10 Most Anxiety-Inducing Horror Movies EVER

The most nerve-shredding cinematic panic attacks in the scariest genre's storied history...

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There's nothing quite like a good horror movie to put an audience on edge.

When it comes to movies made for unsettling audiences, the horror genre is beyond compare. The genre thrives on inducing cold sweats and leaving viewers terrified, and it reigns supreme as the most intensely anxiety inducing genre as a result.

From the earliest silent film horrors, through the slasher boom and video nasty generation, straight through to more recent trends like found footage and so-called "elevated horror", the motive of horror directors has always remained the same. The goal is to get the audience scared, anxious, unsettled, caught off guard and peering over their shoulder on the walk home.

With that in mind, this list has been compiled from the horror movies that are guaranteed to get your heart hammering, pulse racing, and sweat glands working overtime. Some are predictable classics which it would be dishonest to leave out, many more are more obscure and all the more unnerving as a result, but every film on this list is guaranteed to leave viewers shook...

10. The Exorcist

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Warner Bros. Pictures

You knew it had to be on this list.

Where a lot of iconic, classic horror masterpieces are more atmospheric or influential than outright scary (hi there, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and John Carpenter's Halloween), first time viewers are likely to be blown away by how relentlessly effective William Friedkin's 1973 classic The Exorcist remains decades after its initial release.

Yes, it's hugely famous, widely parodied, and as such feels like it couldn't possibly hit hard any more.

But it's a combination of the film's slow, deliberate pace and the regular sudden jolts of terror that makes it so enduringly anxiety-inducing, as well as some still-taboo shocks and clever filmmaking tricks. The subliminal inserts shots of the demonic Captain Howdy leave the audience constantly on edge, unaware why they're unsettled but nonetheless shook. Meanwhile, whilst onscreen effects and gore may have grown more explicit in the years since its release, few mainstream releases have managed to include imagery as gasp-inducing as the film's infamous crucifix sequence.

Still the greatest to ever do it, this iconic horror manages to be as gripping as ever thanks to sequences that no amount of parody can soften the effectiveness of.

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