Horror is a genre that has long captivated audiences with its ability to terrify and shock. However, writing a horror film that has effective jumps and scares can feel like a challenge.

Writing a successful horror screenplay is a task that requires a deep understanding of human psychology, suspenseful pacing, and the ability to tap into primal fears. In this article, we will be exploring the five best horror screenplays that display just this for writers to learn from.

Whether you're an experienced writer or just starting out, these screenplays will provide invaluable insights into the craft of writing horror.

Let's get scary, and dive into our top five screenplays.

Mia Farrow in front of a TV in 'Rosemary's Baby''Rosemary's Baby'Credit: Paramount Pictures

The 5 Best Action Screenplays For Writers To Learn From

  1. The Shining (1980): Written by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson, this classic horror screenplay, adapted from the novel by the horror master Stephen King, is a masterclass in slow-building tension and psychological horror. It's a great example of how to adapt a complex novel into a film while still staying true to its themes.

  2. Get Out(2017): Written by Jordan Peele, this modern horror masterpiece is a great example of how to use social commentary to enhance the horror genre. Peele's script is tight, suspenseful, and builds to a shocking conclusion that leaves audiences stunned.

  3. Rosemary's Baby(1968): Written by Roman Polanski, this classic horror film, adapted from the novel by Ira Levin, is a great example of how to create a sense of unease and dread throughout a screenplay. Polanski's script is masterful in its use of symbolism and foreshadowing to build tension.

  4. The Babadook(2014): Writtenby Jennifer Kent, this horror film is a great example of how to create a fully realized, nuanced protagonist in a horror screenplay. Kent's script is character-driven and emotionally powerful, making the horror all the more impactful.

  5. Hereditary (2018): Written by Ari Aster, this recent horror film is a great example of how to use family dynamics to create horror. Aster's script is a slow burn that gradually builds to a horrific climax, and it's a great example of how to use imagery and symbolism to enhance a horror story.

A man on fire in 'Hereditary''Hereditary'Credit: A24

In conclusion, the horror genre is a rich and diverse field that offers writers the opportunity to explore the depths of human fears and anxieties. By studying the screenplays of successful horror films, writers can learn how to create memorable characters, build tension, and shocking twists that leave audiences on the edge of their seats. We hope that this list of horror screenplays has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration for your own writing. So go forth and write the next great horror film!

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