Halloween is always the perfect time to hang out with friends and watch a super scary movie, but I feel like people also think that scary means horror and that horror means scary, which is not true. There are movies that aren’t considered “horror” that are utterly terrifying that you may want to consider checking out.
This now-classic thriller relies on a simple, seemingly cliché plotline: new, passionate cop gets paired with soon-retiring, seasoned detective to solve a series of mysterious murders. However, once the movie really gets going, it turns out to be a twisted story that has plenty of scares. With incredible performances from Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as the lead roles, you’re sure to get so invested in the plot that the terrifying tale will stick with you for a long time.
Scariest moment: The discovery of the sloth victim.
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)
I initially thought Pan’s Labyrinth was a children’s movie—wow was I wrong. Besides being rated R for “graphic violence and some language”, “Pan’s Labyrinth” contains many dark images and moments revolving around a fearful, but whimsical, young girl. Director Guillermo del Toro is amazing at creating a world so intriguing that you want to explore it more despite how terrifying it is.
Scariest moment: The Pale Man scene.
“Requiem for a Dream” (2000)
“Requiem for a Dream” is a story of addiction as told through four interconnected characters. Doesn’t sound too scary? By showing visceral images of drug use, alongside the hallucinations that are caused, allows audiences to see some horrific images, and the extreme close-ups and quick cuts even further contribute to the unease that viewers feel while watching. The shockingly realistic performances of Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans and especially Ellen Burstyn are what brings the true terror to the film. This is not a movie that you’d ever want to watch more than once.
Scariest moment: There’s no way I could pick just one, but the fridge hallucination and the infected arm are among the scariest.
“Coraline” is probably the most terrifying children’s movie to exist, which is unsurprising since it’s an adaptation of a Neil Gaiman book from Henry Selick, whose films are always tinged with dark images and moments. Many think that “Coraline” couldn’t be scary because it’s an animated children’s movie, but there are tons of scares in this otherwise fun picture.
Scariest moment: Any scene with Coraline’s button-eyed mother.
Another movie about drug addiction, “Trainspotting” is slightly less disturbing than “Requiem for a Dream” but still has some very harsh imagery. While many parts of “Trainspotting” can be laugh-out-loud funny, the overall content is upsetting, especially when viewers see the darker sides of drug abuse. Scenes in which Ewan McGregor’s character is hallucinating are particularly unsettling.
Scariest moment: The baby hallucination scene.
“No Country for Old Men” (2007)
The Best Picture winning film may be a crime drama about a group of interconnected characters all after the same thing, but the behavior of the character is what pushes it into terrifying territory. Javier Bardem’s callous performance in particular is chilling, and every time he comes on screen, audiences are on the edge of their seats in anticipation and fear of what is about to happen.
Scariest moment: The coin flip scene.
“Un Chien Andalou” (1929)
While only being a 17-minute short, this classic piece of film history is full of unsettling moments. You’ll be shocked to see how effective the special effects are despite being made in the 1920s. There is no real narrative to the film, but it’s still a wildly interesting, albeit disturbing, watch.
Scariest moment: The eyeball cutting scene.