Full-length horror films can be a tougher challenge to execute because after a point, the mind starts desensitizing itself with the increasing number of jumpscares or creepy shots thrown at you. It seems to me that the short films have taken care of this problem with their laser focus on single scenes, creepy and unsolved cliffhangers, that’ll mess with your head and jumpscares that are sparse and thus, effective. The horror short films made today are generally of quite a good quality. But even among them are hidden gems that will creep you out and scare the living daylights out of you. But more than that, they’ll linger with you and haunt you long after. Get ready for some goosebumps and chills! Here are some of the scariest short horror movies on YouTube you can binge watch:
1. Tuck Me In
Tuck Me In took an ancient story idea and turned in into one of the best horror adaptations ever. A crisp, two-line story is materialised to perfection as intentioned.
The cliffhanger is well-timed and produces a great effect. It’s terrifying, it’s heart-stopping, all in a minute. One of best made horror short films, Tuck Me In is a solid lesson in filmmaking. I read some interesting theories about the film in the comments. The fact that it’s able to generate the kind of intriguing discussions and discourses as it has, is proof that the film is well made.
2. Lights Out
This short film encapsulates everything that is scary about darkness. The unknown figures that appear only when the lights go out have a tendency to scare the shit out of us and the scariest and frustrating factor about them is that we can do nothing about it but look upon their muddled visage and fear-inducing form in horror and shock. That is the power of darkness that exists as a shadow of the light. The darkness within which we can see barely that which is out there hunting for us.
There is still a chance of survival. And then the movie turns that darkness into something infinitely more frightening. Of course, before it does that, it gives us a brief respite from itself by tricking us into thinking that it was all a hallucination. And then, once we are comfortable and let our guard go down, it strikes us with a moment of fear with a form and then drops us into utter abysmal darkness that has no end and no beginning, no direction and no respite. This is the fear induced by the unknown for in this darkness, even that which is the most familiar becomes a sworn enemy out to get us. Keep your lights on after this one.
3. 2 AM: The Smiling Man
This movie is an enigma. I do not know why I was afraid, but I was afraid. Maybe, subconsciously, I know that the thing that happened to the protagonist could happen to me as well. My heart would freeze, my legs chill to the bone and my body would give in. In a sense, I would experience crippling fear. And that is the purpose of a horror film. It doesn’t always have to be something supernatural. Although this movie does not even make that thing clear.
But, without an inkling of doubt, I can say that it was scary as hell. The simple fact that it can happen to anyone of us is truly a daunting prospect. Take that and add to it the fact that the actor who plays the scary Smiling Man has an unhinged capacity to creep you out. The kind that crawls in through your veins and ruptures your heart and you have one of the most suspenseful, mysterious and scariest horror short films. Plus, it’s based on a true story. So, remember to take a weapon with you when you exit your house tonight.
This is perhaps one of the most straight forward scariest movies on this list. Within 12 minutes, the movie is able to induce a permanent fear in the hearts of the viewers. It is magnificent, classic horror that doesn’t fail to impress.
At this point, I would think that after watching so many horror movies, one such as myself would not fall for the classic tropes and cliches of the genre. But this movie defied my expectations. It was shot so beautifully and the acting was so brilliant that the experience was horrifying and mesmerising at the same time. The actress was really talented.
The limited and smart use of CG was done so well I’m not even certain it was actually CG or for real. The monster or ghost, whatever you might want to call it was genuinely freaky. The movie was also able to introduce a history to the whole event, which made the little details more sympathiseable and scary. If there is perfect horror, it is this.
5. Don’t Look Away
This movie has everything it needs to creep you out. A man with a tattered bag and chains hanging around his neck who gets closer to you every time you look away from it. The lack of explanation regarding the origin of the mysterious man is also a key point here because it allows for our imagination to fly wild.
The cliffhanger is also pretty good. The movie is more about depth and execution and does not rely much on jumpscares, which I truly commend. It takes the harder path and comes out on top.
I had a really fun time with this one. It was not as scary as it was realistic. The movie has an interesting take on horror which I appreciated. The acting was superb. Downstairs showed me what I probably would have done in a situation like that. It was not like in other horror movies where the characters just run towards their death. The guy was genuinely trying to run away from it and save himself.
Another thing that I loved about the movie is the amount of personality that was given to the character both by the writers and the actor. It felt as if I knew this man, he was real and alive and his reactions were completely logical. After all, who’d expect three ghosts living on the ground floor of a building. And even if they are, one with a strangling rope is completely unexpected.
The movie does lack a bit in the scary department but the flair and impeccable but weird execution completely make up for it. The movie gets a place on the list because it has a completely different tone to it. Something I did not find in any of the movies. Yet, it is a perfectly sound and generic horror with some great acting, writing and sound effects.
Text is a nice little bit of realistic horror that is sure to give you the creeps. It is a story of trust and deceit. The silent film creates an atmosphere of uneasiness and creepiness that will compel your brain to invoke fear into your mind. The movie does a great job showcasing the horrors of humanity and the extent to which one can fall in order to fulfil one’s desires.
The movie is especially scary because of its high relatability. Love is a dangerous thing. It is something to be feared. It’s powerful enough to turn monsters into humans and humans into monsters. Here, we explore the latter.
8. The Birch
The Birch is a proper occultist monster movie that seems like a trailer to something really big. I would have really wanted to see the adventures that the human-monster duo would go on. From the get-go, the movie is well shot and well acted. The effects are amazing – some of the best I have seen in the horror genre. The movie keeps you intrigued from start to finish.
The bullying of the boy, his conversations with his mother, the gruesome murder of the bully and the beautiful and horrifying beginning of the relationship between the birch and the boy – they take you in and never let you out. You will be asking questions for far longer than you ever imagined. The film holds you in its grip and never lets go. I know that the imagery shown in the movie will frequently pop up in my head from time to time after this.
One of the best short horror movies on this list, Alexia‘s concept is original and intriguing. The dead girlfriend haunting is an interesting premise to start with. We can all relate to the pain and grief of losing a loved one. The movie expands on the social media horror genre and text-based messaging horror as well. The conversations feel real and the tension is off the roof. Add to that the amazing effects that brilliantly render the original vision of the film and you have something special on your hands.
Alexia is a scary movie, no doubt, but it’s also a film about relationships and is a larger metaphor for broken relations haunting an individual. It is a symbol for the inability to move on. It’s a well executed short and deserves a spot among the best, both for its original concept and excellent execution.
10. The Maiden
This movie is driven by its tone and atmosphere, both of which are expertly crafted. The Maiden is able to encapsulate the meaning of true fear and the subsequent inability to do anything in the face of it. The best thing I like about it is that the whole house is not explored like in other horror movies. You don’t go to the ghost. The ghost comes to find you. And a very interesting fact is that once you have trespassed in its territory, you are no longer safe.
All hopes of escape or survival without a sacrifice are lost. And it is this crushing feeling of hopelessness that will draw you in. The jumpscares are limited and often slow and deliberate. They won’t make you leap out of your seats. But the film has a certain tone the effect of which runs deeper and lingers with you long after the film.
Short films call for a sharp vision and a crisp execution, without which the film fails to attract audience’s attention. It won’t be able to stand up to the feature films. But the filmmakers add interesting twists and turns which make them enjoyable and enduring in our minds long after we have finished watching them. Have you seen all these horror movies on YouTube? Are there others you’d like to recommend? Let’s talk in the comments below.