10 Most Unshakable High School Horror Movies

They do say high school is the best fears of your life.
High School Horror Movies

October is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “31 days of horror.” Don’t bother looking it up; it’s true. Most people take that to mean highlighting one horror movie a day, but here at FSR, we’ve taken that up a spooky notch or nine by celebrating each day with a top ten list. This article about the best high school set horror movies is part of our ongoing series 31 Days of Horror Lists.

What makes the horror genre so primed for a high school setting? Well, it could be that it involves ghastly villains, unpredictable terror, and torturous nightmare scenarios that would make any sensible person want to run for the hills. But enough about high school.

Seriously though, horror is a genre that is all about how the mundane can turn into something monstrous. It’s about enduring the unbearable with the promise of catharsis. It’s about melding fun entertainment with grisly brutality. From bullies to cafeteria food and prom night to gym rope climbs, all of these horror descriptors could just as easily apply to run-of-the-mill high school experiences.

Horror movies are also, traditionally, viewed as something made for teenagers. So it’s not exactly surprising that so many films would aim to appeal to exactly this audience by delivering something relatable. This means that there’s a great wealth of films made about high schoolers, and sorting through them all is no easy feat. In deciding on the best of the best, we considered how clever and original a film could be, how well it delivered characters who are both likeable and believable as teenagers, and, of course, how good the movie is overall. So without further ado, let’s get into the best high school horror movies, as decided by FSR’s resident horror nerds, AKA Rob Hunter, Meg ShieldsChris Coffel, Brad Gullickson, Jacob Trussell, Valerie Ettenhofer, and yours truly.

10. The Craft (1996)

More than most other entries on this list, The Craft feels like a horror movie that’s not just about high schoolers but for high schoolers. From Fairuza Balk’s declaration that “We’re the weirdos, mister” – a line that no doubt ended up scrawled on countless ‘90s goth kids’ binders – to plots about bullying, depression, and peer pressure, the movie is a pretty great slice of starter horror for teen fans.

It’s also better than most coming-of-age movies at conveying just how powerless the problems teens face can make them feel and how powerful – and unstable – a dynamic group of friends can be in the face of those problems. Released a year before Buffy the Vampire Slayer began exploring the high-school-as-hell metaphor in a long-form, spooky friendship flick; The Craft is an influential cult favorite for a reason. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

9. Tragedy Girls (2017)

The appeal of setting a horror film in high school is obvious. Not only are young people the likely audience demographic for horror, but there’s a more playful freedom in teenage characters. We’ve all been there to some degree, and a high school offers up a wide variety of character types, from the jocks and nerds to the teachers and “bad” kids. While the location is typically used as a pool of victims only, Tragedy Girls flips the script a bit by making our two killers be fellow students. Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp shine as sassy, smart, social media-obsessed teens addicted to murdering people for likes. They and the film capture the slightly exaggerated world well, with the quirks of its microcosm intact and ripe for slaughter. Add in some stellar practical gore and some big laughs, and you’ll join the rest of us in waiting anxiously for Tragedy Girls Go to College. (Rob Hunter)

8. Final Destination (2000)

Parents love to ask high school-age kids if they would jump off a bridge if all their friends jumped. Maybe the better question is would you get off a plane if your friend freaked out moments before take-off and insisted it was going to crash? Well, in the end, you’re screwed either way. But still, it’s the thought that counts. And it’s certainly the thought that saves a mishmash of high school seniors who end up being spared from a fiery crash thanks to Alex’s (Devon Sawa) vision. With teenage hormones running wild and the emotional fallout of a near-death experience, these characters can be pretty volatile, but it makes it all the more entertaining when death finally does catch up with them. (Anna Swanson)

7. The Loved Ones (2009)

The Loved Ones truly recreates the high school prom experience. Brent is nailed to the floor; he can’t escape. His vocal cords are silenced via an injection of bleach. He’ll likely get the axe if he says the wrong thing to his date or her father. Yep, the teenage ritual is smooshed into one horrific night around the dinner table. Brent would like to think himself special, but he’s just one of many poor fools who’ve fallen under Lola’s gaze, and there’s a basement full of cannibal teens to prove it. The Loved Ones is a wretched way to spend an evening at the movies, but the hell onscreen feels about as emotionally honest as anything John Hughes ever produced. (Brad Gullickson)

6. The Faculty (1998)

One day in the late 1990s, while Nu Metal presumably blasted in the background, Robert Rodriguez wondered what would happen if he put The Breakfast Club and Invasion of the Body Snatchers in a blender. The result is 1998’s The Faculty, the quickest and easily most entertaining way to convert the horror-suspicious tween in your life into an identity horror-loving dork, just like you! Featuring a cast that is as stacked as it is hilariously of its time (Elijah Wood! Clea DuVall! Robert Patrick! Famke Janssen! Jon Stewart! Salma Hayek! …uh, Usher!), The Faculty tells of a mid-west high school that suddenly becomes the site of an alien invasion. Who can be trusted, and who has a lil’ alien lodged in their ear hole? It’s up to a rag-tag group of teens from an assortment of cliques to find out! (Meg Shields)

This list of the best high school horror movies ever concludes on the next page…

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Anna Swanson: Anna Swanson is a Senior Contributor who hails from Toronto. She can usually be found at the nearest rep screening of a Brian De Palma film.