Realism and horror flicks don’t usually go hand-in-hand, but when they do, they can create some of the most terrifying, visceral moments that can scar you for life. It just proves that you don’t need hellish demons or blood-thirsty aliens to make a scary horror movie.
Here are some of the most blood-chilling examples of horror films that feel way too real.
1. Psycho (1960)
It all started here, in the mind of a sick man named Norman Bates — the psycho. This movie’s influence on the horror genre cannot be overstated, and to this day, it’s still one of the most thrilling stories about serial killers. The split personality angle made the movie stand out even more. Bates is sort of a collective image of many real-world killers, including Ed Gein, who adored his mother so much that he made a skin suit out of his victims to look more like her. Absolutely grotesque!
2. Audition (1999)
How many times have you found yourself in an awkward situation where you’re holding auditions for your future wife, and you think you finally found the concubine of your dreams, only to realize you just signed your own death warrant? That’s pretty much the plot of Takashi Miike’s psychological horror film Audition. When your new soon-to-be wife starts torturing people and cutting off their body parts, maybe you should think of getting a divorce ASAP, while you still have all your fingers and limbs attached. Fair warning: the Audition is maybe too realistic for its own good, so make sure you can stomach this kind of horror.
3. Misery (1990)
Among the vast sea of demons, shapeshifting clowns from space, and other nasty creatures created by the sick imagination of Stephen King, there are many books that deal with regular human psychosis. In the 1990 movie Misery, Kathy Bates plays a crazed fan who will not take “no” for an answer when she finally kidnaps her favorite writer. All she wants is for them to be together forever. Is that so much to ask? A broken leg or two won’t make a big difference.
4. Jaws (1975)
I can already hear you typing “bu- but Jaws is not realistic! Why is this movie on the list?” Well, you’re right for the most part. I bet you had no idea that Spielberg’s movie about a hangry prehistoric shark snacking on unsuspecting beachgoers was actually based on real events. In July of 1916, sharks around Jersey Shore killed four people, causing a whole lot of panic and bringing forth the brave shark hunters, who inspired Peter Benchley to write his bestseller — Jaws.
5. The Purge (2013)
The first Purge movie showed just how maniacal some people could be when you let them do whatever they want without suffering any consequences. Not the most creative concept, but it definitely gets the job done. Making any crime legal for a single night means nobody is safe, and you can get your sweet revenge on your boss who fired you or your friend who fooled around with your wife. Like most home invasion movies, Purge is deeply unsettling as it hits very close to reality.
6. Hush (2016)
Body-snatching slugs are fun and dandy but imagine being both mute and deaf, living by yourself, and suddenly realizing you’re being stalked by some sicko who wants to kill you. You can’t call for help and never hear the danger coming. That kind of desperation and feeling of helplessness is what makes Mike Flannagan’s horror/thriller Hush so enticing to watch.
7. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Silence of the Lambs dives deep into the twisted psyche of serial killers and pretty accurately depicts the work process of the FBI detectives. Of course, not everything is “au naturel,” because who wants to go through all that paperwork in a movie about serial murderers, right? And then some parts just would not work if the plot didn’t need a kick in the butt. But it’s all good because we got one of the most charismatic villains ever shown on the screen — Hannibal Lecter. The movie treats Hannibal and Buffalo Bill as real people with depth and ambitions, however twisted they may be.