15 Chilling Horror Films Guaranteed To Keep You Awake At Night
Horror films have a unique power to quicken our pulses, chill our bones, and captivate us with fear of the unknown.
In this article, I’ll cover 15 frightening horror movies ranging from haunting ghost stories to demented slasher flicks that will scare you senseless.
Read on for 15 of the most chilling, nightmare-inducing horror films ever made!
From sinister supernatural forces to unrelenting serial killers, these movies showcase horror crafted to a terrifying artform.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
Considered one of the scariest movies of all time, it follows a young girl possessed by a demonic entity and two priests’ harrowing struggle to save her soul.
Fun Fact: Some theaters provided “Exorcist barf bags” due to people fainting from the intense scenes.
Standout Moment: Regan’s head spinning around with her body contorting unnaturally remains an iconic yet horrifying scene.
2. Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock pioneered the slasher/thriller genre with this saga of stolen money, assumed identities and the eerie Bates Motel run by disturbed mama’s boy Norman Bates.
Fun Fact: Hitchcock insisted audiences arrive on time by prohibiting late entry, fueling the buzz.
Standout Moment: The iconic shower scene murder with its shrieking violins invented the slasher jump scare.
3. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
A group of friends meet a gruesome fate when they encounter the deranged Sawyer clan and their chainsaw-wielding killer Leatherface while visiting an old family home.
Fun Fact: Though ultra-gory for its time, Tobe Hooper used clever editing and minimal onscreen blood to sidestep censorship.
Standout Moment: Leatherface’s sudden, terrifying first appearance at the old house’s doorway.
4. Alien (1979)
In space, no one can hear you scream. Director Ridley Scott blended sci-fi and inventive horror in this Original “haunted house in space” thriller about a predatory Xenomorph stalking the crew of a spaceship.
Fun Fact: The shocking chestburster scene featured explosive blood squibs and real visceral reactions from actors.
Standout Moment: Ripley’s climactic showdown with the beast in escape pods, culminating in her blowing it into space.
5. The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel generates creeping dread. Jack Nicholson’s descent into murderous madness at a haunted hotel chills to the bone.
Fun Fact: Kubrick’s notorious demand for repeated takes frayed Nicholson’s sanity fittingly for his unhinged character’s breakdown.
Standout Moment: Jack chopping through the bathroom door with a manic grin and uttering “Here’s Johnny!”
6. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Razor-fingered dream stalker Freddy Krueger slashes his way into teenagers’ nightmares in Wes Craven’s label-defying supernatural slasher flick.
Fun Fact: Craven named Krueger after a bully who terrorized him in elementary school.
Standout Moment: Girl dragged screaming across ceiling in surreal dream sequence shows Freddy’s horrifying powers.
7. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Found footage horror was popularised by this trendsetting film about student documentarians disappearing in the Black Hills woods while chronicling the ghostly Blair Witch legend.
Fun Fact: Viral marketing like “missing persons” flyers fueled its runaway success from Sundance hype.
Standout Moment: Heather’s tearful final monologue and the haunting house discovery ending scene felt viscerally real.
8. Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele’s acclaimed debut packs a social punch. A young black man discovers twisted motivations behind his white girlfriend’s family’s overly accommodating behavior.
Fun Fact: Peele originally envisioned a darker ending where the protagonist was lobotomized but changed it.
Standout Moment: The teacup slowly stirring builds stomach-churning tension through implications.
9. 28 Days Later (2002)
Danny Boyle reinvented the zombie genre with these hyper-aggressive infected sprinters spreading societal collapse. Cillian Murphy races for survival in deserted London.
Fun Fact: Boyle used low resolution DV cameras to achieve the stark, gritty visuals on a modest budget.
Standout Moment: Disorienting scene of Jim waking to find London devastatingly abandoned captured the eeriness.
10. The Babadook (2014)
Single mother Amelia battles worsening mental demons and a storybook monster haunting her son – a terrifying metaphor for trauma and grief.
Fun Fact: The pop-up book prop with disturbing illustrations took months to hand craft.
Standout Moment: The croaking voice from the book hooked viewers with its otherworldly menace.
11. Saw (2004)
Mocked for gore, this influential catalog of elaborate traps masterminded by Jigsaw introduced the “torture porn” subgenre, spawning a lucrative franchise.
Fun Fact: It actually features minimal onscreen blood and gore, using atmosphere and implication for dread.
Standout Moment: Dr. Gordon sawing his own leg off to escape captivity shocked even hardcore horror fans.
12. The Conjuring (2013)
Real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren are called to a haunted Rhode Island farmhouse in this ultra-creepy possessed doll/poltergeist tale based on their case files.
Fun Fact: Lorraine Warren herself visited the set, startling cast members by claiming she sensed spirits’ presences.
Standout Moment: The exorcism scene features unnerving contortions and unholy screams as the demon vacates its host.
13. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
The Dream Warriors, a group of institutionalized teens, develop dream powers to combat Freddy as Nancy from the original returns to coach them in defeating Krueger once and for all.
Fun Fact: This inventive sequel elaborated on Freddy’s mythos and introduced his signature skill of crafting ironic “poetic” fates for victims based on their fears or personality traits.
Standout Moment: Freddy’s giant syringe glove and “acupuncture” murder of the prospective med student packs a nightmarish punch!
14. Evil Dead II (1987)
Sam Raimi’s crazed, gonzo sequel amps up The Evil Dead’s gore to slapstick extremes. Bruce Campbell’s Ash fights the horrific “Deadites” with chainsaw and shotgun after demonic havoc is unleashed.
Fun Fact: Raimi employed creative camera work like “shaky cam”, subjective “evil” POV, and macro tracking shots pioneering intense new horror visuals.
Standout Moment: Ash cutting off his demon-possessed hand with the chainsaw cemented his zombie-fighting badassery.
15. Suspiria (1977)
Dario Argento pioneered the arthouse horror aesthetic with this surreal, visually stunning tale centered on an American dancer enrolling in a German ballet academy where witches secretly preside.
Fun Fact: Argento employed an aggressive three-strip Technicolor processing technique to achieve the film’s saturated, dreamlike colors.
Standout Moment: A double murder in the stark white dance hall provides high contrast, stylistic horror.
From deranged slashers to ghostly hauntings, these 15 movies represent the horror genre’s potential for capturing our deepest fears and nightmares through both creeping subtlety and shocking viscera.
So turn the lights off, settle in for the scare of your life…and whatever you do, avoid any dark corridors!