11 Aesthetic Horror Movies That Are As Satisfying As They Are Scary

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Vote up the most visually striking horror films.

Aesthetic is the style and feel of a film, and aesthetic horror can vary drastically, from trippy, beautiful, and surreal, to dark and bleak. Suspiria is a prime example, with its bright colors, close-up shots of gore, and unsettling score earning it the praise as one of the most beautiful horror films ever made. In the style of Giallo, the vibrant Italian film is as much an awe-inspiring piece of art as it is a violent gore-fest.

Giallo is not the only type of horror aesthetic on this list. For example, Ari Aster's Midsommar plays with the viewer by putting the characters in the sunny, dream-like, flower-filled commune of Hårga. The comforting beauty of nature disarms the viewer, and lulls them into a false sense of security until the ritualistic human sacrifices begin, mixing the joyful imagery with the grotesque. The Hollywood glamour of The Neon Demon quickly turns to darkness, leaving the audience with the unshakable image of a model vomiting the eyeball of her competition.

Scroll on below to read more about aesthetic horror movies like The Love Witch, Pearl, and The Cell. Be sure to vote up your favorites, and then check back to see if they topped our list! Head over to your favorite streaming platform to watch any of the visually stunning films you may have missed.


  • Crimson Peak
    Photo: Crimson Peak / Universal Pictures
    1
    19 VOTES

    Crimson Peak is a stunning example of director Guillermo del Toro’s talent for unforgettable and breathtaking imagery. It was said to be partly inspired by another visual masterpiece, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Crimson Peak takes place in the early 1900s, and the gothic style oscillates between opulent and terrifying. The elaborate costumes, that belong in a museum, and del Toro's fascinating creature design never fail to impress. One of the lasting images from this work of art has to be the stark image of the red clay seeping out from under white snow in front of the towering Allerdale Hall estate.

    • Actors: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver
    • Released: 2015
    • Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
    19 votes

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  • The Shining
    Photo: The Shining / Warner Bros.
    2
    26 VOTES

    Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is iconic for a number of reasons, and the cinematography is one of them. The Shining is arguably a postmodern work of art, with an emphasis on the eeriness and surrealism of liminal spaces, made even more strange since The Overlook is a hotel, a location typically bustling and filled with people. The unsettling feeling of a long hallway immediately conjures images of The Overlook, and the film’s aesthetic - like the carpet pattern or hedge maze - has gone on to inspire decades of horror movies since. The Shining is the kind of film where each person you ask may cite a different scene as an example of its visual excellence, from the twins holding hands in a long hall to blood pouring from the elevators.

    • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson
    • Released: 1980
    • Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
    26 votes

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  • Midsommar
    Photo: Midsommar / A24
    3
    20 VOTES

    The aesthetic of Ari Aster's Midsommar is strikingly beautiful, which is in stark contrast to the horror of what is happening inside this Swedish cult. The film follows Dani (Florence Pugh), who leaves the darkness of her life - following the death of her entire family - to travel with her boyfriend and his friends to the midsummer festival on the Hårga commune, which is full of flowers, flower crowns, coordinated clothing, and lots of sunshine. Close-up shots of dead and mutilated bodies, as well as the characters' faces, full of despair, add to the horror. As it does with Dani, the breathtaking views and friendly faces at the commune disarm the audience, priming them for the ultimate shock as the ritual sacrifices begin.

    • Actors: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Vilhelm Blomgren
    • Released: 2019
    • Directed by: Ari Aster
    20 votes

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  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
    Photo: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre / Bryanston Distributing Company

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is known as one of the best and scariest horror movies, inspiring a host of future slasher films, like Halloween and X, as well as Ridley Scott’s Alien, and a number of Rob Zombie movies. The aesthetic of the film is just as iconic, with many calling it terrifying without being a bloodbath. Others praised the skillful use of daylight shots, seeing as most horror movies primarily live in the darkness. The image of a sunlit Leatherface holding the chainsaw over his head in front of the expansive Texas backdrop, as if to suggest, you can run, but there's nowhere to hide, is a lasting one, and the use of daylight actually makes it even scarier.

    • Actors: Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail
    • Released: 1974
    • Directed by: Tobe Hooper
    27 votes

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  • The Witch
    Photo: The Witch / A24
    5
    16 VOTES

    Robert Eggers is another director you can always count on for aesthetic horror, and that is never more true than with his feature directorial debut, The Witch (also stylized as The VVitch). Aesthetic was everything for this film, which takes place in New England in the 1630s. The set was constructed to be as historically accurate as possible, as were the costumes, and even lighting. Linda Muir consulted 35 books to plan costumes, which were made of wool, linen, and hemp. Eggers only used natural lighting and candles to keep The Witch as authentic to the time period as possible.

    • Actors: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger
    • Released: 2015
    • Directed by: Robert Eggers
    16 votes

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  • The Cell
    Photo: The Cell / New Line Cinema
    6
    13 VOTES

    The Cell might actually work better as a visual piece of art than the best-written horror film. The movie follows child psychologist Catherine (Jennifer Lopez), who is hired to use an experimental virtual reality treatment for coma patients to enter the mind of a serial killer, in order to locate his latest victim. The dream-like imagery of the fantasies Catherine encounters are surreal, avant-garde, and out of this world. From sparkling visions of Catherine looking like the Virgin Mary and bodies strung up like something out of Hellraiser to sci-fi elements and Daredevil-esque jumpsuits, you can see that director Tarsem Singh spared no time on the trippy and dramatic visuals.

    • Actors: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jake Weber, Dylan Baker
    • Released: 2000
    • Directed by: Tarsem
    13 votes

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