The Top 15 All-Time Scariest Movies Ever Made. Do You Agree?

By Maya Capasso · April 28, 2023, 4:01 PM EDT
The Descent Pathé Distribution
Image Credit: Pathe Distribution

With hundreds of thousands of horror movies available on streaming services, it can be tough to know which ones are terrifying and which are not. Horror buffs often struggle to feel absolute terror when we've watched so many scary movies over the years.

A user on a popular online horror forum wonders what other lovers of the genre find to be the most terrifying movies ever. Fans came together in the thread to recommend their favorites.

1. Pet Sematary (1989)

Pet Semetary Paramount Pictures

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Pet Sematary is a horror film based on a Stephen King novel about a graveyard that brings its' inhabitants back to life after they're buried there. One horror buff says the movie is so scary because of the ghost, Zelda. "Zelda in the original Pet Semetary is terrifying."

2. Goodnight Mommy (2014)

Goodnight Mommy Amazon Studios

Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

This Australian psychological horror elicits a powerful sense of dread and discomfort throughout the film. When a mother of twins returns home with a bandaged face after reconstructive surgery, her kids start to question her true identity.

3. Rec (2007)

Rec Filmax

Image Credit: Filmax.

When a late-night TV host and her cameraman visit an apartment building for a big story, the fire department soon secures the building. Unfortunately, the two are locked inside with a dangerous new virus that gives its victims superhuman strength.

4. The Ring (2002)

The Ring Dreamworks Pictures

Image Credit: Dreamworks Pictures.

After watching an infamous tape that claims viewers will die in seven days, a reporter begins to realize there is more truth to the legends than she initially thought. This 2002 movie quickly became a fright night classic because it is so scary.

5. Grave Encounters (2011)

Grave Encounters Tribeca Film

Image Credit: Tribeca Film.

A paranormal investigation team holes up in an abandoned psychiatric hospital only to realize they've made a big mistake. Grave Encounters brings the viewers into the hospital with the characters as a found footage film.

6. Sinister (2012)

Sinister Lionsgate

Image Credit: Lionsgate.

When a failing true crime writer is desperate for his next hit book, he and his family move into a presumably haunted house. He soon discovers snuff films of previous families who lived there. Can he write his next bestseller, or will his whole family suffer from his choices?

7. Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary A24

Image Credit: A24.

"Hereditary had a major impact on my emotional well-being. I'm a horror buff, and this is hands down the scariest film I've seen," writes one horror lover. This Ari Aster film follows a family and their grim journey to discover the truth about their mysterious ancestry.

8. Pulse (2001)

Pulse Dimension Films

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

This Japanese horror film brings the dark side of the internet to a whole new level. People in Tokyo begin disappearing after a student took their own life, and their spirits gather on the internet to haunt the living.

9. Fire in the Sky (1993)

Fire In The Sky Paramount Pictures

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Fire in the Sky is an alien abduction movie that makes viewers question everything. "It has the scariest alien abduction scene I've ever seen," claims one viewer. "It messed me up as a child."

10. The Descent (2005)

The Descent Pathé Distribution

Image Credit: Pathé Distribution.

Are you claustrophobic? If you aren't, The Descent might spark a new fear of dark, tight spaces. The movie follows a group of friends who visit some underground caverns for an exciting adventure. But what they find down below is more horrifying than they could imagine.

11. Alien (1979)

Alien 20th Century Fox

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Alien is renowned among horror fans for being suspenseful and climactic. A group of space travelers encounters an alien ship on their journey back to Earth and must fight for their lives to make it home safely.

12. A Dark Song (2016)

A Dark Song IFC Midnight

Image Credit: IFC Midnight.

This grim and emotional horror film is about a mother who desperately wants to contact her deceased son. So she rents out an isolated house and hires a paranormal occultist to help her connect with her late child. Fans of the movie say it provides one of the best creeps in a small space of any horror film out there.

13. Eden Lake (2008)

Eden Lake The Weinstein Company

Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

The scariest aspect of Eden Lake is the realistic and uncomfortable social interactions between the victims and the perpetrators. When a couple visits a lake house for a relaxing vacation, they're approached by a group of young locals who make their stay a living nightmare.

14. Jaws (1975)

jaws richard dreyfuss Universal Pictures

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Many critics claim that the famous shark horror film Jaws is the scariest out there and for a good reason. "It affected people in real life more than any other horror movie. It changed how people behaved and vacationed forever," one reviewer suggests.

15. The Platform (2019)

The Platform Netflix

Image Credit: Netflix.

In a disturbing prison, inmates are separated into cells placed on top of each other in a massive tower. They are all served the same meal, which descends to each cell through a large hole in the center of the floor. Those at the top feast like kings, while those at the bottom starve.

This thread inspired this post.