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The Scariest Movies You've Never Seen

This content was paid for by Sony and created by Looper.

When it comes to horror movies, fans have tons of options. Whether it be bloody slashers, home invasions, or spine-chilling ghost stories, there's something to tickle the fancy of every person who wants to be spooked. Yet, every time someone blinks, a new movie comes out. According to Statista, 403 films were released in the United States and Canada in 2021. Multiply that number by a few years and it's easy to see why it's impossible to keep up with, never mind watch, absolutely everything out there.

As a result, there are more than a handful of scary movies that slip through the cracks or fly under your radar. Many of these films might have found a new lease on life on streaming services, while others became straight-to-video legends. Scouring through the haunted mansions and hidden passages of yesteryear, we have discovered a collection of terrifying treats that deserve more attention and celebration. From one of John Carpenter's most underrated films to a Stephen King story that started off as a movie rather than a novel, here are some of the scariest movies you've never seen.

The Covenant

Filmmaker Renny Harlin has been the brains behind many fan-favorite films such as "Die Hard 2," "Cliffhanger," "Deep Blue Sea," and "Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master." However, one of his most underrated movies is 2006's "The Covenant," which starred a young Sebastian Stan, Steven Strait, Chace Crawford, Laura Ramsey, Toby Hemingway, and Taylor Kitsch. The supernatural horror tells the story of four warlocks who need to band together to prevent another warlock from destroying their town, Ipswich. There's an abundance of magic, mystery, and mayhem, with a promising young cast that would go on to dominate Hollywood years later in their respective careers.

While "The Covenant" wasn't warmly received by critics upon its arrival, it's one of those films that has grown on the audience over the years and become recognized for all it did right. It holds a 62% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and has its legion of fans that have dreamt of a sequel for the longest time. For those who can't get enough of it, the film also received its own prequel comic book miniseries from Top Cow, per CBR.

Deliver Us from Evil

Scott Derrickson is a director synonymous with the horror genre, having helmed modern-day classics such as "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "Sinister," and "The Black Phone." Another film of his that deserves more love and recognition from the masses is 2014's "Deliver Us from Evil." Based on the reports of an NYPD sergeant and an original story developed by Derrickson, this film follows a cop (Eric Bana) who joins a priest (Édgar Ramírez) to fight an outbreak of demonic possessions taking place across New York.

"Deliver Us from Evil" did the business in theaters, garnering over $87 million from a $30 million budget (via Box Office Mojo). In the Boston Herald's review, the director's vision was cited as one of the best parts of the film: "Derrickson keeps you jumping with the usual in-your-face cuts and piled-on gruesome imagery." Successfully blurring the lines of different genres, "Deliver Us from Evil" takes all the scary elements of possession horror and infuses it with crime drama into a well-crafted and compelling feature that merits multiple viewings.

Stephen King's Sleepwalkers

If the master of horror wants to write a script, no one should stand in his way. In 1992, author Stephen King decided to write for the screen first, penning a feature that would become known as "Stephen King's Sleepwalkers." Directed by Mick Garris, this bloodsucking film centers on two vampiric creatures, Charles (Brian Krause) and Mary (Alice Krige), who are the last of their kind and need to feed on the life force of female virgins to survive.

If anyone has ever read a King novel, they'll understand his lust for the macabre and desire to unnerve at every turn. While "Sleepwalkers" borders on camp at some points in the middle of the film, it's the perfect nightmare fuel for horror fans who may want something different from their evening's viewing. According to comments made by Garris on his podcast Post Mortem (via JoBlo), there were plans for a sequel. The treatment had reportedly been written by King's wife, Tabitha, and featured a women's basketball team as the central focus of the story. Reportedly, the author had been extremely enthusiastic about his wife's vision for the follow-up, even though it never came to fruition.

Hollow Man

There have been several film adaptations of H.G. Wells' "The Invisible Man" story. One that tends to fly under the radar is Paul Verhoeven's "Hollow Man." Don't be fooled by the change in name, though — as it's as terrifying and unsettling as Leigh Whannell's "Invisible Man" from 2020. In Verhoeven's film, the titular character is a scientist named Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon), who takes a serum that makes him invisible. Unfortunately, when his team tries to reverse the effects, they fail, leaving him in his unseen state. Sebastian defies the instruction to remain in the laboratory while his team attempts to figure out a cure for him. Instead, he uses his invisibility to commit despicable and atrocious crimes.

In typical Verhoeven fashion, he provokes the viewer by showing much of the movie through Sebastian's eyes, titillating the audience with the forbidden but alluring aspect of voyeurism. TheFilmFile.com's Dustin Putman gushed about the special effects, which were incredibly revolutionary for the year 2000. "The process in which someone or something becomes invisible is superbly realized, as the skin is first stripped away, followed by the vital organs, and then the skeletal system," Putman wrote. "The computer-generated effects, which are another step forward in motion picture technology, makes everything that is happening believable, and therefore, more threatening."

The Shallows

When someone mentions aquatic horror, the first film that comes to mind is Steven Spielberg's seminal shark startler "Jaws." Jaume Collet-Serra's "The Shallows" didn't try to regurgitate the same formula for his survival horror film; instead, the lens focuses on a surfer (Blake Lively) who gets stranded out at sea. Land is within swimming distance for her, but she needs to escape a great white shark that seems hungrier than usual. Not only does Collet-Serra capture the fear of stepping into the water with one of nature's greatest predators, but also the dread of isolation and having no one else around to assist.

"The Shallows" was certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, receiving a critical approval rating of 78% from 220 reviews. IGN's Simon Thompson showered the film with the ultimate praise, writing: "'The Shallows' does for surfing what 'The Blair Witch Project' did for camping and makes 'Jaws' look like a children's tea party." The 2016 film also performed extremely well at the box office, bringing in over $119 million from a $17 million budget, per Box Office Mojo.

When a Stranger Calls (2006)

In modern times, it might be difficult to prank or threaten someone over a call, since hardly anyone ever actually picks up their phone anymore. However, in the past, it was eerie when a stranger dialed those digits and became a little too close for comfort. In 2006's "When a Stranger Calls," a remake of the popular 1979 film, a poor babysitter named Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) gets harassed and tormented by an unidentified caller (Lance Henriksen) for almost an hour and a half. This Simon West-directed film shakes the audience to the core as it's clear the stranger can see Jill and what she's doing, while she has no clue where he is, ensuring there's constant tension cutting through the scenes.

Belle and Henriksen are joined by an excellent cast featuring the likes of Tommy Flanagan, Tessa Thompson, Katie Cassidy, and Clark Gregg. It's a horror flick with some serious star power, as it's an early snapshot of how performers such as Thompson and Gregg already possessed the skills to go on to become household names in the future. In a positive review of the film, 7M Pictures' Kevin Carr wrote: "In a culture of gore and splatter films, it's nice to see a real nail-biter with well done suspense for a change."

The Possession of Hannah Grace

Demonic possession is a common trope that horror films have exploited for many years now. From spider walking down the stairs to cussing out priests with the sort of language that would make Eminem blush, it feels like we have seen it all in this subgenre. However, 2018's "The Possession of Hannah Grace" throws an upside-down-crucifix-shaped monkey-wrench into the mix. After an exorcism goes badly wrong, the body of the deceased Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson) is transported to a morgue. There, night shift worker Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) notices that something isn't quite right — and paranormal activities begin to happen as soon as Hannah's corpse is brought in.

"The Possession of Hannah Grace" takes a different route compared to other demonic possession stories. It asks the question: could a demon still reside in a body that has perished? Nightmarish Conjurings' Michelle Swope hailed the film as "a truly scary film and a unique and creative take on the subgenre." One thing is for certain here, though: no one will look at a morgue the same way again after watching this creepy feature.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

Question: Which is the best "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" film of all time? Answer: It's a trick question. They're all excellent in their own outrageous way and bring something new to the story. The fourth installment in this classic horror franchise, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation," introduces the audience to a pre-fame Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey, who portray Jenny and Vilmer respectively. This time around, four teenagers fresh from their prom night run into Leatherface and the rest of his human flesh-eating family. Expectedly, raging chainsaw shenanigans ensue and everyone screams in terror.

Written and directed by "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre"' co-writer, Kim Henkel, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation" isn't afraid to go off the wall when it needs to. Surprisingly, it manages to take the bizarre tone of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" and amp it up to 11, while still maintaining a frightening and ominous presence that chills to the core. Reviewing the film for Variety, Joe Leydon stated: "Henkel is ferociously efficient at keeping the audience in a constant state of jumpiness as Jenny tries to escape the old dark house where the Leatherface clan resides." No one can argue with that assessment.

Evil Dead (2013)

Rebooting Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead" is risky business. After all, how can a film compete with the triple threat of Bruce Campbell's Ash Williams, the curse of the Necromonicon, and the ghoulishness of the Deadites? Rather than lean into the horror comedy junctures of the original trilogy, director Fede Álvarez went full-blown horror with 2013's "Evil Dead," which had a tagline of "the most terrifying film you will ever experience." As it turns out, it wasn't simply a marketing ploy to get people into the theaters, as most people gasped at the sheer amount of gore on screen.

Serving as a soft reboot as well as a continuation of the main series, "Evil Dead" throws people into a cabin in the woods as the audience watches them being attacked and possessed by evil entities. Despite the strong affinity and goodwill towards the original Raimi films, both reviewers and viewers agreed that Álvarez's movie was very good. The Atlantic's Christopher Orr praised the film's faithfulness to the original. "A stylish and worthy homage: inventive even as it is derivative, never quite jokey but never taking itself too seriously, and clocking in at an entirely appropriate 91 minutes," Orr wrote. It also helps that Campbell's Ash makes an appearance in the post-credits scene.

John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars

Filmmaker John Carpenter is remembered for his phenomenal work on "Halloween," "Escape from New York," and "The Thing"; however, "Ghosts of Mars" is the perfect merging of all the genres he's famous for. Written, directed, and scored by Carpenter, the film follows law enforcement officers as they transport a prisoner to a Martian outpost. As they arrive on the planet, they are attacked by miners who are possessed by the spirits of an ancient Martian civilization. There's only one thing they can do to survive: fight. It's a sci-fi horror with more than enough action, delivered by the likes of Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Clea DuVall, Pam Grier, and Jason Statham.

As per The Guardian, "Ghosts of Mars" actually had its origin as "Escape from Mars," another installment in the Snake Plissken series. However, after "Escape from L.A." failed to light up the box office, Carpenter decided to give Snake some time off and reworked the story into an original and unconnected property. While the film wasn't an immediate hit when it was released in 2001, it has developed a cult following. In a retrospective about the movie, film-authority.com wrote: "The public didn't get it, but 'Ghosts of Mars' has a lot going for it; great action scenes, some cool tension, a wonderful score from Carpenter and funny dialogue."

Prom Night (2008)

Most horror fans would have been familiar with 1980's slasher cult hit "Prom Night," which starred Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen. In 2008, a loose remake was released that sent shivers down the spine of anyone getting ready for their big senior-year celebration. In this version of the film, a high school student named Donna (Brittany Snow) recovers from severe trauma after witnessing her obsessed teacher (Johnathon Schaech) eliminate her family to get closer to her. On her prom night years later, the teacher escapes from prison and stalks her, destroying anyone who tries to get between them.

Variety's Joe Leydon praised the film for creating an atmosphere that didn't overly rely on gore, stating: "'Prom Night' is a surprisingly effective teen-skewing thriller that soft-pedals graphic violence (in marked contrast to the R-rated 1980 original) while generating a fair degree of suspense." The film didn't do too badly at the box office when it was released, either, generating over $57 million worldwide from a $20 million budget, per Box Office Mojo. In the years since then, "Prom Night" has developed a reputation as a fun slasher film for a Friday night in, with some inventive scenes and unexpected jump scares.


Sci-fi and horror are a lot like peanut butter and jelly. They beautifully blend together into a delicious combination that should delight anyone with a pulse. In the case of Christian Duguay's "Screamers," it asks the question: what if "Blade Runner" had been conceived as a horror film where the replicants broke bad? Based on author Philip K. Dick's "Second Variety" story, the film takes place in 2077 where artificial robots known as screamers are used in an interplanetary war. However, these screamers soon become sentient and turn on their creators in harrowing ways.

Starring Peter Weller and Jennifer Rubin, "Screamers" took a long time to reach the big screen and went relatively unnoticed upon its release. However, it found its audience in the home video market and even saw a sequel, "Screamers: The Hunting," being released in 2009. Reelviews' James Berardinelli compared "Screamers" favorably to other big horror and sci-fi films. "'Screamers' oozes atmosphere," he wrote. "It's a dark film that borrows heavily from the likes of the 'Alien' films, 'Dune,' 'Blade Runner,' and John Carpenter's updated 'The Thing.'" That sounds like all the elements for a good time right there.