19 Overrated Horror Movie Classics, Ranked

Don’t believe the hype for these macabre movies…

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.


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.


The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Screen Gems / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


The Rocky Horror Picture Show

20th Century Fox. / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Friday the 13th (1980)

Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


The Sixth Sense

Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy: Everett Collection

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.


Halloween (2018)

Ryan Green / Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


High Tension

Lions Gate / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Cabin Fever (2002)

Lions Gate Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


The Grudge (2004)

Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


The Last House on the Left (1972)

Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Paranormal Activity

Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Bird Box

Saeed Adyani / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.



George Kraychyk / Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Wolf Creek

Dimension Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


The Amityville Horror (1979)

American International Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


The Purge

Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Halloween (1978)

Compass International Pictures/ Courtesy Everett Collection

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.



A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Jeepers Creepers

United Artists / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


It Follows

Courtesy Everett Collection / RADiUS-TWC

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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