The movie industry has never been in better shape, and there are more options than ever when it comes to how individuals participate in the cinematic experience. Some cinematic stories, like the horror genre, are always in vogue and ready to terrify unsuspecting audiences. There are several frightening horror movies that viewers shouldn’t watch alone.
There’s something undeniably entertaining about a movie tricking the viewer into experiencing genuine fear. This is why horror movies can often connect on a deeper, more visceral level than other types of films. A tense atmosphere is crucial in the horror genre, which means that viewing them alone can be too much.
Updated October 9, 2023 by Daniel Kurland: This list has been updated to reflect a more recent reflection of horror selections that take a broader perspective into account. Additionally, five new entries have been added so that the list is more substantial in nature. The list’s general information and links have also been updated to give a more current account of CBR’s content with the most recent material being pushed forward.
Runtime: 87 Minutes
Mike Flanagan has steadily become one of the most groundbreaking names in horror between television series like The Haunting of Hill House and movies like Oculus. Hush is Flanagan’s take on the home invasion genre, but he manages to make the experience even more isolating and terrifying through its deaf and mute protagonist in peril.
A masked assailant victimizes Kate Seigel’s heroine in what turns into a gripping “cat and mouse game” between these two that’s as suspenseful as it is scary. Flanagan adopts a less is more approach that aids Hush, as well as exceedingly smart characters. The movie is at its strongest when it’s watched alone so that the audience truly feels Maddie’s isolation and helplessness.
Runtime: 110 Minutes
Scott Derrickson made waves as Doctor Strange’s director, but his roots lie in horror and Blumhouse’s Sinister is such a scary and accomplished cinematic calling card. Ethan Hawke’s Ellison is a true-crime writer who gets lost in a series of snuff films that he finds in his house. Ellison’s fascination with these disturbing relics triggers a compelling mystery that hints at the presence of an evil supernatural force.
The various “home videos” that Ellison finds in Sinister are truly nightmarish and hard to watch. Hawke really sells the idea that this upsetting mystery starts to eat away at his character’s psyche. A solitary viewing experience makes it even easier to get caught up in Ellison’s unhealthy state of mind.
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Kyle Edward Ball’s Skinamarink is one of the most polarizing and unique horror films to come out in recent years. The low-budget experimental movie is highly evocative of David Lynch and feels more like a waking nightmare than a conventional narrative. Skinamarink effortlessly recreates the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night, as a child, and being scared of what lurks in the shadows.
The film is filled with unconventional cinematography where negative space fills the screen. Its original approach makes Skinamarink‘s evil feel real and intense. It’s an even more frightening experience to watch alone where the movie’s haunted visuals and sound design can fully wash over someone.
12 The Thing
Runtime: 109 Minutes
John Carpenter’s The Thing remains a horror and science fiction classic four decades later and it still contains some of the best practical effects ever committed to the screen. The Thing is a tense tale of fears and paranoia that’s built upon a shapeshifting alien’s infiltration of a group of research scientists.
Confined to a remote cabin, The Thing really hammers in the feeling of being trapped, especially if it’s being viewed alone. Admittedly, a group watch of The Thing is likely to stoke viewers’ paranoid flames and trigger distrust. A solo watch emphasizes the universe’s many dangers and the horrors that lurk outside.
11 Evil Dead Rise
Runtime: 96 Minutes
Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy continues to be heralded as a genre masterpiece, but there have been some modern takes on the franchise between 2013’s Evil Dead and 2023’s Evil Dead Rise. Evil Dead Rise tells a touching story about family that’s trapped in an apartment complex rather than the franchise’s trademark cabin locale.
Evil Dead Rise feels just as claustrophobic as its predecessors as a simple family slowly gets pulled apart by dark Deadite forces. There may be no Ash Williams, but Evil Dead Rise might be the bloodiest entry in the series.
10 Paranormal Activity
Runtime: 86 Minutes
There are seven movies across the Paranormal Activity horror franchise, which helped re-popularize the found footage subgenre for the modern generation. The principle in horror that “less is more” works exceedingly well, which Paranormal Activity beautifully uses to its advantage. The low-budget and small-scale poltergeist story patiently depicts a gradual supernatural interference that plagues a loving couple.
Some of the subsequent sequels hit greater heights, but the simplicity of the original Paranormal Activity still gives it an eerie edge. The movie’s ability to get under the audience’s skin is even greater when they’re all alone and lost in their nervous thoughts.
9 The Descent
Runtime: 100 Minutes
The Descent is one of the best British horror films to come out in the past few decades, and it makes a strong case for female-led genre pictures. The movie begins with a group of friends who embark on an underground spelunking expedition that’s supposed to help them collectively grieve and heal their past wounds.
What follows is a literal fight for survival as the explorers run into subterranean cannibalistic creatures. The less that’s said about the movie’s unnecessary sequel, the better, but the original Descent is still a masterpiece in storytelling and tension that’s too terrifying to view alone.
Runtime: 116 Minutes
There is no shortage of horror properties from the 1970s and ‘80s that have received endless sequels or modern revivals, but there’s still enthusiasm for the Alien franchise. The Alien series continues to transform in curious ways that pull the story in different directions.
Action frequently takes precedence over scares in the sequels, but the original movie is a taut horror film that offers no escape. A whole horde of Xenomorphs is terrifying, but the first Alien movie finds huge success by just pitting one apex predator against an overwhelmed crew. The visceral body horror and surprising deaths in Alien are even worse during a solo viewing session.
Runtime: 114 Minutes
The haunted house subgenre is one of horror’s most reliable performers, but so many of the niche’s tropes get established in Poltergeist. This aggressive horror movie focuses more on creative set pieces and foreboding scares than an overly complicated backstory for its haunted home.
Poltergeist still holds up and the collaborative efforts between Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg elevate the ghost story to something special. Poltergeist has chilling practical effects that are still effective today, and it’s one of the worst movies to watch alone at home since the house is the primary predator.
6 The Ring
Runtime: 115 Minutes
There’s endless debate over the merits and disadvantages of American remakes of foreign movies, but the fact that both The Ring and Ringu can coexist and deliver different styles of horror is proof that remakes are not an inherently bad idea. The Ring crafts a compelling mystery over a disturbing videotape that causes whoever watches it to perish in a week’s time.
The Ring hits the ground running and only continues to accelerate with its premise. There’s nothing more frightening than watching the movie alone and then receiving a random phone call. The Ring was such a groundbreaking success that it’s largely viewed as being responsible for the embrace of “J-horror” and remakes of foreign hits.
5 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Runtime: 83 Minutes
2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre legacy sequel is the ninth film in the gritty slasher series, but each of these releases has had diminishing returns and struggled to recapture the raw dread of the original 1974 classic. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre doesn’t have a revelatory premise, but the movie’s uncomfortable aesthetics almost make it feel like a snuff film.
There’s such an aggressive evil that unexpectedly strikes throughout this nightmarish journey. The evil and abusive Sawyer family and their house of horrors can more effectively get under the viewer’s skin when they’re all alone.
Runtime: 82 Minutes
L’Interieur, also known as Inside, is an extreme French horror film from 2007 that’s one of the most brutal and unrelenting takes on the home invasion genre. Other home invasion horror stories like Funny Games and The Strangers are effective in their blunt nature, but there’s palpable dread that’s present in L’Interieur, which depicts a heavily-pregnant woman’s struggle to survive against a determined assailant.
L’Interieur delivers a ferocious cat-and-mouse narrative that doesn’t hold back and goes out on a truly unsettling image. There’s such a fragile nature to the film’s main target, and it becomes an even harder watch when it’s viewed alone.
3 The Night House
Runtime: 110 Minutes
Rebecca Hall is already a name to look out for, and her nuanced performance in The Night House perfectly demonstrates how she throws absolutely everything into the roles she takes on. The Night House begins as a somber meditation on grief and loneliness that gradually lets its sinister and supernatural tendrils take over the storytelling.
There are remarkable visuals that empower The Night House’s final act, but it’s also a heartbreaking story that wallows in sadness. The Night House should be mandatory viewing, but it becomes such an emotional experience that it shouldn’t be watched alone.
Runtime: 127 Minutes
Ari Aster only has two feature films under his belt, but he’s already becoming one of the most exciting names in horror due to movies like Hereditary and Midsommar. Hereditary establishes Aster’s melancholic voice with a paranormal occult story that’s interwoven with a fractured family’s melodrama.
Hereditary is an extended exercise in dread and many people can’t handle its bleak tone and raw visuals. It’s for this reason that Hereditary is an abrasive movie to watch alone and without a support staff that can inject levity into the situation.
Runtime: 91 Minutes
John Carpenter’s original Halloween is nearly 45 years old, and it’s still one of the most frightening movies that has ever been made. An abundance of Halloween sequels and reboots have made sure that Michael Myers is a permanent fixture of slasher cinema, and while Michael has become more violent and determined over time, the happenstance nature of the first film plays a major factor in why it’s such a terrifying experience.
Michael isn’t overanalyzed at this point, and he truly feels like an evil that’s on an unstoppable and indiscriminate rampage. There’s a simplistic approach to Carpenter’s tactics that make Michael’s presence pop. He truly feels like a boogeyman who’s brought to life, so it might be hard for audiences who are home alone to witness Michael’s murderous spree.
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