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10 Lesser-Known Horror Movies That Are Actually Terrifyingly Good

Nothing like a horror movie to make 2020 seem a little less terrifying!

1. Digging Up the Marrow (2014)

A monster with glowing eyes, cracked skin, and sharp fangs snarling
Ariescope Pictures

Filmmaker, Adam Green, stars as himself in this gritty mockumentary that I found aptly buried beneath vampire anime and zombie thrillers in Hulu's horror section.

A fictionalized Green – ambitious, idealistic and just a little bit impulsive – is working on a documentary about monster-centric artwork when he's approached by William Dekker, a retired detective who swears he has indisputable proof that monsters — actual monsters — are real.

Chaos ensues.

Horror mockumentaries are historically hit-or-miss, but Digging Up the Marrow hits because it isn't trying too hard. It's simple, immersive, effective, and tells an interesting story with just the right amount of lore. It's one of the most interesting horror films Hulu has to offer and reminds you exactly why mockumentaries (and any other first-person horror films) are so much fun.

2. The Wind (2018)

An old-fashioned Western woman looking at the cabin door at a desolate, ominous field
IFC Midnight

I won't lie to you — The Wind requires a little bit of patience.

On paper, it's not your usual horror movie. It's set in the late 19th century and follows the lives of Lizzy and her husband, Isaac, as they settle in an unpopulated part of New Mexico. Another young couple, Emma and her husband, Gideon, move into a cabin nearby, and a tenuous friendship is born. It's also complicated by the fact that Lizzy has been living in paranoia and fear of a mysterious demon ever since her miscarriage months before.

The story is told out of order, something that's usually disorienting but actually works in The Wind's favor, and it manages to encompass and execute themes that usually fall flat in horror. Isolation, distance, distrust, religion, and adultery (all wrapped in the lonely, dusty setting of the American frontier) come together in one pot and boil over into a unique and nerve-wracking thriller that's well worth the watch.

3. Dark Was the Night (2014)

A logger walking into an ominous forest
Caliber Media Company

How many horror films have you seen about loggers? None? Dark Was the Night will make you realize that this is an untapped market and leave you wanting more.

Sheriff Paul Fields (your typical, ruggedly handsome, small-town sheriff) tries to keep the peace when a mysterious creature – something that eats horses and leaves behind strange tracks in the dirt – begins terrorizing the town every night.

With a fresh-faced deputy from the big city, the protagonist's own tragic backstory, a little Native American folklore, and an ending that hits you like a punch in the face, Dark Was the Night is a simple, classic horror film that gets the job done.

4. Delirium (2018)

A young man running from something that's chasing him through his own house
Blumhouse Productions

Topher Grace pulls no punches in this dark, psychological thriller. Following his release from a long-term mental facility, Tom Walker (Grace) returns to his childhood home, a mansion he's inherited from his recently deceased father. Visions, hallucinations, and other strange events force Tom to face both his past and his new reality, kicking up twisted family secrets in the process.

Delirium is a great example of everything a psychological horror movie should be, and all of its twists and turns will leave you with emotional whiplash.

5. The Gallows (2015)

A woman hiding from a shrouded figure who's holding a noose
New Line Cinema

Found footage films are the backbone of modern horror, and The Gallows doesn't disappoint. In the early '90s, a high-school student is killed during a performance of the school play. 20 years later, an ambitious theater teacher wants to revive that very production. What could possibly go wrong?

The Gallows takes high-school lore and local legends to the next level and sets up an entertaining (albeit slightly underwhelming) sequel. If you're in the mood for something simple, creepy, and strangely nostalgic, look no further!

6. Animal (2014)

A nightmarish creature brandishing razor-sharp teeth
Chiller Films

Animal is a straight-to-video creature feature produced by Drew Barrymore, starring two of the great child stars from the 2010s. Liz Gillies (Victorious's Jade West) and Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP's True Jackson) play college students hiking through the wilderness with their boyfriends. What happens when this energetic, down-to-earth group of bright-eyed co-eds is suddenly pursued by a mysterious monster? Tea is spilled. And blood. Lots and lots of blood.

Animal is a delightful, trope-filled, teen-scream adventure that will amuse, terrify, and have you glad you're safe inside.

7. The Mandela Effect (2019)

A man grabbing his head as the world around him comes undone
Periscope Entertainment

Rotten Tomatoes was unkind to The Mandela Effect, but I think this trippy little sci-fi/horror flick packs an unexpected punch. The movie follows Brenden and Claire, a married couple left reeling after the sudden death of their young daughter.

Brenden – a video-game designer – begins to spiral in the wake of his grief but finds hope and comfort in the Mandela Effect, the phenomenon of large groups of people all misremembering something in the same way. Before long, Brenden is convinced that these false memories are the result of multiple universes, something that forces him to conclude that his daughter must be alive in one of them.

The Mandela Effect was a popular topic of discussion a few years back when everyone realized that the Monopoly man didn't actually have a monocle or that everyone's favorite family of bears was really named Berenstain and not Berenstein. This movie takes that concept and runs with it in a way that'll stick with you. It's the type of horror that creeps into your mind when you can't sleep and only gets scarier the more you think about it.

8. The Lodge (2019)

A woman and two children staring out of a frost-covered cabin window
FilmNation Entertainment

Jaeden Martell (It's young Bill) stars in this mind-bending psychological horror flick that starts with a bang and never slows down enough to let you catch your breath. The Lodge follows two young siblings forced to vacation with their father and his new fiancé following a tragic death in the family.

The Lodge is well-acted, well-written, and downright scary, boasting the type of horror you'll be talking about for days after. If you like movies that make you think and test the limits of the genre, this is where you'll want to start.

9. Man Vs. (2015)

A man fallen on the ground backing away from a mummy like creature
Darius Films

Man Vs. is one of the most creatively formatted horror movies you'll ever come across. Doug Woods is the host of a wilderness survival show, the kind where he's abandoned in the woods with only a backpack full of random items in order to teach his viewers survival skills. But on his most recent excursion, Doug reaches a terrifying conclusion — he is not alone, and whatever is with him in these woods has some seriously sinister intentions.

This isn't your grandma's horror film. Man Vs. is original, immersive, and incredibly scary. (And it might make you think twice about a casual stroll through the Canadian wilderness.)

10. And lastly, Harbinger Down (2015)

A man tightly bundled in extreme winter-wear while a skull looks over him traveling through the arctic
Amalgamated Dynamics

I'm not here to sell you a bridge — Harbinger Down is hardly the movie of the century. But what this rough-and-tumble indie lacks in big budget shine it more than makes up for in charming idiosyncrasies.

Not only was Harbinger Down funded by donations on Kickstarter, it also boasts gore and other horror-specific visuals that were almost entirely done with practical effects. Oh yeah, Harbinger Down is old-school. Who needs CGI when you've got prosthetics, stop-motion animation, and mini figures?

With all of that in mind, Harbinger Down is an entertaining watch, something that's easy-to-follow, fun to discuss, and a great choice for a horror-movie night with friends. It's unique, engaging, and features a delightful cast of character actors that you'll recognize from a thousand other, less-terrifying projects.

If you want a one-of-the-kind horror experience made only stronger by its one-of-a-kind production, look no further. Harbinger Down is the film for you.

Are there any underrated horror movies you'd recommend? Leave some seriously spooky suggestions in the comments. We'll keep our eyes peeled for 'em!

A monster without eyes on its face but on its hands
Warner Bros. Pictures