In the realm of horror, brevity can sometimes intensify a thrill, leaving you clutching your book or clinging to the edge of your seat. Some of literature’s most enduring nightmares are short-form. Neither MR James nor HP Lovecraft have a novel to their name, yet they’re amongst the most famous authors of horror and it could be argued King and Barker’s most successful works are their short stories.
In the world of film, there are numerous examples of directors using shorts as a launchpad to bigger and better things. Huge directors such as Raimi, Wan, Waititi, and Burton all got their start with shorts and newer directors such as Bruckner, Sandberg, Muschietti and Jennifer Kent are all finding similar success with theirs as well. Based on how many there are and how well most of them do on YouTube and other platforms, there’s clearly an appetite for bite-size horror and the market doesn’t look to be drying up anytime soon.
In this list, we’ll delve into some of the greatest horror short films ever created, each possessing the unique ability to send shivers down your spine in mere minutes. So, let’s dim the lights, embrace the darkness, and venture into a world where fear lurks around every corner.
These are the 100 Greatest Horror Shorts of All Time.
50. Everything’s Fine (2020)
There’s been a backlash against the portrayal of the mentally unwell in horror for a minute now and while crazy should really stop being used as an excuse for all evil, there are mental illnesses so terrifying, suffering them are akin to horror. A new mother suffering with Postpartum OCD struggles with intrusive thoughts about harming her baby. Everything’s Fine already has a leg up over most shorts by having a premise far scarier than the majority of supernatural stories you find on YouTube. It uses a real life phenomenon as the backdrop to its horror and expertly utilizes suspense and ambiguity to create an atmosphere filled with dread.
49. Dead Air (2019)
It’s Halloween night at WRXN 101.5FM and DJ Mickey Monstro has some tricks up his sleeve for his ghoulish listeners. But little does he know that his prank will unleash the ghosts of the station’s past and wreak havoc across the airwaves to all that are listening. While the combination of horror and rock ‘n roll isn’t as novel as the short thinks it is, it does get major points for belonging tov a very specific and underrepresented subgenre which is DJ as protagonist. They’re horribly underserved as characters and while they’re usually the ones that releases the evil in the first place, they usually make up for it for being entertaining to watch and the one in this is no different.
48. Thanksgiving (2007)
Although he was christened one of the modern masters of horror and was even inducted in Fangoria’s Hall of Fame after just two films, Eli Roth’s greatest horror accomplishment is a fake trailer in Grindhouse. Thanksgiving is a pitch perfect homage to slashers of the ’80s. It’s holiday themed (like the best slashers), has a ton of creative kills, nudity and a great slasher costume. You could easily image The Pilgrim alongside your Freddys, Jasons, Michael Myers and Harry Wardens. He would’ve been a great Halloween costume and could’ve inspired a number of great collectibles. I guess we’ll see if the upcoming film based on the short will do right by him and the trailer itself.
47. Other Side of the Box (2018)
If feels as though, the simpler a short’s plot synopsis is, the creepier it is. Woman cleans attic and sees a weird shadow that seems to be moving, a DJ accidentally unleashes demons, a woman wants to kill her baby, Etc. Other Side of The Box might take the cake for simple premises: a couple receives a mysterious package from an old friend. That’s all you need to know to recreate Brad Pitt’s iconic question in Se7en. What’s in the box? What’s in the box!?
46. The Fall (2019)
In 2019, the BBC screened a new short film in which a masked mob hang a man in a forest. He plunges down a well for an agonizingly long 90 seconds, before the rope stops spooling and the man – miraculously alive – slowly starts to haul his way towards the light. It was broadcast without introduction or credits. There was no clue as to who was responsible. It would eventually be revealed to be the work of Jonathan Glazer, director of Sexy Beast and Under the Skin. It was a pleasant surprise for fans of avant garde weirdness and esoteric political statements. For everyone else, it was a baffling horror short that most likely traumatized all that saw it.
Here’s the link:
45. Curve (2016)
Clinging to a smooth, curved surface high above a sentient abyss, a girl tries to cover the few feet back to safety without losing purchase and falling to her death. If you’re one of the millions that suffer from acrophobia (fear of heights), stay far away from this short. It taps into that fear effortlessly and will genuinely make you sweat and grip tight whatever is close out of instinct.
44. This House Has People in It (2016)
Security camera footage of a birthday party reveals the unexplained events of a family, a strange disease, and a mysterious pink woman who stalks the family. Adult Swim has been consistently killing it with their horror shorts for so long, I’m truly shocked they haven’t created their own subdivision strictly for horror. If they got into feature films, they could easily give Blumhouse a run for their money.
43. Bedtime Story (2019)
A witch watches a family’s nighttime routine from a house across the street. Intense and chilling in equal measure with a twist that will leave you reeling, Bedtime Story scared the shit out of festival goers including Sam Raimi, who immediately bought the rights to turn it into a feature length film.
42. The Stomach (2014)
Frank’s had enough. A spirit medium whose unique and grotesque method of channeling the dead is putting his own life at risk, he wants out. But others, in this world and the next, have plans of their own. Part body horror, part crime thriller, part ghost story, The Stomach is a unique tale of supernatural noir that’s unlike anything else.
41. Attic Panic (2015)
It wasn’t a surprise to anyone who’s seen his shorts that David F. Sandberg would make it big in Hollywood. He’s one of the most consistent directors in the medium, with most of his shorts being considered all timers. He’s a master of delivering big scares in a small amount of time. The premise of Attic Panic is so simple, you have to imagine he came up with the title first and then reverse engineered a short original around it. In the under lit attic, an unsuspecting woman tidies up an already cluttered space; however, in the mysterious dimness, her eye catches a motion. Is this a trick of the mind, or is there something sinister hiding in the thick shadows? Tight, suspenseful and a vibe that’s sure to give you goosebumps, Attic Panic is yet another example of Sandberg knocking it out of the park.
What are some of your favorite horror shorts? Maybe they will show up later in the list!