6 Horror Films That Will Give You All the Feels... After They Terrify You

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes the scariest horror flicks can also move you to tears. Valerie Complex breaks down the 21st-century terrifiers that moved her the most.

by | October 27, 2020 | Comments

My motto is, no matter what, if a film moves me, there is no shame in turning on the waterworks. I ugly cried in the theater during Disney’s Coco, I sobbed through the second half of Titanic, and I bawled my eyes out for the third and fourth installments of Toy Story. But I’ve been known to get teary-eyed during scary movies, too — when I say I’ll cry if a film moves me, I do mean any film, including horror.

It may seem odd to get emotional during horror films, but they can do so much more than just be terrifying. Some can inspire sadness, hope, or even happiness. The first one I remember getting me in my feelings is Candyman (1992); I was nine years old and begged my father to take me to see it. While the film terrified me throughout, a dramatic tear rolled down my cheek during the last 15 minutes. There was something about sacrifice and children that got to me, even at a young age — it still gets me to this day.

As Halloween approaches, we revisited some of the films that include a little slashing, a little bashing, and a little sensitivity. Got suggestions of horror movies that made you weep? Let us know in the comments. 

[Warning: Major spoilers follow below.]

[movie_block_apple id=771449004 tmeter=true poster=false]

Lizzie (Ella Balentine) is a bright young 11-year-old who has to deal with her mother Kathy’s (Zoe Kazan) alcoholic, abusive, unpredictable ways. As they travel on the road at night, they find themselves stranded on an isolated road in the middle of nowhere, fighting for their lives against one ugly forest monster.

Cry Factor: The best mother and daughter bonding happens on this frightful night. You don’t get the sense that Kathy cares for Lizzie until it’s life or death; as a mother who feels she’s given her child nothing but strife, the only thing left for Kathy to do is to sacrifice her own life so Lizzie has a fighting chance to survive. The characters started crying, and then I started crying. It’s a scary cry fest!


[movie_block_apple id=130558059 tmeter=true poster=false]

In this moody Japanese horror film by Hideo Nakata, single mom Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) is dealing with a bitter divorce and custody battle for her young daughter, Ikuko (Rio Kanno). As the two try to start life anew in their new apartment, ghostly apparitions of a young girl with a red backpack begin to haunt them, and it’s clear something supernatural — and evil — is afoot.

Cry Factor: This movie is just sad all around. The body of a young girl who drowned in the building water tower still lingers in it; her spirit haunts the building’s hallways looking for a new “mother” to latch onto, and Yoshimi is it. The woman must choose between crossing over to be with this ghost child or allowing her own daughter to be possessed by the spirit. Yoshimi ultimately decides to sacrifice herself so Ikuko can live in peace. Ten years later, Ikuko returns to the site of her mother’s disappearance and sees her ghost, who assures her that she’s OK in the afterlife and not to worry, providing rare horor-film closure for Ikuko.


[movie_block_apple id=9176 tmeter=true poster=false]

A college student commits suicide on a live internet stream, setting off a chain reaction across Tokyo that causes others to follow suit. The film follows Michi (Kumiko Aso), Ryosuke (Haruhiko Kato), and Harue (Koyuki), three unrelated folks whose stories eventually converge in this atmospheric, supernatural horror in which the internet plays a pivotal role.

Cry Factor: Kairo isn’t a typical horror film as it’s more about existentialism than anything else. Ghosts are lonely, and they travel through the internet to make contact with the living. In the end, 85% of the population is gone, and Michi begins to realize the power of human connection. The film asserts that death is just as finite as the living world, and if people cannot connect in life, they will be forced to do it in death. It will hit you in the feels, ya’ll.


[movie_block_apple id=343934933 tmeter=true poster=false]

Many consider this to be Guillermo del Toro’s best film. The horror/fantasy tale is told against the backdrop of Franco’s authoritarian rule over Spain amd packs an emotional punch. The film follows 12-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), otherwise known as Princess Moanna of the underworld, who meets a faun that wants to help her return to her kingdom. In reality, Ofelia lives a harsh life with her stepfather, a captain under Franco’s regime.

Cry Factor: Ofelia’s mortal mother dies, and she herself is abused by her stepfather and nearly eaten by the Pale Man, all while living under Franco’s rule. This kid goes through it all. Just when you think she’s victorious, she’s shot and killed by her stepfather. Not all is bleak in death, though: she returns to the underworld to rule as its princess once again. How can you not feel anything from that?


[movie_block_apple id=771387530 tmeter=true poster=false]

If Before Sunrise and H.P. Lovecraft had a baby, it would be the horror/romance film Spring. Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is an American in Italy learning how to farm. He meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), a genetics student, and it’s love at first sight. The two exchange life stories, but Louise forgets to mention she is a 2,000-year-old Cthulhu-like monster. Until, that is, Evan catches her one day in the midst of a transformation phase that’s pretty gnarly to witness.

Cry Factor: Evan sees this transformation and doesn’t care; he is still in love with Louise. She explains this is a hereditary trait that helps her achieve immortality. She injects a special serum to keep herself in human form, but every 20 years, she must transform into a new look and new body – the only thing that will stop this process is falling in love. The duo decide to spend Louise’s final moments in her present form together, but when the time comes, the transformation doesn’t happen because she’s in love with Evan. It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes and butterflies to your stomach.


[movie_block_apple id=770671525 tmeter=true poster=false]

Creepy dead children, a haunted house, and a mother at her wits’ end trying to find her missing son – nothing is as it seems in The Orphanage. Laura’s (Belén Rueda) son Simón (Roger Princep) is missing, and she is desperate to find him. The cops aren’t helpful, and she’s seeing frightening apparitions of dead children in her home, a former orphanage. Laura can’t decipher if she’s going mad or if the ghosts are trying to tell her something.

Cry Factor: Laura has truly lost all hope, but emotions escalate when she discovers she killed her son by accident and didn’t even realize it: What she thought was the ghost of one of the creepy children was, in fact, her own child in disguise. You’ll tear up just thinking about it even years after watching. The film ends on a bittersweet note, as Laura commits suicide to cross over and be with Simon and the other children. Now she too is a part of the orphanage.


Thumbnail image by ©Picturehouse Entertainment courtesy Everett Collection

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

DC Comics Best and Worst Cosplay latino screen actors guild historical drama dramedy indie television animated SDCC aliens psycho franchise Travel Channel miniseries screenings Schedule Paramount OWN Warner Bros. LGBTQ Peacock Black Mirror VICE TCA Winter 2020 BBC One E! zombie Infographic Turner Classic Movies cinemax Pixar TruTV video on demand The Purge harry potter streaming elevated horror Pirates hist Marvel Rock french Marvel Studios what to watch Disney Plus superhero Marvel Television japanese Musical TCM San Diego Comic-Con period drama RT History Crackle 2015 FOX stop motion children's TV X-Men Martial Arts Sneak Peek medical drama Film Festival Freeform adaptation USA Bravo Grammys Discovery Channel Election FX science fiction Valentine's Day Pop theme song TBS adventure Elton John comic books BET Awards dogs CMT TIFF a nightmare on elm street TCA docudrama Fall TV Biopics Fox News cops Amazon Studios ghosts Masterpiece halloween christmas movies Fantasy Hear Us Out spanish language book green book crossover Musicals spy thriller Ghostbusters HBO Go witnail Polls and Games Funimation sag awards cooking comiccon IFC Mary Tyler Moore technology justice league Summer HBO best Character Guide reviews 45 Tumblr Film Binge Guide Hallmark Christmas movies Crunchyroll IFC Films blockbuster critics scorecard binge blaxploitation First Look First Reviews Stephen King canceled independent worst Writers Guild of America Holidays CNN WarnerMedia italian festivals parents Lifetime Christmas movies unscripted DirecTV Comics on TV NYCC police drama thriller cartoon Fox Searchlight BBC America Chernobyl all-time chucky Mary poppins spinoff movie Sci-Fi Drama cars remakes Teen Epix award winner Amazon Prime Video GIFs asian-american hispanic Nat Geo 2020 Avengers ID Reality Animation Shudder See It Skip It MCU Pop TV A24 scary movies Apple National Geographic nbcuniversal New York Comic Con Winners AMC Toys American Society of Cinematographers Comedy Central NBC anime Classic Film Thanksgiving Tubi biography obituary video Western The Witch twilight Television Critics Association Super Bowl mission: impossible batman joker Premiere Dates versus rotten dark Lucasfilm football History ITV DC streaming service TV renewals Action Superheroe series discovery travel james bond Winter TV OneApp 2018 A&E worst movies Comedy TNT rotten movies we love sequel name the review Heroines Calendar transformers 71st Emmy Awards finale Black History Month BET australia dceu Sony Pictures Star Wars documentary serial killer Tomatazos quibi YouTube Premium black golden globes FXX Esquire nfl TV Land canceled TV shows Captain marvel game of thrones space Brie Larson VH1 Amazon Prime President Rocky sports Hulu comedies cults Family BBC Countdown TV The Arrangement romance boxoffice Trailer Academy Awards revenge 2017 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Mary Poppins Returns Mudbound zombies PBS Reality Competition cancelled television Apple TV Plus 21st Century Fox politics SundanceTV documentaries crime Kids & Family The CW The Walking Dead Spring TV Turner concert halloween tv BAFTA anthology Superheroes richard e. Grant 2019 composers slashers MSNBC Box Office spain HBO Max movies Television Academy venice Nickelodeon Hallmark spider-man werewolf renewed TV shows Country Amazon archives E3 true crime Ovation facebook YouTube Red diversity nature social media Photos sitcom TLC Awards APB jamie lee curtis Spike Interview RT21 CBS reboot disaster Rocketman universal monsters zero dark thirty Baby Yoda dragons TCA 2017 Netflix dc Dark Horse Comics romantic comedy The Academy GoT SXSW Star Trek emmy awards Marathons cats crime thriller directors comics Certified Fresh south america DC Universe WGN breaking bad Trivia Video Games USA Network Lionsgate Nominations game show doctor who Creative Arts Emmys Sundance singing competition foreign Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Sundance Now 20th Century Fox war Trophy Talk YouTube cancelled ABC Family Oscars teaser Opinion natural history Paramount Network CW Seed laika Quiz Syfy Year in Review Anna Paquin Arrowverse Lifetime Apple TV+ Holiday psychological thriller satire Walt Disney Pictures based on movie Netflix Christmas movies Extras Song of Ice and Fire sequels Disney+ Disney Plus Red Carpet FX on Hulu talk show die hard tv talk rt archives comic LGBT Tarantino ESPN MTV PlayStation Food Network crime drama VOD criterion mutant Logo YA Universal Set visit spanish Mystery deadpool fast and furious kids Sundance TV toy story strong female leads news stand-up comedy Rom-Com Christmas Columbia Pictures Vudu cancelled TV series 2016 DGA Cartoon Network GLAAD hollywood Disney toronto El Rey ABC films Mindy Kaling indiana jones Acorn TV Starz mockumentary free movies Endgame Pet Sematary cancelled TV shows Ellie Kemper PaleyFest Disney streaming service Music Cannes 24 frames Pride Month Britbox Shondaland stoner casting Emmy Nominations Adult Swim political drama 007 CBS All Access Women's History Month Horror child's play classics supernatural Disney Channel TCA Awards 4/20 ratings Podcast Comic Book Emmys Showtime vampires 72 Emmy Awards festival Awards Tour Watching Series robots Spectrum Originals