20 Underrated Horror Movies That Deserve More Recognition

20 Underrated Horror Movies That Deserve More Recognition
Image credit: Legion-Media,, Arclight Films, Oscilloscope Laboratories, Netflix, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Universal Pictures, Lionsgate, The Orchard, Maple Pictures, DirecTV Cinema, Drafthouse Films, Vertical Entertainment, Hulu

These aren't your mainstream jump-scare factories, but they're good enough to give them a chance.

Updated on December 7th, 2023 by Louise Everitt: This article has been updated with additional content to keep information relevant. We've added some of the latest titles released in 2023 to keep things up-to-date and interesting for you. Dive in and check out what's new!

1. "No One Will Save You" (2023)

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A virtually dialogue-free alien invasion film, praised for its bold narrative and the designs of its alien invaders. It was limited in viewership due to being exclusive to Hulu​​.

2. "Renfield" (2023)

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A horror comedy featuring Nicolas Cage as Dracula, it was anticipated for its unique take on the Dracula story and over-the-top performances. Sadly, despite this, it was a box office flop​​, grossing just 26.7 million USD against 65 million USD budget.

3. "Totally Killer" (2023)

A Blumhouse production that combines slasher tropes with time travel. The film sends a teen back to 1987 to stop a killer. It was released on Amazon Prime just before Halloween, leading to less visibility​​.

4. "Cobweb" (2023)

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This Halloween-themed movie revolves around a young boy who hears voices behind his wall. Its release in July rather than around Halloween affected its reception, but it has since gained attention for its twisty plot and eerie atmosphere​​.

5. "Dark Harvest" (2023)

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An adaptation of Norman Partridge's Bram Stoker Award-winning novella. The film captures a brutal and strange tradition in a small Midwestern town during the 1960s. It was released on streaming with little fanfare, making it a hidden gem for many​​. It's currently available to watch on Prime Video with subscription.

6. "Session 9" (2001)

"Session 9" is a psychological horror film that slipped under the radar despite its innovative approach to the genre. Directed by Brad Anderson, the story unfolds at an abandoned mental hospital, where an asbestos cleaning crew experiences a slow descent into madness. As one of the workers discovers nine recorded therapy sessions of a former patient, he unwittingly awakens an evil that starts to prey on each member of the crew. Interestingly enough, the movie was shot on location at the Danvers State Mental Hospital, which itself has a long and dark history.

7. "Lake Mungo" (2008)

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This little-known Australian film presents a chilling tale of a family's journey through grief after their daughter Alice's accidental death. Using a pseudo-documentary format, the film chronicles the family's strange encounters after Alice's death, pointing to a possible haunting. The film's haunting final act is a masterclass in sustained tension and terror. Despite its modest box office earnings, "Lake Mungo" enjoys a cult status amongst hardcore horror fans.

8. "Coherence" (2013)

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"Coherence" is a cerebral horror movie that spins a web of paranoia and fear out of a simple dinner party. Eight friends gather for a party on the night of a rare comet sighting, only for strange things to begin happening. Directed by James Ward Byrkit, the film's plot unravels into a labyrinth of alternate realities and doppelgängers that will leave viewers questioning their own sanity. The film was made on a shoestring budget and was largely improvised, leading to raw and genuine performances from the cast.

9. "The Ritual" (2017)

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Based on the novel by Adam Nevill, "The Ritual" follows a group of friends hiking in the Swedish wilderness as they pay tribute to their recently deceased mate. However, their journey turns into a nightmare when they become prey to a malevolent entity haunting the woods. This British horror film marries stunning Scandinavian landscapes with unsettling folk horror, a chilling reminder that you should stick to the hiking path. The film scored a respectable 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, yet it largely slipped through the cracks amongst mainstream audiences.

10. "The Descent" (2005)

A chilling tale of claustrophobia and ancient horrors, "The Descent" pits a group of women against blind, carnivorous creatures lurking in an unexplored cave system. Despite positive reviews and a decent box office run, the movie is rarely mentioned in top-tier horror films lists, and it's a shame, really. Trivia for fans: the cave creatures were deliberately kept out of the film's marketing to increase the shock value during the initial reveal.

11. "Creep" (2014)

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Don't let the title fool you. "Creep" isn't your run-of-the-mill slasher flick. It's a nuanced, psychological horror film that uses the found footage style to its advantage. Mark Duplass delivers a haunting performance as Josef, a man who hires a videographer to record a day in his life under the pretense of creating a video for his unborn son. What transpires, though, is a descent into a strange, unsettling, and yes, creepy world. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at a respectable 90%, and yet, somehow this film still doesn't get the recognition it deserves.

12. "Dead End" (2003)

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The premise of "Dead End" is simple: A family driving home for Christmas takes a shortcut and things go horribly wrong. The film excels in its simplicity, maintaining an atmosphere of high tension throughout its tight 85-minute runtime. Although the movie is essentially set in a car, the claustrophobic and eerie environment keeps you hooked. The film's memorable twist ending adds a new dimension to the plot. Despite its direct-to-DVD release, "Dead End" has gained a cult following over the years.

13. "Pontypool" (2008)

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"Pontypool" is an underrated Canadian horror gem that uses the power of language to spread fear. Set in a small-town radio station, the film follows a shock jock as he narrates the onset of what appears to be a zombie-like epidemic. The catch? The virus is spread through the English language. The concept is inventive, and the execution delivers a slow-burning, chilling dread. Interestingly, the film was first conceived as a radio play, which is quite fitting actually, considering its unique plot.

14. "The Blackcoat's Daughter" (2015)

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This slow-burn horror film is a chilling exercise in atmosphere and dread. Directed by Oz Perkins, "The Blackcoat's Daughter" is set in a girls' boarding school where two students are left behind during winter break. As they experience strange occurrences, a third storyline of a mysterious woman unfolds simultaneously. Even if it failed to make a significant mark at the box office, this underrated gem of a horror movie definitely worth checking it out.

15. "Resolution" (2012)

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Billed as a horror, mystery, and sci-fi, "Resolution" is a film that defies easy classification. Two friends holed up in a remote cabin descend into a cycle of strange occurrences as one tries to help the other overcome addiction. The film stands out for its clever narrative structure, unique storytelling style, and the way it subverts typical horror tropes.

16. "Triangle" (2009)

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In "Triangle," the story revolves around a group of friends whose yachting trip turns into a nightmare when they encounter a freak storm and board an apparently abandoned ocean liner for shelter. Jess, played by Melissa George, starts to experience an intense case of déjà vu and soon realizes that they are trapped in a terrifying time loop. As her friends start to die one by one, she must unravel the mystery to save herself.

17. "Under the Shadow" (2016)

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Set in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War, the film follows Shideh, a former medical student and her daughter Dorsa, as they grapple with the horrors of war and a malevolent spirit haunting their home. The film uses its supernatural elements as a metaphor for the societal and cultural restrictions Shideh faces, creating a genuinely unnerving atmosphere. Despite rave reviews and a 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes, it didn't receive much attention upon its release.

18. "The Invitation" (2015)

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In "The Invitation," Will, played by Logan Marshall-Green, attends a dinner party at his former house, hosted by his ex-wife and her new husband. As the night progresses, Will grows increasingly suspicious of their hosts' motives. The film expertly uses tension and paranoia, leading to an explosive climax that will leave you speechless. The film's slow-burn horror combined with its emotionally resonant themes of grief and loss makes it a truly unforgettable watch.

19. "They Look Like People" (2015)

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"They Look Like People" is a low-budget indie horror movie that focuses on the deteriorating mental state of its protagonist, Wyatt. Believing that humanity is being taken over by evil creatures, Wyatt prepares for a war while trying to convince his friend Christian about the impending danger. The film stands out for its psychological depth, exploring themes of paranoia, loneliness, and mental illness. Though it might not have made waves at the box office, its intense plot and unsettling atmosphere make it a must-watch for horror fans.

20. "The Witch" (2015)

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"The Witch" follows a 17th-century Puritan family who, after being banished from their village, start their life on the edge of a mysterious forest. The family's life spirals into despair and paranoia after the youngest son mysteriously disappears, and their teenage daughter Thomasin is accused of witchcraft. The film stands out for its haunting atmosphere, period-specific dialogue, and exceptional performances, particularly from Anya Taylor-Joy. Despite winning several awards and being praised for its thematic depth, "The Witch" didn't make much of a splash at the box office but has since gained recognition as a modern horror classic.