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There’s a lot more to actually good horror movies—the kind that haunt you so much you’re totally fine sleeping with every single light on for the rest of your life—than just cheap jump scares. Like, creepy children. Ghosts. Creepy children ghosts. The occasional prom dress covered in pig’s blood, haunted houses, serial killers. Oh, and the screaming. So. Much. SCREAMING. Fun, no? Here’s our rated guide, listed in no particular order, to the finest, most frightening scary movies of all time for your next night-in. Try not to spill your popcorn.

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1. Hereditary STREAM NOW

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> James Minchin

Hereditary is the rare horror film that keeps you guessing—or, more accurately, internally screaming “WTF?!”—throughout the entire film. Starring a stellar cast led by Toni Collette, the critical darling centers around Annie, the mother of two teens, as she tries to cope with her own mother’s death. Oh, and the resentment and aftereffects of decades-long psychological trauma that resurfaces as a result of her mother's death. Fun! And then about, say, halfway through, the movie becomes something else entirely.

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Filmmaker Ari Aster’s directorial debut blends together real-life horrors (like the loss of a child, strained familial relationships, feeling disconnected from the people closest to you), with the genre’s stalest motifs (see: ghosts, devil worship, creepy children and their even creepier mothers) into something truly original and wholly upsetting. Haunting, even.

2. The Exorcist STREAM NOW

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> Warner Bros.

This 1973 classic, adapted from the 1971 book of the same name, tells the story of a 12-year-old girl named Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) who gets possessed by the devil after using a Ouija board to communicate with her imaginary friend Captain Howdy.

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Aside from being terrifying because it’s a movie about a possessed preteen who pukes green slime, says the nastiest stuff she can think of, and pees on floors, this gets an extra scare boost because it was inspired by a true story. Novelist William Peter Blatty adapted his book from the tale of Roland Doe, a young boy in Cottage City, Maryland, who underwent an exorcism in 1949.

3. The Witch STREAM NOW

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Robert Eggers’s debut feature-length film builds at a slow pace that you’ll either totally love or hate with a passion. The story revolves around a Puritan family who more or less gets run out of town due to the father’s pride, then sets up a home in a remote part of the woods all by themselves. Set in 17th-century New England, the dialogue is often hard to understand, so if you find yourself wanting to turn on the subtitles as things start moving along, feel free — there are a lot of batshit-crazy quotes in this that you really shouldn’t risk missing.

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As the atmosphere builds and the family starts to fall apart (read: accuse each other of being witches), a patient viewer will be swept away into one of the most satisfying, dark, and honestly kind of metal endings ever. It’s so bleak that it received an endorsement from the actual Satanic Temple. When it comes to scary movies, you can’t get a better review than “endorsed by friends of Satan.”

4. The Babadook STREAM NOW

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> IFC

Have you noticed how children are sort of automatically scary, no matter what they’re doing or saying? They could just look over at you and whisper, “I wish I had some pizza,” and you’d be like, “AHHH! STOP!”

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The Babadook relies heavily on this fact and centers on a recently widowed mom of a 6-year-old named Samuel who, after reading a pop-up book about a top-hat-wearing ghoul named Mister Babadook, spends the rest of the movie screaming bloody murder and attempting to convince his mom that the Babadook is real. This will probably put you in a bad mood if you’re sensitive to children screaming, so maybe don’t watch this before you have to do anything that requires being civil to other humans.

5. Paranormal Activity STREAM NOW

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> Paramount

These films have since become a franchise, but when the first one came out in 2007 it was a game-changer.

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Every moment of this movie plays upon the viewer’s ultimate fears: (1) people staring at you while you sleep, (2) the person you’re romantically tied to being secretly evil, and (3) actual ghosts in your actual house. Filmed in such a way as to make it seem like real life, or at least real life presented via a home movie, it’s expertly paced and leaves you dreading the nighttime scenes, for obvious reasons. I have personally still never watched the last few minutes because I keep hearing that they will ruin your life.

6. The Exorcism of Emily Rose STREAM NOW

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Another exorcism movie that’s supposedly based on a true story, this one stars Jennifer Carpenter as Emily Rose, a country girl who goes away to college and then becomes possessed by the devil (I guess you could use this as a cautionary tale about the dangers of going to school if you really wanted to).

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The inspiration for the film came from the story of Anneliese Michel, a supposedly possessed woman who died from starvation after a series of unsuccessful exorcism attempts in 1976. Carpenter’s ability to twist and contort her body as her character falls more and more under the spell of evil forces is so mesmerizing that it should have won an award.

7. The Visit STREAM NOW

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> Universal

People tried to say that this wasn’t scary both before and after it came out because it’s only rated PG-13 and it’s an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Those people are wrong.

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Regardless of the film’s rating, this depiction of the grossest, creepiest “grandparents” to spring forth from a writer’s twisted mind (also M. Night Shyamalan) haunts me daily since the night I first watched it—it gets really real, really quick. I’d hate to spoil anything, so here’s a clue of something that takes place in case you’re still on the fence: Old person + their poop in a child’s face. How is that not scary?

8. The Ring STREAM NOW

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> Paramount Pictures

Some people prefer the original Japanese version of this film to the 2002 remake staring Naomi Watts, so if you have time, watch both, but if you don’t, start here. There was a really exciting period in the early 2000s when the film industry made some exciting changes to the usual format of horror movies.

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This movie, among others, helped introduce a transition from slasher and monster films to a more psychological approach that relies on suspense and anticipation more than in-your-face jump scares. As anyone who’s seen Samara crawling out of that TV knows, the visuals in this tale of a cursed videotape that causes the viewer to die shortly after seeing it are effective (to say the least).

9. It Follows STREAM NOW

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> Instagram@nutmegandhoneybee

This is a movie that’s super fun to approach not knowing much about it, because if you hadn’t already been tipped off to the fact that it’s a scary movie, you’d be surprised by how things ramp up as you’re experiencing it for the first time.

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The only bummer about this is that a young woman having sex with someone is what sets off the main chain of events, but the female lead is strong enough that the movie gets a pass for an otherwise non-feminist “girls having sex leads to evil” plot line. There are a lot of legitimate scares in It Follows that catch you by surprise but are still very subtle, which makes it feel refreshing, fun, and horrifying at the same time.

10. 28 Days Later STREAM NOW

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> Fox Searchlight

Zombie movies have pretty much been the same, give or take a few details, since Night of the Living Dead came out in 1968:

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Slow-moving zombies, arms outstretched, making “urrrgh, arrrgh” noises while they lumber toward you in hopes that you’ll trip over a bush so they can casually lean down and eat your brains. 28 Days Later comes at the genre in a new way by, first and foremost, making the zombies fast, and by using an atmospheric soundtrack to really highlight an overall feeling of unease.

11. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) STREAM NOW

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> Movie Poster Image Art/Getty

Pulling details from true-crime tales of the past like that of Ed Gein, a Wisconsin serial killer who murdered people and made furniture and clothing out of their flesh, this is one of the creepiest classics there is.

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The grainy quality of the cinematography and the over-the-top supporting characters make this a must-see. Even if you’ve already seen this 25 times, it’s worth watching at least once a year because it never gets old. And even though Leatherface hacks up teenagers with a chainsaw and wears a mask made out of skin, you can’t help kind of rooting for him. We’ve all had bad days!

12. The Shining STREAM NOW

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> Warner Bros.

Jack Nicholson’s face is made of nightmares. You know those rides they have at amusement parks like Six Flags that have sections where animatronic people come to life as you pass and say something weird to you?

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Those things are Jack Nicholson’s face. His performance in Stanley Kubrick’s reimagining of the classic Stephen King novel is so beyond memorable that it’s iconic. This movie has it all, and you should just buy it right now if you don’t already own it.

13. Hellraiser STREAM NOW

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> Getty Images

A favorite of goths due to its heavy reliance on evil, pain, gallows humor, and metal body adornments, this first film of a very popular franchise is a night ruiner.

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The main focus of this is a character named Pinhead (above), who’s called that because he has pins stuck in his face and head. Make sense? If you like gore and just about every other disgusting and grim thing you can dream up in your worst nightmares, then here you go.

14. Halloween STREAM NOW

Jamie Lee Curtis In 'Halloween'
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The overall lumbering creepiness of Halloween’s most famous stalker, Michael Myers, makes this a must-see. It’s easy to forget how scary this movie actually is, especially if you’ve seen it a million times, but each watch is a reminder of what makes it such a classic.

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Director and composer John Carpenter’s use of sound and tension, plus Jamie Lee Curtis’s performance as the original scream queen, makes this a no-brainer for the season, even as you come to the hopeless understanding that yes, she’s going to go investigate what that noise is, and yes, she’s going to fall while running, and yes, Michael Myers is gonna pop out with his creepy mask face when you least expect it. Watch this on a super-cold night with a mountain of snacks and a cozy blanket. That’s truly living life to the fullest.

15. The Silence of the Lambs STREAM NOW

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> 20th Century Fox

One of the most “WTF” movies ever made, this truly blew minds when it came out in 1991 (and won five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Actor).

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The combination of Anthony Hopkins as the seductively grotesque Hannibal Lecter, Jodie Foster as the take-nary-a-shit Clarice Starling, and some lotion in a basket makes this a highly enjoyable roller coaster of freak-outs. Based on the popular novel by Thomas Harris, a psychological thriller of this caliber only comes around about once in a lifetime.

16. Black Swan STREAM NOW

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> Fox Searchlight

This is another one that people try to say isn’t scary but is, in actuality, one of the most terrifying things ever.

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It’s got a creepy, overbearing mom, an accidental masturbation session in front of said mom, finger skin that peels off, and Winona Ryder going completely mental in the best possible way. It’s got it all! Darren Aronofsky directed this, and since he’s also responsible for such soul-crushing hits as Requiem for a Dream, it makes sense that this has a similar “I want to die now” effect.

17. The Blair Witch Project STREAM NOW

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> Artisan

Released in 1999, this movie was one of the first to use the now-common technique of framing a scripted film as found footage. A thriller about a group of friends who take off into the woods to document the myth of a witch who kills people, it’s effective for what it is. Initial reviews claimed that people were passing out in movie theaters from fear, and there are definite elements of terror to be had here.

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If you can stomach the shaky handheld camera and the screaming, this is a fun one. It’s interesting to note that the actors who starred in this film have had difficulty advancing their careers since it came out because people think they’re still missing or dead in the woods somewhere (no, seriously).

18. Candyman STREAM NOW

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> TriStar/Getty

OK, all I remember about this one is that I’m pretty sure someone gets hacked up in a porta-potty.

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That's enough to count it as legitimately horrifying, right?! Produced by Clive Barker, who’s also responsible for the Hellraiser franchise, this tackles the fears of a graduate student writing a paper on urban legends, which, naturally, leads him down a path of pure terror, blood, and the Candyman. And, I think, the previously mentioned porta-potty.

19. Rosemary’s Baby STREAM NOW

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> Paramount

The beauty of this classic is in what it doesn’t show.

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Mia Farrow stars as an almost comically neurotic expectant mother who, unbeknownst to her, shares an NYC apartment building with Satanists, this is Old Hollywood drama at its finest. From beginning ’til end, you’re pulled along a dark thread in anticipation of seeing one thing, which is the one thing the movie never shows you. Sometimes it’s nice to not be hit over the head with every element, you know?

20. Jaws STREAM NOW

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> Universal/Getty

Up until this point, this list has stuck pretty close to paranormal ghost and monster tropes, but Jaws is some real-life shit that needs to be included for sure. Sharks are real and they would actually eat you if given the chance. Sharks are a thing that could happen. You can’t sage away a shark like you can a ghost.

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In addition to the fear that comes from watching something that could happen in real life, the score to this gets in your subconscious and never leaves. Tell me that after watching this you don’t hum the Jaws theme softly to yourself while passing even the smallest bodies of water.

21. Poltergeist STREAM NOW

JoBeth Williams And Craig T Nelson In 'Poltergeist'
> Getty ImagesMGM Studios

A lot of people don’t have televisions anymore, so there’s a good chance that some of you reading this are unfamiliar with the static that fills up a screen when it’s not picking up a channel clearly. Let me tell you: It is terrifying.

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This movie about a family experiencing heavy ghost activity in their home could very well have had a hand in people abandoning their TVs in favor of static-free laptops, phones, and tablets. That static screen buzzing at you, telling you to do things, filling your house with ghost vibes … no thanks!

22. Carrie STREAM NOW

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> Getty Images

Yet another classic based on a Stephen King novel, this tells the story of Carrie White, a small-town girl cooped up in a house with her religious nut of a mother.

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As the anxieties of high-school life build, Carrie comes to find that she has, uh, special powers. Think about it: this is the ultimate teen girl revenge movie. Who hasn’t fantasized about telekinetically throwing things at people who made fun of your period stains in high school?

23. Let the Right One In STREAM NOW

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> Magnet image John Francis

Sometimes when you’re young, the desperate need for a best friend outweighs the fact that the friend in question is actually a vampire that keeps themselves alive (and immortal) by killing people and drinking their blood. Good friends are hard to come by, so I’d personally take a loyal vampire over a fair-weather loser any day. Viva la vampire friends!

24. Seven STREAM NOW

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> New Line image John Francis

Very little can be said about this without giving away one of the best movie endings ever, but suffice it to say that Brad Pitt stars as a homicide detective investigating a serial killer who models each murder after one of the seven deadly sins. To say any more would be to let the head out of the box.

25. Children of the Corn (1984) STREAM NOW

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> New World image John Francis

Has that thing ever happened to you where you go on a road trip and stop for gas and realize that if you stray too many miles off the beaten path people start looking at you like you’re from the moon? Those instances always remind me of this movie. Venture too far into the wilderness and it’s all just Children of the Corn territory.

26. Eraserhead STREAM NOW

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> Libra Films image John Francis

This isn’t really intended to be a scary movie, but what director David Lynch is after is the slow build of never-ending unease that’s the signature of all his films. This one achieves it the best. An abstract take on family life centering on a baby that looks like a shrimp that you dropped and then forgot to pick up and put in the trash can. Just watch it and go along for the ride.

27. Get Out STREAM NOW

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> Universal Pictures

Jordan Peele's wildly successful directorial debut isn't scary so much as it's unsettling, disturbing, and steeped in some horrifying truths about racism in America.

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The movie follows an interracial couple, Chris and Rose (he's black, she's white), on a trip to her parents' house. It quickly becomes clear to Chris that something is off about the family and their friends. What he doesn't know yet is that he's being auctioned off to the neighborhood white people, and his allies are not who they seem.

28. Pet Sematary STREAM NOW

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> Pet Sematary image John Francis

Based on the eponymous novel by Stephen King, this movie offers a buffet of nightmares. There's Victor Pascow (above)—a friendly ghost, but a ghost who looks like that nonetheless; a back-from-the-dead, scalpel-wielding toddler; a back-from-the-dead, mutilated wife. Note to self: If you live near a graveyard that allows you to bring back the dead, don't do it.

29. Hush STREAM NOW

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> Netflix image John Francis

This Netflix original had the potential to be bad—it's about a deaf woman who lives alone in the woods and has to defend herself from a murderous home invader—but it was incredibly well done. It's fast-paced, surprising, and doesn't patronize its protagonist. Also, it's genuinely scary.

30. A Quiet Place STREAM NOW

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> Paramount

Who knew shushing could be so terrifying?

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A Quiet Place—starring IRL couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt—introduces audiences to a post-apocalyptic world where the only means of survival is being really, really quiet. (So that the super sound-sensitive human-hunting monsters don’t hear you.) If that doesn’t stress you out enough, there’s a crying baby involved.

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Source : https://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/movies/a6491032/scariest-movies-of-all-time/

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