All film genres are guilty of having notable tropes and clichés in a majority of their titles, though horror cinema tends to be denounced the most for falling down the formulaic rabbit hole. Perhaps it is because horror, despite being a primary movie genre, is a bit more niche than its motion picture peers, or maybe people just don’t get scared like they used to.


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While there is certainly some fun to be had with conventional and cliché, sometimes something innovative and fresh is greatly needed. For those desiring a scare that strays away from the beaten path, here are ten horror films that put unique spins on the genre.

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10/10 Scream

One of the masterpieces directed by the horror master, Wes Craven, this cult classic artfully integrated the satirization of slasher movie clichés into its narrative while maintaining a genuinely terrifying tone. The self-aware film has been credited with not only resuscitating the slasher subgenre but cinematic horror entirely.

Unsurprisingly given its acclaim, Scream has spawned multiple sequels (one of which is currently in development), a television series, and was one of the prime parodic subjects of Scary Movie, a parody horror film that shares Scream’s original title.

9/10 Thirteen Ghosts

With a sense of whimsy and surreality that is typically only present in horror films targeted toward younger audiences yet a bloody gruesomeness unfit for children, Thirteen Ghosts (also known as THIR13EN GHOSTS or 13 Ghosts) crafts the story of a mysterious mansion holding a multitude of ghosts captive within its deceptively beautiful walls.

Although a remake, Thirteen Ghosts exhibits a different cast of ghosts than its predecessor, which all have their own intricate backstories that are delved into offscreen in the film’s DVD bonus features and online wiki page.

8/10 The Blackcoat’s Daughter

From the start, this haunted thriller is unconventional. The Blackcoat’s Daughter abandons the typical chronological narrative form in favor of interweaving three different points of view across time, only permitting audiences to have a full view of the past once the future has unfolded.

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Unique plot structure aside, it’s the unorthodox yet heartfelt bond between the demon and its victim who, instead of fearing her possessor, clings to the dark spirit in the wake of loss and loneliness. The film’s title references a term for a clergyman, one often used as an insult.

7/10 Train To Busan

This South Korean action film blends two archetypal narratives. One of a horrific zombie apocalypse brimming with blood and bites. The other is a tale of a man attempting to rise to the occasion of fatherhood, a mission he has failed many times before. Gong Yoo, an actor now notorious for the slaps he delivered in Squid Game, showcases his amazing acting range in Train To Buscan alongside his talented fellow cast members.

It’s their performances and the humanity and complexity of their characters that elevate this film beyond many of its peers in the zombie genre.

6/10 Creep

This nerve-wracking yet comical found footage film manages to breathe life back into a horror subgenre that many viewers thought was done to death. Creep follows a videographer who answers an ad to record a video diary for a dying man whose eccentric nature becomes more and more concerning as the day goes on.

The found footage format lends itself aptly to the film’s tone, emphasizing its realistic style and intentionally awkward atmosphere that steadily increases with tension as both the viewer and the protagonist debate the line between being a creep and being dangerous.

5/10 Creep 2

Its predecessor may already be on this list, but this sequel does such a fantastic job of replicating what made Creep so refreshing while continuing to break horror conventions to create a film that, in rare form, actually surpasses its forerunner. Unlike Creep’s, or many other scary movies’ protagonists, Creep 2’s leading lady is absolutely unfazed by anything the film’s resident weirdo flashes in her face, much to his surprise.

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Creep 2’s success has led to the development of a third film in the Creep franchise, which hopefully will continue to provide a breath of fresh air in the horror genre.

4/10 The Cabin In The Woods

From the creators of the groundbreaking Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes this satirical horror film. The Cabin in the Woods pokes fun at horror movie tropes, particularly of the slasher subgenre, while preserving its own thrills and frights. The film skillfully walks the tricky tightrope act of balancing the comical and the fearful, criticizing the horror genre and showcasing what horror films have the potential to be.

Whether viewers love scary movies or hate them with a passion, they’ll enjoy a cinematic trip to The Cabin in the Woods.

3/10 Midsommar

Although horror films set in the summer are nothing new to the genre, Midsommar thoroughly adorns itself in the exuberant aesthetics the sunny season is known for. Embellished with an abundance of colorful flowers, a picturesque Swedish village, and cheery faces, the folk horror film’s charming exterior veils the disturbing reality lurking underneath.

This illusion exists not only for the audience but for the characters as well, who quickly realize that a midsummer pagan festival may not offer the summer experience they were hoping for.

2/10 The Blair Witch Project

One of the most notorious titles in horror cinema and a staple of the found-footage film format, The Blair Witch Project is a must-watch, even just for the sake of understanding its influence on the horror medium. The fake documentary’s scares are subtle and implicit; the film’s antagonist never even appears on the screen.

It is what they, the characters and the viewers, cannot see lurking outside the camera’s lens that terrifies them. Without any knowledge of what will happen next, they are all left with only the worst things they can imagine.

1/10 A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Even this black and white Iranian film’s name is a subversion of horror tropes. When one hears the words, “a girl walks home alone at night,” one fears for the girl and hopes she’ll avoid the things that might be waiting in the dark. But this girl, the film’s unnamed protagonist, is the thing with sharp teeth waiting to pounce on her victims.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’s feminist themes are especially poignant now, at a time when Iranian women are fighting fiercer than ever for their safety.

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