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Best scary films to watch according to Pinoy horror filmmakers and writers

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Oct 14, 2022 5:36 pm

When we ask for some good movie recommendations, we normally take advice from trusted sources to give us a great cinematic masterpiece that will leave us immersed in the story from start to finish.

As we enter the spookiest season of the year, it's only natural that we would want to fill our watchlist with some terrifying flicks that will leave us unable to sleep at night. But finding one is easier said than done.

Not to worry, as PhilSTAR L!fe has gathered some of the best horror and thriller filmmakers and writers in the Philippines and asked them on what horror movie has frightened them the most. Here are their answers:

Mikhail Red (Director of Eerie)

The Exorcist

For Mikhail Red, whose upcoming techno-horror film Deleter has been making rounds online, one of the best horror films he watched is 1973's The Exorcist. The film, which had caused heart attacks and fainting among cinema goers during it premiere, follows a young girl who becomes possessed by a demon.

According to Red, he was impressed by how director William Friedkin broke barriers at that time to make a film that really dug deep in terrifying audiences.

"Friedkin's exorcist bravely defied a lot of norms and standards at that time, a true rated-R horror film that shocked and horrified audiences. Its mature, challenging, and thought-provoking themes also helped legitimize horror film," he said.

Lake Mungo

Even though The Exorcist has terrified a lot of viewers during its release, Red's personal pick as the scariest film he ever sat through is Lake Mungo.

This 2008 Australian psychological horror film uses found footage techniques and mockumentary-style storytelling to tell the story of a family who begins to experience strange events after their sixteen-year-old daughter drowns in a lake.

Red pointed out that the film starts slow, but as the mystery unfolds, it begins to become unsettling and creepy, and the tension crawls beneath your skin and stays with you after.

"It is very existential in its themes. There is no big villain or evil entity, just despair and the fear of your own mortality. There is also a clever use of 'found footage' that leads to a powerful scare. That scene still haunts me," Red said.

Yam Laranas (Director of The Road)

The Shining

If you think that an expert horror director like Yam Laranas, who had helmed films such as The Road, Sigaw, and Patient X, wouldn't be afraid of anything by now, then you're mistaken as the film adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining had sent shivers down his spine.

First premiering in theaters in 1980, this psychological horror film has since gone on to become culturally and aesthetically significant. Its plot takes viewers into the shoes of the Torrances, a family of three who are tasked to stay in the isolated Overlook Hotel after Jack accepts the position of being the hotel's caretaker during the off-season.

But as a winter storm traps the family inside, Jack's mental stability begins to worsen as a result of the supernatural entities living in the hotel.

Rosemary's Baby

Another classic psychological horror film, Rosemary's Baby weaves its terrifying story on themes related to women's liberation, paranoia, the occult, and Christianity. 

It follows a young woman named Rosemary who, together with her struggling actor husband, moves into an apartment building in New York City. As Rosemary becomes pregnant, things quickly turn ominous as she begins to suspect that her elderly neighbors are part of a Satanic cult, and are eyeing her baby for something demonic.

Having been inspired by these films, Laranas praised them for getting into your soul and haunting you even after the credits roll.

For him, a masteful horror film needs to have a "good story and well-written screenplay with characters that are real and have a clear arc. The best horror movies are grounded in reality—the audience believes and gets carried away sans the sophisticated VFX and unnecessary jump scares."

Tanya Yuson (Executive producer and writer for Netflix's Trese)

House of Wax

For Tanya Yuson, who was one of the minds behind Netflix's horror/crime animated series Trese, among the horror films she enjoyed the most is 1953's House of Wax.

Yuson described the film as "campy," but still incredibly spine-chilling because of its story, which revolves around a wax sculptor named Henry who lost his precious wax museum after his business partner destroyed it to collect on the insurance policy.

Now disfigured, vengeful, and murderous, Henry starts his own wax museum, but this time, his museum figures are more lifelike than they seem.


This 2019 film hailing from the land of Indonesia is commended by Yuson as one of the greatest examples of modern Asian horror.

Resting its premise on Indonesian folklore, the film follows a woman named Maya who struggles to survive in a city with no family. Her luck seemingly turns around when she finds out that her rich family has left her a property to inherit.

However, dangers await her in every corner of her remote ancestral village. The villagers have been trying to kill her to put an end to the curse plaguing their community.

These works of horror have a special place in Yuson's heart because of their well-written characters that resonate with her. 

"The key thing is that we care about the protagonist going in. The more we care about the character that is going in to face the dangers, the higher the stakes and the scarier for us the audience," Yuson said.

"And then after that, it depends on what you’re in the mood for. Is it the jump scares or is it the mind games that you’re seeking or a little bit of both? These days there’s a whole host of subgenres that can make watching Horror films fun for everyone," she added.

Carlo Ledesma (Director of Sunod)


Award-winning film director Carlo Ledesma, whose short film The Kapre is now streaming on Hulu, has a lot of horror movie recommendations in mind that he has difficulty narrowing them down. But the first one that came to his mind was the film that made everyone afraid to go to the beach: Jaws.

This classic masterpiece by Steven Spielberg is about a giant great white shark that starts terrorizing beachgoers at a summer resort town, and it's up to a police chief, a marine biologist, and a professional shark hunter to stop its reign of terror.

The Others

Another one of Ledesma's favorites is 2001's The Others. Starring the talented Nicole Kidman, this gothic horror film is about the haunting story of a religious mother named Grace and her two children, Anne and Nicholas, who have a rare photosensitivity disease that causes them harm when exposed to the sun.

Moving to a remote country house during World War II with three new servants, the family is then plagued by otherworldly occurrences, and Grace fears there are unknown "others" present in their home.

Jaws and The Others were among Ledesma's favorite scary flicks because they managed to grip his attention from start to finish through their captivating story.

"Good horror should feel justified from a story and emotional standpoint. I need to be completely invested in the characters to sit through the scares and the gore that's being offered," he said.