There is no denying that horror films are among the most beloved and highly watched movie genres. If you can’t resist feeling that adrenaline rush and all things spooky — even if you do find yourself covering your eyes or grabbing on to the person beside you — we have rounded up some highly underrated horror films that will keep you up at night.
From psychological thrillers to classic ghost stories about haunted houses and spine-chilling dramas with gory scenes and jump scares galore, the horror genre offers endless options with something for everyone. There are even horror comedies, if you favour more light-hearted flicks that won’t cause nightmares.
Whatever your preference is, these underrated horror movies are sure to tick all the right boxes. Just remember to leave the lights on.
Here are some of the most underrated horror movies to watch
The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
Busy subway trains as the principal backdrop of a horror film itself makes The Midnight Meat Train quite unique and unusual among other horror movies. Starring Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones and Leslie Bibb, the film is an underrated horror flick full of bloodbaths and suspense.
Leon (Cooper) is a budding photographer who wanders around a subway station trying to capture photographs of passersby. One day he tracks down three guys in a subway station where they attack a woman. Leon rescues her but finds that she is missing the next day. He gets obsessed as the missing cases keep increasing with the days. Finally, Leon sees Mahogany (Jones), an elegant butcher who sacrifices night commuters. What happens next makes this scary film a must-watch.
Watch The Midnight Meat Train here.
Train to Busan (2016)
When passengers on a train to Busan start turning into zombies and attacking others on board, what a father does to protect his daughter makes this South Korean film an interesting watch.
Eschewing from the typical ingredients of a horror film, this zombie movie is more of a survival tactic film where every wrong turn costs the passengers their lives as well as that of everyone around. While depicting the horrors of a zombie outbreak on a moving train, the horror flick tells a heart-wrenching story of a workaholic father, Seok-woo (played by Gong Yoo) and his daughter Soo-an (played by Su-an Kim), who are also onboard.
This 2016 horror film has a sequel titled Peninsula (2020) as well. It is not a direct continuation of the events but is set four years after the zombie outbreak in the previous film, when most of the Korean peninsula has succumbed to zombies.
Watch Train to Busan here.
One of the best psychological thrillers, Oculus stars Karen Gillan as protagonist Kaylie Russell.
Kaylie sets out on a mission to absolve her brother Tim Russell (Brenton Thwaites) who was arrested for murdering their family. Desperate to prove that the ominous happenings that had befallen the family were doings of an evil antique mirror, Kaylie sets up numerous cameras and timers. She spends a night with Tim to uncover the truth and prove her claims right.
As time bends on itself and high tension grips viewers with every passing minute, the final act unearths the terrifying secrets of the family.
With an impeccable direction by Mike Flanagan, who has also helmed other critically acclaimed great horror films like Hush, Doctor Sleep and Netflix’s Haunting of Hill House, Oculus indeed arouses goosebumps.
Watch Oculus here.
The Clovehitch Killer (2018)
Unlike other serial killer films in the horror genre, The Clovehitch Killer is one of the few underrated horror movies that make you wonder about the killer’s whereabouts and his connection with you.
It revolves around the devout Christian Burnside family which has a dark and grave secret lurking behind their picture-perfect facade. Donald ‘Don’ Burnside (Dylan McDermott) is a religious but strange family man who lives in a small town in Kentucky, USA.
While the town is shown reeling from the wrath of a serial killer who strangled women and mercilessly killed them a decade back, Donald’s son Tyler (Charlie Plummer), a boy scout, aims to make his father proud and lead a dedicated life. But, things fall into disarray when Tyler comes across a disturbing BDSM photo from the seat of Donald’s truck.
A flurry of events, horrific killings and shocking revelations follow, which turn the lives of the Burnside family upside down.
Watch The Clovehitch Killer here
Would You Rather (2012)
Would You Rather is one of the best horror films with an eerie and tense atmosphere as well as a stellar performance which makes it a must-watch for horror fans. If you thought the deadly games of Squid Game were tough to swallow, this horror film takes things to the next level.
The film plays out as a simple competitive party game of the same name where every contestant has to choose between two options to advance towards a huge cash prize. Iris (Brittany Snow) enters this seemingly harmless game night hosted by Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) to get cash for her brother’s treatment. But, soon the players realise the deadly twist as per which they have to kill or torture each other in every round. What it takes to survive and win makes the film particularly captivating.
Watch Would You Rather here
Girl on The Third Floor (2019)
Replete with some of the iconic horror movie tropes, the movie stars former wrestler CM Punk as the bedevilled protagonist, Don Koch. Don moves into a new country house to start afresh with his pregnant wife Liz (Trieste Kelly Dunn).
However, when creepy neighbours start pouring in, marbles begin to fall off the walls and the local pastor reveals the horrific history of the house. Don’s past criminal habits surface and a happy ending seems bleak for the couple.
Watch Girl on the Third Floor here
Walking in the footsteps of his father and acclaimed director David Cronenberg, Brandon Cronenberg has carved a niche for himself with a mind-bending narrative and visually attractive commentary in this body horror film.
In Possessor, Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) uses mind hijacking technology to kill people for a mysterious company. The film is full of unseen turns as it merges the supernatural with a modern day corporate setting and technology.
For her latest task, Tasya’s target is a person assigned to collect data from smart home devices. But it is not as easy as it sounds and her quest quickly goes awry.
Watch Possessor here.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
Two girls, Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton) are left behind in a Catholic boarding school during the winter break when their parents are unable to pick them up. They soon discover something sinister and satanic lurking around the corner, and a series of deadly events follows.
Gory beheadings, murders and an evil spirit possessing one of them make this film worth watching for horror lovers. Also starring Emma Roberts, the film spans over three timelines connected by evil spirits and diabolical forces. The cast also features Lauren Holly and James Remar.
Watch The Blackcoat’s Daughter here.
The Other Lamb (2019)
The Other Lamb is an underrated horror film centred on Selah (Raffey Cassidy), who is born into a cult where there are only women. These women are either Mothers or Sisters (nuns) and the group is led by a man referred to as Shepherd (Michiel Huisman). As Selah attains puberty, Shepherd takes a special interest in her. She soon begins to question his practices and control as well as wonders about life outside the cult.
When the group is evicted from their forested compound, the journey to find a new residing area raises doubts and questions regarding Shepherd’s motives, and things take a cold and deadly turn.
Watch The Other Lamb here.
Session 9 (2001)
Psychological horror movie Session 9 follows an asbestos abatement team setting out to remove asbestos from an abandoned mental hospital. Working under intense pressure and tight deadlines, the team soon finds things spiralling out of hand and there are far more frightening things hiding among the walls than just asbestos.
Horror fans are sure to find it hard to forget this underrated film which stars David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon and Josh Lucas.
Watch Session 9 here.
(Main and featured images: Courtesy Session 9/ IMDb)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: The most underrated horror movie on our list — in our opinion — is The Other Lamb, which subverts the cult trope and is beautifully shot. There aren't cheesy jump scares or in-your-face monsters in this movie. What you get is a slow burn horror flick that'll keep you riveted to the very end.
Answer: An underrated film is one that is widely praised by critics or viewers, but hasn't achieved much mainstream success or visibility. This can be due to reasons including being overshadowed by bigger releases at the time of premiere; insufficient marketing to publicise the movie — leading to it falling under audiences' radar; and a lack of prominent names to draw the crowds.
Answer: Some of our favourite horror movies that nobody knows about are: The Invitation (2015), Dead Alive (1992), 13 Ghosts (2001), and Hide and Seek (2005).
Answer: The Fly (1986) starring Jeff Goldblum definitely gets our vote for its bizarre premise, where a man gets transformed into a giant fly. If you love creature feature B-movies, this makes a perfect watch. The movie is directed by David Cronenberg, who is famous for his work in body horror flicks, so you can expect shocking, vivid visuals.