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10 Best Slow-Burning Psychological Horror Movies Like It Comes At Night

The horror genre has long been an arena of cinema where a mirror can be held up to expose the darkness in the mundane, to peel back the veneer of safety and shine a light on collective societal fears. Employing a diffusion of dread, emotional anguish, and unsettling themes, slow-burning psychological movies in particular accomplish this by frightening fans with their own imagination.

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It Comes At NightTerry Edward Shult's unnerving tale focused on two families forced to share a home during the aftermath of an apocalypse, trades traditional jump scares for scenes of mounting tension as it becomes increasingly clear the true danger comes from within the sanctum rather than outside it. Like the best psychological horror movies, parts of it stay with fans long after the credits, just like these other films.

10 It Follows

After a teenage girl sleeps with her boyfriend for the first time, she begins to suspect that she's acquired some sort of a curse. Sinister people have begun to follow her, ever-present in the corner of her vision, and even her friends have become enemies. As she becomes more and more paranoid, what few friends she has left only believe her once they too see the harbingers of death, or perhaps death itself.

Whether viewers choose to interpret the movie as a metaphor about sexual intercourse and STDs or as a disturbing haunting, its relentless sense of menace, masterful use of music, and strong visuals ensure It Follows will burrow a place in their psyche.

9 Hereditary

An already fractured family is divided even further after the funeral of its matriarch, forcing the mother and her children to confront secrets from her past that will slowly unravel their already tenuous grip on unity. They become increasingly aware of an inherited fate that is both tangential and completely out of their control to subvert.

Hereditary provides a unique exploration of the sensitive topics of familial dysfunction and mental illness, and thanks to a visceral setting and powerful performances, it moves away from familiar tropes and emphasizes instead an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and emotional agony that any viewer can identify with.

8 The Lodge

After a pending divorce ends with the suicide of the matriarch of the family, her children must begrudgingly accept a new life with their father and his new girlfriend. In an effort to help move past the trauma and reconnect, he decides take them to a remote cabin for the holidays, though no one is thrilled with the idea.

When he gets unexpectedly called away on business his girlfriend assumes the responsibility of watching the children, until the increasing length of their time in isolation (worsened by a snow storm) combined with her dark past as a cult survivor makes that a very bad idea. The Lodge uses tension, the abominable weather conditions, and the many manifestations of survivor's guilt to weave an unsettling tale.

7 The Invitation

A man is invited back to his former abode for a dinner party thrown by his ex-wife and her new husband. Everything initially seems innocent, until he begins to suspect that the couple's plans for the guests are anything but. "Surviving the evening" takes on a whole new meaning as he becomes increasingly paranoid that he won't.

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The Invitation deftly moves from social anxiety, to mounting fear, to abject terror as the realities of what promised to be a pleasant evening begin to surface over dinner and conversation. Viewers already wary of social functions will find their worst phobias realized.

6 Session 9

When a crew arrives to clean the asbestos out of an old, decaying mental hospital, they come across a variety of relics from its past. From tubs to administer ice baths to tables where lobotomies were conducted, by far the most disturbing is the "Session 9" series of tapes involving a young schizophrenic patient.

As each member of the crew remains on site, they begin to be altered by the building, and it affects each man differently depending on his psychological state going in. Filled with an overwhelming sense of dread, Session 9 is a slow descent into madness.

5 The VVitch

A family in 1630 New England turns out to be not so different from a modern family, plagued by the same sense of despair and confused anger at the loss of the youngest son. When they turn on the eldest daughter responsible for his safekeeping, they decide witchcraft must be at the root of her negligence, an accusation which shatters their familial bonds and tests their loyalty.

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Even with its archaic speech, puritanical subject matter, and slow-moving plot, The VVitch taps into a very primal and righteous aspect of humanity. Viewers will find themselves sucked into its moody world because it doesn't feel alien, and the themes it highlights are visible even now.

4 Midsommar

Suffering from the grief of losing her father but acknowledging that her relationship has taken damage, a young woman agrees to go on a European backpacking trip with her boyfriend and his friends. After arriving in Sweden they begin a tour of the bucolic countryside, ultimately stopping at a friend's rural hometown just in time for its midsummer festival.

The beautiful and the bizarre soon collide as the retreat features an increasingly strange series of circumstances, eventually devolving into a violent competition organized by the town, which the group finds out houses a fiercely devoted pagan cult. Midsommar perfectly subverts genre expectations with its use of bright colors, stunning cinematography, and a pastoral setting.

3 The Lighthouse

With a very small cast, tight cinematography, and an eerie visual style aided by the decision to make the movie black and white, Robert Eggers creates a period piece that's both accessible to viewers and makes them uncomfortable, much as he did with The VVitch

The Lighthouse forces viewers to confront their fears of isolation alongside two lighthouse keepers, whose forced cohabitation on a remote New England island in the late 19th century introduces bizarre scenarios and hallucinations as they fight to keep a grip on their sanity. Viewers will question what's real and what isn't along with the characters, and dynamic performances will convince them of even the most startling discoveries.

2 The Babadook

Grief and loss are at the forefront of The Babadookwhich focuses on a single mother and her son reeling from the violent and sudden death of her husband, attempting to piece their lives back together in the aftermath of his jarring absence.

Central to the story is a children's book featuring a character called "The Babadook", who seems to slowly manifest beyond the pages of reality and spread into their home. While her son fears the monster under the bed, his mother soon discovers that it could be a harbinger of something much more sinister and malevolent.

1 Jacob's Ladder

Chronicling a veteran's return home from the Vietnam War, Jacob's Ladder highlights the war still fought by many soldiers in the battlefields of the mind. Navigating civilian life becomes a struggle to maintain sanity, and the increasing suspicion that something foreign has invaded his body -particularly by force- manifests in graphic hallucinations.

As he attempts to keep a foothold on reality, his girlfriend and ex-wife try to help him, but they can't understand the hellscape he lives in. What's worse -- every member of his squad that he approaches for empathy die under mysterious circumstances.

NEXT: 10 Terrifying Horror Movies (That Surprisingly Don’t Have Much Bloodshed Or Gore)

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