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The school season is fast approaching, and with it there’s a lot of anxiety; a lot of tense feelings and maybe, if you have fun at school, some excitement. Hollywood has tapped into this fear of first-day blues by creating a whole genre of movies where going back to school can turn deadly, ranging from supernatural entities to serial killers.
Here are some of the best horror movies set in a high school or university.
1. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Jennifer’s Body is a bit of a cult classic, although it didn’t start out that way. Starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, average school girl “Needy” has her life turned upside down when her best friend transforms into a flesh-eating demon after a Satanic ritual.
2. Carrie (1976)
Carrie is one of the most famous horror movies out there. Even if you haven’t seen it before, you’ve probably heard its name. Based on a Stephen King novel of the same name, Carrie is about the titular Carrie White (played by Sissy Spacek): a telekinetic teenager who is bullied at school and terrorized by her abusive, religious mother. When Carrie is invited to the prom—only to end up as the butt of a cruel joke—horrible supernatural events occur.
3. Disturbing Behaviour (1998)
Disturbing Behaviour stars James Marsden, Katie Holmes, and Nick Stahl. It centers around a group of outcasts who discover something strange is happening with the “Blue Ribbons” at their school—an elite, preppy group of students who are part of a special after-school program.
4. The Craft (1996)
The Craft is amazing cult hit from the 90s that you should definitely check out. Set in a Los Angeles high school, it follows the main character, Sarah Bailey, as she moves to LA to live with her father. Once there she falls in with a group of “outcast” girls, only to discover that they’re all witches.
Seeking freedom from their tormentors, the girls use their powers to get back at their bullies. As their powers grow, they begin to take things too far—something that Sarah has an issue with.
5. It Follows (2014)
It Follows is genuinely one of the most terrifying horror films I’ve ever seen, and an excellent horror movie for people who hate horror movies. In it, teen girl Jay goes on a date with her new boyfriend, only to have a terrifying sexual encounter.
When Jay wakes up from a previously perfect date, she’s tied to a chair in an abandoned warehouse. She sees a naked woman walking towards her from across the train tracks. Her boyfriend tells her that the woman is some sort of demon, and that he’s passed “the curse” on to her through sex. From there, Jay must outrun this creature intent on killing her.
6. Heathers (1989)
Heathers is a 1980s classic, and takes on the “horror” of high school in a more banal setting. In an ordinary suburb, Veronica Sawyer (played by Winona Ryder) is part of the “Heathers”—a group of popular girls who rule the roost and torment the other students.
When Veronica gets into a fight with the main Heather, she and the school rebel, JD, try to play a joke by making Heather drink some cleaning fluid. She ends up dying. Trying to hide their crime, Veronica and JD set up Heather’s death as a suicide.
7. Scary Movie (2000)
Scary Movie is a spoof on horror movies, and kicks off when Drew Decker—an eighteen year-old student—receives a threatening phone call before being stabbed. In the wake of her murder, a group of students must team up to survive this serial killer who begins stalking them.
8. Sorority Row (2009)
Sorority Row is a slasher based on the 1983 movie The House on Sorority Row. It’s set in a university, and in it a group of sorority girls try to cover up the death of a fellow sister. When they do, they are targeted by a killer as retribution for their crime.
9. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Another well-known teen slasher is I know What You Did Last Summer. In it, a group of students on their summer break hit someone with their car. Panicked at being found out, they dump the body. When the return to school in the fall, they realize they are being hunted by someone who “knows what they did last summer.”
10. Veronica (2017)
Veronica is a 2017 Spanish supernatural horror film set in a high school. Fifteen years old and living in a working class neighbourhood, Veronica takes care of her family while her mom goes to work at a bar. She’s generally overworked and very stressed.
Veronica also attends a catholic high school, and on the day of a solar eclipse she sneaks into the basement and performs a seance with her friends. They use an ouija board as the medium. Unfortunately they also summon a demon, and she gets possessed.
Looking for other horror films you can watch? Here are our favorite films about haunted houses for horror fans.