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The Best Intelligent Horror Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated May 20, 2020 675.7k votes 26.1k voters 282k views 114 items

List Rules Vote up the best intelligent horror movies.

If you think horror movies are nothing more than slashers slashing, supernatural creatures wreaking havoc, and gallons of the red stuff, 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 to John Krasinski's A Quiet Place, there's no shortage of films that prove horror is actually smart. But what are the smartest entries in the intelligent horror genre?

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Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

Released: 1980

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

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David Lamotte added Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

Released: 1978

Directed by: John Carpenter

More Halloween 

Stories About Jamie Lee Curtis From Behind The Scenes Of The Original ‘Halloween’  #4 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #270 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

Released: 1999

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

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#5 of 253 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #29 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Timelisted on The 50 Highest Grossing '90s Movies, Ranked

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Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Wilson

Released: 2010

Directed by: James Wan

More Insidious 

#106 of 253 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #20 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #3 of 22 Horror Movies You Can't Even Finish Watching

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David Lamotte added John Travolta, Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie

Released: 1976

Directed by: Brian De Palma

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It Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor

Released: 2017

Directed by: Andy Muschietti

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Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Shawnee Smith

Released: 2004

Directed by: James Wan

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The Ring is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Naomi Watts, Pauley Perrette, Brian Cox

Released: 2002

Directed by: Gore Verbinski

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The Conjuring 2: The Enf... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Greg Kootstra added Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O'Connor

Released: 2016

Directed by: James Wan

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#143 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #39 of 64 The Most Rewatchable Horror Movies #9 of 109 The Best Horror Movie Sequels

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Ali Larter, Seann William Scott, Devon Sawa

Released: 2000

Directed by: James Wong

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Alien is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Greg Kootstra added Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm

Released: 1979

Directed by: Ridley Scott

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Greg Kootstra added Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner

Released: 1976

Directed by: Richard Donner

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David Lamotte added Cillian Murphy, Christopher Eccleston, Naomie Harris

Released: 2002

Directed by: Danny Boyle

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David Lamotte added Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Fred Thompson

Released: 2012

Directed by: Scott Derrickson

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#46 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #39 of 149 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time #37 of 58 The Best Movies Where the Bad Guy Wins

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Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Randy McDowell

Released: 2007

Directed by: Oren Peli

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David Lamotte added Tom Savini, Ken Foree, James A. Baffico

Released: 1978

Directed by: George A. Romero

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David Lamotte added Vincent Price, Richard Long, Elisha Cook

Released: 1959

Directed by: William Castle

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Psycho is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Greg Kootstra added Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

Released: 1960

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

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#8 of 253 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #14 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #7 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

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Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Michelle Fairley

Released: 2001

Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar

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#39 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #564 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #6 of 24 The Best Movies with Twist Endings

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The Amityville Horror is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Wade Moosewah added James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger

Released: 1979

Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg

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