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10 Best Horror Films With Non-Human Antagonists

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More often than not, a horror film’s villain is far more interesting than its protagonist and ends up driving the plot as the nefarious presence it inherently is. While many horror films boast human antagonists that showcase the innate wretchedness humankind is capable of, nothing beats a non-human, monstrous antagonist that chills viewers to their very core.


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Even though non-human antagonists generally don’t speak as often as their wretched human counterparts, it can be deeply unnerving to watch human protagonists fight against a greater evil that seems impossible to beat. After all, what these antagonists may lack in terms of dialogue is dynamically counteracted by their terrifying presence.

10/10 Cujo Showcases That Films With Animal Antagonists Can Be Truly Horrifying

Across a wide array of film genres, dogs are commonly depicted as reliable, loyal pets that humans can always rely on as loving companions. However, this is certainly not the case in Cujo, which chronicles the rather tragic tale of a sweet St. Bernard named Cujo as he is bitten by a bat and turns into a ruthless killing machine.

Even though Cujo kills out of necessity rather than for the cruel thrill of the hunt, this does not make the film any less terrifying. From the scene where Cujo kills a man by ripping out his throat to progressively seeing the once kind-hearted dog deteriorate from rabies, the film is sure to be deeply unnerving for animal-loving horror fans.

9/10 A Quiet Place Contains A Supernatural Villain, But It Is Grounded In Real Terror

Some horror films are built around considerable suspensions of disbelief, but they are able to tell immersive narratives since they are grounded in true horror and fear. This can easily be said of A Quiet Place, which follows the Abbott family as they do their best to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by blind monsters with impeccable senses of hearing.

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While many fans have compared these unnerving creatures to the Demogorgons in Stranger Things, the monsters in A Quiet Place are made distinct as creatures that are eerily described as “evolutionary perfect” killing machines. The fact that these monsters pose formidable threats also makes viewers root against them and rejoice when the Abbott family discovers their weakness: high-pitched noises.

8/10 A Nightmare On Elm Street Forces Its Protagonists To Confront Their Worst Dreams

A Nightmare on Elm Street is undeniably unique as a horror film that turns its protagonists’ worst nightmares into inescapable realities. As teenagers Tina, Nancy, Glen, and Rod dream of the same disfigured man attacking them, they begin to witness that the attacks they suffered in the Dream World eerily carry over into the real world.

In addition to the cruel joy Freddy Krueger takes in maiming and killing people, he is made even more terrifying as a notorious child serial killer in life who continues to be a vengeful, murderous spirit in death. While Krueger is certainly anything but human, he possesses an unnerving wit that makes his nefarious intentions even more unsettling.

7/10 Jaws Made An Entire Generation Of Viewers Terrified Of Sharks

It is incredibly common to have a fear of sharks, and much of this rather irrational fear can be traced back to Jaws. The film follows an unlikely trio of a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and a seasoned shark hunter as they hunt down the killer shark and restore order to the New England beach town of Amity Island.

Since the shark attacks plenty of people throughout Jaws, it can be an immensely gruesome watch. Even though the shark undeniably lacks a distinct personality, the way it is characterized as a ruthless aquatic murderer who stops at nothing to reclaim its turf has made Jaws iconic in its own right as a pillar of American cinema.

6/10 Nosferatu (1922) Is An Early Horror Film That Continues To Terrify Viewers

From its unsettling antagonist to its eerie visual elements, it is no wonder that Nosferatu continues to inspire horror filmmakers — despite being released roughly a century ago. The silent horror film follows Thomas Hutter as he is sent to Transylvania to visit a potential client (Count Orlok), only to discover that this client is a vampire.

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While Hutter escapes Orlok’s manor before the monster can feed on him, Orlok enacts notable carnage in Hutter’s hometown. Even when the vampire is not present on screen, it makes its unnerving presence known at the most auspicious moments — from its unsettling shadow to the iconically terrifying shot of the vampire standing under an arched doorway.

5/10 Bird Box Was Immensely Impactful Despite Featuring An Unseen Antagonist

Most horror films contain clear villains that viewers can see and fear. However, Bird Box varies in this respect as a horror film that contains unseen antagonistic entities that drive anyone who sees them to kill themselves. Despite never seeing this malevolent force, audiences immediately resonated with the Netflix film upon its release.

Bird Box is also notable in its ability to channel how humanity’s survival instincts can turn ugly in the face of sheer evil. This manifests in several ways throughout the film, from Gary forcing Cheryl to observe the entities in the safe house to an infected man’s desperate attempt to force the survivors to look at the creatures during their supply run.

4/10 The Main Villain In The Ring (2002) Is Driven By Her Insatiable Hunger For Vengeance

One film that has undeniably become a titan within the expansive horror genre is The Ring. The film follows journalist Rachel Keller as she looks into the supernatural forces behind the death of her sister, Katie, who died a week after watching a cursed videotape that features Samara Morgan, a malevolent spirit.

Initially a human girl with the ability to burn images into objects and people’s minds, Samara becomes a vengeful spirit after her adoptive mother drops her in a well, where she survives for seven days. From that point onward, Samara kills helpless individuals to force them to endure a pain comparable to her own seven days of suffering.

3/10 It (2017) Features A Terrifying Clown That Is Much More Nefarious Than It May Seem

While works of media like American Horror Story: Freak Show begin to showcase just how terrifying clowns can be, It takes this unnerving concept to the next level in the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Even though Pennywise initially seems like a friendly clown as it first interacts with Georgie, viewers are equally terrified and enthralled as Pennywise shows its true colors.

The creature becomes even more unnerving as it is gradually revealed that Pennywise is actually a shape-shifting demonic entity that awakens every 27 years to torment those who call Derry, Maine home. And just when it is assumed that the monster couldn’t get any more unsettling, it uses its victims’ past trauma to its advantage.

2/10 Alien (1979) Paved The Way For Subsequent Science Fiction Horror Films

Alien is a gut-wrenching science fiction horror film that follows the seven-member crew of the Nostromo as they come across an abandoned spaceship. During this unanticipated pit stop, the crew discovers they are up against a deadly extraterrestrial force, also called Xenomorphs.

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Needless to say, these alien creatures lack dialogue and solely communicate through unnerving shrieks. Despite this, the monster wreaks plenty of unsettling carnage throughout Alien, from the iconically frightening scene when an alien bursts through a man’s chest to the scene when Dallas ventures into the ship’s vents and comes face-to-face with a fully grown Xenomorph.

1/10 2001: A Space Odyssey Is A Science Fiction Film With Underrated Horror Elements

Despite possessing notably creepy horror elements, 2001: A Space Odyssey is commonly overlooked as a horror film. However, the film delivers a refreshing twist on the genre by gradually revealing that a once-comforting presence aboard the American spacecraft Discovery One has turned malignant and murderous.

This sudden turn in sentient supercomputer HAL 9000’s demeanor is perhaps most ominously evident when HAL essentially betrays the crew after discovering their plans to disconnect it. While Dr. David “Dave” Bowman eventually manages to disconnect HAL, the menacing supercomputer’s deliberate actions manage to kill all four of his crewmates.

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