The anti-romcom: 13 horror films about seriously toxic relationships

Posted by for Entertainment

From co-dependency to gaslighting, these horror films are guaranteed to get under the skin of anyone who’s ever endured a bad relationship

From nightmarish pandemics, to serial killer slasher fests, to supernatural spooks, there is guaranteed to be a horror movie out there to suit (and scare) everyone.

One particular horror theme that has universal appeal, of course, is that of the toxic relationship. And we’re not just talking obsessive exes: we mean all those insidious little details that can sour a previously good partnership, and turn it into something truly sinister.

With that in mind, then, we’ve dug out 13 very good horror films about very bad relationships.

Don’t blame us, though, if they burrow under your skin and keep you up all night long…

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man begins with a tense escape, as Cecelia – desperate to escape her controlling partner – flees his remote mansion in the middle of the night.

With help from her friends and sister, she goes into hiding and slowly works on rebuilding her confidence. And, just a short while later, she learns that her ex has died by suicide, leaving her a generous portion of his vast fortune. But, as a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, our protagonist’s sanity slowly begins to unravel.

Could Adrian really still be alive? And, if so, how can Cecelia ever hope to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see?

Read our review of The Invisible Man (which is currently available to rent on Amazon Prime) here.

Get Out

After dating for about five months, Chris is ready to meet girlfriend Rose’s parents. Sort of, anyway: she hasn’t told mum and dad that her boyfriend is Black, and he’s worried they’re not going to respond well when they come face-to-face for the first time.

Thankfully, his fears on that front seem to be unfounded. If anything, Rose’s parents seem almost too friendly towards him. And that’s when things start to get weird. Really weird.

But, with Chris’ mobile phone randomly unplugged and out of power, will he survive the horrors ahead?

Get Out is available to rent on Amazon Prime now.

Let The Right One In

When Oskar, a sensitive, bullied boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden, meets his new neighbour, the mysterious and moody Eli, they strike up a friendship and slowly form a close bond.

Over time, though, it soon becomes apparent that Eli is no ordinary young girl. In fact, there’s every chance she knows more about that string of bloody local murders than she’s letting on.

Gulp.

Let The Right One In is available on Shudder (via Amazon Prime).

Midsommar

Midsommar
Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor in Midsommar. DSCF9328.RAF

With their relationship in trouble, Dani joins her boyfriend Christian on a make-or-break trip to an ancestral commune in northern Sweden. Once there, they are invited by the forever-smiling villagers to partake in celebrations for their fabled midsummer festival – and they are all too happy to accept. However, it isn’t long before the seemingly pastoral paradise transforms into a sinister, dread-soaked nightmare as the locals reveal their terrifying agenda…

Read our review of Midsommar (which is currently available on Amazon Prime) here.

The Shining

Yes, The Shining is about a haunted hotel. Yes, it’s about cabin fever. Yes, it’s about a man’s slow descent into madness. It is also, though, very much a horror film about a marriage – and not a great one at that.

As the film begins, Jack and Wendy seem to have a happy enough relationship. As time goes on, though, he begins undermining her, hiding things from her, berating her for disturbing his work. In the full 146-minute cut, we learn more about his history of violence – something which is only hinted at in the theatrical cut.

We speed our way, of course, to that famous confrontation between husband and wife on the stairs of The Overlook Hotel, as she tearfully pleads with him to see reason. Will he listen?

The Shining is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

The Invitation

The Invitation
A scene from The Invitation. .

Nobody likes spending time with their ex. And, while we’re on that subject, nobody likes spending time with their new beau’s ex, either. You have to feel for Will and Kira, then, who foolishly accept an invitation to a dinner party at his own ex-wife’s house.

This scenario, in itself, is already our idea of a nightmare. However, Will soon realises that his ex and her new husband have seriously sinister plans for their guests – and that’s when the true horror begins.

The Invitation is available on Netflix.

mother!

Quite possibly one of the strangest horror movies in recent times, mother! sees a young woman spend her days renovating the Victorian mansion that she lives in with her husband in the countryside. When a stranger knocks on the door one night, he becomes an unexpected guest in their home. Later, his family also arrive to make themselves welcome. But why is the young woman’s husband so friendly and accommodating to them all? And why is he behaving so strangely towards her…?

mother! is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Audition

Serving as a morality tale on the power dynamic between men and women, this unnerving horror film follows Aoyama, a widower who decides to start dating again. Rather than opt for the traditional route, though, he teams up with a film-producer friend to have women “audition” for the role of his girlfriend.

He soon becomes intrigued by the withdrawn, gorgeous Asami, and they begin a relationship. Over time, though, he begins to realise that there’s far more to Asami than he first realised. A lot more.

Make sure you stick around for that terrifying climax, yeah?

Audition is available to rent on Amazon Prime now.

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things isn’t going to be available for streaming until later in the autumn, but the trailer has left us counting down the days.

The story is oh-so-simple: after just six weeks of dating, Jake has invited his new girlfriend to his childhood home so that she can get to know his parents. Just before they begin their road trip, though, an uninvited thought lodges in the mind of the young woman in the passenger seat: ‘I’m thinking of ending things.’

“Though she doesn’t say it aloud, the thought is suddenly so insistent that she’s afraid Jake can hear it in her head,” reads the official synopsis.

“This won’t be an easy ride.”

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is available on Netflix from 18 September, but don’t worry: you can read all about it here.

Ready Or Not

Samara Weaving in the film READY OR NOT. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
Samara Weaving in the film Ready or Not.

This brutal and brilliant film kicks off as Grace ties the knot with the man of her dreams at his family’s luxurious estate. To “officially” become part of his family, though, she has to do one more thing: play a game.

As per the La Domas’ family’s wedding night, the game is selected at random from a box passed down through the generations, given to them by the family’s mysterious benefactor, Mr. Le Bail. But, when Grace draws “Hide and Seek”, she has no clue whatsoever that she’s drawn the one card that results in death.

Laden down by her heavy white wedding gown, our heroine’s task is simple: to hide from midnight until dawn while her new in-laws hunt her down with guns, crossbows and other weapons. Will she and her new marriage survive the marriage?

Read our review of Ready Or Not (which is currently available to rent on Amazon Prime) here.

The Fly

Think this is just your standard body horror? Think again. The Fly kicks off as Seth Brundle, a self-involved research scientist, invites Veronica Quaife, a science-magazine reporter, to his lab. There, he prepares to demonstrate his “telepod,” which can theoretically transfer matter through space. As they grow closer over the next few weeks, she inadvertently goads Seth into experimenting with human beings rather than inanimate objects. But, when Seth himself unwittingly enters the telepod alongside a tiny housefly, the catastrophic result has dire consequences for his and Ronnie’s relationship…

The Fly is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Slither

Every bit as witty as it is repulsive, Slither is ostensibly about alien parasites. If you look beyond the invasive slug-like species, though, you’ll find it’s also about the complex layers of abusive and toxic relationships. Grant, you see, is a possessive asshole. The kind of possessive asshole who refuses to let his wife, Starla, spend time with her male colleagues. Who cheats. Who lies. Who thinks sex is a wife’s marital duty. And who heads out drinking all night long if said marital duty goes unfulfilled.

Grant, of course, gets his much-deserved comeuppance as the film progresses, and the truth of his ugly nature becomes clear to the entire town. Starla, meanwhile, completely reclaims herself transforms into the sort of badass horror heroine who refuses to let anyone – especially her deadbeat slug of a husband – hold her back.

Slither (aka the best horror-comedy since Shaun Of The Dead) isn’t currently available for streaming. You can pick up a DVD copy for £4.12 on Amazon, though, if you’re interested. And trust us when we say you really should be interested. 

Gerald’s Game

We’ve waxed lyrical about this Stephen King adaptation before, dubbing it a seriously twisted take on Fifty Shades Of Grey. And we stand by that wholeheartedly.

The film begins as a married couple heads out to a remote cabin in the woods. Their aim, of course, is to reinvigorate their relationship and (just maybe) spice things up in the bedroom. But, when Gerald starts handcuffing Jessie to the bed, his wife suddenly realises that she’s not a fan of BDSM. At all.

Gerald, though, refuses to stop. And it’s around here that everything begins to go terribly, terribly wrong for the duo.

Gerald’s Game is available on Netflix.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Amazon Prime/Netflix/Eric Zachanowich 2019/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Csaba Aknay/A24

Share this article

Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Recommended by Kayleigh Dray