Here's a top 5 list of the scariest movies I've seen so far:
I was deeply disturbed many years ago after watching this. Each seven deadly sin torture scene was cringe-worthy. I still find this to be one of the most brutal movies ever made. It leaves a lot to the imagination of the viewer, which adds to the horror and disgust. The whole thing was so dark and depressing.
This is pure psychological terror, and also one of my favorite movies of all time. You experience the sense of isolation and uncertainty of the Hess family as if you were there with them. There was also this great exchange between Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix on the couch about types of people and faith that was both thought-provoking and chilling at the same time. It's the sort of movie that will stay with you long after watching it.
Can't tell you much about this japanese film because to reveal more about it will destroy the intended horror effect. I was exhausted, mentally and physically spent after watching the final scene. The slow, easy-going, romantic first half is deliberate and meant to lull the viewer to a false sense of security. This had the biggest bang shock value I've ever experienced on a DVD.
2. Mulholland Drive
I originally wanted to watch this to see Naomi Watts topless in a lesbian scene but it turned into one of the most weird, disturbing, scary movies I've ever seen. Nothing is what it seems, nothing is explained. And the more you think about what transpired, the more layers of questions and horror are revealed as you lie wide awake at night. The effect is greatly magnified especially for those who have a big imagination. There were three extremely frightening scenes in this one: the dumpster scene outside the diner, the decaying corpse on the bed, and the entire Club Silencio part. I felt sick a whole month after watching it, I had just moved to a new dark empty apartment without TV and having only a few lights, which only made me afraid of going to certain rooms at night, or even looking out the window.
1. The Blair Witch Project
OK drum roll... there are two types of people, those who think The Blair Witch Project is the scariest thing ever made, and those who hate it. Let me tell you why this gave me the best scare experience ever. First of all, it was shot to look like it was really happening, that the events were actually recorded as an amateur documentary film, with the footage being discovered later. I came in the theater knowing this was fiction, but by the middle of the film I was thinking it was all real. Second, the greatest horror lies in our own imagination, and much of the footage provides fodder to our greatest fears. You start to imagine the witch, what it must be like to be trapped in the woods. You identify and feel the panic and terror that these college kids are experiencing. Last of all, the final scene is one of the most frightening movie moments of all time. My friends and I went to watch this at 12 midnight. After it was done, it was almost 2am and I was begging my friends to keep me company or at least accompany me home (I was concerned the witch might go after me, or I may see something I shouldn't be seeing at the corner of my house). After their laughter subsided and they could see I was shaking with fear, they decided to keep me company the rest of the night. And for several months after that I avoided dark corners around the house, or being alone in a room at night, just to be sure.
In related news, I'm planning to rent what could be one of the scariest horror movies ever made, one with a reportedly sick, twisted ending. The title is 'Oldboy'. If it's as good as they say it is, I'll add it to the list above.