23 Scary Movies You’ve Never Heard of but Need to Watch

by Julie Sprankles
Sep 19, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. ET

If you’re in the mood for a good scare, you came to the right place, because while it’s easy to find big-budget or well-known films to freak you out, there’s something to be said for discovering a diamond in the horror genre rough.

The following 23 films span the genre from psychological to supernatural, gory to occult. There’s a little something for everyone in this unsettling sampler. These movies aren’t for the faint of heart. And in full disclosure, they’re definitely not suitable for work. What they are is terrifying — and obscure enough that you can introduce them to your circle of friends. After all, misery loves company, right? Nothing says “you’re my BFF” like frightening the daylights out of someone.

Since this list focuses on lesser-known masterpieces of scary cinema, you won’t find icons like The Shining or Poltergeist. What you will find is nearly two dozen really frickin’ scary films that any horror fan should watch. 

1 /23: 'A Dark Song' (2016)

1/23 :'A Dark Song' (2016)

After a woman's young son is kidnapped and killed years earlier, she rents a remote cottage and hires an occultist to perform a dangerous ritual.

2 /23: 'Eden Lake' (2008)

2/23 :'Eden Lake' (2008)

What starts as a romantic holiday in the lush English countryside turns into a horrific game of cat-and-mouse for a young couple. Bonus? Michael Fassbender stars. 

3 /23: 'Baskin' (2015)

3/23 :'Baskin' (2015)

This blood-soaked Turkish horror-thriller about a squad of cops who interrupts a diabolical ritual will toy with your mind.

4 /23: 'Creep' (2015)

4/23 :'Creep' (2015)

A fresh spin on found-footage films, Creep follows a man named Aaron who responds to a cryptic online ad that isn’t at all what he’d envisioned.

5 /23: 'The Descent' (2005)

5/23 :'The Descent' (2005)

After a tragic accident, a group of female friends reunite for a caving expedition — only to find far worse horror awaits. If you're into it, the sequel is solid too. 

6 /23: 'Grave Encounters' (2011)

6/23 :'Grave Encounters' (2011)

Be careful what you wish for. A ghost-hunting reality TV crew isn’t prepared for what they find inside an abandoned psychiatric hospital.

7 /23: 'Hush' (2016)

7/23 :'Hush' (2016)

This isn’t your average home-invasion thriller. The fact that the victim is deaf adds an extra element of suspense.

8 /23: 'Hell House LLC' (2015)

8/23 :'Hell House LLC' (2015)

Five years after 15 people die in a haunted house, a documentary film crew visits. Spoiler alert. It does not go well.

9 /23: 'Martyrs' (2008)

9/23 :'Martyrs' (2008)

A love-it-or-hate-it kind of film, Martyrs is a visceral gut punch of a story about a woman hell-bent on exacting revenge against her tormentors.  

10 /23: 'Last Shift' (2014)

10/23 :'Last Shift' (2014)

It’s her first shift. It’s a closing police station’s last night. And she’s about to face a perp she never could have imagined.

11 /23: 'Splinter' (2008)

11/23 :'Splinter' (2008)

You may never want to go camping again after watching this film about a young couple who runs into much more than romance during their wilderness weekend.

12 /23: 'Raw' (2016)

12/23 :'Raw' (2016)

It’s said that people actually fainted at the overseas screening of this French-Belgian horror film about a young girl with cannibalistic impulses.

13 /23: 'Suspiria' (1977)

13/23 :'Suspiria' (1977)

Yes, horror buffs — we realize this is a classic. But many people have yet to watch the story of American dancer Suzy and her unsettling European experience. Plus, a remake starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton is slated for release next year. 

14 /23: 'Starry Eyes' (2014)

14/23 :'Starry Eyes' (2014)

The City of Dreams turns into a disturbing nightmare when aspiring actor Sarah Walker’s ambition drives her to make a deal with the devil.

15 /23: 'The Kill List' (2011)

15/23 :'The Kill List' (2011)

An ex-soldier-turned-hitman is pressured by his partner into taking a new assignment — one that plunges him into true depravity.

16 /23: 'Personal Shopper' (2016)

16/23 :'Personal Shopper' (2016)

Kristen Stewart stars in this unnerving story about a personal shopper in Paris who is trying to make contact with her recently deceased twin brother.

17 /23: 'Tony' (2009)

17/23 :'Tony' (2009)

Both deeply creepy and funny in a sinister fashion, this story of a social misfit with a sociopathic secret hobby will stay with you.

18 /23: 'You're Next' (2011)

18/23 :'You're Next' (2011)

A young woman gets way more than she bargained for when visiting her boyfriend’s home for the holidays to meet his family.

19 /23: 'The Autopsy of Jane Doe' (2016)

19/23 :'The Autopsy of Jane Doe' (2016)

Brilliant acting by Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch makes this supernatural-horror thriller about a mysterious corpse a riveting watch.

20 /23: 'The Strangers' (2008)

20/23 :'The Strangers' (2008)

So, you may have heard of this horror-thriller (starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) about a young couple terrorized at an isolated vacation home. But it's so highly underrated, it merits a mention. 

21 /23: 'Under the Shadow' (2016)

21/23 :'Under the Shadow' (2016)

Wartime bombing leads to a mother and her young daughter being left alone in their apartment, but they soon find what lurks within is just as terrifying.

22 /23: 'The Loved Ones' (2009)

22/23 :'The Loved Ones' (2009)

When a high school senior turns down a classmate’s invitation to prom, it poses potentially deadly consequences for him (not to mention a prom night he'll not soon forget).

23 /23: 'Train to Busan' (2016)

23/23 :'Train to Busan' (2016)

Beautiful pacing and an oddly life-affirming message elevate this nightmarish Korean zombie movie. Besides, actor Yoo Gong is brilliant.