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The Scariest Travel Horror Movies Of All Time

Holidays and trips are generally supposed to be fun-filled occasions when a person and their friends or family get to enjoy fresh scenery away from the monotony of home. But since horror movies' favorite thing to do is subvert the expectations of what should happen when everything is going smoothly, when travel goes wrong in a genre movie, it goes fully into a lower circle of hell for everyone involved. Where relaxation might have originally been the name of the travel game, everyone's plans must quickly shift from tourist/traveler to survival mode as they battle supernatural and/or human monsters, often to the death.

Travel horror movies have spectacularly high body counts as the protagonists struggle to stay alive in the added stress of an unfamiliar or foreign land they must navigate along with whatever fresh horror the story brings into their orbit. From family reunions gone wrong, road trips run off-road, the spooky side of international relocation, plane crashes, and even research voyages abroad that end in murder and mayhem, these are the scariest travel horror movies of all time.

Don't Look Now

Based on Daphne DuMaurier's chilling novel of the same name, Don't Look Now follows John and Laura Baxter after the drowning death of their young daughter Christine in the pond next to their English country home. Overwhelmed by grief and post-traumatic stress, the Baxters send their son to boarding school in London and the couple retreats to Venice, where John will be helping restore an ancient church. While enjoying a canal-side meal, the Baxters meet Heather and Wendy; Heather claims to be psychic, and has messages for the Baxters from Christine. Heather says Christine's spirit has been following them around. 

Told in a phantasmagorical style that weaves a variety of enigmatic imagery throughout the movie, Don't Look Now sees John become obsessed with a child's figure he sees running around Venice in the same red raincoat his daughter used to wear. Time also becomes slippery as John's grief plays tricks on his mind, all the while reports of a serial killer roaming Venice adds another menacing backdrop to this lush, haunting, and shocking installment of travel horror.


When Adelaide was a little girl she went with her family to Santa Cruz, California on vacation. While there, she wandered off and encountered a doppelgänger who assaulted her, and the experience left her temporarily mute. 

Decades later, Adelaide returns to Santa Cruz with her husband Gabe and their two children Zora and Jason, even against Adelaide's better judgment and her terrible premonition that little girl she once saw was out to hurt her. When a family appears on their doorstep, looking just like them, Adelaide's nightmare turns into her family's too, as the violent interlopers terrorize and torture the family. 

As it turns out, there is an entire world of people living underground who share a soul with their identical twins above, and they have surfaced to reclaim lives that were taken from them in this ghastly experiment. As our heroes battle their Tethereds, the truth of Adelaide's shocking past is finally revealed in a terrifying and heartbreaking climax, securing Us as one of the scariest travel films ever.

Death Proof

As if airports aren't uncomfortable enough, in Quentin Tarantino's grindhouse film Death Proof, an airport is the hunting ground for a serial killer named Stuntman Mike who chooses his female victims in the parking lot. The first half tells the story of Austin DJ Jungle Julia, Shanna, and their visiting friend Arlene, who meet Stuntman Mike at local bar. Arlene notices Mike's creepy muscle car with an aggressive skull and lightning bolt design on its hood and suspects he's been following them. As the night winds down, Mike claims that his stunt car is death proof, but only for the person driving it, as he vehicular murders Pam to go on to crash his car into Shanna's, brutally killing the group of women and somehow surviving. 

In the next chunk of Death Proof, Stuntman Mike targets a group of stunt women in Lebanon, Tennessee who've just picked up their friend Zoe Bell (playing herself) visiting from New Zealand. Zoe's plan is to play ship's mast on a white Dodge Challenger, which just happens to be available for sale locally. With Bell performing her own stunts on the hood of the car, Death Proof is an adrenaline-fueled exercise in terror as the women fight to survive their encounter with one of the screen's most unusual serial killers.

An American Werewolf in London

"Stay off the moors" are the very simple instructions that American tourists David and Jack receive while backpacking through Scotland. But the two men stray off the road and find themselves lost in the swamps and summarily attacked by what they thought was a wolf. Jack is killed on the spot and David badly mauled, waking up days later in a London hospital being tended by a beautiful nurse named Alex who invites him into her home. Unfortunately for David, he finds out the hard way that it wasn't a wolf that attacked him — it was a werewolf, and now he's turned into one too, terrorizing London and brutalizing its citizens. 

While there are definitely comedic elements to An American Werewolf in London thanks to director John Landis' dark sense of humor, make no mistake that this movie is absolutely horrifying. David is haunted by the ghosts of his victims as well as Jack, whose body decomposes throughout the film, and it also features one of the best and most painful-looking werewolf transformations in horror history. The ending is as tragic as it is heart-wrenching.


After her sister stages a murder-suicide that includes their parents, a traumatized Dani decides to go to along with her anthropologist boyfriend Christian and his classmates to Sweden for thesis research. While the scenery is beautiful and lush, drenched in light as Sweden's summers only have a few hours of darkness each night, Dani and company quickly sense that not everything is as idyllic as it appears on the surface. This foreboding kicks into overdrive when the group is invited to witness a suicide ceremony that takes the lives of the two oldest members of the community. 

Is it the steady stream of hallucinogens that the visitors are drinking or is something more sinister going on as one by one, the foreigners disappear from the village until only Dani and Christian remain? Midsommar is a technicolor nightmare that ends as horrifically as it started, making this one of the creepiest travel horror movies of all time.


Paxton and Josh are quintessential "ugly Americans" backpacking across Europe via train, behaving badly and not feeling even remotely responsible to act any other way. On their travels, they meet a guy who tells them they should go to Bratislava, Slovakia because women there are famously beautiful with liberal sexual inhibitions. But after a night of wild partying with said women, first their Icelandic friend Oli goes missing, then Josh and a Japanese tourist named Yuki.

When Paxton is kidnapped, we quickly realize that tourists are being bought and sold on the dark web in order to be tortured and killed by their purchasers. The monsters in Hostel are very human, and while many find the film more gory than scary, it certainly made a lot of people reconsider their backpacking trips across Europe for years after the film came out.

The Visit

Fifteen years ago, Loretta broke off contact with her parents after she eloped with her professor, a union her folks disapproved of that ended in a violent altercation between the three of them. But now Loretta's kids Tyler and Becca are curious about their family, and Loretta arranges for them to take the train and stay with Nana and PopPop for a week while Loretta goes on a cruise with her new boyfriend. Having never even seen a photo of their grandparents, Tyler and Becca have no idea what to expect, but they certainly don't expect to see Nana running around naked at night and projectile vomiting, or PopPop's weird behavior and strangely menacing stories. There's also a strange smell coming from the basement which the kids have been told is mold, but turns out to be far from it. 

By the end, everyone's holiday's were ruined and the body count reaches five, quite a feat for a film with a small cast of just eight people. In classic M. Night Shyamalan style, the twist in The Visit is hard to see coming and is sufficiently scary to have made this one of the most disturbing travel horror movies of all time.

The Grudge

Karen Davis is just a regular American exchange student in Japan sent on a simple task to take care of a housebound American living locally. But what Karen doesn't know is that Emma's house is haunted by the horrifying specter Kayako, who was murdered by her husband along with their child and even their pet in a fit of his jealous rage. Her restless spirit turned into a demonic entity due to the violence of Kayako's death, and this entity now comes with a curse that falls on anyone who enters her dwelling. 

All of Karen's best attempts to defeat Kayako fail, and in the end this American in a Tokyo suburb finds herself fully enmeshed in Kayako's terrible story. Filled to the brim with effective and disturbing jump scares as well as a truly creepy story based on the original Japanese film Ju-On, The Grudge will make you think twice about that exchange program, or going anywhere at all outside the safety of your own curse-free home.


After a shipwreck that finds Jenn washed ashore along with her badly injured friend Brad on a deserted island, she is further horrified to find the graves of a family long dead buried on the island. Using her wits, Jenn cobbles together what she can of their belongings to try and save Brad, but it's already too late. She buries him along with the family and waits for rescue. But after night falls, she sees and hears a monstrous creature coming out of the water and onto land. It devours what was left of Brad's body. 

Sweetheart features a powerhouse performance by Kiersey Clemons as Jenn battles not just the aquatic monster that has a taste for human flesh, but also the strange circumstances that led to the shipwreck in the first place. When her boyfriend Lucas and frenemy Mia show up on the island, their erratic and abusive behavior is as terrifying as the creature who has been terrorizing Jenn for days. Sweetheart features both human and supernatural monsters on the remote island, securing its place as one of the more unique (and scariest) travel horror movies of all time.

The Descent

As extreme sports enthusiasts, Sarah and her friends meet every year in a different place around the world to tackle whatever the local physical feat would be, from rock climbing to white water rafting. But after a terrible car accident in Scotland kills Sarah's husband and daughter, the next time the friends meet in North Carolina to spelunk Appalachian caves is a melancholy reunion for a still-grieving Sarah who is also suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. While cave diving deep through a narrow corridor — The Descent is a claustrophobic's nightmare come to life — a cave-in blocks the group of women, who soon find that their group leader Juno has taken them into an unknown cave system with no apparent way out as they continue down, down, down. 

As if the enclosed spaces weren't already terrifying enough, the women are quickly set upon by a group of flesh-eating humanoid monsters who have adapted perfectly to cave living. As the women use their considerable skills to find their way out, their friendships are put to the test as much as their physical abilities and primal survival modes. The European ending is one of the grimmest you'll ever see, but even the American version with a sole survivor remains a most terrifying example of travel horror.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

While road tripping, Sally, her brother Franklin, and their friends make the mistake of picking up a hitchhiker between towns. The hitchhiker is an odd duck and creeps the group out even before he pulls out a razor and cuts Franklin, forcing the group to kick him out of the car. Reeling from the strange encounter, they continue on their trip with one detour to a local swimming hole that ends up being their next big mistake. 

The pond is next to the Sawyer home, which houses a demented family of torture murderers who also like to eat their victims, and it's not long before Leatherface and his chainsaw are after Sally and her friends. Tobe Hooper's brutal Texas Chain Saw Massacre is so scary particularly because of the banal settings of a road trip and back-country Texas that become the backdrop to some of the most disturbing imagery ever put to screen.

You're Next

When Erin travels with her boyfriend Crispian Davison to his family reunion at their huge vacation estate in suburban Missouri, she's nervous about meeting his wealthy family for the first time, especially since she didn't grow up as a person of means. When things begin getting tense at the first group dinner, Erin thinks it's just family drama playing out — until an arrow flies through the dormer window, killing Aimee Davison's boyfriend Tariq and wounding the older Davison brother, Drake. 

All of their cellphones go dead and soon a group of intruders wearing animal masks breaches the mansion and brutally stalks and kills Davison family members one by one. As Erin uses her skills from a traumatic survivalist childhood to outwit the killers, she discovers that Crispian has his own terrible secrets, which have turned him and his brother Felix into the worst kind of human monsters. Family reunions are always complicated in one way or another as dysfunctional family dynamics can rise to the surface. But in You're Next, these tensions turn deadly, making us all wonder about skipping our own. 


Tara and her friends travel to Ireland from the U.S. to visit with their local buddy Jack to explore the Irish countryside as well as its natural abundance of magic mushrooms for a different kind of trip entirely. Jack warns them of the difference between psilocybin mushrooms and the dangerous death's bell mushroom that can provoke serious psychosis. Tara gets confused, though, and accidentally pops a death's bell, prompting a seizure.

On their jaunt through the glorious moss-covered woods they come upon an abandoned building that Jack later tells them was a children's home until the head monk in charge went mad and killed a bunch of people. Already having consumed their fair share of hallucinogenic mushrooms, Tara starts having even more disturbing visions of her own that might be premonitions about her friends' murders at the hand of said monk. 

But as the body count rises and the menacing monk along with his various familiars sets an unsettling scene in such a lush surrounding, we find out that nothing is quite what it has seemed, nor is Tara who we think she is. Shrooms is a cautionary tale about following simple instructions when visiting a foreign land. Your life could totally depend on it.

Wrong Turn

Jessie Burlingame and her friends are on their way to a hiking and camping trip in the West Virginia hills when their tires suddenly go flat. As they investigate, they realize that the road has been booby-trapped and their concern shifts to who might be targeting them. In the process, they connect with a medical student named Chris who'd been sent down the same wrong turn as Jessie, Carly, Scott, Evan, and Francine as the attacks on the group escalate. While the group fights for survival, they discover their stalkers are a group of inbred cannibal killers who enjoy playing terribly with their food before murdering and cooking the folks they entrap off that beaten path. 

Wrong Turn features a solid hat-tip to Stephen King's Gerald's Game character Jessie Burlingame, and Jessie in the movie is even handcuffed to a bed just as she is in King's story. While the quality of the many sequels to Wrong Turn quickly devolved, the original is taut and suspenseful with sufficiently terrifying human monsters to make it one of the scariest travel horror movies of all time.

The Ritual

After a robbery gone wrong takes Rob's life while his friend Luke witnesses the incident, Rob's four best friends decide to voyage to Sweden in his honor. Against the backdrop of this terrible trauma as well as the lush Swedish landscape (which is actually the Carpathian Mountains of Romania), the four friends honor Rob's memory until Dom badly injures his knee and can't walk. The group decides to cut through the forest in the hopes of getting back to civilization faster, but they soon find a number of disturbing elements including gutted animals and strange little objects everywhere. 

Tensions in the group rise after they find a cabin filled with esoteric objects and paintings that seem to have a hypnotic effect on the group, among other things. Luke soon realizes they are being stalked by something massive and inhuman in the woods as his friends are snatched one by one, triggering his trauma of Rob's murder too. By the third act of The Ritual, the folk horror aspects are fully revealed as Luke must make a choice for his own life and redemption. This violent and grotesque tale of a memorial holiday gone totally off the rails should really make you just want to stay home.