Scary Good! The 5 Types of Horror Films

I don’t like scary movies. I love scary movies. I love the ridiculous situations in them, the larger than life villains, and the heart pumping moments where I’m on the edge of my seat covering my eyes. And I totally get why that’s weird. It’s weird to want to be scared. But the adrenaline rush is part of the reason why the horror genre has such a wide range of sub-categories. There are just so many ways to be scared.

Whenever I ask someone if they like horror films, their response is usually a quick “no”. But the problem is, there are so many different types of horror films that it’s hard for me to believe that they really don’t like any of them. The truth is, there are some brilliant scary movies that I think most people could enjoy. But with how gruesome and obscene some horror films have become, it’s no wonder why a lot of people have ruled out the genre as a whole.

I’m a believer in horror films and I want everyone to like them. So, I’ve made a list of the different categories within the horror genre to help you navigate your way toward finding something that’s palatable for you. Whether you’re interested in the spooks, the mystery, the gore, or the gags, I promise there’s something here that’ll make you squirm in just the right amount.

The Spooky Scary

Spooky Scary is the most common form of horror films. This kind of horror typically involves ghosts, witches, and haunted everythings. These kinds of movies are crafted to make you jump and are the most fun to watch with friends or next to someone you can hold close. The reason why you need to give one of these films a chance is because no other type of scary movie cranks out tension as often as spooky scary. The villains are iconic and the situations are some of the best “what would you do” scenarios around. Some of my favorite spooky-scary films include:

The Babadook, Psycho, The Shining, The Ring, Paranormal Activity

My recommendation: It Follows


The Slasher Scary

This type of horror is not for the faint of heart. This category is the reason why most of the general public hate scary movies. Slasher Scary is exactly what you think: blood, guts, torture, and screams. While this category is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s by far the most visceral category in the horror genre. Whereas a lot of scary movies retreat from showing you the brutality of their premise, slasher films hold nothing back. Most villains in this genre wield a lethal weapon that’s as iconic as their character. Some of these include: Scream (knife), Texas chainsaw Massacre (Chainsaw), and I Know What You Did Last Summer (Hook). Other notable films in this category are:

Evil Dead (2013), Hostel, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, American Psycho

My recommendation: Halloween


The Suspenseful Scary

Suspenseful scary is my favorite of the horror categories. Most of these films involve some type of mystery, usually revolving around the killer’s identity. A slew of these movies came out in the late 90’s that all involved a “whodunit” premise. But the category has matured over time. The difference between suspenseful scary and other categories is that usually the audience is more concerned with trying to solve the case than escape the threat. Suspense scary wades into the waters of Thriller/Horror hosting some of the best crime drama in any category. Check out some of the examples of Suspense Scary below.

The Silence of the Lambs, The Sixth Sense, Mama, The Strangers

My recommendation: Session 9


The Comical Scary

Comical Horror films are probably the lowest bar to entry if you’re dipping your feet into horror for the first time. The plots are usually over the top and feature a lot of buffoonery while simultaneously mocking the horror genre altogether. The best part about Comical Horror is that for every “jumpy” scene, there’s usually a joke coming around the corner to even things out. Comical Horror is often satirical and pokes fun at the tropes of most horror flicks.  Generally, these films are pretty safe to watch if you don’t like to be frightened. Although be aware, they might use an excessive amount of gore, only in a comical way. The best films in this category include:

Shaun of the Dead, Army of Darkness, Gremlins, Cabin in the Woods (2011)

My recommendation: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil


The Spiritual Scary

Spiritual Scary films are all about the battle between heaven and hell. Evil spirits, demon possession, sorcery, and witchcraft are common themes in this category. While the Spiritual Scary category hosts an abundance of films, the stakes are usually the same throughout. Fail to complete the mission and you go to hell. These films are especially popular because of the religious themes instilled in mainstream audiences. One of the easiest ways to attract an audience is to appeal to their beliefs. Because the spiritual realm exists in modern religions, it’s easy to make the dramatic tension even stronger when you’re dealing with forces that your audience can relate to. I highly recommend this genre because of the slow pacing and philosophical discussion that inevitably follow.  Some of the most popular Spiritual Scary films include:

The Exorcist, The Witch, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, The Exorcism of Emily Rose

My Recommendation: The Conjuring


If there’s ever a perfect time to give horror films a shot, October is it. I know this genre isn’t for everyone, but I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried a scary movie in a while to revisit it. It’s not all blood and guts. The genre has evolved over the years to deliver the best kind of scares in a way that suits your taste. And don’t worry. Sleeping with a night light is still cool. Just don’t tell anyone about it…