Defining Horror: What makes a movie “scary”?

I couldn’t really tell ya.

What scares me wouldn’t necessarily scare you. This is what makes finding great horror movies so tricky, horror is subjective. Watching trailers and reading reviews can be fun, but both are poor indicators of whether or not you’ll actually find a movie scary, disturbing, shocking… or whatever it is you happen to be looking for. More accurate indicators of whether you’ll like a movie can be found within a few specific core elements, elements we’ve built into our Will You Like It rating system. Horror RatingsOur Will You Like It rating system replaces usual star ratings, those that tell you how somebody else liked a movie, with a unique system that helps YOU determine for yourself, ahead of time, if you’ll actually like it. Only you know what scares you and our rating system will help you zero in on only the movies you’re most likely to enjoy. Jump ahead to our Rating Criteria page to learn more about our rating system. Beyond the foundational elements of horror movies are the many genres, subgenres and styles that all movies ultimately filter into. And they go WAY beyond the generic Horror, Thriller and Mystery genres you’re used to glazing over on all the big movies sites. Horror movie review sites tend to give us a bit more to go on, but still only scratch the surface. Here at All Horror we worked to identify over 20 core genres as well as over 100 horror subgenres that are featured in most horror movies. By working to compile this list and utilizing them in our movie database we make it easier for you to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Next: How We Rate Horror Movies

Subgenre Breakdown

Survival - Movies where people must survive some kind of threat, whether it's wild animals, a killer or a tribe of cannibals. Example: Wrong Turn Survival Games - Movies in which a madman, or some entity, collects a group of people together and requires some kind of challenge be completed. Example: Saw Urban Legend - Movies calling on an urban legend such as Bloody Mary, the Chupacabra or La Llorona. Example: Candyman Campy - Movies where characters and situations are intentionally exaggerated to be ridiculous and funny. Example: Evil Dead 2 Mockumentary - Movies that are produced to mimic the style of a documentary in order to increase the believability of their story. Example: The Poughkeepsie Tapes Supernatural Serial Killers - Serial killers who die (often at the hands of justice) and return from the afterlife to terrorize the people who brought them to justice. Example: Fallen Lovecraftian - This term, coined after the author H.P. Lovecraft, describes movies in which the threat is unknown or unknowable. Example: YellowBrickRoad Hunter - Movies where the protagonist hunts threats such as vampires or zombies. Example: Don't Kill It