19 Overrated Horror Movie Classics, Ranked

·6 min read

Horror movies can be just like our own nightmares: Some will stick with you 'til the grave while others will having you laughing by the next morning.

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However, there are a handful of allegedly "all-timer" horror movies that might not necessarily deserve their standing in the pantheon of genre films. With this in mind, I've assembled 19 celebrated scary movies that are definitely overrated.

19.The Exorcism of Emily Rose

"The Exorcism of Emily Rose"

Don’t get me wrong: Scott Derrickson’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose is not a bad movie; hell, it’s actually a pretty compelling legal thriller. But the horror film that plays out throughout the legal drama feels very at odds with the rest of the proceedings and somewhat undercuts the stakes of the story as a whole.

Screen Gems / Courtesy Everett Collection

18.The Rocky Horror Picture Show

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show"

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an undeniable cult classic, but I think the majority of the film’s fans will testify that the movie needs to be enjoyed in a group setting, primarily in its rowdy live theatrical experience. As a solo viewing experience, well…one might be more tempted to just throw on the soundtrack.

20th Century Fox. / Courtesy Everett Collection

17.Friday the 13th (1980)

"Friday the 13th"

Though its twist ending and a number of inspired kills helped launch this franchise, the original Friday the 13th is fairly dull at points and doesn’t deliver much in terms of story, aspects that were later corrected by the more imaginative mythology and suspenseful sequels.

Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

16.The Sixth Sense

"The Sixth Sense"

The Sixth Sense was a defining horror film for the late '90s and one of the few with Academy Award recognition, but while the film is technically skilled and quite intense, retrospective viewings see the film bury the horror and atmosphere under the weight of its own super-serious, saccharine tone.

Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy: Everett Collection

15.Halloween (2018)

"Halloween" (2018)

David Gordon Green may be an exceptional director, but if his work with the latter two entries of the Halloween franchise is any indication, perhaps horror may not be his thing, with the 2018 reboot feeling especially like a missed opportunity given how Halloween: H20 covered the same ground with better scares and even a more mature lens on the character of Laurie Strode.

Ryan Green / Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

14.High Tension

"High Tension"

Alexandre Aja's breakout film is notable as the major crossover between "French New Extremism" horror and mainstream Hollywood horror releases, but outside of its gruesome highlights and tension fitting of its US title, the film drops the ball in the third act with a head-scratching "twist" that nearly undoes the goodwill that came before it.

Lions Gate / Courtesy Everett Collection

13.Cabin Fever (2002)

"Cabin Fever"

Eli Roth's directorial debut was a campy slice of gross-out horror comedy, but despite the high hype of the movie based on the praise of established filmmakers, Cabin Fever isn't quite the classic of body horror that some fright fans might lead you to believe.

Lions Gate Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

12.The Grudge (2004)

"The Grudge"

The Ring may have helped usher J-Horror into the US zeitgeist, but The Grudge established the subgenre as a full-blown sensation among mainstream audiences. The differences between the two movies, however, is that the former still holds up as a game-changing nightmare of a horror picture while the latter is still a muddled, confusing mess anchored by only a few jump scares.

Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

11.The Last House on the Left (1972)

"The Last House on the Left"

One of the seminal exploitation films that defined the early career of Wes Craven, The Last House on the Left is successful in shocking and unnerving its audience, but its hostile sensibilities and rough-around-the-edges editing will always keep the film from the acceptance of even more contemporary "extreme" genre movies.

Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Paranormal Activity

"Paranormal Activity"

This writer fondly recalls the grassroots campaign to bring Paranormal Activity to theaters, from its viral trailers to the rumblings from the festival circuit. But once the film arrived, outside of select key moments that have become iconic within the franchise, the film's lagging action and lackluster supporting performances left much to be desired. Luckily, a number of Paranormal Activity sequels took the ball and ran with its potential, especially the terrific third and fifth entries into the franchise.

Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

9.Bird Box

"Bird Box"

I'll be the first to admit that Bird Box was effective in its ability to draw in an audience with a great gimmick, but that gimmick is barely enough to keep an otherwise ho-hum and melodramatic creature feature afloat, though some could argue the same about A Quiet Place as well, though the latter may have better wrought out its more intense moments.

Saeed Adyani / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

8.Mama

"Mama"

Mama may have been a colossal box office hit and an underdog story in the world of horror considering its online origins, but the film's over-reliance on bad CGI, paint-by-numbers storytelling, and contrived performances have kept it from aging beyond its "flavor of the week" reputation within the genre.

George Kraychyk / Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Wolf Creek

"Wolf Creek"

One of the weaker entries in the so-called "torture porn" era of horror, Wolf Creek thrived on the momentum of its "true story" origins and a charismatic performance from John Jarratt, but it remains barely memorable to most.

Dimension Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

6.The Amityville Horror (1979)

"The Amityville Horror"

The Amityville Horror is another early and culturally wide-reaching film in the horror canon, but despite its influence on horror over the past four decades, the film itself is pretty mediocre and anti-climactic, to the point where it's even overshadowed by its run-of-the-mill 2005 remake.

American International Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.The Purge

"The Purge"

The Purge has been a lucrative and somewhat iconic franchise for Blumhouse and Universal, but outside the killer premise and the oh-so-creepy masks, the original Purge flick is a heavy-handed snoozer that capitalizes on its tiny budget while underdelivering on its core concept.

Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

4.Halloween (1978)

"Halloween" (1978)

I understand that it's considered heresy to consider John Carpenter's Halloween as anything but a petrifying pioneer of the slasher genre, but this writer contests that the film's minimalism and dueling narrative doesn't quite strike fear as it used to, especially when you have "pure evil" committing a murder with a literal sheet over his head.

Compass International Pictures/ Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Midsommar

"Midsommar"

Ari Aster's sophomore feature begins with a horrifying prelude and some unsettling initial scares, but over the course of its nearly-three-hour runtime, the film loses its way with some predictable turns and ventures into pretty underwhelming territory by the time its Wicker Man-esque conclusion comes to pass.

A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Jeepers Creepers

"Jeepers Creepers"

Even when you look past the terrible crimes associated with its director (which you shouldn't, by the way), Jeepers Creepers buries itself with world-building and creature mythology only to wrap up its undercooked narrative at lightning speed.

United Artists / Courtesy Everett Collection

1.It Follows

"It Follows"

One of the most beloved horror flicks of the past decade, It Follows hinges most of its effectiveness on its synth-driven soundtrack and its clever framework, but the lifeless performances and unwavering dedication to the oblique makes David Robert Mitchell's film a real self-important dud.

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