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What are the most stressful horror movie scenes? If you think about it, part of the reason we watch horror movies is to stress ourselves out. We call it fear, but another way of describing it would be stress. Horror fans willingly volunteer to be potentially seriously filled with anxiety whenever they fire up another horror film. That's the feeling we look for when we watch fright films—being drawn into the story so much that we share the terror that the characters are feeling onscreen. It can be communal, especially when watching it in a theater. There are many such scenes, but here are ten examples of some horror film scenes that give us the worst kinds of disquiet. Read more Notes From The Abyss: Popcorn Frights Film Festival.

  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

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    Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs was a movie that made many people fearful for good reasons. There are several intense scenes in the film, but the scene in Buffalo Bill's (Ted Levine) basement is one of the most terrifying. You see, "Bill" has a pair of night vision goggles that he uses when he turns off the lights in the basement to hunt women for fun. Once Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) knows he's the killer, he turns off all the lights to have an advantage over her since she cannot see as well as he can. The moments when he is behind her, so close that he can almost touch her hair, fill audiences with panic. You're not sure that Clarice will make it, and that's what gets your pulse racing.

  • Midsommar (2019)

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    Without a doubt, many scenes in Midsommar make you feel tension. But for my money, the most frightening one is in the opening scene. When Dani (Florence Pugh) discovers her sister's actions and the horrible death of her whole family, that one gave me a severe and day-long panic attack that still haunts me. What makes it worse is her boyfriend's reaction to what has happened, not just how he treats Dani but how he talks behind her back. It's the worst nightmare of someone with trust issues and secretly what many people fear in relationships.

  • The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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    Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez's found footage tour de force took found footage films to a new level of popularity. The entire movie has many moments of fright, but it's all leading up to the nightmarish scene of the two remaining characters, Heather (Heather Donohue) and Michael (Michael Williams), trying to find the missing Josh (Joshua Leonard), after hearing his voice calling out to them. As Heather screams and Michael calls out to Josh, you can't even breathe, and the finale knocks the wind (and the hope) right out of you.

  • The Strangers (2008)

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    This is another case of the entire movie leading up to a specific moment of terror. In Bryan Bertino's The Strangers, you see the masked killers in different scenes and their intrusion into the home of James Hoyt (Scott Speedman), especially after he leaves to get some cigarettes for Kristen McKay, his girlfriend. The scene that fans find most distressing is when the couple wakes up to see all three intruders standing in front of them in masks. Just looking at the picture is creepy, but the scene is much worse.

  • [•REC] (2007)

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    [•REC] is a film where the ending has the most significant impact. It's not to say that there aren't other scary moments, but then the finale, when the remaining and uninfected survivors have nowhere else to go. The scene in the penthouse apartment is excruciatingly full of fear. You've stayed with the reporter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and the cameraman Pablo (Pablo Rosso) for the entire film, hoping they will be okay. But you also know that they are quickly running out of time. It is then that the hopelessness takes over, and the level of suspense hits its peak.

  • The Thing (1982)

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    The height of the tension in John Carpenter's film The Thing has to be the blood test scene. At that point, we all know that there's an intruder and what the shapeshifting monster does. The question is this: how many of the camp's residents have been taken over by the thing? When R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) comes up with the idea of the blood test to find out, it isn't a relief. It's just a countdown to one or more people we know being revealed as inhuman copies. Every second of the test, until the reveal, is a rollercoaster of fear.

  • The Crazies (2010)

    <i>The Crazies'</i> best example of pure disturbing tension is the pitchfork scene. When two of the leading characters, Judy (Radha Mitchell) and Becca (Danielle Panabaker), are in the infection internment camp and strapped to gurneys, the insane school director Ben Sandborn (Larry Cedar) walks calmly through the room using a pitchfork to kill the helpless victims in the room. The apprehension that the viewer feels as he gets closer and closer when Judy and Becca have no way to fight back is alarming. It might be made worse because at least one of the people he spears seems just as crazy as he is. Read more about how a Fangoria Editor in Chief <a href="/original/i-rewatched-the-crazies-during-a-global-pandemic-and-boy-was-that-a-bad-idea/">rewatched The Crazies During A Global Pandemic, And Boy, Was That A Bad Idea</a>.
  • Nope (2022)

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    The Star Lasso Experience in Nope is what no one in the audience or part of the show imagined. The set-up for the show is eerie, but Ricky "Jupe" Park (Steven Yuen) thinks that he knows the alien presence well and has been courting its favor by feeding it horses. He doesn't think it will be dangerous to him and creates a show around it. How wrong he is. Instead of taking Lucky, the horse, whose name is prophetic, the alien presence eats Jupe, his crew, and the entire audience. You only see glimpses of what is happening, but you hear the screams of the people in the alien's guts. It's really disturbing.

  • Barbarian (2022)

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    Barbarian, written and directed by Zach Cregger, sets up the scene where Tess (Georgina Campbell) looks for Keith (Bill Skarsgård) after he lets her out of the basement and doesn't come back after going to investigate. It's brave of Tess to do, but as she finds more frightening things and tunnels underneath the house, the more the audience's anxiety increases. Everything about the situation screams, "Get out of there," but Tess is brave and wants to help. She has no idea what she is walking into. Read more about Tapping Into Motherly Instinct: Exclusive BARBARIAN BTS Photos.

  • The Conjuring (2013)

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    Lili Taylor's character Carolyn Perron searches through the dark cellar and uses a match to try and find out what is in the room, which is one of the most distressing scenes in the film. After hearing someone clap, she starts investigating the house's central rooms. When she hears the cellar door open, she knows it's a bad idea, but what else can she do? When the entity shuts the door and knocks her down the stairs, the lights go out, and she hears a voice. The audience knows that nothing good will come of this, and they are right because what happens next is enough to make you scream. Read more about The Conjuring Universe To Expand With New Series At Max.

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