Sometimes, the best kinds of horror movies are those that don’t rely too heavily on blood and gore to frighten their audience, but rather capitalize on tension and atmosphere. Viewers have recently praised Guillermo del Toro’s anthology series Cabinet of Curiosities for doing exactly this, which the director is notorious for.
Reddit users have taken to the website to discuss their favorite non-violent horrors, with many commenters naming films they cite as the scariest they’ve ever seen. A scary atmosphere is often much more effective than excessive blood and guts, proven in Reddit’s choices.
It’s often cited as the first of its kind, but many audiences also believe that The Blair Witch Project is the very best that the found-footage subgenre has to offer. It makes the most of its minimal budget by using tension and apprehension to build fear within the audience, rather than exposing them to excessive gore.
Reddit user corru9t admits that The Blair Witch Project cost them “a few nights’ sleep” because of its unsettling story and chilling filmmaking. It might be a little dated now, but there’s no denying that it’s a pioneering entry in the horror genre.
The haunting story of Ed and Lorraine Warren offers the perfect kind of creepy narrative for a horror film, and James Wan’s The Conjuring knows exactly how to turn their supernatural exploits into a terrifying cinematic showcase that many audiences are still afraid of today.
Reddit user igbrainbrad describes The Conjuring as “little gore but lots of spooky,” which perfectly sums up how Wan manages to scare the audience without including too much violence. It’s solely because of his filmmaking talent and understanding of the genre that The Conjuring succeeds so strongly.
Many horror fans consider The Others to be the best haunted house movie ever, using its creepy atmosphere effectively to craft a thrilling narrative with plenty of exciting twists and turns along the way.
Redditor cursedmismagius believes that you “can’t go wrong” with The Others – it’s the kind of story that any audience can easily lose themselves in, constantly engaged by the twisting story and relatable characters. Nicole Kidman also delivers an Oscar-worthy performance that draws the audience in and never lets go.
2012’s The Woman In Black is an excellent supernatural horror that truly does justice to Susan Hill’s classic Gothic novel. Every single moment is filled with tension and fear, even though very little actually happens in these scenes. It’s the apprehension of what’s to come that makes James Watkins’ horror so effective.
Redditor byron807 argues that The Woman In Black “manage[s] to create an incredibly intense atmosphere without ever turning gory,” which allows the haunting story to “stay with you long after you have finished watching.” The film is an excellent example of how to keep an audience on the edge of their seats from start to finish.
The iconic Rosemary’s Baby is a chilling horror about the dangers of parenthood, and despite its age of almost 55 years, it’s still just as terrifying today as it was upon release. And the reason it’s aged so effectively is that it relies on storytelling (rather than horror effects) to impact the audience.
Reddit user bookishnatasha89 observes that “it’s what you don’t see that sticks with you” in Rosemary’s Baby. Every shot is astutely framed to draw attention to the unseen, which creates an unsettling atmosphere in each scene.
M. Night Shyamalan is well known for his work within the horror genre, but Signs is one of the few films under his belt that’s often dismissed and forgotten. Although it’s more of a sci-fi adventure than a pure horror movie, there are several frightening aspects thanks to its alien-focused narrative.
Redditor briancar93 admits that Signs was incredibly scary “the first time I watched it,” probably because the story begins so innocently and quickly morphs into a chilling fight for survival. The film knows exactly how to use jump scares effectively and sparingly, which keeps the audience on edge throughout.
Since its release, Insidious has become famous for its many jump-scares and shocking scenes, but the most shocking realization is that the film manages to do all of this without much gore or violence at all. The horror is almost entirely rooted in atmosphere and imagery, which makes those shocks even more impactful.
Reddit user nitebird27 shares that Insidious is a “good option” for anybody looking to avoid gore, even though the story is still filled with frights and thrills. There are very few horror films quite like Insidious, which makes it a must-watch for any horror fan.
When it comes to folk horror, The Wicker Man is pretty much a perfect example. It uses creepy storytelling and unsettling characters to build tension throughout every scene, even when the audience isn’t sure exactly what it is that they’re afraid of.
Redditor invincible789 claims that whilst The Wicker Man is “relatively bloodless,” it’s still an extremely frightening experience thanks to Robin Hardy’s astute filmmaking and an arresting lead performance from Edward Woodward.
“How has no one said A Quiet Place?” asks Reddit user idontwantthatpanda, putting the film’s name forward as one of the best gore-free horror movies out there. The very nature of the story ensures that every scene is filled with an eerie silence, keeping things frightening and tense.
The well-received A Quiet Place is often cited as one of the best thrillers of the 2010s, effortlessly blending sci-fi and horror together with its wholly original story. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt provide two brilliant lead performances, highlighting the vulnerability of their characters and allowing the audience to really connect with them.
Despite becoming a classic of the slasher genre, there’s shockingly little blood and gore in John Carpenter’s original Halloween. It’s an incredibly tense movie filled with atmosphere, but it’s not until the final act that bodies begin to fall – and even then, hardly any blood is shown.
Reddit user no-veterinarian4627 concurs that “the original [Halloween] had like no blood,” in spite of its reputation as a slasher classic. The sequels are admittedly filled with blood and excessive violence, but Carpenter’s first installment is relatively tame in comparison.
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