Link Copied

The 50 best scary movies of all time, ranked by critics

The 50 best scary movies of all time, ranked by critics
  • From classics like "Psycho" to modern masterpieces like "Hereditary" and "Get Out," horror movies are a popular part of popular culture.
  • And while not every spooky film is well-received, some, like "The Birds" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street," have garnered lots of critical acclaim and still hold up even years after their original releases.
  • Recent years have also seen standout films like "The Conjuring" make waves in Hollywood and beyond.
  • Here are the best horror movies of all time, ranked by critics.

Recent years have seen standout horror films like "Hereditary" and "Get Out" make waves in Hollywood and beyond, but they're not the only movies to be universally adored by critics.

Classic horror flicks like "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" also received mostly positive reviews from critics.

Even though not every spooky film is well-received, some have received critical acclaim and are still just as great years after they were originally released.

Here are the best horror movies of all time, ranked by critics.

50. A group of female spelunkers get more than they bargained for in 2006's "The Descent."

50. A group of female spelunkers get more than they bargained for in 2006's "The Descent."
"The Descent" was praised by critics upon its release. Celador Films

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 85%

In "The Descent," a group of friends become trapped in an ominous cave filled with terrifying monsters.

Advertisement

49. 1982's "Poltergeist" is considered a modern horror classic.

49. 1982's "Poltergeist" is considered a modern horror classic.
JoBeth Williams starred in "Poltergeist." Warner Bros./IMDb

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 85%

A group of evil spirits infiltrate one family's home in "Poltergeist."

Advertisement

48. 1973's "The Exorcist" focuses on a girl possessed by a demon.

48. 1973's "The Exorcist" focuses on a girl possessed by a demon.
Linda Blair stars in "The Exorcist." Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 85%

A teenage girl becomes possessed by a vulgar and dangerous demon in "The Exorcist."

Advertisement
Advertisement

47. 2013's "The Conjuring" is based on true events.

47. 2013's "The Conjuring" is based on true events.
Vera Farmiga plays a paranormal investigator in "The Conjuring." Warner Bros. Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 85%

In "The Conjuring," paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren try to stop a family from being haunted by the vicious spirit of a witch.

Advertisement

46. "The Shining" is a classic horror film from 1980.

46. "The Shining" is a classic horror film from 1980.
Jack Nicholson stars in "The Shining." Warner Bros. Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 85%

Stanley Kubrick's horror classic follows Jack Torrance as he moves to a remote hotel with his wife and son to start a new job — only to descend into paranoia, madness, and eventually, murder.

Advertisement

45. "28 Days Later" was released in 2002.

45. "28 Days Later" was released in 2002.
The film focuses on the spread of an incurable virus. Youtube/invisibleuniversedoc

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 86%

Survivors of a global outbreak fight for shelter in "28 Days Later."

Advertisement

44. A Stephen King novel provided the inspiration for 2017's "It."

44. A Stephen King novel provided the inspiration for 2017's "It."
Bill Skarsgård plays Pennywise in "It." Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 86%

Pennywise is the main villain in "It," which follows a group of kids in the 1980s as they struggle to defeat the evil clown.

Advertisement

43. 1999's "The Blair Witch Project" is known for originating the "found footage" genre of horror movies.

43. 1999's "The Blair Witch Project" is known for originating the "found footage" genre of horror movies.
"The Blair Witch Project" featured improvised dialogue. Artisan Entertainment

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 87%

"The Blair Witch Project" is a pioneer of the found-footage genre, and follows three film school students filming a documentary about a witch in the Maryland wilderness — only to end up lost, hunted, and eventually killed.

Advertisement

42. 2017's "It Comes at Night" is set during an apocalypse.

42. 2017's "It Comes at Night" is set during an apocalypse.
Christopher Abbott stars in "It Comes at Night." A24

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 87%

A deadly outbreak sweeps the globe, and one family just tries to survive in "It Comes At Night."

Advertisement

41. Classic horror film "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" was released in 1974.

41. Classic horror film "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" was released in 1974.
A family of cannibals are the villains in "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre." Vortex

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 88%

This horror classic follows a family of cannibals as they track down and kill a new batch of victims.

Advertisement

40. A Swedish horror film provided the inspiration for 2010's "Let Me In."

40. A Swedish horror film provided the inspiration for 2010's "Let Me In."
Chloë Grace Moretz stars in "Let Me In." Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 88%

This adaptation of the Swedish original also follows a lonely young boy as he befriends a vampire.

Advertisement

39. 2019's "Ready or Not" follows a new bride as she's forced to partake in a twisted game.

39. 2019's "Ready or Not" follows a new bride as she's forced to partake in a twisted game.
Samara Weaving stars in "Ready or Not." Fox Searchlight Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 88%

On her wedding night, a newlywed is forced to participate in a horrific and violent game that involves murder.

Advertisement

38. Ari Aster directed 2018's "Hereditary," which focuses on a broken family haunted by demons.

38. Ari Aster directed 2018's "Hereditary," which focuses on a broken family haunted by demons.
Toni Collette stars in "Hereditary." A24

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 89%

Following the death of their grandmother, a family must come to terms with her disturbing past and their tragic future in "Hereditary."

Advertisement

37. Katy Bates stars in the 1990 film "Misery," based on a Stephen King novel.

37. Katy Bates stars in the 1990 film "Misery," based on a Stephen King novel.
Kathy Bates plays murderer Annie Wilkes in "Misery." IMDb/Columbia Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 90%

Kathy Bates stars in this Stephen King adaptation, which focuses on an obsessive, violent woman named Annie Wilkes as she holds a famous author hostage at her home.

Advertisement

36. 1977's "Eraserhead" is a bleak and terrifying horror film.

36. 1977's "Eraserhead" is a bleak and terrifying horror film.
"Twin Peaks" director David Lynch also wrote and directed "Eraserhead." Libra Films International

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 90%

David Lynch's trippy horror film "Eraserhead" follows a forlorn young man trying to keep it together amidst relationship troubles and a seriously disturbing newborn.

Advertisement

35. A teenage girl possessed by the devil is the focus of 2015's "The Witch."

35. A teenage girl possessed by the devil is the focus of 2015's "The Witch."
Anya Taylor-Joy stars in "The Witch." A24

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 90%

A devout Puritan family in 1600s New England must fight off a bloodthirsty witch and even the devil himself in "The Witch."

Advertisement

34. "Starfish" (2019) is a sci-fi/horror mash-up.

34. "Starfish" (2019) is a sci-fi/horror mash-up.
Virginia Gardner stars in "Starfish." Altered Innocence/Orchard

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 90%

The end of the world is merely the setting for "Starfish," which follows a young woman coming to terms with the death of her friend.

Advertisement

33. 2017 film "Gerald's Game" is based on a Stephen King novel.

33. 2017 film "Gerald's Game" is based on a Stephen King novel.
Carla Gugino stars in "Gerald's Game." Intrepid Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

In "Gerald's Game," a woman trapped in bed after a sex game gone wrong starts to hallucinate, encountering people who may or may not be real.

Advertisement

32. "The Cabin in the Woods" is a zombie horror film with a twist.

32. "The Cabin in the Woods" is a zombie horror film with a twist.
Chris Hemsworth stars in "The Cabin in the Woods." Lionsgate

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

A bloodthirsty deity, horny teenagers, and a young Chris Hemsworth are all featured in "Cabin in the Woods," which follows a group of friends as they struggle to survive terrifying attacks.

Advertisement

31. 2009's "Drag Me to Hell" was directed by "Spider-Man" filmmaker Sam Raimi.

31. 2009's "Drag Me to Hell" was directed by "Spider-Man" filmmaker Sam Raimi.
A woman is cursed and forced to confront demonic entities in "Drag Me to Hell." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

An old woman evicted from her home makes the loan officer's life a living hell in "Drag Me to Hell."

Advertisement

30. Film icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford star in 1962's "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

30. Film icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford star in 1962's "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"
"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" focuses on two aging stars. Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

Two sisters' decaying relationship is the focus of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

Advertisement

29. In 1976's "Carrie," Sissy Spacek plays a telekinetic teenager.

29. In 1976's "Carrie," Sissy Spacek plays a telekinetic teenager.
Sissy Spacek stars in "Carrie. United Artists

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

A quiet young girl named Carrie uses her latent telekinetic powers for evil in this heartbreaking horror film.

Advertisement

28. Jeff Goldblum stars in the 1986 sci-fi horror film "The Fly."

28. Jeff Goldblum stars in the 1986 sci-fi horror film "The Fly."
Jeff Goldblum's performance in "The Fly" was widely praised. 20th Century Fox

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

Jeff Goldblum is the victim of an insect experiment gone terribly, terribly wrong in "The Fly."

Advertisement

27. 2004's "Shaun of the Dead" is a parody of zombie horror film "Dawn of the Dead."

27. 2004's "Shaun of the Dead" is a parody of zombie horror film "Dawn of the Dead."
Simon Pegg wrote and starred in "Shaun of the Dead." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

"Shaun of the Dead" follows an ordinary man in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, and doesn't hesitate to poke fun at horror tropes.

Advertisement

26. Korean monster film "The Host," released in 2007, was directed by "Parasite" filmmaker Boon Jong-Ho.

26. Korean monster film "The Host," released in 2007, was directed by "Parasite" filmmaker Boon Jong-Ho.
"The Host" received favorable reviews from critics. Magnolia Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

A vicious river monster threatens a South Korean community in "The Host."

Advertisement

25. 1979's "Dawn of the Dead" combines horror with social commentary.

25. 1979's "Dawn of the Dead" combines horror with social commentary.
George Romero directed "Dawn of the Dead." MKR Group

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

This horror classic follows survivors of a zombie outbreak as they shelter in a shopping mall.

Advertisement

24. "Us" was a major hit when it premiered in 2019.

24. "Us" was a major hit when it premiered in 2019.
Lupita Nyong'o stars in "Us." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

In "Us," a woman (Lupita Nyong'o) with past trauma is on vacation with her family when their doppelgängers show up and begin killing people.

Advertisement

23. 2016 Korean thriller "Train to Busan" follows a dad and his daughter as they try to escape zombies.

23. 2016 Korean thriller "Train to Busan" follows a dad and his daughter as they try to escape zombies.
"Train to Busan" was positively received by critics. Next Entertainment World

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

This Korean zombie thriller follows a father and his young daughter as they try to fight off the undead on a high-speed train.

Advertisement

22. 1977's "Suspiria" was recently remade, although the original is still critically acclaimed.

22. 1977's "Suspiria" was recently remade, although the original is still critically acclaimed.
Dario Argento directed "Suspiria." Produzioni Atlas Consorziate

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

A young American dancer gets more than she bargained for after she joins a German ballet school plagued by murders in "Suspiria."

Advertisement

21. Freddy Krueger is the infamous villain in 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

21. Freddy Krueger is the infamous villain in 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" spawned several sequels. New Line Cinema

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

Murdered by a vindictive group of parents, the ghost of child killer Freddy Kruger returns via dreams to kill again in "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

Advertisement

20. "Pan's Labyrinth" is a surreal take on the Spanish civil war.

20. "Pan's Labyrinth" is a surreal take on the Spanish civil war.
Guillermo del Toro directed "Pan's Labyrinth." New Line Cinema

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

This surreal film follows Ofelia, an isolated young girl who finds solace amongst forest monsters during the horrors of the Spanish Civil War.

Advertisement

19. A critically acclaimed version of sci-fi horror film "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was released in 1978.

19. A critically acclaimed version of sci-fi horror film "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was released in 1978.
Donald Sutherland stars in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Allied Artists Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

Aliens invade a small town and slowly begin to replace all of the residents in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

Advertisement

18. Tippi Hedren stars in 1963's "The Birds."

18. Tippi Hedren stars in 1963's "The Birds."
Alfred Hitchcock directed "The Birds." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

Tippi Hedren fends off killer birds in "The Birds," another horror staple by Alfred Hitchcock.

Advertisement

17. 2016 film "The Love Witch" satirizes 1960s horror films.

17. 2016 film "The Love Witch" satirizes 1960s horror films.
Samantha Robinson stars in "The Love Witch." Oscilloscope

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

A dangerously cunning but lonely witch tries to find true love in this campy, Technicolor film.

Advertisement

16. "Evil Dead" spawned several sequels after its release in 1981.

16. "Evil Dead" spawned several sequels after its release in 1981.
"Evil Dead" follows a group of teenagers as they're possessed by demonic forces. New Line Cinema

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

Things go terribly awry for a group of friends alone in the woods after they summon bloodthirsty demons in "Evil Dead."

Advertisement

15. "The Office" star John Krasinksi wrote and directed 2018's "A Quiet Place."

15. "The Office" star John Krasinksi wrote and directed 2018's "A Quiet Place."
Emily Blunt stars alongside husband John Krasinski in "A Quiet Place." Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

John Krasinski's horror masterpiece focuses on the Abbott family as they attempt to survive in a world overrun with monsters who hunt by sound.

Advertisement

14. "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" is an Iranian vampire western from 2014 with a feminist message.

14. "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" is an Iranian vampire western from 2014 with a feminist message.
Sheila Vand stars in "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night." Vice Films via Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96%

This Iranian horror movie follows a lonely, skateboarding vampire in the fictional Bad City.

Advertisement

13. Most of "Harpoon" (2019) takes place on the open ocean.

13. Most of "Harpoon" (2019) takes place on the open ocean.
"Harpoon" was released in 2019. Dread Central Presents

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96%

In "Harpoon," three friends stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean struggle to overcome underlying tensions and hidden dangers.

Advertisement

12. Jamie Lee Curtis stars in 1978's "Halloween."

12. Jamie Lee Curtis stars in 1978's "Halloween."
Jamie Lee Curtis also appeared in the "Halloween" remake. Compass International Productions

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96%

A deranged and violent young man escapes from a mental hospital and returns to his hometown to wreak havoc on unsuspecting, horny teenagers in this horror classic.

Advertisement

11. A ruthless cannibal is the focus of 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs."

11. A ruthless cannibal is the focus of 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs."
Anthony Hopkins plays a cannibal in "The Silence of the Lambs." Orion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96%

Anthony Hopkins stars as a cannibalistic but cultured murderer in this quintessential horror film.

Advertisement

10. Some think that the 2014 film "It Follows" is a parable about HIV/AIDs.

10. Some think that the 2014 film "It Follows" is a parable about HIV/AIDs.
Maika Monroe stars in "It Follows." Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96%

After an unprotected sexual encounter, a young woman is haunted by an eerie spirit, who will only leave her alone if she has unprotected sex with someone else.

Advertisement

9. One of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous movies is 1960's "Psycho."

9. One of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous movies is 1960's "Psycho."
Janet Leigh stars in "Psycho." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96%

Alfred Hitchock's horror classic focuses on a young professional on the lam who winds up in a motel run by a very disturbed mama's boy.

Advertisement

8. 1968's "Night of the Living Dead" is a classic zombie film.

8. 1968's "Night of the Living Dead" is a classic zombie film.
George Romero directed "Night of the Living Dead." The Walter Reade Organization/Continental Distributing

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 97%

Zombies roam the east coast and the uninfected are left to fend for themselves in George Romero's horror classic.

Advertisement

7. 1973's "Don't Look Now" is an occult thriller with a controversial sex scene.

7. 1973's "Don't Look Now" is an occult thriller with a controversial sex scene.
Donald Sutherland played a grief-stricken father in "Don't Look Now." Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 97%

Set in Venice, "Don't Look Now" follows two parents who befriend an elderly pair of psychic sisters — one of whom might have a warning from the parents' recently-deceased daughter.

Advertisement

6. "Rosemary's Baby" is a quintessential horror film from 1968.

6. "Rosemary's Baby" is a quintessential horror film from 1968.
Mia Farrow stars in "Rosemary's Baby." Paramount

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 97%

Cults and devil-worship abound in "Rosemary's Baby," which follows a young, pregnant mother as she grows more and more paranoid about the wellbeing of her baby.

Advertisement

5. Grief and loss are the central themes of 2014's "The Babadook."

5. Grief and loss are the central themes of 2014's "The Babadook."
"The Babadook" stars Essie Davis. Matt Nettheim via Sundance Institute

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98%

After the death of her husband, an overworked and exhausted single mother struggles to keep it together after she and her young child begin to be tormented by a mysterious entity called "The Babadook."

Advertisement

4. "Let the Right One In" is a Swedish vampire film from 2008.

4. "Let the Right One In" is a Swedish vampire film from 2008.
Lina Leandersson stars in "Let the Right One In." Magnet Releasing

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98%

This heartwarming yet terrifying Swedish film follows a young, socially-awkward boy named Oskar as he befriends a mysterious girl with a terrible secret.

Advertisement

3. Roman Polanski's first film was "Repulsion" in 1965.

3. Roman Polanski's first film was "Repulsion" in 1965.
Catherine Deneuve played a paranoid manicurist in "Repulsion." Royal Films International

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98%

Polanski's movie follows a repressed young woman who's tormented by images of violent sexual assault after her sister starts dating a new man.

Advertisement

2. "Get Out" was an overnight success when it was released in 2017.

2. "Get Out" was an overnight success when it was released in 2017.
Daniel Kaluuya stars in "Get Out." Universal

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98%

Timely, thrilling, and unforgettable, "Get Out" follows a young Black man (Daniel Kaluuya) as he visits his white girlfriend's family for the first time, only to become entrenched in a trippy and violent experiment.

Advertisement

1. "Aliens" is the 1986 sequel to "Alien."

1. "Aliens" is the 1986 sequel to "Alien."
Carrie Henn stars as Newt in "Aliens." Twentieth Century Fox

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 99%

This follow-up to the 1980s sci-fi hit follows Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as she's rescued in deep space — only to find that her run-ins with the titular alien might not be over after all.

Advertisement
COVID-19IndiaCases: 793kDeaths: 21.6kRecovered: 495k
COVID-19WorldCases: 11.87MDeaths: 545kRecovered: 6.71M
COVID-19USACases: 2.97MDeaths: 130kRecovered: 969k