Buckets of fake blood and stomach-churning practical effects are hallmarks of the horror genre and certainly have their place, but, there are a number of reasons you might not be in the mood for a splatterfest. Maybe you have a partner that doesn’t appreciate blood and guts, or you’re hanging out with someone who doesn’t usually watch horror movies. Maybe you’re a hardcore horror fan looking for a change of pace. Whatever the reason, you have lots of choices if you want to be scared, but aren’t in the mood for a slasher. In no particular order, here are 15 of our favorite horror movies without gore:

1. The Conjuring

Arguably one of the best modern horror movies, James Wan’s first entry on this list has made huge waves in the genre. Based on a real-life investigation by demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, the visuals are stunning, the story is compelling, and the jump scares are well-conceived. This set a new standard for haunted house and demon possession movies.  

2. Babadook

A dark, psychological horror film that plumbs the depths of human depression and sadness, Jennifer Kent’s Australian indie film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The monster and the story are strikingly original, and the suspense is unbearable at times. The Babadook has also taken on a life of his own as an internet meme. Whether that’s because so many fans embraced the character or because the monster himself “…doesn’t want to die so he’s finding ways to become relevant,” the cult popularity of this movie continues to grow.

3. The Blair Witch Project

It’s hard to describe how refreshingly new and utterly terrifying the early trailers and marketing materials were for this movie. It sounds unbelievable, but before there was a “found footage” genre, people saw this trailer and thought it was real. Marketing aside, the film is still original in both concept and in execution. It has also given us two of the most significant scenes in the modern horror canon. One of those is a tearful, terrified video confession. The other comes in the final moments and still chills viewers to the core.

4. The Blob

Gloriously weird and surprisingly entertaining, this film still holds up. Campy from start to finish, it still manages to build a sense of dread. The Blob is genuinely scary in the first part of the movie, then hilarious by the end. This is great for die-hard genre fans or squeamish horror newbies, alike.

5. Carnival of Souls

Repeatedly drawn to the abandoned carnival on the edge of her new hometown, Mary Henry is haunted by visions of pale-faced, smiling ghouls, and her own mysterious past. As the boundary between the real and the imaginary blur, the spirits draw her toward a final reckoning at the carnival, pulling her into a swirling, grotesque dance that still haunts us after the credits roll.

This 1962 indie film is a bit of an acquired taste, but it delivers a surreal and horrifying pay-off for anyone seeking a gore-free genre gem. Sustained by intriguing cinematography, this fever dream of a movie starts slowly, then builds to a surreal climax. It has even been compared to James Wan’s Insidious.

6. Annabelle

James Wan’s Conjuring movies and spin-offs are so wildly popular because they’re both terrifying and atmospheric. Annabelle, the creepy doll from The Conjuring, manages to scare us without moving. From the moment we saw her “Miss me?” note scrawled in red crayon in The Conjuring, we were terrified. Even if you ignore all the sequels, the first Annabelle movie delivers pure terror.  

7. The House on Haunted Hill

This movie is a perfect October viewing. From the opening scene, this movie is atmospheric, creepy, and campy in all the right ways. It builds suspense and effortlessly creates a mood. It gives us Vincent Price at his prime, a spooky house, a floating skeleton, and a witch jump scare that still gets us every time. This movie is tame by today’s standards but gives us quintessential haunted house vibes.

9. Insidious

It’s ironic that the creator of the Saw franchise would end up contributing three movies to this list for the gore-averse, but James Wan is clearly a dynamic horror director with range and vision. Insidious manages to terrify without gory theatrics and builds a world large enough for numerous sequels. Wan, a proponent of well-designed jump scares, gives us the haunting spiritual plane called “The Further,” which is inhabited by a host of demons and spirits that are mind-bendingly terrifying. Nightmares guaranteed, no gore necessary. 

10. It Follows

Released in 2015, It Follows is perfectly moody and evocative of synth-filled, 80s throwback horror. Creepy beyond belief, this movie features slow-moving, human-looking creatures who pursue their victims endlessly. As the character Hugh says, it “…could look like someone you know or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you.” The scene of the older woman walking slowly across the lawn at Jay’s school still scares us.   

11. The Ring

An American movie based on the Japanese original, Ringu, The Ring is surprisingly gore-free for a supernatural horror movie with aggressive scares. Centered on a haunted VHS tape that kills its viewers seven days after watching it, the jump scares induce whiplash, and the long black hair of the ghost Samara became its own horror movie mini-trope. This movie ushered in an American fascination with Japanese horror, and opened the doors for movies like The Grudge and Dark Water

12. Poltergeist

This undisputed 80’s classic features some of the most iconic scenes in horror, like the clown under the bed, and Carol Anne staring into the TV static. Though directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), its story and polished production are due to Steven Spielberg’s writing and creative control. Though the nature of the working relationship between Hooper and Spielberg has been debated, the movie they created was hugely successful. It was even nominated for three Academy Awards.   

13. Psycho

Though the iconic shower scene depicts a murder, Psycho is largely gore-free. It is one of the most recognizable horror moments ever filmed and still manages to shock and creep out viewers. The rest of the movie builds a taut suspense that delivers pure horror during Lila and Sam’s final fruit cellar discovery. Probably Alfred Hitchcock’s best-known movie, this is a great classic to revisit when you’re in the mood to feel unsettled.

14. Paranormal Activity

This movie offered a fresh take on found-footage horror when it came out in 2007. The timestamped in-home security camera footage of a house in an idyllic American suburb was a perfect medium for delivering a new spin on both found footage and haunted house horror. Before Paranormal Activity there were plenty of shaky, handheld camera-style horror movies, so its look was unique. The multiple static camera angles and long periods of nighttime silence built anticipation for the emergent paranormal events. As things got worse in the house, the ever-present cameras gave us what it might actually look like to experience a malicious 21st-century haunting.

15. What Lies Beneath

This movie straddles the line between horror and suspense and quickly establishes a mystery and a mood. There’s one scene in this movie that’s absolutely unforgettable. You’ll know it when you see it. The ending twist is more enjoyable for people on the first or second watch, so it’s perfect for someone who doesn’t normally watch scary movies. 

What do you think about this list? Did we leave out any important movies? Email us at spiritblog@spirithalloween.com to let us know what movies you would have picked. You can also check out our blog of Not-So-Scary Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween.