Summer and horror movies might not be something most people associate together. Shouldn’t they be reserved for Halloween? To that I would say that the end of summer is the best of both worlds; it’s still warm and sunny but anticipation is in the air for spooky season.
Also, for horror movie buffs (or just plain old emos like myself), Halloween is a state of mind. For me, my love of horror didn’t come from Halloween – which as a kid, is more spoopy than spooky – but over summer holidays. My horror journey began at pre-teen sleepovers when we would desperately try to torrent any scary movie we could get our hands-on. So, nothing says childhood nostalgia like some summer horror films.
See also: the best alternative and horror Christmas movies.
Here are 10 must-see scary summer films:
Must-See Summer Horror Movies List
1. IT Chapter 1 (2017)
My first love in horror as a 13-year-old thinking she was being rebellious (when actually, my parents completely condoned and facilitated me watching scary movies) was the original IT series starring Tim Curry. Two years later I read the book, and to this day IT is my favourite horror story of all time. While I generally, do not love remakes, I’ll admit to loving these ones.
IT Chapter I perfectly captured the Losers’ childhood as they spent their summer trying not to get murdered by both Henry Bowers and Pennywise in the Barrens. Chapter II is full of flashbacks and is still a very strong sequel.
That said, I’m not sold on the Chucky reboot.
2. Fear Street Part Two: 1978 (2021)
While Fear Street has three parts, only one really falls in the summer horror subgenre: Part Two. The second film is set in the summer of 1978 as Ziggy is the reject in a summer camp comprised of Shadyside and Sunnyside kids. However, her strained relationship with her sister and the mean girls quickly becomes the least of her worries when a killer is on the loose as the witch Sarah Fier seems to still has a grip on the land.
Content Warning: it’s a slasher, of course, there’s gore, violence and blood however, this film does feature self-harm (and to much disappointment, I haven’t seen anyone give a heads up) so, I’d recommended either speeding past the 1 hour 5 minutes mark or watching another movie from this list. It is full of references to Friday the 13th, Carrie, and Halloween so you’ll easily find a substitute film.
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Project is about three students who go into the woods to film a documentary about a local legend – the Blair Witch. In the end, their footage is all that’s left behind.
The atmosphere isn’t particularly summery but nothing says summer horror movie like heading out on an adventure to the woods, right?
4. Jaws (1975)
Jaws is incredibly nostalgic for me because it’s a film I was allowed to watch as a very young child. I never considered it scary, mostly because seeing it in the early 2000s meant that the CGI was hilariously outdated. However, it still holds up when it comes to adding a fright to summer.
The plot should go without saying: a shark terrorizes a beach town.
5. The Evil Dead (1981)
The Evil Dead is not the first-ever cabin in the woods horror movie but it is the one that popularised this subgenre of summer horror movies. A group of friends go to a cabin in the woods and accidentally summon the evil dead when they play a tape and they must fight for their lives.
Bruce Campbell reprised his role in later films and then the Ash Vs. Evil Dead series in 2015 which I highly recommend.
6. Friday The 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th is another summer camp slasher – like most of these are turning out to be.
The first of this franchise is favour a group of camp counsellors who are killed by a mysterious murder while they’re trying to reopen a summer camp. Years earlier, a child drowns and there was a double murder on the now haunted ground.
7. Cabin In The Woods (2011)
Cabin In The Woods became one of the most popular… well cabin in the woods movies. It follows five friends as there taken out one by one by zombies but there’s more than meets the eye. I’m sure having Chris Hemsworth cast might have helped.
8. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Not to be confused with the song of the same name by Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello, I Know What You Did Last Summer is about revenge.
A group of teenagers are involved in a hit-and-run but cover it up. One year later they start getting scary anonymous letters and are attacked by someone who knows what they did.
9. Midsommar (2019)
While Dani and Christian might be on the brink of breaking up, they go with two of his friends to a rural Swedish village for a once in 90-year festival, in the backdrop of Dani’s family tragedy. However, it’s not all as idyllic as it seems.
10. Cabin Fever (2002)
Nothing screams summer horror movies like another cabin in the woods film; Cabin Fever.
In Cabin Fever, a group of friends take a trip to the mountains. After accidentally killing a man with a skin infection, the group have to prevent themselves from getting sick too.
If you love books and horror, then Sunburn by Darren Dash is a good one for Midsommar fans.
So there we have ten summer horror movies. What are your favourite scary summer films?