.4/10
If you haven’t seen the film that defined the found footage genre, shame on you. If you have, it is well worth re-watching, as it still manages to outclass later attempts. The film follows a group of documentary filmmakers making a film about a local legend about the Blair Witch. They soon find themselves haunted by the very thing they seek. They never emerge from their experience, but the footage they recorded was recovered and shared.
IMDB Score 5.8/10
Another British offering to the list, this film is of the found footage genre and reports to tell the story of a group of Vatican investigating an old church rumoured to be the site of a miracle. Of course, not everything is as it seems, and they quickly find themselves at the centre of a supernatural mystery and conducting a dangerous exorcism. The directorial debut from Elliot Goldner, it combines excellent acting with slow-burning shocks to keep you tied into the mystery.
IMDB Score 4.9/10
This Norwegian film starring the immensely charismatic Synnove Macody Lund starts with Catherine, played by Lund, travels to her old family estate following the death of her father. There she discovers that the area has been plagued by a series of disappearances and murders. This forces her to confront her memories of her family’s mysterious past, which she has been suppressing. Light on the blood and guts, this is a psychological thriller and a mystery to solve.
IMDB Score 6.1/10
Called Can’t Come Out to Play for UK viewers, this American horror thriller from John McNaughton is led by Natasha Calis as Maryann, an orphaned young girl who goes to live with her grandparents. Lonely, Maryann befriends a boy in a wheelchair living next door, against the strict objection of his parents. But why do they want to keep their son isolated, and what are they hiding in the basement? The movie is very watchable thanks to some strong performances from Calis, Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon.
IMDB Score 7.3/10
This American horror film stars the always impeccable Toni Collette as the mother of a family whose lives are turned upside down following the death of their secretive mother. A miniatures artist, which is creepy enough, strange things start happening to the family, starting in her workshop. The family decides to conduct a séance in order to get to the bottom of what is haunting them, and they get more than they bargained for. While following the classic formula, this film manages to be uncommonly unsettling.
IMDB Score 6.6/10
The Insidious series has proven one of the better new horror series to grace our screens. The film is led by strong performances by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as a couple seeking to uncover the secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world after their encounter in the first film. While not as good as the original, if you are a fan of the genre, this film is well worth adding to your watch list.
IMDB Score 7.9/10
This Swedish film mixes romance and horror in a chilling yet heartwarming take. A 12-year-old boy, struggling to find his place in the world, who befriends a mysterious girl who moves in next door and helps him with his problems. She turns out to have a terrible secret of her own, but this does not stop the special friendship that develops between the two. Critically acclaimed, this film also inspired an equally good American remake Let Me In, which is different enough that both are worth watching.
IMDb Score 6.3/10
Starring Teresa Palmer, this American supernatural horror centres around a family whose lives have been disrupted for years by their mother’s imaginary friend that can only live in shadows. While Palmer’s character abandoned her mother long ago, she must return in order to save her brother from the same fate she suffered as a child. However, looking at the mystery with new eyes, Palmer discovers that her mother’s friend may not be imaginary after all. The film manages to mix shocks with an unsettling atmosphere and a mystery to solve.
IMDB Score 5.4/10
Another film within the Conjuring series, the film centres on a Roman Catholic priest and a nun novitiate as they uncover an unholy secret in 1950s Romania. The film stars Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga, who is the sister of Vera Farmiga who stars as Lorrain Warren in the same film series, though she does not appear in this film. This film is highly atmospheric, and the leads turn in some strong performances, and is highly enjoyable if you don’t worry too much about a few plot inconsistencies.
IMDB Score 4.6/10
A couple dealing with some bad news decide to find some peace and tranquillity on a solitary hiking trip. However, they manage to disturb a nest of vampires, putting them in a fight for their lives, and making their troubles at home seem far less pressing. A good level of tension, this film also managed to add a new take on the well-worn mythology that appeals. A cameo from Nichola Brandon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame is also a nice Easter egg.
IMDB Score 6/10
Based on the true story behind The Exorcist, this film follows a young cleric named Michael, played by Colin O’Donoghue, who is invited to participate in the Vatican’s exorcism programme. He soon participates in a failed exorcism conducted by Father Lucas, played by none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins, which releases horror into the lives of all involved. This film was well received by the Catholic community for following the historical record, which adds a whole new level of intrigue to the film.
IMDB Score 6.8/10
This supernatural horror is also an atmospheric period piece set in 1630s New England. A separatist family set up a farm in a remote area in order to live a free life. The family soon begin to encounter evil forces in the woods beyond their farm, and the family is drawn into a world of magic and demonology. The film is led by a powerful performance by Anya Taylor-Joy as one of the family daughters. The film moves slowly, but this contributes to its deeply unsettling feel.
IMDB Score 6.4/10
As well as being a stunning period piece and supernatural horror, this movie allowed Daniel Radcliffe to showcase his range as an adult actor beyond the world of Harry Potter. Set in early 20th century England, Radcliffe plays a recently widowed lawyer who travels to a remote village to deal with the estate of his father in law, where he discovers a dark supernatural secret. More chilling that gory, you may feel like you are watching a period drama with a twist.