10 Best Horror Movie Villains With Absolutely No Motive

The horror movie villains who had zero motivation for their actions.

The Strangers
Rogue Pictures

Villains are by far the best part of any horror film. Whether it’s Freddy Krueger, Chucky or Ghostface, these murderously evil beings are what audiences cherish the most about these baddies’ respective flicks. Their wit is usually as sharp as their blade (for those villains who talk, at least), and their kills are just as creative. This is precisely why great horror villains have become mascots for the genre, and why fans continue to root for them.

These legends of cinema may be bloodthirsty, but most of them tend to have some sort of justification for their violent acts. Krueger wants vengeance on the vigilante parents who burned him to death; Chucky wants to possess a young child so that he can have a human body again; and the mother and son Voorhees duo also wanted a taste of revenge against negligent camp counsellors.

Of course, these paper-thin motivations aren’t an excuse for their heinous actions, but they do make these movie monsters more relatable.

Not all horror movie villains are given the luxury of having a motivation, though. In fact, not having one arguably makes these villains scarier than their more excusable peers.

These horror rogues are pure evil manifested on the big screen, and they're terrifying.

10. The Strangers - The Strangers (2008)

The Strangers
Universal PIctures

The very concept of malevolent intruders turning up in our own homes (the place we’re supposed to feel the safest) and turning them into a living hell is what makes home invasion movies so chilling. This is a very real fear, and this subgenre exploits this terror to believable and disturbing heights.

With the likes of You’re Next, Them, and Hush, there’s no shortage of horrifying home invaders that’ll inspire moviegoers to triple check they’ve locked the door at night. But it’s the titular masked intruders in writer-director Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers who best embody the innate fear of this genre.

Inspired by a collection of real-life invents (including the murder of Sharon Tate) and break-ins that happened at Berino’s childhood neighbourhood, the filmmaker’s debut follows couple James (Scott Speedman) and Kristen (Liv Tyler) arriving at their secluded vacation home after returning from a wedding.

Their evening soon descends into chaos when a group of masked intruders begin to torment them before eventually murdering the pair. The only explanation they give for their actions is “Because [they] were home.”

Sometimes people commit violence for no apparent reason, and it’s this lack of justification that makes The Strangers so unnervingly unsettling.


Glasgow-based cinephile who earned a Master's degree in film studies to spend their time writing about cinema, video games, and horror.