August 3, 2011 5:49 AM   Subscribe

Me and my manfriend like scary movies but are having trouble finding ones that actually scare us and make us scream. Help!

Most horror movies these days are just gorey and that doesn't bother either of us much. We've seen the SAW movies and they don't get much more than a shoulder shrug. I enjoy the Scream franchise but they aren't all that scary. The problem is also that we have seen a tremendous number of horror movies so we're having trouble finding ones that we haven't seen yet. Plus, we're a little desensitized.

The types of movies that usually scare us the most are atmospheric really tense ones, especially ones involving hauntings and demonic possessions. We're fine with foreign language and J-horror is usually pretty good. Really, we don't care about the genre or anything else so long as it has some real scares and moments that make you scream out loud and that give you the creeps that last even once the movie is done.

Examples of movies that scared us:
- Paranormal Activity 1/2
- Insidious
- Quarantine/[Rec]
- 1408
- The Ring/Ringu
- Descent
posted by gwenlister to Grab Bag (61 answers total) 112 users marked this as a favorite
You are in the wrong genre - try Lars von Trier and his Antichrist.
posted by JJ86 at 5:56 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Drag me to Hell scared me, but includes Sam Raimi's campy humor.
posted by teabag at 5:56 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Session 9"

While this movie did not make me scream out loud, it definitely left me disturbed for a bit.
posted by Debaser626 at 6:05 AM on August 3, 2011 [9 favorites]

Let The Right One In sounds right up your alley.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:11 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

The Possession of David O'Reilly sounds right up your street. Case 39 would suit you too, and has the added horror of having Zellweger in it.
posted by Elmore at 6:14 AM on August 3, 2011

Best answer: Candyman. By far the best horror movie I've seen in a while. It isn't quite on the level of The Shining, but it is closer that anything I have seen in a while in that it actually managed to disturb me a little after watching it.
posted by 517 at 6:16 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Skeleton Key spooked me right out.
posted by Glinn at 6:21 AM on August 3, 2011

Have you watched any of those fake documentaries featuring ghost hunters and psychics visiting haunted places? They can be pretty good because they try to be as authentic as possible.

How's your setup? Preferably it should just be the two of you, after dark, in total darkness. If you're already doing this, how about reading some ghost stories or other scary stuff before watching the movies? That should heighten your sensitivity.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:30 AM on August 3, 2011

Best answer: My favourite horror movie is Noroi/The Curse, which - I won't spoil anything, but it's J-horror framed as a documentary/professional investigation (but without too much Blair Witch shakycam) and is marvellously creepy.

You don't mention Ju-on: The Grudge in your list, and for my money it's one of the best of the 2000s J-horror wave. It's a bit cheap-looking, and I can't really say how it'll look to someone desensitised to movie ghosts - I'm the same way, but I saw it years ago and at the time it scared the crap out of me (and avoid the American remake - I'm no purist, but in this case it really is dire!).
posted by emmtee at 6:32 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Eye has some great scare scenes and, though rather derivative, Shutter has some nice moments.

The scariest film I remember is Nigel Kneale's TV adaptation of The Woman in Black. Unfortunately there's some problem with the rights, so you can only get it legitimately by paying silly money on eBay. Probably easy to find online though.
posted by permafrost at 6:33 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I also find those movies you mentioned good and scary, since you don't mind horror with subtitles: the Devil's Backbone. I also always recommend Legion (Exorcist III) as very scary and just a good movie.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:36 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Noroi/The Curse. I also really liked R-Point.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:38 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

El orfanato and Spoorloos remain highly unsettling long after you've drawn back the curtains.
posted by joannemullen at 6:46 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

You could try 장화, 홍련 (A Tale of Two Sisters). Pretty scary Korean psychological horror film. Beautiful mise en scène and soundtrack though.
posted by hellomina at 6:49 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My other half just reminded me of Dark Water, another mid-2000s J-horror classic. It's a bit more of a slow burner than some, but the payoff is unexpected and worth it.

Oh, and A Tale of Two Sisters is exceptional psychological/supernatural horror. It's up there with Noroi in my favourite horror.

I'm also deeply sorry and can't believe I'm recommending this, but I can't go by without mentioning The Human Centipede. It's by no means a good movie, and it's very much a toss-up whether you'll find it nightmarish or hilarious (or both!) but it certainly doesn't rely on explicit gore, and the premise alone has been known to give some people sleepless nights.
posted by emmtee at 6:49 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Martyrs. Not really a recommendation. Just know that it exists and would scare you
posted by Akeem at 6:52 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

These days I pretty much only watch Asian horror (Japan and South Korea make the best) because I love how unsettled I feel throughout. Dark Water (avoid the remake) was amazing. As was The Eye.

Haute Tension, Let the Right One In, and Frailty are also all great tense-making horror movies.
posted by eunoia at 6:52 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Almost positive yall have seen the exorcist and shining. I recall House on Haunted Hill having some truly disturbing moments. However, if possible, pick up a playstation 2 and get Silent Hill 2 (and maybe 1 and 3 as well) The game Fatal Frame also fits nicely.
posted by Jacen at 7:11 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are we only talking contemporary? Carpenter's THE THING is what I think of when I think atmosphere and dread. I think I'm the only person who thought PRINCE OF DARKNESS was scary but that's another atmosphere movie to me.

I have no personal experience with it but REC has been on my short list for a while because of all the positive things I have heard about it.

I had to look in my Netflix history to remember the name but I remember finding RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR disturbing but obviously not in the most memorable of ways. Similarly I didn't think SPLICE was a good movie (too many "why would you DO that?" horror movie moments) but several things in it disturbed me for weeks.
posted by phearlez at 7:11 AM on August 3, 2011

Best answer: I remember many years ago watching Event Horizon and being so scared I swore I'd never watch it again. Now, that said - this was at least a decade ago, so it could be a terrible movie and I might have just been too young at the time. *That* said, I've never watched it again.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:15 AM on August 3, 2011 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Ju-on made me shriek so loudly and with such terror that my friend's cat bit me on the nose in a fit of confused self-defense.

On preview: ARGH EVENT HORIZON. I saw that at some LA theatre where they have tiny speakers in the headrests of the seats, so all the spooky awful sounds the characters heard behind them, we heard behind us. Two people I was with had to go outside and huddle together in the sunshine halfway through.
posted by elizardbits at 7:19 AM on August 3, 2011 [4 favorites]

These have both been mentioned, but I'll second El Orfanato and [REC] as great films, definitely in the vein of those you say you liked. I have not seen the American remake of REC, but the original Spanish film is creepy, surprising, and very well done.
posted by griffey at 7:20 AM on August 3, 2011

Audition is rather unsettling.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:21 AM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

Possession (1981) isn't a exactly horror movie, but pretty unsettling.
posted by beerbajay at 7:26 AM on August 3, 2011

Some that always freak me out, not all are ghost movies:
The Haunting
The Serpent and the Rainbow
The Mist
The Changeling
Something Wicked This Way Comes
posted by heatvision at 7:32 AM on August 3, 2011

Best answer: Seconding Ju-On.

I really liked Marebito - it has pretty much no jump scares at all, just a constant sense of mounting dread, a sense that something is terribly, terribly wrong.

Uzumaki is closer to splatstick than straight horror but has a genuine unsettling vein running through it. It's much less serious than the comic it's based on. Nevertheless. Worth seeing.

May, directed by Lucky McKee, is one of my favorite movies. It's considered horror but spends most of its time not being horror at all; instead it builds and builds towards an inevitable and horrifying outcome.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:49 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, Paperhouse. It scared me so much that I couldn't watch it again. And then I did and it was just as scary.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:57 AM on August 3, 2011

Black Death may not make you scream but its got the atmosphere you are seeking
posted by supermedusa at 8:04 AM on August 3, 2011

Best answer: Suspiria by Dario Argento.
posted by cross_impact at 8:10 AM on August 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Perhaps a bit outside the genre, but man oh man -- is it ever creepy. Haunts you for days. Swallows you up and refuses to spit you out at the end.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:11 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: "Ils", (US title is "Them"). French movie, in spite of IMDB's description.

"The Descent" (although don't bother with the sequel).

Those are the two OMGOMGOMG movies I've seen in recent years. The latter in particular -- think "127 Hours" with monsters.
posted by GriffX at 8:37 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Another vote for Exorcist III. There's this one scene (don't worry, no spoilers, but you'll know which one I'm talking about after you see it) that's one of the most brilliant, non-gory, makes-you-jump-out-of-your-skin moments I've ever seen.
posted by scody at 8:45 AM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

(argh, yes scody, just reading your description reminded me, now I'm all goosebumpy)
posted by crush-onastick at 8:56 AM on August 3, 2011

Best answer: Seconding Session 9. Holy hell.

And - depending where you are on the M. Night Shamalyan "hack/genius" continuum, Signs may also work. It seems like you like things which remember that "the monster you can't see is far, far scarier than the monster you can."

Which also reminds me: Blair Witch Project.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:01 AM on August 3, 2011

The Crazies (2010)
posted by needsnoprosecutor at 9:13 AM on August 3, 2011

Best answer: The Spiral Staircase (1945, Robert Siodmak)
The Night of the Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)
The Haunting (1963, Robert Wise)
Race with the Devil (1975, Jack Starrett)
The Thing (1982, John Carpenter)
The Vanishing (1988, George Sluizer)
Paperhouse (1988, Bernard Rose)
Santa Sangre (1989, Alejandro Jodorowsky)
The Exorcist III (1990, William Peter Blatty)
The Reflecting Skin (1990, Philip Ridley)
Mute Witness (1994, Anthony Waller)
Session 9 (2001, Brad Anderson)
High Tension (2003, Alexandre Aja)
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007, Scott Glosserman)
The Orphanage (2007, Juan Antonio Bayona)
Let the Right One In (2008, Tomas Alfredson)
The House of the Devil (2009, Ti West)
Triangle (2009, Christopher Smith)
I Saw the Devil (2010, Ji-woon Kim)
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:45 AM on August 3, 2011 [6 favorites]

Thirst 2009
Audition 1999 (Both from S. Korea)
Funny Games (US remake, 2007)
posted by wowbobwow at 9:49 AM on August 3, 2011

Let The Right One In sounds right up your alley.

Also consider the American remake:

Let Me In

Very well done, slow build up with plenty of character development. It's about as good as a Hitchcock classic.
posted by de void at 9:59 AM on August 3, 2011

Drag me to Hell scared me, but includes Sam Raimi's campy humor.

Just to interject, I thought this was an awesome combination. It really is a funny movie, but it makes you laugh in this sort of deranged, high-pitched way. The humor and the tension sort of elevate each other. That said, there is a lot of gross-out action which might not be your speed.

Suspiria is great too, though I'm not sure it's what you're looking for either; it has more of a "bad acid trip" flavor to it. It is definitely one of the most gorgeous horror movies ever made, though.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:12 AM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Amazing suggestions all around! I've seen a lot of the ones people have suggested (Let the right one in, the orphanage, martyrs, Drag me to hell, The Descent, the Serpent and the rainbow, etc) but there are lots that are new to me and that sound good. I'll be checking out a lot of them!

And yes, I do find the monster you can't see is scarier than the one you can. Unquestionably. Signs scared the pants off me back when it first came out. Sadly, other than the Sixth Sense, nothing M Night has done since has rocked my world.
posted by gwenlister at 10:18 AM on August 3, 2011

Open Water, based on a true story and therefore unusually dreadful
posted by needsnoprosecutor at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2011

28 Days Later scared me so badly I've never watched it again. And I slept with a knife next to the bed.
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:43 AM on August 3, 2011

It's considered a slashed film, but the truth is that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre contains almost no blood at all. However, I spent the last half hour of the film more frightened than I have ever been at a movie -- I literally could not believe how terrified I was. It's a masterpiece of mood -- it's so unsettling, even from the first frame, that my girlfriend, who usually does not mind horror films, insisted I turn it off after five minutes.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2011

Don't Look Now (1973, Roeg)
Marathon Man (1976, Schlesinger)
Deliverance (1972, Boorman)
Devil's Backbone (2001, Del Toro)
The Game (1997, Fincher)
The Thing (1982, Carpenter)
The Vanishing (1988, Sluizer)
When a Stranger Calls (1979, Walton)
The Hitcher (1986, Harmon)
Rosemary's Baby (1968, Polanski)
Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005, Derrickson)
Ninth Configuration (1980, Blatty)
Alien (1979, Scott)
High Tension (2003, Aja)
Cronos (1993, Del Toro)
Frailty (2001, Paxton)
Jacob's Ladder (1990, Lyne)
posted by lilnemo at 12:26 PM on August 3, 2011

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark was a 1973 made-for-tv movie. I saw it when I was a little kid and it traumatized me (and if you look around on internet forums you'll see it traumatized plenty of other people too). It's about a couple moving into an old house and unearthing a bunch of little demon things in their basement.

I bought the DVD recently and while it is low-budget and laughably 70s, it still scared me.

And, as a bonus, it has just been remade (and written by Guillermo del Toro!) Comes out August 26th here in the US.

Just to echo some others:
Don't Look Now is not just a great horror film, but a great film that will stay with you.
Santa Sangre gets into a weird place between beauty and revulsion.

and how about Polanski's Repulsion? Psychological breakdown depicted painstakingly.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:42 PM on August 3, 2011

My tastes are similar to yours, but I thought Drag Me To Hell was an utter POS disappointment (neither scary nor funny); A Tale of 2 Sisters a big, beautiful bore; and Let the Right One In an excellent movie, but not horror or scary by any stretch.

So I'll throw out my 2 stand-bys:
1) Dead Birds - An actually scary historical horror movie.
2) The Ginger Snaps movies - less scary, but very engaging nonetheless. The 3rd one is completely different from the other 2 (again historical) but lots of fun.

And on preview, I agree with Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Not sure if it's on DVD, but the torrent is readily available.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:45 PM on August 3, 2011

There are many good recommendations here. (My one recommendation, above all, would be Ridley Scott's Alien.) However, I think something slightly different than recommendations are required.

You say you want movies that "actually scare us and make us scream" and that have "moments that make you scream out loud." I think the most important factor for having these real-world, physical reactions to horror movies is the environment in which you see them.

In other words -- you need to see movies in a packed theater on Friday night of opening weekend.


Just like comedy, in which you will laugh more when surrounded by others who are laughing, you will scare more when surrounded by others who are scared. Final Destination 5 and Fright Night are coming out soon, but Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is one you really shouldn't miss.
posted by lewedswiver at 1:32 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

The only horror movie that's only ever made me scream was the aforementioned (and already seen by you) Drag Me to Hell. I saw it in the theater though, so it was EARDRUM BLOWING SORTS OF LOUD and my screaming might have been as much a GET IT AWAY scream as an "I'm scared" one. For anyone who hasn't seen it, it's pretty much the epitome of the haunted house/funhouse sort of movie and should be seen right away.

Alien (1979) made this girl in my film class scream a few times. Some good scares for sure. [Rec] (2007) has one of the most terrifying endings I've ever seen, of the so scary the hairs on the back of your neck are tingling kind.

Want to second the psychological effects of Spoorloos. It's not screamy scary, but it's deeply unsettling and well done. If you want another terrifying psychological horror and have a high tolerance for blood/gore involving pregnant women (I have a high tolerance but admit to having felt some squeamishness over the pregnancy thing), Inside/À l'intérieur (2007) is also excellent.
posted by houndsoflove at 3:17 PM on August 3, 2011

Best answer: I found The Entity to be quite disturbing and very scary at times. I think you'd enjoy it.
posted by corn_bread at 3:31 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Hole in case you haven't seen it already? very creepy. No supernatural or haunting stuff, just brrrr.
Also, Nightwatch - only saw the remake, original Danish is supposed to be better.

Among those mentioned already, another vote for The Descent, Dark Water (original Japanese, but remake is not that bad either - creepathon either way), The Vanishing (definitely the original Dutch, stay away from remake!), The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Recently saw The Mist after seeing it mentioned here in some thread, wouldn't call it a masterpiece but not too bad in the scares and atmospheric department.

Also recently saw Long Weekend, but having just discovered it's a remake, well if I'd try the original first, because while the remake is atmospheric and creepy enough in parts, it's also rather ridiculous and annoying in others, and not really very good.
The New Daughter is another accidental find that was so-so but had its moments.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:31 PM on August 3, 2011

Also, the American version of Let the Right One In (mentioned above) is Let Me In, and it's crazy-scary and very, very well done.
posted by nosila at 4:24 PM on August 3, 2011

Best answer: I am at work, so I can't link to anything, but "Silent Hill" scared the holy living crap out of me, and I tend to be like you when it comes to horror (hate gore, not impressed by much). it has this kind of cheesy, over-the-top Hammer Horror vibe that if can get into it makes the actual horror portions of the film even more horrible. The end of "The Quiet Earth" (1985) made me call people at 3am just to make sure I was still alive. There was a much overlooked film called "Below" set in a submarine that was far better and scarier than I would have thougth possible.

Nthing "The Mist", "Uzumaki", "Susperia", and "Session 9". A slight warning: "Audition" has some really icky-squicky parts, not so much gore as DISTURBING, body horror/gross-out/violence. If that isn't your bag you may want to avoid it. The Wold Famous mentioned Mulholland Dr, which is creepy for sure, but I personally thought "Inland Empire" felt more like an actual horror film than any other of Lynch's works. there are so many scenes of unseen lurking entities, not knowing if what you are seeing is real, imagined, or a movie within a movie, and those creepy rabbit people.
posted by evilcupcakes at 4:35 PM on August 3, 2011

Nthing Silent Hill and Session 9 (every time we pass the old Danvers hospital my husband insists on quoting that movie and it still scares me to think about it). Jeepers Creepers is one of the all-time scariest movies I've ever seen.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 4:51 PM on August 3, 2011

I always forget about this one, probably because it was a mini-series, but Stephen King's Storm of the Century scared the piss out of me when I watched it on tv.

Also, I don't think it's been mentioned here, but The Fourth Kind was pretty good.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:06 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Last Exorcism is documentary-style (like Paranormal Activity) and has a few good scares.
posted by madforplaid at 6:27 AM on August 4, 2011

I thought Curse of the Blair Witch was far superior to the movie itself, particularly at setting up a creepy atmosphere.
posted by kimota at 6:49 AM on August 4, 2011

I remember many years ago watching Event Horizon and being so scared I swore I'd never watch it again. Now, that said - this was at least a decade ago, so it could be a terrible movie and I might have just been too young at the time. *That* said, I've never watched it again.

Yeah, for some reason my brother and I went to watch it in the movie theater of all places (this is remarkable because at the time, and still, I do maybe 2-3 movies in the theater/year, tops). I think we thought it was going to be a sci-fi movie. It's really not.

The plot is dumb, the characters are pretty flat, but it's scary as hell.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:50 AM on August 4, 2011

Best answer: As someone who is also always on the look out for an incredibly scary movie, I'm sorry, but so many of these suggestions are just crap. I will say that Event Horizon, Candyman and The Decent (all mentioned, numerous times) are in fact very scary and are worth watching ASAP. Just be sure to have the lights off.

Cabin Fever (2002) was pretty good in my opinion, and certainly makes you never want to go camping again.

Screamers (1995) is a sci-fi horror film, but once you realize what is going on, it gets freaky as hell. Less violence, more deep plot.

The Collector (2009) was unexpectedly good and scary (I was with friends and we were all like, HOLY SHIT this is nuts).

My Little Eye, not the scariest thing around (again) but it has a creepy ending. I won't say any more.

Movies that are NOT very scary that have been mentioned and are not worth watching:

- Let Me In (slow, slow, slow, if you liked this, you probably like rom coms)
- Paranormal Activity (the camera angles almost made me puke in the theater, the ending is a huge disappointment)
- Drag me to Hell (it's a gross out comedy just like Evil Dead, pass)
- The Mist (this is sci-fi, not horror, and no it will not scare you)
posted by darkgroove at 9:19 AM on August 4, 2011

Best answer: In The Mouth of Madness had a few good 'jump out of your seat' moments.
posted by JV at 7:56 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Thanks for this question, because I'm a horror fan and also feel the scare well has gone dry. It's so disappointing to watch a fright flick that doesn't raise goosebumps.

Here are some of my top frights:

-previously mentioned -
Sporloos (the original Vanishing)
Don't Look Now
Paranormal Activity
The Blair Witch Project
Rosemary's Baby
Jacob's Ladder
Session 9
The Exorcist
The Woman in Black

-and also-
Silence of the Lambs
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 remake w/Donald Sutherland)
Jaws (haven't seen it since the 70s, but it was mighty scary then)
posted by Paris Elk at 1:57 AM on August 6, 2011

Ink is atmospheric with some real moments of dread, but no serious terror. Mostly it's just very opaque until the end when it all falls into place.

Darkness requires some serious suspension of disbelief but has some good moments.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:23 PM on August 6, 2011

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