1. It (2017)
One of the scariest movies because: Well… clowns. The latest adaptation of Stephen King’s frightful page-turner that debued in September quickly surpassed The Exorcist for highest-grossing R-rated scary movie ever.
What the critics say: Even before movie reviews dropped, critic Halleigh Fatouch of Collider tweeted “It’s scary as sh–.” Skarsgard nails Pennywise, she added. “Beyond killer clowns, It also delves into the grief & anger kids feel when they realize those who should love & protect them do the opposite. These are themes in King’s stories that filmmakers often ignore. But the best adaptations figure out they’re the most vital part.”—Anthony Breznican, EW. This one’s definitely not for children, folks.
2. The Exorcist (1973)
One of the scariest movies because: Terrible, terrible things come out of a little girl’s mouth (which happens to be attached to a spinning head, thanks to a demonic possession). Audiences were so affected by this fearsome film that some theaters even provided “Exorcist barf bags.”
What the critics say: “The climactic sequences assault the senses and the intellect with pure cinematic terror. “—Variety
3. The Shining (1980)
One of the scariest movies because: Jack Nicholson is seriously freaky as crazed novelist Jack Torrance, who [spoiler alert] tries to chop his family to little bits after a particularly stressful winter.
What the critics say: “Scaring the viewer is easy… What is harder is to accentuate the horrifying aspects of things that are familiar… Kubrick isn’t out for screams, but he manages to make his movie thoroughly unnerving by keeping the horror so close to home.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times