100 best horror movies, according to critics

Jacob Osborn on

Published in Slideshow World

Rook Films 1/101

100 best horror movies, according to critics

What makes for a truly great horror movie? Is it the jump scares and buckets of blood? A solid directorial voice? Creativity? Originality? Deeper layers of meaning? These are the questions critics might ask themselves when examining the genre from an analytical perspective. And as one will soon discover, their conclusions aren’t always tuned in to audience expectations. Nevertheless, critically-acclaimed horror is usually unique in one way or the other, and therefore worth checking out. After all, one can only take so many rote formulas and generic clichés. Right?

On the following list of top-rated horror films, there’s a little bit of everything and then some. Movies such as “Tigers Are Not Afraid” and “Under the Shadow” juxtapose supernatural terror with real-life atrocities. By contrast, films like “Halloween” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” let the slasher subgenre speak for itself. “Alien” incorporates sci-fi elements while “The Babadook” and “Rosemary’s Baby” play upon psychological tropes. Horror comedies like “Shaun of the Dead” and “What We Do in the Shadows” have also garnered loyal fanbases.

With these wide-reaching parameters in mind, some might say that horror is more an emotive state than it is an outright genre. Indeed, a taut war drama or compelling sci-fi premise will occasionally render far greater an impression than the standard splatter flick. Of course, don’t take that to mean the critics aren’t game for grindhouse fare, presuming it’s executed with a certain tier of originality.

To celebrate this genre in all its permutations and possibilities, Stacker compiled data on the top-ranked horror films of all time from Metacritic as of June 30, 2020. They’re presented here in order of their Metascore, going from low to high. Expect some surprises and not just because audiences didn’t always agree with the critical assessments. Here are the best horror movies, according to critics.

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Visit thestacker.com for similar lists and stories.

Walt Disney Pictures 2/101

#100. Frankenweenie (2012)

- Director: Tim Burton - Metascore: 74 - Number of reviews: 38 - Runtime: 87 min

Tim Burton remade his own black-and-white short film with this 3D stop-motion animated tale. Offering a clever take on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” it swaps in a beloved pet dog for the legendary monster. Critics took to the work more than audiences did and it was viewed as a commercial disappointment.

The Associates & Aldrich Company 3/101

#99. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

- Director: Robert Aldrich - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 15 - Runtime: 134 min

With a little push from the FX TV series “Feud,” this seminal psychodrama continues to shock new audiences. Screen legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis play two once-famous siblings who are now engaged in a fraught—but mutually-dependent—relationship. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an score of 92 between both critics and audiences.

Wonder Wheel Productions 4/101

#98. The Deeper You Dig (2020)

- Directors: John Adams, Toby Poser - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 6 - Runtime: 92 min

Married couple Toby Poser and John Adams churned out this “nicely economical tale of supernatural vengeance,” to quote Variety. Primarily set in the wake of a tragic accident, it chronicles the ongoing conflict between three central characters. The few moviegoers who’ve seen it seem far less impressed than the critics.

Paramount Pictures 5/101

#97. mother! (2017)

- Director: Darren Aronofsky - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 51 - Runtime: 121 min

An art film run amok is one way to describe this multi-layered drama, which descends into pure horror as the story unfolds. One of the few films to earn an “F” CinemaScore upon release, it’s since become something of a cult classic. Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence play a married couple, whose secluded life gets uprooted by a series of uninvited guests.

Jeva Films 6/101

#96. Nina Forever (2016)

- Directors: Ben Blaine, Chris Blaine - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 10 - Runtime: 98 min

Nothing if not unique, this off-kilter romantic dramedy plays with various genre tropes. Upon losing his girlfriend in a car accident, a young man is haunted by her gory presence every time he tries to have sex. It’s another film that appears to divide critics and audiences on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes.

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Alta Vista Productions 7/101

#95. House of Usher (1960)

- Director: Roger Corman - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 8 - Runtime: 79 min

B-movie icon Roger Corman hit an early stride with this gothic Poe adaptation. Set inside a cursed house, it stars horror legend Vincent Price in one of his most definitive roles. Corman adapted seven additional Poe stories over the course of just four years, collaborating with Price nearly every time.

American Zoetrope 8/101

#94. THX 1138 (1971)

- Director: George Lucas - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 8 - Runtime: 86 min

The feature-length debut from George Lucas takes place in a 25th-century dystopia. Under the constant watch of an oppressive regime, two nameless citizens (Robert Duvall and Maggie McOmie) forge a rebellion. Cranking hard-earned special effects out of a modest budget, the cult film tackles a range of prescient themes.

Regency Enterprises 9/101

#93. Joy Ride (2001)

- Director: John Dahl - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 31 - Runtime: 97 min

While on a road trip, three friends cross paths with a psychotic truck driver in this taut thriller. What could be a generic stalker film turns out to be far more gripping than the standard fare. In his 3.5-star review, critic Roger Ebert called it the “kind of horror movie that plays so convincingly we don't realize it's an exercise in pure style.”

Blumhouse Productions 10/101

#92. Creep 2 (2017)

- Director: Patrick Brice - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 5 - Runtime: 80 min

Indie fixture Mark Duplass co-wrote and stars in this found footage sequel, reprising the role of a demented serial killer. This time around, the killer lures an aspiring videographer into his deadly web. Fans of the original won’t be disappointed.

Solofilm 11/101

#91. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

- Director: Philip Kaufman - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 15 - Runtime: 115 min

Director Philip Kaufman breathed new life into a sci-fi horror classic by way of this effectively creepy remake. Retaining the core elements of its predecessor, it depicts the gradual takeover of mankind from the inside out. With or without any socio-political subtext, the story taps into the deepest fears of human consciousness.

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Vortex 12/101

#90. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

- Director: Tobe Hooper - Metascore: 75 - Number of reviews: 5 - Runtime: 83 min

One of the scariest movies ever made remains a raw and visceral experience, namely thanks to Tobe Hooper’s realistic approach. While visiting a gravesite in Texas, five friends come up against a sadistic family of cannibals. Despite the relative absence of blood and gore, the film renders an almost traumatic impression.

Filmadora Nacional 13/101

#89. Tigers Are Not Afraid (2019)

- Director: Issa López - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 20 - Runtime: 83 min

Horrors of both the real and supernatural variety occupy this Mexican drama. Set in a literal ghost town, it follows a group of orphans as they grapple with brutal cartel violence. Director Issa López strikes a balance between harsh reality and vivid fantasy.

Abrakan Estudio 14/101

#88. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2017)

- Directors: Alberto Vazquez, Pedro Rivero - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 11 - Runtime: 76 min

Alberto Vázquez adapted his own graphic novel when co-directing this morbid tale.

Brought to life with stunning animation and adult themes, it takes place on a post-apocalyptic island. Determined to escape their dreary existence, a group of forgotten children embark on a perilous journey.

F/M 15/101

#87. Near Dark (1987)

- Director: Kathryn Bigelow - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 17 - Runtime: 94 min

Long before helming “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” Kathryn Bigelow churned out this off-kilter horror flick. Borrowing from the Western genre, it follows modern vampires through the outskirts of America. Writing for Slant Magazine, critic Rob Humanick called it “one of pulp cinema’s greatest achievements.”

Paramount Pictures 16/101

#86. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

- Director: Dan Trachtenberg - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 43 - Runtime: 104 min

The second installment in the Cloverfield franchise represents a stark departure from its found footage predecessor. Upon waking from a car accident, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds herself captive to a man (John Goodman) with suspect intentions. Like the first film, this one benefited from a purposefully-elusive marketing campaign.

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Unison Films 17/101

#85. What We Do in the Shadows (2015)

- Directors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 33 - Runtime: 86 min

Horror genre tropes get the comedic touch in this beloved mockumentary out of New Zealand. It follows a group of ancient vampires as they struggle with a range of modern obstacles. A similarly acclaimed TV series adaptation would follow.

Melville Productions 18/101

#84. Cape Fear (1962)

- Director: J. Lee Thompson - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 5 - Runtime: 106 min

Later remade by Martin Scorsese, this 1962 thriller finds a lawyer (Gregory Peck) being stalked by his former client (Robert Mitchum). Anchored by Mitchum’s performance and Bernard Herrmann’s iconic score, the film rides a wave of tension toward a violent climax. It currently holds a 100% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rogue Pictures 19/101

#83. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

- Director: Edgar Wright - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 34 - Runtime: 99 min

Edgar Wright arguably invented his own brand of horror comedy with this British cult smash. It tells the story of a down-and-out slacker named Shaun (Simon Pegg), who proves his worth during the zombie apocalypse. The film makes up part of Wright’s “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy,”which also includes “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End.”

Escape Plan Productions 20/101

#82. Saint Maud (2020)

- Director: Rose Glass - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 7 - Runtime: 84 min

The feature debut from director Rose Glass, this psychological horror film tells the story of a hospice nurse named Maud (Morfydd Clark). Going to religious extremes, Maud tries to save the soul of an afflicted patient. In his review for IndieWire, critic David Ehrlich described it as a “cross between ‘First Reformed’ and ‘The Exorcist’.”

Semi-Professional 21/101

#81. Housebound (2014)

- Director: Gerard Johnstone - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 10 - Runtime: 107 min

Horror and comedy collide in this clever take on the haunted house subgenre. While serving time for house arrest, a young woman comes up against her superstitious mother and what might be an unruly spirit. It premiered at SXSW and went on to win three Specialty Awards at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

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New Line Cinema 22/101

#80. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

- Director: Wes Craven - Metascore: 76 - Number of reviews: 12 - Runtime: 91 min

Equipped with razors for hands, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) slices and dices his way into the nightmares of teenagers. He also happened to dominate a newly formed slasher market, spawning a franchise. Few, if any, of the sequels or reboots captured the humor and horror of Wes Craven’s original.

Intrepid Pictures 23/101

#79. Gerald's Game (2017)

- Director: Mike Flanagan - Metascore: 77 - Number of reviews: 12 - Runtime: 103 min

What starts as a kinky sex game becomes a harrowing survival story in this Netflix horror film. It’s the first Stephen King adaptation from director Mike Flanagan, who went on to helm 2019’s “Doctor Sleep.” Another King adaptation is in the works from Flanagan, as is a mini-series based on a book that appears in both this film and a previous one.

Alcatraz Films 24/101

#78. High Life (2019)

- Director: Claire Denis - Metascore: 77 - Number of reviews: 41 - Runtime: 113 min

French auteur Claire Denis heads into deep space for this poetic blend of sci-fi and horror. As part of an interstellar experiment, a group of death row inmates embark on a dangerous mission. Critics loved the movie’s rich atmosphere and willingness to defy convention.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Studios 25/101

#77. Village of the Damned (1960)

- Director: Wolf Rilla - Metascore: 77 - Number of reviews: 7 - Runtime: 77 min

Based on a novel, this iconic British horror film welcomes viewers to the small village of Midwich. After a mysterious event, the local children begin to exhibit supernatural qualities. It was followed by both a sequel and a remake and also parodied in “The Simpsons.”

Basket Case Productions 26/101

#76. Basket Case (1982)

- Director: Frank Henenlotter - Metascore: 77 - Number of reviews: 5 - Runtime: 91 min

Surgically separated against their wishes, a young man and his (formerly) conjoined twin wreak havoc in the Big Apple. Working on a micro-budget, director Frank Henenlotter confines most of the action to a seedy hotel. Two similarly-grotesque sequels would follow to form a cult trilogy.

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Les Films du Worso 27/101

#75. Evolution (2016)

- Director: Lucile Hadzihalilovic - Metascore: 77 - Number of reviews: 19 - Runtime: 81 min

This French horror drama takes place in a small seaside village that’s populated exclusively by women and young boys. When he discovers a corpse in the ocean, young Nicolas reexamines the local environment and its mysterious customs. Director Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s stylistic sensibilities enraptured critics, but the pacing was a little too glacial for some audiences.

Blumhouse Productions 28/101

#74. The Gift (2015)

- Director: Joel Edgerton - Metascore: 77 - Number of reviews: 31 - Runtime: 108 min

Joel Edgerton wrote, directed, and starred in this gripping Blumhouse thriller. When a business executive (Jason Bateman) reconnects with an old schoolmate (Edgerton), it kicks off a series of dangerous mind games. The movie’s psychological tension is more impactful than most horror tropes.

Alta Vista Productions 29/101

#73. Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

- Director: Roger Corman - Metascore: 78 - Number of reviews: 7 - Runtime: 80 min

Roger Corman and Vincent Price reunite for another Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, with Richard Matheson back on scripting duties. While investigating his sister’s death in 16th-century Spain, a man (John Kerr) uncovers grave horrors. Consciously exploitative, the film nevertheless retains an air of authentic atmosphere.

El Deseo 30/101

#72. The Devil's Backbone (2001)

- Director: Guillermo del Toro - Metascore: 78 - Number of reviews: 30 - Runtime: 106 min

Upon losing his father to the Spanish Civil War, a young boy gets sent to a haunted orphanage. In the vein of del Toro’s most acclaimed works, this one layers humanism, history, and horror. On Bloody Disgusting’s list of the Top Films of the 2000s, it lands at #18.

Animal Kingdom 31/101

#71. It Comes at Night (2017)

- Director: Trey Edward Shults - Metascore: 78 - Number of reviews: 43 - Runtime: 91 min

Critics and audiences don’t see eye to eye on this dramatic thriller, which takes place in the midst of a zombie-like outbreak. Living deep in the woods, a paranoid man (Joel Edgerton) and his family take in suspicious new houseguests. In lieu of cheap thrills, director Trey Edward Shults opts for a slow burn and shocking finale.

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Toho Film (Eiga) Co. Ltd. 32/101

#70. Godzilla (1954)

- Director: Ishirô Honda - Metascore: 78 - Number of reviews: 20 - Runtime: 98 min

Initially released in 1954, the original “Godzilla” wasn’t officially available to American audiences until 2004. While rife with spectacle, the film also examines themes of nuclear destruction and man versus nature. It remains the longest continuously-running movie franchise in history.

Fox Atomic 33/101

#69. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

- Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo - Metascore: 78 - Number of reviews: 34 - Runtime: 99 min

The sequel to “28 Days Later” unfolds six months after the Rage Virus was first unleashed. As various survivors try to repopulate London, the zombie-like infection rears its ugly head once again. When the U.S. military goes to extremes in its containment effort, the story takes on allegorical overtones.

Seda Spettacoli 34/101

#68. Suspiria (1977)

- Director: Dario Argento - Metascore: 79 - Number of reviews: 11 - Runtime: 98 min

With its gothic palette and eerie score, this Italian horror classic retains a perennial atmosphere of unease. It goes behind the scenes at a prestigious dance academy to uncover something sinister. Critics and fans alike consider it one of director Dario Argento’s finest hours.

Overture Films 35/101

#67. Let Me In (2010)

- Director: Matt Reeves - Metascore: 79 - Number of reviews: 35 - Runtime: 116 min

Like its Swedish predecessor, this Hollywood adaptation centers on the unlikely bond between a bullied outcast and young female vampire. Blending heartfelt drama with shocking violence, it straddles two genres and defies easy categorization. Director Matt Reeves honors the source material while injecting just the right amount of original storytelling.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) 36/101

#66. Poltergeist (1982)

- Director: Tobe Hooper - Metascore: 79 - Number of reviews: 16 - Runtime: 114 min

According to legend, Steven Spielberg ghost-directed this suburban ghost story. It chronicles a haunting and puts a novel twist on some good old-fashioned scares. There’s also sly commentary about America’s TV diet and cultural norms.

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Recorded Picture Company (RPC) 37/101

#65. Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)

- Director: Jim Jarmusch - Metascore: 79 - Number of reviews: 41 - Runtime: 123 min

Director Jim Jarmusch brings his indie sensibilities into the vampire subgenre and the results are predictably offbeat. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play vampires Adam and Eve, whose on-again, off-again romance is quite literally one for the ages. Already struggling to adapt in modern society, their love undergoes another stress test with the arrival of Eve’s sister.

Broad Green Pictures 38/101

#64. Green Room (2016)

- Director: Jeremy Saulnier - Metascore: 79 - Number of reviews: 42 - Runtime: 95 min

Punk rock band The Ain’t Rights have just arrived at a skinhead bar in the Pacific Northwest and that’s the least of their problems. So goes this thriller from Jeremy Saulnier, who kicks things off with a grisly murder and then keeps the tension running high. The Daily Telegraph critic Patrick Smith called it a “pulverising piece of Seventies-style grindhouse exploitation.”

Werner Herzog Filmproduktion 39/101

#63. Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

- Director: Werner Herzog - Metascore: 79 - Number of reviews: 19 - Runtime: 107 min

Employing lurid and saturated hues, director Werner Herzog updated a silent-era classic. Frequent collaborator Klaus Kinski takes on the title role and even uses the same makeup style as his 1922 predecessor. Upon moving from Transylvania to a remote German village, Count Dracula preys upon a new host of victims.

Paramount Pictures 40/101

#62. Annihilation (2018)

- Director: Alex Garland - Metascore: 79 - Number of reviews: 51 - Runtime: 115 min

Director Alex Garland followed up the cult hit “Ex Machina” with this similar blend of sci-fi and horror. When her husband goes missing, a biologist (Natalie Portman) must enter a mysterious realm to find him. Part of the experience is figuring out what it all means.

Film4 41/101

#61. Under the Skin (2014)

- Director: Jonathan Glazer - Metascore: 79 - Number of reviews: 43 - Runtime: 108 min

A sci-fi movie quite unlike any other, this one juxtaposes hallucinatory visuals with stretches of stark realism. Graced with a human body and blank expression, an alien seductress (Scarlett Johansson) cruises Scotland in search of new victims. Viewers expecting the standard invasion fare are bound to be disappointed.

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SLM Production Group 42/101

#60. The Fly (1986)

- Director: David Cronenberg - Metascore: 79 - Number of reviews: 11 - Runtime: 96 min

A brilliant scientist (Jeff Goldblum) falls victim to his own ghastly experiment in this tale of love and obsession. By remaking a 1958 classic, director David Cronenberg found the perfect venue for his body horror fixations. The special effects practically drip off the screen and stick with the viewer long after the credits roll.

Snowfort Pictures 43/101

#59. The Endless (2018)

- Directors: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson - Metascore: 80 - Number of reviews: 22 - Runtime: 111 min

Two brothers thought they were out of a wacky UFO death cult, but now a mysterious VHS tape has pulled them back in. Banking on the power of talent and creativity, the film squeezes palpable tension out of its micro-budget. The less one knows going in, the better.

Telewizja Polska 44/101

#58. Demon (2016)

- Director: Marcin Wrona - Metascore: 80 - Number of reviews: 19 - Runtime: 94 min

Inspired by Jewish folklore, this absurdist horror dramedy hails from Poland and takes place during a wedding. An unruly spirit lurks inside the bridegroom and continues to disrupt the ceremony. At the movie’s core is a story of history and revenge.

Illuminations Films 45/101

#57. Berberian Sound Studio (2013)

- Director: Peter Strickland - Metascore: 80 - Number of reviews: 22 - Runtime: 92 min

Director Peter Strickland pays homage to 1970s Italian giallo horror films with this psychological nightmare. It tells the story of a British sound effects engineer (Toby Jones), whose latest assignment uproots his grip on reality. An erratic narrative and jarring visual style maintains the dream-like aesthetic.

Rustic Films 46/101

#56. Resolution (2013)

- Directors: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson - Metascore: 80 - Number of reviews: 5 - Runtime: 93 min

Shot on a reported budget of just $20,000, this bromance-themed horror flick opens with a story of intervention. That gives way to a series of mysterious occurrences as a much graver plot unfolds. It’s all brought to viewers from the same filmmaking team behind “The Endless.”

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) 47/101

#55. Freaks (1932)

- Director: Tod Browning - Metascore: 80 - Number of reviews: 16 - Runtime: 64 min

Director Tod Browning cast real-life sideshow acts for this unique and controversial effort. Hoping to inherit a fortune, a trapeze artist attempts to seduce a carnival performer. Infused with palpable pathos, the work arguably delivers sincerity over exploitation.

Maljack Productions 48/101

#54. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990)

- Director: John McNaughton - Metascore: 80 - Number of reviews: 22 - Runtime: 83 min

Follow a drifter (Michael Rooker) as he commits a series of murders in this disturbing cult classic. Tightly executed and totally uncompromised, the movie’s shocking authenticity is one of its best attributes. It was one of the first films to prompt the creation of an NC-17 rating.

Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion GmbH 49/101

#53. Goodnight Mommy (2015)

- Directors: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 19 - Runtime: 99 min

Things are not what they seem in this Austrian psychodrama. When their mother undergoes cosmetic surgery, two twin brothers are convinced that she’s been replaced by someone else. It won Best Foreign-Language Film at the 2016 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards.

Haxan Films 50/101

#52. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

- Directors: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 33 - Runtime: 81 min

The found footage subgenre probably wouldn’t exist if not for this seminal indie film. It follows three documentarians deep into the woods as they search for a mythical witch. Preceded by one of the first viral marketing campaigns, it became a critical and commercial smash.

Warner Bros. 51/101

#51. The Exorcist (1973)

- Director: William Friedkin - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 21 - Runtime: 122 min

Audiences weren’t quite prepared for the horror of this benchmark blockbuster, not that it stopped them from attending in droves. It portrays the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl (Linda Blair) and the two priests who try to save her. Winner of two Academy Awards, it remains one of the highest-grossing films of all time (when adjusted for inflation).

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20th Century Fox 52/101

#50. The Wailing (2016)

- Director: Na Hong-jin - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 19 - Runtime: 156 min

The surprises keep coming in this beloved horror flick from South Korea’s Na Hong-jin. It takes place in a small village, where the arrival of a stranger coincides with a series of disturbing events. Don’t be intimidated by the 156-minute runtime, as the story moves at a brisk pace.

Monkeypaw Productions 53/101

#49. Us (2019)

- Director: Jordan Peele - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 56 - Runtime: 116 min

Director Jordan Peele followed “Get Out” by once again infusing the horror genre with social commentary and occasional comic relief. The story takes place in Santa Cruz, where a family of vacationers square off against their doppelgängers. Stick around for the twist ending.

Say Ahh Productions 54/101

#48. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

- Director: Ana Lily Amirpour - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 28 - Runtime: 99 min

Self-dubbed as “the first Iranian Vampire Western,” Ana Lily Amirpour’s feature debut emanates with pure indie spirit. It takes place in the desolate town of Bad City and follows the exploits of a drifting vampire (Sheila Vand). The unique aesthetic and killer soundtrack make up for any narrative shortcomings.

Rook Films 55/101

#47. In Fabric (2019)

- Director: Peter Strickland - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 28 - Runtime: 118 min

From the director of “Berberian Sound Studio” comes another surrealist nightmare in the giallo tradition. At the heart of the story is a cursed red dress, which unleashes terror as it passes from one owner to the next. Equal parts comedic and disturbing, the film makes for a sly satire of modern capitalism.

The Geffen Company 56/101

#46. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

- Director: Frank Oz - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 15 - Runtime: 94 min

Existing in a category all its own, this horror musical never loses its theatrical or comedic edge. To satisfy his alien plant (voiced by Levi Tubbs of The Four Tops), a lonely florist (Rick Moranis) goes to murderous extremes. Steve Martin’s performance as a sadistic dentist is not to be missed.

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M.E.S. Productions 57/101

#45. Revenge (2018)

- Director: Coralie Fargeat - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 23 - Runtime: 108 min

Hailed by Vogue as an “exploitation movie for the #MeToo era,” this graphic feast doubles as a feminist parable. Assaulted and left for dead, a woman (Matilda Lutz) embarks on a blood-soaked warpath. Director Coralie Fargeat turns every dial all the way up.

Petit Film 58/101

#44. Raw (2017)

- Director: Julia Ducournau - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 33 - Runtime: 99 min

A devout vegetarian (Garance Marillier) gets a taste of meat and goes full cannibal in this French horror drama. Indisputably graphic, the film also features plenty of subtext on the nature of innocence and experience. According to critic Kate Muir, it stays with the viewer “long after the sight of a nice trainee vet snacking on a fellow student’s severed finger has gone.”

Warner Bros. 59/101

#43. Wait Until Dark (1967)

- Director: Terence Young - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 9 - Runtime: 108 min

Audrey Hepburn delivers an Oscar-nominated performance in this gripping thriller. Playing blind housewife Susy Hendrix, she must contend with three ruthless robbers as they search her house for drugs. Alan Arkin co-stars and gives a heralded performance of his own.

SpectreVision 60/101

#42. Mandy (2018)

- Directors: Chris 'Casper' Kelly, Panos Cosmatos - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 30 - Runtime: 121 min

Somber opening music and a dense visual palette sets the tone for this hallucinatory saga. Upon losing the love of his life to a dangerous cult, Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) unleashes the ultra-violent fury of his wrath. Come for Cage’s unhinged performance, stay for the string of psychedelic showdowns.

Walt Disney Pictures 61/101

#41. Coco (2017)

- Directors: Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich - Metascore: 81 - Number of reviews: 48 - Runtime: 105 min

While not horror by any stretch of the imagination, this beloved Pixar film does take place in the Land of the Dead. That’s where young Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) must travel to fulfill his destiny as a talented musician. In addition to heaps of critical acclaim, the film earned two Academy Awards.

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Anna Biller Productions 62/101

#40. The Love Witch (2016)

- Director: Anna Biller - Metascore: 82 - Number of reviews: 27 - Runtime: 120 min

Presented in a retro Technicolor style, this gothic horror comedy centers on a witch named Elaine (Samantha Robinson). Unintended disaster ensues when Elaine uses love spells to seduce a string of men. Just beyond the pulpy veneer is a clever exploration of society’s hang-ups and double standards.

EFTI 63/101

#39. Let the Right One In (2008)

- Director: Tomas Alfredson - Metascore: 82 - Number of reviews: 30 - Runtime: 115 min

A bullied boy and female vampire forge a unique bond in this Swedish horror film. Dripping with atmosphere, it punctuates humane drama with sequences of grotesque violence. Those who don’t mind subtitles can skip the American remake and go straight to the source.

Emmepi Cinematografica 64/101

#38. Black Sabbath (1964)

- Director: Mario Bava - Metascore: 82 - Number of reviews: 8 - Runtime: 92 min

Boris Karloff presents a trilogy of featurettes from director Mario Bava, with notable differences between the Italian and American versions. The expressionistic use of color and steamy overtones are defining stalwarts of the giallo subgenre. A certain heavy metal band derived its name from this very film.

Paramount Pictures 65/101

#37. A Quiet Place (2018)

- Director: John Krasinski - Metascore: 82 - Number of reviews: 55 - Runtime: 90 min

This unexpected blockbuster takes place in the wake of a catastrophic alien invasion. In order to survive, a family must remain completely quiet at all times. The hotly-anticipated sequel is tentatively slated for a September release date.

DreamWorks 66/101

#36. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

- Director: Tim Burton - Metascore: 83 - Number of reviews: 39 - Runtime: 116 min

Director Tim Burton reunited with Johnny Depp for this adaptation of a Broadway musical. It tells the story of widowed barber Sweeney Todd (Depp), whose business is a front for a bloody revenge scheme. Helena Bonham Carter’s performance as Sweeney’s cohort brought in rave reviews.

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Northern Lights Films 67/101

#35. It Follows (2015)

- Director: David Robert Mitchell - Metascore: 83 - Number of reviews: 37 - Runtime: 100 min

With its nightmarish premise and synth score, this indie horror classic draws upon the works of John Carpenter. The “it” that follows is a sexually-transmitted entity, which takes the form of deadly human stalkers. Shot on a budget of under $2 million, the film debuted at Cannes and later earned a loyal cult following.

Amour Fou Vienna 68/101

#34. Taxidermia (2009)

- Director: György Pálfi - Metascore: 83 - Number of reviews: 9 - Runtime: 91 min

With a name like “Taxidermia,” graphic body horror is all but guaranteed. Hungarian director György Pálfi also brings plenty of dark comedy to this surrealist yarn, which spans three generations of idiosyncratic men. It’s best watched on an empty stomach.

Universal Pictures 69/101

#33. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

- Director: Sam Raimi - Metascore: 83 - Number of reviews: 32 - Runtime: 99 min

“Evil Dead” helmer Sam Raimi returned to his horror roots with this supernatural tale. The victim of a deadly curse, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), has just a few days to save her soul from damnation. Raimi’s hyperkinetic style and comic sensibilities lend the film a signature aesthetic.

A24 70/101

#32. The Lighthouse (2019)

- Director: Robert Eggers - Metascore: 83 - Number of reviews: 51 - Runtime: 109 min

Mental torment is its own kind of horror in this black-and-white psychodrama. Set off the coast of New England in the late 19th century, it chronicles the contentious relationship between two lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe). Playing to his strengths, director Robert Eggers effectively transports the viewer to another time.

Parts and Labor 71/101

#31. The Witch (2016)

- Director: Robert Eggers - Metascore: 83 - Number of reviews: 46 - Runtime: 92 min

Before “The Lighthouse,” Robert Eggers churned out this slow burn of a supernatural folktale. Rendered with impeccable authenticity, it takes place in 17th-century New England and depicts a devout Christian family. In the nearby wilderness, evil forces lurk.

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Vonnie Von Helmolt Film 72/101

#30. Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2003)

- Director: Guy Maddin - Metascore: 84 - Number of reviews: 19 - Runtime: 73 min

A technical triumph, this ballet rendition of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” employs silent-era paradigms. As wild as it may sound, the film is actually quite faithful to the source material. Roger Ebert credited its fragmented style with imparting “the sensation of glimpsing snatches of a dream.”

Wigwam Films 73/101

#29. Under the Shadow (2016)

- Director: Babak Anvari - Metascore: 84 - Number of reviews: 20 - Runtime: 84 min

Babak Anvari’s directorial feature debut takes place in 1980s Tehran during the War of the Cities. Grappling with real terror outside their door, a mother and daughter face a new enemy from within. Even at its most supernatural, the story retains a theme of wartorn peril.

Red Bank Films 74/101

#28. Carrie (1976)

- Director: Brian De Palma - Metascore: 85 - Number of reviews: 14 - Runtime: 98 min

Stephen King’s debut novel paved the way for this seminal horror flick, starring Sissy Spacek in the title role. Constantly harassed by her peers, Carrie cultivates a telekinetic power. It all builds toward one of the most legendary climaxes in horror movie history.

Chungeorahm Film 75/101

#27. The Host (2007)

- Director: Bong Joon Ho - Metascore: 85 - Number of reviews: 35 - Runtime: 119 min

Long before “Parasite,” director Bong Joon Ho enraptured global audiences with this South Korean monster movie. Loosely inspired by an actual event, it generates a vicious sea creature out of 200 bottles of dumped formaldehyde. This was the highest-grossing film in South Korea for its time.

Universal Pictures 76/101

#26. Get Out (2017)

- Director: Jordan Peele - Metascore: 85 - Number of reviews: 48 - Runtime: 104 min

A film that’s become only more prescient with time, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut combines social satire with gripping terror. While visiting his girlfriend’s well-heeled parents, a young black man (Chris Washington) finds himself the target of a diabolical scheme. Rarely do various tonal elements harmonize as seamlessly as they do here.

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ENBU Seminar 77/101

#25. One Cut of the Dead (2019)

- Director: Shin'ichirô Ueda - Metascore: 86 - Number of reviews: 14 - Runtime: 96 min

Working on a reported budget of around $25,000, Japan’s Shin'ichirô Ueda squeezed new life into the zombie subgenre. Equal parts clever and gruesome, the story follows a hack filmmaker and his crew as they try to make a horror movie on the cheap. That’s when the real zombies come out to play.

Screen Australia 78/101

#24. The Babadook (2014)

- Director: Jennifer Kent - Metascore: 86 - Number of reviews: 34 - Runtime: 93 min

A visual tour de force, Jennifer Kent’s feature debut walks the fine line between supernatural and psychological terror. It tells the story of a creepy children’s book character, who leaps off the page and not just in a figurative sense. Is the Babadook real or is it a shared delusion between a widowed mother and her son?

Diluvio 79/101

#23. The Wolf House (2020)

- Directors: Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña - Metascore: 86 - Number of reviews: 9 - Runtime: 75 min

According to IndieWire, this “grimmer-than-Grimm fairy tale” is “one of the darkest animated movies ever made.” After escaping from a Nazi-run colony in the middle of Chile, a young woman enters a new house of horrors. The filmmakers use a full spectrum of styles and moods to examine the nature of trauma.

Double Dare You (DDY) 80/101

#22. The Shape of Water (2017)

- Director: Guillermo del Toro - Metascore: 87 - Number of reviews: 53 - Runtime: 123 min

Straddling multiple genres, this Best Picture winner depicts the unlikely romance between a janitor (Sally Hawkins) and humanistic sea creature. Set during the height of the Cold War, the fairy tale unfolds against a noirish backdrop. It holds an 87 on Metascore, denoting universal acclaim.

British Lion Film Corporation 81/101

#21. The Wicker Man (1974)

- Director: Robin Hardy - Metascore: 87 - Number of reviews: 15 - Runtime: 88 min

Not to be confused with the terrible remake, this cult classic set an early template for the folk horror subgenre. It follows a police sergeant to a remote Scottish island village with strong pagan ties. The film’s influence looms so large that director Ari Aster had to consciously avoid it when making “Midsommar,” which features similar themes.

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A24 82/101

#20. Hereditary (2018)

- Director: Ari Aster - Metascore: 87 - Number of reviews: 49 - Runtime: 127 min

This unique blend of domestic drama and supernatural terror announced Ari Aster as a new voice in cinema. When a family matriarch passes away, she leaves more than just her genetics behind. Toni Collette’s powerhouse performance is the foundational glue holding multiple threads together.

Zanuck/Brown Productions 83/101

#19. Jaws (1975)

- Director: Steven Spielberg - Metascore: 87 - Number of reviews: 21 - Runtime: 124 min

More than a critical and commercial smash, “Jaws” redefined the entire concept of blockbuster cinema. Various production issues forced Spielberg to show less of the shark during earlier scenes, which only made the film that much more terrifying. To this day, potential swimmers are still afraid of the ocean.

American Film Institute (AFI) 84/101

#18. Eraserhead (1978)

- Director: David Lynch - Metascore: 87 - Number of reviews: 15 - Runtime: 89 min

A true labor of love, David Lynch’s feature debut capitalized off of midnight screenings and a loyal cult following. It channels various moods and fears into the story of Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), who grapples with the birth of a mutant child. Story takes a backseat to industrial textures and experimental dirges in what remains a completely singular work.

Compass International Pictures 85/101

#17. Halloween (1978)

- Director: John Carpenter - Metascore: 87 - Number of reviews: 21 - Runtime: 91 min

Before the endless string of sequels and reboots, there was John Carpenter’s original classic. Its synth-heavy score and masked murderer would become fixtures of the up-and-coming slasher subgenre. Even today, the film’s influence persists on screens both big and small.

Universal Pictures 86/101

#16. The Invisible Man (1933)

- Director: James Whale - Metascore: 87 - Number of reviews: 15 - Runtime: 71 min

With great invisibility comes great insanity in this H.G. Wells adaptation. Director James Whale balances tension and comedy while introducing a number of groundbreaking (for its time) special effects. A recent remake earned its own share of rave reviews.

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Twentieth Century Fox 87/101

#15. The Innocents (1961)

- Director: Jack Clayton - Metascore: 88 - Number of reviews: 17 - Runtime: 100 min

This adaptation of a Henry James novella stars Deborah Kerr as a governess named Miss Giddens. After moving into a new estate, Giddens is haunted by the spirits of two former employees ... or is she? The movie is beloved by critics and filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, who put it at #11 on his list of scariest horror movies.

Image Ten 88/101

#14. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

- Director: George A. Romero - Metascore: 89 - Number of reviews: 17 - Runtime: 96 min

Ground zero for an entire subgenre, George Romero’s low-budget horror flick never once uses the word “zombie.” It nevertheless establishes a number of important paradigms, pitting small-town folk against the walking dead. Controversial upon its release, the movie garnered critical acclaim over time.

Brandywine Productions 89/101

#13. Alien (1979)

- Director: Ridley Scott - Metascore: 89 - Number of reviews: 34 - Runtime: 117 min

A benchmark in modern filmmaking, Ridley Scott’s masterpiece follows the crew of spaceship Nostromo. What starts as slow burn sci-fi descends into the stuff of nightmares, as alien cargo picks off the crew one by one. In 2003, a director’s cut was released theatrically to its own rapturous reviews.

Rizzoli Film 90/101

#12. Deep Red (1976)

- Director: Dario Argento - Metascore: 89 - Number of reviews: 7 - Runtime: 126 min

The blood flows red and deep indeed, courtesy of Italian horror legend Dario Argento. His most-acclaimed work sends a hapless pianist on the trail of a savvy serial killer. Despite some “nonsensical qualities,” critic Keith Phipps heralds the film’s “hallucinatory images and unforgettable setpieces.”

Champs-��lys��es Productions 91/101

#11. Eyes Without a Face (1960)

- Director: Georges Franju - Metascore: 90 - Number of reviews: 9 - Runtime: 88 min

In this French horror drama, a guilt-ridden surgeon tries to give his daughter a new face. With its poetic style and unsparing depictions of surgery, the film was influential for both its decade and decades to come. Critics are still hashing out its hidden meanings and themes.

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RKO Radio Pictures 92/101

#10. King Kong (1933)

- Directors: Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper - Metascore: 90 - Number of reviews: 12 - Runtime: 100 min

A living legacy began with this 1933 adventure and its groundbreaking use of stop-motion animation. At the behest of a film crew, actor Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) travels to Skull Island and catches the eye of a monolithic ape. The rest is cinematic history.

Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions 93/101

#9. The Birds (1963)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Metascore: 90 - Number of reviews: 15 - Runtime: 119 min

Chaos visits the town of Bodega Bay in the form of relentless birds, who attack for no apparent reason. Hitchcock revels in the buildup, pivoting from romantic dramedy to horror with suddenness and precision. The same artistic choices that initially befuddled critics are now viewed as masterstrokes.

Compton Films 94/101

#8. Repulsion (1965)

- Director: Roman Polanski - Metascore: 91 - Number of reviews: 8 - Runtime: 105 min

Alone in her London apartment, a hypersensitive woman (Catherine Deneuve) slowly descends into madness. Polanski cultivates a claustrophobic sense of space to express the character’s mindset. This was the first film in the director’s unofficial “Apartment Trilogy.”

Laokoon Filmgroup 95/101

#7. Son of Saul (2015)

- Director: László Nemes - Metascore: 91 - Number of reviews: 47 - Runtime: 107 min

The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp provides its own brand of horror in this Hungarian World War II drama. Tasked with exterminating dead bodies, prisoner Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig) seeks proper burial for a young boy. The movie won a host of major awards, including the Grand Prix at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Universal Pictures 96/101

#6. Frankenstein (1931)

- Director: James Whale - Metascore: 91 - Number of reviews: 15 - Runtime: 70 min

With help from his assistant Igor, a mad scientist breeds new life out of dead body parts. This epoch-making adaptation introduces Boris Karloff as the legendary monster. Writing for the Village Voice, Elliot Stein calls it the “most influential horror film ever made.”

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13 Productions 97/101

#5. Werckmeister Harmonies (2001)

- Directors: Ágnes Hranitzky, Béla Tarr - Metascore: 92 - Number of reviews: 8 - Runtime: 145 min

Mystery permeates every minute of this cinéma vérité-style nightmare, which consists of just 39 shots. When the circus rolls into a small Hungarian village, it sparks hysteria and rebellion among the locals. Director Béla Tarr claims the story is as simple as it appears, but most critics point to its philosophical underpinnings.

Walter Wanger Productions 98/101

#4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

- Director: Don Siegel - Metascore: 92 - Number of reviews: 16 - Runtime: 80 min

Rife with subtext, this sci-fi horror classic touches down on humanity’s deepest fears. Aliens are slowly replacing humans with emotionless body doubles and almost no one’s the wiser. The film’s own producer swears it’s all just entertainment, but the sociopolitical allegory resonates nonetheless.

Universal Pictures 99/101

#3. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

- Director: James Whale - Metascore: 95 - Number of reviews: 16 - Runtime: 75 min

Director James Whale arguably topped himself with this nuanced follow-up to 1931’s “Frankenstein.” To stay ahead of the competition, the famed mad scientist builds his monster a suitable mate. A remake starring Angelina Jolie is reportedly in the works.

William Castle Productions 100/101

#2. Rosemary's Baby (1968)

- Director: Roman Polanski - Metascore: 96 - Number of reviews: 15 - Runtime: 137 min

A woman (Mia Farrow) thinks she’s pregnant with devil spawn in this gothic masterpiece. Steering clear of excessive violence and gore, Polanski induces psychological terror upon the audience. Farrow’s pitch-perfect performance likewise generates tangible despair.

Bettmann // Getty Images 101/101

#1. Psycho (1960)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Metascore: 97 - Number of reviews: 17 - Runtime: 109 min

On the lam and stuck in the rain, a woman (Janet Leigh) pulls into Bates Motel to crash for the night. Her subsequent murder at the hand of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) was the scene heard round the world. Reviews were mixed upon the film’s initial release, but critics eventually caught up to Hitchcock and his game-changing vision.

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