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The Best Hidden Gem Horror Films

Verity is a horror buff who loves things that go bump, with hundreds of hours invested in many different horror genres and styles.

The best hidden gem horror films

The best hidden gem horror films

Hidden Gem Horror Movies

I adore watching horror films. One of my favourite hobbies is to go on any streaming service, search "horror" and watch whatever pops up. I don't look at ratings or reviews before I dive in. This means I have seen some pretty forgettable nonsense, but luckily it means I have also stumbled upon some absolute gold that left my mind reeling.

These recommendations are all my own opinions and my own ratings, according to my own taste. So I admit that something I find amazing might not be everyone's cup of tea. I have also not included very popular, well-known films on this list (e.g. The Babadook or The Shining) because this article is all about the films you haven't heard of. I am also going to keep all of my recommendations spoiler-free. Please bear all of this in mind as you read. I do recognise that many people will not watch a film without watching the trailer first, so as a result, I have included trailers for each film where possible. However, I never watch a trailer before the film as I believe that it can paint a false picture or spoil key moments.

If you think there is something that I have missed, or you have a recommendation for me, please do comment below and let me know!

The Awakening

  • Genre: Horror-Thriller
  • Year: 2011
  • Run Time: 1 hr 42 min

This film about a female sceptic who lives to debunk supernatural and paranormal claims had me hooked from the start. Set in 1921, the period setting lends to the eerie atmosphere, which only builds through the film. The clues and glimpses that we see briefly, makes your mind boggle at what might actually be happening here. Is she about to debunk this as a fraud, or is there something deeper happening here? Without giving away any spoilers, the ending was brilliant and had me glued to my seat. I recommend this with a 10/10 rating.

The Awakening Trailer

  • Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Mystery
  • Year: 2014
  • Run Time: 1 hr 32 min

This film establishes a mysterious tone very quickly, with our characters arriving at their accommodation to find it abandoned abruptly with no idea where anyone went. As they settle in for a fun night, it all begins to unravel as one of their own party vanishes in the blink of an eye. This mysterious film does not hold your hand or spoon feed you explanations, all of that is up to the viewer to provide. The eerie atmosphere mounts towards the end, with an ending that I simply adore. My rating is 10/10.

Ghost Stories

  • Genre: Horror, Drama
  • Year: 2017
  • Run Time: 1 hr 38 min

This British-made horror film was one that I was very hesitant to watch, as I am not a fan of Martin Freeman, one of the leads. But I loved this film so much, that it made me like him. A non-believer is given three different cases of unexplained apparitions to find a rational conclusion. The strangeness only intensifies as he delves deeper into the case and his own reasoning behind wanting to solve them. You realise that everything is not what it seemed on the surface, with a final reveal that blew my mind and left me with a shocked grin on my face. My rating 10/10.

Ghost Stories

Housebound

  • Genre: Horror, Comedy, Mystery
  • Year: 2014
  • Run Time: 1 hr 47 min

Housebound is a horror-comedy straight out of New Zealand. Morgana O'Reilly does a fantastic job portraying a young woman who is given the most brutal punishment the courts can think of: house arrest at her mother's home in the middle of nowhere. Anyone who grew up in a rural area, and escaped, can identify with how daunting such a prospect is. Added to this torture, her mother believes that the house is haunted. Our leading lady decides to prove her mother wrong and uncovers more ugly truths and deep mysteries than she ever intended. What adds to the brilliance of this film is that the lead acts exactly the way that you or I would. The New Zealand wit and sense of humour perfects this film and I've watched it more times than I can count. My rating 10/10.

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Housebound Trailer

Devil

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
  • Year: 2010
  • Run Time: 1 hr 20 min

The premise is simple. A group of people get on an elevator only for it to get stuck, and leave them trapped. Unbeknown to them, one of them are not who they seem, they are The Devil. An investigator, keeping an eye on them via a camera in the lift, is dragged into the mind games and psychology but is powerless to help as he watches the chaos unfurl. This film really makes you wonder, is there really such a thing as a coincidence? And what is true evil? My rating 9/10.

Devil Trailer

As Above, So Below

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
  • Year: 2014
  • Run Time: 1 hr 33 min

An archaeologist, who doesn't play by the rules, puts together a team to explore the catacombs beneath Paris for a real treasure. At some points, while watching this film I actually forgot that it wasn't a documentary, that is how well-produced it is and how believable the performances are. As they descend lower and lower, the different levels begin to resemble Dante's circles of hell, and with their sins revealed will they atone? This very clever and very subtle film had me on the edge of my seat. This one also does not hold your hand, and leaves it up to you to interpret "sins". With a satisfying ending, I rate this film 9/10.

As Above, So Below Trailer

Savageland

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Crime
  • Year: 2015
  • Run Time: 1 hr 20 min

This documentary-style film felt so real that I forgot it wasn't real, and as such, I was so unsettled at the end I couldn't go to bed and had to put something funny on to watch. The film explores what happened after a lone survivor is accused, and punished after a whole town is wiped out overnight. The man in question had a camera with him on the night in question, and while many of the photos taken are unfocused or show ambiguous material, some seem to point to them as proof of the man's innocence. With the help of experts and profilers, we can come to our own conclusions as to whether this man was guilty, or if racial prejudices allowed him to be punished for a crime he had no way of committing. My rating 9/10.

Savageland Trailer

Honeymoon

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
  • Year: 2014
  • Run Time: 1 hr 27 min

Honeymoon is a film with a cast of 4 people which takes place in mainly one location. A couple retires to an isolated cabin fr their honeymoon, but the wife (played by the wonderful Rose Leslie from Game of Thrones) is found by her husband wandering lost in the woods one night. When her behaviour starts to change, her husband starts to wonder if something has happened to her or if she just isn't the woman that he married. This psychological journey and thrilling conclusion rely on a very strong cast performance and a wonderful atmospheric setting. My rating is 9/10.

Honeymoon Trailer

Would You Rather

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller
  • Year: 2012
  • Run Time: 1 hr 33 min

Would You Rather tells the story of a woman who accepts an invitation for dinner after it is revealed that by doing so, she could help her ill brother. All is not as it seems, however, when she arrives and discovers that many others have received the same invitation. The dinner goes well until it is revealed that the host wishes to play a game of would you rather, with the winner getting all the money. As you can imagine, the game becomes increasingly morbid with the characters having to make choices that test their morals. The film has an intimate setting which adds to the atmosphere. The film leaves the majority of any gore to the viewer's imagination, with some implied, which adds to the cringe factor and made me squirm at one point. The ending was unexpected and was really what made it for me. I felt that it was resolved perfectly. My rating is 9/10.

Would You Rather Trailer

The Limehouse Golem

  • Genre: Horror, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • Year: 2016
  • Run Time: 1 hr 49 min

This movie is set in Victorian London and follows an inspector (played by Bill Nighy) as he tries to uncover the identity of the serial killer dubbed "The Limehouse Golem". As the grizzly and gory murders are investigated, a story starts to come together piece by piece. The story of a young woman, underestimated and mistreated. Will the inspector solve the crime and avoid a woman being put to death? Will the answers be the ones he wants? Will the culprit truly deserve their fate? The twisty path that this film takes to its conclusion is highly satisfying and I was glued to my seat throughout. My rating 9/10.

The Limehouse Golem Trailer

Time Lapse

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Sci-fi
  • Year: 2014
  • Run Time: 1 hr 44 min

What would you do if you could see one day into your own future? In this film 3 friends, down on their luck, discover a camera that takes photos 24 hours into the future. At first, they plan to use this for material and personal gain. But as the photos become more disturbing they begin to wonder, once the picture has been taken does that mean your fate is inevitable? This mind-bending story is full of excellent performances from the small cast, and a wonderful developing atmosphere that makes you feel as though something just isn't right. I found the ending to be absolutely perfect. I watched this with a group and we had a lot to discuss afterwards. My rating: 9/10.

Time Lapse Trailer

Coherence

  • Genre: Horror, Drama, Mystery
  • Year: 2013
  • Run Time: 1 hr 29 min

Is very hard to describe why this film is so excellent, without spoiling anything. A group of friends gather for a dinner party when the lights go out. A group goes out to the light at the neighbours, and find something reality-bending that they struggle to comprehend. As they begin to grapple with this strange new understanding, are the people they are sending out to explore the same ones that are coming back? And how well can these people predict their own actions? A fantastic psychological film that I rate 9/10.

Coherence Trailer

Devil's Pass

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
  • Year: 2013
  • Run Time: 1 hr 40 min

This film is based on the very real Dyatlov Pass Incident, that occurred in Russia. I highly recommend that anyone who has not heard of this reads the Wikipedia page for it as soon as possible. This film attempts to explain what happened to the group and how they ended up with such confusing and unexplained injuries. This movie goes far beyond the typical "people lost in the wilderness" trope and explains everything in a completely unexpected and unique way. I was completely hooked during the ending sequences and once again I found the finale to be extremely fulfilling and fitting. My rating is 9/10.

Devil's Pass Trailer

House Hunting

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
  • Year: 2013
  • Run Time: 1 hr 42 min

House Hunting is a film about 2 families that both go to the same open house in a secluded area. Their viewing is disturbed when they come across an obviously distressed girl who is missing her tongue. As much as the families try to leave, they cannot and must stay. Somehow when they wake up in the morning the cupboards are restocked with enough for everyone there. As they try to figure out each other's secrets and loyalties, some come to the conclusion that there is only one way to leave this place. A very tense movie throughout with a very satisfying ending. My rating 9/10.


House Hunting Trailer

Evil Things

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
  • Year: 2009
  • Run Time: 1 hr 26 min

5 friends go to spend a weekend together in the country and go missing with no explanation, until their own filmed footage is found. This found-footage film has excellent performances from the cast. More than once it made me feel as though I was watching a home video of friends that I knew well and I was part of the group. I genuinely found myself smiling along when they were goofing about. All of this investment in the characters meant that when the characters become unsettled, scared and later terrified, I was genuinely scared for them. This film feels so real and the ending was very fitting to the movie's theme. My rating is 9/10.

Evil Things Trailer

Grave Encounters

  • Genre: Horror
  • Year: 2011
  • Run Time: 1 hr 32 min

Grave Encounters is a found-footage/documentary hybrid. It follows Lance Preston, a paranormal investigator, and his team as they film their slightly faked paranormal show: Grave Encounters. With, in their opinions, nothing to fear they lock themselves in an abandoned psychiatric hospital to add a dramatic flair to their episode. Slowly but surely as the night goes on odd things begin to happen which warp their perception of time and of the building itself. The horror starts slow and mounts until you are on the edge of your seat. Whatever is residing at this hospital is up to you as the film doesn't try to force a faux explanation on you. One of my favourites, my rating is 9/10.

Grave Encounters Trailer

The Facility

  • Genre: Horror
  • Year: 2012
  • Run Time: 1 hr 20 min

This film follows a group of people who volunteer for a clinical trial that starts to go horrifically wrong. When the drug begins to have unusual and destructive side effects, the participants must try to find a cure or a way out before their own doses start to affect them. The film has a tense atmosphere as you try to anticipate who will be affected next, and the added pressure of everyone being a ticking time bomb kept me invested in what was happening. My rating 8.5/10.

The Facility Trailer

The Diabolical

  • Genre: Horror, Sci-fi
  • Year: 2015
  • Run Time: 1 hr 26 min

This film is fantastically deceptive. Billed as a haunted house flick, a mum of 2 and her family are disturbed on a regular basis by an apparition that disappears as suddenly as it appears. Upon trying to leave the house the children become desperately sick, almost making mum Madison (played by Ali Larter) that they are cursed. However, when her boyfriend attempts to find out the cause of these apparitions the film begins to throw some brilliant curveballs at the viewer. I loved the twists and turns that this film took and I was absolutely hooked from start to finish. I found the ending very satisfying and I loved that the film doesn't treat the audience as though they are naive. A real unexpected treat. My rating 8/10.

The Diabolical Trailer

Wish Upon

  • Genre: Horror, Drama, Fantasy
  • Year: 2017
  • Run Time: 1 hr 30 min

If you could get anything in the world that you wanted, but something awful would happen to someone in your life, would you take the risk for your heart's desires? When a teenage girl discovers a box that pledges her 7 wishes, this is exactly the dilemma that she faces. I found this film interesting, I enjoyed the way that everything was tied up and the ending felt so justified. There are a couple of moments where I struggled to understand why some characters did what they did, but that seems to be par for the course when it comes to horror films and I could forgive it. My rating is 7/10.

Wish Upon Trailer

The Skeptic

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller
  • Year: 2009
  • Run Time: 1 hr 29 min

In The Skeptic a man inherits his family mansion and plans to move in straight away. Despite protestations from those he knows that the house is haunted he refuses to believe it and lives there anyway. As he tries to prove to those around him that there is nothing to fear, he begins to experience happenings that make him think he is going mad. Is he genuinely experiencing something supernatural or is it all in his head? Were people convincing him to stay away for another reason? What connection does he have to this house? As everything unfurls there are unpredictable turns that lead to a satisfying ending. Zoe Saldana plays a psychic that comes to help him unfurl the secrets of the house, in what is a bizarre character portrayal that works at times and doesn't work at other times. All in all my rating is 7/10.

The Skeptic Trailer

Escape Room

  • Genre: Horror, Action, Adventure
  • Year: 2019
  • Run Time: 1 hr 39 min

In Escape Room, a bunch of strangers come together after being invited to take part in the world's most intriguing escape room. Quite quickly it starts to become apparent that should they not escape they will lose their lives, and the stakes are upped. This movie has very likeable characters that I genuinely rooted for all of the way through, and some very tense scenes as they progress through the different rooms that leave you on the edge of your seat. I went into this film expecting it to be badly acted with a low budget and I was proved wrong on every count. I was enthralled from the beginning and the ending was almost a punch in the gut, in a good way! I rate this film 8/10.

Escape Room Trailer

The Conspiracy

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller
  • Year: 2012
  • Run Time: 1 hr 24 min

This documentary-style film follows a team of film-makers as they attempt to uncover and expose a dangerous conspiracy. As they delve deeper and meet more people, they begin to expose facts that could be worse than the original conspiracy. When they begin to wonder if they can trust any of the people that they have talked to, they get dragged into the heart of a secret society that they cannot figure out how to get out of. Throughout this film, I forgot that I was watching a movie and not a real documentary, my heart was in my mouth at many moments. The conclusion does not hold your hand and tell you what to think, but makes you consider deeply the world around us. What can we truly trust? My rating is 8/10.

The Conspiracy Trailer

The Tall Man

  • Genre: Horror, Crime, Drama
  • Year: 2012
  • Run Time: 1 hr 46 min

When you see the title of this film and hear that it is inspired by Slenderman, you might instantly switch off, but don't. The story that this film tells is 100% unique and I have never seen one like it before. Locals talk of the Tall Man tale and seem to willfully accept that every so often children vanish. It is only after a nurse's child is taken, and she tries to track them down, that a deeper horror is exposed. Who is the Tall Man? What part do the locals play, if any? Where is her child? This movie had me hooked all the way through, and when I thought I had it all figured out it surprised me again. A unique treat that is well-acted and suspenseful. My rating is 8/10.

The Tall Man Trailer

Circle

  • Genre: Horror, Drama, Mystery
  • Year: 2015
  • Run Time: 1 hr 27 min

50 strangers wake up in a room with no idea who anyone is or what they are doing there. Every 2 minutes, a person is killed. At first it seems as though it is completely random, but the strangers begin to realise that they can choose who dies next by vote. Very quickly a mob mentality starts to emerge. How do you decide who is good enough to live? How much can you figure out about someone in 2 minutes? What would you say to save your life? This film gives the viewer a lot to think about morally and ethically, but throughout the film there is an urgency and a sense of mystery. After all, who brought these people here and why? Is it a game or something more? What happens to the last person left standing? This movie is psychological and exciting and leaves you glued to your seat. My rating is 8/10.

Circle Trailer

The Endless

  • Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Drama
  • Year: 2017
  • Run Time: 1 hr 51 min

In this film, two brothers who escaped a death cult are allowed back in order to get some answers to questions that they never fully understood. They are allowed to leave at any time and are simply there to piece their memories together. As they delve deeper into the mysteries surrounding the place they belonged to for so long, reality starts to bend and warp. Nothing is permanent, apart from everything, and the men need to find a way out before they are trapped, not only in space. This psychological film plays with everything we know to be true, and kept my mind racing, constantly trying to figure out "the rules". You never anticipate a single thing that this film throws at you and I loved it. My rating 8/10.

The Endless Trailer

Altered Minds

  • Genre: Horror, Drama, Thriller
  • Year: 2013
  • Run Time: 1 hr 46 min

A family reunion for a dying father is going well, until one of his children accuses him of using his position as a psychiatrist within the CIA to conduct psychological experiments on him and his siblings as children. At first this paranoid delusion is considered to be the ramblings of someone mentally ill, but when the other siblings start to experience a dread that they cannot place and find themselves with half uncovered memories, they begin to wonder who they can trust. This twisting and turning story always places you on the back foot and had me hooked from the very beginning. It makes you question who are the good guys and the bad guys, or if there are even such things. What is the furthest someone would go for their children? My rating is 8/10.

Altered Minds Trailer

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

  • Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
  • Year: 2016
  • Run Time: 1 hr 26 min