Ten Horror Films to Watch This December

By Sam Aberdeen


December is typically associated with joy, happiness and festivity. The holiday season brings Christmas around, gives us days off work to spend time with our family, and eventually usher in the New Year as the strike of midnight approaches. You might sit around a warm living room and watch Home Alone with the family, or perhaps that one Madea Christmas film. Either way, one thing is for sure: we don’t really want to watch horror movies in December. Yet, there are many, some even Christmas-themed, that ensure we’re screaming all year round and not just on Halloween. I’ve compiled a list of ten must-watch horror films (in no particular order) that will brighten up your December faster than Mariah Carey’s Greatest Christmas Hits collection.


1. Krampus (2015)

I’d argue Michael Dougherty’s 2015 iteration of Krampus might be the quintessential Christmas horror movie. It has all the bells and whistles of your traditional festive film, including a family that must learn to like each other and a snowy suburban setting as the cherry on top. Unfortunately, this is a horror list, and Krampus – the vengeful demonic Santa Claus with his minions of hell – make a grand entrance. The result, like Dougherty’s horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat, is a delightfully sinister and inventive horror flick with enough comedic levity to break the scares. Krampus may not shock you like other entries on this list, but it’s wholesome enough to put a smile on your face and maybe raise an eyebrow or two.

You can watch the trailer here: 


2. Let Me In

Before Matt Reeves tackled the gargantuan duty of directing The Batman, he had his humble beginnings with Cloverfield and a little winter-themed vampire film called Let Me In. A remake of the Swedish horror film Let The Right One In, Let Me In casts an All-American ensemble, led by a terrifically chilling performance by Chloe Grace Moretz. Released at a time when vampire romance movies were looked down upon (for obvious sparkling reasons), Let Me In arrived to remind us how dark the vampire sub-genre can be. Twisted, disturbing and quite touching, this is one you’d probably want to give a second look.

You can watch the trailer here:


3. Devil’s Pass

Before you sharpen your pitchforks and knives, yes, Devil’s Pass is a found footage movie. However, there have been shining examples of greats in the genre, as rare as they are. While not quite in the found footage hall of fame like The Blair Witch Project, Devil’s Pass makes an admirable attempt to be both a creative science fiction horror and a based-on-true-events documentary. The film follows a group of college students who venture into Dyatlov’s Pass, a snowy mountain range in Russia where previous explorers actually perished in the 50s under mysterious circumstances. Devil’s Pass doesn’t try to hide the fact that it embellishes historical accounts to be more, well, fantastical, but it packs enough cold and chilling scares to keep you hooked.

You can watch the trailer here: 


4. Gremlins

Another entertaining Christmas-themed horror/comedy, Gremlins really needs no introduction. Joe Dante’s subversive comedic take on an old horror tale about little gremlins causing havoc in a small American town has become embedded in film history, and for a good reason. While it’s definitely more funny than scary, Gremlins features excellent comedic timing by the terrifying yet kind of endearing titular villains. Gore-splattering aplenty and with an upbeat Christmas tone to boot, you really should put this on your watch-list this December if you somehow haven’t seen it yet.

You can watch the trailer here: 


5. Lake Mungo

At points in our lives, we will experience grief. That grief manifests in many ways as we try to deal with the loss of a loved one, or someone important to us. Lake Mungo explores a family absolutely torn apart by the mysterious death of their daughter. It’s an honest, emotionally gut-wrenching, and oftentimes eerie spiral into despair and the afterlife, yet it delivers a story that twists and turns with surprising revelations every few minutes. Do we really know the people we’re close to? Lake Mungo attempts to answer and dissect this question with a supernatural story of loss and acceptance. It’s not the jolliest entry on the list, but it is an essential one.

You can watch the trailer here: 


6. Black Christmas (1974)

Also known as the grandfather of slasher movies, Black Christmas (the 1974 version, since it’s apparently been remade every decade) is one of the darkest and most uncomfortable horror films ever made. Taking place on Christmas Eve, a sorority house is terrorized by a killer who has found his way into their dormitory. As far as plots go, it’s about as basic as you can get: there’s a killer in a location, and there’s a gradually increasing body count until there’s a last person standing. However, Black Christmas should be respected for its groundbreaking push into shaping a new kind of horror, the likes of which we wouldn’t even have Jason Voorhees or Freddy Kreuger today. 

You can watch the trailer here: 


7. The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s legendary remake of The Thing is already etched into cinema history, that’s why I’m talking about it again (much to the dismay of all my friends who had to sit through my TED Talks about why I love this movie). The Thing takes place in the winter wonderland of Antarctica, where a strange creature is found frozen underneath the ice. The alien creature escapes and begins to literally shapeshift its way into a research base, assuming the identity of its victims. Basically, a whodunnit murder mystery but with a killer creature, The Thing is an absolute blast to watch from start to finish – and easily the most beloved entry on this list.

You can watch the trailer here: 


8. Frozen

I apologize in advance to anyone expecting me to talk about Elsa and Anna, but I’m talking about horror movies. Well, then I guess it wouldn’t be out of place either. However, Frozen is actually a 2010 horror film about three friends who get stranded on a mountain ski lift after it gets stuck. The result is a movie about extreme survival against mother nature as the cold – and a pack of hungry wolves below – threaten their lives.  You probably haven’t seen a movie quite like Frozen since it sounds impossible to make a movie that takes place exclusively on one ski lift interesting, but director Adam Green pulls it off with masterful execution. 

You can watch the trailer here: 


9. Trollhunter

We’re back with found footage horror movies, but this time, it may actually be one of the best of all time. Trollhunter is a Norwegian horror film that follows three college students who travel the stunning countryside of Norway in search of trolls. These aren’t the friendly or fantastical kind you’ve read about in fairy tales, but actually monstrous carnivores that dwell in caves, forests and out of the public’s eye. The college students eventually find someone called the troll hunter, and an adventure begins to document the hidden secrets and government cover-ups of Norway. If I have one goal with this one, it’s to convince you to give it a chance. Foreign horror films are home to some of the best in the genre, and Trollhunter is no exception. It’s creative, beautifully shot, and features terrific and believable special effects. 

You can watch the trailer here: 


10. The Shining

The final recommendation for December’s shortlist of horror ends with a Stanley Kubrick film, as all film lists should. By now, you might be all too familiar with the story of The Shining. Jack Nicholson plays a struggling writer who moves with his family to the remote Overlook Hotel. Little do they know, the hotel may be haunted beyond anyone’s imagination, and thus begins one of the most iconic horror films ever made. The Shining shattered expectations when it released in 1980, and continues to serve as a huge source of inspiration for filmmakers all over the world. Kubrick’s flawless direction is on full display here, and it’s a must-watch for anyone who wants to familiarize themselves with the art of making movies. 

You can watch the trailer here: