Smarts The Best Intelligent Horror Movies  

Ranker Film
398.5k votes 17k voters 187.6k views 94 items

List Rules Vote up the best intelligent horror movies.

If you think horror movies are nothing more than gore, gratuitous violence, slashers slashing, and supernatural creatures wreaking havoc, think again; intelligent horror movies demonstrate that smart horror exists - and is really good to boot. The best intelligent horror films operate at multiple levels, weaving social commentary into plot lines that are equal parts thought-provoking and terrifying. 

From Jordan Peele's Get Out and its thematic interpretation of modern American racism to John Krasinski's A Quiet Place and its "silence experiment," there's no shortage of films that prove horror is actually smart. But what are the smartest of the intelligent horror genre? Are some supposedly intelligent horror films just not so?

list ordered by

1
7,820 734
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J.P. Blank added Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak
The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American thriller film that blends elements of the crime and horror genres. Directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott ...more

2
8,038 1,100
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Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair
The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 ...more

3
8,049 1,140
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Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Joey King
The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and the first installment in the Conjuring series. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are ...more

4
6,639 964
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David Lamotte added Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence
Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her ...more

5
6,519 1,016
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David Lamotte added John Travolta, Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie
Carrie is a 1976 American supernatural horror film based on Stephen King's first major 1974 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Brian De Palma and written by Lawrence D. Cohen. The ...more

6
8,493 1,367
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Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers
The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, ...more

7
5,187 808
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield P... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Greg Kootstra added Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O'Connor
The Conjuring 2 is a 2016 American supernatural horror film, directed by James Wan. It is the sequel to 2013's The Conjuring and the third installment in The Conjuring series. Ed and Lorraine ...more

8
6,791 1,118
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Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Wilson
Insidious is a 2011 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, written by Leigh Whannell, and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey. It is the first installment ...more

9
7,241 1,255
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Jaeden Lieberher, Bill SkarsgÄrd, Jeremy Ray Taylor
It (also known as It: Chapter One) is a 2017 American supernatural horror film directed by Andy Muschietti, based on the 1986 novel by Stephen King. In the summer of 1989, a group of bullied ...more

10
8,069 1,426
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Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment
The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled, isolated boy who ...more

11
6,361 1,113
The Ring is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Naomi Watts, Pauley Perrette, Brian Cox
The Ring is a 2002 American psychological horror film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Naomi Watts. It is a remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ring, which was based on the novel Ring ...more

12
6,546 1,170
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Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Shawnee Smith
Saw is a 2004 horror film written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan, in Wan's directorial debut. In the film, Adam (Whannell) and Lawrence (Cary Elwes) awaken chained in a large ...more

13
5,762 1,078
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Ali Larter, Seann William Scott, Devon Sawa
Final Destination is a 2000 American horror film directed by James Wong. It is the first installment of the Final Destination series. The screenplay was written by James Wong, Glen Morgan, and ...more

14
4,503 822
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Greg Kootstra added Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner
The Omen is a 1976 British/American supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick ...more

15
1,842 284
Alien is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Greg Kootstra added Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm
Alien is a 1979 science-fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. ...more

16
5,210 1,120
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David Lamotte added Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Fred Thompson
Sinister is a 2012 supernatural horror film directed by Scott Derrickson and written by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill. It stars Ethan Hawke as fictional true writer Ellison Oswalt who ...more

17
5,285 1,152
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David Lamotte added Cillian Murphy, Christopher Eccleston, Naomie Harris
28 Days Later is a 2002 British post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Danny Boyle. The screenplay was written by Alex Garland. The film stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, ...more

18
4,168 886
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David Lamotte added Tom Savini, Ken Foree, James A. Baffico
This film is a 1978 Italian-American horror drama film written and directed by George A. Romero. It was the second film made in Romero's series, but contains no characters or settings from them, ...more

19
5,814 1,290
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Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver, Amy Acker
The Cabin in the Woods is a 2012 American horror comedy film directed by Drew Goddard in his directorial debut, produced by Joss Whedon, and written by Whedon and Goddard. The film stars Kristen ...more

20
4,204 917
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David Lamotte added Vincent Price, Richard Long, Elisha Cook
House on Haunted Hill is a 1959 American horror film. It was directed by William Castle, written by Robb White and stars Vincent Price as eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren. He and his fourth ...more

21
4,779 1,065
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Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Randy McDowell
Paranormal Activity is a 2007 American supernatural horror film written, co-produced, photographed, edited, and directed by Oren Peli. The film centers on a young couple, Katie and Micah, who ...more

22
4,081 918
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Greg Kootstra added Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins
Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, who ends up at a secluded motel after taking money from ...more

23
4,400 1,062
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David Lamotte added Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden
The Mist is a 2007 American science fiction horror film based on the 1980 novella of the same name by Stephen King. The film was written and directed by Frank Darabont, who had previously ...more

24
6,647 1,678
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James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley
Split is a 2016 American psychological horror thriller film directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan. After a wholesome teen birthday party, three girls are taken in broad daylight: friends ...more

25
5,617 1,400
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Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley
The Others is a 2001 horror-thriller film written, directed and scored by Alejandro Amenábar. It stars Nicole Kidman and Fionnula Flanagan. It won eight Goya Awards, including awards for ...more