The Best Movies About Nightmares

List Rules
Nightmares must play an important role in the plot of the film.

When thinking about the best nightmare movies, the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise certainly comes to mind but this list proves there are other great movies that feature bad dreams. Famous nightmares in movies can make even the most cynical film viewer forget they’re watching a movie and jolt them out of their seat. Nightmares are the mind’s way of disturbing itself when it’s at its most vulnerable; which makes them perfect fodder for film. They have fueled top horror films long before Freddy Kruger donned the glove and have given filmmakers a chance to fully explore beyond the ordinary confines of everyday life.

Nightmares can drive the characters’ motives, actions, and relationships for better or worse within the plot like Dreamscape and The Cell where most of the movie takes place in dreams. An artistic tool to be sure; nightmares in cinema are a blank canvas that can tell you a lot about the psyche of the characters, and even more about yourself!

Is this list of best films about nightmares the stuff dreams are made of? Feel free to vote up the nightmare movies that make it difficult to sleep at night! You can always remind yourself, it was all just a dream.

 

list ordered by
  • A troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son is telling the truth about a monster that entered their home through the pages of a children's book.
  • In Wes Craven's classic slasher film, several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a disfigured midnight mangler who preys on the teenagers in their dreams -- which, in ...more
  • The apparently comatose Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) is being transferred from one hospital to another, but he wakes up when the ambulance crew talk about his surviving niece, Jamie (Danielle ...more
  • Seven friends engage in a struggle with the demon they first encountered 30 years earlier in their Maine hometown. From the Stephen King book.
  • The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown's beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the "real world." When Jack ...more
  • During a hallucinatory incident, young Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) has her wrists slashed by dream-stalking monster Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Her mother, mistaking the wounds for a ...more
  • Reality and fantasy meet in unsettling ways in this installment of the long-running horror series, which finds director Wes Craven and actors Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund all portraying ...more
  • Two horror icons face off in this supernatural movie. Disfigured serial killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), who attacks his victims in their dreams, has lost much of his power since citizens of ...more
  • Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer's block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and ...more
  • Doctor Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) moves his family to Maine, where he meets a friendly local named Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne). After the Creeds' cat is accidentally killed, Crandall advises Louis to ...more
  • The residents of a small town have begun dying under strange circumstances, leading young Mike (Michael Baldwin) to investigate. After discovering that the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), the town's ...more
  • The implausible escape of a brilliant murderess brings U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner (Mark Ruffalo) to Ashecliffe Hospital, a fortress-like insane asylum located ...more
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is a 1988 American slasher fantasy film and the fourth film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The film was directed by Renny Harlin, stars Robert ...more
  • Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) moves with his family into the home of the lone survivor from a series of attacks by dream-stalking monster Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). There, Jesse is bedeviled by ...more
  • When five college friends (Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams) arrive at a remote forest cabin for a little vacation, little do they expect the horrors that ...more
  • One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd -- levitating, speaking in tongues -- ...more
  • A dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) is left amnesiac after a car crash. She wanders the streets of Los Angeles in a daze before taking refuge in an apartment. There she is discovered by Betty ...more
  • When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter and grandchildren begin to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry, trying to outrun the sinister ...more
  • Parents (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne) take drastic measures when it seems their new home is haunted and their comatose son (Ty Simpkins) is possessed by a malevolent entity.
  • Chiller about a family who is terrorized by supernatural forces when they move into a new house in New York State which was the scene of a recent mass killing and the home of an 18th-century ...more
  • Poking around in a church cellar, a priest (Donald Pleasence) finds an otherworldly vial filled with slime. Frightened, he brings his discovery to a circle of top scholars and scientists, who ...more
  • After returning home from the Vietnam War, veteran Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) struggles to maintain his sanity. Plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks, Singer rapidly falls apart as the world and ...more
  • Selfish teen Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) is coerced into joining a government project in which psychics like him are trained to enter others' dreams. He starts learning to use his abilities to do ...more
  • When Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck) arrives at a Vermont mental hospital to replace the outgoing hospital director, Dr. Constance Peterson (Ingrid Bergman), a psychoanalyst, discovers Edwardes ...more
  • Malignant is a 2021 American horror film directed by James Wan. Paralyzed by fear from shocking visions, a woman's torment worsens as she discovers her waking dreams are terrifying realities.