A nightmare is described as a bad dream, a horrific experience, or a person, thing, or situation that is very difficult to deal with. Sometimes it can be all three at once. These are some of the best movies of recent years that live up to our expectations of what a nightmare should be; sure to thrill and get the blood pumping.
For a more specialized nightmare, check out our Movie and TV sections for Aliens, Monsters, Werewolves, Zombies, the supernatural and more.
Top Nightmare Films of 2019
Escape Room (2018)
Six strangers find themselves in a maze of rooms that they must outwit to escape.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nik Dodani
Directed by: Adam Robitel
Top Nightmare Films of 2018
A biologist goes on a dangerous and secret expedition into an unknown zone where she finds that the laws of nature don’t apply.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, and Gina Rodriguez
Directed by: Alex Garland
A Quiet Place (2018)
“If they hear you, they hunt you.” A family in a post-apocolyptic world tries to survive by not making a noise while they are hunted by monsters with extra-sensitive hearing.
Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cade Woodward and Noah Jupe
Directed by: John Krasinski
Bird Box (2018)
In a world where a mysterious force has driven most of the population to suicide, a woman and her children embark on a dangerous journey, blindfolded, through the woods and down a river to find the one place that may offer sanctuary.
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich
Directed by: Susanne Bier
When her mother passes away, a woman and her children begin to unravel increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. Can they outrun their fate?
Starring: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne
Directed by: Ari Aster
Sawyer Valentini relocates to escape from her stalker. While seeing a therapist, she unwittingly signs in for a voluntary 24-hour commitment to the Highland Creek Behavioral Center. Her stay is extended when doctors begin to question her sanity. She believes that her stalker works at the hospital and she will do whatever it takes to get out.
Starring: Claire Foy, Matt Damon, Juno Temple, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
After a mugging leaves Grey Trace paralyzed and his wife dead, he seeks revenge with the help of an AI implant called STEM.
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Melanie Vallejo, Harrison Gilbertson, Betty Gabriel, Benedict Hardie John Malkovich
Directed by: Leigh Whannell
Top Nightmare Films of 2017
Alien Covenant (2017)
While on a voyage to a remote planet, the crew of the Covenant, a colony ship, discover a planet that they think is paradise. While on this new planet, they meet a survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition and begin the fight for survival against a hostile alien species.
Starring: Michael Fassbender,Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Based on a Stephen King Novel, a couple on the rocks retreat to an isolated cabin to try to spice up their marriage. When a kinky game goes wrong, a woman accendentally kills her husband, leaving her handcuffed to the bed with no hope of rescue.
Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Kate Siegel, and Carel Struycken
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Written by: Steven King
Get Out (2017)
Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the stage of dating where it is time to meet the parents. At first, Chris decides that the family’s overly friendly nature is an attempt to hide nervousness over the interracial nature of his relationship, but as the weekend continues, he makes some disturbing discoveries. Can he escape the nightmare?
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Happy Death Day (2017)
A self-centered young college girl relives her death each day until she can figure out who killed her.
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine
Directed by: Christopher B. Landon
Based on a Novel by Stephen King, a group of kids team up to fight a shapeshifting monster, disguising itself as a clown and threatening the children of their small town in Maine.
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard.
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
A psychological supernatural horror film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. A cardiologist and his opthemologist wife live an idylic life with their children until the doctor takes a fatherless teen under his wing. The doctor is forced to make an unsettling decision when the teen’s plan becomes menacingly clear.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Alicia Silverstone, and Barry Keoghan.
Directed and Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Top Nightmare Films of 2016
10 Cloverfeild Lane (2016)
A woman wakes up after a crash in an underground bunker where two men insist that the surface of Earth is uninhabitable. Will she figure out the truth of who she is trapped with before it is too late?
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead,
John Gallagher, Jr., Bradley Cooper, and Suzanne Cryer
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Blair Witch (2016)
After his sister disappeared 17 years earlier, her brother and his friends go to the Black Hills Forrest to get to the bottom of her disappearance. While investigating they find out that there is more truth to the Blair Witch legend than they thought.
Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson, and Valorie Curry.
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
The Boy (2016)
Greta is hired as the nanny for the Heelshire’s son, Brahms. Upon her arrival, things are not as they seemed. The Heelshire’s leave Greta in charge with a list of rules for caring for their “boy”. When the list is ignored, strange things begin to occur. Will Greta make it out alive?
Starring: Lauren Cohan and Rupert Evans
Directed by: William Brent Bell
Written by: Stacey Meneger
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Paranormal investigators travel to Enfield, England to help a family that is experienceing poltergeist activity. They become convinced of the spirit’s existence when the family’s youngest daughter shows signs of possession.
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, and Franka Potente.
Directed by: James Wan
Don’t Breathe (2016)
Three friends are trapped inside a house they were trying to rob by a blind veteran who is more than he seems.
Starring:Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and Stephen Lang.
Directed by: Fede Álvarez
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House (2016)
A live-in nurse suspects that her employer’s house is haunted.
Starring: Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Bob Balaban, and Lucy Boynton.
Directed and Written by: Oz Perkins
The Invitation (2016)
When attending a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife, a man begins to suspect that his ex has more in store for her guests than just dinner.
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman and Emayatzy Corinealdi.
Directed by: Karyn Kusama
Written by: Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
The Shallows (2016)
A young medical student travels to a secluded beach for a much needed break after the death of her mother. When surfing alone, she is attacked by a great white shark. She is then stranded on a rock in the ocean while the predator waits for her in the water.
Starring:Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge, Pablo Calva, Diego Espejel, and Janelle Bailey.
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by: Anthony Jaswinski
Three young girls are abducted by a man with split personalites, one of them a kidnapping murderer. Will the murdering personality win out, or will Kevin’s other 23 personalites prevail?
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Betty Buckley.
Directed and Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
The Witch (2016)
When a family of puritains start a new life on a farm by the woods, they find they are not alone when they encounter an evil force.
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson.
Directed and Written by: Robert Eggers
Top Nightmare Films of 2015
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Set in the old West, a sheriff, a deputy, a cowboy, and a gunslinger set out to rescue three people kidnapped by a savage group of cave dwellers.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox
Directed and Written by: S. Craig Zahler
Crimson Peak (2015)
After becoming enamored with Thomas Sharpe, a mysterious stranger, Edith is swept away to Tomas’ mansion in England. Once there she uncovers a sinister secrect held by her new husband and his sister. Will she be able to escape before she becomes another victim?
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska
Directed and Written by: Guillermo del Toro
The Final Girls (2015)
When going to see the horror movie that her deceased mother starred in, Max and her friends are transported into the movie and must use there knowledge of the horror genre to survive.
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Nina Dobrev, Malin Åkerman, and Alexander Ludwig
Directed by:Todd Strauss-Schulson
Written by: Joshua John Miller, M.A. Fortin
It Follows (2015)
After having sex for the first time with her boyfriend, Jay finds out that she has been cursed. Death now follows her, stalking her. Will she be able to defeat it with the help of her friends?
Starring:, Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, and Lili Sepe
Directed and Written By:David Robert Mitchell
When a child causes the whole family to lose their Christmas spirit, an ancient demonic spirit comes to punish them.
Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, and Krista Stadler.
Directed By:Michael Dougherty
A father will stop at nothing to save his daughter when she has contracted a virus that turns her into a zombie.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, and Joely Richardson
Directed By:Henry Hobson
Life seems ideal for this suburban family until the youngest daughter begins talking to imaginary friends that turn out to be ghosts. Soon after spooky occurances start to happen.
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, and Jane Adams.
Directed By:Gil Kenan
The Visit (2015)
Two children are sent to visit their mother’s parents for the first time. When strange things begin to happen after bedtime, they have to figure out what is wrong and get help before their grandparents kill them.
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, and Kathryn Hahn
Directed and Written By:M. Night Shyamalan
We Are Still Here (2015)
After the death of their son, The Sacchettis move to a home in New England to recover from their loss. Will they become the unwitting sacrifice to the house’s evil?
Starring:Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Larry Fessenden, Lisa Marie, and Monte Markham
Directed and Written By: Ted Geoghegan
When Animals Dream (2015)
A 16 year old girl in Denmark struggles with life as she realizes that she is turning into a werewolf.
Starring: Sonia Suhl, Lars Mikkelsen, Jakob Oftebro, Sonja Richter, Mads Riisom, Benjamin Boe Rasmussen, Esben Dalgaard.
Directed By: Jonas Alexander Arnby
Written By: Rasmus Birch
Top Nightmare Films of 2014
The Babadook (2014)
A single mother, traumatized by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, and comes to discover a sinister presence all around her.
Starring: Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight
Directed by: Jennifer Kent
Written by: Jennifer Kent
Big Bad Wolves (2014)
A series of brutal murders sets three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim, out for revenge, a vigilante police detective acting outside the law, and the prime suspect in the killings – a religious studies teacher arrested and released because of a police blunder.
Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tazhi Grad
Directed by: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Written by: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Deliver Us From Evil (2014)
New York city police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) is investigating a series of crimes. Joining forces with an eccentric priest (Edgar Ramirez) who is knowledgeable in demonic rituals, he fights the dark forces that terrorize the city.
Starring: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Written by: Paul Harris Boardman, Scott Derrickson
Grand Piano (2013)
Just moments before he begins playing onstage in his comeback performance, a concert pianist who suffers from stage fright discovers a note written in his sheet music that threatens the life of his wife (who is in the audience) if he hits even one wrong note.
Starring: Elijah Wood, John Cusack, Kerry Bishé
Directed by: Eugenio Mira
Written by: Damien Chazelle
A sister is convinced that her brother, convicted years ago of murdering their parents, is innocent of the charges, and sets about to prove that the true culprit is a sinister supernatural phenomenon.
Starring: Karen Gillian, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Written by: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
A podcaster (Justin Long) becomes the target of a sadistic killer while trying to score an interview with a misanthropic adventure-seeker (Michael Parks).
Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith
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