Movies that explore doom and gloom can be a great escape from the stress in our everyday lives. Atmospheric, eerie movies often evoke visceral reactions in viewers. From Annihilation (2018) to Blue Velvet (1986), these creepy movies will have you on the edge of your seat.
1. Arrival (2016)
This sci-fi film follows a linguistics professor who leads a team of investigators to get to the bottom of a new alien presence on Earth. Since twelve massive spaceships landed across the planet, humanity has struggled to uncover what they're doing here. That is, until the linguist enacts a risky plan that changes everything.
2. Annihilation (2018)
Annihilation is a futuristic sci-fi horror film about a biologist who joins a mission into the perilous Area X, a barren land filled with terrifying mutant creatures. Her beloved husband disappeared on a mission into Area X, and she hopes to uncover what exactly happened to him out there. But her journey into the region comes with trouble.
3. Prisoners (2013)
After a man's young daughter and best friend go missing, the police arrest their main suspect. But without enough evidence, the cops release the man into the free world. Determined to bring his daughter home safely, the man takes the investigation into his own hands to speed things up.
4. Under The Skin (2013)
This unsettling sci-fi film follows a terrifying alien who disguises herself as a beautiful human woman. As she travels around Scotland in a van, she uses her looks and charm to persuade men to trust her. But as soon as they let their guard down, she transports them to a strange, sinister alternate reality.
5. Smile (2022)
A psychiatrist at a psych ward has the worst day of her life when she witnesses a patient take her own life. But when the psychiatrist goes home, she realizes her terrible day will turn into an even more horrible week. A dark entity transferred from her patient to herself on that fateful day, but no one in her life believes her.
6. The Witch (2015)
This horror film takes place in 17th-century colonial New England. An isolated family lives on a small farm in the woods. When the family's youngest child mysteriously goes missing, everyone begins to blame the eldest daughter. Is she truly the witch they claim her to be, or did something else happen to the little boy?
7. Angel Heart (1987)
Angel Heart is a thrilling mystery film about a private detective tracking down an elusive singer. As he follows each lead, they start dropping like flies. As the detective gets closer and closer to the truth, he begins to wonder if he's in over his head, especially when dark magic is involved.
8. Night of The Hunter (1955)
This classic crime drama follows a serial killer who finds himself in prison for car theft. As he gets to know the other inmates, he learns about a lifer's secret stash of ten thousand dollars hidden outside the prison. As soon as he's released, the serial killer becomes obsessed with stealing the cash and carves his way into the lives of the lifer's family.
9. The Cell (2000)
The Cell is a psychological sci-fi thriller about a psychologist assigned to interrogate a serial killer about his latest crime. While now in custody, the killer kidnapped one last victim, leaving her imprisoned somewhere unknown. To find her in time, the psychologist uses new technology to dive into the killer's unconscious mind to see his victim's location.
10. The Abyss (1989)
After a submarine mysteriously sinks in the Caribbean, a recovery team works to uncover where and why the vessel sank. As they investigate, their blood begins to run cold. What terrors lurk beneath the surface?
11. Sin City (2005)
This neo-noir film takes place in the grisly Basin City as its residents commit crimes, fall in love, and attempt to live out their darkest fantasies. A vigilante killer attempts to rekindle a romance with his lost love. A police officer tracks down a child murderer and puts him in his place. At the same time, a lady of the night desperately tries to avoid her terrifying, vengeful pimp.
12. The Crow (1994)
The Crow is a supernatural revenge film that begins the night before a man's wedding. That's when he and his fiancée become the targets of a gang, killing them both. But the man returns to the Earth as a crow, taking down each gang member until the ultimate face-off with their fearless leader.
13. The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)
When two girls remain at their boarding school during winter break, one begins acting erratically. It seems as if some supernatural entity took over her body. This film is split into three sections, following a different woman in each. As new narratives form, secrets from the previous are revealed.
14. Lost Highway (1997)
Lost Highway is an atmospheric film that tells two stories that intersect in mysterious ways. One is about a jazz musician who can't stop obsessing over his wife potentially cheating on him. The other follows a naive mechanic who falls into a beautiful woman's trap.
15. Blue Velvet (1986)
This mysterious crime drama follows a college student who takes a leave to return to his hometown to care for his ailing father. While there, he stumbles upon a severed ear in a remote field. Intrigued, he works with the local detective's daughter to understand what happened in the area.
16. Sunshine (2007)
Sunshine is a harrowing sci-fi film about a world where the sun threatens to extinguish the light and heat that allows life to thrive on Earth. Desperate to save their planet, scientists band together to create a device to bring the sun back to its glory days. But can they survive the harsh journey through space to implement their plan?
17. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
This dark film is about a man obsessed with getting back at his wife after she admits she fantasizes about other men. His obsession leads him to a disturbing underground cult. But once he realizes he wants to leave the group, it's much too late.
18. Collateral (2004)
Collateral is a dark crime film about a taxi driver who accepts a large chunk of cash to escort a man to six different stops before heading home for the night. But when the driver realizes his passenger is a hitman on a mission, he's horrified. Now embroiled in the killer's crimes, the driver wonders if he will ever have an everyday life after this fateful night.
19. Stalker (1979)
This surreal sci-fi thriller takes place in an inhospitable post-apocalyptic wasteland as an illegal guide escorts a writer and a scientist on a trip through the zone. The men have a goal: discover a mythical place called The Room. There, they hope to achieve their wildest dreams and finally find the fulfillment they've always craved.
20. Rear Window (1954)
After an accident leaves him in a wheelchair, a photographer spends time at home to recover from his injuries. Bored, he watches his neighbors through the windows using his camera's powerful zoom lens. One day, he begins to believe he witnessed a murder and becomes obsessed with proving it.
21. Come and See (1985)
Come and See is a harrowing Soviet war film that examines the tragedies of living through a life-altering war. When the Germans invade a young man's village, he manages to escape into the forest. But when he returns home, he finds only rubble. The man attempts to cling to hope as his world crumbles around him.
22. Misery (1990)
After injuring his leg in a terrible car crash, an author breathes a sigh of relief as a former nurse comes to his rescue. Soon, he learns his nurse is a huge fan of his work. But when he shows her his plans for his new novel, she doesn't like what she sees and keeps him trapped in her home.
23. Vivarium (2020)
This intense, surreal horror film begins as a young couple search for a new home together. They visit a cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood for a house tour, but when they try to leave, they discover they're trapped in a never-ending void of identical homes on a never-ending street. Discouraged, the two decide to stick around, and they find an eerie package with cryptic instructions on how to leave their mystical confines.
24. Revanche (2008)
Revanche is a thrilling crime drama about an ex-con who robs a bank to support his girlfriend. While on the run, he hides at his grandfather's farm and meets a friendly neighbor. As they become closer, he learns that his neighbor's husband is a police officer.
25. The Inheritors (1998)
Upon the murder of a wealthy landowner, his laborers are surprised to learn that their boss left them his estate in his will. As they attempt to figure out how to run the estate, tensions mount, and each man tries to come out on top.
Maya (she/they) is a queer entertainment and culture journalist from Worcester, MA with bylines in publications like Pulse Magazine, HorrorPress, CM Pride, Fangoria, and TransLash News & Narrative. They cover interviews, reviews, roundups, news, and more in the entertainment and lifestyle space. She loves horror, LGBTQ+ representation, and creativity. They hope their writing both entertains readers and inspires them to think critically.