At Esurance, it’s our job to shed light on the unknown and we take it pretty darn seriously. I mean, SR-22 forms, anyone? But why stop at insurance? We think it’s equally important to help people appreciate hidden treasures from all walks of life.
Which is why, in honor of Halloween — more specifically, scary movies to watch on Halloween — I recently handcuffed myself to a chair and began screening all the unjustly ignored and unseen horror movies I could get my Edward Scissorhands on.
While this has admittedly left me a twitching shell of my former self, my unspeakable inner torment means you don’t have to settle for the same old thing this Halloween. Instead, get into the season (and satisfy your inner critic) with these 13 horror movies you haven’t seen.
Berbarian Sound Studio (2012)
Synopsis: A milquetoast sound engineer specializing in nature documentaries is unknowingly hired onto the production of a violent Giallo horror film. At odds with the producer and director, he attempts to preserve his sanity as the project grows unsettling.
Notes from the peanut gallery: Can a film haunt you with nothing but sound? Don’t answer, that was rhetorical. It’s a definite yes.
Watch it if: You’ve ever cut into a head of lettuce and thought, “Wait a minute … that sounds exactly like a goblin attack.”
Don’t watch it if: You have noise-sensitive neighbors.
The Host (2006)
Synopsis: A deadbeat dad sets out to recover his daughter after she’s taken by a hideous, pollution-born monster living in South Korea’s Han River.
Notes from the peanut gallery: A thread of absurd humor distinguishes this monster movie from most American versions, as does its breathless creature reveal sequence.
Watch it if: You’re tired of waiting for Godzilla remakes to actually be good.
Don’t watch it if: You thought the last Godzilla movie was good.
Synopsis: When her sister / roommate leaves for vacation, a young woman harboring intense anxiety and hostility toward the opposite sex isolates herself in her apartment.
Notes from the peanut gallery: As Roman Polanski’s first English-language movie, it set the tone for Rosemary’s Baby with its gothic palette and urban alienation.
Watch it if: You believe the scariest thing of all is one’s own mind (ooh that was good).
Don’t watch it if: The words “gothic palette” and “urban alienation” made you roll your eyes harder than a teen who just got asked how hashtags work.
The House of the Devil (2009)
Synopsis: A meticulous throwback to horror flicks of the ‘70s and ‘80s, this film follows a college student who, desperate for cash, takes on a babysitting job she may regret.
Notes from the peanut gallery: A vivid reminder of just how powerful anticipation and unbearable tension can be.
Watch it if: You’ve been thinking babysitters have had it a little too easy lately.
Don’t watch it if: You’re more of a “Devil-stays-out-on-the-front-stoop” kind of person.
Synopsis: A soon-to-be mom is terrorized throughout one very long night by a woman with mysterious motives.
Notes from the peanut gallery: Be aware: once this thing revs up, it doesn’t stop.
Watch it if: Roller coasters and base-jumping aren’t jangling your nerves like they used to.
Don’t watch it if: You’re home alone or plan to be home alone anytime during, er, your life from this point on.
Kill List (2011)
Synopsis: Part family drama, part crime film, part psychological horror, this British gem follows a former hit man who’s talked into doing one more job.
Notes from the peanut gallery: Once you’ve reached the end, it’s hard to believe how far you are from where you started.
Watch it if: You want an ending you won’t see coming.
Don’t watch it if: You’ll be too scared to pull your hands from your eyes anyway.
Session 9 (2001)
Synopsis: An asbestos-removal crew begins work on a shuttered insane asylum, which may not be as defunct as they thought.
Notes from the peanut gallery: Filmed on location at the actual asylum from the film, this baby is drenched in authentic atmosphere that’s hard to shake.
Watch it if: You ever wondered what Shutter Island would be like if they couldn’t afford extras.
Don’t watch it if: You already think asbestos is frightening enough without the side effect of pure evil.
Synopsis: After getting contacts to correct her lazy eye, quirky and lonely May sets out to finally fall in love. Problem is, she doesn’t take rejection well.
Notes from the peanut gallery: One of the finest black comedies around, but still manages to give you the willies. Perhaps the most memorable central performance on this list.
Watch it if: You’re a compulsive dater looking for a cure.
Don’t watch it if: You find standard rom-coms too emotionally taxing.
Synopsis: A recent widower holds a fake movie audition in hopes of choosing a new girlfriend. He may ultimately want a mulligan.
Notes from the peanut gallery: On pure nightmare potential alone, this fever dream of a movie ranks right at the top.
Watch it if: You thought May sounded good, but wanted to swap out the gallows humor for just the gallows.
Don’t watch it if: You have strong ideas on how acupuncture needles should and should not be used.
Synopsis: Shortly after spotting a menacing stranger beyond his backyard, a man accidentally travels back in time one hour.
Notes from the peanut gallery: Maybe more sci-fi than horror, but I’m powering through. This is proof you don’t need a big budget to craft a whip-tight mindbender you’ll still be unraveling days later.
Watch it if: You’re searching for ideas to spice up suburban life, and book club ain’t cutting it.
Don’t watch it if: You’re a stickler for quantum mechanics (you know who you are).
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Synopsis: Twin sisters return home from a mental hospital and try to resume their lives. But disturbances in the house — both natural and supernatural — get in the way.
Notes from the peanut gallery: As graceful and artfully rendered as any film on this list. Also, though there’s no metric to measure such a thing, I’m crowning this the unofficial king of movies with insanely creepy stuff jumping out of the background.
Watch it if: You prefer horror that unfolds slowly, like intricate origami.
Don’t watch it if: Your attention span’s default setting is “Was that my phone?”
The Descent (2005)
Synopsis: A group of female friends takes a spelunking expedition, but a sudden ground collapse leaves them trapped under the Earth with few supplies … and mounting threats.
Notes from the peanut gallery: A unique blend of gritty and campy that works to heart-stopping effect.
Watch it if: You believe one Sigourney Weaver-type character is good, but 6 is even better.
Don’t watch it if: You, or anyone in your bloodline, is the least bit claustrophobic.
Three … Extremes (2004)
Synopsis: A 3-part anthology from a trio of Asia’s leading directors. In it, an aging starlet yearns to be young, a disgruntled actor voices his displeasure, and a former circus performer gets stuck on her past.
Notes from the peanut gallery: By turns creepy, heartbreaking, and wildly fun, you’d be hard-pressed not to find something to love.
Watch it if: You can never decide on just one scary movie to rent.
Don’t watch it if: One scary movie is already too much.
Martyrs, Excision, Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones, [Rec], Eden Lake, Trick ‘r Treat, Pontypool, Thirst, Black Christmas, The Devil’s Backbone, The Canal, Goodnight Mommy, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Housebound
Have any hidden horror gems we missed? Let out a blood-curdling scream in the comments below. And remember, in case that something going bump in the night this Halloween isn’t a ghost but actually a less translucent, real-life peril, you can rely on Esurance to have your back.