The horror genre is perhaps one of the most populous in cinema, but which horror movies are the scariest? The continued popularity of horror movies ultimately speaks to one simple fact: audiences enjoy being scared. It’s a primal thrill, but having movies terrify us is a safe way to explore some of humanity’s greatest fears.
Of course, what’s considered scary is largely subjective. One person’s phobia is another’s comedy, and so picking out the scariest horror movies of all time is no mean feat. For reference, we’ve made our selections based on a mixture of general consensus, widely-held beliefs, and a liberal dose of good old-fashioned opinion. Here they are: Corner of Film’s 10 scariest horror movies of all time.
10. The Exorcist (1973)
1973’s The Exorcist is nothing short of a horror classic. It ushered in a new era of supernatural horror, all thanks to its viscerally shocking depictions of supernatural violence visited by a demon upon a child. The fact that it’s one of those horror movies based on a true story only serves to make it all the more chilling.
Though the practice became more commonplace in the years that followed, The Exorcist was one of the first mainstream films to openly use a child as its main victim. The various scenes involved remain significantly controversial, which perhaps goes some way toward explaining why the film is so haunting. The story of a child becoming possessed by a demon is one thing, but The Exorcist‘s willingness to actually show everything was truly shocking.
What makes it so scary is that it’s essentially every parent’s nightmare. Seeing your child beset by a force you have no power to resist and unsure if they’ll survive is truly horrifying. The final exorcism scene remains one of the most powerfully tense horror movie finales of all time, earning The Exorcist its spot on this list.