The Dark, Heights and Spiders: 10 Horror Films That Exploit Moviegoers' Biggest Fears

8:30 AM 7/21/2016

by Allison Crist

'Lights Out,' which hits theaters this week, is the latest in a long line of movies aiming to capitalize on audiences' biggest fears.

Lights Out Still - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of LA Film Festival

Lights Out Still - Publicity - H 2016

Lights Out hits theaters this week with the same goal of many similar horror films -- to hit innumerable people where it hurts: with their biggest fear. 

Whether it's the dark, spiders, heights or enclosed spaces, there's guaranteed to be a movie (or two, or three) that brings the most common of fears to life. 

The Hollywood Reporter has rounded up a collection of films that are almost too real for anyone who suffers from some of the most common phobias. 

  • Enclosed Spaces: 'Buried'

    Ryan Reynolds is forced to fight his way out of a coffin that's buried in the ground... with only a lighter and a cell phone. This nightmare-of-a-movie for claustrophobes brings back the horrors of the 18th and 19th centuries when people were constantly being prematurely buried. 

  • Needles: 'Saw II'

    The entirety of Saw II isn't dedicated to scaring people afraid of needles -- but when one of the characters is literally thrown into what's called "The Needle Pit," it does just that. Amanda (Shawnee Smith), is forced to crawl through used syringes to find a key in order to escape, making needle phobes everywhere squirm. 

  • Sharks/The Ocean: 'Open Water'

    With shark attacks in the news more and more lately, the vastness of the ocean can be daunting -- especially if you're stranded in the middle of it. Open Water utilizes this concept with two left-behind divers and lurking sharks. 

  • Clowns: 'It'

    While there's definitely not a shortage of horror movies that feature clowns, Stephen King's It could be considered groundbreaking. The friendly Pennywise had the ability to appear as other people (and even monsters), making him without a doubt the scariest clown to date. 

  • Spiders: 'Arachnaphobia'

    Normal-sized spiders are scary enough for those who don't like bugs. When they become giant and have the ability to not only kill people, but take over an entire town, "horrifying" becomes an understatement. 

  • Dogs: 'Cujo'

    While it may be hard to believe, cynophobia (a fear of dogs) is actually both legitimate and fairly common. Though Cujo himself is only "bad" after being bitten by a bat, that doesn't make him any less terrifying. 

  • Mirrors: 'Oculus'

    Oculus features a pair of siblings determined to understand the evil behind an antique family mirror. What happens in the process only validates the fears of anyone afraid of mirrors. 

  • Blood: 'Dead Alive'

    Often labeled "the goriest movie ever," Dead Alive is packed full of blood. Quite simply, the film is a nightmare for anyone with a weak stomach or fear of blood. 

  • Flying: 'Final Destination'

    The entire Final Destination series showcases a variety of strange ways to die; however, the plane crash that features an explosion and bodies flying out in the first film is a real-life nightmare for many. 

  • Dolls: 'Annabelle'

    Horror movies that feature dolls are similar to those that showcase clowns: abundant. However, Annabelle is a real doll, meaning that the movie seems that much scarier.