8+ Swimming Pool Horror Films

Dive into the darkness with these horror films set in swimming pools. 

Night Swim (2024) is about a haunted swimming pool, but the horrors of swimming pools include much more than just ghosts. (pictured: Wyatt Russell)

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Many fears are associated with water, like drowning and being attacked by aquatic creatures. However, according to the filmmakers on this list, there is much more to fear. Without water, pools become holes in the ground reminiscent of graves dug for mass burials. This is explored in the episode “Dead Man’s Float” from Are You Afraid of the Dark? In the episode, a haunted pool is revealed to be a graveyard. All of the skeleton bodies have been removed—except for one, who seeks revenge on all who swim in his graveyard. Apparently, displaced spirits will pull you under faster than Bruce in Jaws (1975). 

Pools often appear in horror films, creating some of the most memorable and terrifying scenes. In Let The Right One In (2008), the audience is submerged underwater during Eli’s attack, watching dismembered body parts sink into the water in a cascade of bubbles and blood. Thinking about pools in horror films may also conjure images of Jennifer from Jennifer’s Body (2009) hovering ominously over the water, or blooming clouds of blood surrounding a floating body as seen in The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018).

The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)
The pool scene in The Strangers: Prey at Night is one of the most memorable sequences in the entire film.

The Faculty (1998) features stunning water scenes where, with a single dive, women turn into monsters and gracefully morph back into human suits. Through the many songs and sounds associated with pools, the soundtrack in Urban Legend (1998) stands alone. The instrumentals perfectly suit the feeling of being submerged underwater, completely unaware of your surroundings.

You may have been taught pool safety as a child, but the films on this list will teach you something equally valuable—pool horrors. Stay safe this summer with these reminders of what can go wrong in a swimming pool. 

Best Horror Films Set In Swimming Pools 

The House on Sorority Row (1983)

The sisters of the Pi Theta sorority panic after the death of their house mother in The House on Sorority Row (1983).
The House on Sorority Row was partly inspired by Les Diaboliques (1955).

The sisters at the Pi Theta sorority have a problem with their house mother Mrs. Slater. The woman has become increasingly strict and demanding over the years, making life in the sorority miserable. Vickie, the sister most incensed by Mrs. Slater’s actions, leads the rest of her sisters in a playing a prank on the old woman, but the “prank” ends in the death of the house mother. The sisters hastily decide to hide the body in the sorority’s unused swimming pool while they can have a graduation party that evening, but people begin dying one by one during the night, and Mrs. Slater’s body is no longer in the pool. Was she really dead when they sank her into the pool’s murky depths?

The Pool (2001)

The skull-masked killer in The Pool (2001).
The Pool (also released as Swimming Pool) is a German-produced, English-language slasher film, and it features James McAvoy in one of his earliest role (who may or may not be the masked killer seen here).

As part of their celebration for graduating from an elite school, a group of friends break into a complex that houses swimming pools and water slides. Unknown to them, a killer has joined the party. Wearing a skull mask and wielding a machete, the mysterious menace slices up multiple swimmers before the rest of them realize anything is amiss. As their numbers dwindle, the survivors realize that the killer might have been among them the entire time.

Swimfan (2002)

Ben tries to save Amy in Swimfan (2002).
Swimfan has a lot in common with Fatal Attraction, including an attempted drowning. (pictured: Jesse Bradford and Shiri Appleby)

Ben lives his life in the pool. Usually, he swims fast laps to prepare for meets. When Madison seduces Ben like a mythological Siren, the pool becomes a lot more interesting. Soon, she drowns him in emails filled with devoted love and longing. A one-night stand whirlpools into a dangerous obsession. Eventually, someone will be pulled under. “I felt like there’s a big difference between the way a guy who spends all day in the gym looks, and the way a guy who spends all day in the pool looks,” actor Jesse Bradford says of his training, “so the only way to do it was to really swim.”

Leeches! (2003)

Giant leeches attack a man in Leeches! (2003).
Leeches is campy and ridiculous.

The Lakecrest College swim team will do anything for a competitive edge. For certain members of the team, that means taking dangerously large doses of steroids. When the swimmers take a dip in a nearby lake, they unintentionally share their steroids with the leeches who feed on their ‘roided blood. The performance-enhanced leeches grow to a monstrous size and begin killing people in and out of the water. The only hope to stop the giant leeches is in a final confrontation in a swimming pool.

The Drownsman (2014)

Madison is lowered into a tub in The Drownsman (2014).
The Drownsman is more about pools of water rather than swimming pools specifically. (pictured: Michelle Mylett)

“I thought ‘what would freak my ten-year-old self?‘ – well water for one,” explains director Chad Archibald about why he wanted to make a horror film involving hydrophobia. What’s so scary about water? Its formlessness, its power? Or, according to The Drownsman, the beings that lurk within it. After almost drowning in a lake, the sight of pools and bathtubs fills Madison with fear. Suffocating in lake water she meets something darker than the lake’s abyss. When her friends try to help heal her hydrophobia, they open the floodgates to a darker dimension. What they find there might drown them all. 

12 Feet Deep (2017) 

Two sisters trapped under a pool cover in 12 Feet Deep (2017).
Nora-Jane Noone and Alexandra Park star in 12 Feet Deep as Bree and Jonna.

Sisters Bree and Jonna have fun swimming at the public pool until Bree loses her engagement ring. As they search the bottom of the 12-foot-deep pool, a fiberglass cover quickly seals them in. Tension fills the Olympic-sized swimming pool. Between their escape attempts, the sisters dive into their past. Will they heal the wounds that they share before they run out of air? In 12 Feet Deep, water alters between a violent and beautiful visual. “Water is inherently atmospheric as a visual and layers instant production value to the image,” says director Matt Eskandari. “You can make it look ethereal or eerie or frightening, all with a single well-composed shot.”

The Pool (2018)

Day holds Koi at the bottom of an empty swimming pool in The Pool (2018).
The Pool is a Thai film from writer/director Ping Lumpraploeng. (pictured: Theeradej Wongpuapan and Ratnamon Ratchiratham)

Relaxed in his floaty, Day is unaware that the pool water drains beneath him. Waking from an accidental nap, he finds the water is too low to pull himself out. Hope is revived when his girlfriend, Koi, shows up. However, she jumps in without noticing the low water levels, stranding them. Before long, the pool is empty, leaving them in a cement pit. When an alligator falls into the pit, the empty pool transforms into a cage match where everyone must fight to the death for survival

Night Swim (2024)

Kerry Condon swims at night in Night Swim (2024).
Night Swim began as a short film of the same title made in 2014. (pictured: Kerry Condon)

There is a pool in the backyard of many suburban homes. Within them, sinister secrets lurk beneath the surface. The Waller family learns that their home carries a history that they can’t wash away when games of Marco Polo are rudely interrupted by a demonic being. Water has the power to give life. It also has the power to possess. Members of the family start acting strange, eventually lashing out in violence and flooded with rage. “The water’s dangerous, and it’s urgent,” director Bryce McGuire says. “That’s why I like the water, because it gives something to the film that’s not fake. Water is real, and everything was wet for wet.”

More Horror Films Featuring Swimming Pools

  • Pieces (1982) – A killer is on the loose at a college campus, and a particularly brutal slaying at a swimming pool is one of the first murders.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) – Though not solely focused on a swimming pool, the pool party scene in Freddy’s Revenge where Freddy claims the lives of multiple teens is a pivotal and memorable part of the film.
  • Ring 2 (1999) – The fresh water of a swimming pool is used in an attempt to drain Sadako’s power in this sequel.
  • The Swimmers (2014) – Consumed by guilt, a pregnant woman commits suicide by jumping off the diving board of a drained pool. Her spirit returns to the mortal realm to haunt her lover. 
  • It Follows (2014) – Faced with an entity that can only been seen by the people cursed by it, Jay and her friends use a swimming pool to try to locate and stop the monster.
  • Death Pool (2017) – A traumatic experience as a child leads a man to grow up to be a serial killer who drowns women in swimming pools.
  • Drowning Echo aka Nereus (2018) – When Sara visits her friend’s apartment complex, she discovers that the pool is thirsty for blood. She has nightmares of water coming to life and dragging her into the depths. When she wakes up floating in the pool, she knows her nightmares aren’t dreams at all. They are a warning, and it may be too late to listen. 
  • Pool Party Massacre (2017) – In this comedy horror, socialites sunbathe by a pool that will soon run red with their blood. 
  • Water (2019) – A young family moves into a new home, thinking they’ve found paradise. They soon learn that the beautiful house may be haunted by a force that finds strength in their backyard pool. 
  • Blood in the Water (2022) – A sadist (to the tune of John Kramer/Jigsaw) captures a group of strangers who have committed crimes without punishment. To right this wrong, they are chained in a swimming pool where they must survive three minutes with a hungry shark.

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Meet The Author

Kasey Rae is an artist, writer, and filmmaker, residing in the mountains of New York. Her favorite horror films are Nightmare on Elm Street and The Descent.