Every year, as the autumn leaves turn and darkness descends earlier, an irresistible chill runs down the spine. Halloween approaches, and with it, the perfect excuse to dive into the darkest corners of cinema. So, without further ado, here are 10 of the most spine-tingling horror films ever made, each of which promises a unique, unforgettable scare this Halloween.
At the pinnacle of our list is Hereditary, the 2018 film directed by the master of slow-burning horror, Ari Aster. It tells the tale of the Graham family, haunted by generational secrets that unravel in increasingly terrifying ways after the death of a cryptic grandmother. Toni Collette’s powerful turn as as the family matriarch brings a shiver-inducing intensity to the film. Hereditary is a haunting exploration of inherited trauma with one of the most memorable kill scenes we’ve seen in ages.
As darkness falls and shadows lengthen 2008 thriller The Strangers directed by Bryan Bertino, takes centre stage. This tale of relentless, inexplicable home invasion brings terror close to home. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman find themselves trapped in a harrowing game of cat and mouse with masked intruders (shout out to local talent Gemma Ward). What makes this film truly unnerving is its basis in real events, making it a chilling reminder that sometimes, evil lurks just beyond the doorstep.
In 2019, Jordan Peele gifted us with Us a film that seamlessly weaves social commentary into its horror tapestry. It follows a family who confront their malevolent doppelgängers while on vacation. The duality of human nature and the darkness lurking within us all are the unsettling themes at the heart of this movie. Lupita Nyong’o’s mesmerising performance elevates Us into a thought-provoking, pulse-pounding journey into the unknown.
Robert Eggers’ 2015 directorial debut The Witch transports us to the unforgiving wilderness of 1630s New England. As a Puritan family grapples with supernatural forces and paranoia, a malevolent presence stalks them. This atmospheric, slow-burning tale is a prime example of historical horror. The authentic language and eerie period-accurate setting make The Witch an unsettlingly supreme example of the subtly sinister that lingers long after the credits roll.
Who hasn’t stood in the bathroom and said Candyman four times, never a fifth, after watching this epic fantasy? A dark urban legend brought to life, Candyman is a haunting exploration of the intersection between folklore and reality. Directed by Bernard Rose in 1992, this film takes us to the decaying Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago, where a malevolent entity known as Candyman awaits those who dare to summon him. With its gripping atmosphere and a chilling performance by Tony Todd as the titular character, Candyman is a terrifying tale that transcends time.
We can’t discuss horror classics without invoking Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. This 1980 masterpiece is a psychological labyrinth that takes us to the desolate Overlook Hotel. Jack Nicholson’s iconic portrayal of a writer descending into madness is a performance that has left an indelible mark. The chilling corridors, the haunted twins, and the labyrinthine hedge maze have become iconic symbols of cinematic terror.
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece, Psycho remains a cornerstone of suspense and horror. The film tells the story of Marion Crane, who stumbles upon the eerie Bates Motel and its enigmatic owner, Norman Bates, portrayed masterfully by Anthony Perkins. The film’s influence can still be felt today, especially in the infamous shower scene, a masterclass in suspense and shock that transcends time.
Before there was American Horror Story: Delicate there was Roman Polanski’s 1968 horror classic, Rosemary’s Baby. A devilishly disturbing tale of a pregnant woman, played by Mia Farrow, who suspects her neighbours are involved in a sinister cult. The film builds a sense of creeping dread, and its exploration of paranoia and the horrors of pregnancy taps into primal fears.
William Friedkin’s 1973 horror opus, takes possession horror to new heights. The story of a young girl, Regan who was played by an incredible Linda Blair, possessed by a demonic force, still sends shivers down the spine. The film’s unflinching portrayal of exorcism and the power of evil is both captivating and terrifying. It has earned its place as one of the most iconic horror films in history.
Jordan Peele, known for his thought-provoking horror, strikes again with Get Out. This 2017 film blends social commentary with spine-tingling horror, as a young African-American man uncovers the sinister secrets of his girlfriend’s family during a weekend visit. Get Out is a chilling exploration of racial tensions and mind control, and it delivers scares with a side of incisive satire.
This Halloween dim the lights, secure the doors, and prepare for a marathon of pure, unadulterated horror with these top 10 films. Whether you seek psychological torment, supernatural horrors, or suspenseful thrills, these movies promise a diverse range of spine-chilling experiences. As the credits roll and the darkness encroaches, you’ll realise that true horror isn’t confined to clichés—it’s lurking in the shadows, waiting to unleash its sinister grip on your soul.