13 Essential Horror Movies To Watch For Your Annual Fright Fest

Immerse yourself in the Halloween spirit with these skin-prickling, suspenseful, and delightfully gruesome movies.

Halloween wouldn’t be complete without having your annual marathon of horror films. Whether you are into classic, bone-chilling movies or contemporary and creative ones, nothing beats the thrill of watching with your family or friends, accompanied by nibbling on your favorite bites. From jump scares to slow, dreadful scenes to the grotesque, scroll below to see which ones made it to our watch list.

The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2015)

A slow-simmering tension pervades the night of a man as he responds to the dinner invitation of his former wife. Throughout the evening, he walks around his former house, reliving trauma from his childhood to his first marriage. Anxiety is high as the man becomes suspicious of the true motives for the invitation.

Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)

The controversial French film follows the story of a young woman who takes revenge against the people who abducted and abused her in childhood. Extremely repulsive torture scenes color the screen, and along with its nihilistic tone, make for a difficult movie to watch, especially for the faint of heart.

The Lighthouse (Roger Eggers, 2019)

Witness someone else’s nightmare unfold in this movie which uses filmmaking techniques to unravel two lighthouse keepers’ descent to insanity. As they remain stuck on a remote island, the movie becomes a slow voyage into the repercussions of the two men’s isolation.

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In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2018)

Resembling a dark fairy tale, In Fabric is mesmerizing as its star: a beautiful, artery-red dress bought by a woman desiring a transformation in her life. While the idea of a haunted dress seems comical, the seductive tone, high fashion fantasies, and a little anti-consumerist symbolism make the movie inviting.

The Devil’s Advocate (Taylor Hackford, 1991)

A successful young lawyer from Florida gets invited to work in a powerful Manhattan firm. There, he meets the owner John Milton whose name is taken from the author of the classic epic about Satan, Paradise Lost. Indeed, there is a paradise with working under the charming and persuasive Milton yet his nature reveals a sinister truth.

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The Wailing (Na Hong-jin, 2016)

The South Korean film is a stellar blend of exorcism, buddy cop comedy, gore, and zombie-like infection. While these may seem like the sources of horror, the true terror lies with the movie’s captivating cinematography and skin-prickling unease. It tells the story of a policeman on a mission to save his daughter through investigating mysterious murders in the province of Gokseong.

El Orfanato (J.A. Bayona, 2007)

A woman plans to transform her childhood home, an orphanage, into a home for disabled children. As she and her family move to the orphanage, her son claims to befriend a fellow boy wearing sackcloth on his head who initially appears to be an imagined child. This Spanish film’s success is grounded on its lack of cliche techniques and the sharp suspense that permeates the story.

The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)

In this horror classic, a young FBI trainee creates a psychological profile of a serial killer with the help of a brilliant yet cannibalistic psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Involving and disturbing, the movie’s dread of what is about to unfold is overshadowed by the engaging performances of Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins as two memorable and intriguing characters.

Goodnight Mommy (Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, 2014)

This Austrian psychological horror film is intelligent and well-executed in its unraveling of the sinister truth. Twin brothers start suspecting their mother to be an impostor who came home one time after a complete cosmetic facial surgery. With her face covered in bandages, it is tough for the boys to figure her out. Yet as the movie develops, intense emotions from the suspense and physical cruelty arise.

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The People Under The Stairs (Wes Craven, 1991)

A boy and two adult robbers break into the home of their cold and apathetic landlords. As they find themselves trapped in the house, they discover a horrifying scene underneath the stairs or in the dungeon-like basement. This movie may be disguised as a children’s story but it is a gripping rendition of issues of social class, gentrification, capitalism, and racial tensions, all crude realities until the present.

The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014)

With a tall, humanoid in a top hat bearing sharp talons, anyone would be frightened to see this creature. Such is the monster in this film, the Babadook, also a central character of a pop-up storybook. A widowed mother reads this to her son who soon turns insomniac and claims to be haunted by the monster. Beyond the actual dark entity is a deep symbolism for the terrors of childhood and troubled parenting.

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

Acclaimed film director Stanley Kubrick tells the story of a writer and recovering alcoholic and his family who became temporary caretakers of a historic Overlook Hotel. The movie takes on a confusing approach as the characters slowly prove to be unreliable narrators, creating a chilling uncertainty for the events that would follow.

Velvet Buzzsaw (Dan Gilroy, 2019)

Art connoisseurs will satisfy their thirst for incredible, modern masterpieces and installations in this art-world satire. From gallery owners, critics, agents, to artists, this movie gathers all these characters and unleashes violence unto them. The horror all starts from looking at a painting long enough to notice something different in it and the rest is purely unforgettable, vile images.

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