Contagion, Mars Attacks, and... The Brave Little Toaster are just some of the scariest flicks that aren't horror movies, according to film fans

Mars Attacks!
(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

Horror movies come in all shapes and sizes but more often than not, their objective is to, in some way or other, frighten us. You agree to be spooked going in. But all of us have certain flicks that gave us the willies when we were least expecting it and now some films fans on Reddit have tried to narrow down the list of scariest non-genre titles.

In the discussion thread, posited the question "What is a movie that terrifies you but isn’t a horror movie?", kickstarter shadowdra126 admitted their pick would be Tim Burton's alien comedy Mars Attacks.

There were some unsurprising answers, like this year's Holocaust drama The Zone of Interest, school shooting thriller We Need to Talk About Kevin, nuclear war flick Threads, medical disaster film Contagion, and truly nightmare-inducing unofficial The Wizard of Oz follow-up Return to Oz. Other replies, however, were unexpected to say the least...

"Popeye. A horrible shanty town made of driftwood full of mad people," said someone, referencing the 1980 picture starring Shelley Duvall and Robin Williams. Coraline, Watership Down, Gone Girl, Jesus Camp, Requiem for a Dream, Signs, The Truman Show, and Never Ending Story were also named.

"The horse dying of sadness was bad enough, but having the main villain as 'The Nothing' and a talking wolf as its Sith Apprentice was the scariest thing I've ever seen in a movie," a commenter said of the latter. "At five years old it made me self aware, like it introduced the idea that I exist and the universe exists, and if it didn't exist it wouldn't be blank or anything I could imagine. It would be 'Nothing' and not even nothing. Scared the heck out of me. Not existing at all was scarier than death."

The Brave Little Toaster

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

"Mulholland Drive" penned one more. "The bum behind Winkies and the tiny elderly couple terrorizing Betty/Diane at the end freak me the f**k out every time."

"Any movie where the main character is rapidly declining due to Alzheimer's/ Dementia, like Still Alice starring Julianne Moore, or The Father," said another.

Perhaps the biggest shocker mentioned, however, is children's animation The Brave Little Toaster (1987), which follows a group of anthropomorphic kitchen appliances as they embark on a treacherous journey into the city. Their hope? To find their master after seemingly being abandoned in a cabin in the woods.

For more, check out our own list of the 50 scariest moments in non-horror movies.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.