1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This film was ground breaking when it premiered. It is one of Wes Craven’s crowned jewels. This movie was the world’s first introduction to a character that we love to hate, Freddy Krueger. It has spawnedsubsequent films, games, television shows, and influenced pop culture.
This film explores how terrifying it is when you don’t know what is reality, and what is a nightmare. Ever since Craven created this film the world hasn’t been able to enough of Freddy and his dastardly deeds.
2. Insidious 1 & 2 (2010 & 2013)
I love these films. They center around a family that experiences contact with spirits in their home, which become dangerous when their young son becomes entangled within the spirit world.
The first film is suspenseful, but chapter two takes the scare factor to a whole new level.
3. Scream 1-4 (1996-2011)
Scream is my favorite slasher film series. All four films are funny, witty, and speckled with a little bit of terror.
The best part about these films is how they are able to make use of cliché horror tropes while poking fun at them.
4. The Conjuring (2013)
Who doesn’t love a good old possession film. It is based on the experience of spiritualists Ed and Lorrain Warren, who took on a terrifying haunting case of a family that was being haunted by something very dark in their home.
I was on edge of my seat the whole time, and the fact that this film is based on true events makes it that much scarier.
5. The Sixth Sense (1999)
This movie is M. Night Shayamalan’s greatest achievement. Everyone should see The Sixth Sense. It is another film that explores the bounds of reality and the power of the mind. Bruce Willis plays a psychologist who discovers more than he anticipates about death when he takes on a young, troubled boy as a patient.
It has an enthralling, languid pace and plot. You really become connected to the characters, which is something that you don’t find with most horror films.
6. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
This film is very different from all the others on this list. It tells the story of multiple people in a town on Halloween night. The anthology covers story lines that include urban legends, serial killers, and supernatural creatures.
I get a Crypt Keeper/Are You Afraid of The Dark vibe from Trick ‘r Treat. It’s creepy, campy, and a great way to get into the Halloween spirit (there are also whispers of a possible sequel in the works).
7. The Skeleton Key (2005)
If you love Louisiana Voodoo lore, this film is a must. Kate Hudson plays the character of a hospice worker who becomes a caregiver for an elderly woman and her terminally ill husband, who live in an isolated plantation home.
Through Hudson’s eyes you slowly learn of the dark hoodoo rituals being practiced within the small Louisiana town.
8. The Ring (2002)
This is the kind of movie that really messes with your mind. The Ring is a horror film that tells the tale of a dangerous tape that causes those who watch it to die.
It is a remake of a Japanese film, and like most horror films that come from Japan, it is built upon an intricately woven story line and has anticipation that builds slowly through the film.
9. The Lost Boys (1987)
Probably one of my favorite vampire films. This movie is pure camp. Great for when you want something that has supernatural themes but is still light-hearted and fun. Oh and the 80’s outfits and hairstyles are extremely worth watching it for!
10. Sinister (2012)
This movie is chilling in the best way possible. It tells the story of a true crime novelist who gets in too deep when he puts his own life and family at stake in order to uncover a sinister crime for his next novel.
Sinister is not for the faint of heart. I had to sleep with lights on after watching this, but I fully recommend it to those who relish films that chill you to the bone.
11. Psycho (1960)
If you are new to the horror genre this is a must-see. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this movie is known as the first slasher film and one of the greatest in film history.
There are so many cultural references that can be traced back to this film, including the infamous shower stabbing scene. When you watch it you’ll be saying “so that’s where that came from” the whole time.