Whether it's Halloween, a rainy night, or you're just getting tired of rom-coms, horror is a genre that's always a solid choice for a movie night. The problem is, a lot of the most popular scary shows and movies are usually filled with blood and guts. If slashers aren't exactly your speed, don't worry. There are plenty of non-gory horror movies to choose from if you're in the mood for a scare but don't want to feel squeamish.
While traditionally, you might think horror is synonymous with gore, that's actually not the case. Some of the scariest films in the history of cinema are less bloody and more thought-provoking. Traditionally, this was because movies without too much blood could score ratings that were under "R" (which meant more viewers and more sales). Now, however, it's because film buffs realize it's not necessarily the blood that makes movies scary, it's the tales they tell.
If you're a fan of ghost stories,
Paranormal Activity or The Conjuring will scratch that supernatural itch. If you want something sexier, watch It Follows or Gerald's Game for horror films that also make great date night watches. Perhaps you want to stick with classic horror. If so, The Birds and Psycho are films everyone needs to see at least once. Whatever your taste, there's a non-gory winner that will make even the most hard-to-please horror buff happy. Love this list? Create a Likewise account to save these recs to your own watchlist and follow Elite Daily for more. You'll always know exactly what to watch next.
Kick off your spooky movie night with
, which checks off all of the boxes: creepy kids, jump-scares, and Daniel Radcliffe. The The Woman in Black Harry Potter alumn plays a widowed lawyer who learns about a vicious ghost wreaking havoc on a town he’s sent to for work.
Piling up a scary body count doesn’t have to be gory. In
the buzzy horror flick , a mysterious beach has the power to kill by rapidly aging anyone who sets foot on it. Oh, and BTW it’s an M. Night Shyamalan movie, so get ready for a massive twist at the end. Old might have been made in the ‘80s, but after watching this classic flick, you’ll quickly see why this film is considered one of the greats (and why television static is so creepy). The story follows a family whose young daughter gets abducted by evil spirits, and you can watch the entire, Poltergeist three-film franchise on HBO for a movie marathon you won’t soon forget.
Getting over the death of a husband is hard, but for this single mother, the fact that her son is deathly afraid of a monster that may or may not be lurking around their house might be harder, as seen in
. If you're a fan of twists and turns and creepy children, this The Babadook 2014 Sundance fave is for you.
Chances are you've already seen
, but when it comes to a non-gory horror movie, the franchise is hard to top. The original 2009 film made "shaky cam footage" all the rage, and considering it's about a young couple trying to catch footage of their haunting with a video camera, it's low-key relatable. Paranormal Activity 06 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Despite its title, the original 1974
was actually filmed to Texas Chainsaw Massacre not be that violent. Director Tobe Hooper wanted to get a "PG" rating for his film, so he took it easy on the bloodshed (and despite there being some, you don't actually see any coming from someone's body). However, his plan didn't work and the MPAA gave the movie an "X" (though it was later downgraded to "R").
Either way, the flick scored an
89% on Rotten Tomatoes and most fans agree: It's the best of the franchise.
A witchy classic,
is a must-watch for anyone who loves a good high school movie, especially with some supernatural revenge added. The story of four outcasts coming together to form a coven and awaken their magical powers is only briefly a little gory — it mostly doubles down on witchy vengeance and a scary turn of events. The Craft
After having sex with her boyfriend, a college student is followed by a killer entity. The only way to stop it is to pass it on to someone else (by, you know, hooking up). This fascinating take on sexuality and transmitted diseases against a backdrop of supernatural horror makes
a must-watch. It Follows
The scariest part of seeing a ghost might just be the fact that no one believes you, something Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) experiences in
. Whether the strange voices and premonitions she sees are related to her husband's (Harrison Ford) betrayal the year prior, you'll just have to watch to find out. What Lies Beneath
I don't know what's scarier, a tape that kills people seven days after they watch it or remembering what it was like to have to rewind a VHS. No,
isn't known for its gore, but it will definitely make you want to sleep with the lights on (and the TV The Ring off) after watching it.
If you have kids or are planning on it in the future, Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic will haunt you long after the credits roll. Following a pregnant woman who believes her baby is otherworldly (like, not in a good way),
is creepy and thought-provoking, which makes it one of those films that will stick with you for a long time. Rosemary's Baby
The 2019 thriller about a lonely woman who befriends some teenagers will satisfy your craving for a psychological rush. Starring Octavia Spencer,
is a fun and chilling watch that will make you think twice about getting too friendly with strangers who let you drink in their basement. Ma
Ornithophobia, or a fear of birds, is pretty common, but after seeing Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 classic, you'll never look at a pigeon the same way again.
is about a series of horrific bird attacks on a town and how one couple tried to live through — and escape — the horror. The Birds
After a man is unexpectedly killed, his spirit haunts the house where he once lived. Unlike other films about hauntings, this one plays on the whole "person in a sheet" concept to create a truly spooky vibe. If you're looking for a deep and artsy film, watch
to find yourself both scared of and sad for spirits left behind. A Ghost Story
Don’t let the
Nightmare Before Christmas-style animation fool you; Coraline is just as terrifying for adults to watch as it is for children. The dark tale of a lonely girl who travels to a parallel dimension that’s much creepier than it initially appears is enough to give anyone nightmares. TBH, you’ll never look at buttons the same way ever again.
Jack Nicholson's take as an unhinged hotel caretaker in
is one of his most chilling roles ever. The movie is based on Stephen King's famous novel by the same name, and while you might want to cover your eyes once or twice (like the scene of the twins or with the elevator), for the most part, the scariness is cerebral. While the sequel, The Shining , is gorier, it's still worth a watch if you're feeling brave enough to stomach a little more blood. Doctor Sleep
Sex games gone wrong are nothing new, but when the result is so psychologically and physically twisted, it will make you triple-check that you have the key to those fuzzy handcuffs close by.
comes from the brilliant mind of Stephen King and will 100% make you avoid isolated cabins for a while. Gerald's Game
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan,
Signs is a 2002 sci-fi thriller that isn't as much outright scary as it is generally eerie. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, this is a great film for a night of thought-provoking chatting after the credits roll.
Sandra Oh got to become a scream queen in the spooky 2022 thriller
Umma, about a woman haunted by the spirit of her abusive mother. The movie is full of scares, but nothing especially bloody. Instead, the dark creatures from Korean folklore instill a twisted horror alongside a meditation on the culture clash of immigrating to a foreign country. 20 The Blair Witch Project
had a tiny budget, it doesn't make the 1999 horror movie any less terrifying. When three film students head to a town to learn about an infamous murderer, things quickly go very wrong as they become part of their own documentary. The Blair Witch Project actually has a funny history. The film was originally made in 1997, but director Michael Haneke wanted to redo it, so he re-filmed it shot-for-shot and re-released it in 2007. Basically, two guys take a family hostage and make them play twisted games just for the "fun" of it. If you're a fan of the 1971 classic Funny Games this flick will feel creepily familiar. A Clockwork Orange
If you want something a little more realistic than ghosts or goblins,
Contagio n, the 2011 film about a deadly virus, hits scarily close to home during times of the coronavirus pandemic. No, there's not a lot of blood or guts, but the freakily familiar vibes viewers in 2021 will pick up on is downright terrifying.
Meeting your SO's parents is scary on its own, but in this thriller, things get even stranger after the awkward introductions. Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams star as a new couple that's about to face weekend from hell in Jordan Peele's smash directorial debut,
. Get Out is the first film in the popular series and follows demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren as they investigate some paranormal hauntings happening to a family. Since hauntings tend to be more creepy and less gory, you can dive into the entire The Conjuring for some not-so-bloody scares. Conjuring universe
Like a horror version of
Groundhog’s Day, follows a college student who keeps reliving the day of her murder. Although the slasher obviously features a ton of killings, none of them are actually that gory. Most of the deaths take place offscreen, with the focus more being on black comedy elements. Happy Death Day
The first film in M. Night Shyamalan's popular Eastrail 177 Trilogy,
is about a man who inexplicably survives a train wreck. The entire trilogy has plenty of superhero elements for supernatural fans and will keep you on your toes with each new installment. Unbreakable
If you haven't seen the famous 1960 psychological thriller that sparked multiple films and the popular TV show
, Bates Motel should be considered required viewing. While there's not tons of blood (and the blood you Psycho do see was actually just filmed with chocolate syrup), the end twist and famous shower scene make it one of the best horror movies of all time.
What's scarier than being chased by someone you're incapable of seeing? Elisabeth Moss stars as Cecilia, a woman desperately trying to outrun and hide from her obsessive ex-boyfriend, Adrian (
's Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who just so happens to have technology that allows him to camouflage into any setting. Come for the every-other-scene spooks, stay for Moss' unmatched performance. The Haunting of Hill House
The ending of this 2016 thriller will absolutely leave you sweating bullets.
follows a group of friends at a lavish L.A. dinner party who become stunned (and horrified) by the host's suggestion for a nightcap. The Invitation
Starring Alison Brie and directed by her A-list husband, Dave Franco,
tells the story of two couples whose Airbnb vacation goes horribly wrong. Not only do the guests suspect they're being spied on, but their relationships get put to the test as a result. The Rental
If you’re craving a twisted, surrealist mystery that’ll have you wondering what is real and what isn’t,
Netflix’s is guaranteed to turn your world upside down. Alison Brie stars as an introverted woman who becomes convinced she was abducted by aliens after her life unravels in bizarre, unexplainable events. Horse Girl
Anya Taylor-Joy cut her teeth in
In it, she plays the mysterious and certainly sinister suspect behind a series of strange, otherworldly events that wreak havoc in her colony. The Witch.
You'll want to lock your doors after watching this one. In
, a couple named Simon (Jason Batemen) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are stalked and preyed upon by former high school classmate, Gordon (Joel Edgerton), who gets a little too close to home — literally. The Gift Don't miss a thing
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