The 10 Best Horror Films You've Never Heard Of
Don't expect any comforting, familiar titles here.
1. Pontypool (2008)
Get ready for a trip to the titular small town in Ontario, Canada. This is not your typical zombie movie, I promise. It's a brainy (pun intended) take on the genre that plays out almost entirely in a radio station. Its Rotten Tomatoes score stands at a solid 84%, and deservedly so. The film presents an entirely different type of outbreak where language is the virus.
How's that for a twist? Without spoiling too much, the listeners of the radio station start to act... unusually after certain words are spoken on air. With its tight location and excellent performance by Stephen McHattie, Pontypool takes an original spin on the horror genre; wouldn't want to miss this one.
2. Lake Mungo (2008)
This mockumentary-style Australian film centers around a family dealing with the drowning death of their daughter. The eeriness starts when they begin to find evidence she was leading a secret life, and potentially dabbling in the supernatural. Lake Mungo is more of a slow-burn psychological horror than an outright scare-fest, but the build-up leads to some genuinely haunting revelations. The movie holds an impressive 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Don't be fooled by the documentary format; this film delivers some pretty real chills.
3. Noroi: The Curse (2005)
This Japanese horror uses a found footage style to tell a sprawling and deeply complex ghost story. A paranormal investigator dives into a mysterious curse that's linked to a string of suicides, demonic possession, and a creepy kid psychic. Yes, it's as unsettling as it sounds. This film stands out because it relies more on atmosphere and tension-building than cheap jump scares. It's a long film, clocking in at over two hours, but it's worth the patience.
4. The Canal (2014)
Back to the English-speaking world with this Irish gem. The Canal follows a film archivist who suspects his house is haunted after he discovers that a murder took place there a century ago. As he delves deeper into the history of the crime, his life starts to unravel. It's a supernatural horror that combines elements of psychological thriller. The cinematography is especially worth noting, as it uses colors and shadows effectively to create an eerie atmosphere. With an 72% Rotten Tomatoes score, it's a criminally overlooked film.
5. The Wailing (2016)
South Korean film The Wailing starts with a little girl becoming violently ill, and her father, a police officer, begins to suspect that something supernatural is responsible. As he investigates, he uncovers a web of mystery involving a stranger in town, a shaman, and the safety of his own family. This movie isn't just scary; it's dense with symbolism and subtext. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 99%, it's a must-watch if you're into films that require a bit of thinking along with your scares.
6. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
South Korea seems to have a knack for making absolutely chilling horror films, and A Tale of Two Sisters is no exception. This story revolves around two sisters who return home after a stint in a mental institution, only to be confronted by their wicked stepmother and a house filled with secrets.
As the plot unfolds, we're met with scenes of intense psychological horror that are as much about family dynamics as they are about anything supernatural. The film was a box office hit in South Korea and holds an 85% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
7. The Skin I Live In (2011)
Brace yourselves for this one. The Skin I Live In is a Spanish psychological horror thriller directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Antonio Banderas stars as a plastic surgeon who develops a synthetic skin that can withstand any kind of damage, all while keeping a mysterious woman prisoner in his mansion and basically experimenting on her. As the plot unfolds, we uncover a dark tale of obsession, revenge, and identity.
The film might not be 'scary' in the traditional sense, but it's deeply unsettling, borderline disturbing, and will stick with you long after it ends. The film's Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 81%, and it grossed a total of $32.17 million worldwide, a decent haul for an independent foreign film.
8. Dead of Night (1945)
We're traveling back in time to 1945 for this British classic. Dead of Night is an anthology horror film, with each segment directed by a different director. The frame narrative revolves around an architect who is trapped in a recurring nightmare, while each of the dream sequences is a different horror tale.
The film encompasses everything from haunted mirrors to creepy ventriloquist dummies, blending both psychological and supernatural horror. The film was a box office success in the UK and significantly influenced future anthology horror films. Martin Scorsese has listed Dead of Night as one of his favorite horror films.
9. Kill List (2011)
Kill List is a British horror-thriller that starts off like a crime drama and then takes a sudden left turn into horror territory. The story follows an ex-soldier turned hitman who is roped into a new assignment by his old buddy. As he starts to eliminate the targets on the 'kill list', he realizes that he's stuck in a world of cults and dark rituals. The movie effectively uses its low-budget to its advantage, creating a chilling atmosphere that complements the increasingly disturbing plot. It's an intense ride with a twist ending that will leave you stunned.
10. The Seventh Victim (1943)
A true classic, The Seventh Victim is a film from the era of shadowy noir horrors. The plot centers around a young woman searching for her missing sister, only to stumble upon a Satanic cult in Greenwich Village. The movie might not have the gore or jump scares modern audiences are accustomed to, but it's dripping with a quiet, menacing dread that builds as the story progresses. Despite its age, The Seventh Victim offers an eerily modern view of urban isolation and existential despair, making it a timeless entry in the horror genre.