LIST: Beginner's guide to the world of horror cinema

The horror genre can be an intense experience, even for those who love all things terrifying; but it's also really fun.

If you’ve recently become a horror film enthusiast who wants to delve deeper into the world of horror, here's a guide that'll surely give you a thrill, depending on what gives you the creeps.

For those who aren’t afraid of gore

If you can stomach the sight of organs in a pool of blood and human bodies mutilated in unimaginable ways, then these gory films are made just for you.

Terrifier (2016)

Even Pennywise’s horrendous forms pale in comparison to the monstrosity lurking in this 2016 slasher flick.

When a young woman named Tara goes out with her friend on Halloween night, she doesn't expect to be trapped in an old apartment building with a sadistic murderer named Art the Clown. What follows is a cat and mouse game of survival as Art picks off the doomed characters one by one in blood-splattering glory.

If you want Art the Clown to give you coulrophobia, Terrifier is available to watch on Amazon Prime. 

Brightburn (2019)

Brightburn may be a superhero film, but there’s nothing heroic about its titular character.

When Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer (David Denman) discover an infant inside a mysterious spaceship that crashes near their home, they decide to adopt him and name him Brandon. But when a dark power begins to manifest in Brandon, the couple find themselves fearing for their lives as they watch their son turn into a sinister force.

Brightburn is available to rent or buy on YouTube and Google Play Movies.

If you prefer a slow burn horror

These films build paranoia and fright without relying on jump scares to slowly send chills down your spine and haunt your dreams at night. 

The Babadook (2014)

A single mother finds herself and her son being stalked by a black, malevolent monster called Mister Babadook after she unwittingly invites it to her home through a children’s book.

She then falls into a pit of paranoia as she desperately tries to save her son from the hands of the monster. The terrifying soundtrack and slow build-ups make for a gripping, anxiety-inducing film.

If you want The Babadook to torment your dreams, you can watch it on Amazon Prime.

Haunt (2019)

This 2019 slasher film puts you through a tense, nail-biting experience as it tells the story of six friends who enter a haunted house attraction.

What they thought would be a night of playful scares and cheap tricks turns into a nightmarish ordeal where they must face deadly traps and murderous performers in order to escape alive.

Haunt is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

If jump scares are your thing

Jump scares are a staple in a lot of horror films. If loud, frightening sounds and sudden horrifying images are what makes a good horror film for you, then you’ll enjoy these picks.

Lights Out (2016)

You can never be sure what lurks around when the lights go out. This 2016 supernatural film follows a woman named Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) whose childhood fears involving a hideous, shadowy entity come to haunt her back.

Exploiting the common fear of the dark, the film is full of heart-stopping scares that are certified to make you leave your lights on when you go to sleep.

If you’re not scared of the dark, you can rent or buy Lights Out on YouTube and Google Play Movies.

Grave Encounters (2011)

A lot of people wouldn’t think about spending a night in an abandoned psychiatric hospital, but Lance Preston and his team of ghost hunters do.

Shot in "found footage" style, the film follows a crew of a paranormal reality television program who, after locking themselves in a supposed haunted hospital, slowly fall insane themselves. The blend of night vision colors and a first-person perspective makes for a film with a lot of shocking jump scares.

Grave Encounters is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

For those who crave psychological horror

These films are made to tap into the human emotion and psyche and expose their darkest and most horrifying secrets, creating a sense of fear and dread among viewers.

The Invisible Man (2020)

When Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) begins to have suspicions about being stalked by her violent boyfriend even after his apparent suicide, she learns that he still might be alive and has acquired the ability to become invisible.

Being trapped in a harmful and abusive relationship is already a horror story in itself, but this 2020 film raises the stakes with more suspense.

You can buy or rent The Invisible Man on YouTube and on Google Play Movies.

Ma (2019)

In this 2019 psychological horror film, actress Octavia Spencer plays a lonely, middle-aged woman who invites a group of teenagers to party in the basement of her house.

What started as simple hospitality by a seemingly harmless woman slowly morphs into a hostile obsession, making for a tense film that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Ma is available on Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play Movies.

If you want to be spooked by the supernatural

One of the more popular subgenres of horror, supernatural films tackle everything paranormal and otherworldly, from demonic possessions to vengeful spirits refusing to move on to the afterlife.

Sinister (2012)

Sinister centers on Ellison (Ethan Hawke), a true crime writer who moves into a house where a family was murdered together with his wife and children.

After discovering a collection of snuff films and vowing to solve the mystery of the murders, he entangles himself with a sinister force that is intent on making him a victim in his own snuff film.

You can watch Sinister on Amazon Prime.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Stella Nicholls loves to read all things horror, but the one book that she should’ve stayed away from was the collection of terrifying tales written by Sarah Bellows, a young girl who becomes a vengeful spirit after being tortured all her life.

After unwittingly releasing the ghouls and monsters from the cursed book, Stella and her friends must find a way to escape Sarah’s curse before the creatures get the better of them.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

If you enjoy classic knife-wielding killer stories

These films don’t feature any hideous monsters or demonic entities from the depths of hell; it's just your classic slasher killer, armed with a sharpened knife and a thirst for blood.

Freaky (2020)

After having a close encounter with the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) and being stabbed by his magical dagger, plain and unpopular Millie (Kathryn Newton) finds herself switching bodies with the urban legend serial killer and only has 24 hours to get her body back.

It’s the classic body swapping trope you’ve seen a dozen times before, only with blood, knives, and murder.

You can buy or rent Freaky on YouTube and Google Play Movies.

The Final Girls (2015)

This 2015 self-aware slasher film combines horror and comedy through the story of Max (Taissa Farmiga), a young teenager who gets trapped in a 1980s horror film called Camp Bloodbath. Together with her friends, she must apply her knowledge of horror film rules and cliches in order to survive the clutches of an urban legend serial killer. 

If you want to test your own knowledge on horror tropes, buy or rent The Final Girls on YouTube or Google Play Movies. – Rappler.com

John Patrick Magno Ranara is a Rappler intern.