This is where a film is advertised as a {{Horror}} film, but there is no horror. The supernatural elements, monsters, aliens, psycho killers, etc., are a ruse of some kind. Frequently, the heroes just turn out to be schizophrenic or overly paranoid.

This was a major trend in the early American talking pictures; nearly every horror featured the ghosts and ghoulies explained away at the end. It took the one-two punch of ''Film/{{Dracula 1931}}'' and ''Film/{{Frankenstein 1931}}'' to knock the genre out of it.

Compare ThroughTheEyesOfMadness, where the hero's paranoia ''is'' the horror. See also {{Mundanger}}, and ScoobyDooHoax.

Could also overlap with DoingInTheWizard. Not to be confused with a supposed horror film with real monsters that turns out to actually be a dark comedy; for that, you want SlidingScaleOfComedyAndHorror.




* ''Film/AprilFoolsDay''
* ''Film/{{Bug}}''
* ''Catacombs''
* ''Film/CryWolf'' (for the most part)
* ''Film/DonnieDarko'' qualifies as this. Definitely creepy, but never outright horror, despite every poster and trailer of this movie making it look like a slasher with a bunny serial killer.
* ''Film/HideAndSeek'', the darker alternate ending would have definitely put it into horror territory though.
* ''Film/{{Session 9}}''. Or not...
* ''Franchise/ScoobyDoo'' - Though subverted in the animated and live action films, in which the monsters are actually real.
* ''Film/TheVillage''
* ''Film/{{Shrooms}}'', although its also a case of TomatoSurprise.
* ''Film/TheUninvited2009'' is a perfect example of this trope. [[spoiler: Turns out there is no ghost, no monster, the stepmother is not a crazy psycho murderer. Creator/EmilyBrowning's character is just nutso.]]
** Likewise its South Korean inspiration, ''Film/ATaleOfTwoSisters''. [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope Except not]]. There actually ''is'' something supernatural, and we have no idea what it is exactly ([[OurDemonsAreDifferent Demon]]? StringyHairedGhostGirl? HumanoidAbomination?) nor how much influence it had on events prior to its appearance in the last minute of film.]]
* Possible TropeMaker: ''Film/TheCabinetOfDrCaligari''.
* ''Stay'' (2005)
* Obscure [[TheEighties 80's]] horror film ''The Slayer''. After the protagonists are picked off one by one without a monster ever showing up it was pretty obvious one of them is the killer, probably via TomatoSurprise. In fact ''Kay'' [[spoiler: (the FinalGirl) is almost set up this way, Until the actual ''Slayer'' monster thing shows up at the front door during the last few seconds of the film. The appearance of an actual monster was jarring, since people expected there was none. Although among the small cult following it's highly debated whether or not the monster was real due to the MindScrew nature of the flick]].
* Played straight then subverted in the Thai horror film ''Who Are You''.
* ''Film/TheLastExorcism'' Played this cynically straight. [[spoiler: Until the last 5 minutes or so, where it fantastically subverts this. Turning it into RealAfterAll]]. Likely the main reason for its CriticalDissonance.
* ''Film/ShutterIsland''
* ''Film/{{Volver}}'', a rather hilarious (and sad) example.
* ''Film/BlackSwan''
* ''The Last Horror Film''
* ''Lost Signal''
* ''Film/TakeShelter'':...''Maybe''
* ''Film/TheTallMan'': Is a blatant example of this trope, marketing and all.
* ''Film/MonsterAGoGo'': "But there was no monster!" [[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 Joel and the bots]] were not amused. Especially since ''we actually saw the monster on screen killing people'', yet apparently it never existed. And none of this is ever explained, resulting in the film just becoming [[MindScrew completely incomprehensible]]
* The remake of ''Film/DarkWater'' was sold as horror but was actually a drama with supernatural elements. The director went on to disown the released version as the studio insisted on more scares and less drama.
* ''Film/HouseOnHauntedHill1959''

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated: Appears that they like to have it both ways.
** Interestingly enough the schemes in nearly all of the Scooby Doo series are so elaborate the shows manages to go into SciFi territory.