Decapitation, broken bones and supernatural monsters were popular additions to many of this year’s scariest film and television moments. And with multiple scenes reportedly causing audience walk-outs, this year’s horror entries didn’t shy away from the gratuitous gore and disturbing deaths that have made the genre what it is today.
See if scenes from your favorite horror show made the list below. (Oh, and spoiler alert!)
“Suspiria” – Olga’s Death
Even if you haven’t seen Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 remake of “Suspiria,” you’ve most likely heard about its opening dance-studio death. The terrifying scene, which features the gruesome murder of one of the film’s principal dancers, caused some viewers to walk out of the theater, and with such a visceral death, it’s easy to see why. As Dakota Johnson’s character performs a violent dance number in the film’s central dance studio, her actions magically ravage the body of a dancer one floor beneath her. With every swipe of Johnson’s arm, the dancer’s bones appear to fold in on themselves, forcing blood, guts and urine to escape from every orifice of her body. And if the death itself isn’t enough, a group of witches remove her still-breathing body by skewering her with curved spikes and carrying her from the room.
“Hereditary” – Charlie’s Death
“Hereditary” has more than a few scenes to pull from when it comes to terrifying scares – a certain piano-wire beheading definitely comes to mind – but it’s the death of the family’s beloved daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) that packs the most punch. Much of the film’s lead-up centers around Charlie, a strange child who’s awkward tongue tick makes for a pretty creepy character, so when she dies less than a quarter of the way into the film, it’s more than a little shocking. After suffering an allergic reaction at a party, Charlie’s brother tries to rush her to a hospital. However, after encountering a dead deer in the road, he’s forced to swerve next to a telephone pole just as Charlie leans out to the window for a breath of fresh air. The resulting beheading is tough to watch, and the film’s close-up of her decaying head the next day only serves to emphasize the horror of the scene further.
“The Meg” – The Second Shark
While not a spectacular horror film in and of itself, “The Meg” still offers some quality scares especially for viewers who always think twice about swimming in the ocean. After a team of marine researchers accidentally discover a giant species of prehistoric shark, star Jason Statham is forced to defy all odds and kill the beast. The only caveat – there’s more than one. In one of the film’s more terrifying scenes, a second, larger shark emerges from the depths and devours Ólafur Darri Ólafsson’s character The Wall right after the team of survivors finally manages to kill the first one. What makes the scene so scary? The brief moment of respite for viewers who haven’t noticed that the film still has 15 minutes to go.
“A Quiet Place” – The Bathtub
“A Quiet Place” took the box office by storm, and rightfully so, as it features some of the most suspenseful horror scenes of 2018. At the top of the list is Emily blunt’s bathtub birth, which sees her character entering labor just a few feet away from the film’s extrasensory alien invaders. Since the aliens rely entirely on sound to pinpoint their prey’s location, she’s forced to remain silent despite the immense pain of childbirth made even worse by the nail she’s just stepped on.
“The Haunting of Hill House” – Mr. Smiley
It’s hard to rank the ghosts in “The Haunting of Hill House” in terms of scariness. They all possess their own terrifying traits – the bent neck lady’s crooked silhouette or the gentleman’s tall, spindly stature – and they all possess their own equally scary scenes. So when it comes to selecting the scariest ghost encounter from the Netflix show, it’s best to look outside of the house where it all started. One scene in particular is absent of ghosts entirely instead relying on a figment of Theo’s (Kate Siegel) psychic ability to conjure up one of her child client’s made up monsters. With a withered face made out of wood, Mr. Smiley is a truly terrifying creature whose appearance in a now adult Theo’s room is sure to bring back every viewer’s childhood fear of monsters under the bed.
“Halloween” – The Teeth
The newest entry into the “Halloween” franchise is filled with horror goodies, but one of its scariest scenes has been advertised right from the start of its release. After escaping from a prison transport bus, Michael Meyers embarks on yet another killing rampage in search of his long-time nemesis Laurie Strode. Along the way, he stops at a gas station where he murders a mechanic as well as true-crime podcasters Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhian Rees) – whose death in the gas station bathroom makes for one of the film’s scariest scenes due largely in part to the human teeth that Michael drops onto the floor. Despite being featured in the film’s opening trailer, the teeth add a layer of brutality to a character that is already known for his ruthless kills.
“The Walking Dead” – The Whisperers
Zombie scares may be old news in “The Walking Dead,” but in the latest episode of season nine they take on a new form as the whisperers. Although in actuality not zombies at all – they’re survivors who have sewn corpse faces around their own in order to blend in with the walker herds – their appearance in an old-school horror cemetery complete with fog and creepy gravestones makes their attack scene an instant classic for the series.
“The House that Jack Built” – Hunting Children
“The House that Jack Built” follows serial killer Jack (Mat Dillon) whose long history of murder touches upon one of the few sensitive tropes within the horror genre: violence against children. In one scene, Jack gathers a mother and her two sons for a picnic, during which he explains his hunting technique for shooting deer. It’s important to kill the fawns first, he tells them, before later training his gun on the children themselves. After killing the two boys, he then forces their mother to spoon feed their dead bodies before attacking her as well. Despite the obvious foreshadowing, the scene’s open portrayal of murder against children is one of the most disturbing scenes of the year.