The Most Utterly Depressing Horror Movies Of All Time

Over 4.4K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Most Utterly Depressing Horror Movies Of All Time
Voting Rules
Vote up the horror movies that left you screaming and sobbing in equal measure.

Horror films are meant to entertain us while also providing plenty of jump scares and scenes to make our pulses race. What happens, though, when a horror movie is too dark? And can a film in the horror genre be too dark?

Take for instance Hereditary, a film with a brilliant cast, engaging plot, and plenty of gore - but at what cost? The viewer might feel more sad than scared after finishing a film where an entire family falls apart with seemingly no end to the madness. From post-apocalyptic worlds to deranged hostage situations, there are more than a few horror films that cross the line from terrifying to depressing.

Here are 16 of the most depressing horror movies in history for you to rank. Vote up the ones that left you wishing you'd picked something a little more lighthearted to watch.

Photo: The Mist / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Dimension Films/The Weinstein Company

  • 1
    4,283 VOTES

    The 2007 film adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist presents a dystopian world where monsters and giant insects attack a small town in Maine as it's slowly enveloped by a strange mist. The characters find out that a government experiment gone wrong allowed these interdimensional beings to escape, and there seems to be no end in sight.

    When the main characters believe all is lost, protagonist David Drayton mercy kills his own son and three other survivors with the four remaining bullets in his gun. Ready to face the mist, David sees it suddenly receding. The government has contained the mist, meaning that David took the lives of his son and friends for nothing. David's chilling screams mark the end of this hopelessly depressing film.

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  • Threads
    Photo: BBC
    1,137 VOTES


    Threads starts out with British couple Ruth Beckett and Jimmy Kemp planning their wedding when the apocalypse suddenly occurs. As worldwide tensions escalate, a massive explosion off the coast of the United Kingdom immediately wipes out 12 to 30 million people.

    The town of Sheffield, where Ruth and Jimmy live, doesn't see sunlight for a year due to fallout from the blast. Ruth eventually escapes to the countryside and gives birth to a daughter named Jane, but she dies when the girl is only 10. Life in the UK is almost medieval, with food used as the primary currency. The film ends with a 13-year-old Jane screaming in terror as she gives birth to a deformed, stillborn baby.

    1,137 votes

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  • 3
    1,111 VOTES

    Consisting of 14 scenes shown in reverse chronological order, Irréversible is distressing because of its intense violence, juxtaposed with what could have been a happy story. The viewer is witness to a multitude of violent scenes, including the murder of Mick with a fire extinguisher and Mick's attempted assault of Marcus. There is also Le Tenia's graphic assault of Alex, which goes on for several agonizing, uncut minutes.

    In the end, the viewer learns that Alex and Marcus were a happy couple excited for Alex's pregnancy, but a series of unexpected events turned their world upside down. The flipped timeline definitely makes the story more depressing because the viewer knows what horrible things will happen to the unsuspecting characters.

  • 4
    1,483 VOTES

    Some hostage movies end with a silver lining and the protagonists prevailing. Funny Games is not one of those movies. Ann and George Farber, along with their son, Georgie, are held hostage by Peter and Paul, two sadistic criminals who bet the Farbers that they won't be alive by 9:00 the following morning.

    The film devolves into a cycle of the Farbers almost escaping only to be captured and punished for not following the games' rules. The film becomes particularly dark as young Georgie is murdered and George is killed soon after. Just when it seems like Ann might escape, Peter and Paul drown her just before 9 am. They then go on to the next house, where the viewer can assume they will continue their sickening games.

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  • 5
    1,395 VOTES

    Post-apocalyptic films seem to have really cornered the market on depressing horror. The main characters of The Road, known simply as Man, Woman, and Boy, are among the few survivors of an unnamed tragedy that seems to have wiped out most of the world.

    The woman begins to lose hope that things will ever improve and walks into the forest naked, where it's assumed she freezes to death. The man and the boy have a number of misadventures, including coming upon a group of cannibals who hold other humans captive as their food source. The man eventually dies, leaving the young boy completely on his own. There's a small glimmer of hope as the boy is rescued by another wandering family, but it's a far cry from what one might call a happy ending.

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  • The Poughkeepsie Tapes is perhaps the most graphic and disturbing documentary-style horror film of all time. Police attempt to track down serial killer Edward Carver, who has recorded 800 videos of himself torturing and murdering victims. Carver's crimes include the assault and murder of a little girl, as well as a truly sickening C-section that he performs on a pregnant victim. Even the one victim who does survive Carver's wrath eventually takes her own life after being subjected to his physical and mental torment.

    At the end of the film, there's no justice or redemption, and the post-credits scene reveals that Carver won't be stopping his murder spree anytime soon.