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10 Scary Christmas Horror Movies You Haven’t Heard Of

Tis the season to be jolly, and visit Grandma for those treats you only get one time a year. It’s also the time for family drama, bloody Santas, and existential questions. Although horror and Christmas wouldn’t seem to go together, they are actually really well suited for a one-two punch of relatability and creepy scares. If you are looking to spend a few hours looking behind your back and side-eye at your weird Uncle George, this is the list for you. Christmas horror movies are a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, scary Christmas horror movies are harder to come by.

That doesn’t mean the nonfrightening movies aren’t worth your time. They just shouldn’t be in the rotation if you are looking to freak yourself out for a while. While Better Watch out may be one of my favorite holiday horror delights, I readily admit it isn’t the scariest film in the world. There’s a nasty little charm to the original Krampus and Jack Frost, but that doesn’t mean they are scary. To land on this naughty list, you must have at least a scene or two that makes you jump or your heart pound and be underseen, little known, or flat out obscure. Here are all the scariest Christmas Horror Movies out there right now and where to stream them.

Await Further Instructions

On Christmas Day, a family wakes up to discover a mysterious black substance surrounding the house, and their TV screen broadcasts a single message: Stay Indoors and Await Further Instructions.

What happens when our failings are used against us? Await Further Instructions delivers a powerful message for an age that is utterly dependent on our screens and defined by our tribes. This film is not for everyone, but you won’t find much better for those who dig social commentary disguised as horror. The imagery is genuinely arresting, and this low-budget sci-fi thriller feels like the Black Mirror movie you didn’t know you needed. Paranoia and intense family dynamics round out the claustrophobic terror. You can stream it on Netflix right now.

Inside

A scissor-wielding psychopath (Béatrice Dalle) terrorizes a pregnant widow (Alysson Paradis) on Christmas Eve.

French Extremism is not for the faint of heart. However, inside is the real deal and quite possibly one of the scariest films of all time. Hard-core horror fans will undoubtedly know this infamous film, but for the casual viewer looking for a treat, Inside won’t disappoint. It’s intense, terrifying, gory, and will leave you exhausted peeking between fingers that are clenched tight. From beginning to end, it is a horrifying nightmare. You can get it on Amazon Prime and Vudu.

Christmas Evil

Comical festive frights. A toy-maker who revels in the Christmas spirit suffers a mental break when his work is met with hypocrisy and cynicism and goes on a yuletide killing spree.

There’s something that speaks to me in the grimy, dirty slashers of the early ’80s. This is one of those rare films that, despite its wild premise and obviously exploitive nature, still manages to be psychologically traumatizing and profoundly creepy. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus will take on a whole new meaning after seeing this. Stream it on Tubi or Vudu for free.

The Advent Calendar

Eva has been paraplegic for the past three years. When her birthday arrives, she receives a strange advent calendar as a gift. But instead of the traditional sweets, every day reveals something different; sometimes pleasant but often terrifying, and increasingly bloody. It’s going to be a very deadly Christmas this year.

The newest film on this list is a genuine surprise. Shudder has a way of scooping up these unexpected treasures. What would you sacrifice to have your wildest dreams come true? The concept is undeniably familiar, but the bits of nasty gore are good enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. As Eva opens door after door, the tension builds, and the price increases. The creature is pretty cool and more than makes up for the overused story. Watch it on Shudder now.

The Children

Two families gather at an upscale English estate in late December. Elaine (Eva Birthistle) and her sister, Chloe (Rachel Shelley), along with their husbands and children, are set for a weekend of family bonding and winter fun. But when they arrive, one of the children becomes sick, and all of the children exhibit strange behavior. The adults don’t realize the disturbing truth until it’s too late: The children have contracted a disease that has turned them into brutal, psychotic killers.

Instead of visions of sugar plums, your little sweeties are dreaming of killing you. Unnerving and darkly funny in a “parents turning on parents” kind of way, The Children borrows liberally from the creepy kid trope with a lot of success. Yet, despite the story’s predictability, there is something so weirdly random about the circumstances and the horrorific set pieces that get under your skin. You can stream it on Tubi for free.

Blood Beat

A woman travels to rural Wisconsin to meet her boyfriend’s family, but her body becomes possessed by the spirit of a Japanese samurai warrior who goes on a killing spree.

Easily the most unique film on the Scary Christmas Horror Movies list, Blood Beat is bonkers in all the best ways. The part slasher, part supernatural thriller is the bizarre Christmas delight you have been waiting for to fill the void between It’s A Wonderful Life and holiday get-togethers. Admittedly, it isn’t the most coherent of films and the ending, in particular, is just balls-out nuts, but for absolute WTF moments that hit like a ton of bricks, this one is tops. You can stream it on Tubi right now.

Dead of Night

Architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) goes to Pilgrim’s Farm to see a potential client. When he arrives at the house, he gets the feeling that he has been there before. Once inside, he meets a group of people who seem oddly familiar. He tells them that he has dreamt about each one of them and begins to list events that occurred in the dream. Walter’s revelations begin a conversation amongst the group, and each person admits to having experienced a strange, unexplainable event.

This horror anthology from 1945 is a classic. It is a bit uneven, but a few of the segments are so enduring they will stick with you forever. Only one of the segments is Christmas-themed, but the paranormal subject matter is weird enough to make it worth it. The final segment, The Ventriloquist Dummy, is why dummies freak out so many people. It’s the kind of movie everyone should see once and makes the repeating nightmare loop proud. Find it on Amazon Prime.

Wind Chill

Just before their university campus goes quiet for the winter break, a young woman (Emily Blunt) asks a classmate (Ashton Holmes) for a lift home. The two students set off on their trip and begin to get to know each other. But, when a reckless motorist drives them off the road, they find themselves stranded in the snow on a remote highway. As the night grows colder, the two are confronted by a horde of menacing apparitions — and struggle to escape with their lives.

Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes sell it and are worth watching for their performances alone. It’s a little spooky, a little clunky, and the killer is more dramatic than deadly, but before the wheels come off, it is a quality film. The plotting is definitely suspect, and the central conceit is so inexplicably absurd it isn’t worth mentioning. Ignore all the supernatural calisthenics with made-up rules that are arbitrary and constantly shifting and focus on Blunt and Holmes. They make the very most of every line. It’s available on Amazon Prime and Starz.

Dead End

When a family en route to a Christmas Eve gathering decides to take a shortcut down a wooded road, an eerie sequence of events signals trouble ahead. After nearly colliding with an oncoming car, father Frank (Ray Wise) picks up a ghostly hitchhiker (Amber Smith) and her infant child. With the sudden appearance of their new passengers, the route becomes dark and treacherous — and the family’s numbers rapidly begin to dwindle in a series of seemingly connected, grisly roadside accidents.

I’m down for anything Ray Wise is in. Laura Palmer’s father scares me as few can, and he is excellent along with a literal carload of other great actors. Alexandra Holden, Mick Cain, Ambre Smith, and the legendary Lin Shaye round out the stellar cast. The script is sometimes clever, and the setup is excellent. When you are traveling for the holidays, beware of hitchhikers people. Especially to pale ones holding strangely quiet babies. It’s available on Tubi right now.

I Trapped The Devil

Hoping for a joyful family reunion, Matt and his wife pay a surprise visit to the home of his estranged brother, Steve, to celebrate Christmas. To their shock, they soon learn that Steve has a hostage in his basement — a man he claims is the devil.

If Inside is the scariest Christmas horror movie on the list, then I Trapped The Devil is my favorite. Director Josh Lobo takes some big swings, and almost all land. The line between heroism and sanity is murky in this psychological horror film, heavy on moody atmosphere and mysterious questions. It is dread-filled from the opening moments and never lets up until the ambiguous, startling ending. It is a must-watch. You can watch it on Vudu.