The 25 Best Indie Horror Movies to Watch When You Need a Good Halloween Scare

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With armed riots and COVID potentially around every corner, horror is still an ever-present part of all our lives. Fortunately, indie horror movies provide a safe platform for all thrill-seekers to get their shrieks and screams in without actually having to put themselves in harm’s way.

Thanks to production companies like Blumhouse and A24, independent horror is currently undergoing a bit of a renaissance. Filmmakers who grew up watching some of the earliest indie horror movies are now out there creating their own grim worlds for audiences to lose themselves in. Whether it’s supernatural or psychological horrors that tickle your fancy, read on to learn more about the best indie horror movies, if you dare.

1. 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'

Release Year: 1974

Who's in It: Marilyn Burns, Gunner Hansen, Allen Danziger, William Vail, Edwin Neal, Paul A. Partain

The granddaddy of slasher films, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is one of the most infamous indie horror movies ever released. Directed and co-written by Tobe Hooper, the film follows a group of traveling friends who fall prey to a family of torturous cannibals. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre has so much going for it, but it’s impossible to mention this film without mentioning the oldest cannibal of them all: Leatherface.

This chainsaw-wielding madman has become one of the most iconic figures in horror and his first appearance perfectly displays why he is still such a creepy, terrifying force today. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre made its mark as a violent and messy film, but it also deserves praise for its realistic feel and solid ensemble performances.

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2. 'Night of the Living Dead'

Release Year: 1968

Who's in It: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne

George A. Romero isn’t the first director to utilize zombies in his films, but he certainly popularized and enshrined the brain-eating creatures in modern pop culture. With Night of the Living Dead, he follows what happens when a group of seven individuals is stranded and locked inside a farm together while being attacked by mindless monsters.

Loosely inspired by Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, Night of the Living Dead is both tense and creepy while being comical and excellently paced. The film's OG status obviously solidifies itself as one of the oldest and best indie horror movies around.

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3. 'Martyrs'

Release Year: 2008

Who's in It: Mylène Jampanoï, Morjana Alaoui, Catherine Bégin, Isabelle Chasse

If you like indie horror movies that make you feel incredibly uncomfortable, then Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs might be for you. This French film follows two young women as they try to seek revenge for a past crime, a decision that leads them straight into the torturous and sadistic hands of a cult-like organization that believes pain brings people closer to God.

Tense and incredibly bloody, Martyrs has a spiritual and philosophical throughline that adds an interesting layer of depth to the project. Even though Saw predates Martyrs by four years, Martyrs doesn’t hesitate to show people being mutilated and tortured in a much more severe and squirmish way than its American rival; in fact, it revels in the misery that it inflicts upon its characters.

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4. 'Climax'

Release Year: 2018

Who's in It: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub, Kiddy Smile

After being quarantined for what feels like an eternity, a psychedelic dance party sounds pretty damn good right about now. Climax, an ensemble film that features tons of improvisation and interesting motion, sees a group of dancers come together for a good, old-fashioned '90s warehouse afterparty. Unfortunately, the night takes a turn for the worse when everyone starts acting angry and confused as it becomes clear that the party punch was spiked with acid.

Written, directed, and co-edited by Gaspar Noé, the film is highly technical, featuring long, jarring takes; on top of that, it isn’t afraid to put the camera right in the middle of incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes violently shocking moments.

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5. 'Eraserhead'

Release Year: 1977

Who's in It: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Jeanne Bates, Judith Anna Roberts, Laurel Near, Jack Fisk

Now, this just might be one of the best indie horror movies we've ever seen.

Anyone who has seen Twin Peaks knows David Lynch is no stranger to creepy, atmospheric filmmaking, but this quality dates all the way back to Lynch’s feature-film debut, Eraserhead. A twisted metaphor about the horrors of parenthood, the film follows a man named Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) as his life is turned upside down upon learning that his “girlfriend” gave birth to a grotesque baby.

Silly at moments due to the uncomfortable tension hanging over everything, the film is both surreal and disturbingly sexual in a way that makes it tough to stop watching. The character work and industrial setting are certainly alarming, but Lynch also excels at creating ghastly soundscapes that make everything creepier and harder to comprehend in the best way.

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6. 'Green Room'

Release Year: 2015

Who's in It: Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart, Joe Cole, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat

Writer and director Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room doesn’t deal with supernatural entities or grotesque body horror, but it's still an incredibly tense, horrifying watch. A touring punk band takes a last-second gig without realizing they accidentally agreed to perform at a neo-Nazi club. Instead of avoiding a hostile scene, the punk rockers escalate the situation during their performance and find themselves locked in the green room scared for their lives.

The film has many fantastic performances, but Patrick Stewart’s turn as Darcy Banker, the intimidating and loyalty-demanding neo-Nazi leader, proves the classical thespian still has a hard edge. In 2022, the thought of being locked in a room with a bunch of angry skinheads is more relevant and terrifying than ever, and Green Room is an adrenaline-fueled ride about this group’s desperate struggle to escape with their lives.

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7. 'Get Out'

Release Year: 2017

Who's in It: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, LaKeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, Lil Rel Howery

When comedian, Jordan Peele, made the transition to mainstream writer and director with Get Out, he took the cinematic world by storm. Structurally, the film is a romantic comedy gone very wrong, but the racially-charged satire and tense conversations make it feel more like a psychological thriller.

Full of fantastic performances, the most memorable was Daniel Kaluuya's as Chris Washington, a man understandably nervous to meet his girlfriend’s family who gradually realizes things aren’t as they appear. Get Out is both charming and funny while also being intensely dark and dripping in poignant societal criticism.

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8. 'Hereditary'

Release Year: 2018

Who's in It: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd

Writer-director Ari Aster’s debut feature film, Hereditary, is the perfect blend of psychological and supernatural horror. After the secretive matriarch of the Graham family dies, things slowly start to unfold for everyone else in the family. As the Grahams lose their grip and start to grasp their grandmother’s dark secrets, things quickly spiral out of control.

This is definitely a situation where the less scare-seeking viewers know going into the movie the better, but just know that Hereditary knows how to take its time and get under the viewer’s skin. Full of incredible performances, Toni Collette in particular was sorely overlooked at the 2019 Academy Awards for her work in this movie.

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9. 'Train to Busan'

Release Year: 2016

Who's in It: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Su-an, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee, Kim Eui-sung

Zombies have evolved a lot since Romero re-introduced them in Night of the Living Dead, and no movie ups the zombie-ante quite like Train to Busan. A Korean film mostly set on a singular train that is making its journey to the port city of Busan, Train to Busan is set in the earliest moments of a zombie outbreak.

As the passengers travel, the country slowly starts breaking down and the outbreak becomes present on the sealed train. Hectic and claustrophobic all at once, the film is heavy on emotions, effective jump scares, and action-packed moments that make it one of the most entertaining twists in the undead genre.

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10. 'The Witch'

Release Year: 2015

Who's in It: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Kate Dickie, Lucas Dawson, Sarah Stephens, Bathsheba Garnett

Part-period piece and part-supernatural horror, Robert Eggers' feature-film debut, The Witch (stylized as The VVItch), is best described as an incredibly detailed nightmare. Set in a New England settlement in the 1630s, the film focuses on a Puritan family who's trying to build a successful life when they come into contact with demonic forces.

Inspired by Eggers’ own fascination with witches, the film doesn’t deliver direct scares per se, instead, it makes the viewer sit in the unknown of each moment as the family is slowly torn apart. Heads up for anyone who may not be aware though, part of why this film can be described as “incredibly detailed” is due to Eggers' decision to use painstakingly accurate dialogue and dialects, something that can take a moment to get used to.

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11. 'Goodnight Mommy'

Release Year: 2014

Who's in It: Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz, Susanne Wuest

Goodnight Mommy, a psychological horror from Austria, knows how to make its viewers stir in their chairs. Co-Directed and co-written by filmmaking team Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, the film follows two brothers after their mother returns home from surgery. Since she is adorned with full facial bandages that make it impossible for her kids to confirm whether or not it’s really their mother, the two begin to suspect that it's actually an imposter in their home.

A tense and bloody ride, Goodnight Mommy turns into a full-out war between the young boys and their “mother” as they struggle to learn the truth and survive being trapped inside with her.   

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12. 'Funny Games'

Release Year: 2007

Who's in It: Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet

It’s rare that people truly get second opportunities in life, but writer-director Michael Haneke completely remade his own 1997 movie, Funny Games, in 2007 with brand new performers like Tim Roth and Naomi Watts. Pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the original except for the fact that it’s in English, the film is the perfect meta encapsulation of why you don’t talk to strangers.

When the Farber family visits their lake house, they come into contact with two young men who quickly turn from awkward conversations to sadistic games. Rather than simply rob the family and escape quickly, the two young men—played wonderfully by Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet—take their time embarrassing and torturing the family, making it clear that sometimes normal people are worse than monsters. 

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13. 'The Lighthouse'

Release Year: 2019

Who's in It: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe

Spending time with Willem Dafoe alone on a lighthouse sounds terrifying by itself, but Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse turns that uncomfortable scenario into a manic nightmare when a new lighthouse keeper (Robert Pattinson) comes aboard right before a powerful storm.

Like Eggers’ other entry on this list, The Witch, the film pays careful attention to details, making sure everything from dialects to set decoration is as authentic as possible as the two men spiral out of control in the isolated setting. Shot in black and white with a squared, 1:1 aspect ratio, the old-school aesthetic adds to the film rather than serving as a flashy technique that distracts the audience.

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14. 'Halloween'

Release Year: 1978

Who's in It: Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle, Donald Pleasence, P. J. Soles, Nancy Kyes, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards

Directed and co-written by horror legend John Carpenter, Halloween sees a deranged serial killer escape from an “insane asylum” and return to his hometown to wreak havoc on Halloween night. Six-year-old Michael Myers killed his sister, and now, 15 years later, he’s ready to kill some more.

A classic slasher film full of tense moments, Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance in the movie as high school student, Laurie Strode, proves exactly why she has earned the title of "scream queen." At this point, Michael Myers is one of the most infamous Halloween costumes, but the original movie is definitely still worth seeing for anyone who wants to know why he’s such an iconic killer. While the film is more mainstream now, it was definitely one of the biggest indie horror movies at the time of its release.

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15. 'Enter the Void'

Release Year: 2009

Who's in It: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy

Life can be strange, but it can be even stranger when you’re on psychedelics. Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void, structured after the infamous Tibetan Book of the Dead, sees Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) have an out-of-body experience after being shot by the police during a drug sale.

Heavy on neon lights and flowing camera movements, the film excels at making the audience also feel like they are in the middle of an uncomfortable, world-shattering trip. Enter the Void is more of an avant-garde art film than pure horror, but it's still incredibly unsettling and takes the audience on a wild, memorable ride. 

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16. 'Bone Tomahawk'

Release Year: 2015

Who's in It: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, Evan Jonigkeit, David Arquette, Sid Haig

A horror-western set in the 1890s, Bone Tomahawk is writer S. Craig Zahler's directorial debut feature film. Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) has to assemble a group in order to rescue some individuals who have been kidnapped. The only problem is that they weren’t kidnapped by outlaws looking for quick cash—they were taken by cannibals.

Unafraid to get grotesque, Bone Tomahawk is truly one of the most brutal films I’ve ever seen as Sheriff Hunt and his gang struggle both physically and mentally to survive and get the job done. Despite its B-movie qualities, the film is actually stacked with an amazing ensemble of actors like Richard Jenkins, Patrick Wilson, and Matthew Fox, whose performances elevate the entire movie.

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17. 'Let the Right One In'

Release Year: 2008

Who's in It: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl

When people think of vampires, adult figures like Dracula and Lestat are probably the first things that pop into their minds. Let the Right One In, a Swedish film written by the man who wrote the 2004 novel it’s based on, inverts things by having the central vampire be a young girl.

Equal parts comedic, kiddy romance and dreadful exploration of how dark people can be, Let the Right One In is both shockingly violent and heart-achingly sweet, sticking with viewers for a long time. While the film did have an entertaining American remake later on in 2010, the original is far superior at creating both tense and loving atmospheres. 

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18. 'Little Monsters'

Release Year: 2019

Who's in It: Lupita Nyong'o, Alexander England, Josh Gad, Kat Stewart

Sometimes, indie horror movies need a shot of cuteness and positivity to really land, and Little Monsters has both of these qualities in spades. Written and directed by Abe Forsythe, the film follows a group of quirky characters led by Lupita Nyong'o and Josh Gad as they try to protect a group of young students from a hectic zombie outbreak that's taking place around them. The zombies in Little Monsters are deadly and terrifying, but the way the film blends in comedy makes it a unique, must-watch. 

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19. 'The Human Centipede'

Release Year: 2009

Who's in It: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura

The two-girls-one-cup of the horror world, The Human Centipede is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. A Dutch film that follows Lindsay (Ashley Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie), two American tourists on a European vacation, things quickly go south when the tourists are kidnapped by a good, old-fashioned mad scientist who's working on a comical yet extremely dangerous torture method that sees people sewed together anus-to-mouth.

It’s hard to call The Human Centipede a good movie with a completely straight face, but the way it excels at making viewers uncomfortable makes it a one-of-a-kind horror experience that everyone needs to see at least once. And while it's maybe not the most pleasant viewing experience, it's definitely a firm entry in the most creative indie horror movies ever made.

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20. 'The Invitation'

Release Year: 2015

Who's in It: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Husman, Emayatzy Corinealdi

With COVID still ripping through people’s homes, a big, group dinner sounds terrifying for a lot of reasons right now, but director Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, which focuses on a group of old friends reuniting over dinner two years after a traumatic experience, makes it a terrifying get-together for a whole different kind of reason.

Unafraid to take its time and make people second guess all of the confusing, tense actions taking place on the screen, The Invitation is an explosive film that also does a wonderful job at exploring the emotional and psychological damage trauma can have on one’s life.

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21. 'Spree'

Release Year: 2020

Who's in It: Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton

Spree blends comedy and horror into one as the film tracks Kurt Kunkle (Joe Keery), a driver for a rideshare service who—in the hopes of going viral—murders his passengers live for all of his viewers to see. And while the film didn't get the highest of praises with a current 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, Joe Keery's performance as Kunkle was widely applauded.

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22. 'X'

Release Year: 2022

Who's in It: Mila Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, Scott Mescudi

Just recently released towards the beginning of 2022, X is an updated take on the classic slasher genre, set on an extremely rural piece of land in Texas, which already sounds like the perfect place for a good 'ole murdering. Basically, a production team behind a pornographic film is set to shoot on the property, though while filming there, the crew realizes that they're being stalked by a serial killer.

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23. 'Creep'

Release Year: 2014

Who's in It: Mark Duplass, Patrick Brice

Created by Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice who both star in the film, as well, Creep is filmed as if it were simply footage found by someone after the events of the story occurred. Duplass plays Josef, a videographer, while Brice portrays Aaron, a man with a brain tumor who only has a short time left to live.

Their worlds collide when Aaron hires Josef to record a video diary for his unborn child, though as time goes on, he realizes that Josef is fairly disturbed and decides to cut ties with him. However, things don't turn out to be as simple as that when Josef begins to stalk Aaron. Due to the film's success, it was given a sequel, Creep 2, which aired in 2017; a third movie is in the works, which would solidify Creep as one of the best indie horror movies and series in the modern day.

Watch on Netflix

24. 'His House'

Release Year: 2020

Who's in It: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith

A Netflix original, His House centers around two refugees—Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku)—from South Sudan, Africa, who flee to the U.K. with their daughter, Nyagak, in hopes of a better life free from war. As they settle down in an old, dilapidated house just outside of London, the couple realizes that their house is possessed by an unknown evil presence.

As a whole, the film received extremely high marks from critics, earning itself a solid 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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25. 'It Follows'

Release Year: 2015

Who's in It: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe

A quick horror film clocking in at just around 100 minutes, It Follows puts a spotlight on Jaime "Jay" Height (Maika Monroe), who becomes a target of a supernatural entity after she sleeps with her boyfriend. Basically, the entity is transmitted like an STD, and the only way to "cure" it is by sleeping with someone else and passing it on to that next person, wherein the entire cycle starts over again.

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