Sure, as parents, we have watched our share of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Harry Potter and other various family friendly Halloween-type movies. Several times.
But, really, there’s nothing like putting the candy-filled children to bed after a long day of costuming and trick-or-treating, curling up on the couch (with a friend or partner to keep the boogey man at bay) and watching a scary movie while we may or may not be digging into our little’s candy stash. Don’t judge…you’re doing it too.
What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?
1. The Ring
It sounds like just another urban legend — a videotape filled with nightmarish images leads to a phone call foretelling the viewer’s death in exactly seven days. Newspaper reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) is skeptical of the story until four teenagers all die mysteriously exactly one week after watching just such a tape. Allowing her investigative curiosity to get the better of her, Rachel tracks down the video and watches it. Now she has just seven days to unravel the mystery.
2. The Shining
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy, and son, who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.
3. The Exorcist
One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd—levitating, speaking in tongues—her worried mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest, however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert to help with the job.
Withdrawn and sensitive teen Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) faces taunting from classmates at school and abuse from her fanatically pious mother at home. When strange occurrences start happening around Carrie, she begins to suspect that she has supernatural powers. Invited to the prom by the empathetic Tommy Ross, Carrie tries to let her guard down, but things eventually take a dark and violent turn.
5. The Others
Grace (Nicole Kidman), the devoutly religious mother of Anne and Nicholas, moves her family to the English coast during World War II. She awaits word on her missing husband while protecting her children from a rare photosensitivity disease that causes the sun to harm them. Anne claims she sees ghosts, Grace initially thinks the new servants are playing tricks but chilling events and visions make her believe something supernatural has occurred.
6. The Strangers
Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are expecting a relaxing weekend at a family vacation home, but their stay turns out to be anything but peaceful. First, a mysterious and dangerous woman arrives at the door while James is out on an errand. When he returns, he accidentally kills his friend Mike, mistaking him for an intruder. And then real danger does show up—in the form of three masked torturers, leaving Kristen and James struggling for survival.
True-crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) is in a slump; he hasn’t had a best seller in more than 10 years and is becoming increasingly desperate for a hit. So, when he discovers the existence of a snuff film showing the deaths of a family, he vows to solve the mystery. He moves his own family into the victims’ home and gets to work. However, when old film footage and other clues hint at the presence of a supernatural force, Ellison learns that living in the house may be fatal.
8. The Den
A young woman studying the habits of webcam chat users from the apparent safety of her apartment witnesses a brutal murder online and is quickly immersed in a nightmare in which she and her loved ones are targeted for the same grisly fate as the first victim.
9. The Babadook
A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house that came through the pages of a children’s book. She soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.
10. Paranormal Activity
Soon after moving into a suburban tract home, Katie and Micah become increasingly disturbed by what appears to be a supernatural presence. Hoping to capture evidence of it on film, they set up video cameras in the house but are not prepared for the terrifying events that follow.
11. 28 Days Later
A group of misguided animal rights activists free a caged chimp infected with the “Rage” virus from a medical research lab. When London bike courier Jim wakes up from a coma a month after, he finds his city all but deserted. On the run from the zombie-like victims of the Rage, Jim stumbles upon a group of survivors, including Selena and cab driver Frank, and joins them on a perilous journey to what he hopes will be safety.
12. SAW (the first one)
Photographer Adam Stanheight and oncologist Lawrence Gordon regain consciousness while chained to pipes at either end of a filthy bathroom. As the two men realize they’ve been trapped by a sadistic serial killer nicknamed “Jigsaw” and must complete his perverse puzzle to live, flashbacks relate the fates of his previous victims. Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon’s wife and young daughter are forced to watch his torture via closed-circuit video.
Based on a short story of the same name by Stephen King, this psychological horror creates a lasting impression. Don’t expect any white-faced apparitions with long black hair. But watch it for the brilliantly twisted plot woven around a forbidden hotel room that does not any visitor leave alive. This film has three alternate endings apart from the one used in the film, none of which are the same as the original ending of the short story.