It's been a while since I've had the urge to sit down and watch a good horror or thriller flick. I was wondering what people think are the films with the best sound. I'm not just referring to the sound design either. If you think the mix is stellar in a particular film, I'd like to hear that too.

7 Answers 7


While there are plenty of 'technically well made' horror films I can really only name a few horror/thriller films that had any residual depth for me and imho their sound MUST be excellent, otherwise they would not be such effective & powerful films. But it isn't that they are overtly over designed horror film soundtracks... quite the opposite....

  • The Shining by Stanley Kubric
  • The Omen by Richard Donner
  • Retribution by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • AntiChrist by Lars von Trier
  • excellent list, tim. i've only ever seen The Shining, but have heard of the others. i'll need to get them in my netflix queue. thanks. Jan 14, 2013 at 12:39
  • The sound of acorns falling on the roof in Antichrist is brilliant. Very effective. Jan 15, 2013 at 16:46

Have you seen the innkeepers? Sound is used as a plot device in a gimmicky way but I thought it was pretty effective.

  • i think i've heard of that one before. i'll check it out sometime. Jan 14, 2013 at 12:39

Might do you good to peruse the "Films to study for excellence in sound design" for thrillers/horrors,

but these films are what I especially liked for their soundtracks:

  • The Ring
  • The Cell
  • The Lovely Bones
  • The Shining

I'll think about it for a bit and update my answer if I come up with any newer ones.

recent sound design and mix I liked: - Girl with the dragon tattoo

  • yeah, i remember that thread, but i'm not just concerned with sound design. i wanted a thread that was a bit more focused. ;) Jan 14, 2013 at 12:37

In terms of recent films, I quite liked The Orphanage. I thought the sound of Drag Me To Hell was especially awful. SSD's own Mr. Prebble was involved in /oops/40/oops/ 30 Days of Night, so maybe that's worth checking out...

  • 30 Days of Night, that is :)
    – user49
    Jan 14, 2013 at 5:23
  • 1
    Thought it was 1,001 Days of Arabian Nights. My bad. :-) Jan 14, 2013 at 5:34
  • i only correct you as that dorky hollywood lead actor from 30 days was in some stupendously dumb romcom called 40 days of something you'd rather have a lobotomy than actually watch.....
    – user49
    Jan 14, 2013 at 9:58
  • @tim prebble @noisejockey...i've seen both...one of which i lament ;) i've even got a 30 days of night poster signed by one of the authors of the graphic novel. Jan 14, 2013 at 12:38
  • Awesome. 30 Days of Night was a fantastic, underrated vampire flick. Refreshing to see vampires as villains again, rather than the potential love interests they seem to have become. Sound design on the film was spot-on. Jan 15, 2013 at 17:53

Not everyone was a fan, but I found the use of sound in Blair Witch Project at times freakin scary. In particular, the scenes where they are sleeping in the tent, there is no light and we start to hear weird sounds off in the distance. In terms of intensity I found this film awesome.

  • you know, i still haven't seen that movie. maybe one day... ;) Jan 14, 2013 at 12:40

There are a few that impressed me in different ways!

To begin with, the sound from The Beyond (Lucio Fulci 1981) might be a tab bit crude and coarse, but here it works well! What impressed me here though is a scene where the fact that a ghost girl and her undead dog runs completely silently is heavily emphasized is something I appreciated a lot!

Froniere(s), an extremely violent and gory French nazisploitationflick, has both a really good mix and sounds with extremely nice texture and aural pain.

Which leads the Saw 4 and 5. They are a little to the bright side, but the sounds have an amazing texture to it, and is extremely well designed!

It was a while since I saw it, so I can't exactly remember what it was I liked with it, but the Korean movie The Host is in my "Good Sound Shelf", and I do remember it was for a good reason :-)

Though also, like most movies made before the advent of Pro Tools and Nuendo (I guess at least a few of you here remembers the old 35mm full-coat, reel-to-reel and NAB cart machines...), not perfection in sound quality, I really like the sound of Hellraiser! Like in Se7en (one of my absolute favorite sound-movies together with Wall-E and No Country For Old Men), I really think the grit and coarseness of the sound adds to the uncanny feeling of the movies by working with the limitations of the medium instead of against it! Something I can all too well relate to :-)


An oldie but a goodie... 1963's "The Haunting", directed by Robert Wise. Just about ALL the scare factor comes from the sound. A primer on making things sound spooky, and all done before digital - not that that makes it BETTER, just proof that a zillion plug-ins don't necessarily make good sound design.

Also someone mentioned "Drag Me to Hell", but for a much finer example of that crew (Marti Humphries and Co.) check out "The Exorcism of Emily Rose". "Hell" being a Raimi film was by necessity somewhat more over the top, while "Exorcism" plays on a more subtle note.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.