What is the Difference Between Horror and Thriller Movies?

Last Updated on October 6, 2021 by

Is there any better activity on a stormy autumn evening than crawling down on the couch with a large bowl of chips and watching an exciting or scary movie? Probably not! If you are easily frightened it can be good to have a company with someone, but if you are a little brave you can look at yourself. It makes it all the more frightening if you are one who likes horror movies – and if you dare, that is?

But almost everyone has at some point wondered what the difference is between horror and thriller – and also other genres. And who hasn’t said “I want to see a really scary movie tonight”, whereupon the friends suggest a thriller? Or maybe just the opposite – you don’t feel anything too scary but rather exciting and want to see a thriller, and then they start the most unpleasant horror movie ever made.

Therefore, we shall now find out and answer what is really the difference between horror and thriller. And then you have two alternatives to avoid misunderstandings in the future; either you give your friends a lesson in these genres and their differences, or you say a movie title instead of a genre the next time you want a movie.

A horror movie is often creepy or unpleasant in some way and should awaken the viewer’s emotions, and many horror films are about something supernatural. Thrillers are rather intriguing, and can be likened to an unpleasant dick, but do not focus on the murders themselves and do not necessarily contain murders.

A horror film should awaken the emotions of the viewer; one should feel discomfort, fear, fear, tension, and / or be disgusted. Often – but not always – horror films are about something supernatural such as ghosts, demons, werewolves, vampires, zombies, curses, evils, aliens, and so on.

Horror movies can also be about more natural things, such as mass murderers and the like, but then you focus on the murders and not on the murder investigation. Furthermore, a horror movie with murder is often – if not always – about very extraordinary murders, something that may never even have happened in reality. At other times it is inspired by real murders that have been very startling.

Thrillers are rather exciting than creepy, but many thrillers can be likened to unpleasant divers. However, they are more real than horror movies and contain nothing supernatural. Often, however, they are about murder, but then more realistic ones and you focus on the murder investigation and not on the murder itself. Here it is rather the opposite; sometimes you can’t even see the murders, but only hear or otherwise understand that a murder has been committed.

Just like horror movies, a thriller can sometimes be about murders that have happened in reality but still without focusing on the murders themselves. These murders have often been spectacular in other ways; an unexpected killer, for example, which makes it more interesting to follow the murder investigation. The fact that there are many question marks in the murder investigation or that many secrets are revealed is other things that can make it interesting to focus on the murder investigation itself instead of the murder or murder, whether the film is about real or fictional murder.

As we said, there is no need for murder in a thriller, though it is common. The most important thing that makes the movie a thriller is that it is exciting. In some cases, it may be about disappearances and the like. It can be difficult to distinguish between a thriller and a drama film, as the drama is often exciting as well. However, a thriller is exciting in a somewhat uncomfortable or mysterious way, while a drama film is rather interesting and is very much about emotions and relationships as well as the characters’ personal development.

There is also something called psychological thrillers and it counts as a subgenre of the dick. Psychological thrillers focus on evil, revenge, and tragic irony – often with some horror. These are thus more unpleasant and scary and here one also goes into the murderer’s story and why he commits the crimes and can include both social and psychological factors. Thus, a psychological thriller goes deeper and psychology is a necessary factor, which is not always the case in other thrillers.

Are thrillers the same thing as horror movies?

Both yes and no, really. It’s not the same thing, but you could say that a thriller is a form of horror – a sub-category or more specific category, simply. Just as psychological thrillers, horror focuses on more specific areas of the horror genre, namely more “classic” horror, often about ghosts and the like.

Often you use the word shudder when referring to fear, so many people believe that different words mean the same thing. This is therefore not true since shakers have a more specific approach. Moreover, horror can be a thriller rather than a horror movie, but then a more unpleasant and scary one. So many horrors are a bit of a middle ground between horror and thriller. To give some examples of movies that count as horror, we can mention, for example, Psycho, The Ghosts at Hill House, The Shining, Poltergeist, The Sixth Mind, The Obsessed, and The Mist.

So it is quite clear that horror is something between a horror movie and a thriller, sometimes more in one way or another and sometimes just between these genres. However, there should be an unpleasant, eerie, and a little scary feeling in the movies – more than in a regular thriller, but maybe not always as much as in a horror movie.

Some examples of famous horror films

The Grudge

There are also two sequels to this film, however, the last film was never shown in cinema, but was only released as a movie. The first film came in 2004 and is about an American exchange student in Tokyo caring for an old woman in his home – who is haunted.

The Conjuring

The film came in 2013 and there is a sequel as well as a spinoff on the film. This is considered a “horror thriller”, although most would probably think it is more a horror movie than a thriller. The film is based on a true story and is about a haunted house that Ed and Lorraine Warren examined.

The Ring

No one has missed The Ring that came in 2002, and got a sequel in 2005. The film is a re-recording of Japanese Ringu from 1998 and is about a movie with a curse – those who see the movie die within a week – in the film thus. However, The Ring should be safe to see. If you dare.

Terror on Elm Street

A classic from the ’80s that received several sequels and which have also been newly recorded. Here we see Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger who haunts dreams – and those who have been murdered by Freddy Krueger in a dream then die in strange ways.

Some examples of known thrillers

The Sixth Sense

A 1999 movie about a 9-year-old boy being sent to a child psychologist because he is scared and confused. He tells him he can see and talk to the dead. The film is known for its interesting ending, but if anyone has missed the film – or forgotten how it ends and wants to see it again – then we should not reveal the ending. However, we can say that it is an exciting and interesting movie!

Secret window

A 2004 drama thriller starring Johnny Depp. This film is also based on a novel by Stephen King, and is about the author Rainey who is accused of plagiarism. Whoever accuses him becomes both threatening and violent and Rainey takes the help of a private detective. But it turns out that he can not trust anyone, and that nothing is as he believes.

Shutter Island

A psychological thriller from 2009 starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which is based on Dennis Lehane’s best-selling book. The film is about a murderous mental patient who has escaped from a mental hospital, located on an island. It is believed that the patient is hiding on the island, and a crime commissioner is sent there to find her. It turns out that the mental hospital carries many dark secrets.


Horror and thriller are two different genres, although they can sometimes be very similar. A horror movie is creepier, while a thriller is more exciting. You could say that the criterion for a horror movie is that it is scary and the criterion for a thriller is that it is exciting. Then, of course, a thriller can be scary, and a horror movie is often thrilling – but if the movie is mostly thrilling, it is often a thriller, and a movie that is above all scary is often a horror movie.

A thriller about a killer focuses primarily on the killer himself and the murder investigation, while a horror movie about a killer focuses on the murder. When it comes to thrillers, it is common for them to be about murder, but they can also be about other things – mysterious disappearances, for example. Horror movies can deal with a wide variety of things – ghosts, demons, vampires, aliens, zombies, curses, and so on.

You could also say that a horror movie is usually unreal to some extent, even when dealing with such things as murder they are often unreal and basically always fictional. Thrillers are often more realistic and sometimes even based on real events. So they are usually about things that could happen, or even happened.