Although Halloween has already passed, November still carries a sense of horror. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holiday season right around the corner, it makes sense, then, that there are plenty of scary movies with a festive vibe amid these holidays. What better way to spend your free vacation time than watching movies that will send chills down your spine or help you prepare for the winter season?
As you might expect, many of the movies on this list are in the Christmas spirit, but from a horror perspective, eg Krampus and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Other movies, eg Hereditary and Midsomer, more in line with the turn of cold weather that prevails this time of year. Whether psychological horror or full-on horror, let’s take a look at the best horror movies you can watch this holiday season.
10/10 Hereditary (2018)
Written and directed by Ari Astor in his feature directorial debut, Hereditary This is a psychological horror movie starring Toni Collette and Alex Wolff. It’s the story of a family grieving after the death of their mother/grandmother, but it soon turns into a nightmare when their house is haunted by a single man. They are consequently forced to learn a lot about their ancestors. With its widespread critical acclaim, Hereditary became A24’s highest-grossing film of all time (via Deadline). The acting performances embody the perfect blend of moving yet disturbing. Look for obvious violence, loss of a loved one, PTSD, and more.
9/10 Krampus (2015)
Who doesn’t love a Christmas-themed horror film based on European folklore? Directed by Michael Dougherty, Krampus Starring Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and David Koechner, among others. It is the story of a dysfunctional family whose constant fighting causes the family’s young son to lose his sense of celebration and accidentally arouses the wrath of Krampus, a creature who punishes naughty children at Christmas. As a result, the dysfunctional family is forced to save each other from the monster while simultaneously realizing the importance of the family unit. Scott’s performance in particular brings a huge amount of emotion to the story and makes it even more enjoyable.
8/10 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Created and conceived by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, The Nightmare Before Christmas Originated from a short poem Burton wrote while working for Walt Disney. However, it was Selick who brought it to life and made the movie a holiday classic. It is a stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy, telling the story of Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, who stumbles upon Christmas Town, and immediately falls in love with it. His love soon turns into an unhealthy obsession when he decides to hijack Christmas by kidnapping Santa Claus. It’s the perfect movie to watch, with rustling leaves, freezing rain, and light rain hitting the windows.
7/10 The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Silence of the Lambs It is a psychological horror film directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins as the lead characters. The plot centers on FBI agent Clarice Starling (Foster), who sets out to capture a serial killer known as “Buffalo Bill”, a cannibalistic serial killer she has previously imprisoned, Dr. Hannibal seeks help from Lecter. Not only is the film often classified as one of the best horror films, but also as one of the most influential films in history. The movie features a love story/relationship between an agent and a serial killer. The poetics of the characters and story make this a culturally significant American film, providing an extra chill in this cold, holiday season.
6/10 Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Written and directed by Roman Polanski, Rosemary’s Child It is a psychological horror film starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon. It centers on soon-to-be-pregnant Rosemary, who, after moving into a new house, begins to suspect that her elderly neighbors are grooming her baby to use in a satanic ritual. The film deals with themes of irony, women’s liberation, Christianity and magic. Many wish Rosemary was given some sort of agency at the end of the movie instead of being passive, but other than that, the movie is considered one of the best horror movies in history.
5/10 Good Care (2016)
good care is a psychological horror Christmas movie directed by Chris Peckover and starring Olivia De Jonge, Levi Miller and Ed Oxenbold. DeJonge plays babysitter Ashley, who visits a suburban home to watch over a 12-year-old boy during the holidays, only to protect him from unexpected intruders in the home. It’s a dark and twisted take on the classic holiday home invasion comedy, home alone.
4/10 This (2017)
As the first of a two-part adaptation of the 1986 novel of the same name by Stephen King, this is a supernatural horror film directed by Andy Muschietti. It stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis and Finn Wolfhard. Centered on a Losers’ Club consisting of seven young boys, they are forced to deal with the eponymous It, who lures children and feeds on them. Aside from the clown aspects, the young boys must also face their inner traumatized demons. What makes this movie so fun for the holiday season is definitely the mix of humor and creature-chilling terror delivered by the young cast.
3/10 Face Without Eyes (1959)
Eyes without a face is a French-language horror film co-written and directed by Georges François and starring Pierre Brasseur and Alida Vallée. The story revolves around a crazy doctor who basically removes the faces of beautiful girls and tries to graft on his daughter’s disfigured face. Due to European film standards at the time, the film received criticism for its gore and was said to have caused disgust. However, over the years, it gained a positive reputation as a moody poetic horror.
2/10 Get Out (2017)
Written, co-produced, and directed by Jordan Peele in his directorial debut, go outside A psychological horror film starring Daniel Kaluuya, Alison Williams, Bradley Whitford, and Catherine Keener among others. If you are one of those who enjoyed watching this film, you know why it deserves such high critical acclaim. It centers around a black man, who decides to visit his white girlfriend’s family for the first time, unaware of the horrors he is about to face. What separates it from other horrors is its allegory of racism and cultural appropriation.
1/10 Midsomer (2019)
Last but not least, we have a slightly different kind of horror. Midsomer is a folk horror directed by Ari Astor and starring Florence Pugh and Jack Raynor as the main characters. The story follows a dysfunctional couple who travel to Sweden on vacation, only to find themselves in the clutches of a sinful cult that practices paganism. This movie shows how easily people can fall into cults without realizing it. The film was especially praised for Astor’s direction and Pugh’s incredible acting performance.