The best horror movies are all about the small details. Audiences are terrified by The Black Phone‘s villain The Grabber holding black balloons and wearing masks, and the ranch setting of Jordan Peele’s latest film nope is full of depth. While strong-willed characters and twists drive many films, it’s the things hidden in the background that make scary stories so unforgettable. When characters are always looking over their shoulder or wondering if someone is spying on them, audiences can’t help but shiver.
Redditors are sharing the tiny details in horror films that unsettle them the most, from the expression on a character’s face to the specific way that a villain walks around.
10 Creepy Kids
Whether it’s a child who is scared of the ghosts in their new house or a young character who is actually evil, horror movies feature many horrifying youngsters. For Redditor Chief7064, “Spooky kids creep me out,” including Gage from Pet Sematary and Damien in The Omen.
Gage is particularly alarming as for most of the Stephen King adaptation, he’s adorable and sweet, enjoying playing outdoors and spending time with his family. But when he dies in an accident and comes back to life, he’s evil, and the angry look in his eyes is incredibly intense. He definitely rivals many other villains.
9 Evil Dolls Like Annabelle
There are many horror movies about creepy dolls and Redditor firedude784 posted that “possessed dolls give me the creeps,” mentioning the main antagonist in Annabelle is the most unsettling example.
Dolls are often hanging out in the background of shots, and they are so effective because at first glance, they seem innocent and adorable. It’s tough to imagine a toy causing so much trouble. But as each movie about a terrible doll progresses, audiences know that these objects have an incredible power to hurt the main and minor characters and scare viewers.
8 Characters Opening Their Mouths Wide
For Redditor -horseradish, an upsetting detail from the horror genre is when characters open their mouths wide. The fan wrote that they are unsettled by “Elongated mouths” and they added, “That scene in The Ring still haunts me.”
While Samara’s presence is always chilling, as her long black hair falls over her eyes and she moves super quickly as she leaves her well and exits the TV, it’s Katie Embry’s mouth that is a memorable detail from this movie. Audiences learn that characters will die seven days after watching a cursed tape and watching Katie’s body and mouth harden as an evil spirit kills her is not something horror fans have forgotten. It’s this detail of Katie’s mouth that makes this a smart opening scene, as it’s clear that Katie couldn’t stop what happened.
7 An Eerie Character In The Background
In both horror movies and IRL, when someone looks behind them and sees someone staring at them, it’s definitely odd. There are many background details in the horror genre that fans are always on the lookout for and Redditor WalterKlemmer shared that when there is a character behind someone else, it can be really intense.
The fan mentioned a scene from 2017’s it when “Ben is in the library reading about the history of Derry and the librarian is just standing in the background staring at him creepily.” This is a big hint that something sinister is happening in this small Maine town and that nowhere is safe, not even the town library, which is supposed to be an innocent place.
6 A Character Opening A Fridge
For one Redditor, a memorable detail is when a character is “opening a refrigerator, and of course you know once they close it…there is the killer or monster.” It’s also scary when a character walks down a dark hallway late at night, opens a closet door, or misses the villain who is literally hiding out in their house, unseen.
A great example of this detail is in Scream (2022) when Wes Hicks is getting ready for a take-out meal with Judy and he opens the fridge door. It’s not long before Ghostface kills him. Wes is not only one of the best scream (2022) characters but this is a smart and effective scene. Audiences hope nothing will happen but expect Will to be murdered since there are so many hints.
5 A Mirror That Shows A Spirit
For Redditor Spatcheler, “When a character walks past a mirror but the reflection is a creepy ghost person” is one of the most fear-inducing parts of a movie. The fan mentioned the 2003 movie One Missed Call as a movie that uses this.
Although some tropes are too expected, mirrors are always effective and powerful. The main character never thinks that they will see something strange in the mirror and so it’s a big shock every single time.
4 Jump Scares That Take A Long Time
There are some horror movies with smart jump scares and Redditor caden_r1305 likes when this trope is used but in a more specific way: “Longer, drawn out jump scares, usually when something is walking/running towards the camera.”
The fan mentioned that the first time that audiences see Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it’s an intelligent jump scare as he’s a horrible villain. Watching Leatherface fight his enemies is always a haunting experience.
3 Hidden Background Details
Sometimes movies feature hidden details that are hard to see when watching a film for the first time and are fun to pick out when rewatching. One Redditor mentioned “Shadowy figures in the background that you could almost miss” as being really scary.
The fan noted the hereditary scene with Annie Graham “on the ceiling in the background in the darkness.” This might be a small detail considering how many chaotic and powerful moments make up this story, but seeing Annie like this is tough to forget. Annie is destined to be controlled by the demon King Paimon because of her family history and she feels totally helpless here.
2 When Villains Move In A Strange Way
Some of the best horror movie villains move in an odd way, whether they walk around in slow motion or it seems like every time they move their arms or legs, they’re going at super speed. For Redditor mbattagl, one of the scariest things from a horror film is when a character has “Unnatural movements.”
The fan mentioned that Pennywise from it moves like this, and so does Michael Myers from Halloween. While it always feels impossible for main characters to escape a killer or evil spirit, when the antagonist moves strangely, it feels even worse.
1 An Unsettling Body Of Water
For Redditor harperfin, characters who spend time in water is a horror film detail that feels fearful every time. The fan wrote, “someone is swimming in a large lake or the ocean and it shows the deep black void under them and you know something is going to rise up from there.”
Lake Placid is a good example of a story that uses this detail, and a movie that takes place on the water is always going to feel horrifying. No matter what a strong swimmer someone is, they’re never truly aware of what is there.
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