Graveyard Shift

Horror Movies That Keep You On The Edge Of Your Seat From Start To Finish, Ranked 

Orrin Grey
Updated February 10, 2020 4.7k votes 1.2k voters 49k views 15 items

List Rules Vote up the movies that keep you on the edge of your seat the ENTIRE time.

Different horror movies bring different things to the table. Sometimes, you want a fun slasher flick or creature feature; sometimes, you want a creepy slow burn that seeps into your dreams after the credits roll; and sometimes, you just want to watch something go bump in the night. Other times, though, you want a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the first frames - the kind of film where you only realize you've been holding your breath when you finally let it out in a big gasp.

When you want a horror movie that's relentless, aggressive, and intense - a movie that'll leave you white-knuckled from clutching the arms of your seat - these titles ought to fit the bill.

The Descent is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Horror Movies That Keep You On The Edge Of Your Seat From Start To Finish, Ranked
Photo: Lionsgate

Sure, The Descent is a nightmare for the claustrophobic among us - filmed almost entirely in tight cave sets, often lit only with flashlights, flares, and other tools the film's group of spelunkers would have had on hand - but even before they get into the caves, things start out from a pretty intense early shock.

Once they do make their way underground, they're faced with tight quarters, grievous harm, the threats of falling, and of course, the creepy, humanoid monsters that make this particular cave system their home.

Actors: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, + more

Released: 2005

Directed by: Neil Marshall

Does this grab you and refuse to let go?

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Aliens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Horror Movies That Keep You On The Edge Of Your Seat From Start To Finish, Ranked
Photo: 20th Century Fox

We can debate all day whether this or the Ridley Scott original is better - and there's little doubt that 1979's Alien is, in most ways, the scarier of the pair - but when it comes to piling on the pace and never letting up, James Cameron's 1986 sequel may be the movie to beat.

From the desperate boardroom sequence of the film's opening to the climactic fight with the alien queen, Aliens just keeps accelerating - and if it ever had brakes, it has forgotten where they are and no longer cares.

Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, + more

Released: 1986

Directed by: James Cameron

Does this grab you and refuse to let go?

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The Texas Chain Saw Mass... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Horror Movies That Keep You On The Edge Of Your Seat From Start To Finish, Ranked
Photo: Bryanston Distributing

Even if you parse it simply as one of the first in a long line of parables about why city folk should be wary of the backcountry, the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is as unrelenting as they come, especially for a movie from 1974. But it's so much more than that.

An undiluted shot of pure nihilism, it's one of those rare films that hold up as well to academic dissection as to a purely visceral reaction.

Actors: Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, John Henry Faulk, Jim Siedow, + more

Released: 1974

Directed by: Tobe Hooper

Does this grab you and refuse to let go?

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Don't Breathe is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Horror Movies That Keep You On The Edge Of Your Seat From Start To Finish, Ranked
Photo: Screen Gems

Flipping the script on the 1967 home invasion classic Wait Until Dark, in which Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman who is menaced by villains, Don't Breathe sees a group of delinquents busting into the home of a blind man for what they think will be an easy score. However, this is a horror movie, and it turns out they've bitten off a whole lot more than they can chew.

Fede Alvarez, who previously directed the 2013 Evil Dead remake, decided to scale back the red stuff for this outing and amp up the tension instead. Variety called it "a muscular exercise in brutal, relentless peril," while Rolling Stone's Peter Travers was even more to the point, writing, "This is some weird, twisted sh*t."

Actors: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang

Directed by: Fede Alvarez

Does this grab you and refuse to let go?