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In the Mood for a Scary Movie? Here Are 12 That Are Set in DC.

Zombies! In the White House!

Image via iStock

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
Is there any trade more honest than hunting vampires? Probably not— which is why Honest Abe picks up the sport in this fantasy (or was it?) thriller. Its audience reception was middling, but we say go for this film if you’re ready to lean into the absurdity of it all. 

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
What’s more Halloween than a classic alien-invasion movie? If you’re charmed by quintessentially cheesy 1950s visual effects, this one’s for you. The trailer features a scene of an animated UFO leveling the Washington Monument. Our first thought: how long did that shut the thing down for?

The Exorcist (1973)
One of the most iconic horror movies of all time — and the first one to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture —is famously set in Georgetown. After watching, you can visit the long, narrow  “Exorcist” steps, which are now a Historic Landmark. And although the house that inspired the events is actually in nearby Prince George’s County,  we’re going to urge movie fans to leave its current residents be. DC also gets some recognition in film’s sequels, “Exorcist II: The Heretic” and “The Exorcist III.”  

Hannibal (2001)
Ridley Scott’s sequel to The Silence of the Lambs may not have Jodie Foster, but it does feature Anthony Hopkins returning to play the Chianti-swilling serial killer. The movie jumps around locations, but you can spot the Capitol building in the trailer, and a shot of Julianne Moore (the new Clarice Starling) outside Union Station

Hollow Man (2000)
Kevin Bacon stars as a scientist gone mad after becoming permanently invisible—as expected, chaos ensues. Much of the movie was shot in D.C., and this is one of the rare productions allowed to film in front of the Pentagon

The Invasion (2007)
Another alien invasion flick, this one starring Nicole Kidman. She plays a psychiatrist who battles the otherworldly creatures that are trying to take possession of the bodies of Earthly citizens. It’s also proof that even fictional characters must pay their Metro fare

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
This horror-mystery centers around a Washington Post reporter played by Richard Gere. The character finds himself wrapped in a series of events revolving around a supernatural moth-like being. Maybe he could’ve bought some mothballs? Just an idea. 

The Purge: Election Year (2016)
A dystopian political horror movie dropping in 2016 likely felt a little too close to reality for some people (especially last year, when an ambulance blasted the film’s telltale siren through DC streets). It’s the third film in The Purge franchise, and it follows a presidential candidate trying to resist assassination attempts on an annual holiday—the one night a year in which all crime is legal. There have been two more Purge movies since this entry; The Forever Purge dropped this past July.  

Residential Evil: Retribution (2012)
Although part of the fifth Resident Evil movie takes place in DC, it was actually primarily filmed in Canada. However, the shot of seasoned zombie fighter Milla Jovovich standing on top of a post-apocalyptic White House is still fairly cool. 

Scary Movie 3 (2003)
With a cast that includes Anna Faris, Regina Hall, and Queen Latifah, the third film in the infamous comedy/horror series features nods to DC. A crop circle reading “Attack Here!” is imposed upon a farm outside the District, and some presidential antics come courtesy of comedian Leslie Nielsen. 

The Werewolf of Washington (1973)
If you’re looking for a scary movie doubling as anti-Nixon satire, press play. The movie might be terrible, but we appreciate the nod to the city in the title. And some say that the worst horror movies are actually the best, right? 

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)
The all-star cast from the original 2009 Zombieland returns for round two of farcical zombie slaughtering. This time, it features a homebase in an abandoned White House—because, why not?

Jason Fontelieu
Editorial Fellow