- Some of the greatest horror movies utilize multiple killers to enhance the terror and give each killer an alibi for the shocking twist reveal.
- Films like The Strangers and You’re Next use multiple killers to create a more frightening and suspenseful experience for the audience.
- Scream subverts the slasher formula by revealing that there are two killers working together, adding a whodunit element to the story.
Most horror movies have just one killer tormenting the protagonists, but there’s something even scarier than one killer: two or more killers! The classic slasher formula dictates that there’s a single killer picking off a group of unsuspecting protagonists. In Psycho, although Mrs. Bates’ clothes initially suggest otherwise, Norman Bates is the only killer terrorizing the heroes. In Halloween, Michael Myers manages to keep the entire town of Haddonfield living in fear all by himself, without the help of a sidekick. The same goes for A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees.
But some of the greatest horror movies ever made, from Hellraiser to Get Out, have utilized multiple killers in their spooky storytelling. The presence of more than one killer can be used to give each killer an alibi ahead of the shocking twist reveal, like in the whodunit narrative of Scream, or they can simply be used to enhance the terror, like the titular band of tormentors in The Strangers. There are plenty of terrifying horror movies featuring more than one killer in their blood-soaked roster.
10 Freddy Vs. Jason
Ronny Yu, 2003
In the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises, respectively, there’s only one killer. But both of those killers were brought together for a showdown in the crossover event Freddy vs. Jason. A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger has been weakened by dream-suppressing medication in his hometown of Springwood, so he reawakens Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees to stir up fear. The battle between these two horror movie icons is every bit as brutal and bloody as fans hoped it would be.
Ben Wheatley, 2012
Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers is more of a pitch-black comedy than a straightforward horror film, but it’s certainly horrific enough to earn horror classification. Sightseers revolves around a British couple who go on a caravanning holiday that quickly turns into a killing spree. It’s a twisted take on the Bonnie and Clyde formula in which violence is treated as a bizarre, disturbing expression of love.
8 Just Before Dawn
Jeff Lieberman, 1981
All throughout Jeff Lieberman’s Deliverance-inspired backwoods slasher Just Before Dawn, the killer seems to have supernatural abilities, teleporting all over the forest and appearing in more than one place at once. The ingenious twist reveals that the heroes are actually being stalked by a pair of twins, explaining how the killer can seemingly be in two places at the same time. Just Before Dawn was met with mixed reviews, but it was way ahead of the curve on the multi-killer twist.
7 Bride Of Chucky
Ronny Yu, 1998
Before he helmed Freddy vs. Jason, Ronny Yu gave the Child’s Play franchise’s Chucky his own murderous sidekick in Bride of Chucky. Bride of Chucky abandons the original trilogy’s protagonist, Andy Barclay, to focus solely on Chucky, a doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer. When his former lover and partner-in-crime Tiffany is similarly reincarnated as a doll, she becomes Chucky’s accomplice. Bride of Chucky’s self-parody was met with a mixed response, but it has a wonderfully campy tone.
6 The Strangers
Bryan Bertino, 2008
There are multiple killers in Bryan Bertino’s masterclass in domestic horror, The Strangers, simply because it’s scarier that way. Three murderers breaking into a house in the middle of the night is undoubtedly more terrifying than just one. What really makes The Strangers a frightful affair is the ambiguous reason given for the break-in. When one of the homeowners asks the killers why they’re tormenting them so ruthlessly, the “Dollface” killer replies with the hauntingly iconic line, “Because you were home.”
5 You’re Next
Adam Wingard, 2011
Adam Wingard’s You’re Next flips the slasher formula on its head. It starts off with three masked killers descending upon a rich family’s estate to pick them off, one by one, but what they don’t count on is the prodigal son’s girlfriend Erin being a badass capable of fighting back. Suddenly, the story switches its focus: instead of following the killers as they pick off the family, it follows Erin as she picks off the killers. You’re Next reimagines the entire slasher genre as it turns its protagonist into her own kind of slasher.
Clive Barker, 1987
The main villain in Hellraiser is the undead Frank, a hedonist who got dragged to Hell while seeking an otherworldly pleasure, but he’s not the only threat to the protagonists. He’s backed up by the demonic, interdimensional forces of the Cenobites, led by the iconic Pinhead, who grant sadomasochistic delight onto those who call on them. Hellraiser is arguably more unsettling than a movie like Halloween or Friday the 13th, because it’s not just about one evil human being; it opens up a whole separate dimension of evil.
3 Get Out
Jordan Peele, 2017
When Black photographer Chris Washington goes to visit his white girlfriend Rose Armitage’s parents at their predominantly white gated community in Get Out, he uncovers a sinister conspiracy encompassing the entire neighborhood. The Armitages have been using Rose to lure in Black romantic partners so they can remove their brains and sell their bodies to the highest bidder. By having Chris vastly outnumbered by the villains, writer-director Jordan Peele hammers home the movie’s commentary on voicelessness and institutionalized discrimination.
2 The Silence Of The Lambs
Jonathan Demme, 1991
There are two killers in The Silence of the Lambs, the only ever horror movie to sweep the Oscars, but they’re not in cahoots. In her search for sadistic serial killer Buffalo Bill, FBI rookie Clarice Starling consults with a different sadistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, in the confines of his prison cell. Hannibal helps Clarice get inside Bill’s head and figure out what his next move might be. When Hannibal escapes from custody in a gruesome second-act sequence, the stakes are raised as there are two killers on the loose.
Wes Craven, 1996
The most memorable example of a horror movie with two villains is Wes Craven’s self-aware slasher Scream, in which Sidney Prescott is shocked to learn that the Ghostface killer is actually two guys: her boyfriend Billy Loomis, who wants revenge, and his best friend Stu Macher. Scream revolutionized the slasher in two key ways: it brought a meta angle to the proceedings, with horror movie buffs in the ensemble cast, and it introduced a whodunit element with the sneaking suspicion that the killer is lurking among the heroes. The reveal of two killers is a classic murder mystery twist.