You’ve got time on your hands. You’ve watched everything you want to watch on Netflix until they add Skyscraper (because who doesn’t enjoy a movie with The Rock, even if they get the Hong Kong skyline so very wrong.
It might be worth taking the time to explore a new genre of film – starting with horror. Maybe you want to feel the thrill, or maybe you don’t want to be left out during next year’s Halloween movie marathon.
That being said, you don’t want to scare yourself too badly – so where do you start?
We asked our resident horror-movie fanatic to put together a beginner’s guide to eight of the best entry-level films, ranked from somewhat unnerving to absolutely terrifying. Start at the top and move your way down the list. But maybe time it so you’re not watching the final entry too late at night.
Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) Not strictly a horror movie, but seven-year-old me was scared nonetheless. The film follows a family that moves into the Spiderwick Estate; little do they know that magical creatures roam the grounds, determined to get their claws on a special book written by their grandfather who mysteriously disappeared.
The family must defend themselves and their home before it is too late. Honestly, some scenes were pretty terrifying.
Coraline (2009) Think twice before you say that animated films don’t scare you. In this movie, a young girl called Coraline walks through a secret door in her new home, only to find an alternate dimension and a seemingly ideal home.
So far, so cosy.
When things take a sinister turn, Coraline must find a way to escape her Other Mother and return to the life she once called dreary. The movie unnerves me to this day – after all, who would want buttons sewn into their eyes?
The Birds (1963) This is an absolute classic by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. A socialite meets a man working at a San Francisco pet store and decides to follow him home to Bodega Bay. It isn’t long before birds begin to attack the area in the hundreds and thousands.
As they continue their vicious attacks, the residents of Bodega Bay must find a way to survive. If you have ornithophobia (a fear of birds), you might want to stay away from this one. You’ll never see Hong Kong Park in quite the same way again.
The Village (2004) The Harry Potter stories had “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”; The Village has “Those We Don’t Speak Of”. In this psychological horror film – the fear is more in your mind, than ever actually appearing on screen – a village lives in terror of the nameless humanoid monster in the woods beyond it.
When one of the villagers becomes badly injured, a blind girl braves the woods to seek medicine and help. There is a shocking twist, to put it mildly – let’s just say the village elders know a lot more than they let on.
The Sixth Sense (1999) Ever wondered where the iconic line “I see dead people” came from? Don’t be fooled by this movie’s PG-13 rating – The Sixth Sense will have you leaving the lights on at night, all night, every night.
In this supernatural/ psychological film, a young boy named Cole is able to see and talk to the dead. He confides in a psychologist who in turn tries to unravel the story behind Cole’s abilities; the consequences of their relationship lead to realisations that were previously unimaginable.
A Quiet Place (2018) You’ve probably heard of this film – it’s rare for a horror film to be nominated for quite so many awards, including a Screen Actors Guild acting win for Emily Blunt.
In a post-apocalyptic world, the Abbott family attempts to live in complete silence to avoid monstrous creatures that hunt by sound.
With a deaf child unaware of the sounds she makes and a mother who is about to give birth, the odds are stacked against the Abbotts. In this fight for survival, A Quiet Place will keep you on the edge of your seat – silently, of course.
It (2017) Based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name, It is a supernatural horror film that follows seven bullied children and a killer clown. Pennywise, the clown, emerges from the sewers every 27 years; he forces the friends to band together and face their worst fears.
Clowns, sewers and red balloons filled with blood – what could possibly go wrong?
The Conjuring (2013) Until you watch The Conjuring franchise, you don’t truly know horror. Based on a true story, the film follows two paranormal investigators (Ed and Lorraine Warren) as they look into an unknown entity terrorising a family. The suspense and horror is rich, with no cheap jumpscares. Genius.
If you’re an older reader, check out our even scarier, even more horrifying list of horror sub-genres.