10 Terrifying Board Games To Play If You Love Horror Movies

For as long as we humans have been making art, we've been making art about the things that scare us. Horror as a genre has existed in every form, from macabre paintings to spooky songs to the tremendously popular horror movies that have terrified generations of thrillseekers who love the creeping dread of heroes pitted against monsters of every shape and size. Many different aspects of our culture have been indelibly marked by horror — including the seemingly innocent and innocuous board game. 

Of course, there are plenty of movies about games turning deadly, but we're not talking about your ouija boards or even party games like "Bodies Bodies Bodies." No, we're here to discuss friends turning into traitorous villains, vintage monsters raiding cursed towns, hotels you never check out of, and endless onslaughts of ghosts. Our list covers 10 perfect pairings between a spooky, scary movie night and blood-curdling board games that you play in the comfort of your own (hopefully not haunted) house.

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Speaking of haunted houses, one of the most classic tropes in horror movies is just that. Archetypical movies like "House on Haunted Hill" and "Hausu" paved the way for modern incarnations like "The Conjuring," "Crimson Peak," and so many others. Representing far more than just location-based ghost stories, horror is filled with houses that have been haunted by demons, science experiments gone wrong, serial killers, and every manner of possessing spirit imaginable, like some sort of undead homeowners association. Heck, sometimes the house *itself* is the villain.

Avalon Hill's "Betrayal at House on the Hill" is built on the foundations of those films and gives you a way to experience all the different aspects of the genre in a single game. "Betrayal at House on the Hill" is a tile-laying game where you will build the map of the house, adding room tiles as you explore this ridiculously haunted mansion. From the start of the game, your only goal will be to search the house and discover the creepy and unsettling secrets that lurk within, but at some unpredictable point, the Haunt will trigger, and only then will you find out what sort of challenge you and your friends are up against ... and whether your fellow explorers are even who they claim to be.

The beauty of "Betrayal at House on the Hill" is that so much of it is randomized, so you almost never encounter the same scenario twice. One session might put the group up against a giant plant monster whose roots drag its victims into the basement; another could unleash a literal dragon for the party to placate; or maybe you'll discover that one of your friends is a psycho slasher with a ring of invisibility, and it's everyone for themselves as you try desperately to escape. No matter what kind of horror haunts the house, each time you play you'll be in for a nightmarish treat, especially since you never quite know when the person sitting next to you might be the enemy you'll have to face ... or perhaps *your* next victim.


When it comes to classic horror tropes, you can't get more quintessential than the monsters of Ravensburger's "Horrified" series. Based on Universal Studios' films from the 1930s through the '50s, the game tasks you with defending a town against attacks from Frankenstein and his Bride, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. 

In this fully cooperative experience, the players will work together, using their different skills to collect resources from locations around town and escort innocent villagers to safety. Each of the monsters has unique rules, victory conditions, and challenge levels so that you can customize your experience each time you play. For example, to beat Dracula, you need to destroy four of his coffins and then defeat the bloodsucking vampire himself, whereas with the Wolf Man, you must discover the cure for lycanthropy and give it to him. The first time through the game you can opt to play against two monsters to get the hang of the gameplay, but if you are looking for a real edge-of-your-seat adventure, we recommend throwing three or four monsters into the mix. If you like the game and want a more modern twist, there is a second standalone version that features cryptids from around the U.S. called "Horrified: American Monsters."

Mansions of Madness

If otherworldly, cosmic horror is more your jam, you can't go wrong with "Mansions of Madness: Second Edition" from Fantasy Flight Games. This game embraces the lore created by H.P. Lovecraft, and is the perfect accompaniment to films like John Carpenter's "In the Mouth of Madness" or the 2020 Nicolas Cage film "Color out of Space." 

"Mansions of Madness: Second Edition" is a fully cooperative, app-driven board game that sets the players to explore the twisting streets of Innsmouth and the halls of sprawling estates in the hills of Arkham. The play style is similar to that of "Betrayal at House on the Hill" in the sense that you will build a map of tiles as you explore, but instead of random adventures, the game is scenario-based. During a session, players will explore the environment, search for clues, solve complex puzzles, interact with civilian characters, and fight creatures from beyond the pale that inflict not only physical harm but can also tear your mind apart as well.

The integrated app is one of the things that makes "Mansions of Madness: Second Edition" so successful. It manages all aspects of the game, from revealing the map tile by tile to managing combat to doling out storyline beats and providing interactive puzzles. It even plays ambient music to set the mood so that you can immerse yourself completely in the game's betentacled glory.

The Bloody Inn

Say haunted houses and cursed towns are not your cup of tea. Well then, perhaps being part of a dysfunctional and bloodthirsty family might be. Many horror movies have explored the idea of "families who slay together staying together," such as the most infamous film in the genre, "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre." Its gruesome brutality and revolting portrayal of the family unit established the trope and created a blueprint for future films to riff on. Some more modern incarnations like "Ready or Not" and "Get Out" hide the family's predilections for murder behind the facade of civility, but no matter how different these families may first appear from one another, the horror remains nonetheless.

In the board game sphere, "The Bloody Inn" takes this theme and sets your family up as killer concierges. Set in rural France in the 1800s, the game has everyone playing part of a twisted, greedy family that owns an inn. Together, you have a dastardly plan to rob and murder your richest guests, while turning some of those patrons into co-conspirators. Each turn, you'll be bribing or murdering guests, hiding the bodies, and stealing all the cash you can carry, while trying to avoid rousing the suspicion of the local police. If you've left any corpses laying about, you'll need to pay off the grave digger to cover up your mistake. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins. The narrative that "The Bloody Inn" tells is darkly humorous, but plenty violent and great for those uncomfortable family gatherings.

Dead of Winter

There'd be no way to write this list without including the most classic horror creatures — zombies. Be they shambling undead slowly advancing on us from "Night of the Living Dead" or the terrifying crash of a cannibalistic tidal wave running at broken neck speeds to hunt us down for our tender brains such as the zombies from "Train to Busan," zombies are permanently on the minds of many filmmakers and board game designers alike (presumably gnawing through their skulls).

"Dead of Winter" is a cooperative survival game where players will work together to protect their colony of survivors from the hunger of the undead hordes. The game is set in the middle of a terrible blizzard, and supplies are running low. Each player will lead a group of characters in scouring nearby locations to find food, medicine, and other necessities while also shoring up the defenses of your shared holdout. This wouldn't be too complicated, except that each player has a secret objective they must achieve by the end of the game to win, which will distract them from having everyone else's best interests in mind. Also, to make matters worse, one or more players may just be a traitor who could be actively working against the colony, making it all the more suspicious when your "friend" *swears* that they don't have any more rations to contribute to the community, despite having spent the last turn rummaging around in a grocery store.

Tensions are always high in "Dead of Winter." Every action you take has the possibility of hurting and even killing your characters, lowering the morale of the colony, and attracting more zombies. As you play, you'll draw story cards that help form a narrative around your harrowing struggle to survive and present some tough choices that can impact everyone at the table — traitor or not. If you are looking for an entertaining evening full of the living dead, then make sure to check out "Dead of Winter."

The Thing: Infection At Outpost 31

Human traitors can be terrifying as they go against the idea of the community and embrace their own selfish wants, but traitors who only *look* human are even more horrifying because you can't always understand their motives. The 1982 science fiction horror movie "The Thing" is an absolute masterpiece of depicting the mind-melting paranoia of suddenly becoming aware that the people you are isolated with might not be what they appear to be, but instead could be malicious, shapeshifting alien parasites that specialize in mimicking people and animals ... at least until they erupt into hundreds of teeth, eyes, and cavernous jaws.

"The Thing: Infection At Outpost 31" is a direct interpretation of the film. You and your friends will take on the roles of the researchers and will (mostly) work together to gather supplies, fulfill missions, and ultimately try to escape the cursed outpost via helicopter. Unlike many other traitor games where your secret identity is established before the game starts, in "The Thing: Infection At Outpost 31," players can be converted into monsters mid-game. The monsters' goal is to sabotage the humans' efforts and get onto the helicopter without anyone suspecting what they are. The group can use a blood test to try to suss out the imposters, but as the game progresses, you have fewer tests to use, making concrete evidence of someone's guilt or innocence increasingly impossible to establish. 

As the end of the game grows closer, things get direr and you'll be watching all of your teammates with a wary eye because you won't truly know who's still human until the chopper lifts off and the game draws to a close. "The Thing: Infection At Outpost 31" is an excellent adaptation and perfectly captures the feel of the movie. If you are a fan of the film, make sure to get your pseudopods on this game.

Zombie Teenz Evolution

Do you love zombies, but find yourself looking for something a little more lighthearted? If you need something on the level of "Ernest Scared Stupid" or "Anna and the Apocalypse," where kids and teenagers are the only things standing between us and the inevitable doom of being munched by the unliving, then you might want to try "Zombie Teenz Evolution."

Geared towards players ages 8 and up, "Zombie Teenz Evolution" doesn't focus on the gory side of zombies, but instead plays out like a Disney original movie where everything is a little goofy and a lot of fun. In "Zombie Teenz Evolution," your town is under attack by bumbling zombies, and you and your friends will need to work together to collect the ingredients needed to make an antidote and save the world.

The game has a legacy element where, with each game you play, you have chances to open mystery envelopes that can have extra content like new characters, items, rules, and even comic-style story panels that can be added to the guide to help you discover why the characters are in this undead predicament. As the players get better at the game, the difficulty increases, ensuring that the (gentle) pressure is always on throughout the campaign. While geared towards a younger audience, "Zombie Teenz Evolution" is still plenty of fun for adults who are interested in a decidedly less dire romp through the zombie apocalypse. 

Ghost Stories

What's a horror movie night without some ghosts? Some of the creepiest and most disturbing horror movies about ghosts have come out of Asia, where the protagonists often aren't doing more than simply trying to survive, and frequently don't manage that. Movies like "The Wailing" and "Incantation" are perfect for setting the mood to play "Ghost Stories" because it's a merciless game where 9 times out of 10, the ghosts will crawl up out of the darkness and destroy you.

In "Ghost Stories," players are Taoist monks trying to defend a remote village from wave after wave of ghosts being controlled by the Lord of Hell, Wu-Feng. The village consists of a grid of locations that can provide benefits but can also be wrecked by the oncoming spirits. Each turn, you'll be moving to locations and rolling dice to try to exorcise terrifying ghosts named things like Hope Killer and Bone Cracker, all hell-bent on haunting the town and finally reclaiming the ashes of their master so that Wu-Feng can be reborn into the world and finally destroy it. If the players can manage to survive the ghostly onslaught, then they will face an incarnation of Wu-Feng himself in a life-or-death final battle for the fate of the world. 

The basic game is challenging enough, but if you desire even more nail-biting action, you can raise the difficulty level by adding more incarnations of Wu-Feng, and there are also multiple expansions that add new ghosts, incarnations, locations, and scenarios — including one that allows a fifth player to command the horde as Wu-Feng himself.

Escape The Dark Castle

With gameplay reminiscent of a film like "Cube" and the ambiance of a 1980s horror film like "The Keep," "Escape The Dark Castle" is a terrifying romp through a gloomy castle full of deadly traps and monsters. The players start as prisoners trying to escape the bowels of the titular castle, which takes the form of a deck of large, horrifically illustrated tarot-sized cards. With each turn, players will flip the top card and face down whatever monsters, traps, or challenges they find in that room as they try to escape. The cards represent another room in the castle, which most often presents the players with choices that can have grisly consequences or can also reveal creatures they must defeat. Gameplay feels very similar to a "Choose Your Own Adventure" game, but the results of many of the encounters will be determined with dice that, more often than not, feel like they are working against you. 

Escaping the castle is challenging. You'll never feel like you have enough weapons or potions, and by the time you reach the end boss, your characters will be beaten, bruised, and very likely near death. If even one character dies, you all fail, so surviving the hellish traverse through the haunted halls will be a harrowing adventure indeed.

Dead Man's Cabal

Movies often portray necromancers as disturbed wizards with an obsession for bringing their loved one back from the dead, but as a lonely death-affiliated magic user, you have bigger plans ... party plans. In "Dead Man's Cabal," you will be competing against your fellow necromancers to raise a horde of celebration-ready corpses by researching taboo rituals, collecting the necessary ingredients (skulls, bones, and runes), and betting on your own success. Each turn, you'll be adding a colored skull to the board, which will push a different skull off and allow you to take the associated action with its color. Afterward, everyone will take a shared group action. All of these actions will get you the remains you need to complete rituals and summon your guest list. At the end of the game, the necromancer who earned the most points from their ghastly gathering is the winner.

While movies like "The Invitation" show our monsters enjoying high-class festivities, "Dead Man's Cabal" has some wonderfully humourous components between the tiny skulls and bones to the hysterical variety of party-ready zombies. You'll raise undead punks, toga-toting frat ghouls, and decaying fashionistas alike. Its tongue-in-cheek humor mixed with the gory details of necromancy make it a devilishly fun way to round out your evening.