The 10 Scariest Horror Movies Ever << Rotten Tomatoes – Movie and TV News
If you were poking around rt about a week and a half ago, you may have come across a little poll we were running on the site to try and determine what the scariest movie ever is. Based on other lists and suggestions from the RT staff, we rounded up 40 of the scariest movies ever made and asked you to vote for the one that terrified you the most. As it happens, a British broadband service comparison website decided to conduct a scientific experiment to determine the same thing, and their results were… surprising, to say the least. Did the readers of Rotten Tomatoes agree with the findings? read on to find out what our fans determined were the 10 scariest horror movies ever.
1. the exorcist (1973)
(Photo by ©Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)
You may not agree that The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever, but you probably won’t be too surprised to see it at the top of our list either, with an impressive 19% of all votes cast. William Friedkin’s adaptation of the novel of the same name about a boy possessed by a demon and attempts to banish said demon became the highest-grossing R-rated horror film in history and the first to be nominated for best picture in the oscars (he earned another nine nominations and took home two trophies). but outside of its commercial and critical bona fides, the film is well known for the mass hysteria it inspired across the country, from protests over its controversial subject matter to widespread reports of nausea and fainting in the audience. its dramatic pace and somewhat dated effects may seem quaint in comparison to contemporary horror, but there’s no denying the power the film continues to have over first-time viewers.
2. hereditary (2018)
(Photo by ©A24)
Writer-director Ari Aster caused quite a stir with his feature directorial debut, a dark family drama about the nature of grief wrapped in a supernatural horror film. toni collette earned a place in the pantheon of great oscar snubs with her portrayal of troubled mother annie, which slowly rose to 11, but the film’s biggest surprise came courtesy of… well, we won’t spoil it here . Suffice it to say, Hereditary moved moviegoers so much that it instantly made Aster a director to watch and skyrocketed to second place on our list.
3. the spell (2013)
(Photo by Michael Tackett/©Warner Bros. Pictures)
James Wan has earned a place among the modern masters of horror, directing such films as Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious and this chilling true-inspired based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine. burrow. The Warrens, best known for their work on the strange case that inspired the Amityville horror films (which played a part in Conjuring 2), were played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who provided the foundation for the effective jump scares and moments. of madness with a believable world-weariness. Together, Wan and his co-stars found new terror in familiar genre tropes, and the end result is a sprawling cinematic universe that just keeps growing.
4. the shining (1980)
(Photo by ©Warner Brothers)
literally dozens of stephen king novels and stories have been adapted for the big screen, and several of those movies are considered classics today, like carrie, misery, and pet sematary (and that doesn’t even take into account the stuff that are not horror). like shawshank redemption and stay with me). But the mother of them all is easily Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining. A marvel of set and production design and a genuinely unnerving take on the traditional haunted house story, The Shining features a host of memorable visuals and an iconic performance from Jack Nicholson. The film’s relatively few jump scares are still absolutely bone-chilling, but its true power lies in the way it creeps under your skin and makes you experience Jack Torrance’s slow descent into madness. it’s rightfully considered one of the best horror movies ever made, coming in fourth place in our poll.
5. the texas chainsaw massacre (1974)
(Photo by Everett Collection)
While the top four films on this list collectively garnered 42% of the total votes counted, they were followed by six films that garnered around 3% of the votes each. that is, these last six films were separated by no more than 60 votes. The first of these is this low-budget slasher directed and co-written by Tobe Hooper, very loosely inspired by the crimes of Ed Gein. Texas Chainsaw’s grungy aesthetic helped give it an air of authenticity, making it all the more terrifying (“this could happen, guys!”), and the massive, menacing presence of Gunnar Hansen’s leathery face paved the way. for other brutes like michael. myers and jason voorhees. Multiple attempts have been made to breathe new life into the franchise, and we have another on the way, but none have matched the original in sheer, over-the-top, power-tool-inspired horror.
6. the ring (2002)
(Photo by ©DreamWorks courtesy Everett Collection)
It’s always a tricky proposition to take something that works well for one culture and try to translate that formula successfully for another, but gore verbinski did it with the ring. A remake of Japanese director Hideo Nakata’s acclaimed thriller about a cursed videotape, Verbinski’s version retained the startling visuals of the original film: the ghost of a girl in a white dress with long black hair covering her face. , and discovered that it was very scary. of audiences no matter where they came from. While the film was not as well regarded as its predecessor, it features a committed performance from then-up-and-coming Naomi Watts, and for many, served as an introduction to East Asian horror cinema.
7. Halloween (1978)
(Photo by ©Compass International Pictures)
Coming seventh on our list is the movie that introduced the world to the scream queen of all time, jamie lee curtis, and put john carpenter on the map. Halloween is frequently cited as one of the earliest examples of the slasher genre as we know it today, and while it may not feature the same kind of realistic gore we’ve come to expect from movies in that category, it packs a lot of tension. and some inventive thrills in a relatively small-scale package. The film’s legacy is also pretty untouchable: Michael Myers’s mask has become legendary, and the giant, unstoppable killer and “final girl” have become ingrained in the horror lexicon. there’s a reason the franchise is still going after more than 40 years.
8. sinister (2012)
(Photo by ©Summit Entertainment)
for those who didn’t read the “scientific study” mentioned above, we finally come to the movie that crowned the most terrifying. Before joining the MCU with 2016’s Doctor Strange, director Scott Derrickson had amassed a few horror films, a couple of which garnered a cult following. one of them was this small-scale haunted house/possession story about a true crime writer (ethan hawke) who moves his wife and kids into a house where a family was murdered, only to discover the new place might already have quite an evil environment. tenant. writer c. Robert Cargill was reportedly inspired to write the script based on a nightmare he had after seeing the ring, and the story shares a bit of a similarity to that film, with the creepy angle of the snuff film. but for many who watched it, the dramatic reveals and lurid scenes far outweighed any recycled genre trope that might have been present. Plus, there’s at least one report that it’s the scariest movie ever made, so it must count for something.
9. insidious (2010)
(Photo by ©FilmDistrict courtesy Everett Collection)
james wan already appeared higher on the list, but before he and patrick wilson cast the spell, they worked together on this supernatural thriller about a boy who falls into a coma and begins to channel a malevolent spirit. The story’s skeletons weren’t the most groundbreaking, but pale frequent collaborator Leigh Whannell infused it with a compelling enough mythology to spawn three more installments. Wan also stated that insidious was meant to be a kind of corrective to saw’s outright violence, forcing him to create something on a more spiritual level, and the end result is an effective chiller featuring what is frequently considered one of the best. scares never put on screen.
10. is (2017)
(Photo by Brooke Palmer/©Warner Bros.)
fear of clowns is a very real thing, even if it has become so common to announce it that it feels fake. If you need more evidence, we refer you to the 2017 box office gross, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, which surpassed The Exorcist’s 44-year record as the highest-grossing horror film in history. oh, and of course, his 10th place on this list. Andy Muschietti’s big-budget adaptation relied on nostalgia to tell the story of children scarred by trauma, while Bill Skarsgard’s take on pennywise the evil, shapeshifting clown was bizarre and disturbing in every way. throw in a healthy dose of jump scares, a handful of impressive cutscenes, and some top-notch cgi, and you have a recipe for a horror movie that’s fun and full of scares.
thumbnail image by ©filmdistrict courtesy of everett collection
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