Top 10 Scariest Horror Movie Settings



Top 10 Scariest Horror Movie Settings

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
We have a baaaaad feeling about this. For this list, we'll be considering ten scary settings often used in horror films, and ranking them based on creepiness factor and sheer undesirability. Our list includes Creepy Old Houses, Outer Space, Graveyards, Carnivals, the Post-Apocalypse, and more! Join WatchMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Scariest Horror Movie Settings.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Creepiest+Horror+Movie+Settings. Special thanks to our user mac121mr0 for suggesting this idea!
Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Scariest Horror Movie Settings

We have a baaaaad feeling about this. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten scariest horror movie settings.

For this list, we’ll be considering ten scary settings often used in horror films, and ranking them based on creepiness factor and sheer undesirability.

#10: Graveyards

Is there anywhere more naturally disconcerting than a graveyard? They’re often desolate, quiet, and, you know, the whole dead body thing. They’re meant to be a place of peace and remembrance, but many people can’t help feeling uncomfortable in a graveyard, especially at night. There have been many famous horror scenes set in a graveyard, many of them involving zombies; and some movies even base their entire plots around burial locations, including Stephen King’s brilliantly depraved, “Pet Sematary.” Graveyards are inherently creepy places, and the horror genre has fully exploited their potential throughout the years.

#9: Parking Garages

OK, parking garages aren’t nearly as creepy as graveyards, but there is still plenty of scary material to be mined from them. A parking garage is a naturally empty, dark, and secluded place, which is perfect for any stalker or monster hiding in the shadows, waiting to pounce on the isolated and vulnerable. Your imagination often tends to go wild when walking through an empty parking garage; again, particularly at night. Someone could pounce on you. Someone could be watching or stalking you. A monster could be ready to strike from the ceiling. And there’s nothing horror stories like to do more than manipulate your imagination.

#8: The Open Ocean

There are very few things we hate more than being alone and vulnerable. And there’s no better place to make you feel more alone, vulnerable, and utterly insignificant than the wide-open ocean. A desolate sea is a naturally terrifying place due to its vast expanse, cold waters, and massive depth. Few things would be scarier than bobbing in the cold, dark ocean by yourself while imagining creatures malevolently gliding below your feet. Think “Open Water,” a movie based on the true story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who were left drifting in shark-infested waters after their scuba diving group departed without them. Yeah, no thanks.

#7: Amusement Parks/Carnivals

Maybe horror flicks have warped amusement parks and carnivals into being scary, but come on . . . there’s just something a little… off about them. Maybe it’s the creepy carnival music, the clowns, or the inherent danger of roller coasters and rides, but these places can be incredibly creepy, despite their innocent and playful demeanor. Movies like “Zombieland” and “Child’s Play 3,” have used amusement parks super-effectively while “Final Destination 3” famously opened with a massive roller coaster crash, preying on our very real-world fears of horrific amusement park accidents. These are places of fun, but they can also be places of absolute horror.

#6: Outer Space

Remember what we said about humans feeling small and insignificant in the open water? Multiply that by, like, a trillion and you have the horrors of outer space. There’s arguably no scarier place in the entire universe than the universe itself. It is unfathomably large and is essentially nothing but unknown places and potential dangers. The opening half of “Alien” is a brilliant representation of the horrors of the terrifying depths and reaches of space. There’s no question that the sheer vastness of the starry void is enough to make you lose your mind. ISN’T THAT RIGHT, DAVE?

#5: Hotels/Motels

Hotels have been a source of horror for generations, and it’s not hard to see why. They are by definition places of transience (however opulent they may be), full of mysterious guests, and rich with history. Like, just think of all the people who have died there! In a similar vein, remote motels are often a source of extreme anxiety due to their often-dingy appearances and isolation. Hotels or motels can be brimming with metaphorical (or literal) ghosts, like The Overlook, or small, remote, and run by dangerous people, like the Bates Motel or the grimy stop in “Vacancy.” It’s a scary world out there.

#4: Asylums/Hospitals

In horror movies, psychiatric institutions are usually depicted as hellish environments. While we understand that in real life these environments aren’t dingy, dark places full of insanely dangerous people, we can’t help but feel scared when movies portray them as such. Hospitals are another great source of horror, particularly due to the juxtaposition of danger with the health-restoring nature of hospitals themselves. These are supposedly places of care, healing and comfort, so when violence occurs in them, such as Michael’s rampage in “Halloween II” or the famous nursing station scene in “The Exorcist III,” it makes the horror seem that much more unnatural.

#3: The Post-Apocalypse

Well, of course the post-apocalypse is a scary place. Society and order have completely disintegrated, people are left to fend for themselves and resort to their primitive survival states, and empty cities and ghost towns litter the landscape. Some stories have taken a realistic approach to the post-apocalypse to startling and introspective degrees, such as Cormac McCarthy’s brilliant “The Road.” Others take a more supernatural approach and introduce zombies, aliens, or other entities that haunt the end of the world. Regardless of the method, a lawless wasteland full of primitive survivalists, and maybe even some zombies, does not sound like a fun place to be. At all.

#2: Creepy Old Houses

There is mos def something inherently terrifying about old houses, and storytellers fiction have been mining that setting for a long time. Perhaps it’s the inherent creepiness of a creaky, dusty old house. Perhaps it’s the metaphorical or literal ghosts that reside there. Maybe, again, it’s the isolation. Some movies, like “The Haunting,” explore the possibility that our minds play tricks on us – maybe the house itself isn’t scary, but our preconceived notions and expectations help bring it to life. Regardless of the reasoning, creepy old houses are a cornerstone of the horror genre and easily one of its scariest settings. And relatively modern movies like “Halloween” even make normal houses in suburbia scary.

#1: A Cabin/The Woods

Rural cottages, cabins and the vast expanse of the woods, are just so scary on multiple levels. Isolated cabins are creepy in general: they’re often old, at the mercy of the elements, and defenseless. We’re just sayin’, no horror movie set in a cabin has ever ended well. The sheer expanse of a forest can be overwhelming, and the woods in horror tend to be populated with dangerous creatures waiting to tear into you. Think “The Blair Witch Project” or “The Ritual.” Not only do the woods harbor threats, but disorienting nature leaves characters feeling hopeless, alone, and irritated. When lost among the trees, we quickly realize that we aren’t in control.
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