My Favorites of Cosmic Horror

Cosmic horror is a journey of dread-inducing feelings of vast insignificance due to the grand scale of the universe and several inconceivable threats. It often drives the characters to madness when facing horrors beyond man’s merger comprehension.

Existential dread is the main driving force of cosmic horror. If we push aside horrors, monsters, and the other details that come with it, cosmic horror is mainly about man’s infinitesimal role in the universe.

Look up at the night sky and wonder just how small we are in comparison to the universe. We’re tiny. Just a tiny little lentil in the soup pot of the cosmos.

We can look at Lovecraft as one of the fathers of cosmic horror. Another name for cosmic horror can be changed to “Lovecraftian horror”. His tales are often filled with narratives that fit the theme (and are a little outdated to modern ears if you want to read them).

I love cosmic horror and I always have. My first exposure to the genre was that of Hellboy and Aliens as a kid. It drove me insane, no pun intended.

I decided to compile my some favorite examples of cosmic horror for you to check out if you haven’t.

Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy)

If you’ve been following the blog for a while then you know how much I love Annihilation. I have a whole write-up of how the film and novels impacted my art.

This series blends both cosmic horror and biological horror in a way that does entice the viewer. Be aware that the movie differs from the books but I enjoy both.

“Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead”

The Ritual

What’s better than five friends hiking in memory of a deceased friend? Five friends meeting unspeakable horrors while hiking in Sweden’s stunning mountains!

This is why you never leave the hiking trail. Leave the trail you bump into a cult and that’s never fun.

I loved the movie but I have yet to read the book.

The Empty Man

Speaking of cults, what’s a cop to do when searching for a missing girl and then stumbles on a cult trying to summon an unknown entity?

I thought this movie was going to be terrible but I was wrong. It’s very enjoyable!

The Endless

After leaving a cult, two brothers are drawn back after receiving strange messages from members. Did I mention this was a crazy UFO death cult?

This film tricks you with confusion and frustration, things that you can relate to as the brothers are plagued with the same feelings as they are drawn back to the beliefs of the cult.

Shadows of Carcosa

This is a stunning anthology featuring the masters of cosmic horror, such as Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, R.W. Chambers, and so on. Lots of interesting stories and lore to be had here!

Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe

Thomas Ligotti needs to be recognized more for this work. His worlds are hostile and terrifying on an existential level. This book is comprised of his short stories. I recommend reading this one!

The Mist

I’d be wrong to forget to add this to the list. Both the novella and film make you wonder who is worse, the monsters or the humans? Either way, there’s no real happy ending for anyone involved. The events are terrifying and uncertain.

The designs of the eldritch beings are top-tier and some of my favorite creature concepts.

The Thing

Much like Annihilation, I have a whole write-up on this. I tend to watch these films on the worst day of the winter or during a shitty snowstorm. It helps the mood.

Stuck on Outpost 31, scientists dug up something strange and deadly. One that can take the form of anyone.


I don’t often play video games but this is one that I enjoyed playing. If Lovecraft could make a video game, it would be this. Madness happens, and there is little escape.

Also, a video game that carries the horrors of (forced) childbirth like no other. Scared the shit out of me for just some of the scenes involving that alone.

Here’s a video essay I like for it: Visceral Femininity (Warning for some topics)

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is cosmic horror and I will die on this hill. I loved this movie and the slow descent into madness that the characters face.

It also has Willem Dafoe in it. What more could you want?

The Color of Space

An adaption of Lovecraft’s work that features Nicolas Cage. It’s a solid adaption in my opinion and Cage nails it. The plot does stray a bit but it’s still a great watch.

Also, why is purple always a popular color to go with when it comes to cosmic horror? I would like to know.


Hear me out on this, Heredity is both occult and cosmic horror film. Is hell in the same dimension as us? Is it really a demon or an eldritch being?

There’s an existential crisis that is both dreadful AND unavoidable. Many people find this film to be uncomfortable, which is understandable, but for issues outside of the occult. This displays family dynamics that I find to be realistic, especially the mother’s rant. If you know you.

I was honestly bored with horror until Heredity came out. As someone who had suffered a loss in the family (granted, not in the way the film portrays) the after-shock and trauma responses hit home.

I can also watch this movie over and over all while noticing something different about it every time. There are a lot of details to it.

The King in Yellow

The King in Yellow is a book of short stories by Robert W. Chambers. The first four stories reference the “King in Yellow” a cursed play that drives a reader to madness. It’s victorian gothic at its finest in my opinion.

The king is indeed Hastur.

The stories then delve more into romance on the Puritan level. There are also a million editions all featuring different stuff. It’s also out of its copyright so you may be able to snag an edition for free!

Camilla: You, sir, should unmask.

Stranger: Indeed?

Cassilda: Indeed, it’s time. We have all laid aside disguise but you.

Stranger: I wear no mask.

Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask!

Dead Space

Where would I be if I didn’t list Dead Space? It’s got everything one could want: Cultists, the moon, mutations, and madness!

I can’t quite say that I enjoyed two or three but I had a solid blast with the first game! The designs of the Necromorphs always get me.


I don’t think I need to go into detail on why this is a favorite of mine. I highly recommend the comics for this franchise. They handle the concepts of the xenomorph, black goo, and the engineers on a level that’s scarier than the films.

Plus who doesn’t love a strong female lead? I know I do!

My favorite Lovecraft eldritch being is…

Nyarlathotep! The crawling chaos born from Azathoth. Kin to the Nameless Mist and The Darkness itself. He is an outer god of utter chaos. Nyarlathotep is the messenger of the Outer Gods.

In lore terms, He’s a bigger baddie than Cthulhu is.

Love Cosmic horror? Drop a favorite of yours in the comments! Want to support our blog then check out our patreon or sign up for email notifications.

Have a happy Friday! – J

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