Spooky season has arrived and brought with it your favorite weather, trips to the pumpkin patch and cozy nights hiding under a blanket while your new favorite horror movie plays on Netflix. High school thrillers overflow the selection, but horror movies set on college campuses aren’t found as easily. But college horror films do exist. Just glance at that organic chemistry midterm study guide you want to forget about while you press play on the best (and the worst) of the college horror genre, from the truly spine-chilling movies to the cheesy slashers that will make you laugh as much as you jump.
Get through midterm season with these college horror movies.
1. Happy Death Day
From the same director of the Paranormal Activity franchise, Happy Death Day is a lighter horror movie that will have you in paranoid super-sleuth mode. Tree Gelbman, our main girl, wakes up on her birthday in a random stranger’s bed and proceeds about her day laissez-faire, until a masked murderer kills her. Boom. She wakes up again in that same stranger’s bed, but wait? Hasn’t she already lived this day? You see where this is going. It’s fun, it’s flirty and it’s an hour and half of almost witch-like predictive abilities. Plus, you remember cute boy next door Josh from Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before? That actor, Israel Broussard, plays the random stranger. You’re welcome.
2. Sorority Row
A 2009 remake of an 80s horror film that somehow got Carrie Fisher to deliver a cameo performance, Sorority Row makes a fun attempt at pushing sorority drama to the extreme. The perhaps laughably bad flick focuses on a group of sorority sisters the night of their graduation when the accidental death of a sorority sister comes back to bite them. I’m not in Greek life, but I sure hope it never gets this gruesome.
3. American Psycho 2
Mila Kunis as a psychopathic criminology student willing to get into the FBI by any means necessary? Sounds good to us. While not quite as compelling or iconic as its predecessor, whose main character Patrick Bateman is legendary, this movie is silly and a bit contrived—in a fun way. I’m of the opinion we need more female killers on TV because I’m tired of weird white boys having all the fun. #SupportAllWomen
4. The Initiation
One of the classics of the sorority-slasher genre (yes, somehow there is a genre for that), this 1984 cult thriller follows an amnesiac sorority sister as she heads into her final initiation ritual: breaking into her rich dad’s department store. Of course, prisoners from a nearby sanitarium happen to break free this same night and as you might have guessed, things do not go well. As a kid, I was terrified of getting locked in the mall overnight, so this one hit a bit of a nerve.
5. Black Christmas
“Black Christmas” made history as one of the first slasher films on record in 1974. The Canadian film follows a group of sorority sisters during Christmas break who receive threatening phone calls and are stalked by a deranged killer. Some even say its premise inspired the famous “Halloween” series. If it feels like it’s full of tropes, it’s because it started them.
Maybe don’t watch this one before you jet off to your semester abroad. In a bloody, bloody trip to Amsterdam, two college boys backpack across Europe. Their hostel mishaps brew into something seriously sinister. Quentin Tarantino acts as an executive producer on this one, so you can expect some creatively disgusting ways to hurt people. Afterwards, you’ll be double checking you have a key to your room at the hostel and that you really know who’s sharing that room.
7. The Roommate
A cast full of your teen and childhood favorites, like Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl), Aly Michalka (Aly and AJ) and even Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights) lead this college horror story you were too young to watch when it first came out in 2011. It’s a classic, slightly (okay, really) offensive tale of an obsessive woman trying to take over the life of her college roommate. But hey, it was 2011. A simpler time.
8. The Blair Witch Project
This 1999 classic basically started the “recovered footage” documentary style horror film, which ranks among my favorite approaches to the genre. Three student filmmakers enter the woods in Maryland after hearing about a local legend: the legend of the Blair Witch. While these escapades happen away from campus, how far would you go to get your film class assignment just right? Trust us, no amount of extra credit was ever worth this.
9. Urban Legend
This one features 90s drama heartthrob, Jared Leto (Jordan Catalano from My So Called Life) before he turned all method-actor and sent a dead pig to his costars of Suicide Squad. But a dead pig doesn’t even come close to the horrors in this movie set on a New England university campus that all resemble popular urban legends. Students aren’t safe on campus or in their dorm rooms, so double check the lock on your dorm room door and don’t do anything stupid.
10. Scream 2
Picking up two years after the first Scream, we follow the main character of Sidney Prescott to a fictional college where she has run-ins with a copy cat killer to the Ghostface killer she just escaped. Like the first film, it mixes slasher horror with comedic bits about the silly nature of sequels. You’ll be laughing even as you realize your impending doom now that you’ve spent all of midterms week watching horror movies instead of well, studying.