Horror Selections for Everyone (Yes, Everyone)


Even if you aren’t a fan of the traditional slasher or ghost story — or scary movies, period — you can still enjoy the genre.


Horror movies tend to get a bad rap. Many are over-the-top in their violence, obscene in their gore and notoriously unkind to female characters. So when fellow pop culture vultures clam up at the mention of a fright flick, it’s tough to blame them.

But horror is experiencing a renaissance, thanks to recent subversive scares like Get Out, The Witch and Hereditary to name a few. So a film fan who declares they “don’t like scary movies” is at risk of shutting out one of cinema’s most artful, experimental and thought-provoking genres. While fear is subjective, not all horror is created equal. Even if you aren't familiar with the slasher ways of Leatherface or Jason Voorhees or prefer to avoid torture spectacles like Saw there’s still plenty to delve into.

Below, a list of clever, plot-driven and some, flat-out gorgeous, horror selections from least to most frightening — that are worth your while. We’ll also tell you how many lights to keep on after you watch.

Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy and Bruce Willis star in Glass.

Glass (2019)

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

What it’s about: The worlds of Shyamalan’s Unbreakable and Split converge in this dark thriller about a detective who seeks out the help of a man with 24 different personalities.

Watch if: You prefer the psychological to the outright scary. Sure, there are unsettling, violent moments, but suspense master Shyamalan reminds us that the real horror is within our minds and histories.

Number of lights to keep on: 🔦

* Premieres October 19

Happy Death Day: Like your birthday, but opposite.

Happy Death Day (2017) and Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Directed by: Christopher Landon

What it’s about: A young woman must continuously relive her murder until she discovers her killler’s identity.

Watch if: You want a self-aware horror franchise to discover. Blumhouse Productions (The Purge) distributes films that coyly blend bloody twists and turns with wit and humor. Happy Death Day and its sequel do just that.

Number of lights to keep on: 🔦🔦

* Premieres October 12

Lucy Hale leads a game of Truth or Dare.

Truth or Dare (2018)

Directed by: Jeff Wadlow

What it’s about: An innocent game turns fatal when a sinister presence begins to off the players who lie about the truth or deny the dare. Featuring Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey and more.

Watch if: You’re in the mood for a plot-driven thriller. Truth or Dare might not be the scariest on the list, but it establishes its setting and stakes early on so all you need to focus on is the anticipated twist.

Number of lights to keep on: 🔦🔦

Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert is Greta.

Greta (2018)

Directed by: Neil Jordan

What it’s about: A young woman befriends a lonely widow, who is harboring a twisted agenda for their atypical companionship. Chloë Grace Moretz, Isabelle Huppert and Maika Monroe star.

Watch if: You’re up for an unexpected scare. Oscar-winner Jordan (The Crying Game) threads undeniable dread throughout the film — keeping you on edge while preparing you for the worst.

Number of lights to keep on: 🔦🔦

* Premieres October 26

The Nun Movie HBOTaissa Farmiga is a fearful young novice in The Nun.

The Nun (2018)

Directed by: Corin Hardy

What it’s about: In this Conjuring origin story, a priest with a haunted past and a novice awaiting her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate the alleged suicide of a young nun — and the sinister convent she served.

Watch if: You either really enjoy or are completely indifferent to jump scares — there are surprises from frame to frame. This big-budget fright flick spared no expense when it came to crafting its eerie setting, and the result is sweeping.

Number of lights to keep on: 🔦🔦🔦🔦

Olivia Armstrong has irked many an internet surfer via Decider, Tribeca Film, HuffPo and Jezebel. The movie she first remembers watching is The Swan Princess. The second is The Shining.