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11 Low-Gore Horror Films for Your October Watchlist

I love gore. Creative kills and wild bloodbaths are some of my favorite aspects of horror movies, and the more our special effects capabilities develop, the more we see on our screens. It’s reached a point where it can feel like that’s all there is, but I’m here to convince you otherwise.

Modern horror isn’t all guts and no glory; this is a mindset I see expressed all too often, and I worry it may deter budding horror fans from diving into recent films. So my mission here is both to prove a point and to give all you squeamish individuals some titles you can trust to not turn your stomach inside out!

I’ll be utilizing a mild-medium-spicy rating system to convey a movie’s blood and gore-levels, and I’ll explain my reasoning behind any given rating. So, without further ado, here are 11 of my favorite low-gore horror films of today!

1. You’re Killing Me (2015)

This is a horror-comedy about a peculiar man who discovers his lust for bloodshed while simultaneously experiencing love for the first time. The object of his affections is blissfully unaware of his killer tendencies, despite the fact that he states exactly what he’s up to without hesitation. Unfortunately for his victims, everyone believes he’s just got a morbid sense of humor.

It’s a shamelessly goofy satirical film; even the kills are funny, shot like a blissful dream set to soft music. Each character is some form of stereotype, but they all have a kooky charm brought alive by a clearly passionate crew. This movie had me giggling, hooting, and hollering all the way through.

You’re Killing Me is silly more than anything else, but it’s also quite sweet. It’s hard not to fall for the main character; sure, he’s a murderer, but he’s just so adorably honest and kind to his YouTuber boyfriend. I can’t help but love him!

I’m giving this one a “mild” rating for pretty unremarkable stabbing and blood, but I’ll give you an additional warning for brief graphic nudity.

2. Possum (2018)

In this UK horror, a disgraced puppeteer tries desperately to ditch his uncanny spider-boy puppet to no avail. His quest for escape winds around hints of a murder, and we’re left to guess what his involvement may or may not be. On this mind-twisting adventure through marshes in gray mornings and dark small-town corners, it’s a struggle to decipher what is real.

Packed with artful imagery, heavily disturbing undertones, and killer facial expressions from our leading man, Possum is a gorgeous work of dark art. It’s an extremely metaphorical film that might not resonate with everybody, but regardless of your personal takeaway, you are going to think of that freaky little puppet while you’re trying to fall asleep—I know I do.

I’m going to give this a special rating of “tap water” because, honestly, I don’t recall there being so much as a drop of blood in this flick!

3. Alena (2015)

A Swedish horror following the titular Alena as she begins to fall for her beautiful and kind classmate. Unfortunately, she is plagued by the ghost of her ex-best-friend, who wants her all to herself.

Although I didn’t initially like this movie, I’ve grown to appreciate its approach to its subject matter. It explores post-traumatic stress, survivor’s guilt, and feelings of inadequacy, making for an ultimately pretty great coming of age horror. It’s even got a bit of a Mean Girls vibe to it, featuring a gaggle of three nasty teens set on tormenting our leading lady.

I’m rating this “mild” because none of the violence goes beyond stabbing and bloody noses, but I’m going to give an extra warning for a scene of attempted sexual assault.

4. Creepy (2016)

A couple and their dog (who does not die) move into an unfriendly neighborhood and make the acquaintance of their quirky neighbor. The ex-detective husband reopens a cold case while his wife gets to know the man next door, and things quickly turn sour.

This film enthralls me from start to finish. Sickly and tense, it doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to making you cringe (and I don’t mean in the second-hand embarrassment way). It’s deeply disturbing with secrets and mysteries around every corner. You can’t help but hope the best for the main couple, but you know something’s dangerously off.

I’m rating this “mild” for an old corpse and a bit of blood.

While I was writing this article, leading actress Yūko Takeuchi passed away on September 27, 2020. She was a talented and beautiful woman with a bountiful career in Japanese cinema and television, starring in titles such as Ringu, Dog in a Sidecar, and Miss Sherlock. She was known as a warm person, beloved by fans and collaborators alike, and will be dearly missed. May she rest in peace.

A pale woman with a black bob-style haircut dressed head-to-toe in leather is sitting on a chair in front of red neon lights in an otherwise dark room.
Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (2019) dir. J-P Valkeapää

5. Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (2019)

I’d consider this movie to be more “horror-adjacent” than anything else, but hey, it counts!

Our lead character, Juha, stumbles into the chamber of a dominatrix while waiting for his daughter to receive a piercing. Through a little misunderstanding, he discovers that if he’s choked hard enough, he can see visions of his dearly departed wife.

We watch him struggle to balance his grief, newfound fixation with the leather-clad Mona, and relationship with his daughter in this gloomy, yet sweet story. I certainly consider it more of a drama, but with its depiction of grief and use of BDSM imagery (which, as a culture, is embraced by the horror community at large), it grants itself a slot in the horror world.

I’m rating this “mild with a kick” for a scene of tooth-yanking and the gentle removal of a battered fingernail.

6. The Endless (2017)

This movie follows brothers Aaron and Justin as they pay a visit to the cult that raised them, where they quickly discover it’s a lot stranger than either of them remember. A perfect exercise in visual cosmic horror, it will transport you to an ever-unsettling landscape haunted by an incomprehensible being.

The siblings’ relationship is my favorite aspect, acted perfectly by the directors, who are real-life pals. They bicker and snark at each other in that casual family way, so you really feel the love. They, alongside the multitude of eccentric characters, make for an endlessly fun experience (laugh).

I’m going to give this another “mild with a kick” as it only goes beyond blood droplets for one explosive scene a bit over halfway in and a hanging corpse that’s visible from a couple of angles in a scene or two.

7. The Night Eats the World (2018)

In this French zombie flick, a man named Sam falls asleep after walking in on his ex-girlfriend’s party while trying to take back some of his things and awakes to find he’s the only one there still human. Trapped in the apartment, he attempts to build himself a sanctuary. A visually beautiful and dreary experience, this makes for a unique addition to the zombie subgenre.

There are so many little details present in this movie that I adore, from Sam’s array of colorful containers set out to collect rain to playing paintball with zombies, but my favorite thing about it is its infrequent use of soundtrack. Since our lead character is a bit of a musician, the silent periods of this film grant an opportunity for him to make his own tunes with things he finds lying around. It’s a cute element to the experience that I really appreciate.

Rating this “medium” for your typical zombie gnarl, a brief image of the aftermath of gun suicide, and some small debris removal.

A pale boy with dark messy hair running down a white hallway lit by red light. He looks terrified.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) dir. André Øvredal

8. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

A party of teens discovers the storybook of a strange girl long since passed and come to understand that it’s taken control of their fates. Packed with stunning monster design, Scary Stories is your average teen horror with a creative edge.

While I see that many horror fans can’t seem to agree on the overall quality of this movie, I think it undeniably has its strong points, the strongest of which are the monsters, of course. When the effects are practical, they’re nothing short of perfect, and on the occasions where going all-practical is impossible, they’re sure to keep the monster in the shadows (The Jangly Man).

It might not be deep (though it has a bit of a political aspect to it), have unique characters, or a particularly special story, but does every movie need to have those things? Scary Stories’ strength lies in its simplicity, an easy plot to carry inventive monster segments and designs, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!

I’m going to give this a “mild” for that spider pimple scene and The Jangly Man’s introduction (and I guess the big toe soup).

9. Summer of 84 (2018)

This is the story of a boy named Davey who becomes convinced that his neighbor is behind recent disappearances in his home town and gathers his gang of misfit friends to embark on a quest for the truth. A “suburban horror” if there ever was one, Summer of 84 has that Stranger Things charm while staying grounded in reality.

It’s a simple mystery flick that is far from perfect, but those last 20 minutes are brutal in such a way that made any missteps present in the rest of the movie feel very small to me. I don’t feel I can give much more detail without spoiling the story, so the last thing I’ll say is that the path it takes is one I would describe as “cruel,” especially given that it centers around innocent kids (well, as innocent as you can be while spying on your teenage girl neighbor from your bedroom window).

I’ll rate it “mild” for some lightly bloody murder.

10. I See You (2019)

Don’t let the goofy little fella on the poster fool you; this movie brings it with the creep factor.

Amidst the disappearances of two local boys, lead detective Greg’s turbulent family is terrorized in their own home by an unknown presence. This film will have you wondering about the dust-covered crannies of your house, and about the people closest to you.

A mystery to the very end, I See You is a gripping, dingy dark tale that resonates with me on a deeply personal level. Just when you think you have these characters figured out, you don’t. You really don’t.

I’m rating this “mild” for some gunshots and stab wounds!

11. Starfish (2018)

This melancholy tale follows a girl named Aubrey as she bears the loss of her best friend, Grace. After busting into Grace’s apartment and falling asleep, she awakes to the end of the world. Hidden in the home is the first in a series of clues to the cure for the apocalypse, and she must put the puzzle together.

Strong themes of grief and regret drive this peculiar story of monsters and bitter cold. Perhaps even heavier on the metaphorical aspect than Possum, Starfish is more of an art piece than anything. Even if it only makes one lick of sense, it’s easy to tell how heartfelt and personal it is.

Its strongest point is perhaps the score by director A.T. White. Breathtaking, debilitatingly beautiful arrangements of piano and violin guide us through this tale of a sad girl on her own. It beckons us to connect with her, hold her hand through the cosmic torment of loss and personal failure. No matter my personal takeaway, Starfish is an experience I won’t soon forget.

I’ll give this a soft “medium” for a couple of instances of a man with a hollow face and some very bloody knuckles.

 
Two men walking towards a large stone statue in a grassy mountain range at sunset.
The Endless (2017) dir. Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

And there you have it! A small handful of the many “tame” horror films the last five years have to offer. I stand by each of these as totally worth your time and hope you’ll give them a chance to win your heart as they’ve won mine (well, maybe I wasn’t totally enamored with Alena or Starfish, but still).

If you take anything else away from this list, I want it to be that you shouldn’t feel bad or be outcast for not liking gore. Horror does not equal gore, and just because a movie isn’t gory doesn’t mean it’s not good. There’s no wrong way to love horror. We are all different, appreciate different things, and connect with the media we consume in our own special ways. So if anyone tells you you’re not a “real fan” for one reason or another, I hope you know they’re wrong.

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Written by Emma Gilbert

Emma Gilbert is a 21-year-old from North Carolina who has had a special interest in horror films since she was 14. She's been writing since she was 10 years old, encouraged by her family and friends all the way. Here, she hopes to entertain and enthrall you with trainwreck analyses and lame humor!

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