There are tons of scary movies out there, but unlike other genres you really can’t trust what critics and ratings say about horror films. Underrated horror movies often start out with terrible ratings and then gain status over a couple years. These movies are often rated low, not because they are a bad movie but because a lot of people just don’t like watching scary movies. Horror is a niche and if you don’t appreciate scary movies you aren’t going to rate them high.
For this reason, sites like Rotten tomatoes can be useless when a new horror movie comes out. Since you can’t trust reviews, it’s hard to differentiate the underrated scary movies from the truly bad ones. Which is a problem because there are so many bad horror movies out there.
Q – So what do you do?
A – You ask around and get online recommendations!
Here are my 17 recommendations for underrated horror movies you should watch tonight, or in October. Whichever you prefer. As of July 2018 many of these title are available on Netflix, Hulu or Prime for free. However, I will add links later to make downloading or purchasing them convenient if I get a chance.
17 Underrated Horror Movies List
• Grave Encounters 1 & 2
• Don’t Breathe
• It Follows
• You’re Next
• The Shallows
• Cabin in the Woods
• 10 Cloverfield Lane
• Light’s Out
• As Above, So Below
• Dark Night of the Scarecrow
• Green Room
• The Guest
• The Invitation
17 Underrated Horror Movies
There are so many underrated horror movies it’s hard to make a short list, so I focused on movies that are fairly current and not impossible to get your hands on. I can name a ton of underrated scary movies that are over twenty years old, but many people prefer newer effects and cinematography. I respect that, but I just had to throw in one semi-old school film Dark Night of the Scarecrow from 1981.
Also, there are some really great and really underrated horror movies I can list off for you, but many are obscure and difficult to get ahold of. You know the ones. They can only be ordered in DVD format through their Facebook page even thought the movie was made in 2017. I’m not trying to make you crazy by naming a bunch of obscure movies you can’t get your hands on. Hopefully, you can get most of these underrated horror movies in your home tonight if you want to. Let’s get started!
Grave Encounters & Grave Encounters 2
Grave Encounters (2011) is about a ghost hunting reality show called “Grave Encounters”. In order to make a great television episode, the TV crew are locking themselves inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. They plan on staying overnight because unexplained paranormal activity has been reported there for years.
Soon after entering abandoned Collingingwood psych hospital the cast finds themselves trapped inside, being tormented by its former inhabitants while capturing everything on camera. Here the movie gets good while the crew try to find their way through an endless maze of hallways and corridors filled with angry entities.
If you can tolerate shaky camera films, I highly recommend this one. Grave Encounters made the underrated horror movies section because it’s like watching a reality tv show that goes terribly wrong, but they keep filming anyway. The costumes and effects used to highlight the ghosts are entertaining eye candy that flash in and out quickly. It’s a great horror movie from the found footage genre and it uses jump scares to keep the tension up through the entire film. Grave Encounters 2 (2012) is worth watching because it’s almost as good as the first one.
Circle (2015) definitely qualifies for the underrated horror movies section because it seems like nobody has heard of this film. It is an original story idea executed fearlessly and to get in the mindset behind the film, think about this question. What do you do if you are trapped in a room with 49 strangers and have to vote on which person dies every 2 minutes, until there is only one person left? This is basically the storyline of Circle.
The movie explores humanity and survival as individuals try to justify each decision in order to convince others about who deserves to live and die. The rules slowly become clear as the movie unfolds but they are all geared towards forcing the participants to make a choice. This is because every two minutes a person will die. If the participants can’t come to a decision in 2 minutes, someone will be killed at random.
Circle made the underrated horror movies list because it’s a unique movie that leaves you questioning your own humanity and asking “What would I do?” It is dialogue heavy but still maintains tension and suspense throughout the entire film. Circle forces us to look at how judgemental we are of differences perceived in others, and ironically it’s impossible not to be judgemental as a viewer trying to decide who you want to survive.
The great thing about Circle is that it’s an impossible situation to be in. This makes it very difficult for the viewer to label villains and heroes. It’s a scary movie about survival and humanity and making the ultimate decision about which is more important to you.
Do you enjoy thought provoking movies that leave you feeling disturbed, make you question your own humanity, or leave you wondering what lengths you would go through to save yourself? If so, then this movie is for you. If a film has to have a high body count to be considered one of the best horror movies, Circle definitely qualifies in that area too.
One more reason Circle is worth watching this October is to find out the answer to this question: What happens when there’s only one person left?
Don’t Breathe (2016) is a story about three friends who break into the home of a blind war veteran because they think he has money and will be an easy target.
The blind man is the last person still living in a dying Detroit neighborhood, which provides an isolated and desolate setting for the movie to play out in. Ultimately, the three friends find out the old man, played by Stephen Lang, isn’t as easy to rob as they initially thought. Don’t Breathe made the underrated horror movies list because it’s an intense thriller with a good plot, a few twists, and lots of tension. It’s a solid movie that sticks with you.
It Follows (2014) is an original movie idea about a slow walking shape shifting supernatural force that pursues the protagonist constantly. The story follows a group of teenagers, one of which has been given a fatal curse that causes a terrifying phantom to relentlessly follow the cursed person until they are caught and killed. What’s worse is that only those who have the curse can see the supernatural being, which makes the cursed person seem paranoid and insane.
The curse might not seem so bad when you think about other horror movie villains, but there is something horrifying about a creature slow walking after you.
This means no matter where you are or what you’re doing, the supernatural entity is always getting closer with the one goal of killing you. It Follows is one of those horror movies you can watch over and over again. The movie can feel like it’s slow-paced, but that is mostly because the creature pursuing the protagonist is never in a rush. It Follows made the underrated horror movies section because the story is unique, the characters provide reminders of childhood and the movie stays with you for days after watching.
You’re Next (2011) is part of the home invasion genre, but the story stands out because it’s not completely predictable like many of the other home invasion horror films. This story features rich yuppies under attack by unrelenting sociopathic killers in terrifying animal masks. Although You’re Next follows the same blueprint as many horror movies, the story, characters, and overall execution makes it stand out as one of my favorite underrated horror movies.
The movie takes place at the weekend estate of a wealthy family who is celebrating a wedding anniversary. The Davison family soon finds themselves under attack by savage strangers wielding crossbows and wearing animal masks.
A great thing about this movie is the characters are all adults so you won’t find a bunch of teens running around squealing.
Something different about this horror movie is that a heroine emerges who is intelligent, cunning, experienced, strong and resourceful. This is a nice change from the girl who accidentally fights back while in a panic. What’s refreshing about You’re Next is that the characters, including the killers, have a story and motivations for behaving the way they do.
You’re Next is a great fast paced, home invasion style thriller. This is a good movie for fans who like high tension, suspenseful films with a high level of violence and gore. However, the movie isn’t all serious. In fact, towards the end it has some pretty funny moments.
If you like high intensity break in movies with action and suspense than this is a good movie to watch. Also, if you’re sick of the home invasion style movies because you can’t watch another innocent family get brutally butchered by strangers, I still recommend this film for you. It will be a refreshing and exciting change of pace from the usual storyline.
Let me be honest and say I had pretty low expectations for The Shallows (2016). From the previews I imagined a comedic shark versus a girl in distress gore-fest.
The actual story is pretty simple. Nancy Adams travels to a secluded beach in paradise to do some solo surfing after the loss of her mother. While carving waves, a great white shark attacks out of nowhere and Nancy is injured but able to swim to a large rock grouping for safety. She remains stranded about 200 yards from shore for the entire movie while a great white shark stalks her like any other horror movie villain would.
You might be wondering how this made our list of underrated horror movies. It made the list because Nancy proves to have unexpected resourcefulness and ingenuity along with a strong will to survive. Nancy is no girl in distress screaming and tripping over her own feet in the forest, like you might see in other horror movies.
The Shallows gives us a character, other than the shark, to root for during a test of wills between woman and deadly predator. It’s suspenseful and violent at times, but mostly you’re just glad it’s not you stranded out in the water with that damn shark circling.
There is a limited amount of dialogue in the movie, but action drives each scene and whenever a new player enters the beach it’s pretty exciting. So, against all odds The Shallows made the list of best underrated horror movies because by the end of the movie I found myself rooting for Nancy and not the shark. Which is highly unusual for this kind of horror film.
Another reason I recommend The Shallows is because the movie scenery looks like a vacation paradise. This is a nice change from the dark, dirty, and grimy sets you find in many horror movies.
Cabin in the Woods
It’s not easy for a comedy horror film to be considered as one of the best underrated horror movies, so you know this one has to be good. The storyline of Cabin in the Woods (2012) follows five friends who travel to a remote cabin for a little rest and relaxation.
Once they arrive the cabin has an Evil Dead feel to it, but with a comedy twist. So far it’s a set up for your usual run of the mill horror movie… boring right. Well, there is a second cast of characters in this film. These characters look like normal office workers who appear to be watching a TV screen showing the 5 teens in the cabin live.
There are a lot of exciting and fun twists in this film, but I don’t want to give anything away. Cabin in the Woods made the underrated scary movies list because it’s an innovative horror movie that makes a mockery of the best horror movies ever made. It has plenty of classic horror kill scenes, gore, and a cast of eye candy costumed villains. If you’re in the mood for all the makings of a horror film, but don’t want to get too scared, then this is a great option. Cabin in the Woods is a truly entertaining film. The writing is original and it will leave any horror fan laughing but still wanting more.
10 Cloverfield Lane
In 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), Michelle survives a car accident only to wake up in an underground bunker with two men named Howard and Emmett. Howard tells her that the outside world isn’t safe because a chemical attack has made the air unbreathable. Although the men say their only hope of survival is to stay inside. Michelle becomes suspicious about the men’s intentions and concerned about Harold’s controlling attitude.
The movie explores Michelle’s experience in the bunker as she tries to decide if it’s better to stay with the devil she knows or to find a way to escape the bunker. 10 Cloverfield Lane made the underrated horror movies list because it’s a strong psychological thriller as much as it is a horror movie, but it doesn’t get a lot of attention from horror movie fans.
Throughout the film, the viewer has the same dilemma as Michelle. Trying to decide what’s worse, Howard and the hints that he is controlling, lacks empathy, and is becoming more volatile. Or risking that the men are telling the truth and escape means death with the first inhaled breath.
The great thing about this film is that we can empathize with Michelle because she is between a rock and a hard place. So as much as we want her to fight and leave… there is always a chance she will die as soon as she walks outside. It’s a big gamble and the viewer can’t blame her for making a thoughtful decision.
While all this is going on, there is terrifying daily life in the bunker happening too. If you like movies with a villain who takes center stage, John Goodman won’t disappoint. He plays this role surprisingly well. 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the best underrated scary movies to watch if you want an entertaining, suspenseful, and unpredictable film.
Light’s Out (2016) is an underrated horror movie that centers around family relationships and a supernatural creature living in the shadows. In Light’s Out a main character, Rebecca, is called to help out with her little brother because their Mom has been behaving oddly. Over the course of the movie, Rebecca and her brother must deal with their mom’s emotional connection to a destructive entity. An entity that only appears in darkness and wants to cause the children harm.
Light’s Out made it as one of the underrated horror movies because it’s a good scary movie that has jump scare moments, a solid storyline, and some really scary images. There is violence in the movie, but it doesn’t have a lot of gore or brutality like some horror movies.
Unfriended (2014) puts an innovative spin on supernatural killers by using social media as a medium for murder. The characters in the movie are all complicit in watching and laughing at a video of classmate, Laura Barns, being humiliated while drunk at a party. The video and the cyber-bullying that follows eventually leads to Laura taking her own life.
Unfriended is not a film everyone will enjoy because the entire thing takes place on a Macbook screen navigating between social media profiles, while video chatting with the other characters. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but soon I found the tone of a message coming through as normal as when I get messages on my own phone. To this day, when I hear the Skype ringtone I think of Unfriended.
The friends are all hanging out on Skype chat when dead Laura Barns joins the group with a blank avatar, and from there Laura begins to get her revenge.
Unfriended manages to use our devices and social media to deliver tension and jump scares in a unique way. The movie avoids a lot of gore by having computers freeze or tile at specific times. The film isn’t terrifying, but it has a dark, creepy theme spun throughout it.
Unfriended made the underrated horror movies page because it’s unique, scary to watch, and the concept is creepy and very well done. Another great thing about Unfriended is Laura’s character has a pretty good sense of humor for an avenging killer. I recommend this film for anyone who can accept watching the entire movie from the perspective of a computer screen. The sequel Unfriended: Dark Web is being released in July 2018 and I’m excited to see it!
As Above, So Below
As Above, So Below (2014) is the story of explorers entering the underground Parisian catacombs. The leader is in search of the philosophers stone while other members are merely seeking treasure. As Above, So Below is in the underrated horror movies section because anyone with a basic understanding of Dante’s journey through hell will appreciate this film.
This horror movie got tons of bad reviews with people seeming to entirely miss the 9 circles of hell storyline. This is hard to believe since the film has the characters stop and translate the words “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” before entering a hole in a cave wall. The entire film has obvious and subtle references to the sins and sinners in each circle of hell.
If you have a passing knowledge of Dante’s Inferno I highly recommend this underrated horror movie. To be clear, you don’t need to be a literature student who wrote a thesis on the subject, knowing just a little bit will get you by. Those with zero knowledge about Dante’s journey through hell will be watching a less exciting horror movie.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) is an old-fashioned tale of a mentally challenged man coming back from the dead to exact revenge on the men who murdered him. It was originally a made for TV movie that takes place in a small Southern town.
This movie might not be for everyone because it’s an older film with a slower pace and less on-screen gore than modern-day movies. However, it made the underrated horror movies list because the story and characters are classic; featuring the kind-hearted “simpleton”, the small vigilante mob, the villain (who may even be a pedophile), and finally the creepy looking scarecrow.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow manages to maintain a dark atmosphere and keep up suspense throughout the entire film. It grabs your attention from the beginning scene and holds it all the way to the end of the movie.
With the setting there are great horror movie opportunities because of the farm equipment, wood chipper, barns, etc. So horror movie fans will be satisfied by vicious kill scenes even though they lack the gore you see in modern horror movies.
This film was made for TV in 1981 so it may not be for everyone. Because of this I’m including a video with the full version of the movie below to help you get a sense of whether you’ll enjoy it or not.
Green Room (2016) definitely belongs in the underrated horror movies section. It’s a fast paced film that basically comes down to punks versus Nazis. A punk band plays at a Nazi bar and ends up locked in the Nazi’s green room.
What makes this horror movie great is that the punks don’t sit back and passively wait to die like a bunch of kittens, they try to figure it out. Also, the Nazi’s aren’t one dimensional dumb zombies intent on murder. They feel like real people making decisions because of their own motivations.
Green Room does a great job of providing characters who make plans and decisions in a realistic way. Each character must fight for survival by pure force of will. Also, Patrick Stewart owns the Neo-Nazi bar and plays this role well. Green Room is a suspenseful and fierce horror movie with surprising moments throughout.
The Guest (2014) is about the Peterson family grieving the loss of Caleb, a soldier killed in combat while in Afghanistan, when they get an unexpected visitor. Another soldier, David shows up at their door claiming to be a close friend of Caleb. David tells Spencer and Laura Peterson that it was their son’s dying wish that he look after the family.
After the family welcomes the polite and well-mannered David into their home, mysterious deaths begin to occur around him. The Guest is a good movie with action, suspense and horror all taking place in a Halloween themed background. It’s definitely worth a watch this Halloween if you can get your hands on it.
The Guest qualifies as one of the underrated horror movies because it’s a tension filled suspense fest, with enough killing and fear to classify it as a horror movie.
The Invitation (2016) is an interesting film that takes place almost entirely at a dinner party. Will and Kira are invited to a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills by Will’s ex girlfriend, who disappeared from his life two years ago. As the dinner party unfolds, Will becomes suspicious that something sinister is going on.
The Invitation is a slow burning scary movie that is more about the journey than the destination. The Invitation made the underrated horror movies list because it’s not your typical horror movie, with most of the film being a psychological thriller. However, part of the fun is trying to figure out what’s going on at that party. That’s all I can say about The Invitation because I don’t want to spoil anything.
Hush (2016) is about Maddie, an author who can’t hear or speak. She is planning a night of uninterrupted work on her new novel, but her evening takes a turn for the worse. A masked killer shows up and we learn that Maddie has made it on her own because she is a strong and resourceful woman.
Hush has all the makings of a good thriller. It made it on the underrated horror movies list because it’s full of suspense, has a solid storyline and I actually find myself rooting for Maddie instead of the killer, which is rare these days.
What makes Sinister (2012) so creepy and disturbing is that it centers around a found box of 8mm films which reveal themselves to be part home movies and part snuff films. The story follows Ellison Oswalt, his wife and his children. Ellison, played by Ethan Hawke, is a true crime writer struggling to support his family.
After finding a box with dated films starting from the 60’s that feature the murders of multiple families, Oswalt is eager to solve the mystery and possibly jump-start his career. Unfortunately, it’s pretty quickly revealed that there may be a supernatural force involved named Buhguul.
Sinister creates a creepy atmosphere with a memorable old timey soundtrack that is really spooky, especially when used as a background for the snuff films. The demon Buhguul is an interesting figure and they use his image in creative, disturbing ways throughout the film. Sinister made the underrated horror movies list because it’s a strong story and the 8mm scenes are so creepy to watch that they linger long after the movie ends.
One issue Sinister has is that it’s filmed even darker than most horror movies. This makes some scenes so dark it distracts from the movie.
→ Be sure to check out our Halloween themed horror movies for more scary movies to watch in October.
→ Find out the 7 Halloween Colors and what they Represent
→ Read about Common Halloween Superstitions