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The Scariest Movies That Aren’t Horror Movies

Willy Wonka
Warner Bros

On paper, The Killing of a Sacred Deer doesn’t look like a good Halloween movie. It’s the latest film from Yorgos Lanthimos, the director of the dark arthouse comedy The Lobster, along with Dogtooth and Alps. The cast includes Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman; they play a husband and wife who are tormented by an unstable teen. You can watch the trailer for yourself; it’s strange and a little creepy, but it has the sheen of a prestige drama, not a horror film.

But you won’t see many more disturbing films this year than The Killing of a Sacred Deer. The unstable teen (Barry Keoghan) somehow sickens Farrell and Kidman’s children, and then gives Farrell a choice: Choose one member of his family to die, or they all will. Farrell’s Steven, a proud heart surgeon, refuses to play along. And so his children get sicker and sicker. And the tension rises and rises, ultimately building to a truly transgressive conclusion.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer’s vibe of classy creeps puts it in a tradition of film that will scare the hell out of you without fitting the technical definition of a “horror movie.” These films don’t have a killer in a hockey mask, or a giant monster, or buckets of blood. But the ten movies on this list, like Sacred Deer, could give you nightmares. Or keep you from sleeping altogether. Just in time for Halloween, here’s ten of the scariest non-horror movies ever:

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