The Scariest Island Movies For When Summer Isn’t Enough Of A Bummer

There are certain places where horror just seems to happen. Decrepit haunted houses, supernaturally spooky castles, and creepy caves are places where ghosts and murderers run amuck. However, just because a place doesn't look scary on the surface doesn't mean there isn't much to fear within. In fact, there's a whole genre of thrilling, terrifying, and occasionally flat-out disturbing movies that take place on island time.

Sure, not all these films involve the kinds of islands where one might find a Sandals Resort. However, all the movies do break the mold about what a "scary" setting means.

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So what island horror flicks should you watch this summer? Here are some suggestions for when you're feeling like getting your sunny scaries on.

Fantasy Island

(2020)


In this creepy update on the TV series of the same name, a group of guests arrive on Fantasy Island to make their wildest dreams come true...only to have them turn into living nightmares. If only someone's fantasy was "chill tropical beach vacay," things may have worked out!

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)



The inspiration for movies like The Hunger Games and Hostel can be traced back to the source material for this film. Based on a short story by Richard Connell, The Most Dangerous Game is about a big game hunter who is shipwrecked, and comes to on an island where he becomes the prey of a mad man.

And Then There Were None (1945)



Based on Agatha Christie's famous novel, this film brings eight strangers with well-kept secrets to an island off the coast of England. When they are murdered one by one, they must figure out which of the residents is responsible for bringing them there in the first place. The film is the first of multiple adaptations of Christie's work, which also includes a recent BBC mini series.

Jaws (1975)



When Amity Island is under siege by a shark that likes to snack on swimmers, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) teams up with a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a professional shark hunter (Robert Shaw) to save summer.
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Lord of the Flies (1990)



Based on William Golding's famous novel of the same name (which would later go on to inspire a great deal of pop culture, such as Lost and The Society), Lord of the Flies is about a group of military school cadets who crash land on a deserted island, and ultimately succumb to violence.

Cape Fear (1991)



In this Martin Scorsese-Robert De Niro collaboration, De Niro plays an ex-convict who stalks the family of the lawyer who allowed him to be sent to prison. Okay, so technically, this is a movie about a cape and not an actual island, but the family's sense of entrapment will certainly make you feel surrounded by water.

Jurassic Park (1993)



In the Steve Spielberg classic, a scientist creates the ultimate theme park by bringing long-dead dinosaurs to life with the help of DNA. Unfortunately, being trapped on an island with a bunch of vicious dinos isn't exactly the vacation anyone asked for. At least Jeff Goldblum is here!

The Beach (2000)



In The Beach, an island off the coast of Thailand is filled with cannabis, betrayal, and Tilda Swinton. How will a post-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio cope? Not well, my friends. Not well.

The Island (2005)



So technically, the island in this island movie doesn't actually exist — but since the movie's name is all about the metaphorical one, I'm including it here. In this Michael Bay sci-fi flick, Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson play residents of a high-tech compound who are told that the world is no longer inhabitable. The exception is the mysterious "island," which residents of the compound are sent to via a lottery system. However, it's soon revealed that "the Island" is just shorthand for "having your organs harvested in service of your clone," so, you know — that's scary.
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The Perfect Getaway (2009)



Movies set in Hawaii typically evoke wanderlust, not heart palpitations. This pulpy thriller set on a lush island, however, will definitely keep you guessing. It stars Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich as a couple on their "perfect getaway," whose inadvertent meeting with other vacationers leads to deadly results.

Shutter Island (2010)



Scorsese and DiCaprio team up for this psychological thriller that will definitely not evoke island vibes. That's because the titular island off Boston Harbor is home of the Ashecliffe Hospital, a place where the criminally insane reside. DiCaprio's U.S. Marshall Teddy heads there for answers about a missing woman, but discovers there are much deeper secrets that this island holds than he could ever have expected.
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