15 Love-Em-Or-Hate-Em Horror Movies That Split Audiences Down The Middle

Over 80 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 15 Love-Em-Or-Hate-Em Horror Movies That Split Audiences Down The Middle
Voting Rules
Vote up the polarizing horror movies you love.

Horror is a very divisive genre. What's scary to one person can be silly to the next. Furthermore, many horror films are created with the intent to disturb the audience. Not everybody is into that, and sometimes you think you're down for anything, only to see some stuff that really messes you up.

These films deliberately cross lines, and that can be a dangerous game. As strange as it may sound, there is a right way and a wrong way to portray a guy's skull getting bashed in.

These are some of the most divisive horror films out there - people either love them or hate them. If you thought the film was a masterpiece, vote it up. If you thought it was a hot piece of trash, vote it down.

  • Why People Love It: It took the over-the-top gore and grotesquerie of the original to new levels. The remake stayed close to the source material in plot terms, while making just enough changes to tell its own story. The film is more polished than the first two Evil Dead films, and the acting is much more professional.

    The film is also deeper than the originals, with more in the way of symbolism and storytelling. This film has a point to make in a way that the originals didn't. The characters are more identifiable, complex, and likable (original Ash aside). Conventionally, the film is more polished than the originals. Above all, the 2013 Evil Dead is scary.

    Why People Hate It: It's a remake of a horror classic with no Bruce Campbell. To understand why some horror fans are inclined to dislike this remake, one has to understand the history of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead. The first film was Raimi's first, a low-budget horror which he halfway remade in Evil Dead II as a satire of itself with Bruce Campbell starring as Ash in both.

    Evil Dead II became a cult classic of cinema. No one asked for a serious version of Evil Dead II or an updated Evil Dead with a bigger budget, but that is what this film essentially is. It lacks the irony and camp of Evil Dead II, which is the main reason for that film's status as a cult classic. Raimi's original films had soul, and this one swallowed it.

    Evil Dead (2013) also committed one of Hollywood's latest cliches in parasitic storytelling: replacing male characters with female ones in remakes. Ash is such a deliberate caricature of masculinity that replacing that role with a new female character just seems subversive for its own sake. At the same time, trying to replicate Ash directly would have been an admittedly impossible task, giving more credence to the idea that this film just shouldn't exist. You can't replace Bruce.

    48 votes

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  • 2
    76 VOTES

    Why People Love It: It is a masterpiece, not just of horror but of cinema in general. Entire documentaries have been made explaining why this film is so good. In short, it is psychological and supernatural horror at its best: deeply scary, well constructed, and rich with layers. It's a bloody Stanley Kubrick film.

    The film's "Here's Johnny!" scene has been scientifically proven to be the scariest scene in horror history, according to an experiment run by Japanese-owned Rakuten's Play.com. The scene caused audience heart rates to jump by 28.21%, more than any other film studied.

    Why People Hate It: No one is challenging the fact that Kubrick made a masterpiece as much as they're complaining about how he deviated from Stephen King's work. Kubrick was direct in rejecting King's version in favor of his own. In the film, Jack drives a yellow Beetle as opposed to the red one in the book. By the end of the film, the audience finds out what happened to King's red Beetle: It lies crushed on the side of the road. For his part, King hates Kubrick's version about as much as he possibly can.

    Though there are many differences between the two, the primary difference between the book and the film lies within the motives of the Overlook Hotel itself. In the book, Danny and his shining ability are the primary targets, and Jack is the means to that end. In the film, Jack is the hotel's victim, and the family is portrayed more as the victims of Jack. In the book, Jack's demise is selfless, while in the film it is grim and unsympathetic. While Kubrick's version is about a man's descent into madness, King's version is about a man struggling to overcome his inner demons. One ends in fire, the other in ice.

    76 votes
  • 3
    61 VOTES
    Photo: A24

    Why People Love It: This film is weird AF. It's basically a daytime acid trip gone horribly wrong. Actually, the film contains one of the most accurate depictions of being on psychedelic substances in any film... or so those who have imbibed such substances claim. It delves into serious topics like mental illness, misogyny, breakup dynamics, and Indigenous culture.

    Florence Pugh plays the female lead Dani beautifully, and her character arc is compelling. The cinematography is amazing, and the bright colors and daytime setting are both unique in a horror film and well-executed. By the end of Midsommar, the audience isn't sure whether to feel horrified or just break out laughing. The film also subverts modern Hollywood tropes with its violent femininity and not-so-noble "savages." This film got people talking, and that is a testament to its impact as a unique work of art.

    Why People Hate It: It borrows heavily from The Wicker Man, with one scene, in particular, being pretty on the nose. The film is more disturbing than outright scary, and it takes itself so seriously at times that it can come off as pretentious. At other times, the film strains believability, particularly with regard to the "this is obviously a death trap" horror trope.

    The relationship between Dani and the obviously named Christian lacks chemistry to the point that the audience is left wondering how these people have been dating for four years. The visitor characters in general are all pretty unlikeable. The film's reliance on mood over plot can get boring. Additionally, people who didn't like the ending really hated it.

    The film also prompted a backlash over its portrayal of bipolar disorder. People with this disorder, while they are at a higher risk of suicide, don't typically commit murder, as in the opening salvo of the film.

    61 votes

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  • Why People Love It: Natural Born Killers provides the quintessential '90s portrait of mass murderers running amok, glorified and encouraged by a vampiric media landscape peddling horror and human suffering. The film was intentionally divisive and was bound to piss off the media figures it took aim at.

    Stylistically, it's deliberately disorienting and cartoonish, which both juxtaposes well with the graphic content and also makes a meta point about the film itself: Is it possible for a film about glorifying violence to not glorify violence? Woody Harrelson's performance is amazing, to the point that it changed the entire trajectory of his career. The film was also prophetic, coming out just before the O.J. Simpson media circus erupted.

    This film is an audience favorite, garnering an 81% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes despite a 48% critics score.

    Why People Hate It: Oliver Stone took a Quentin Tarantino script and took the Tarantino-ness out of it. Tarantino himself hated the final product, largely because of the substantive changes made to the original script he sold to Stone.

    The rarely self-reflective media (which includes professional movie critics) said that the film was too violent, crude, and blunt as a satire. They complain that the film devolves into precisely what it is criticizing. It delivers up the ultra-violence to the ravenous masses while at the same time condemning people for peddling the ultra-violence. The absence of nuance with regard to the causes and conditions that create serial killers also detracts from the impact of the film.

    51 votes

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  • 5
    38 VOTES


    Why People Love It: To start with, it's a Darren Aronofsky film. It is unique, as one would expect from the director, not really fitting nicely into any genre or convention. Jennifer Lawrence gives an amazing performance. Without giving away too much of the narrative, the film is a biblical allegory that tries to subvert audience expectations. Things get weird.

    Viewed as a narrative, it is jarring and disorienting while still maintaining a coherent story structure. Visually, the juxtaposition of the pristine house and the madness that follows creates an atmosphere that fits the horror genre. It feels a bit like a Roman Polanski film. This film has a message about humanity and human nature, and it makes it without holding anything back.

    mother! is the kind of film that critics and certain audience members love for its complexity and artistic value.

    Why People Hate It: Two primary complaints drive the hatred of this film. First, it isn't really a "horror" film. The film is brutal, there's no doubt about that, but it doesn't follow typical horror conventions and, strictly speaking, it's more unsettling than scary.

    Secondly, it preaches the current zeitgeist. Namely, the subtext seems to be "Christian patriarchy bad, mother nature good." The brutalization of a female stand-in for Mother Earth has been done to death, and at times it seems like mother! simply seeks to do in more shocking and direct terms what has been done before in more subtle ways.

    General audiences did not take to mother!, causing the film to tank at the box office.

    38 votes

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  • Why People Love It: It's hard to think of any other third installment in a horror series that comes close to accomplishing what Exorcist III did. This is even more impressive considering the original that spawned it is a canonized horror classic that ranks among the greatest films of all time. 

    William Peter Blatty, the author of the original novel, comes in to direct, completely ignoring Exorcist II: The Heretic (with good reason). The Exorcist III is dialogue-driven and is performed by a surprisingly impressive cast for any third installment. The film manages to be scary despite being largely devoid of gore and instead manipulates the imagination of the audience. Case in point is the hospital jump scare, widely considered one of the best jump scares in any horror film.

    Why People Hate It: The largest complaint about this film is that the plot collapses under its own weight. Unlike the original, the spiritual aspect is left ambiguous to the point that the story would be incomprehensible if not for direct expositional monologues.

    The film also lacks action. Much of the movie is spent on mood, dimly lit corridors, and looking at objects of little consequence. The underlying message of the film also somewhat undermines the original Exorcist. Where that film centered on rediscovering faith through trials, this film is about losing faith in a secular world.

    25 votes

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