Top 10 Horror Movies That Prove High School is Hell

There’s a reason so many horror movies take place in high schools and/or focus on teenagers; as a colleague of mine is fond of saying: “High school is a horror movie!” Indeed, it’s a metaphor made in Hell. For adolescents charting the dangerous territory between childhood and adulthood, potentially catastrophic perils are all around. Hormones and intense emotional platitudes can be a devastating combination; puberty can be both frightening and perplexing.

When you’re in high school, everything feels more important, scary, and intense than it actually is; it’s a state of existence perfectly suited for horror movie manipulations. A good high school-centric horror movie can put adults into a regressive state, rekindling the anxieties associated with growing up. Below, in no particular order, are some of my favorites. Pay attention: You might be quizzed!


Carrie (1976) and Carrie (2013)

Whether we’re talking about Brian De Palma’s seminal original or the 2013 remake, few movies illustrate the atrocities and emotional devastation high school students inflict on each other better than Carrie. The titular antihero is further crippled by a mentally unstable mother who preaches an arcane interpretation of Christianity. Carrie is also a dire warning to would-be abusers: Be careful who you antagonize; even a seemingly meek victim can snap—with fatal repercussions.

The Faculty (1998)

For most high school students, teachers can be nearly impossible to relate to; it’s almost as if they’re from another planet! In The Faculty, Robert Rodriguez merges the melodrama of The Breakfast Club with the terror of an alien invasion. Paranoia reaches a fever pitch by the film’s climax and, in an ironic twist, drugs save the day!

The Craft (1996)

Before “Girl Power” became a mainstream catch phrase, the young women featured in The Craft were already practicing their own brand of teenage activism. A quartet uses witchcraft to turn the tables on hormone-addled boys while delivering chilling karmic justice upon their detractors. The bullied become the bullies. On a serious note, witchcraft can be seen as a metaphor for drug use, and the potentially horrific consequences of addiction.

Scream (1996)

Wes Craven’s megahit Scream harnessed teenage anxieties more effectively than just about anything that came before it. In addition to academic and social pressures, the kids at Woodsboro High have a murderous maniac snapping at their heels. Those unwilling to abide by a set of established “rules” are vulnerable to annihilation. Scream turned a seemingly innocuous question into a terrifying mantra: “What’s your favorite scary movie?”

Cherry Falls (2000)

Geoffrey Wright’s Cherry Falls is an irreverent upending of established tropes, specifically the notion that virgins are most likely to survive in a horror-movie. When an unknown killer exclusively targets virgins for evisceration, the town’s teens throw a “Pop Your Cherry” party (a “Hymen Holocaust”) to protect themselves. While this premise is obviously tongue-in-cheek, the film challenges perceptions of virginity as something to be treasured and protected, a badge of honor if you will. It’s just sex, people!

Freaks of Nature (2015)

High Schools are often overrun and/or ruled by cliques; common cliques include Jocks, Cheerleaders, Geeks, Stoners, and Preppies. In addition to navigating these complex communities, the teens in Freaks of Nature are further divided into Vampires, Humans, and Zombies. Things get even more multifarious when Aliens invade. Check out Tracy Allen’s review of Freaks of Nature on Pop Horror HERE.

Disturbing Behavior (1998)

Many rebellious teens regard high school curriculum as little more than federally enforced brainwashing, a systematic eradication of independent ambitions through pointless and soul-crushing exercises. David Nutter’s Disturbing Behavior takes this viewpoint and exaggerates it exponentially, resulting in a uniquely unnerving experience.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

The Canadian horror movie Ginger Snaps is a powerful werewolf creeper; it’s also a poignant and disturbing examination of emerging female sexuality. When discussing the film, star Katharine Isabelle explains: “Going through puberty as a young girl is so confusing. This monster invades your body, changes things and makes things grow, and no one tells you what’s going on.”

Deadgirl (2008)

Girls aren’t the only ones who go through Hell during puberty; a flood of testosterone combined with a surge in physical stature can be discombobulating for boys. Without guidance or the benefit of wisdom gained through experience, male teenagers can become monsters as illustrated in Deadgirl. Unable to reconcile raging sexual desires and a sense of entitlement, the boys in this movie can’t differentiate between sex and assault. There’s a lot of disturbing subtext in this very unique indie zombie horror.

Battle Royale (2000)

Even competition for academic accolades can reach dangerous extremes, as is metaphorically illustrated in 2000’s Battle Royale. An entire class of seniors find themselves transplanted to a deserted island, where they’re subsequently armed and instructed to kill one another. It’s like their competing for a coveted scholarship, where the consequence of failure is death. This comparison probably rings more profoundly when examined as a reflection of Japanese society, where intense competition often leads to suicides and worse.


The fact that high-school-centric horror movies still resonate with adults is proof that the traumas of adolescence linger long after graduation. Viewing films like the ones on this list can be a cathartic way for people to process and resolve the indignities of youth. There’s something extremely satisfying about watching bullies meet a painful demise! Am I right?


If you can’t get enough of me here at Pop Horror, you can follow me on Twitter @josh_millican for quality horror articles worthy of your attention.

About Joshua Millican

Josh Millican is the Director of Community at CryptTV and has been blogging for over 5 years. You can follow Josh on Twitter @josh_millican.

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