Halloween is fast approaching and while many people will be donning costumes, partying the night away or going trick-or-treating this weekend, others like to scare themselves in other ways: by watching some of the best horror movies around.
So to help them select which ones, IBTimes UK has compiled a list of the best modern scary movies of the last 20 years, from unique gems such as Tucker And Dale vs. Evil and supernatural stories such as The Sixth Sense to downright jumpers like Insidious...
20. The Strangers
The concept of this Liv Tyler-helmed thriller is entirely basic but cleverly fleshes out the home invasion scenario. Too many horrors feel the need to tie everything up perfectly but Strangers unapologetically leaves the ending up to your own interpretation.
19. The Hills Have Eyes
It comes as no surprise that Wes Craven was partly behind this brilliantly twisted horror remake. Hell ensues for the Carter family when their car breaks down in the middle of a desolate nuclear site and they are ferociously hunted down by a group of blood-thirsty subhumans. The Hills Have Eyes goes full-throttle with the gore and, while at times sickening, it is entertaining nonetheless.
18. The Descent
Around the anniversary of a terrible personal tragedy, a young woman invites five of her friends on an adventure holiday in a remote part of North Carolina. During the trip, the group decide to explore some local caves but on their trek they become trapped in the claustrophobic cliff tunnels.
Stuck with each other and desperate, the climbers soon start arguing and violently turning on each other and things go from bad to worse when they realise that they're also being hunted by several cannibalistic cave inhabitants who are well adapted to their dark surroundings. Energetic, tense and gory from start to finish, it's a Halloween must-see.
17. The Mist
Need you more reason to watch The Mist other than the fact that its based on a story by horror master Stephen King? Well you shouldn't, but trust us when we say it's worth the time... even if it's just to get to that provocative ending.
After a storm destroys their home, David and his young son flee to the local grocery store, where the rest of the town seems to have congregated too. Panic soon sets in however, as deadly creatures reveal themselves outside and an unrelentingly religious extremist urges that the group send out a sacrifice to save them all.
16. The Last House On The Left
A family staying at their holiday home in the middle of nowhere is never a good sign – for them – but it makes for edge-of-your-seat viewing for us. What is great about TLHOTL is the victims are not actually that as they turn the reign of terror around on the villains. It is actually quite shocking how far this goes with the gore but it provides a wholly satisfying end.
This Spanish-language horror capitalised on the burgeoning found-footage craze at the time but stood out from the masses with its eeriness. Rec sees a television crew following a group of firefighters on a night shift which culminates in an abandoned house with infected residents. Non-flashy in its delivery but haunting nonetheless.
14. Tucker And Dale vs. Evil
Undoubtedly one of the best horror comedies around, Tucker And Dale vs. Evil tells the hapless tale of two well-meaning hillbillies who plan an escape to the country after buying the vacation home of their dreams: a run-down lakefront cabin, deep in the woods.
During their trip, the pair are mistaken for savage serial killers by a group of clueless college students who think that they're stalking them and offing them one-by-one. There is someone killing people in the woods, however, which makes things all the more complicated as Tucker, Dale and the teens try to survive their holidays while also avoiding each other – hilariously and unnecessarily.
13. Eden Lake
There is something particularly eerie about British horrors – perhaps because it is too close to home for this writer. A couple set off to enjoy what they think will be an idyllic countryside getaway only to find themselves terrorised by a group of troublesome youths. Nothing can prepare you for how far the terror goes.
12. You're Next
You're Next offers up everything you'd want in a blood-soaked horror movie; a big group of people vacationing at a secluded manor, tense family relationships and menacingly masked killers. But while the film is heavy on the guilty-pleasures (including one-by-one deaths), it's brilliance is in the fact that it refuses to be predictable.
Its female lead Erin (Sharni Wilson) for example... She's certainly no shrinking violet but one tough cookie who refuses to sit around and be offed! And that twist right at the end? You will never see it coming.
11. The Ring
Based upon the Japanese original Ringu, The Ring sees Naomi Watts play journalist Rachel who begins investigating a mysterious VHS tape that might have played a part in killing four teenagers, including her niece.
She soon discovers there is an urban legend surrounding the tape: whoever watches it only has seven days to pass on the curse or else they die; a legend she realises may well be true after she and her young son accidentally watch it and start being plagued by ghostly visions and gruesome accidents. Thank God we've moved on to DVDs now, right?
10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Remakes of classics can go horribly wrong but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre brushed up the horrifying elements of the 1974 outing perfectly. The new family of cannibalistic psychos are just as terrifying, if not more, as the original and you find yourself drawn into the victims' desperate plight to escape that stomach-churning sound of Leatherface's chainsaw.
9. Wolf Creek
Australia put itself on the horror-movie map with this heart-stopping thriller. John Jarratt delivers a fantastically menacing performance as serial killer Mick Taylor stalking travellers in the vast outback. Wolf Creek is all the more frightful knowing it is loosely based on true stories while making the characters completely relatable.
8. Paranormal Activity
Oren Peli's supernatural shocker proves you do not need a big budget with bells and whistles to provide a good scare. After The Blair Witch Project's success, Paranormal Activity reintroduced the found-footage genre. Cliche scares like doors slamming shut on their own were heightened through moments of absolute silence and stillness – the lack of music and not actually seeing the demonic spirit made this ride all the more thrilling.
7. The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense – starring Bruce Willis – is one of those unique films that perfects the balance between being hauntingly sad and creepy too. Initially branded as a horror film when it was first released in 1999, it is seen as more of a thriller nowadays. However, just because it's not all shock and gore doesn't mean it doesn't have its moments – complete with eerie corridor shots, jumpy soundtrack swells and plenty of ghosts.
6. The Others
Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who has retired to a rural mansion, awaiting the return of her husband from war. Her children are deathly intolerant to sunlight, and because of this, the whole family lives an achingly lonely life in a house where all the windows are covered and all of the doors are securely locked.
In need of help, she hires a mysterious group of servants to maintain the house but their arrival sparks some sinister goings-on which lead her to investigate why they are really there.
Ignoring the found-footage trend, Insidious went back-to-horror-basics, implementing spooky techniques seen in films more like The Sixth Sense rather than Saw or Hostel. The movie follows the Lamberts (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson), who find themselves seeking the help of paranormal experts after their son falls into a coma after a mysterious attic incident.
Terrifyingly, they discover that there is more to his endless sleep than meets the eye and are led to explore the paranormal, and rediscover the past; the key to getting their son back once and for all.
After their third child is tragically stillborn, Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) decide to adopt a young Russian girl named Esther. While their youngest, daughter Max, warms to Esther instantly, their son Daniel is immediately wary of his new sibling, sparking doubts about their decision in Kate's mind.
Things take an even darker turn when Esther begins openly discussing sex with Kate and is caught injuring another girl after school after she was teased. There's something different about the latest family member but can the couple work out what before the situation escalates?
There is nothing better than a slasher horror with an actual story to keep you guessing along the way. Dr Lawrence Gordon and Adam wake up in a filthy and abandoned bathroom, chained by their ankles to pipes with the only way to free themselves is to play a game orchestrated by 'Jigsaw'.
The beauty of Saw is literally not knowing where the game will go next. It manages to keep the mystery and suspense of a classic thriller while going no-holds-barred with the gore.
At a time when the horror movie industry was struggling to conjure up fresh ideas, Wes Craven revamped the slasher genre with a teen twist.
Scream has the right combination of jumps, wit and intelligence while boldly poking fun at cliches of the traditional horror model. Not to mention, the ghost-face mask gives Halloween killer Michael Myers a run for his money. What's your favourite scary movie?
1. The Conjuring
James Wan's intelligent and polished outing The Conjuring is undoubtedly one of the most well-loved scary movies of recent years. Based on the careers of real-life paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren (played here by Wilson and Farmiga) – the first people to investigate the Amityville haunting – the film concentrates on one of their earlier cases as they go to help a family who are convinced they are being threatened by powerful entity.