The holiday season is over! Christmas is done, the decorations have been taken down and we are all heading into the dull, cold, embrace of January. Which, at my last count, was about 16 weeks long on average. Is it fair to say that this is the worst part of the year?
I mean, let’s be real for a minute; this month sucks. I don’t know what the weather is doing where you are. But in my home country of Wales we are currently in the middle of, what must be, the 200th straight day of heavy rain. It doesn’t even have the plain decency to snow here so we can at least enjoy a nice scenic view or a cosy day in front of the fire.
I live right next to a river, as well, so I’ll be spending the majority of this month furiously checking the river level tracker to make sure I won’t be sharing my supper with a couple of rainbow trout or some other various cold water aquafauna.
But What if it Was Different?
It doesn’t have to be like that, though, right? What if you could be somewhere warm and sunny? I know some of you are because we have visitors from all over the world. But, for the majority of us, we are somewhere cold, gloomy and, potentially, wet right now. What if we could escape all of that and relax somewhere under the midday sun? Warm and safe in the knowledge that we managed to completely skip winter and won’t have to worry about chilblains or frostbite?
Naturally, the most obvious option here would be to head out on a vacation somewhere and simply get away from it all. But didn’t you know there is a cost of living crisis going on? We can’t afford that! In fact, we can hardly afford the subscription cost to watch some of these 15 Summer Horror Movies to Wipe Away the Winter Blues. That’s not going to stop us, though! We will sail the seven seas wearing a skull and cross bone adorned hat if we must. We are determined to get away from this cold and this is how we are going to do it.
15 Summer Horror Movies
Today’s list, the first of 2024 so Happy New Year to you all, focuses on 15 Summer Horror Movies. All of these movies are, not only, bathed in the warm glow of summer. They are also simply dripping with that summer vibe that many of us miss so much right now.
Whether it is beaches and bikinis; adventures over summer break; or simply friends on vacation. These horror movies all take place in the summer and all will let you escape the bleakness of winter for at least an hour or so.
What’s more, some of these 15 summer horror movies are damn good. Among some of the best I have ever watched, to be frank. Which is exactly why I am going to rank them from worst to best. We have reviewed many of them, we will probably review them all at some point or another.
I am not going to link to where you can stream the movies as I don’t want Google to think we are some kind of click farm. They can all be found with a simple search on your favourite search engine. Without further ado, let’s get toasty!
The Wretched (2019)
2019’s Netflix original The Wretched brings witch based horror bang up to date. And with all of the recent period based witch horror doing the rounds, that is something of a relief. Set in a sleepy little tourist town in the middle of summer. The Wretched sees teenager, Ben (John-Paul Howard), attempt to overcome an ancient witch who is stealing people’s identities and making their family members forget that they ever existed.
Deadheads director and writer tandem Brett and Drew Pierce took the helm on The Wretched and, to be honest, it is pretty standard stuff. It didn’t really blow me away but our Ending Explained article for the movie has been hugely popular. A fair indication that the movie finds its way onto people’s screen and they at least care enough about it to follow up on the fate of certain characters once it is done. On top of that, it has bags of summer time charm and does a really nice job of capturing that lazy July vibe. It’s number 15 on our list but still very much worth a watch.
Piranha 3D (2010)
It could be scandalously insinuated that the only reason I am recommending Alexandre Aja’s (The Hills Have Eyes) 2010 remake of Piranha is because of Kelly Brook’s extended underwater nude scene. But I can assure you that there is much more to Piranha 3D than buxom ladies frolicking around on beaches in various states of undress… Well, actually, that might be going a bit far but this is still a fun, sunny, comedy horror with plenty of laughs and a real nod and wink to the 1978 Joe Dante original.
Piranha 3D is one of those movies that you throw on when you want some simple, mindless, silly horror fun. There isn’t much to it and it obviously isn’t scary but it goes hard on the laughs. The ridiculousness of beach goers being attacked by a marauding group of killer piranhas is all this movie needs to deliver on its promise. A great option for anyone looking for a summery horror movie. Just stay the hell away from its sequel Piranha 3DD.
The Beach House (2009)
Summer horror with a difference next with 2019’s The Beach House by Jeffrey A. Brown. A young couple, played by Noah Le Gros and Liana Liberato, take a weekend trip to a family member’s beach house to work on their relationship. A surprise meeting with an older couple quickly turns their visit into a Lovecraftian nightmare complete with bad trips, body horror and a potentially apocalyptic outcome.
I didn’t enjoy this movie anywhere near as much as a lot of critics did. It seems that IMDB users agree with me, as well. Still, The Beach House takes themes that are typically found in movies set in desolate or post apocalyptic locations and places them on a gorgeous beach bathed in sunshine and heat. It’s an interesting combination and while it doesn’t always work. This is a movie with some fantastic practical effects and at least some degree of potential. Worth checking out for something quite unique.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Let’s go back to 1997 for a slasher that punched way above its weight in the form of I Know What You Did Last Summer by Jim Gillespie. A year after covering up a fatal car accident, Jennifer Love-Hewitt and her friends are stalked by a hook wielding killer hell bent on revenge in this sunny, blood soaked, sign of the times, horror. This movie was part of a wave of similar slashers including Urban Legend, Cherry Falls and Disturbing Behaviour. All keen to capitalise on the wild success of Wes Craven’s brilliant, genre redefining, 1996 horror movie Scream. Of course, none of them were nearly as good as their inspiration but I Know What You Did Last Summer is, by far, one of the most watchable.
Boasting a talented and well known cast including actors such as the uber popular Sarah Michelle Gellar, the late Anne Heche, rising “heart-throbs” Ryan Phillipe and Freddie Prinze Jr as well as future Big Bang Theory star and experienced child actor Johnny Galecki. I Know What You Did Last Summer felt like one of the only slashers to match Scream in star power; a fact that somewhat made up for what it lacked in refinement and scares.
Still fun today and packed with novelty thanks to a group of actors that never completely reached their potential. This is an enjoyable one for some slashing in the sun. Rumours of a potential continuation of the series are heating up with Love-Hewitt and Prinze Jr confirming their interest and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, apparently, set to direct. Scream did it recently so why not I Know What You Did Last Summer, as well?
The Noonday Witch (2016)
Slow moving and far more popular with critics than it is with the average viewer. The Noonday Witch takes place during a scorching summer and follows a mother moving with her daughter to the village where her absent husband grew up. Only to face an upcoming drought and the threat of a mysterious woman that threatens to steal children and to never bring them back. The Noonday Witch comes by way of Czech director Jiri Sádek and the key word echoing throughout this production is potential. There was the chance for something great here but it never quite comes to fruition.
Following a similar path to The Babadook; this is a movie that goes heavy on the drama and psychological elements while never quite managing to channel the horror. Still, for a sun bathed, golden, palette that is an absolute visual feast. It is an easy recommend. You can almost feel the warmth coming from the screen and the story may just grab you in a way that keeps you thoroughly engaged. Don’t expect pure horror and you may just enjoy this one quite a lot.
So in Australia right now, they aren’t experiencing cold weather and awful rain, despite the time of year. Those folks south of the equator are bang in the middle of their summer so they are enjoying sunshine and days at the beach. Which is exactly where number 10’s movie, Aussie horror comedy Sissy from 2022, comes in.
Written and directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes. Sissy follows social media influencer Cecilia (Aisha Dee) as she reconnects with her best friend from school. What initially seems like a fortuitous meet up and rekindling, quickly turns into a murderous weekend of mayhem and gore when Cecilia is invited to her friend’s weekend, pre-wedding, getaway. A getaway that also happens to be attended by Cecilia’s childhood school bully.
There’s swimsuit clad murder by the riverside and picnics in the sun here so a great option to wipe away those winter blues. On top of that, Sissy is just a laugh riot of a horror movie. It’s full of gore, witty as hell and just a ton of fun. A great option for something that puts a new spin on the slasher formula of old. We loved it in our review and seriously suggest you check it out.
In some parts of the world, summer, unfortunately, means more than warm temperatures and golden sun. For some it means hurricanes and vicious storms. That is the case in our movie at number 9; 2019’s creature horror Crawl by Alexandre Aja. Set in Florida, it follows the story of Haley Keller, played by British actor Kaya Scodelario, heading back to her estranged father’s house to check on him during a category 5 hurricane. Finding him unconscious in the home’s crawl space, it isn’t long before the flood waters come in bringing with them an enormous American Alligator looking for its next meal.
Alexandre Aja makes his second appearance on this list after Piranha 3D and it’s more of the same. Well, there’s a lot less nudity and far less piranhas but you get my drift. A couple of people fight against nature and the odds in this survival horror. These movies always fit perfectly into the summer horror category and Crawl is no exception. It’s a bunch of fun and doesn’t let up for one second. One of the better creature horror movies in recent years and well worth a watch.
Infinity Pool (2023)
We have had some fun in the sun but how about some absolute craziness in the sun? For that we are going to be checking out 2023 Brandon Cronenberg horror movie Infinity Pool. While hitting up a tourist resort on an all inclusive vacation. Jaded author James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) meet eccentric couple Gabi and Alban Bauer (Mia Goth and Jalil Lespert). What starts as a simple trip to the beach quickly becomes a nightmare as a fatal accident exposes the sordid underbelly of the island.
You see the name Cronenberg attached to a horror movie and you expect something a little different. And that is exactly what you are getting with Infinity Pool. It’s not perfect, by any stretch, but it is weird and wonderful enough to make it rather enjoyable. Hedonism in the sun is key and Cronenberg pulls no punches so those not wanting to see copious amounts of violence, nudity, and sex should probably look elsewhere. For those who can tolerate such things you are in for a wild ride. Mia Goth’s fantastic performance makes this worth the price of admission alone so why not check it out?
The Blackening (2022)
Ride Along director Tim Story tries his hand at horror comedy in our movie at number 7 – The Blackening from 2022. This is a horror movie that is far more in the vein of Scary Movie than actual full blown horror. That doesn’t make it any less of an enjoyable summer movie, though. A group of friends head out to a cabin in the woods for a relaxed getaway in the sun. Only to find themselves trapped by a killer with a certain, specific, agenda in this genuinely funny horror that lampoons racial stereotypes and horror movie tropes in a way that would make Get Out blush.
It takes awhile to get going and its social commentary and character camaraderie takes precedent over its horror leanings. But it’s legitimately hilarious in parts and stays true to a story that aims to empower as much as it does to amuse. Great fun, witty and perfect for some summer laughs. The Blackening is well worth checking out if you are looking for something fun.
The Innocents (2021)
Set in the middle of Nordic Summer. The Innocents is a movie that is powerful, affecting and extremely dark in parts. Following the story of a group of children who discover that they have hidden super powers. This is a movie that takes the concept of the very similar Chronicle and somehow makes it even darker. Despite doing a great job of harkening back to childhood adventures of playing outside with friends during the summer holiday. The Innocents also shines a light on the incredibly troubling aspects of childhood abuse, poverty and neglect.
Writer, director Eskil Vogt pulls no punches here. There are scenes that are legitimately upsetting, particularly for animal lovers. And I would advise checking out our review of the movie before watching. But the result is a horror movie that feels very similar to the excellent Nordic hit Let The Right One In and is equally as powerful. Awesome stuff but not for the feint of heart. This is a great option if you want something summery but also extremely serious and dark.
Summer of 84 (2018)
Another horror movie focused, predominantly, on children next with teenage crime based horror Summer of 84. 13 teenage boys have disappeared over the course of a decade in a small town and a group of teens on summer break are determined to crack the case. One of the teens, Davey, notices that a young boy he spotted with his neighbour has suddenly been listed as missing on milk cartons. Certain that he must be responsible, Davey and his friends set about trying to prove that Davey’s popular cop neighbour is the notorious killer.
This movie does a brilliant job of capturing that summer holiday adventure feeling and that sense of camaraderie that you only feel as a young person on a break from school. Think Stand By Me but with more of a horror focus and you are half way there. It does spin its wheels here and there and it has an almost over the top obsession with being markedly 80s style but Summer of 84 is a lot of fun and well worth checking out.
Can you even make a list of summer themed horror movies without including 1975’s seminal killer shark classic, Jaws? Well, I am sure some people would argue that it is more of a thriller than a horror but those people are clearly annoying pedants. Jaws is a perfect option when looking for some scares in the sun.
Set in the seaside resort of Amity Island. Jaws sees police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) teaming up with grizzled navy veteran Quint (Robert Shaw) and oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) as they attempt to hunt down a marauding shark that’s been terrorising the beaches and decimating the local economy.
Jaws does so much right and has become an inspiration to every subsequent creature horror since. It has an intriguing plot, interesting characters, exhilarating moments and some legitimately effective scares. Newcomers to the movie are sure to still be “got” by some of the well placed shocks and the somewhat shoddy looking effects really don’t drag things down all that much. It’s a perfect summer horror movie and holds up well to this day.
Eden Lake (2008)
We have a couple of gloomy movies coming up next, the first of which is 2008 British horror movie Eden Lake. Directed by The Woman in Black director James Watkins and starring Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender. This is a grim movie in more ways than one. Following the story of a couple spending a summer weekend away in an idyllic location. Only to have the peace and quiet ruined by a group of anti-social teens. Eden Lake steps into the realms of brutal and harsh in a way that few horror movies manage to do.
This one sparked allegations of classism and earned a fair bit of criticism for its depiction of working class English people. But its story was grounded in the reality of events that had taken place in the years before. With the brutal murder of Sophie Lancaster at the hands of a group of depraved English teens taking place only a year before this movie’s release. And the senseless killing of 11 year old Rhys Jones taking place only 11 days after the killing of Sophie Lancaster. England was experiencing a significant uptick in youth violence and Eden Lake tapped into this in a way that was incredibly visceral and made it all the more scary. This is another great option for a summer movie with a far more serious tone.
Managing to be even more grim than Eden Lake. Midsommar is Ari Aster’s 2019 follow up to the massive horror hit Hereditary. Starring Florence Pugh, Midsommar follows a couple travelling to a small community in Sweden to take part in their mid summer festival. Only to find themselves dragged into the middle of a cult like group that takes part in human sacrifices and bizarre rituals.
Midsommar does things quite differently from most horror movies. It’s set in the middle of summer and everything is bathed in a glowing golden hue. The sun never sets in this Swedish village and that, somehow, makes the horror even more visceral. There are no shadows to hide in and no darkness to shroud what is taking place. Many people love this movie and I thought it was pretty decent. Fans of folk horror are bound to find plenty to like and its approach to scares in the summer sun feels truly unique. It is visceral, brutal and hard to watch at times. But a great option for a genuinely scary summer horror.
I’m not sure if Kurtis David Harder’s Influencer from 2022 is the best horror movie on this list. But I feel like it might be the most fun and it knocks the feeling of summer vacations out of the park. Following a social media influencer who takes a solo backpacking trip to Thailand where she meets a young, uninhibited, woman with an exciting, secret, life.
Influencer pulls the rug from under your feet pretty quickly and never really lets up. Mixing social media elements with a biting sense of humour and some fantastic horror moments. This is a movie that subverts expectation and draws you right in.
Cassandra Naud’s turn as the free living CW makes this movie what it is. She is absolutely fantastic and makes for a perfect horror movie main character. Influencer is both surprising and amusing but it demands that you stick with it through the dull first 20 minutes or so. It’s one of my favourite recent horror movies and a perfect option for some horror fun in the sun. It might not be the best movie on the list but I think it takes the top spot purely thanks to its perfect mix of thrills, fun, and subverting of horror expectations.
Thanks for Reading!
So that is 15 Summer Horror Movies That Will Wipe Away The Winter Blues. You feeling warmer yet? The cold months will be gone before you know it and we will all be complaining about how sticky and warm it is.
I’m not sure how I will be going about things this year. I won’t be posting as consistently and I think I am leaning more towards lists and ending explained articles so keep checking back for more. In the meantime, why not check out some horror reviews, some horror ending explained articles or some horror lists? I hope you had a great new year celebration and I hope the rest of the month is prosperous and not too cold. Thanks for reading!