20 horror thrillers that broke barriers with insane plots and terrifying visuals!

Editorial Team -

20 horror thrillers that broke barriers with insane plots and terrifying visuals!
Why is the human brain drawn towards watching horror or thriller films, despite the fear or scare it induces in one's brain? It’s actually because of the excitement and the adrenaline which it pumps, an obvious survival trait of the human brain, which is infamously called  “Excitation-Transfer theory”. You may ask if thriller and horror differ in their genres. The answer is, Yes, they definitely do. Thrillers could serve as horror if given the right nudge to it. That being said, we’ve curated a list of films which will give you the chills you intend to experience, breaking the barriers with insane plots and terrifying visuals.
 
Brightburn - Prime Video

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It follows the story of a young boy Brandon Meyer (Jackson A.Dunn) of extraterrestrial origin who is reared on earth, later realizes about his superpowers. Upon learning it hell breaks loose, where Brandon rejects humanity and turns evil. This film created an interesting mill among the viewers if this could be the dark rendition of DC’s poster boy “Superman”. This film is one of the rare experiences which you would’ve missed watching it on a big screen but not to worry it’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime and most definitely will be a dark experience.

 

Annihilation - Netflix

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Annihilation is one of the most underrated films, which did not get its due credit in theatres but received a good response after its digital release. The story follows a group of scientists who enter “The Shimmer”, a mysterious quarantined zone of mutating plants and animals caused by an alien presence. Excited much? The film unravels a few horrors pertaining to the core plot. Natalie Portman plays one of the scientists who are on the quest, but she’s in for her personal reasons. Annihilation not only piques the interest with its subject in focus but packs spectacular visuals with thrilling moments. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.

 

Gerald’s Game - Netflix

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Gerald’s Game is an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name. It’s about a middle-aged couple who arrive at an isolated house for a holiday. In an unfortunate turn of events, the husband dies in the middle of their sexual act due to heart attack and the wife is left in splits handcuffed to the bed without a key. The hope for rescue turns bleak and she must find a way to survive whilst battling her inner demons. The film packs in the eerie feeling one may expect of Stephen King’s novels. Also, it will put you in a spot and make you think about what you will do if you were in the character’s shoe. The film expresses the daunting state of mental confusion, which was perfectly rendered by Carla Gugino’s commendable performance. If you’re looking for a haunting experience then Gerald’s Game is your pick. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.

 

In the Tall Grass - Netflix

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It’s another adaptation of Stephen King and Joe Hill’s novella of the same name. Siblings Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) who is 6 months pregnant and Cal are on a road trip to their aunt’s place where Becky intends to live during the course of her pregnancy. When they arrive at an old church and halt to stretch their legs. The siblings hear a young boy name Tobin call for help from a nearby field of tall grass. They later hear his mother begging him not to call anyone for help. Concerned by this cry for help the siblings reluctantly enter the field but to their surprise, they’re quickly separated and finds that their distance from one another changes unnaturally. Panicked by this unusual occurrence they plan to get back on the road but are unable to do so. Night falls and the siblings find themselves trapped in a field of tall grass which unravels some dark secrets fighting their demons along the way. The film has all the scares right and keeps you on the edge. Initially, this film was supposed to be a theatrical release but didn’t happen, later it was picked up by Netflix for a direct release. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.

 

Before I Wake - Netflix

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It’s a supernatural dark fantasy horror flick which may come across different from the mainstream horror films. It’s scary and beautiful at the same time. Also, it has a creative and gripping storyline which will suffice enough thrills one would expect of it. Cody (Jacob Tremblay) plays a foster child who’s taken in by Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane). But later they discover the ability of Cody whose dreams and nightmares manifest physically as he sleeps. This film is currently streaming on Netflix.
 
 
The Babysitter - Netflix

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It’s an American teen horror-comedy wherein Cole (Judah Lewis) is a target of the classic bullying by his neighbours. One fine day his babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving) stands up for him and chases the bullies away. This instance brings them close as friends. Cole is encouraged by his friends to find out what Bee is up to after he goes to sleep. Taking upon the dare, Cody stays up on that night to find out the truth. But later finds him exposed to a group of teenagers who are part of a demonic cult. The events which follow post the discovery are gruesome with chilling moments. The film has a witty approach to the genre and maintains a good balance. The Babysitter is currently streaming on Netflix. And a sequel is expected to happen later this year.

 

Black Christmas (1974) - MXPlayer

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While a slasher is not the way anyone would want to spend their Christmas Eve, it does make for interesting viewing. Black Christmas is a seminal holiday horror movie for two reasons - first, it uses a popularly joyful day as the backdrop for a deadly killer on the loose, but it also has the honour for creating the blueprint of such films made in the future. If you are a fan of movies with ‘calls from within the house, many pretty teenagers being bludgeoned to death one at a time, and a final female survivor’ (read: the Scream series, Prom Night, House on Sorority Row), then Black Christmas is what started the trend. An alleged prank caller groans and screams in a sorority house. He uses any weapon at his disposal, gives no motive and the ending is open, except the final girl is almost as iconic as Laurie from Halloween.

 

It Follows (2014) - Prime Video

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What we really need from our horror movies nowadays is richness in subtext (I’m looking at you, Jordan Peele). It Follows is full of it. Initially, a festival darling, the film slowly made its way into becoming one of the biggest indie horror films of the new decade. The ‘it’ in concern is a curse which is transmitted from one teen to another through sexual intercourse in an American small town. You could call it a supernatural sexual transmitted disease. If you get it, then you’re done for. Not that we’re pro-life or anything, but David Robert Mitchell’s film keeps its stance and the general morality behind promiscuous sexual acts fairly ambiguous and goes for a more visceral approach towards the film’s look and cinematography, which is chillingly beautiful.

 

The Ring (2002) - Prime Video / Jio Movies

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Critics would be quick to point out that The Ring, which is the American remake of 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, isn’t quite as spine-chilling as its original. But, here’s the thing… it’s probably a great horror film for anyone who watches it first. And hopefully, you will watch this first. Made at the brink of the new millennium, The Ring is as important comment on the horrors of our reliance on technology (and who knows that better than all of us stuck at home at the moment), as it is in setting off a brief renaissance of jump-scare horror films in Hollywood (like Dark Water, The Grudge, The Eye etc.). A VHS tape begins circulating, which sets off a curse of the viewer being killed a week after watching it. To give credit where it’s due, it is rare for a remake to capture the horror of a foreign urban legend so masterfully. 
 
 
The Shining (1980) - Netflix

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Many polls online consider Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling novel one of the greatest horror films of all time, and there is a reason why this statement would hold up even decades after its release. It is a true testament to Kubrick (and this isn’t even his most disturbing film) to combine the physical discomfort of what happens in the movie to an underlying psychological discomfort. With no effort of your own, you find yourself drawn into the story of violence and care deeply for Shelley Duvall and her son. The climactic moments are some of the greatest scenes that cinema has ever seen, not to mention a career-best performance for Jack Nicholson. And classic lines and movie conspiracy theories galore!

 

The Host (2006) - Netflix

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Creature features are usually considered a pulpy B-movie subgenre of horror, and let’s face it, not too many good ones have made it to the canon in the new millennium. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s The Host is a notable exception for the inventive way it has redefined Korean horror. Some scientists get rid of chemical waste in Seoul’s Han River, and soon enough a mutant is born, big enough to feed off and terrorise the citizens of an entire city. Amidst all of this is a family who sets off to find their missing daughter. Of course, there is a satirical undertone to its dark theme and takes full advantage of how ecologically unstable humanity is at every moment. 

 

Halloween (1978) - MXPlayer

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Not just one of the best slashers of all time, but also one of the most influential, John Carpenter’s Halloween kicked off the Golden Age of the subgenre which lasted for about six years and produced several copycats and sequels and series’ films.  What does this movie not have that you won’t be alluding to later? It has seemingly unrelated murders, long stalking sequences and just the right amount of blood and gore. Having said that, he borrows heavily from Hitchcock’s narrative style of using slow suspense of the silent killer attempting to take the life of Laurie Strode, the quintessential final girl. The testament to this film and Michael Myers’ legacy is that the ‘proper sequel’ made in 2018 is also considered one of the greatest slashers of the modern century. 

 

The Conjuring (2013) - Netflix / Prime Video
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Based on a real-life case file from the house of Ed and Lorraine Warren (the same source for The Amityville Horror legend and movies), it is easy to dismiss The Conjuring as just another modern horror trilogy which uses object possession to provide a few minutes of jump-scares, but it is a lot more than that. In the 1970s, the famous paranormal investigating couple is working out the secrets behind a Rhode Island home which is seemingly haunted. What we get is a masterfully created period piece which happens to be part of the horror genre. Stylistically, The Conjuring will remind you of any big-budget horror film from that time period which can only rely on its chilling pacing and tone to seep you into the dread of a ghost looming around the corner. 

 

Suspiria (2018) - Amazon Prime
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Dance and horror seem like an unlikely combo, but Suspiria does that to perfection. Being a remake of the 1977 film of the same name, this utterly terrifying film from director Luca Guadagnino delivers some shocking visuals, bloodcurdling moments and has enough in it to give you a nightmare. The film features Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swilton in the lead, and while some of its narrative elements might not be easy to comprehend, the end result is indeed very satisfying.

 

Lights Out (2016) - Amazon Prime

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Produced by James Wan, this horror thriller is straightforward with its concept and the world that it sets itself in. Though you may not find great character sketches here, the thrills are effectively manufactured with proper lead-ins to jump scares and some good acting. Old-fashioned horror at a runtime of just over 80 minutes.

 

Mirrors (2008) - Amazon Prime
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This horror-thriller was panned by most of the critics out there, but what it offers is a simple plot with a really cool concept where ghosts jump out of mirrors. Kiefer Sutherland finds himself in real trouble here, and while the narration turns out to be a little messy, there are enough scares all through. Alexandre Aja, the man behind many worthy films such as The Hills Have Eyes, High Tension and the recent Crawl, came up with this engaging little film that wasn’t celebrated much.

 

Orphan (2010) - Amazon Prime

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A very different horror film, that gets you afraid without any jump scares or shocking imagery. A couple, who recently lost their baby set out to adopt a nine-year-old, who turns out to bring a truckload of evil along with her. Jaume Collet-Serra, who has collaborated with Liam Neeson for many interesting thrillers, changed paths to present this terrifying thriller that has a solid final twist.

 

Ready or Not (2019) - Disney + Hotstar
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No ghosts here, but just a perfect representation of how the rich be and behave. Samara Weaving plays Grace, a woman who marries the man of her dreams. But slowly, she realizes that she has to survive a game where her in-laws chase her to… kill her! Packed with riveting moments, sweet twists and a lot of blood, Ready or Not is a highly entertaining film that puts a new shade on the genre.

 

Hush (2016) - Netflix

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One of the best slasher films out there, and a pretty underrated one at that. Made on a shoestring budget, it follows a deaf writer who finds her time of solace in the forest home, only to be left running into a masked killer who wants to take her down at any cost. With only five characters, a spoofy feeling throughout and great treatment all-round, Hush is one film you shouldn’t miss. The ending will definitely surprise you.

 

The Cabin in the Woods (2012) - Netflix
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What starts off as a usual teen drama quickly changes gears and moves into dark territory, with loads of turns that you won’t see coming. It’s a nice new changeover from the usual horror films that we usually run into, with interesting characters all over who manage to keep our brain busy until the very end. Intense, clever and highly recommended.

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