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If there’s one thing we always need more of, it’s more great horror films. We look for the next great story idea from four genre goldmines.

Inspiration for a great horror film can come from a million different places. Lately, it feels like much of what we’ve been seeing has spawned from existing film properties. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking an old idea and making it new again — putting a fresh spin on it and breathing new life into a proven entity. But filmmakers looking for a great idea to mine have far more options than just remaking or rebooting a successful film or franchise from the past.

We explore four areas of virtually limitless potential sure to kickstart creativity and give rise to the next great horror film just waiting to be discovered.

Reality

Annabelle

Although horror can be the perfect escape from real-world horror, it’s hard to deny that stories based on reality have a way of getting under our skin far more than any far-fetched, fictionalized tale. Thus, it’s no surprise that some of the most successful horror films have touted that provocative “based on a true story” or “based on actual events” tagline that so effectively titillates us and draws us in. Often, there’s but a kernel of truth in these supposedly factual stories. Still, many of the best horror films have been at least loosely inspired by real-life events.

In fact, you may not realize just how many of your favorites borrowed their terrifying storylines from horrific headlines or personal experiences.

Films that are based in reality (or purported reality), include The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, Psycho, The Girl Next Door, The Conjuring, Ravenous, The Rite, The Haunting in Connecticut, Borderland, The Strangers, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Possession, Fire in the Sky, Silent House, Annabelle, and Wolf Creek.

Shockingly, even outlandish slashers like A Nightmare on Elm Street. Child’s Play, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream, and The Dentist are based on some truth.

It is true, however, that many films that claim to be based in reality are far more fiction than fact. One of our favorite podcasts is Based on a True Scary: part true crime, part horror movie review podcast dedicated to debunking the spooky cinematic claim that is “based on a true story.” Hosts and horror fanatics Trisha and Jake crack the case film by film alongside special guests from the film world, comedy scene, and beyond to answer the ultimate question: what’s real vs. what’s reel?

Video Games

For many horror fans, nothing compares to the visceral, truly immersive, and often terrifying thrills that come from playing a horror video game. As entertaining and often nightmare-inducing as films can be, nothing compares to becoming an active participant in the horror rather than just a passive observer. It’s not surprising that some of the most atmospheric and heart-pounding horror games also serve as inspiration for some of the scariest films.

Some of our favorite video game adaptations include Resident Evil, Werewolves Within, Silent Hill, and Detention. And our hopes are quite high that the upcoming HBO adaption of The Last Of Us will be as phenomenal as the source material.

Of course, numerous horror games still have yet to receive the feature film treatment. And although it can certainly be difficult to make the leap from one media to another and still retain the magic of the original, we hope more daring filmmakers will take up the challenge and bring properties like Little Nightmares, Dead By Daylight, Left 4 Dead, Outlast, Bioshock, Until Dawn, and Dark Souls to the big screen.

Of course, just like in the world of film, the video and online game arena is diverse, and not all horror games intend to chill you. Some prefer to thrill you. For many horror fans, the more intense games can be too much to take. Even avid horror movie watchers can get too scared playing video games. But there is a wealth of great gaming content which leans heavily into the atmosphere, killer graphics, and the more whimsical/lighter side of horror.

Many horror fans find they really enjoy various horror-themed slot games like Horror House and several of the wolf-themed slots at the best online casinos in Australia.

Horror Shorts

If you are a fan of this site, you know that we’re big fans of short-form horror and truly believe the art of the horror short is woefully underappreciated.

The short’s relative accessibility and cost-effective nature make it a creative playground for up-and-coming filmmakers — including those trying to hone their craft, those looking to create and iterate much faster than a feature film allows, and those with limited means but big ideas.

Many filmmakers find accolades and an audience by touring the festival circuit. Others can get noticed thanks to online platforms like Alter, where fans of the short can discover a wealth of exciting and ever-changing genre content. Still, others prefer to self-publish on YouTube or Vimeo and spread the word via the power of social media. In fact, short filmmakers often thrive on the internet. And in turn, many of the most terrifying and viral shorts are inspired by internet culture.

A splendid example is The Backrooms, which is very short but also very scary. It shows what can be achieved with a small budget and the love of genuine shocks and scares.

Not only are shorts wonderfully entertaining and rewarding on their own, but many serve as the foundation for future feature films. So, it’s a great way to discover the next big thing before it becomes a thing.

Examples include The Babadook (based on the short Monster), Oculus (based on the short Oculus Chapter 3: The Man With a Plan), Lights Out (based on the short of the same name), Trick ‘R Treat (based on the short Season’s Greetings), Saw (based on the short of the same name), Mama (based on the short of the same name), and District 9 (based on Alive in Joburg).

Social Media 

Many social media accounts are entirely dedicated to the horror genre — set up for and by people who simply love horror. Through these outlets. like-minded individuals can discuss their favorite horror films, get recommendations for great new genre content they may otherwise miss, geek out over shared passions like collectibles, and even connect with their favorite filmmakers, artists, actors, and creators.

Many artists and filmmakers rely heavily on upon, if not exclusively on, social media to promote their projects and find an audience.

Because of this, we readily squash the idea that social media has no benefit. And we think there’s more good than bad. With that said, we do acknowledge that there is still plenty of bad to contend with, and it can be quite a terrifying place. In fact, it’s become a hotbed for modern filmmakers who wish to capitalize on our current fears and anxieties.

It seems this trend is only on the rise recently, and many of the most memorable recent horror films have revolved around the internet or social media. Some of our favorites include Cam, Host, Tragedy Girls, Ingrid Goes West, Searching, Unfriended, Spree, Zola, Kimi, Dashcam, Assassination Nation, and We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,

Of course, that list is really just the tip of the iceberg. If you enjoy films about modern tech horror, there’s enough great content to keep you entertained for weeks and months to come. And no doubt, there’s a lot more of this relatable and often quite unsettling sub-genre currently in development.