X

Best Horror Movies, Ranked by Metacritic

Discover the best horror movies, ranked by Metascore
by Cynthia Widmayer — 
gettyimages-1318981008-1200x675.png

Getty Images

The fear of the unknown and unseen has inspired people to take their imagination to some deep, dark places, the result of which is the lure of the best horror movies. They leave us stricken, give us sleepless nights, and make us imagine figures in the mirror. And yet, we keep going back to them for another dose of terror.

The popularity of horror movies hasn't dwindled in decades, although the good ones certainly stand out, stand the test of time, and usually inspire many sequels. 

Here, Metacritic highlights the best horror movies based on Metascore.


Psycho (1960)

Metascore: 97
Best for: Fans of psychological thrillers
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesVudu
Runtime: 109 minutes

Alfred Hitchcock's timeless classic has gone down history as the most famous thriller of all time, as evidenced by its impressive Metascore, and it is an exaggeration by no means. A woman (played by Janet Leigh) steals a large sum of money from the client of her boss, runs away, and comes to stay at a remote motel that is run by a psychotic young man (played by Anthony Perkins), who has lived with his mother's mummified body for 12 years.

"This is a first-rate mystery thriller, full of visual shocks and surprises which are heightened by the melodramatic realism of the production." — Jack Harrison, The Hollywood Reporter


Rosemary's Baby

Metascore: 96
Best for: Fans of paranormal and occult horror
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes, Paramount+, Vudu
Runtime: 137 minutes

Roman Polanski's masterpiece has none of the violence or gore that people expect from a horror movie. Instead, it relies heavily on an eerie atmosphere, a sense of dread, and the vulnerable fragility of the human mind. Mia Farrow stands out with her stellar portrayal of Rosemary, a young woman surrounded by mysterious neighbors, who is slowly succumbing to the paranoia over her unborn child's safety. While viewers are debating whether or not Satan is real and if the seemingly unnatural occurrences are simply a representation of Rosemary's crumbling sanity, the director slips in subtle messages about men's hazy definition of rape and their utter dismissiveness of women's ability to judge what's best for them.

"It's genuinely funny, yet it's also scary, especially for young women: it plays on their paranoid vulnerabilities." — Pauline Kael, The New Yorker


The Bride of Frankenstein

Metascore: 95
Best for: Fans of macabre comedies
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesVudu
Runtime: 75 minutes

Contrary to what was previously believed, Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is alive and so is his monster (Boris Karloff). But just when he decides to give up his evil experiments, he is persuaded by a mad scientist to create a whole new woman — a bride for the monster (played by Elsa Lanchester). Eccentric, funny, witty, and frightening, The Bride of Frankenstein remains a timeless piece of macabre satire, blending elements of social parody with horror and fantasy.

"It's satirical, exciting, funny, and an influential masterpiece of art direction." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


Don't Look Now

Metascore: 95
Best for: Gothic-thriller lovers
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 110 minutes

Nicolas Roeg turns Venice, the city synonymous with art and romance, into a sinister hub of mystery and terror in his controversial offering Don't Look Now. A couple mourning their drowned child head to the famous Italian city, but instead of healing, they are faced with otherworldly occurrences that turn their tragedy into horror. The Gothic feel of the movie portrays the tricks that grief can play on our minds, with the flashbacks, flash-forwards, fades, and jump cuts effectively used to translate Daphne Du Maurier's chilling short story into a terrifying classic that still haunts us today.

"A haunting, beautiful labyrinth that gets inside your bones and stays there." — Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Metascore: 92
Best for: Sci-fi horror enthusiasts
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes, Paramount+, Vudu
Runtime: 80 minutes

In a small California town, the population is being replaced by seed-pod aliens who possess every human element except emotion, and one doctor makes all the effort to save the world from doom. Movies about aliens and other extraterrestrials have always captured human fancy, which explains why this modest, low-budget sci-fi psychological thriller is a cult favorite. Additionally, the movie also plays on the themes of paranoia, satire, and the need to stay awake in order to remain alive.

"A film steeped in psychological realism, its rigorously compact plotting and stark, noir-influenced photography perfectly complementing the mounting sense of clammy, metaphysical dread." — Tom Huddleston, Time Out


The Birds

Metascore: 90
Best for: Fans of disaster-horror flicks
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, , Vudu
Runtime: 119 minutes

Hitchcock's follow-up to Psycho featured a vicious murder of crows attacking the population of a Californian town. The movie doesn't have much of a plot and we are not told why the birds ran amok. But the brilliant direction and special effects of the time brought to life the nightmare that could rise if our feathered friends turned against us.

"Genuinely disturbing thriller classic from the master of suspense." — Kim Newman, Empire


Hereditary

Metascore: 87
Best for: Supernatural movie lovers
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesVudu
Runtime: 127 minutes

A family is trying to escape the creepy, vicious ancestry they have inherited in Ari Aster's debut feature film. The story is sinister, eerie, and slower than other horror flicks, and the movie might not have been a huge commercial success, but it does manage to instill a sense of doom with the conclusion that bad luck is inescapable and will triumph over free will.

"In Aster's story, as in life, the devil is in the details. As the film goes on, these details accumulate, coalesce, and then hang heavy over the characters." — April Wolfe, The Village Voice


The Babadook

Metascore: 86
Best for: Lovers of psychological horror thrillers
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 93 minutes

A widowed single mother (played by Essie Davis) is troubled by her erratic son (played by Noah Wiseman) and haunted by the death of her husband (played by Ben Winspear) six years ago, and to make matters worse, the monster her son had supposedly been imagining for so long overpowers their lives. Jennifer Kent's directorial debut is a creepy, unsettling blend of grief, depression, madness, and strained, frustrated motherhood. It signifies that the monster we are afraid of is not an external entity, but the manifestation of our deepest fears that can take over lives and drive us to insanity if not confronted. 

"The Babadook creates tension not with jump scares or chase sequences but with judicious editing and slow-burn suspense — that is, until it descends into a final half-hour of harrowing emotional and physical intensity." — Dana Stevens, Slate


Get Out

Metascore: 85
Best for: Fans of witty horror-comedies and social commentary
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesVudu
Runtime: 104 minutes

Jordan Peele's directorial debut tells the story of a white family body-snatching Black people to transplant their own brains into them. Laced with racial tension, Get Out is witty as well as creepy, but instead of leaving you scared of your basement, it will make you ponder over the prejudice and abuse of power in present-day America.

"This is surely the nerviest, most confrontational treatment of race in America to emerge from a major studio in years." — Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times


The Witch

Metascore: 83
Best for: Fans of slow-burn period thrillers
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 93 minutes

In 1630, a farmer family in New England is faced with the mysterious disappearance of the youngest son and threatened by the possibility that the oldest daughter (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) might be a witch. Robert Eggers' debut movie is a paranormal folktale, complete with elements of faith and sin and an artistic feel. The atmosphere develops slowly and leaves the audience with a rewarding climax. 

"With a gentle rap-rapping, Mr. Eggers intensifies the shivers with art-film moves, genre shocks and an excellent cast that includes a progressively rowdy menagerie." — Manhola Dargis, The New York Times