5 Delightfully Dark Alternatives for Horror Fans Who Hate Scary Movies
From horror documentaries to true crime podcasts, these recommendations will delight horror fans who hate the visceral side of the genre.
I’ve always loved the horror genre. Looking into the worst case scenario of our minds, reading about true crime, and exploring the possibility of the paranormal have been a few of the many aspects of this genre that interest me. I love the dark side of things, so horror was a natural pull for my interests. However, I hate scary movies. Film has never been an aspect of horror that I enjoy. In truth, the visual aspect was too much for me. I like stories, I like suspense, but dipping into the visual aspect of horror was far too much for my scared-scale.
After watching The Exorcist when I was younger, my scared-scale shot past capacity into the red and shattered. I was so scared of that movie that I ejected the VHS (yes, VHS), dunked it in water, lit it on fire, smashed it with a hammer, and buried it far away. Dramatic? Maybe (definitely), but that’s just how much that movie affected me. Since then, I steer clear of anything that can scare me that bad again. Though I do watch a few scary movies on very (very) rare occasion, I mostly stick to other areas of the horror genre. Many of my fellow horror junkies don’t understand my aversion to the film side of our interests, but some understand. And, luckily, the horror genre is definitely not confined to film.
Horror podcasts are currently one of my favorite mediums with which to deliver horror into my brain. If you’re not into podcasts, you are really missing out. Not only are companies all over the world utilizing podcasting as another form of content to interest consumers, it’s yet another way in which people can share stories of any kind and promote themselves to more people. Podcasts are reminiscent of the days when people sat around the radio and listened to stories, but now we no longer need to crowd around a radio.
I listen to podcasts when I drive, create art, or have busy work to do. I’m always just as interested, spooked, and scared as I want to be, and I get an introduction into an entirely new world of listening to horror. This includes creepy music, real audio clips from true crime stories, and my eyes can be on the road, my work, or my art.
- Sword & Scale: A true crime podcast that tells you a crazy true crime story in about an hour per episode. Their tag-line is true: The Worst Monsters are Real.
- My Favorite Murder: Conversational and humorous, the hosts on My Favorite Murder talk about true crime in a way you’d discuss them with your friends. Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.
- The Magnus Archives: This podcast is true supernatural horror fiction. I have yet to find a horror fan who didn’t enjoy it.
My first love: horror novels. If podcasts are my new lusty fling, horror novels are my highschool sweetheart. There’s never a time in my life when I’m not in the middle of reading a book. A good portion of those books tend to be horror, mystery, or true crime. Truly, my love of horror originated with my nose in a book by Stephen King, Lovecraft, or Anne Rice, to name a few. I’ve spoken to a few horror junkies who claim novels frighten them a lot more than movies, but for me, I’m a lot more comfortable with the images my brain creates than the images someone else creates. For that reason, I find that diving into horror novels is a great way to enjoy horror if movies are not your thing.
- A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay: Exorcism, children, reality television. This novel is terrifying.
- Chalk by Paul Cornell: This book is about bullying and psychological trauma leading to a brutal escalation.
- Feed by Mira Grant: The first novel in the Newsflesh trilogy, Feed is a more political zombie apocalypse story.
I find that the sweet spot for me in terms of horror and true crime are documentary films and television. Though horror and true crime aren’t exactly the same thing, the two can blend into each other and even inspire each other. Documentaries tend to focus around actual events, interviews, and storytelling as opposed to jarring visuals like horror film. For that reason, it’s a great middle ground for me. Haunted houses, terror on horror film sets, psychological documentaries, a look into serial killers, hauntings, the history of exorcism, etc. Horror documentaries have something for almost any type of horror subgenre you are into and it’s wildly fascinating for horror fans of any kind.
However, for some people who stay away from scary movies because they can be triggering, documentaries might cause similar problems. Though they may not have scenes like a horror film, real people sharing details or reenactments may trigger a PTSD related event. Some people who suffer with PTSD as a result of a traumatic event may want to research their documentaries before watching.
- I Survived: A documentary series, “I Survived” is real people telling their story of surviving certain death. No reenactments, just their stories in their own words. Watch it on Lifetime.
- The Nightmare: A documentary about sleep paralysis that will make you fear sleeping ever again. Watch it on Netflix.
- Killer Legends: This documentary looks into the actual origins of many known urban legends like the Killer Clown and Hookman. Watch it on Netflix.
Short Horror Stories (And Facts)
The internet is filled with a ton of short readings about horror. There are so many short stories, Wikipedia pages, and blogs dedicated to the horror genre that you can spend hours getting lost down a very scary rabbit hole if you let yourself. When you’re looking for a quick fright and not a novel, short readings are perfect if you know where to look for them. Short readings are great if you’re not into scary movies because you’ll get a quick dose of scary without it being overwhelming or visual. Short stories have a quick climax and don’t have such a slow buildup. Many short entries on Wikipedia skip the storytelling and get right to the cold, hard facts — which sometimes makes the stories even more sinister.
- Wikipedia: There is an endless amount of scary wikipedia entries, but here’s a list that scratches the surface.
- Creepypasta: This website compiles an endless slew of written stories in one location. From Candle Cove to Slender Man, these stories are short reads but terrifying.
- Crimefeed: This is Investigation Discovery’s blog highlighting a ton of true crime stories from history, mystery, and current events.
Online Horror Communities
If you love horror but you hate scary movies, you can get your dose of horror or horror discussion by finding an online community of horror lovers that you can connect with. One of the great things about the expanse of technology is how connected the world can be. Sometimes that’s not great, but other times it brings together people in a way that was never possible before. There are a ton of online communities sharing their favorite horror mediums, their own stories, and their own opinions on the podcasts, novels, documentaries, and readings out there. However, even if you just want to talk about horror instead of watching, reading, or listening to it, you can find a community willing to listen and share.
- Websleuths: Websleuths is a community mainly about true crime and missing persons. Users discuss crime, trials, and unsolved cases.
- Reddit: Reddit has something about everything. There are subreddits about horror, true crime, and creepy encounters. Try the NoSleep or Let’s Not Meet subreddits.
- Facebook: Obvious but worth mentioning, you can find a community of horror fans through Facebook pages of your favorite horror documentaries, podcasts, novels, etc.
The horror genre is expansive. Though there are so many people who are confused by my aversion to scary movies, they might not realize exactly how many other ways there are to enjoy horror. It’s not all jumpscares, gore, and terrifying visuals in this genre. Much of it is storytelling, psychological abnormalities, real crime, and imagery we conjure up in our own minds.
I like being scared, but on my own terms. Mostly, I am intrigued by the dark side of humanity. I may hate scary movies, but I love scary podcasts, novels, documentaries, short readings, and making friends who also love scary things.