7 Horror Movies That Will Haunt You Long After Watching

In a delightfully endless pool of horror movies, why do some haunt us for days, even months after watching? In some cases, it’s more than a high-pitched violin and a quick jump. You’re shown the bad things that happen in the daylight, the things you can’t control; it’s the sense of doom that disturbs you. When you see a slasher, you get the gore, the heightened musical score around the kill, and you’re the spectator. It’s a good formula and it works. But, you might not think much more about it.

I like movies that present an unexpected scare. They may be a little slower-paced, they may just gross you out. I’ve realized that, during my life of consuming horror movies, certain movies have haunted me for years following the initial watch. Certain scenes just creep into my thoughts in the middle of the night giving me the heebies immediately followed by the jeebies. If you haven’t had that cold, stomach-dropping feeling from a movie lately, here are seven of the best horror movies that will haunt you!

7. Pyewacket (2018)

I don’t hear enough people talk about this little indie gem, written and directed by Adam MacDonald (director of Backcountry—a great survival flick). An isolated small-town story of a teenage girl and her mom, who’ve moved deep into the woods after the husband/father passes away. Certain details give the main character an authenticity that’s hard to capture in movies, especially horror. Seeing her listening to black metal and sporting some cool metal patches on her backpack makes her more than just aesthetically angsty. She is teenage angst. She’s relatable, she’s an outcast with a curiosity about the occult. I feel like I know this girl.

Given the girl’s angst and tumultuous home life, she has some false confidence to dig into the dark arts. She plays it fast and loose with some witchcraft and unleashes a demon she can’t control. The ruin she brings onto herself is devastating and unrelenting. She made a foolish mistake, and it can’t be undone. This movie might just bring you back to your teenage years, minus the demon summoning. Maybe you’re still in your teens. Either way, you’ll see why some things shouldn’t be tampered with.

6. The Witch in the Window (2018)

This 2018 movie is so underrated. The story is simple—you have a disconnected family dynamic that leads to a big redemption, an old house, and a small-town rumor of a witch. The center of this story is the fragile father-son relationship. You watch their dynamic shift throughout and there’s a lot of heart. But, if you’re only focusing on their heartfelt moments, you’re missing the horror.
The scenes often feel like something’s off. You start seeing, in the background, another being in the house. This added background character is so alarming that you can’t relax during the characters’ heart-to-hearts. Usually, you can take a breath and maybe grab a sip of your drink. Not here. The Witch in the Window has one of the most artfully unsettling scenes I’ve ever seen or heard. There’s a lot to be said when one scene with virtually no background noise can be so unnerving. It gives me the creeps every time I think about it.

5. The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg's The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis

If you haven’t seen The Fly, the David Cronenberg remake of the 1958 film of the same name, you may have picked up the gist from various pop culture references. A brilliant scientist is experimenting with teleportation and mistakenly runs a test in his machine with a house fly. It sounds like it would be a scary enough premise on its own. But, the body horror that ensues is enough to make you put down your Friday night pizza.

You watch as the scientist first grows to accept this mistake, embracing his enhanced self, but then becomes a husk of what he once was. This movie, as gross as it is, is also heartbreaking. The ending has sat with me for years. I think, what if he didn’t turn into this monster? What if he was able to reverse this change? If the slow dissolving of the human body doesn’t bother you, the question of bug politics may just linger.

4. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)

What’s not to dwell on with Halloween 3? It’s a spectacular chapter in the Halloween universe that shouldn’t be ignored. No, it’s not the horrors of the Shape stalking Laurie Strode, hiding in the shadows, behind a bush, or behind a sheet gently flapping in the wind. It’s not the quiet halls of a somehow nearly empty hospital. It’s the conspiracy that something just ain’t right at the Silver Shamrock Company, but what? There’s an evil mastermind hiding in plain sight, hell-bent on making things right for his heritage. As the king of toys, pranks, and props, he has full access to his target audience: kids.

The iconic Halloween masks at the center of this mystery are genius. They look awesome and make you want one of your own, minus one feature. There’s a small taste of what the plan with these masks is and it’s horrifying. We’re shown a family being led into a waiting room that’s actually a testing site. If the test is this gruesome, imagine the full-blown execution. This movie is something special. There’s gore, robots, a threatening jingle we hear throughout the movie, and a strange company town with a curfew. Then the big reveal at the end when it all somehow makes sense! All I have to say is, “Eighty-four more days until Halloween…”

3. Mandy (2018)

Nicholas Cage as Red Miller grieving over the loss of Mandy

Everyone needs to see this cosmic revenge flick starring an unhinged Nicholas Cage. It’s a dreamlike slow burn that explodes into pure otherworldly chaos. The overall story isn’t new; a man witnesses the ruthless murder of his girlfriend, so he carries out revenge on those responsible. The murder itself is appalling. Her life is taken by someone who feels ownership over her. We’re shown how fragile tranquility is and the rage that can be unleashed if it’s disturbed. Oh boy, are we taken on one hellish ride deep into mourning and wrath.

You feel helpless between the long trippy monologues, the too-close-for-comfort camera shots, the heavy atmosphere, and the self-righteous antagonist. When the main character untethers himself from the reality of his mourning and goes straight into rampage mode, you feel it. His heartbreak is palpable, and you get behind him on his path to hell. The scenery is wooded and lush; you’re in the middle of nowhere. It starts as a simple life being lived, then you’re mowing down biker demons to avenge Mandy. A revenge film has never looked this good.

2. The Orphanage (2007)

The Orphanage's Laura (Belen Rueda) reunited with her children in death

At first glance, we see a ghost story set in the Spanish countryside. A family moves into an abandoned orphanage with plans to rebuild it. The mother of this family was raised here. She has a deep connection with this place, and you see it when the haunting begins. Despite the creepiness of the house, the mother wants to give kids a loving place to live. The environment feels dreary and isolating due to how large the property is. You’re driven into familial anguish when their young, diabetic son disappears. The sheer grief felt after this point is so heavy you’re desperate to find this boy. As the mystery unravels, you see that the ghosts aren’t the scariest part. There’s real evil that lived in the home, and there’s human error haunting this family. I love this movie, but don’t think I have the stomach to re-watch it anytime soon.

1. Super Dark Times (2017)

Group of 4 boys crossing a bridge walking with their bikes

Taking the horror and gore out of Super Dark Times, it’s a coming-of-age drama based around a tight-knit teen friendship rocked to its core following a brutal accident. The opening scene sets a strange tone. We’re in the middle of a school when a cop has to mercy kill an injured wild animal that we’re to assume jumped in through a window. Then, we go about our day. The following scenes build a world of “boys being boys”. The boys are riding bikes because they’re too young to drive, rambling off “what if” scenarios. It’s just a normal group of kids with nothing to do. You get the sense that these kids are just on their own; they’re likely latchkey kids with little supervision. There’s a real tension building because of the aimlessness.

Shortly after the senseless and violent accident happens, there’s nothing but panic and fear. The horrific reveal validates the paranoia felt throughout. This still leaves a pit in my stomach, even after watching the movie a second time. Throughout the second half of the movie, you realize you don’t always know how someone’s mind works. Meanwhile, this is basically a normal week set in an eerily beautiful, sleepy town. The movie also has the isolation of the 1990s hanging over it. So, there are no cell phones to call for help, no quick way to fix a problem. This movie is truly going to haunt you long after you watch it.


Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Megan Keith

Parker Posey and Jillian Bell in Tales of the Walking Dead Ep2

Tales of the Walking Dead Episode 2 Is a Modern Classic

Two people in a room with objects levitating

Benson and Moorhead Are Back in the Something in the Dirt Trailer