Special Report

Horror Movies Loved By Audiences and Hated By Critics

Constantine (2005) | Tilda Swinton in Constantine (2005)
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Horror is perhaps the most divisive genre of film. Not for the faint of heart, its purpose is to elicit fear, shock, disgust or even outright revulsion. It’s no wonder many people steer clear of horror movies. With jump scares, excessive violence, and often campy depictions of gore, horror films are somewhat of an acquired taste – one that professional movie critics often take a pass on. (On the other hand, here are R-rated movies loved by critics and hated by everybody else.)

To determine the horror movies loved by audiences and hated by critics, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on audience and critic reception from Rotten Tomatoes. Horror movies were ranked based on the percentage-point difference between Rotten Tomatoes audience score and Tomatometer score. Only films with at least 10 critic reviews, 10,000 audience reviews, audience scores of at least 75%, and Tomatometer scores below 60% were considered. Cast information came from IMDb.

More often than not, these films have become cult classics. Despite mixed or negative reviews upon their release, many did well at the box office. Some, including “Saw” and “Resident Evil,” did so well that sequels or whole franchises were made out of them. 

Some of the films, including “Halloween II” and “Hannibal” are sequels to movies that are now critically acclaimed; however critics have cited that the sequels fail to capture the appeal of their predecessors. Well-known directors including Ridley Scott, Clive Barker, and James Wan have movies on the list. (These are famous directors with the most box office bombs.)

Scroll below to see the horror movies loved by audiences and hated by critics.

25. Nightbreed (1990)

Nightbreed (1990) | David Cronenberg in Nightbreed (1990)
  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 17 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 60% (14,666 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 43% (30 reviews)
  • Directed by: Clive Barker

Despite phenomenal makeup and imaginative world building, this ambitious sci-fi monster film with a heart was criticized for its clunky, poorly executed plot. Over time however, the film became a cult classic, and a director’s cut was released in 2014.

24. Hannibal (2001)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 22 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 62% (403,230 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 40% (171 reviews)
  • Directed by: Ridley Scott

The sequel to “The Silence Of the Lambs” was released ten years after its predecessor and was a box office hit around the globe with a huge opening weekend. Critics, however, commented on its inferiority to the original film, as well as its graphic violence.

23. The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 23 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 78% (112,428 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 55% (139 reviews)
  • Directed by: Rob Zombie

The sequel to Rob Zombie’s slasher favorite “House of 1000 Corpses” received similarly poor critical reviews to its predecessor, however both films about the murderous Firefly family have become cult classics. Fans who can handle the depravity praise Zombie’s over-the-top, deranged brand of horror.

22. Constantine (2005)

Constantine (2005) | Tilda Swinton in Constantine (2005)
  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 26 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 72% (468,712 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 46% (230 reviews)
  • Directed by: Francis Lawrence

This film based on the “Hellblazer” graphic novels was a box office success and has achieved cult status. Nevertheless, it received mixed reviews from critics, who mentioned that it had lofty aspirations that failed in execution, particularly its depiction of hell.

21. Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 26 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 64% (23,249 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 38% (34 reviews)
  • Directed by: Ernest R. Dickerson

This campy horror comedy about a demon who is seeking a key that will initiate the apocalypse was entertaining enough to keep audiences enthralled, but was panned by critics for its pace and outlandish gore.

20. Odd Thomas (2013)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 27 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 65% (10,594 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 38% (47 reviews)
  • Directed by: Stephen Sommers

Odd Thomas is a short-order cook with psychic abilities who attempts to save his small town from evil forces. Critics praised Anton Yelchin’s lead performance, but found fault with the film’s uneven and often confusing tone.

19. High Tension (2005)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 27 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 67% (48,597 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 40% (131 reviews)
  • Directed by: Alexandre Aja

Released as “Switchblade Romance” in the U.K., this French film follows two beautiful college students who take a country holiday only to be targeted by a homicidal maniac. Slasher enthusiasts may have enjoyed the excessive violence, but critics pointed out a gaping plot hole and an unconvincing twist ending.

18. Ravenous (1999)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 29 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 78% (21,504 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 49% (63 reviews)
  • Directed by: Antonia Bird

This box office bomb had production troubles from the beginning and failed to make a profit. A cannibal film turned western, “Ravenous” was praised for its atmosphere and filmmaking but panned for its confusing tone.

17. Silent Hill (2006)

Silent Hill (2006) | Radha Mitchell in Silent Hill (2006)
  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 31 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 63% (250,000 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 32% (103 reviews)
  • Directed by: Christophe Gans

Based on a video game series, this supernatural horror film was a fan favorite. It opened at number one at the U.S. box office and is one of the highest grossing video game adaptations. Critics, however, pointed out that anyone unfamiliar with the storyline would be confused and let down by the movie.

16. Halloween II (1981)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 31 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 63% (77,151 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 32% (41 reviews)
  • Directed by: Rick Rosenthal

The sequel to “Halloween” follows killer Michael Meyers as he continues his murderous rampage. Although it was a commercial success, it was criticized for its gratuitous violence and lack of character development.

15. Event Horizon (1997)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 32 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 61% (68,026 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 29% (79 reviews)
  • Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson

This sci-fi space horror film was a box office failure, but garnered so many home video sales that Paramount attempted to work on a re-release with deleted footage. The film has since been referenced in pop culture as being massively influential on its genre, and praised for its stunning visuals.

14. Resident Evil (2002)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 32 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 67% (250,000 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 35% (131 reviews)
  • Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson

“Resident Evil” received negative reviews on its release, despite doing well at the box office and becoming, for a time, the highest grossing film based on a video game. The action horror film was such a hit with fans that numerous sequels have since been made.

13. Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 33 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 73% (27,820 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 40% (60 reviews)
  • Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman

Repo! is a rock opera horror about the repossession of transplanted organs from patients who fail to pay their medical bills. The outrageous and revolting film was criticized for its dull music and lyrics.

12. Saw (2004)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 33 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 84% (853,003 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 51% (188 reviews)
  • Directed by: James Wan

This sadistic horror flick had such a successful premier at Sundance that Lionsgate picked it up and saw massive returns at theaters. Despite some truly awful critical reviews, the film has spawned a media franchise that includes several sequels, video games, and even a theme park ride.

11. Final Destination (2000)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 33 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 68% (483,631 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 35% (96 reviews)
  • Directed by: James Wong

Following a group of teens who cheat death only to be offed one by one in a series of bizarre accidents, “Final Destination” won multiple Saturn awards, including Best Performance by a Young Actor, which went to teen heart-throb Devon Sawa. It nevertheless received generally negative reviews for its flat execution.

10. Underworld: Awakening (2012)

Underworld: Awakening (2012) | Kate Beckinsale and Michael Ealy in Underworld: Awakening (2012)
  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 36 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 62% (98,582 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 26% (76 reviews)
  • Directed by: Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein

The fourth film in the “Underworld” film series did well at theaters despite negative reviews. Diehard fans of the franchise kept it going for one more film, while critics panned “Awakening” for containing largely insignificant plot points.

9. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 41 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 60% (408,048 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 19% (134 reviews)
  • Directed by: Alexander Witt

The second film in the Resident Evil franchise surpassed the box office of the original film. Despite fans’ enjoyment, “Apocalypse” has the lowest Tomatometer score of all films in the franchise.

8. Stigmata (1999)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 41 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 63% (93,568 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 22% (91 reviews)
  • Directed by: Rupert Wainwright

This supernatural horror film is about an atheist hairdresser who becomes plagued by unseen forces after receiving a mysterious rosary. Critics panned the acting and the storyline, but the film more than tripled its budget at theaters.

7. Saw III (2006)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 42 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 71% (560,988 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 29% (93 reviews)
  • Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman

The “Saw” franchise is known for its convoluted timeline and gorey torture scenes. The third installment was the most commercially successful, despite criticisms that it simply repeated the same tropes of the previous films. After all, if fans come for the gorey torture, why change it?

6. Saw IV (2007)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 43 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 62% (569,445 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 19% (84 reviews)
  • Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman

The first film in the franchise not written by the original creators, “Saw IV” received even worse reviews than its predecessor. It nevertheless made over $139 million at the box office against a $10 million budget.

5. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 45 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 65% (130,915 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 20% (85 reviews)
  • Directed by: Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie’s directorial debut was dropped by two studios before Lionsgate finally agreed to release it. It was a success despite poor reviews and amassed a dedicated fan base, easily becoming a cult favorite.

4. Queen of the Damned (2002)

Aaliyah arriving at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards in LA 6/2/01
  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 49 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 66% (259,830 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 17% (130 reviews)
  • Directed by: Michael Rymer

Based on a vampire novel by Anne Rice, this film starring the late singer Aaliyah imagines a world of contemporary vampire rockstars. Critics lambasted it as shallow eye candy and a poor representation of Rice’s work.

3. Jigsaw (2017)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 57 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (29,519 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 32% (90 reviews)
  • Directed by: Michael & Spierig

The eighth installment in the “Saw” franchise has one of the highest audience scores of all ten films. Critics and audience members did generally agree on one point: that “Jigsaw” was better than most of the other “Saw” films.

2. The Covenant (2006)

  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 58 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 62% (399,950 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 4% (75 reviews)
  • Directed by: Renny Harlin

Following four high school boys in Massachusetts who are descended from colonial-era witches, “The Covenant” has a shockingly low Tomatometer score of 4%. Critics cited poorly written dialogue as a major failure of the film.

1. Strangeland (1998)

Strangeland (1998) | Laurence Curry and Michael Herst in Strangeland (1998)
  • Audience score less Tomatometer score: 58 ppts.
  • Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 64% (10,883 reviews)
  • Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 6% (16 reviews)
  • Directed by: John Pieplow

Written by and starring Dee Snider of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister, this film features Snider as a tattooed sadist who kidnaps and tortures high school girls. Fans loved the soundtrack and exploration of urban primitive subculture, however, critics were thoroughly unimpressed.

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