Horror movies are undoubtedly more fun to watch in the autumn months when Halloween is around the corner, but that doesn't mean they are less frightening in the summer. Watching a slasher film one warm night, whether that's on the beach or at an outside movie theater, can still give audiences the same terrifying experience. The innovative minds of famous horror directors like Ari Aster and Frank Darabont create horror movies for audiences all year round, making this genre perfect for any day of the week. With most creepy films set in dark environments, there are a few exceptions that take place in summer camps, beach towns, and the bright wilderness.
For brave horror enthusiasts, there's nothing better than sitting back and watching the terrors unfold on screen, even if it is on a hot day. From a murderous villain with a chainsaw hunting his victims in broad daylight to an eerie clown that lurks in the sewers during peak summer, there's no need to wait until the spooky season rolls around to put on a horror film. With that being said, here are ten surprisingly terrifying horror movies to watch in the summer.
10 Jeepers Creepers (2001)
Jeepers Creepers follows siblings Trish and Darry Jenner traveling home from college during spring break. Even though this horror movie is not specifically set in summer, the classic horror film still focuses on the sunny and warm Florida countryside. Directed by Victor Salva and Timo Vuorensola, Jeepers Creepers creates most of its tension in broad daylight when the Jenner siblings notice someone dumping bodies into a large pipe. From this first occurrence, the mysterious being hunts down Trish and Darry as they escape through the countryside and witness many gruesome murders from the creeper.
9 It Follows (2015)
It Follows, directed by David Robert Mitchell, focuses on a teenage girl who acquires a deadly curse after sleeping with her boyfriend for the first time. This horror movie is unique in presenting sexually transmitted diseases through a supernatural entity that stalks its victims. Jay, the main character who unfortunately received the curse, has to find a way to pass it on or get rid of the supernatural force to prevent a horrific death.
The entity can also take the form of a stranger or friend, but no one else can see it, meaning most of the film plays out in daylight when Jay tries to remove one of the scariest curses shown in a horror movie. It Follows includes settings like the beach and the community swimming pool to represent teenagers having fun in the summer, but the lurking entity in the background gives this horror movie an unnerving feel.
8 Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp is a classic slasher film set in a summer camp with teenagers enjoying activities like swimming, campfire stories, and sports. It's a traditional summer environment that includes the stereotypical, gory killings, making it one of the best films to watch during the hotter months. Director Robert Hiltzik wanted to create a chilling film that focused on the 80s summer vacation while delving into unexpected murders and slasher tropes such as a high body count and scared teenagers encountering gruesome corpses in the camp.
Despite having one of the weirdest movie endings of all time, Sleepaway Camp is an iconic horror movie that turns a summer break into a haunting experience. Angela, a girl who is traumatized after seeing her father and brother die in a boating accident, attends Camp Arawak with her fellow counselors. Being an introverted teenager, Angela struggles with the constant bullying and dark flashbacks of her past when the camp counselors torment her. However, the bullies slowly get picked off by an unknown figure, and the killings get more gruesome and creative as the film progresses.
7 28 Days Later (2002)
28 Days Later is a post-apocalyptic movie directed by Danny Boyle that delves into zombie horror, with infected humans controlled by an aggressive virus called Rage. Jim, who fell into a coma before the outbreak, wakes up in a hospital 28 days after the infection has spread throughout Great Britain. The movie follows Jim as he encounters the infected outside and meets a group of survivors who encourage him to join their quest to find safety. Much like Jeepers Creepers, this apocalyptic horror movie builds on the suspense during daylight hours, with Jim running from infected people on fire and experiencing the deserted city around him.
6 The Cabin In The Woods (2012)
The Cabin in the Woods is a classic summer horror movie that uses the trope of teenagers wanting to party and drink in a remote location. Five college friends arrive at a cabin in the middle of a forest, having no idea about the horrors that await them as the night rolls in. Various creatures and supernatural beings make this horror movie intense and thrilling, but director Drew Goddard wanted to introduce comedic and science-fiction aspects that play into the huge plot twist ending. The Cabin in the Woods is not one to watch alone, as it involves terrifying and gory visuals that put the characters through literal hell.
5 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is the ultimate summer horror movie, with Leatherface being a classic villain who has encouraged many sequels. Tobe Hooper directed The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to indulge in the summer horror movie stereotype of teenagers stumbling across somewhere they shouldn't be, leading to a slasher plot filled with gory deaths. In this case, five friends taking a road trip stop at an abandoned house to look for fuel, but little do they know the house is owned by a murderous family. Leatherface is the main killer, and he gets his name from wearing a mask made from human skin.
4 I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Sticking with the summer theme, I Know What You Did Last Summer follows a group of friends who accidentally kill someone in a car accident on their way to the beach. One year after covering up the incident and disposing of the body, these friends are stalked by a killer who knows their dark secret.
Directed by Jim Gillespie, I Know What You Did Last Summer focuses on teenagers who made a grave mistake and are now paying for it. The teenagers are hunted down by a mysterious killer wielding a hook, and audiences have to wait until the end of the film to know who it is. With unexpected twists and gruesome deaths, this horror movie is the perfect slasher to watch on a summer's night.
3 Friday The 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th, directed by Sean S. Cunningham, is another classic horror movie that uses the stereotype of a summer camp revolving around teenage counselors. Camp Crystal Lake, the location of the camp and where the murders later take place, is an iconic horror film location that birthed Jason Voorhees. With the camp counselors going about their business and enjoying the summer heat in New Jersey, Jason, a killer wearing a hockey mask, begins to prey on each teenager to restore peace in Crystal Lake. But in the first film, Jason's mother, Mrs. Voorhees, is the one stalking the camp counselors. The Friday the 13th franchise has high-ranked kill counts, so it's worth giving the classic horror movie a watch even when it's not Halloween.
2 It: Chapter One (2017)
It: Chapter One is all about a group of friends who face a terrifying clown during the course of one summer. Set in Derry, Maine, a young boy gets dragged into the sewer by Pennywise, the film's villain and horrifying clown who preys on children through their fears. Director Andy Muschietti created a chilling antagonist to scare audiences, but he also wanted to focus on the group of kids who are bound together by friendship and trauma. With It: Chapter One, taking place in the summer, it's a fitting horror movie to watch during those bright summer days, which might lessen the lurking fear of Pennywise on the screen.
1 Midsommar (2019)
Midsommar has some of the scariest scenes that occur during broad daylight, which makes the film more terrifying when audiences have to witness the gruesome acts without the concealment of shadows and dark environments. Ari Aster is known for directing twisted horror movies, but Midsommar has a unique take on trauma and grief. Dani, the main character, loses her sister and parents in a horrific way and can only receive support from her selfish boyfriend, Christian. The couple decides to go to Sweden for a midsummer festival, with Jack's uncaring friends tagging along to study the commune members.
Dani is plagued by nightmares of her trauma while witnessing strange and gory rituals in the midsummer festival. Midsommar uses the exposure of daylight, hallucinative imagery, and haunting sounds to represent grief, making it one of the best summer horror movies to watch all year round.