A new year is upon us! Grand celebrations with countdowns are taking place all over to celebrate a season of renewal. Some are figuring out life-altering resolutions, watching fireworks, hosting a NYE party, or taking the time to do some serious introspective work. Others want nothing more than to unwind from the stress of the holidays and to roll that year-long tension off their shoulders. If you’re part of the latter crowd, what better way to ring in the new year than by forgetting your own life’s terrors and watching the horrors of someone else’s life unfold in a scary New Year’s Eve movie?
From 1920s and 1930s classics, to gems from the 1970s, to wild 1980s fun, and all the way to movies released this year—discover 20 New Year’s Eve horror movies to pick from. There’s a little bit of everything on this list—slashers, zombies, sci-fi, thrillers, snowstorms, Y2K panic, and international films. Choose below and prepare to ring in January with scares and screams.
The Phantom Carriage is from the Swedish silent film era and can be described as a New Year’s Eve version of A Christmas Carol. The plot carries the immense task of redemption for one of the most vile, selfish, and heartless main characters. David Holm (Sjöström) is a habitually drunk man with a lot he should feel ashamed of. On NYE, he recounts the legend of the Phantom Carriage with his buddies as they reminisce about their dead friend Georges, who died exactly a year prior. Legend has it that the last person to die in the year, if a big sinner, becomes the driver of Death’s carriage and has to pick up the souls of the dead for the next year. David dies shortly after at the stroke of midnight and is picked up by the Phantom Carriage. The driver is no other than his friend Georges. Before the role passes on to David, he must visit his most horrific actions of his past and then see their grave consequences in the present. The film is recognized for its groundbreaking use of double exposure.
The Mystery of the Wax Museum is one of the most renowned mystery-horror movies of the pre-code era. The movie takes place on New Year’s Day in 1933 and is centered around Ivan Igor (Lionel Atwill), a sculptor who was severely burned and disfigured in a fire set by his partner at their wax museum. All of his masterpieces were destroyed in the fire. 12 years later, he recreates his work by murdering people and kidnapping corpses who resemble his sculptures and dipping them into wax. The piling up of disappearances lead reporter Florence (Glenda Farell) his way. The movie also stars OG scream queen Fay Wray. It was the last studio feature filmed with the early two-color process Technicolor.
This Canadian slasher with a unique setting makes for a truly fun and entertaining New Year’s Eve watch. A number of fraternity and sorority members, unsurprisingly, commit a horrific and mean-spirited prank on a shy pledge. Three years later the same college students are being targeted by a masked killer at a costume New Year’s Eve party being thrown aboard a moving train. Terror Train stars Jamie Lee Curtis as final girl Alana and also features a guest appearance by the famous magician David Copperfield.
Bloody New Year is a British supernatural horror movie that was released direct-to-video. It’s one of the worst movies you’ll ever watch—it has even been called a The Evil Dead (1981) rip-off by fans of the genre—but it’s full of mind-bending, nonsensical, pure 80s-tastic fun. The movie opens up in a short sequence set in 1959 at the Grand Island Hotel as NYE celebrations take place. At the end of the party, a partygoer is seen mysteriously vanishing through a mirror. Fast-forward decades later, on a July, a group of shipwrecked teenagers take refuge in the same hotel, which is still decorated for the Christmas and NYE holidays. It appears to be trapped in time. The group is soon terrorized by supernatural happenings and attacked by evil zombie ghosts.
End of Days is an underappreciated action horror movie. It’s set on the brink of the new millennium. The film emphasizes the Y2K paranoia of the time about the potential destruction of mankind. On December 28, 1999 the devil arrives in New York City and possesses an investment banker to look for Christine, played by The Craft’s (1996) Robin Tunney, a woman who he’s hellbent on conceiving the Antichrist with. He has until midnight on New Year’s Eve in order to usher in the end of days. Jericho (Arnold Schwarzenegger), an alcoholic atheist ex-cop is Christine’s—and the world’s—only hope at salvation.
This independent horror film is made by David Buckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry. The Signal’s story is told in three nonlinear chapters, each written and directed by one of the aforementioned filmmakers. It’s not an anthology film, rather a story with one coherent plot told from different perspectives. The movie is set over New Year’s Eve and into New Year’s Day. It’s centered around a mysterious transmission that invades TV, cell phone, and radio. The signal turns all those who hear it into violent killers by making them hallucinate and convincing them that they’re in extreme danger. It’s all at once gorey, a psychological horror, a black comedy, and a post-apocalyptic romance.
The Children is a British horror movie set around the New Year’s holiday that follows two families as they gather for vacation at a secluded home in the woods for the upcoming festivities. One of the kids starts getting sick, throws up on arrival, and soon infects the other youngsters. The children begin to display increasingly disturbing and lethal behavior. The adults struggle with fighting for their survival because the monsters that they’re fighting are their own flesh and blood. It’s an underrated holiday classic full of rising tension that demonstrates just how creepy kids can be.
Sam (Michelle Mylett), who has recently been broken up with through video chat, attends a New Year’s Eve party with other college students in the hopes that it will lift her spirits. Little do they know that a pandemic has erupted around them causing global outbreaks of violence. Soon the group is attacked and they’re forced to barricade themselves indoors. They use their cell phones and laptops to research the source of the outbreak and how to avoid infection. No one is safe. Soon some of the students begin to display symptoms of the disease—one that they come to find is spread through social media.
Midnighters is an underrated horror-thriller starring Alex Essoe from Midnight Mass, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Starry Eyes. At midnight a troubled couple, Lindsay (Essoe) and Jeff (Dylan McTee), make the big mistake of getting behind the wheel of their car after a NYE party. On their way back home they accidentally hit a man with their car and try to cover up their crime. They get lost in a tangled web of lies that places them in grave danger with dangerous people. Their relationship quickly spirals into deceit and they learn that they can’t truly trust each other. Director Julius Ramsay shared with Bloody Disgusting that the film was loosely inspired by a horrible true story “about a woman who hit a man with her car” and in which the man “was impaled on her windshield, and he became stuck in the glass.”
New Year, New You is an entry to the Blumhouse and Hulu horror anthology Into the Dark and stars Suki Waterhouse. The film is directed by Sophia Takal, the director of Black Christmas (2019) and the criminally underrated psychological thriller Always Shine (2016). In the vein of the latter, New Year, New You explores relationships between women, toxic friendships, and the competitive streak among girlfriends. It also makes excellent commentary on the ugly realities behind many social media influencers. The story is centered around an estranged group of friends who reunite on New Year’s Eve for a girls’ night in. As the night progresses, secrets begin to rise to the surface, and it becomes clear that one (or all) of them have ulterior motives. If you enjoyed the weird girl horror movie Sissy (2022), then you’re in for a true treat with this one.
More NYE horror movies…
The Fifth Cord (1971) an Italian giallo film directed by Luigi Bazzoni and begins at a New Year’s Eve party, then delves into the following days. It follows a serial killer on the loose and a journalist who becomes entangled in the series of murders.
New Year’s Evil (1980) in this slasher film a punk-rock DJ receives a phone call during a televised NYE celebration from someone saying that he will murder a “naughty girl” each time one of the U.S. time zones reaches midnight and that she will be the last one.
Ghostkeeper (1981) a great obscure Canadian supernatural slasher. The slow burn story centers around a group of friends who find themselves trapped at an isolated lodge in the mountains on New Year’s Eve. Soon they discover an evil entity residing in the basement.
Steel Trap (2007) a little-known German torture flick about seven strangers invited to a NYE party in an abandoned office building.
The Exhibitionists (2012) is set in the 36 hours leading up to New Year’s Eve. It follows a filmmaker as he exploits his friends and family by taping and exposing their darkest secrets and perversions before assembling them together for a NYE party.
Kristen (2015) set early on New Year’s Day, a woman cleaning up the local bar from the previous night is terrorized by someone unknown who seems to know everything about her.
Holidays (2016) an anthology horror that makes a great watch during any holiday. Each chapter focuses on a different one. The New Year’s Eve entry is among its best.
Midnight Kiss (2019) another Into the Dark movie. A group of friends, with toxic exes among them, heads out to Palm Springs to ring in the new year. There they become the target of a masked killer.
All My Friends Are Dead (2020) a Polish Netflix horror comedy about a group of friends whose NYE celebration soon takes a dark turn when secrets begin to get exposed.
Snow Falls (2023) five friends are stranded at a remote cabin during a severe snowstorm. As they start to spiral into madness, they suspect that the snow may be contaminated or somehow sinister.