37 horror movies that will actually scare you

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37 horror movies that will actually scare you
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For filmmakers, horror is one of the toughest genres to get right.

Mastering a scare is something that only the most gifted of directors can manage, and there are a lot of films out that that fall very short when trying to terrify their audience.

Those that do deliver, though, succeed with aplomb: John Carpenter, George Romero and Get Out director Jordan Peele to name but a few.

For those on the hunt for scares, it can be quite hard out there, but fret no more – we’ve compiled the scariest horror films on offer, ranging from German Expressionist films from the 1920s to indie smash hit, Hereditary.

Below, we rank all the horror films that will genuinely scare you – click through the gallery to see what made the cut.

37 horror films that are genuinely scary

Funny Games (1997): Directed by: Michael Haneke. Funny Games places the horror in the familiar setting of home. It follows two young men who hold a family hostage and torture them with sadistic games. The result is far scarier than anything featuring ghosts, witches or demons. (Concorde-Castle Rock/Turner)
Funny Games (1997): Directed by: Michael Haneke. Funny Games places the horror in the familiar setting of home. It follows two young men who hold a family hostage and torture them with sadistic games. The result is far scarier than anything featuring ghosts, witches or demons. (Concorde-Castle Rock/Turner)
The Amityville Horror (1979): Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg. The Amityville Horror is based on the true story of the Lutzes, a family who were run out of their home after being terrorised by paranormal phenomena in 1975. Just one year before, Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed six members of his family in the same house. James Brolin and Margot Kidder lead this film, which became one of the biggest hits of 1979. (American International Pictures)
The Amityville Horror (1979): Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg. The Amityville Horror is based on the true story of the Lutzes, a family who were run out of their home after being terrorised by paranormal phenomena in 1975. Just one year before, Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed six members of his family in the same house. James Brolin and Margot Kidder lead this film, which became one of the biggest hits of 1979. (American International Pictures)
Audition (1999): Directed by: Takashi Miike . Japanese horror Audition (1999) follows a widower who meets a woman named Ayoma after staging auditions to meet a potential new partner. Soon, though, her dark past begins to surface, which equates to a pretty disturbing climax. (Omega Project)
Audition (1999): Directed by: Takashi Miike . Japanese horror Audition (1999) follows a widower who meets a woman named Ayoma after staging auditions to meet a potential new partner. Soon, though, her dark past begins to surface, which equates to a pretty disturbing climax. (Omega Project)
The Blair Witch Project (1999): Directed by: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez . Although parodied to death, The Blair Witch Project popularised the found-footage format to terrifying degrees in 1999. People genuinely believed they were watching real clips of three student filmmakers being terrorised by a Maryland legend known as the Blair Witch. (Artisan Entertainment)
The Blair Witch Project (1999): Directed by: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez . Although parodied to death, The Blair Witch Project popularised the found-footage format to terrifying degrees in 1999. People genuinely believed they were watching real clips of three student filmmakers being terrorised by a Maryland legend known as the Blair Witch. (Artisan Entertainment)
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920): Directed by: Robert Wiene . Black-and-white silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) is considered the quintessential work of German Expressionism, but also one of the scariest films in cinema history. It follows a hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist to commit murders, and Wiene's shadowed sets and striking visual style combines to unsettle the viewer in ways most filmmakers only dream of managing. (Decla-Bioscop)
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920): Directed by: Robert Wiene . Black-and-white silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) is considered the quintessential work of German Expressionism, but also one of the scariest films in cinema history. It follows a hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist to commit murders, and Wiene's shadowed sets and striking visual style combines to unsettle the viewer in ways most filmmakers only dream of managing. (Decla-Bioscop)
Candyman (1992): Directed by: Bernard Rose. A contemporary classic of horror cinema, 1992 film Candyman – which spawned two sequels and has a Jordan Peele-produced remake in the works – follows a graduate student whose studies lead her to the legend of a ghost who appears when you say his name three times. (TriStar Pictures)
Candyman (1992): Directed by: Bernard Rose. A contemporary classic of horror cinema, 1992 film Candyman – which spawned two sequels and has a Jordan Peele-produced remake in the works – follows a graduate student whose studies lead her to the legend of a ghost who appears when you say his name three times. (TriStar Pictures)
Cannibal Holocaust (1980): Directed by: Ruggero Deodato. Extreme enough to warrant a ban in Italy and Australia, Cannibal Holocaust (1980) was one of the first films to embrace the found-footage format – so much so that Deodato found himself charged with multiple counts of murder due to rumours that several of the film's death scenes were real. He was later cleared. (United Artists Europa)
Cannibal Holocaust (1980): Directed by: Ruggero Deodato. Extreme enough to warrant a ban in Italy and Australia, Cannibal Holocaust (1980) was one of the first films to embrace the found-footage format – so much so that Deodato found himself charged with multiple counts of murder due to rumours that several of the film's death scenes were real. He was later cleared. (United Artists Europa)
The Descent (2005): Directed by: Neil Marshall. Released in 2005, The Descent follows six women who, upon exploring a cave, battle to survive against the creatures they find inside. It's these creatures that earn this British horror film's placement on this list. (Pathé Distribution)
The Descent (2005): Directed by: Neil Marshall. Released in 2005, The Descent follows six women who, upon exploring a cave, battle to survive against the creatures they find inside. It's these creatures that earn this British horror film's placement on this list. (Pathé Distribution)
The Exorcist (1973): Directed by: William Friedkin. One of the most controversial films of all time, The Exorcist – which tells the story of the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl named Regan (Linda Blair) – became the first horror to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1974. (Warner Bros)
The Exorcist (1973): Directed by: William Friedkin. One of the most controversial films of all time, The Exorcist – which tells the story of the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl named Regan (Linda Blair) – became the first horror to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1974. (Warner Bros)
Halloween (1978): Directed by: John Carpenter. Sure, it may be dated, but John Carpenter's original Halloween film – released in 1978 – remains the daddy of all horrors. It re-defined the rule book and has been emulated in everything from Scream (1996) to Trick 'r Treat (2007). The tension, as babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) attempts to evade masked murderer Michael Myers, only heightens with every new watch. (Compass International Pictures[)
Halloween (1978): Directed by: John Carpenter. Sure, it may be dated, but John Carpenter's original Halloween film – released in 1978 – remains the daddy of all horrors. It re-defined the rule book and has been emulated in everything from Scream (1996) to Trick 'r Treat (2007). The tension, as babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) attempts to evade masked murderer Michael Myers, only heightens with every new watch. (Compass International Pictures[)
Hereditary (2018): Directed by: Ari Aster. Proving that horror is a force to be reckoned with, Hereditary became independent distributor A24's highest-grossing film around the world upon its release in 2018. It tells the story of a family who find themselves haunted after the death of their secretive grandmother and features a final act that left many of its viewers with sleepless nights. (A24)
Hereditary (2018): Directed by: Ari Aster. Proving that horror is a force to be reckoned with, Hereditary became independent distributor A24's highest-grossing film around the world upon its release in 2018. It tells the story of a family who find themselves haunted after the death of their secretive grandmother and features a final act that left many of its viewers with sleepless nights. (A24)

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