Fear of the Unknown

by Harry-Hood | created - 15 Nov 2011 | updated - 20 Mar 2012 | Public

Who or What is the killer? If you like mysterious horror films, particularly where the killer is not a zombie or vampire yet a scary shadow ("The Haunting", "Cat People") or shape-shifting menace ("The Thing", "The Mist"). In short: Scary films that never (or rarely) show the 'monster' or antagonist.

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1. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

R | 81 min | Horror, Mystery

81 Metascore

Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

Directors: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez | Stars: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard, Bob Griffin

Votes: 207,776 | Gross: $140.54M

Not my favorite but a good place to start such a list...

2. The Thing (1982)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

57 Metascore

A crew in Antarctica finds a neighboring camp destroyed and its crew dead. Whatever killed them is nowhere to be found, unless it's hidden in plain sight.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Richard Masur

Votes: 307,635 | Gross: $13.78M

3. Tartarus (2010)

106 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

Austria-Hungary 1813: Jacob and Veith return home from the Napoleonic war. Their road leads to the remote mountain village Pahlbach. The two newcomers encounter a frosty reception - and as ... See full summary »

Director: Stefan Müller | Stars: Moritz Thate, Martin Kroissenbrunner, Ines Gruber, Leopold F.J. Keber

Votes: 149

4. Alien (1979)

R | 116 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

83 Metascore

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright

Votes: 668,463 | Gross: $78.90M

5. Black Christmas (1974)

R | 98 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

During their Christmas break, a group of sorority girls are stalked by a stranger.

Director: Bob Clark | Stars: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon

Votes: 25,237 | Gross: $4.05M

6. The Mist (2007)

R | 126 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

58 Metascore

A freak storm unleashes a species of bloodthirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher

Votes: 248,621 | Gross: $25.59M

7. R-Point (2004)

R | 107 min | Action, Horror, War

During the Vietnam War, a South Korean base receives a radio transmission from a missing squad, presumed dead, and sends a platoon to rescue the lost squad from the R-Point.

Director: Su-chang Kong | Stars: Woo-seong Kam, Byung-ho Son, Sun-kyun Lee, Won-sang Park

Votes: 4,592

8. The Haunting (1963)

G | 112 min | Horror

74 Metascore

A scientist doing research on the paranormal invites two women to a haunted mansion. One of the participants soon starts losing her mind.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn

Votes: 29,376 | Gross: $2.62M

9. Them (2006)

R | 77 min | Horror, Thriller

60 Metascore

Lucas and Clementine live peacefully in their isolated country house, but one night they wake up to strange noise... they're not alone... and a group of hooded assailants begin to terrorize them throughout the night.

Directors: David Moreau, Xavier Palud | Stars: Olivia Bonamy, Michaël Cohen, Adriana Mocca, Maria Roman

Votes: 26,599

10. Predator (1987)

R | 107 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

45 Metascore

A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior.

Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall, Elpidia Carrillo

Votes: 323,880 | Gross: $59.74M

11. Predators (2010)

R | 107 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

51 Metascore

A group of elite warriors parachute into an unfamiliar jungle and are hunted by members of a merciless alien race.

Director: Nimród Antal | Stars: Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, Alice Braga

Votes: 188,002 | Gross: $52.00M

12. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973 TV Movie)

Unrated | 74 min | Horror

A young couple inherits an old mansion inhabited by small demon-like creatures who are determined to make the wife one of their own.

Director: John Newland | Stars: Kim Darby, Jim Hutton, Barbara Anderson, William Demarest

Votes: 2,844

13. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

R | 99 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

56 Metascore

A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend believes that she has released creatures from a sealed ash pit in the basement of her new home.

Director: Troy Nixey | Stars: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Bruce Gleeson

Votes: 43,383 | Gross: $24.04M

14. Le village des ombres (2010)

Not Rated | 103 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A group of young people are trapped in an evil village.

Director: Fouad Benhammou | Stars: Christa Théret, Bárbara Goenaga, Cyrille Thouvenin, Ornella Boulé

Votes: 382

15. Lost (2004–2010)

TV-14 | 44 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

The survivors of a plane crash are forced to work together in order to survive on a seemingly deserted tropical island.

Stars: Jorge Garcia, Josh Holloway, Yunjin Kim, Evangeline Lilly

Votes: 431,322

16. Wendigo (2001)

R | 91 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

63 Metascore

George is a high-strung professional photographer who is starting to unravel from the stress of his work with a Manhattan advertising agency. Needing some time away from the city, Jake, his... See full summary »

Director: Larry Fessenden | Stars: Patricia Clarkson, Jake Weber, Erik Per Sullivan, John Speredakos

Votes: 3,440 | Gross: $0.10M

17. The Abyss (1989)

PG-13 | 145 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

62 Metascore

A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn, Leo Burmester

Votes: 144,904 | Gross: $54.46M

18. The Descent (2005)

R | 99 min | Adventure, Horror, Thriller

71 Metascore

A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.

Director: Neil Marshall | Stars: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder

Votes: 175,095 | Gross: $26.02M

19. The Last Winter (2006)

Not Rated | 101 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

69 Metascore

The American oil company North Corporation is building an ice road to explore the remote Northern Arctic National Wildlife Refuge seeking oil. The independent environmentalists together ... See full summary »

Director: Larry Fessenden | Stars: Ron Perlman, James Le Gros, Connie Britton, Zach Gilford

Votes: 7,892 | Gross: $0.03M

20. Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

R | 142 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

57 Metascore

In 18th century France, the Chevalier de Fronsac and his native American friend Mani are sent by the King to the Gevaudan province to investigate the killings of hundreds by a mysterious beast.

Director: Christophe Gans | Stars: Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Dacascos, Jérémie Renier, Vincent Cassel

Votes: 56,483 | Gross: $11.26M

21. Silent House (2011)

R | 86 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

49 Metascore

A girl is trapped inside her family's lakeside retreat and becomes unable to contact the outside world as supernatural forces haunt the house with mysterious energy and consequences.

Directors: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau | Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Chan

Votes: 20,062 | Gross: $12.56M

22. The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

Not Rated | 47 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

While sorting the affairs of his late Uncle, a man accidentally stumbles across a series of dark secrets connected to an ancient horror waiting to be freed.

Director: Andrew Leman | Stars: Matt Foyer, John Bolen, Ralph Lucas, Chad Fifer

Votes: 6,907

23. The Bunker (2001)

R | 88 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Seven German soldiers are enclosed in one bunker during the Second World War. They soon feel surrounded by enemies. When they hear about the tunnel-system beneath the bunker and some mystic... See full summary »

Director: Rob Green | Stars: Jason Flemyng, Andrew Tiernan, Christopher Fairbank, Simon Kunz

Votes: 5,392

24. Incubus (1966)

Unrated | 78 min | Horror

On a strange island inhabited by demons and spirits, a man battles the forces of evil.

Director: Leslie Stevens | Stars: William Shatner, Allyson Ames, Eloise Hardt, Robert Fortier

Votes: 1,613

25. [Rec] (2007)

R | 78 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.

Directors: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza | Stars: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso

Votes: 146,068

26. Altitude (2010)

R | 90 min | Mystery, Thriller

After a mysterious malfunction sends their small plane climbing out of control, a rookie pilot and her four teenage friends find themselves trapped in a deadly showdown with a supernatural force.

Director: Kaare Andrews | Stars: Jessica Lowndes, Julianna Guill, Ryan Donowho, Landon Liboiron

Votes: 9,178

27. Halloween (1978)

R | 91 min | Horror, Thriller

78 Metascore

Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield to kill again.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran, Nancy Kyes

Votes: 181,123 | Gross: $47.00M

28. Baron Blood (1972)

PG | 90 min | Horror

A young man, visiting the castle of a murderous ancestor in Austria, accidentally brings his dead relative back to life - searching for new victims.

Director: Mario Bava | Stars: Joseph Cotten, Elke Sommer, Massimo Girotti, Luciano Pigozzi

Votes: 2,676

29. The Chilling (1989)

R | 90 min | Horror

The bodies at a cryogenic centre are defrosted by accident and turn into cannibalistic zombies.

Directors: Deland Nuse, Jack A. Sunseri | Stars: Linda Blair, Dan Haggerty, Troy Donahue, Jack De Rieux

Votes: 390

30. Apollo 18 (2011)

PG-13 | 86 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

24 Metascore

Decades-old found footage from NASA's abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the reason the U.S. has never returned to the moon.

Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego | Stars: Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, Ryan Robbins, Michael Kopsa

Votes: 49,973 | Gross: $17.69M

GREAT premise, TERRIBLE movie experience. It makes this list for the premise alone, and as a good example of how a good concept does not make a good movie, and demonstrates the limitations of the POV/"found footage" game.

31. Cloverfield (2008)

PG-13 | 85 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

64 Metascore

A group of friends venture deep into the streets of New York on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack.

Director: Matt Reeves | Stars: Mike Vogel, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan, T.J. Miller

Votes: 336,392 | Gross: $80.05M

A more successful attempt at the tired "found footage" movie.

32. The Legend of Hell House (1973)

PG | 95 min | Horror

Physicist Lionel Barrett and his wife lead a team of mediums into the Belasco House, which is supposedly haunted by the victims of its late owner, a six-foot-five serial killer.

Director: John Hough | Stars: Roddy McDowall, Gayle Hunnicutt, Pamela Franklin, Clive Revill

Votes: 10,395

33. Nine Miles Down (2009)

Not Rated | 86 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A security expert is sent to a remote scientific camp to investigate strange things that are happening.

Director: Anthony Waller | Stars: Adrian Paul, Amanda Douge, Anthony Waller, Caroline Couret-Delegue

Votes: 2,911

34. The Objective (2008)

Not Rated | 90 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

26 Metascore

A military special operations team, led by a CIA case officer, are on a mission in the harsh and hostile terrain of Afghanistan where they find themselves in a Middle Eastern "Bermuda Triangle" of ancient evil.

Director: Daniel Myrick | Stars: Jonas Ball, Matthew R. Anderson, Jon Huertas, Michael C. Williams

Votes: 7,354 | Gross: $2.25M

35. Under the Mountain (2009)

PG-13 | 90 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Teenage twins battle dark forces hidden beneath Auckland's volcanoes.

Director: Jonathan King | Stars: Tom Cameron, Sophie McBride, Oliver Driver, Leon Wadham

Votes: 1,906

36. Outpost (2008)

R | 90 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

In war-torn Eastern Europe, a world-weary group of mercenaries discover a long-hidden secret in an abandoned WWII bunker.

Director: Steve Barker | Stars: Ray Stevenson, Julian Wadham, Richard Brake, Paul Blair

Votes: 14,940

37. The Hole (2009)

PG-13 | 92 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Thriller

57 Metascore

A pair of brothers stumble upon a mysterious hole in their basement that leads to the darkest corridors of their fears and nightmares.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett, Nathan Gamble, Teri Polo

Votes: 20,765

38. YellowBrickRoad (2010)

R | 98 min | Horror, Thriller

52 Metascore

1940: the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire walked up a winding mountain trail, leaving everything behind. 2008: the first official expedition into the wilderness attempts to solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar.

Directors: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton | Stars: Michael Laurino, Anessa Ramsey, Alex Draper, Cassidy Freeman

Votes: 5,063

39. Djinns (2010)

103 min | Horror, Mystery

A platoon of French soldiers on a rescue mission in North Africa confront invisible evil creatures.

Directors: Hugues Martin, Sandra Martin | Stars: Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Thierry Frémont, Saïd Taghmaoui, Aurélien Wiik

Votes: 784

aka Djinns

40. Curse of the Demon (1957)

Approved | 95 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

American professor John Holden arrives in London for a parapsychology conference, only to find himself investigating the mysterious actions of Devil-worshiper Julian Karswell.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Maurice Denham

Votes: 9,653

41. The 13th Warrior (1999)

R | 102 min | Action, Adventure, History

42 Metascore

A man, having fallen in love with the wrong woman, is sent by the sultan himself on a diplomatic mission to a distant land as an ambassador. Stopping at a Viking village port to restock on supplies, he finds himself unwittingly embroiled on a quest to banish a mysterious threat in a distant Viking land.

Directors: John McTiernan, Michael Crichton | Stars: Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, Dennis Storhøi, Vladimir Kulich

Votes: 107,554 | Gross: $32.70M

42. Red Sands (2009)

R | 89 min | Action, Horror, Thriller

During a mission in the Middle East, a group of US soldiers destroy a statue out of boredom only to then be visited by something the next day.

Director: Alex Turner | Stars: Shane West, Leonard Roberts, Aldis Hodge, Callum Blue

Votes: 3,091

43. Skyline (2010)

PG-13 | 97 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

26 Metascore

Strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing people outside like moths to a flame where an extraterrestrial force threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the Earth.

Directors: Colin Strause, Greg Strause | Stars: Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel

Votes: 81,557 | Gross: $21.37M

Not really scary, but great Spec. FX.

44. A Chronicle of Corpses (2000)

83 min | Drama, Horror

56 Metascore

American Gothic horror story, but then different. Severe camera and shadowy lighting dominate in this story about a family of poverty-stricken nobility that takes it all out on a ... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Repasky McElhinney | Stars: Marj Dusay, Oliver Wyman, Margot White, Ryan Foley

Votes: 120

45. Signs (2002)

PG-13 | 106 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

59 Metascore

A family living on a farm finds mysterious crop circles in their fields which suggests something more frightening to come.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan | Stars: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin

Votes: 299,757 | Gross: $227.97M

46. Jaws (1975)

PG | 124 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

87 Metascore

A local sheriff, a marine biologist and an old seafarer team up to hunt down a great white shark wrecking havoc in a beach resort.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary

Votes: 479,686 | Gross: $260.00M

47. Deep Rising (1998)

R | 106 min | Action, Adventure, Horror

A group of heavily armed hijackers board a luxury ocean liner in the South Pacific Ocean to loot it, only to do battle with a series of large-sized, tentacled, man-eating sea creatures who have taken over the ship first.

Director: Stephen Sommers | Stars: Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Anthony Heald, Kevin J. O'Connor

Votes: 28,948 | Gross: $11.20M

48. The Caller (2011)

R | 92 min | Thriller

A young divorcee is getting her life back together by moving into an apartment. But what will she do when a strange person repeatedly calls her, and threatens to change her new life around?

Director: Matthew Parkhill | Stars: Rachelle Lefevre, Stephen Moyer, Lorna Raver, Ed Quinn

Votes: 9,622

49. The Woman in Black (2012)

PG-13 | 95 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

62 Metascore

A young solicitor travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.

Director: James Watkins | Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciarán Hinds, Emma Shorey

Votes: 158,527 | Gross: $54.33M

One of my favorite ghost stories at this time. I love the atmosphere, the concept, the resolution.... and the increased production values make it an improvement over the 1989 TV movie.