The nightmare sequence holds limitless possibilities for the horror film - dream scapes can be as abstract and imaginative as the writer wants, including the nightmare within a nightmare trope. Also known as the 'false awakening,' this is a weird form of lucid dreaming that means you wake from one nightmare straight into another. It's also one of the sneakiest jump scare set ups around.
Some movies base the entire concept on dreams within dreams (Inception, Waking Life) to great effect, this trope however, is for pure shock factor. Our sleeper wakes from a horrific nightmare and breathes a sigh of relief and suddenly... BOOM! Straight into a second nightmare we didn't even know we were in.
Some of the films on this list are of questionable merit; even Nicholas Cage can't fix the most cynical of remakes but don't worry, there's plenty of top notch horror here too. Brutal revenge thrillers, classic 90s slashers, modern internet urban legends and yes, how could we forget - the purveyor of slumber slaughter himself, Mr. Freddy Krueger makes an appearance too.
Beware of heavy spoilers throughout and keep one eye on your totem - you may very well still be in a nightmare...
10. Jen's Cave Nightmare - Revenge (2017)
Revenge does exactly what it says on the tin - this is Mad Max meets I Spit On Your Grave, and is not for the easily shocked. In fact, the opening act is so uncomfortable to watch, it almost strays into a different genre altogether.
Jen is invited to her rich boyfriend's weekend hunting getaway in a remote luxury home overlooking an expanse of desert. When Richard leaves on an errand, his friend Stan viciously sexually assaults Jen, as Dimitri does nothing to intervene. Richard returns to the scene and instead of doing the right thing, he tries to persuade Jen to forget the whole incident. She flees but Richard pursues her, pushing Jen from a cliff and impaling her on the limb of a dead tree. Amazingly, she survives.
She finds refuge in a cave and using some peyote as anaesthetic, cauterises her wounds. She wakes and prepares to leave the cave when Richard suddenly appears and blows her head off with a shotgun, forcing her awake from a drug induced nightmare. She leaves again, Richard shows up with the shotgun, and bang, another nightmare. As she continues to dream, this time it's trippy; lizards, flashbacks, revenge fantasies and once again, she wakes in the cave. That's two fake outs in a row.
By the time she finally leaves the cave for real, the scene is set for her vengeance and you're with her the whole way - Jen deserves every drop of blood she squeezes from these three scumbags.