12 Movies That Prove America Loves to be Scared

Horror movies allow us to escape the boredom of modern life. Horror catalyzes heart rates and excites viewers with terrifying scenarios that also provide a sense of comfort to fans of the spooky genre. In short, most Americans love watching terrifying content and don’t plan to stop. A few standout horror gems drop every year, commanding a watch from only the most courageous horror hounds.

1. Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary (2018) Milly Shapiro
Image Credit: A24.

Ann Dowd possesses any screen she graces. In Hereditary, she plays the friend to a deceased grandmother (Ellen), someone who joins a grief group as a cover-up to inch closer to Ellen’s family. Ellen’s daughter, Annie, mothers two children and maintains a relationship with a loving husband, though they notice their daughter acts in mysterious ways, acting out following her grandmother’s death. The family soon realizes a demonic spirit possesses their kin and needs to find a host to settle its business.

Without divulging spoilers, let me just say that I never drive by poles without recalling the horrifying scene in the opening half of Hereditary.

2. Terrifier (2016)

Terrifier (2016) David Howard Thornton
Image Credit: Dread Central Presents.

Damien Leone’s creation leans on gore more than horror, and many critics believe the exploitation of women, but audiences eat it up. The first film introduced the cult-favorite character, Art the Clown, a murderous, mute villain made up of black and white face paint. He displays creative killing methods to the audience, resulting in lots of laughter from consumers. Though the dire subject matter churns stomachs, each installment attracts more viewers than the previous one.

3. The Strangers (2008)

The Strangers (2008) Liv Tyler, Kip Weeks
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Home invasion stories terrify so many people for real-life scenarios. The director of The Strangers, Bryan Bertino, leaned on real-life happenings for the film’s inspiration. As a child, Bertino experienced a situation where a woman knocked on his door and asked to see someone who didn’t reside in their home. He and his sister refused to let the woman in, and later, they discovered her identity as a robber.

In the film, a group of masked strangers materializes in a couple’s vacation home and inflicts harrowing torture upon the duo.

4. Fall (2022)

Fall (2022) Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Single-location films either work or fail. Fall, a recent release, works. Two friends and climbing enthusiasts decided to scale Canada’s tallest telephone tower despite its dated structure. When the friends arrive, they strap into safety gear and climb. Soon, they realize the lonesomeness accompanying an existing vacant telephone tower jutting hundreds of feet into the sky.

The two try to survive broken structures, low oxygen levels, minimal food supply, dehydration, and delirium. My palms sweated for the entire runtime, and I adored every minute of the cinematic experience.

5. It Follows (2014)

It Follows (2014) Maika Monroe, Lili Sepe, Daniel Zovatto
Image Credit: RADiUS-TWC.

Maika Monroe is an underrated horror icon, and her 2014 role in David Robert Mitchell’s film solidified her status. Monroe’s character, Jay, starts a new relationship with an unassuming man. The two get along well until the boyfriend starts seeing people Jay cannot. He drags her out to an abandoned lot to engage in adult relations and then knocks her out with a chloroform rag.

When Jay wakes up, he relays the crucial information. He passed on a disease that translates as slow-walking people inching toward the affected. She may pass it on only through adult relations with another person. Once completed, she must tell the person of the affliction. As a female horror icon, Jay decides to beat the curse herself.

6. The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

The Eyes of My Mother (2016) Diana Agostini
Image Credit: Magnet Releasing.

I made the mistake of watching this black and white film on the floor, immersed between two beds with exposed undercarriages, in the dark. I know nothing roams under the darkened spaces, but during this screening, my imagination won. The Eyes of My Mother focuses on a young woman who watches the murder of her mother, an eye surgeon, and she lives out the rest of her days seeking revenge. The woman’s growth and understanding of grief become stunted due to her trauma, so she extracts random passerby eyes and vocal cords, homaging her mother.

7. Talk to Me (2022)

Talk to Me (2022) Sophie Wilde
Image Credit: Umbrella Entertainment.

One of the scariest films from production company A24 debuted last year. The Australian movie meditates on the dangers of playing with death, and in an intelligent metaphor: how boredom leads kids to drugs. Talk to Me features a group of kids obsessed with a graffitied hand and its portal. During a ritual, the participating member must grab the hand, close their eyes, tell the spirit on the other side, “Talk to me, I’ll let you in,” and wait for the spirit to react.

8. Watcher (2022)

Watcher (2022) Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman
Image Credit: Ryan Murphy Productions.

Moving to a new place proves its difficulties, but moving to a new country where you don’t speak the language yields twice the struggle. A couple moves to Romania following a husband’s promotion. He speaks the language, as it is his home country, but she cannot understand a word from the locals, so she stays inside and notices a strange man watching her. When he starts following her, she alerts her husband, who brushes away her claim as a loneliness manifesting into paranoia. The film breathes honesty into the disbelief of women impinged by the patriarchal society.

9. As Above, So Below (2014)

As Above, So Below (2014) Perdita Weeks
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

As Above, So Below is the only film that gained rights to film in The Catacombs under Paris. A gaggle of archaeologists and historians descend into the Parisian underground to find Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone and unlock eternal life. The story metaphorizes human greed and the cost they’ll pay to find it. The sound design, matched with the found footage aspect of the film, makes it a haunting tale.

10. Barbarian (2022)

Barbarian (2022) Bill Skarsgård
Image Credit: 20th Century Studios.

You cannot predict Barbarian’s plot. Seasoned horror enthusiasts thought they knew what the film held and left the theater flabbergasted. The film undergoes a fresh take on a popular hotel replacement, Airbnb. Two people book the same Airbnb in an unfavorable neighborhood, and they must decide whether to trust the other human or ditch the plan and find a new place to sleep. The guests choose to stay in the abode for the night. The next day, they unravel a secret chamber deep within the basement.

A chamber like this could exist in any of our basements.

11. Saint Maud (2019)

Saint Maud (2019) Morfydd Clark
Image Credit: StudioCanal.

My favorite religious horror movie deals with an ex-nurse who turned to catholicism to repent for her failure to save a patient. She finds a job with a sick, wealthy woman who pokes fun at her religion but enjoys Maud’s presence. Maud discovers the woman’s relationship with another girl, and she lashes out, not for homophobic reasons but due to the relationship’s existence. Maud believes everyone must stray away from adult relations until marriage to please God. Maud descends into mania, fashioning nails into her shoes and torrenting others with her infallible faith.

12. Be My Cat: A Film for Anne (2015)

Be My Cat: A Film for Anne Florentina Hariton
Image Credit: Terror Films.

I would love to see Anne Hathaway’s reaction to this film. The director, Adrian Tofei, plays the main character, also a director, who has an extreme obsession with Anne Hathaway. To gain her attention, he decides to make amazing films so Anne Hathaway can’t decline to work with him. The women he enlists for his movies believe him, trusting his work, but they don’t realize they won’t see the finished product.

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