Never would we have imagined that being stuck at home would be the most terrifying thing.  Here’s a list of the scariest characters lurking in corners to prove it. Some characters will make you jump out of your seat, others might frighten you for life. From the classic Pinhead from Hellraiser (1987) to the contemporary The Smiling Man (2015), a selection of characters that will haunt your dreams – and maybe your days. This article explores what makes these characters so disturbingly terrifying.

If you’re looking for a movie to send a shiver down your spine, here are some options.  But beware, you may find yourself having a hard time trying to sleep after watching these films.

1. Mama (2013)

Directed by Andy Muschietti, Mama is a psychological horror film that offers a frightening atmosphere and fleeting apparitions from a mysterious presence. The movie is based on a short film of the same name. The short got the attention of Guillermo Del Toro, who came aboard as a producer on the feature film.

After their parents’ deaths, two young girls are abandoned in a forest cabin where a dark and ominous presence develops an attachment to them – even following them to their new foster home to tuck them in at night. This someone or something takes the form of a mother figure, but the kind of mother that will give you nightmares. “Mama”, played by Javier Botet – also known as Slender Man – is a horrifying creature that will give you a few jump scares all throughout the movie. This supernatural thriller perfectly brings together the innocent world of children and the dark world of ghosts. Combine that image with jerky movements and limbs bending the wrong way and you’ve got yourself a character that chills. Before you decide to watch this case of scariest characters lurking in corners, we recommend you to take a look at this clip. Mama is available on Amazon.

2. The Showman from In a Foreign Town (2018)

Based on the stories of acclaimed horror author Thomas Ligotti, In a Foreign Town takes viewers to a surreal place that blurs old memories with something far more sinister. Written and directed by Michael Shlain, the short horror film serves as a proof-of-concept for a TV anthology series which is currently in active development.

The story follows a troubled man – played by Yuri Lowenthal – who recalls a suppressed childhood memory of a strange town and the horrifying apparition he encounters there. The horror in question is an entity known only as The Showman, exquisitely played by contortionist and creature actor Strange Dave. This character will make your hair stand on end with just his posture and physicality, proving that the monster you don’t see can often be more potent than the one you do. This beautiful film draws you into its hypnotic dreamlike spell, threatening to show you something you might never want to see again…. Dare to watch it? The short is available for free on ALTER.

3. The Smiling Man (2015)

Another short film where Strange Dave uses his unique control of his body to make us feel pure terror is in The Smiling Man. A disturbing film directed by A.J. Briones that has won several awards since it’s release in 2015, including Best Short Film at Shriekfest and Best Director at Midnight Horror Shorts Fest.

The short opens with an innocent scene of a little girl playing. Minutes later it all turns into unfiltered horror. Seven intense minutes of great tension building ensue where the viewer meets a diabolic monster with macabre intentions.  Strange Dave uses silence, and body movements at speeds that are just – not – right – to embody an excruciatingly frightening creature that will make you check to see if your home door is properly locked. The suspenseful score and gripping visuals make of this piece a must-see in the list of gripping terror films. Check it out on ALTER.

4. Pinhead from Hellraiser (1987)

In 1987, scare-master Cliver Barker made everyone shiver with his first full length film, Hellraiser – an adaptation from his horror novella, The Hellbound Heart. In this classic horror film, we meet a family who opens a puzzle box and invites hell into their lives in the form of gruesome beings known as the Cenobites. Leading this group we find a character that will make us shudder, the iconic Pinhead.

Doug Bradley gives life to this devilish creature which (conversely) proves that the monster you DO see can be plenty horrifying when it’s well-designed. With insane nails protruding from his face and a wardrobe inspired by S&M and Roman Catholic priest cassocks, Pinhead’s grotesque presence messes with your head while churning your stomach.

Over the years, and with 10 movies later in the Hellraiser saga, Pinhead has become an icon in the horror world. Go to Amazon and find out for yourself.

5. Mister Babadook from The Babadook (2015)

Jennifer Kent’s directorial debut terrified audiences across the globe. The Babadook, which is based on Kent’s short film Monster, is a psychological film that masterfully examines the effects of unprocessed grief and the dark side of parenting. In the story we follow a single mother who struggles to raise her troubled son who fears that there might be a monster lurking around the house.

When an eerie children’s book titled “Mister Babadook” mysteriously appears in the house, fear and panic are slowly ratcheted to an almost unbearable degree. The frightening creature is the Babadook, a tall humanoid with taloned fingers that brings the family into turmoil while offering some genuinely terrifying and unsettling moments to spectators. This brilliantly crafted and affectionately charged movie has become – deservedly so – one of the best horror films of the last few years while also featuring one of the scariest characters lurking in corners. You can find the movie on Amazon.

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