The Creepiest Movies of All Time | Film Recommendations
My favorite movie of all time is Session 9. I remember being drawn to it because it was about an asbestos removal crew working in an real abandoned mental hospital. Abandoned buildings are creepy all by themselves, but there's something about a mental hospital that's even creepier; patients were either perceived as being unstable or were unstable for a myriad of reasons, and the conditions they endured were typically deplorable as mental health treatment used to be a series of experimentation rather than ethically sound, clinically proven methods. This, of course, has changed in the last few decades, but people are still drawn to buildings that hosted horrors that are unknown to many.
Session 9 is a polarizing movie. I've found that people either are very scared by it or do not care for it at all. I've found that most movies that I've found to be extremely creepy receive the same reaction from people. If you do find Session 9 to be a very creepy movie, you will probably find the other movies on this list very creepy as well. Most of the movies are categorized as psychological horror, so if you are into those, you'll probably like this movie. I hope that this helps you to find a movie you haven't seen yet.
1. Session 9 (2001). Session 9 is an American psychological horror film written by Stephen Gevedon (he also plays the character Mike in the film) and Brad Anderson (who also directs the movie). The movie follows Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullan), the owner of an asbestos-removal company who has recently had a baby with his wife, Wendy. Gordon is extremely stressed because his company is in trouble due to a lack of jobs and subsequent lack of money for his new family. An opportunity to remove asbestos comes up at an abandoned mental hospital, and Gordon promises that his crew will remove all the asbestos in a nearly impossible time frame due to his desperation. Gordon finds himself unable to relieve his stress even after getting the job and lashes out at his wife when an accident at home occurs. Gordon begins to hear voices while working in the hospital and slowly begins to deteriorate mentally. The film focuses on whether Gordon is influenced by something in the hospital or if we are witnessing a steadily progressing mental deterioration due to his overwhelming stress.
Why is it so creepy?
The mental hospital (Danvers State Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts) is just plain creepy. It's extremely dilapidated in many areas, dark in many areas, and begets a feeling of isolation and emptiness. The voices that Gordon hears in the hospital is creepy as well; we don't know if the voice is coming from outside of himself or within.
There is a series of tapes that Mike finds in the hospital. During his breaks, Mike listens to the tapes, which are individual mental health sessions. The sessions are between a psychologist and a woman named Mary, who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder). In the tapes, the psychologist is trying to figure out the source of Mary's trauma by talking to her alters (personalities). The different voices of Mary's alters are especially creepy and the last taped session is what gives the movie its name.
It's very creepy and disturbing to see the change in Gordon throughout the movie and learn how his story turns out.
2. Spiral (2007). Spiral is an American psychological thriller film written by Joel David Moore and Jeremy Danial Boreing. The film is directed by Joel David Moore and Adam Green. The film follows Mason (Joel David Moore), a shy introvert who works with his best friend Berkeley (Zachary Levi) at an insurance company. In the beginning of the film, Mason calls Berkeley in the middle of the night and tells him he did something bad while looking at his bathroom door, which is closed. Berkeley thinks that since Mason has anxiety attacks and asthma, Mason has worked himself up and just needs to calm down. Berkeley talks Mason down and Mason uses his inhaler and calms down. Mason then leaves his building and throws out a large garbage bag into the dumpster.
The next day, we see Mason at work and he has seemingly gotten over his anxiety from the previous night, so Berkeley brushes off the incident as Mason having anxiety. One day, while Mason is eating lunch outside on a bench, a woman named Amber (Amber Tamblyn) befriends Mason and they develop a friendship. As Mason learns to trust Amber, he sketches her, then begins to paint a series of portraits of her. Mason tells Amber that he paints a series of paintings in a very specific order. As Amber gets to know Mason, she begins to see a positive change in him due to their friendship. The rest of the film explores their friendship and the mystery surrounding the series of paintings that Mason creates.
Why is it so creepy? (minor spoilers)
The audience doesn't know whether or not the scene in the beginning of the movie is real or a figment of Mason's imagination. Has Mason hurt someone? Has he disposed of a body? The avoidance of the bathroom makes one think that Mason could be a very dangerous person who has been dismissed as someone with severe anxiety.
Mason comes across as a shy introvert with severe anxiety, which attracts kind people who like to help others. This creates a sense of anxiety within the viewer as the audience is never sure if the women talking to him are safe. I liked Amber a lot and I liked the way she and Mason interacted. I started to worry about her more and more as the film progressed because Mason didn't seem mentally stable. I liked Mason a lot too, but something about him seemed off (especially about his obsession with his paintings).
The ending (which I won't spoil) is deeply unsettling as it gives Mason's friend Berkeley clues as to who Mason really is.
3. The Ring (2002). The Ring is an American film based on the novel Ring by Koji Suzuki and is directed by Gore Verbinski. The film is a remake of the Japanese film, Ringu (1998). The film focuses on a woman named Rachel (Naomi Watts) and her son Aiden (David Dorfman). Rachel is a journalist whose niece Katie (Amber Tamblyn) died one night under mysterious circumstances. Rachel learns that Katie watched a videotape with her friends a week before the night she died and received a phone call after she watched tape telling her she would die in seven days. Katie's mother begs Rachel to try to figure out how and why Katie died, so Rachel sets out to solve the mystery.
Rachel searches Katie's room and discovers a ticket for photos. When Rachel picks up the photos, she sees that the pictures are of Katie and her friends at a mountain cabin. Rachel learns that Katie visited a mountain lodge with her two friends and her boyfriend Josh a week earlier, and figures that the cabin may offer clues as to what happened to Katie. Rachel finds the tape at the mountain lodge office and watches it, then receives the same phone call Katie received, telling her she will die in seven days. The rest of the film follows Rachel as she tries to solve the mystery of the tape.
Why is it so creepy?
The girl who made the tape is named Samara and she just looks creepy. She has long black hair that covers her face and her body is somewhat bloated from being in water and rotted in places. Her skin is grey-blue and her body movements are jerky and unnatural.
The way that the people look after they die from watching the videotape are disturbing and creepy looking, Their bodies look almost bruised all over and their faces are distorted in fright.
I felt frightened for the people in the film because once their week was up, they didn't have any control over when Samara was going to get them. Nothing they did kept them safe; they tried hiding, locking themselves in a room, and turning off their electronics to no avail.
The actual videotape is a series of disturbing and weird images which turn out to have a deeper meaning, but it is unsettling to watch all the same.
4. Lake Mungo (2008). Lake Mungo is an Australian psychological horror film written and directed by Joel Anderson. The film follows the Palmer family after their daughter Alice (Talia Zucker) accidentally drowns in a dam. After Alice dies, the Palmer family struggles to come to terms with their loss. Alice's brother Matthew tells his parents that he has seen Alice's image in several pictures he has taken and subsequently sets up cameras in the house in hopes that he will capture evidence that Alice is trying to tell the family something. The rest of the film follows the family as they try to determine what Alice is trying to tell them.
Why is it so creepy? (minor spoilers)
Alice's boyfriend shows Alice's parents a video he took of Alice at a school field trip to Lake Mungo. In the video, Alice is shown burying something at the base of a tree. Thinking that this may be a clue as to what Alice is trying to tell the family, the family travels to Lake Mungo and discover Alice buried her phone. They find a video on Alice's phone and it shows Alice walking and coming upon a dead, bloated figure walking towards her. As Alice gets closer, she sees that it is herself and she panics. This imagery was very creepy and disturbing as it is exactly how Alice looked after she drowned at the dam.
The atmosphere of the movie is creepy as the colors of the environment are muted and devoid of joy and life.
The house that the Palmer's live in makes it feel like Alice could appear at any second, giving it an overall uneasy atmosphere.
The pictures shown during the credits are very sad and creepy.
5. The Blair Witch Project (1999). The Blair Witch Project is an American supernatural horror film written and directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. The film follows three student filmmakers who have mysteriously disappeared after researching a local Blair, Maryland legend named the Blair Witch. The students are named Heather, Josh, and Mike and the only evidence the police have to work with are videotapes the students left behind, which were found in a house foundation during a search of the students. The film is essentially a compilation of the tapes that were created by Heather, Josh, and Mike while researching the Blair Witch in the town of Blair and in the woods surrounding Blair, Maryland.
In the beginning of the film, Heather meets up with Josh and Mike and they begin interviewing townspeople in Blair about the Blair Witch. After the interviews, Heather tells Josh and Mike that they will go out to the woods and investigate locations where people had experiences in the woods with the Blair Witch, to include Coffin Rock and a burial ground with mounds of rocks. After reaching these two points, the group becomes lost and becomes increasingly aware that something is in the woods with them. The rest of the film follows them as they try to find their way back to their car and to safety.
Why is it so creepy? (minor spoilers)
The stories that the townspeople tell about Rustin Parr are very creepy. The stories about Rustin Parr tie in with the ending, which is also extremely creepy.
If you listen to the film with headphones or surround sound, you can hear a lot more of the noises that the group hears at night, making the movie even more creepy. Turning on the subtitles allows you to become aware of dialogue that you may miss, making it even more creepy.
Although you can't see anything chasing the group, it's very obvious that there is something following them and messing with their compass to keep them trapped in the woods.
Towards the end of the film, the group finds a large, looming house at night that has broken windows and bloody handprints of children and runes all over the house. It is very creepy that this house was in just a few yards of their campsite and they did not see it in the daylight. The house is very creepy on its own, yet becomes even creepier once they get inside.
The group finds a large amount of stick figures in trees, which seem to be handmade. The group knows that they have not seen anyone else in the woods, yet do not have an explanation for how the stick figures got in the trees nor for who made them.
One of the group members finds burial mounds of rocks outside of their tents, which were put there while they were sleeping. The group members do not have an explanation for how the rocks got there or for who could have put them there.
6. The Mothman Prophecies (2000). The Mothman Prophecies is an American supernatural horror film based on the book The Mothman Prophecies by John Klein (1978). The film is directed by Mark Pellington and stars Richard Gere as John Klein. The film follows John Klein, a journalist at The Washington Post who is happily married to his wife, Mary.
In the beginning of the film, John and Mary are looking at houses to buy and find a house that is perfect for them. After deciding to buy the house, Mary and John drive home and discuss their future plans. Along the way, Mary sees something with red eyes coming towards the car and crashes the car. Mary's head hits the driver's side window and she is knocked unconscious. John takes Mary to the hospital and discovers that Mary has a tumor in her brain, and dismisses her vision of a red-eyed creature as part of her tumor. Mary dies not long after the crash and John buries himself in work in order to cope with his grief.
A couple years later, John leaves Washington D.C. and heads south for a story and somehow ends up in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. He has no recollection about how he got to West Virginia, and the rest of the film follows John as he tries to figure out why he ended up at Point Pleasant and how what is happening in the town is connected to the death of his wife, Mary.
Why is it so creepy?
The figure that Mary saw before she died was creepy and the figures that she drew before she died became creepier and creepier as John looked through her journal.
John thought that he drove south from Washington D.C. and ended up in West Virginia. How he traveled so far and completely in the wrong direction is very creepy. There is no logical way for this to have happened, yet he had no explanation for how he got there.
The film features several characters who are seen or heard by others and it turns out that something was taking the form of those people or impersonating the people. It is very creepy that there is something that could impersonate a person that is not human.
The "Mothman" talks to John Klein in a voice that is very obviously not human and it is very creepy to listen to.
The "Mothman" can see things even when it is not in the room with John Klein, which makes the audience afraid for John and others because it is perceived that they are not safe if they cannot hide.
The "Mothman's" intentions are not pure. It is never stated what the agenda is of the mothman creatures, but their intentions do not seem to be good. It is almost like they are experimenting with human behavior, which is creepy.
The townspeople of Point Pleasant tell John stories of their experiences with the "Mothman", which are creepy to hear and watch.
The interactions John has with Gordon and Mary and very creepy. I was worried about Gordon throughout the film and was especially unnerved by Mary at the end of the film.
If you have any questions about these films, please feel free to ask.