Movies you should never watch alone

Generally speaking, friends make life better. With them around, you laugh harder, smile wider, and can finally see the bright side of that one really embarrassing moment that had you subconsciously cringing for weeks on end. They even elevate the film-watching experience to greater heights, transforming chuckle-worthy comedies into all-out giggle riots; dramas that would normally leave you only misty-eyed now have you in a puddle of tears. But sometimes, a friend, a partner, or even a parent is absolutely vital to make it through a movie. Whether it's to commiserate with you over a super-sad pick or to remind you that spooky forest witches don't really exist when you're watching a horror film, there are certain movies that you should never watch alone.

The Ring

Despite the decidedly dated piece of technology at its center, this movie about a haunted videotape has actually become even more acutely unsettling since its release in 2002. Back then, you'd have to deliberately put the tape in your VCR and press play; but since the advent of digital media, you could end up watching the whole accursed horrifying thing on the internet before you knew what hit you. (It's like a rick-roll that ends in death!) Plus, if you watch The Ring, you have also by definition seen that video. Watch this with a trusted friend to keep the fear at bay… or watch it with a group of people you loathe just to make sure that little Samara has multiple murders on her to-do list, giving you a better shot at survival.

The Descent

Down we go further into the rabbit hole of blood-chilling terror, with the aptly-titled adventure-horror The Descent. Released in 2005 during the height of the grisly Saw franchise's reign, this British-American film tells the tale of a few adventurous young women gearing up for a spelunking trip in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. All goes well, and even seems slightly cutesy, as the girls pack their bags and settle into a quaint cabin in the woods–never a good accommodation in a horror flick. All goes sour when they drop into the cave with no way out. Bathed in pitch-black darkness and surrounded by warped humanoid creatures known as "crawlers" that are hungry for flesh and blood, the women are forced to find a way to climb out of the hole into which they descended.

Dark and deeply unsettling, The Descent is a "chick flick" gone terribly wrong, and its twist ending will pull the breath from your lungs. Just like a cave expedition, watching the The Descent is something you should never do alone.

The Woman in Black

Daniel Radcliffe plays a baby-faced barrister who uncovers a sinister secret in this historical horror movie, which features a creepy gothic mansion, an old-school grudge, and a vengeful ghost with an uncanny gift for convincing kiddos to kill themselves. There's nothing like a good, old-fashioned haunted house story to give you the heebie-jeebies when you watch it alone, but The Woman in Black ups the ante by imbuing every creaking door, every warping floorboard, and every ordinary household object with a sense of freaky foreboding. (And lord help you if you have a cache of dolls or stuffed animals on a shelf in your bedroom; you'll never look at your American Girl collection the same way again.) Even if you don't end up spotting the titular femme fatale in her Victorian veil lurking in a corner, the shadowy walk through your dark house post-viewing is one you won't want to make solo.

The Babadook

Silly name, spooky story. The Babadook, written and directed by Aussie triple-threat Jennifer Kent in her directorial debut, centers around a mother and her son stalked by the titular character, a pop-up book monster named Mister Babadook who threatens multiple murders if anyone denies his existence. Following a series of febrile seizures, violent hallucinations, insomnia-induced blackouts, and acts of physical aggression, all caused by the Babadook, Amelia and Sam try valiantly to vanquish the beast once and for all. Though initial attempts prove fruitless, the journey toward possible success is an nailbiter through and through. It also isn't without its underlying non-horror themes, the most prominent of which are the taboos of parenting and mother-child resentment.

Quite possibly the scariest film released in recent years, The Babadook isn't one to catch alone—and the critics agree. Julia Alexander at Polygon says you'll absolutely need an extra body to hold on to during the film's run: "A brilliant take on the sometimes stale haunted house subgenre, it's genuinely difficult to get through this movie without covering your eyes or grasping onto the arm of the person next to you." Told you so.

Don't Breathe

An opportunistic break-in goes terribly wrong in this film by Fede Alvarez, as a trio of small-time teen crooks try to burgle a blind man who turns out not to be quite as easy a target as he originally appeared. The tables turn almost instantly, leaving the would-be thieves trapped in the dark, unfamiliar house where a misstep or cough will bring a killer coming—and Alvarez keeps the tension at an unceasing fever pitch for the full duration of the movie. Though the terror of this one doesn't linger after the credits roll (unless of course you're an aspiring cat burglar, in which case it'll make you rethink your career choices), you'll still want company while you watch, if only to have a second set of fingernails to bite down to the quick.

Poltergeist

Thirty-five years after its original release, Poltergeist is still a who's who of terrifying tropes: ghosts reaching out through the scrambled signals on your TV, man-eating trees lurking outside your window, evil clowns hiding under your bed, and a portal to another dimension casually stuffed into the closet. And no matter how long it's been since you first saw it (or how certain you are that you haven't disturbed any ancient native burial grounds to dig your in-ground pool), it's still got that certain je ne sais quoi that makes even the most cookie-cutter suburban tract house—not to mention your big-screen TV—feel like it might be full of otherworldly threats. Without a friend by your side, you'll be too creeped out to continue on by the first time little Carol Anne says, "They're heeeere!"

Antichrist

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe star in this experimental horror flick—one of the most polarizing movies of 2009, thanks to its twisted narrative, obscure plot, and viscerally disturbing sexual content. Centered on a couple grieving the death of their son, the movie starts out with a graphic sex scene and delves into some seriously dark places as it explores themes of motherhood, grief, misogyny, and sexual violence. Viewed solo, Antichrist is just a little too much like weird porn—the kind that leaves you feeling confused, alarmed, embarrassed, and vaguely ashamed of yourself for having watched it. But if you organize a screening with a few friends, then you can officially call it a "film salon" followed by a "group discussion" of the movie's "thematic depiction of eroticized self-loathing." Doesn't that sound fancy?

It Follows

2014's horror darling It Follows sparked a new wave of smartly scary flicks—and understandably so, as it's a film unlike any other in its genre. Directed by David Robert Mitchell, this movie simmers with traditional elements of the supernatural and the psychological that have been skewed in a suburban setting. It replaces blood-filled slashings with an overwhelming, constant sense of dread and impending doom, and breaks free from the usually restricting themes of teenage horror films. Maika Monroe as Jay, Keir Gilchrist as Paul, and Olivia Luccardi as Yara are a fantastic trio that play the somewhat naive teenagers with laser precision, and the mysterious entity, "it," that tracks them down will have you triple-checking over your shoulder the next time you hear even the faintest of footsteps behind you. (You might even be slightly wary of sex … you'll see why.)

It Follows strings you along, leaving you sweaty and skeptical but wholly satisfied, and will follow you long after its final scene.

The Human Centipede

There may never be another body horror film as thoroughly, utterly repulsive as The Human Centipede…except maybe the Human Centipede sequels, which are just like The Human Centipede, but grosser. In this first entry in the series (known colloquially as "First Sequence"), a demented scientist kidnaps three people and surgically attaches them mouth-to-anus to create the titular "centipede"—a procedure touted in the movie's promotional materials as "one hundred percent medically accurate." Despite a broad consensus that The Human Centipede is profoundly disgusting and lacking in all respects except a unique premise, it still rated decently with critics. But much like its central, monstrous surgical creation, this movie just doesn't work as a solo undertaking.

Funny Games

The only thing freakier than a group of masked intruders invading your home is a group of intruders who aren't wearing masks at all, for obvious reasons—and that's what makes Funny Games such a damned unsettling piece of cinema from the get-go. Director Michael Haneke has almost too much fun with his sadistic premise, complete with a fourth-wall-breaking moment that comes just in time to make you realize how hard you were pulling for a ridiculous, impossible happy ending. Honestly, it's just mean. But with a few horror movie aficionados watching alongside you, you can put your feelings aside sooner to appreciate the manipulative artistry of it all.

The Chaser

Thrillers meant to shake you to your very soul are often framed as a "true story" or inspired by events that "totally happened, guys." And even more frequently, audiences brush it off as a little white lie, a part of the total package of selling a scare. This one is different. The Chaser (2008) is a South-Korean crime-thriller genuinely based on the real-life mass murderer Yoo Young-chul, a backstory that makes for an all-killer, no-filler fight to the finish.

Strapped for cash, Joong-ho, a morally corrupt former police detective turned pimp, puts his prostituting ways on pause for a brief moment as he goes back to his old ways to track down his missing pack of girls—all of whom vanished before resolving their debts to him. As the sprinkling of clues begins to form one giant web around him, Joong-ho connects his lack of funds to one particularly sadistic client with a taste for blood. The Chaser blends serial-killer suspense, the gritty neo-noir landscape of Seoul, and breakneck pacing that begs you to read between the lines. It's creepy, criminal, and oh-so cool.

As the film fights against the ticking clock and nears its end, you'll need one friend to yell profanities over the plot with and another to keep your heart rate at a normal level.

I Spit on Your Grave

When it comes to this original torture-porn premise, revenge is a dish best served cold—and shared with as many friends as possible. Whether you watch the original 1978 version or the updated, equally-disturbing 2010 reboot, I Spit on Your Grave is far more enjoyable if you can get together a group of fierce (and ideally feminist) friends to cheer on Jennifer Hills as she exacts meticulous, gruesome vengeance on the group of vile hillbillies who gang-raped her and left her for dead.

Contracted

What's the worst thing that could happen when you have unprotected (and questionably consensual) party sex with a random stranger? Contracted thoroughly answers that question, and oh man, it's so much worse than an STD. This movie combines a pair of old-school horror tropes—zombie pandemics plus sex-equals-death—into something a little fresher… or, uh, maybe that's not quite the right word considering what happens to the protagonist over the course of the film. Pro tip: Don't watch this movie alone, but don't queue it up for date night, either.

Deliverance

A bromantic river-rafting trip turns into an all-out, life-ruining nightmare in this classic from 1972, starring Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds back in their heyday as chiseled leading men. Deliverance was a multiple Oscar nominee the year it was released, which makes it a damn fine movie by all accounts. But thanks to That Scene (no, not the one above with the banjo kid; the other one for which the movie is famous), it makes for damn uncomfortable solo viewing. Like a trip down the Cahulawassee River, the narrative journey of Deliverance is one better taken with a few close friends.

Lake Mungo

This underrated Aussie horror flick is a suspenseful slow burn from start to finish, as it tells the story of a family consumed by grief in the wake of their teenage daughter's death. Shot documentary-style and with lots of creepy tension stemming from barely-glimpsed threats and unseen things that go bump in the night, Lake Mungo spends nearly every one of its 89 minutes building to an incredibly freaky climax that'll scare you half to death while also leaving you with many, many more questions than answers—which is why you'll need someone to turn to as the credits roll to discuss WTF just happened.

Unfriended

If ever there was a movie best watched with half a dozen of your closest pals, it's Unfriended, in which six teenagers on a group chat find themselves being picked off one by one by an unseen, Skype-based entity that might or might not be the ghost of their dead friend. Unfriended is an original horror story for the social media age, and it's definitely meant to be a group experience—not just because the movie's most shocking moments are much more fun with friends, but because its weak spots stand out pretty starkly if you don't have a raucous crowd to help keep the mood going. Feeling extra bold? Make it a virtual get-together and watch it with your besties on a Google hangout… and hope that nobody experiences any, ahem, technical difficulties.

Them

Like many of our don't-watch-it-alone entries, Them (or Ils, depending on how French you want to be about it) centers on the horror of having the safety and sanctity of your home violated by malicious intruders—but this one includes a peculiar twist that's pure nightmare material. The plight of Lucas and Clémentine, whose scary story begins with a few small, ominous signs that they're not alone (a tap left running, a car moved), ramps up into an expertly-paced game of cat-and-mouse that concludes with a memorable and deeply disturbing ending… which is capped off with the unsettling claim that it's based on "true events." If Them happened to them, it could happen to you.

The Collector

What happens when a burglar breaks and enters a home that's already been targeted by another, more sinister kind of criminal who's there to take lives instead of things? That's the central question in The Collector, yet another riff on the tried-and-true home invasion thriller. In this one, the twist comes in the form of dueling felons plus a host of creative death snares that turn the entire house into a series of kill rooms. You might be able to make it through this one alone—despite having originally been envisioned as a prequel to the Saw franchise, it's not especially gory—but you'll still want someone there afterward to help you check your home for booby traps, just in case.

Hard Candy

Before she earned raves for playing Juno MacGuff or walked through walls as Kitty Pryde, Ellen Page cut her teeth on a very different kind of role as the sadistic, iron-hearted Hayley Stark in Hard Candy. A 14-year-old who has "victim" written all over her at the start of the film, Hayley quickly turns the tables on Jeff (Patrick Wilson), the 32-year-old photographer and probable predator she met on the internet; after inviting herself to his home, she drugs him and tortures him in a series of brutal scenes that seem to go on forever. Between its killer suspense and dark subject matter, Hard Candy isn't a comfortable viewing experience, but it's ever so slightly more bearable if you have a companion to share the squick.

Green Room

If you thought those movies were intense, you haven't seen anything like Green Room. An all-out raucous horror picture framed around a dimly lit hardcore punk show, this Jeremy Saulnier film edges on torture porn but spins toward absurdity with elements reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and zooms in on a keen portrayal of what the punk subculture is all about.

The band at the center of the story is The Ain't Rights, featuring the late Anton Yelchin as the bassist Pat and Alia Shawkat on guitar as Sam. They open their set list with a cover of the Dead Kennedy's "Nazi Punks F–k Off" and later find the body of a girl backstage. Realizing she'd been murdered by a gang of neo-Nazi skinheads (led by a chilling Patrick Stewart as Darcy Banker), the members of The Ain't Rights attempt to notify authorities but are themselves attacked by the killers and are forced to fight their way out of the room that once marked a milestone in their career.

While many critics and fans have praised this film for its uniqueness, it's definitely not one to see solo. Even Entertainment Weekly's creative director Tim Leong agrees: "Pro tip: Don't watch Green Room when you're home alone on a Saturday night."

Mama

What can compare to a mother's love? Well, that's exactly what the 2013 Guillermo del Toro-produced movie Mama aims to answer. Starring Interstellar's Jessica Chastain as the hesitant but well-meaning Annabel and Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in a double role as the financially devastated, homicidal Jeffrey Desange and his grief-stricken twin brother Lucas, this supernatural flick delivers both a myth buried in maternity and a whole truckload of scares. From the shadowy figure that lingers over Lucas' two young nieces (who are also feral due to living in the forest with no human interaction for over five years) to the final reveal that's equally as haunting, this film is definitely one worth watching, just not on a one-man mission. (Seriously, having someone, even your own mother, beside you for this one is a must.)

Ex Machina

Robots and red lights and rebellion, oh my! You've likely heard of this Alex Garland-helmed film, or at least seen Oscar Isaac donning a full beard and tearing up the dance floor to Oliver Cheatham's "Get Down Saturday Night." (We know you better than that!) Though that clip is, admittedly, quite hilarious on its own, Ex Machina isn't a film you should see sans company. Weaving the elements of sleek sci-fi with scathing psychological horror, the machine-oriented movie warns of the possible dangers of sentient artificial intelligence and what can happen when you give humans more power than they deserve.

Garland makes his directorial debut with this film—which also stars Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor Domhnall Gleeson and the newest Lara Croft, Alicia Vikander—but you wouldn't know it. Thought up in an all-too-relevant way, Ex Machina is sinister and spooky speculative fiction that feels uncomfortably close to reality, truly a pulp thriller at its best. You'll likely never look at a piece of technology the same way again after giving it a watch, so it's best to have someone by your side to remind you that yes, humans do still exist.

Annabelle: Creation

2017's Annabelle: Creation is the horror movie about a possessed doll that reminded audiences everywhere why horror movies about possessed dolls are so terrifying–and why you should never, ever journey into a room in a creepy old house you've specifically been told to stay out of.

In this David F. Sandberg-directed film, which sets up the events of 2014's Annabelle, Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto star as dollmaker Samuel Mullins and his wife Esther, who are struggling to come to terms with the accidental death of their seven-year-old daughter Annabelle (a.k.a "Bee"). It's not until 1955, 12 years after Bee's tragic passing, that the Mullins appear healed, having opened their home to nun Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and her group of orphans–all girls, not much older than Bee was when she died. Seemingly taken by her new surroundings, the polio-stricken orphan Janice (Talitha Bateman) goes against the Mullins' strict orders and enters Bee's old bedroom–where she discovers an eerie possessed doll that unleashes a ruthless demon on the house. Janice's findings unspool a string of brutal killings, horrifying revelations, and the creation of an entity far more petrifying than the porcelain princess in the closet.

Let's just put it this way: you're going to need a friend hand to hold during the movie and to help you wipe your scare-sweat-covered face after it's over.