Top 10 Nightmarish Movies Like 'Insidious' That'll Haunt You

Updated on June 20, 2020
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Rahul is a movie addict who can never get enough of good films. His all time favorites are Inception, 12 Angry Men, and Scarface.

What Films Are Like Insidious?

Movies, just like other entertainment mediums, comes in disparate genres, length, and tone. Sometimes you want a profound, heart-warming experience, while other times you might just be looking to hunker down and enjoy cheap thrills with painstakingly laid jumpscares. If you crave the latter more often, movies like Insidious will appeal to you.

Before we get started, these suggestions are not in any particular order. Also, it’s my personal opinion. If you don’t like any of the outlined suggestions, you’re more than welcome to voice your discontention in the comment section. With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s find you some similar movies.

Movies Similar to Insidious

  1. The Awakening
  2. Get Out
  3. Don't be Afraid of the Dark
  4. Hereditary
  5. The Conjuring 2
  6. Grave Encounters
  7. The Possession
  8. It Follows
  9. The Ring
  10. Oculus

1. The Awakening

When a ghost hunter visits a supposedly haunted boarding school in the middle of nowhere, she soon starts hearing and seeing strange, inexplicable things. Initially, she suspects that someone is just being mischievous, but when she accepts that this claustrophobic place might be haunted, things spiral out of control as sinister powers emerge.

In many ways, The Awakening walks on the path of The Others, 2001’s cult classic. It imitates not only the despairing tone but the plot architecture as well. The story and dialogue delivery is its saving grace. Its dark, depressing tone is punctuated with some romance, which surprisingly feels like a perfect fit for the whole puzzle.

This movie might frustrate someone who isn’t looking closely enough. Its subtle hints fill in all the blanks and answers most of the questions it raises in the beginning if not all. With brain-dead horror movies galore, The Awakening is a breath of fresh air - a movie built for the hardcore cinephiles.

2. Get Out

Get Out’s plot follows Chris, a charismatic dark-skinned guy who’s in a relationship with Rose, a white woman. Before you raise your hackles for an inessential mention of the races, you should know that the whole movie is built around the themes of racial tension and slavery.

Being black, Chris isn’t sure if he should accept the invitation of Rose’s parents to stay with them for a few days. But the persuasive Rose gets his boyfriend to go with him on what might be their last vacation. Chris has no idea about the ordeals awaiting on the other side.

I still remember the chills I got as I watched the last couple of minutes of this Jordan Peele directed nightmare through my fingers, hoping that this nightmare would end soon. Make no mistake; Get Out’s clever spin on a familiar horror trope is a shot of genius. It’s not an easy movie to watch, especially when you’re watching all the horror unfold on a big screen. Although, I don’t think watching it on a much smaller screen would blunt its claws. If anything, watching it all alone with no one to cower behind will be more freighting.

Get Out is too clever to let you in on anything, at least not in the beginning. As it gradually clues you in its enigmatic plot, the paranoia meter shoots up. The clouds of doom thicken with time, letting you know that it will not be pretty.

3. Don’t be afraid of the Dark

A vulnerable, worried mother, a haunted child, and a tough-as-nails skeptic father; Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark has all the familiar tropes of a horror genre. Yet, its take on a well-worn story is disarmingly poignant and ruthlessly spooky.

It‘s not as traumatizing as Insidious, but you’ll certainly be squirming around the seat as it dials the crazy up to 11. The story follows a young girl living in a claustrophobic home with her dad and his girlfriend. Things soon go south when she inadvertently sets over a dozen ‘hungry’ spirits free to run amok the house.

Couple a rusty house with more than a handful of otherworldly spirits, and you’ve got a recipe for a nightmarish movie that will scare the wits out of you. Even if the ghost doesn’t spook you, the house certainly will. Take a look at the embedded trailer below. Who would in their sane minds even go near that abomination of a house, let alone move in?

But I derail. Don’t be Afraid of the Dark is an underrated film. It ’s shame that this remake of the 1973’s horror show didn’t get as much attention as it should have. Go on, give it a shot, and carry the word forward while you’re at it.

4. Hereditary

Directed by Ari Aster, Hereditary chronicles the life of a cursed family running from a whole bunch of morbid troubles. Little do they know that something even more sinister is waiting for them at the other end. The more they try to sort this supernatural mess out, the more they find themselves strangled with no room to exercise their free will. With their fates sealed, it’s more a matter of when will the inevitable occur. Come, join their ordeal!

As you might have noticed, I have deliberately kept the synopsis vague. It’s best if you go in cold, without the pre-hand knowledge of anything related to the plot. Let its sneaky brillance pull the rug from under you as you scramble for a breather.

I will be honest; I wasn’t expecting Hereditary to blow up like this. Ari Aster’s previous feature, The Strange Thing About Johnsons, while being more insidious and disturbing, failed to leave a profound impression like his latest spectacle.

Nothing has ever made me as uneasy as Hereditary, and that’s coming from someone who watches almost every type of horror movie. From cheap slashers to blockbusters like Get Out, I have enjoyed all sorts of horror. Hereditary, however, is playing in the biggest of leagues. This latest masterstroke of Ari Aster ascends to its rightful place alongside The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby, just to name a handful of movies I never could get out of my head.

It’s astounding how a movie can get to you at a primal level, especially when you take its no-cheap-jumpscares policy into account. Will you have trouble sleeping for days? Probably. Should you watch it? Absolutely!

5. The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2 follows the story of two dogged paranormal investigators who find themselves handling the worst case of their lives when an innocuous young girl is haunted by a demon. They travel all the way to the heart of London to help this girl, only to make the matters gravely worse.

There are scares galore everywhere this movie takes you. This sequel to the original is bigger and better, back to scare us, even in our sleep.

It should not come as a suprise that James Wan returned to his favorite genre after the astronomical success of Fast and Furious 7. He knows there is much more to horror than cheap thrills, and The Conjuring 2 is living proof. Wan expertly leads the audience to the pit of despairing horror and nightmare - something you’ll be scrambling to get out of, only to get further pulled in.

The Conjuring 2 is a late bloomer, but when it finally shows its ugly side, it’s cruel, unforgiving, and unpredictable, much like England’s weather (where this movie was shot).

6. Grave Encounters

Warming up to found-footage movies is hard, at least for me. The amateurish cinematography usually ruins even the most pristine narratives, making for a shaky, blurry adventure where you’re not sure what you’re looking at. However, I’m glad I gave this jump-scares crammed film a shot.

Produced by Shawn Angelski, Grave Encounters is the story of a few unlucky ghost hunters who lock themselves in a psychiatric hospital for a night, hoping they could capture some fleeting ghost here and there. What they get, however, is more than they bargained for. The hospital transformers into a labyrinth - one with no apparent way out, unless you’re willing to jump out of its towering windows and plunge to death.

As the night shifts, so does the pace of the plot, morphing into a roller-coaster ride with some shrewd jumpscares all the way through. Granted, Grave Encounters borrows almost everything from contemporary movies, an enchanting story aided with a talented ensemble cast keep things from unraveling.

If you’re looking for a movie like Insidious, Grave Encounters is a must-watch. It won’t make you look over your shoulder, but you’ll certainly check all the doors, just to confirm that you’re not in a labyrinthic loop.

7. The Possession

The story follows Em, a young girl, living a normal life up until she comes across something sinister. When her obsession with a recently-purchased wooden box starts growing to palpable insanity, her father delves deep into the mystery behind her daughter’s obsession, coming face to face with the malevolent creature who won’t go away without Em’s soul. “Once that box opens, someone dies.”, that’s what audiences are taught about the mysterious satanic box at the center of the whole story. How far will a desperate father go to save his kid?

As you can guess, he gives everything he’s got, ready to trade his life for hers at a moment’s notice.

8. It Follows

You can feel the 80’s vibe emanating from It Follows. Horror movies have gone back to follow the good old formula of the slow buildup of tension and dread, and then unleashing the scare, which is miles better than cheap jumpscares - a dying trend now.

The story follows a teenager who sleeps with her new boyfriend, only to wake up with a macabre curse. ‘It’ will follow her anywhere she goes, and that parasite can possess anyone, even her friends and family. As the death walks in her direction, she must fight or flee, but can’t stay at one place, for nothing good has ever happened when ‘It’ gets close enough to its victims.

Being followed relentlessly by someone isn’t a pleasant thought. Now, think about being hunted by someone who can transform into anything or anyone on a dime. As you witness this nightmarish feature unravel, you’ll get emotionally involved in its affairs, as you profusely pray for the protagonist to survive the onslaught, however unlikely it might seem. It’s uncanny how this movie effortlessly manifests some of your primal fears and ruthlessly exploits them. It’s a good thing, I promise.

9. The Ring (US)

I could easily have recommended The Ringu, the original Japanese version of this movie, but this remake is more streamlined and accessible for moviegoers while maintaining the tone of the original version.

The whole movie revolves around a disoriented videotape containing disturbing footages. When someone watches it, they die within 7 days. No exceptions!

When a skeptical woman knowingly watches the tape, she soon gets the ultimatum of her remaining days on Earth. 7 days are all she has to break the curse. If she can’t, she must face the horror awaiting her.

Beware. Before you go for it, know that horror and paranoia will be a part of your life for some time. This is traumatization at its finest.

10. Oculus

45 lives within 4 decades! A simple mirror has claimed so many lives and is ready to be back in the business as two siblings begin mucking about with this sinister mirror. You’ll never look at mirrors the same way again. If they already spook you, they’ll haunt you after watching Oculus.

The plot revolves around two siblings, who come back to their parents’ house to unravel the mysteries behind the death of their parents. They track down the alleged mirror responsible for causing these horrific deaths and start ritualistic experiments with it, only to find themselves in a world of danger where nothing is as it appears. No matter what they try, the mirror always survives, not letting them destroy itself. One slip and they’ll be the latest in its long list of victims.

This slow-burn avoids the generic traps of horror movies, instead utilizing its ruminating premise to good advantage.


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    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      18 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I've only seen The Conjuring 2, which I found interesting. The rest of these films sound very interesting too.


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