Rotten Tomatoes is a powerful tool for movie fans heading to the theater. The review aggregator site can give moviegoers an instant overview of the critical and viewer response to pretty much any movie out there, old or new. Sometimes critics can be harsh though, especially where horror movies are concerned. Quite a few perfectly serviceable horror movies have gotten low Rotten Tomatoes scores that they didn’t deserve.
Look, no one is going to argue that the movies on this list are masterpieces. They’re all flawed, and some of them are deeply predictable. But they’re also fun. They’re the kind of horror movies where the viewer knows exactly what they’re getting: haunted houses complete with mysterious noises, totally out of left field twists, and enough jump scares to make the producers of the Paranormal Activity franchise proud. These movies didn’t reinvent the genre, but they’re perfect for rainy nights when the only kind of scares you want are the comforting ones.
No, these 10 films aren’t horror masterpieces, but they’re far more enjoyable than their low scores suggest.
The Haunting (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 16%)
Cinematically speaking, The Haunting is a feast for the eyes. Hill House is a gothic wonderland of oversized fireplaces, epic staircases, and bed-frames adorned with nightmarish cherubs. This 1999 remake of the classic House on Haunted Hill doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the original, but Lili Taylor’s Nell keeps the film grounded as a down to earth heroine who walks a fine line between near-insanity and bullish determination to figure out what’s up with this strange house. Add in a downright iconic horror movie death for Owen Wilson’s character, and you have a film that was far too entertaining to take such a bashing from critics.
Jennifer’s Body (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 44%)
Jennifer’s Body was ahead of its time. From the witty, tongue-in-cheek dialogue to the film’s clever dissection of high school female friendships, Diablo Cody penned a winner. It’s too bad that critics didn’t recognize this gem as the smart, funny horror film that it so clearly is. Thankfully, many fans of the genre have come to recognize the greatness of Megan Fox’s possessed cheerleader.
Voice From The Stone (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36%)
The biggest crime that Voice From the Stone seems to commit is not featuring an action-packed plot. The film is psychological in nature as Emilia Clarke’s young nurse character begins to suspect there’s something supernatural contributing to her patient’s condition. There are serious shades of The Innocents in the movie’s plot and style, and that combined with the Gothic setting make for an uneasy, enjoyable ride.
The Boy (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%)
Scary doll movies are hard to pull of these days, and horror fans likely have Child’s Play and Annabelle to blame. Basically, if the doll in question isn’t actively terrorizing humans by the end of the first act, then what’s the point? Well, if you watch The Boy — with it’s admittedly random abusive husband subplot and occasionally stilted dialogue — the point is building atmosphere. That’s where this critically-panned film excels.The Boy, which centers on a caretaker hired to look after an extremely realistic looking doll, makes the viewer question what’s real and what’s not by using the main character’s seclusion to its favor. And yes, the ending is completely bonkers, but that’s all part of the film’s charm.
Urban Legend (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 20%)
Slasher movies enjoyed a revival after the box office success of Scream, and there’s no denying that Urban Legend grabbed on to that far superior film’s coattails. However, it deserves props for the way it uses classic campfire tales as inspiration for a nightmarish killer who’s running amuck on a college campus. This gory, so ’90s it hurts horror film is a worthy entry into the slasher genre, despite clearly trying to capitalize on the success of Scream‘s genre deconstructing awesomeness.
Final Destination (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 34%)
Nuance is not something that Final Destination understands. Then again, subtlety was never going to be the point of a film about a group of teens marked for death. This movie is all about the creative kill. Final Destination dares viewers to look away as trash compactors, logs, and other everyday items transform into the ultimate unstoppable villains. It’s the perfect check your brain at the door kind of movie.
Dark Water (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%)
Jennifer Connelly is brilliant as a single mother struggling to build a new life for herself and her daughter in this creepy 2005 film. Her character moves with her young daughter to the dreariest apartment building known to man. Of course, bad things happen here — many of them predictable. However, Connelly brings such ferocity to her role that the stakes always feel high.
Event Horizon (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%)
Now a cult classic, Event Horizon was torn apart by critics when it was released. Clearly, they missed the boat on this sci-fi/horror hybrid about a seemingly abandoned spaceship and the crew sent to investigate its derelict halls. Like a haunted house movie in space, Event Horizon is superb at building a sense of dread thanks to both its setting and its terrific cast led by Sam Neill.
The Amityville Horror (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 29%)
Critics really didn’t like the original Amityville Horror. Perhaps, they’re immune to the terror of being locked in a closet, having your home swarmed with flies, and finding a gateway to hell in your basement? Whatever their reasoning, they were dead wrong about this crowd-pleasing entry.
Winchester (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 14%)
Helen Mirren plays Sarah Winchester, the real-life heiress who was allegedly driven mad by the spirits of the people killed by the guns her family created. The overall plot of this movie isn’t as strong as it could have been, but Mirren is a force to be reckoned with, even when she’s being tortured by the spirit realm.