Devils are scary. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, the devil elicits a particular, almost existential, anxiety among viewers. The very mention of the name, whispered in the dark, is enough to freeze even the most jaded soul. For some people, the devil is very much a part of everyday life. Those who saw the films in which he appears as Old Scratch may find themselves believing, if only for a brief moment, that he really does portray the character as frightening and raw.
If you’re searching for some good occult scares, check out these 13 films. The devil plays a major role in each of the following films, which range in style from classics to cutting-edge fare. Some may be about specific demons — “The Exorcist” is about Pazuzu, for example — but as long as the creatures are in league with Satan himself, they are valid. What are you waiting for? Grab your Bible and some holy water, and read on—if you dare.
The director of “Devil,” like “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” is frequently mistaken. “Devil” was not directed by M. Night Shyamalan. John Erick Dowdle was the one. Despite being based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan, this film was not written or directed by him. The marketing and the fact that Shyamalan’s singular narrative and filmmaking approaches are clear throughout “Devil” make this movie easy mistake to make. Five strangers are stranded in an elevator in “Devil,” an ensemble thriller, when they discover that one of them is the Devil himself.
When it comes to “Devil,” M. Night Shyamalan is able to deliver both familiarity and surprise in equal measure. It’s a prime example of a lofty concept explored to full effect on a limited budget, and it earns its scares genuinely. If only the world had more devilry like this.
12. Race with the Devil
A horror-themed “Mad Max” clone, “Race with the Devil” is full of angry, murderous Satanists. At the beginning of the film we see two married couples on an RV trip to Aspen when they get into a fight with satanists. Couples who have just left the cult’s clutches continue on their journey, unaware that the group is keeping an eye on them at every turn. In the third act, everything goes haywire. In the midst of a high-speed chase, the stunts are feasible, well-executed, and thrilling. Fonda jumps between moving vehicles, pistols are fired, and the lengthy action sequence is an amazing illustration of how to execute automobile chases well.
No matter how hard you try, “Race the Devil” has flaws. A fast move into action terrain betrays the suspense built up in the previous two acts, which are both beautifully dour. Even in 1975, the gender politics are archaic. To put it mildly, they’re nearly liabilities as spouses to Swift and Parker. Swift’s helpless behavior is all the more bizarre in light of her previous on-screen roles, and it’s painful to see these two accomplished performers scream and cry hopelessly. Even so, it’s a very unique piece of work. There isn’t much better for aficionados of paranoid thrillers with satanic overtones.
11. Curse of the Demon
It’s hard to find a vintage horror film that is truly terrifying like “Curse of Demon” (also known as “Night of Demon”). However, it doesn’t mean “Curse of the Demon” isn’t scary; it’s almost predictive in the way it mimics contemporary horror films. Due to its length and producer Hal E. Chester’s desire to include the devil itself in a climax, its production was reportedly filled with dispute. Tourneur wanted to leave it to the viewers’ imaginations.
professor who is fascinated by Professor Harrington (Maurice Denham) and his esoteric research, particularly his desire to expose a demonic cult, plays Dr. John Holden in the film “Curse of the Demon.” The cycle of death, curses, and, of course, enormous monsters eventually gets Holden in over his head. It’s still up in the air whether or not to display the demon’s face, but regardless, “Curse of the Demon” provides some of the most intense thrills of any film in recent memory. If the devil exists, he lives in the shadows and whispers and in the brains and hearts of terrible individuals, a chilling reminder to audiences. Yes, in a way that less subdued entries can’t.
10. Prince of Darkness
In “Prince of Darkness,” Carpenter’s best work from the late ’80s. Goofy, dramatic, and packed with so much religious dogma that one can’t help but have their head spin all the way around, it’s hard to recommend. It’s still a great time in the sequel to John Carpenter’s ‘Apocalypse Trilogy,’ which follows on from ‘The Thing’ and takes place before ‘In the Mouth of Madness,’ You can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. Details are the devil’s playthings.
Professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong), a Catholic priest, and his pupils explore a mysterious green liquid found in the monastery’s basement. The Brotherhood of Sleep, an ancient group of men who supposedly interacted through dreams, owned the monastery. It doesn’t take them long to determine that this liquid is in fact Satan’s very father, trapped in the domain of anti-matter. The “Prince of Darkness” doesn’t appear to grasp it either, so don’t worry. “Prince of Darkness” is a fascinating, wicked beast not to be missed, thanks to persistent whispers of a new show and Carpenter’s signature gonzo gore and frenetic energy.
9. The Devil’s Advocate
The fact that Al Pacino portrays the devil in “The Devil’s Advocate” is not a spoiler. You can see it in the title. Although we’re introduced to Al Pacino’s character as John Milton (get it?) as the movie begins, the president of a New York legal firm who offers to hire Keanu Reeves’ Kevin Lomax, an unethical defense attorney who has never lost a case but is willing to let guilty men walk free, is introduced. Following Kevin’s high-profile victory, he takes the offer and moves to New York with his wife Mary (a phenomenal Charlize Theron).
It doesn’t take long for strange things to start happening. Mary begins to fall apart as Kevin begins his metaphorical ascent. Seeing a toddler play with her removed ovaries and feeling increasingly isolated are just two of the disturbing thoughts and nightmares that she has been having since her ovaries were surgically removed. As he prioritizes victory over the well-being of himself and others he cares about, Kevin’s profession becomes increasingly difficult to manage. “The Devil’s Advocate,” a box financial and critical success, has faded into obscurity. Look for it.
8. The House of the Devil
Ti West, the director of “The House of the Devil,” has had a long and successful career. For example, West has directed episodes of ‘Scream: The TV Series’ and ‘The Exorcist’ in addition to classics like ‘The Innkeepers.’ However, “The House of the Devil” may as well be his first directorial effort, given the dismal quality of his previous two films.
Jocelin Donahue’s portrayal of a college student who is short on money is refreshingly honest. She accepts a cryptic babysitting job from a job post in order to acquire a new apartment on campus, only to find out that there are no children there and that she only needs to keep an eye on the property. As long as she accepts this employment, it’s not a surprise to explain that the homeowners have other, sinister intentions in store for them. Tense, vicious, and full of outstanding realistic gore effects (including one truly shocking and unexpected kill), “The House of the Devil” is throwback horror at its finest.
7. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Scott Derrickson, the director of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” disclosed on Twitter a few months ago that the film was originally given a R rating due to the unsettling facial abnormalities of lead Jennifer Carpenter. The MPAA regarded Carpenter’s performance to be so unsettling and visceral that they refused to award the PG-13 rating that the studio requested until Derrickson deleted some of Carpenter’s more disturbing scenes. This was done essentially in camera.
Adapted from the true incident of Anneliese Michel, a German woman who was killed during an exorcism in 1976, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” is an exorcism-themed courtroom drama. Actress Laura Linney portrays the defense attorney for Tom Wilkinson’s parish priest, who is accused with negligent homicide after Emily Rose dies during his service. alternating between the courtroom and Emily’s possession, the film depicts both her early symptoms and the eventual demonic conquest during the latter part of the film Though it’s a little antiquated, the performances, especially Jennifer Carpenter’s, are so amazing that the movie will terrify even the most agnostic horror lover.
6. The Last Exorcism
Like Jennifer Carpenter in “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” Ashley Bell’s portrayal in “The Last Exorcism” as a young girl, Nell, who her father believes has been possessed by Satan, is the driving force behind the film’s success.
With a camera crew, a priest named Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) is trying to discredit exorcisms. Daniel Stamm, the filmmaker, is drawn to Nell’s situation from the start and keeps the suspense palpable. In the end, the audience isn’t sure if Nell is in possession or simply ill. Without giving anything away, Bell’s performance is what keeps the whole thing together, showing the same unsettling physique and proclivity for unnatural contortions as Jennifer Carpenter did. It’s a breathtaking performance that’s worth the ticket price alone.
5. The Omen
Children scare the hell out of me. They’re all so unexpected, even the pleasant ones. The film “The Omen,” directed by Richard Donner and written by David Seltzer, takes that notion and runs with it. With Lee Remick as Katherine Thorn and Gregory Peck portraying Robert Thorn (a diplomat in Rome), the two stars of the film Katherine is shocked to learn that Robert has secretly adopted a kid whose mother died during labor after being persuaded by Father Spiletto (Martin Benson). This baby’s name is Damien. Damien is the Christ-killer.
“The Omen” is a sophisticated, high-toned horror film with great death scenes, including one of the best beheadings in film history and an exhilarating take on demonic terror. “The Omen” is one of the best devil movies ever created since it is both cerebral and adheres to the rules of the genre. A Golden Globe nomination for Harvey Spencer Stephens as Damien and an Oscar for Jerry Goldsmith’s music make this film a must-see. “The Omen” is also durable, with three sequels, a remake, and even a television series that was swiftly canceled. In the end, the Antichrist will remain.
4. Rosemary’s Baby
“Rosemary’s Baby” is one of the most beloved films of all time. In Roman Polanski’s star-studded and delightfully controlled tale of a pregnant lady, Rosemary (Mia Farrow), who is carrying the Antichrist, Polanski twisted the entire horror genre. While “Rosemary’s Baby” is filled with otherworldly terrors, especially the film’s famed climax, the majority of the film’s runtime is firmly set in reality. Pregnancy cocktails, doctor’s appointments, and spooky neighbors all contribute to the frights.
Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is kept in the dark about Guy’s whereabouts by her husband (John Cassavetes), who manipulates her into believing there is nothing wrong. “Rosemary’s Baby” is regarded as a cautionary story for a good reason, 50 years after its premiere. No other film has managed to capture the film’s power, which is terrifying, unique, and simply stunning to look at (and that includes its made-for-TV remake).
3. The Wailing
As a horror film, “The Wailing” is one of the best. Na Hong-operatic, jin’s deep, and utterly terrifying sixth film is nearly impossible to put into words. “The Wailing,” ostensibly about a South Korean community shaken by the entrance of a mysterious Japanese stranger (Jun Kunimura), but actually a mad dash across many horror subgenres. In addition to a psychological thriller, “The Wailing” is both an exorcism movie and a Korean mythos-based blockbuster. No matter how long it is, it never fails to be both engrossing and frightening at any point.
While I won’t tell how the devil appears in the final half hour, it is unquestionably the scariest 30 minutes of cinema I’ve seen in the past decade. In “The Wailing,” the performances of Kwak Do-won and Chun Woo-hee are genre-defying and there is so much mythology to examine. It has an indefinable potential to frighten audiences across time and genre. This is a must-see.
2. The Conjuring
James Wan is a true artist. He redefined himself and the horror genre with “The Conjuring” by working on a wider scale in the genre he enjoys best. Gone was Wan’s gory, eerie Gothicism reminiscent of “Saw” (see “Dead Silence”). “The Conjuring,” on the other hand, has enough heart to match its horrific horrors thanks to Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as real-life demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The film’s rural setting serves as a springboard for gut-wrenching frights from Wan, who is at his best here. Even the outfits of young children are put to good use. Additionally, Lily Taylor and Ron Livingston are part of the cast, which is more than capable of selling the fear. Many of the horrors remain unseen, and Wan never allows some haunts to overstay their welcome. “The Conjuring” is one of those rare horror films that works both in the moment and long after the credits have rolled.
1. The Exorcist
If I didn’t add “The Exorcist,” people could conclude that I’ve been possessed by the devil myself. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is an Oscar-winning horror film, based on William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel of the same name. One of the scariest movies ever created, it’s graphic, filthy and almost confrontational.
50 years after its first release, seasoned horror fans may argue that “The Exorcist” has lost its scare factor, but the fact is that the horror genre and the entire filmmaking scene would be quite different today if it hadn’t been for the success of Carpenter’s film.
Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is a Georgetown-based actress who thinks that her daughter, Regan (Linda Blair), has been possessed by some demonic entity. Since “The Exorcist” is packed with awe-inspiring performances, ground-breaking effects work, and subtlety, its most frightening elements—like the crucified scene—are more accessible to the broader public. 50 years later, it still reigns supreme as one of the most influential films of all time.