Cosmic horror is a sub-genre of horror that explores the fear of the unknown and the universe beyond our understanding. What is a Cosmic Horror Movie? These films often feature the themes of cosmic indifference, extraterrestrial threats, and the erosion of reality. Below is a list of 30 cosmic horror movies that will leave you with a feeling of dread and fear.
What is a Cosmic Horror Movie? A genre of horror that combines elements of sci-fi and supernatural horror to create a sense of dread and unease in the viewer. Many such stories explore the unknown and often depict a universe that is indifferent or hostile to human life, which leads to feelings of hopelessness and despair. This genre has been around for a long time, with roots tracing back to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and continues to captivate audiences to this day. Delving into the unknown and exploring the fear of the universe beyond our comprehension. Whether it’s supernatural entities or the unravelling of reality, these films will leave you with a sense of unease and terror. So, turn off the lights, grab some popcorn, and brace yourself for a journey into the unknown.
List of 30 Cosmic Horror Movies
- The Thing
- Event Horizon
- In the Mouth of Madness
- The Mist
- The Babadook
- Paranormal Activity
- The Descent
- The Invitation
- The Babysitter
- The Ritual
- Under the Skin
- The Witch
- A Quiet Place
- It Follows
- Goodnight Mommy
- The Blackcoat’s Daughter
- The Endless
- The House on Pine Street
- The Void
- Killer Klowns from Outer Space
- The Day the Earth Stood Still
- They Live
- Jurassic Park
1. Alien (1979)
Alien is considered a classic in the cosmic horror genre because of its masterful blend of suspense, terror, and science fiction. The film effectively creates a sense of isolation and dread as the crew of the Nostromo encounters the deadly Xenomorph on a remote planet. Directed by Ridley Scott, Alien is one of the most iconic sci-fi horror films of all time. The film follows a crew of astronauts as they encounter a deadly extraterrestrial life from aboard their ship.
The creature’s design is both frightening and otherworldly, making it clear that this is not a threat from this world. The film also explores the idea of humanity’s vulnerability and insignificance in the vastness of space, adding to the feeling of dread and uncertainty. Alien is a masterclass in suspense and horror, making it a classic in the cosmic horror genre.
2. The Thing (1982)
The Thing is a classic horror film that takes place in an Antarctic research station. The film explores the fear of the unknown and the paranoia that sets in when a mysterious and deadly creature infiltrates the base. The Thing is a good cosmic horror movie as it perfectly captures the fear of the unknown and the loss of control.
The setting, an isolated research facility in Antarctica, adds to the suspense and the fear of the inevitable. The tension builds as the characters realize that they are not alone and that they are being hunted by a shape-shifting alien that can mimic their every move. The movie’s use of practical effects and makeup adds to the sense of unease and creates a sense of reality that is often lacking in other horror films. The Thing is a movie that will leave you on the edge of your seat and will have you wondering what is real and what is not.
3. Event Horizon (1997)
Event Horizon is a sci-fi horror film that explores the dangers of space travel and the unknown horrors that exist beyond our galaxy. This film is considered a classic cosmic horror movie and tells the story of a haunted spaceship that has disappeared into a black hole and reappears seven years later.
The crew of the rescue mission must face the unknown horrors of the ship’s artificial intelligence and the dark forces it has unleashed. The film creates a sense of mystery and unease that is compounded by the disturbing visual effects and soundtrack. The ending is both satisfying and haunting, leaving the audience with a memorable experience. Overall, I’d highly recommend you to watch Event Horizon in the genre of cosmic horror.
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4. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
Exploring the fear of the unknown and the power of the written word, In the Mouth of Madness is a film that takes place in a small town where a mysterious book has the power to drive its readers mad and unleash chaos upon the world. The movie follows the story of an insurance investigator named John Trent, who is tasked with finding a missing author Sutter Cane (whose book makes people crazy). Trent realizes that in the small town, the people and the events surrounding him are all creations of Cane’s imagination. Trent then must fight to stay sane and unravel the mystery behind the town, its people, and Cane’s dark intentions.
In the Mouth of Madness presents a gripping and terrifying tale of a popular horror novelist with brilliant cinematography, sound design, and special effects that create a haunting atmosphere that keeps the audience on edge. The idea of reality being subjective and the fear of losing control over one’s own mind is one of the mian reasons why In the Mouth of Madness will make for a great cosmic horror movie for you.
5. The Mist (2007)
Directed by Frank Darabont, The Mist is a film that explores the fear of the unknown and the horrors that can lurk in the shadows. The film takes place in a town that is suddenly enveloped by a mysterious mist that hides terrifying creatures. The Mist is a horror film based on a novella by Stephen King. The movie follows a group of people who are trapped in a supermarket by a mysterious mist that covers the town and is full of deadly creatures.
As the days pass, the tension rises and the survivors must band together to survive against the unknown forces that threaten their lives. The film features a strong cast, led by Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, and Andre Braugher, and is praised for its suspenseful and frightening atmosphere. Despite being a box office failure, The Mist has become a cult classic and is highly regarded by fans of the modem cosmic horror movies genre.
6. The Babadook (2014)
The Babadook is an Australian horror film that follows the story of a mysterious figure known as the Babadook who is haunting a single mother and her young son. This single mother, Amelia is struggling to raise her troubled son, Samuel. The Babadook is known for its dark and unsettling tone, as well as its use of the titular monster as a metaphor for mental illness.
The elements of the film include psychological horror, suspense, and a strong focus on motherhood. The film’s cinematography is also notable, with its use of shadows and light creating a tense and eerie atmosphere. The Babadook also features standout performances from Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman, who portray the mother and son respectively. Overall, The Babadook is a deeply affecting cosmic horror film that explores the world in a unique and haunting way.
7. Paranormal Activity (2007)
Paranormal Activity is a horror movie that was released in 2007. Directed by Oren Peli, this movie was produced with a budget of $15,000 and went on to make over $107 million at the box office. The film is famous for its low-budget and found footage style, which added to its overall suspense and scare factor.
The story revolves around a young couple, Katie and Micah, who move into a new home and soon start experiencing strange and frightening occurrences. To capture these events, they set up a camera in their bedroom. Paranormal Activity is a slow-burning film that gradually builds up tension and suspense, making it a highly effective horror movie. The film’s minimalistic approach to horror and its reliance on the unknown makes it a classic in the cosmic horror genre.
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8. Prometheus (2012)
Another one of Ridley Scott’s great films is Prometheus. The film is set in the year 2093 and follows the journey of a team of scientists and explorers who are searching for the origin of humanity on a distant planet. The film is a prequel to the Alien franchise and explores the fear of the unknown and the dangers of scientific exploration. If you’ve already seen this film, check out more movies like Prometheus.
The film has stunning visuals and breathtaking landscapes that take you on a journey to a far-off world. It also features an all-star cast, including Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, and Charlize Theron, who deliver outstanding performances. The plot is thought-provoking and raises important questions about the origin of life and the consequences of playing with the forces of nature. Prometheus is one of the most thrilling and epic cosmic horror movies Reddit fans also approve!
9. The Descent (2005)
The british horror The Descent takes place in an underground cave system where a group of female adventurers finds themselves trapped and facing terrifying creatures. Considered as a great option by cosmic horror movies reddit users, the film’s suspenseful and creepy atmosphere creates a sense of unease and fear throughout the entire movie.
The cinematography and sound design are top-notch, adding to the tension and atmosphere. The film brings out the fear, isolation, and the unknown, making the audience feel just as trapped and helpless as the main characters. The twists and turns also add to its overall horror appeal, as well as its unique and terrifying creatures. The Descent is a must watch in cosmic horror movies.
10. The Invitation (2015)
The Invitation is a psychological thriller that also falls into the cosmic horror genre. The film is set in a dinner party where a group of friends reunite after a long time. The movie opens with Will and his girlfriend, Kira, driving to the dinner party. Will is still haunted by the death of his son and his recent divorce from Eden, who he hasn’t seen in two years. He is hesitant about attending the party, but Kira convinces him to go.
The film’s story takes an unexpected turn when Will realizes that something is not quite right. The guests seem to be acting strange, that builds up to a terrifying climax, revealing the hidden horrors of the characters. The film’s ending is shocking, leaving the audience with a sense of uncertainty and unease, making The Invitation a standout in cosmic horror films.
11. The Babysitter (2017)
The horror-comedy Babysitter follows a lonely young boy who falls in love with his babysitter only to discover that she is a part of a satanic cult, he is terrorized by the sinister forces she controls.
The film’s dark humour and well-crafted suspense make it a must-watch for horror and comedy fans. The performances by Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, and others are top-notch. The Babysitter has a surprising depth for a teen gory comedy that is worth watching for cosmic horror movie fans.
12. The Ritual (2017)
Directed by David Bruckner, The Ritual is a film that explores the fear of the unknown and the dangers of the wilderness. The film takes place in a remote forest where a group of friends embark on a hiking trip and find themselves facing terrifying supernatural forces.
The Ritual is a must-watch for horror fans due to its unique storyline and suspenseful atmosphere. The Ritual is a mature, well-made horror movie with lots of spine-chilling sound effects and music, disturbing imagery, and frightening, Lovecraftian horror. The entire film has a heightened aura of suspense that never dies down and there are many truly chilling shocks to be found throughout the film. The Ritual is an underrated and deeply unnerving horror story and intense journey for cosmic horror fans.
13. Under the Skin (2013)
Under the Skin is a sci-fi where Scarlett Johansson’s character is an alien being who is posing as a woman and luring men to their doom. The film’s eerieness creates an unsettling atmosphere and makes the viewer shift their thinking in a very different way.
Scarlett Johansson’s excellent performance as an alien in human form adds depth to the film’s complex narrative. The film’s exploration of human emotion and the consequences of our actions is both thought-provoking and insightful. Under the Skin might be a good fit for you, if you’re into strange cosmic horror movies.
14. The Witch (2015)
The Witch is a historical horror film that takes place in 1630s New England. A banished Puritan family sets up their home on a farm where they are haunted by a sinister force that they believe to be a witch.
For those willing to be patient, this is a slow-moving story that gradually builds in tension, you’ll find a film that will likely seep its way into your mind and leave you uneasy for days – if not longer. It is arguably the scariest depiction of supernatural forces I’ve seen in cosmic horror films in years.
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15. Hereditary (2018)
Hereditary follows a family as they experience a series of supernatural events after the death of the family’s grandmother. The film subtly explores the intergenerational effects of a family curse, both with the literal invocation of a demonic entity, but also in dramatic emotional manipulation between family members.
There is a profound tragedy to this story, at its core it is a family drama that likely hits home with a lot of people from dysfunctional or abusive homes. The chilling and beyond brilliant performances like that of Toni Collette should leave you speechless. The director, Ari Aster is known to delve into unsettling places in his cosmic horror movies, which culminates wonderfully into many grueling scenes in the film.
16. A Quiet Place (2018)
One of the unlikely cosmic horror successes in recent years is actor and director, John Krasinski’s The Quiet Place. The film takes place in an apocalyptic world where sound attracts deadly creatures. A family with young kids and a pregnant wife must navigate this dangerous world in complete silence.
This film is a brilliant example of modern cosmic horror. The film’s use of silence as a means of survival creates a tense and haunting atmosphere, while the otherworldly monsters add to the feeling of cosmic unease. The film’s minimalistic approach to storytelling heightens the sense of terror, making it a standout film in the genre. With a note-worthy performance, A Quiet Place is a must-watch for fans of horror and sci-fi.
17. Midsommar (2019)
Are you in the mood of watching a horror cult movie? If yes then, Midsommar is perfect for you. The film follows a young woman played by Florence Pugh as she joins a pagan cult in rural Sweden, only to discover that the cult’s rituals are far more sinister than she could have ever imagined.
For many searching for great cosmic horror movies on reddit , Midsommer is often referred as a solid Lovecraftian horror. The gore effects are impressive and the film masterfully blends traditional horror elements with the unknown and mysterious forces of the universe, creating a truly unsettling and captivating experience.
18. Annihilation (2018)
Annihilation takes place in a mysterious area known as The Shimmer where a group of scientists embark on a dangerous mission to uncover its secrets. As they delve deeper, they encounter strange and terrifying creatures, surreal landscapes and a mutating environment that challenges their understanding of the world.
The sense of unease and dread is palpable, as the team realizes that the laws of nature no longer apply in this strange and deadly world. The film’s excellent visuals, haunting soundtrack and thought-provoking themes make it a standout in the genre. For cosmic horror movies on Netflix, Annihilation is not to be missed!
19. It Follows (2014)
It Follows is about a young woman who is pursued by a mysterious force that takes the form of various people, and she must find a way to stop it before it catches her. The film presents the idea that there is a mysterious, malevolent entity that is always following the protagonist and can take on any form.
This idea of a relentless and unstoppable being reflects the cosmic horror theme of the vast, indifferent universe and the small, insignificant nature of human existence. The sense of dread is further heightened by the lack of explanation or understanding of the entity, leaving the audience with a feeling of unease and helplessness. It Follows is a true testament to the power of cosmic horror movies, showcasing the awe and terror of the unknown.
20. Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Taking place in an isolated Austrian village, Goodnight Mommy revolves around a woman who returns from plastic surgery and is unrecognizable to her twin children, leading to a series of frightening events.
The film’s suspenseful storyline taps into the primal fear of losing a mother figure and the unknown terror of what lies beyond the veil of our reality. This Austrailian movie is almost similar to Korean movie The tale of two sisters. If you are a seasoned cosmic horror movies watcher, the twist may not come as a surprise but you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.
21. The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
The Blackcoat’s Daughter investigates the influence of the paranormal and the dread of the unknown. Two girls are abandoned over winter break at a Catholic boarding school where the movie is set, only to discover that they are being tormented by an enigmatic presence.
It’s not your typical horror movie with a lot of jump scares but it leaves you wondering what happens next. The film delves into the unknown and uncharted realms of the universe, leaving the audience to question the true nature of reality and the fate of humanity. With its eerie atmosphere, mind-bending twists, and chilling imagery, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a classic example of cosmic horror films.
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22. The Endless (2017)
The Synchronic pair, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead, wrote, directed & starred in The Endless. Playing 2 brothers, they return to a cult they escaped from years earlier, only to find that the cult has discovered a mysterious force that controls time.
The film had plenty of moments to use cheap jump scares, but instead used clever storytelling and imagery to help the audience to feel fear. The special effects were few and far between but were very well done. This movie is very interesting throughout, and I highly recommend it to people who want to see more modern cosmic horror movies.
23. The House on Pine Street (2015)
The House on Pine Street tells the story of a pregnant woman named Emily who moves into a new house on Pine Street with her husband. Soon, she begins to experience strange and unsettling events that lead her to believe that the house is haunted. As her due date approaches, she becomes increasingly paranoid and the line between reality and nightmare begins to blur, leading to a terrifying climax.
The film creates a suffocating sense of unease in the viewer, and the story is highly intriuging, building up the tension gradually and delivering a number of genuinely creepy and suspenseful moments.
24. The Void (2016)
Clearly inspired by the iconic cosmic horror H.P. Lovecraft’s The Thing, The Void is set in a remote hospital following a group of people as they struggle to survive against a mysterious and malevolent force that seems to be emerging from the void. With its exceptional filmography, haunting soundtrack, and intense performances, The Void is a masterclass in horror storytelling that draws you into its nightmarish world from the very first frame.
The film’s unique blend of psychological horror, science fiction, and cosmic terror makes it one of the best cosmic horror movies of all time, delivering an unforgettable and harrowing experience that will leave you breathless.
25. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a cult classic film that has gained a fairly massive following over the years since its released in 1988. The film’s unique blend of science fiction, horror, and comedy has made it a fan-favorite, especially among cosmic horror and science fiction fans.
The idea of aliens who look like clowns and who use cotton candy cocoons to capture humans is a concept that is both silly and terrifying. The film takes place in a small town where a group of alien clowns arrive to wreak havoc and terrorize the residents.
26. Slither (2006)
From the popular director James Gunn is a dark horror comedy film called Slither. It tells the story of a small town overrun by alien parasites who take over the bodies of its residents and turn them into monstrous creatures. The film stars Nathan Fillion as the town’s sheriff and Elizabeth Banks as his wife.
The film blends elements of classic horror movies with dark humour and gross-out gags to create a unique and entertaining experience. Despite mixed reviews from critics, Slither has developed a cult following among horror fans and is considered one of the better B-horror movies of the 2000s. Overall, Slither is a fun and gory romp that will satisfy fans of horror and sci-fi alike.
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27. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Essentially, The Day The Earth Stood Still is about a man from space who comes to Earth to warn its inhabitants about the consequences that will befall them should they threaten peace in the universe by extending their nuclear arms technology beyond the confines of planet earth.
The film highlights the stark reality of how vulnerable humanity is in the face of a superior force from beyond our world. As the film progresses, we are drawn into the struggle of the human race, as they try to balance the fear of the unknown with the hope of a better future. The Day the Earth Stood Still is a must-see film for fans of classic sci-fi, cosmic horror, and social commentary.
28. They Live (1988)
The film takes place in Los Angeles where a drifter played by Roddy Pipper discovers a pair of special glasses that reveal the true nature of the world and the forces that control it. They Live is a classic science fiction/horror film from the 1980s that has since become a cult classic.
The film is a commentary on consumerism, class struggles, and power dynamics in society. The film’s famous line “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum” has become iconic. The alien race aligns itself with the richest humans and uses subliminal messaging to control the masses. Its a thought-provoking film and is both campy and entertaining.
29. Tremors (1990)
Tremors is a classic horror-comedy movie released in 1990. It is a quirky film, set in a remote area of desert Nevada populated by unusual but friendly people. Giant underground creatures known as “graboids” begin attacking the residents. The film follows the journey of a group of people who come together to defeat these creatures and save their town.
The humor in the movie is well-timed and blends well with the horror elements, making it a unique and entertaining watch. The movie’s characters are memorable, and the acting is excellent, particularly by Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, who lead the cast. The special effects in Tremors are impressive, and the monsters are well-designed.
30. Jurassic Park (1993)
The list is incomplete without the iconic Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi Jurassic Park. It’s unlikely that you’ve seen this one but incase you haven’t I highly recommend you do. Jurassic Park is a horror film that explores the fear of science gone wrong and the power of nature. The film takes place on an island where a group of scientists must survive against a horde of genetically engineered dinosaurs.
The movie explores the cosmic horror of man’s attempt to play God and control nature. The genetic engineering of dinosaurs for a theme park backfires as the creatures escape and wreak havoc, showcasing the dangers of playing with the laws of nature. The film’s ominous atmosphere and tense moments amplify the fear and uncertainty of what the future holds as we continue to manipulate the world around us.
Here are a few cosmic horror movies that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless:
- From Beyond (1986)
- The Haunted Palace (963)
- Necronomicon (1993)