Horrifying Horses in Horror Movies

The Cell
Credit: New Line Cinema

The best horror movies are terrifying; some would even call them masterpieces.

They’re psychological, they build suspense and loiter in our minds well after the closing credits. To get you to the point where you’re scared out of your wits, it’s a genre that utilizes so many subjects for their frights, including animals.

There are some classics examples of such, from Jaws, Wolves, Anaconda, even Arachnophobia which plays on one of the most common phobias people experience in America. However, for all the animals on the planet that are connected to the most frightening of films, horses don’t have such an obvious history.

While horses might not feature so often in scary movies, horror does feature regularly in horse names, and many of them are right under our noses. Owners have to get creative with horse names, and you can often find horror references on your local racetrack. Both Reach for the Moon and Shark Bay, are amongst the runners in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in the Coral horse racing listings, they both have horror undercurrents, conjuring up images of werewolves and sharks as seen in the films Wolves and Jaws. Other scary horse names include Satan’s Son, Reaper’s Call, and Dead Man’s Hand, which just shows the links between the majestic four-legged animal, and the world of horror is a little more prominent than you maybe think. While everyone can find these horrific names in the relatively sedate surroundings of the racecourse, the same cannot be said for some of the horses from serious horror movies. Although some have less frightening names like Daredevil, they’re more than terrifying in their parts on the screen. Have you seen these excellent horse-related horror movie moments?


Sleepy Hollow

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In the late 18th century, a New York police constable is sent to the Dutch hamlet of Sleepy Hollow following a host of shocking murders, with each one of the victims decapitated. The policeman searches for the culprit of these heinous crimes and soon discovers that the locals have seen a headless mercenary who rides a black horse; they say he’s searching for his missing head. The galloping of the steed and the sound of its breath as the headless horseman bears down on his victims is terrifying; the movie starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton is an Oscar winner and not one to be missed.


The Cell

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Although this is classed as a psychological thriller, one of the standout scenes from the movie features a horse, and it’s one that tests the resolve of anyone’s stomach. Catherine (played by Jennifer Lopez) comes into a room that has a young boy in it and a horse. Catherine tries to talk to the boy, who is so scared he backs off; she starts petting the horse while young Carl cowers in fear against the wall. He looks at a clock on the wall, which starts ticking; Catherine continues her attempts to speak to the boy while the timepiece continues to click forward…. We’ll leave you to watch the clip to see what happens next.


The Ring

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This horror movie is a classic, if you love horror movies, you will undoubtedly have seen this one, based on Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel, and you’ll certainly be able to recall the scene with the horse. The animal in this scene is being transported in a trailer on a ferry. Rachel puts her hand inside to pet it, but the horse becomes spooked, pulling free from his ropes, and manages to kick open the door and break free. The frightened steed runs across the deck, running in and out of the cars; its owner appears as it rears up onto its hind legs, but there’s no stopping it, Rachel runs away in fright, and the horse bolts after her; she ducks at the last minute, leaving the horse to jump over her head and into the icy water below.

As you can see, while horses aren’t often front and center in the popular genre, when they do appear, they make just as striking an impression as any other animal. It will be interesting if we see them feature in 2022 in one of our most anticipated movies listed here on Downright Creepy.