The Best Horror Movies to Watch on Shudder

The horror movie streaming service has some creepy gems to offer up. Here are the best movies on Shudder.

Photo: Alliance/MPI/INCAA

It’s safe to say that the world is a bit weird right now. Much to some people’s surprise, horror movies can often be a way for fans to make sense of things and confront their fears in a safe space. Streaming service Shudder offers a large array of horror movies, TV shows, and even podcasts covering the full spectrum of the macabre. But how do you know where to start?

We’ve put together a guide to some of the best films the service has to offer. The Shudder catalogue is always growing and changing so we’ll keep this updated – head back for the latest additions and new suggestions.

(All entries are available in both UK and US unless stated otherwise!)

Antiviral

Antiviral (2012)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

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Brandon Cronenberg’s directorial debut is a good-looking but icky body horror that delves into the world of celebrity obsession. Caleb Landry-Jones stars as a man who works at a clinic specialising in selling celebrity viruses. In this world super-fans can pay to be infected by their idols’ pathogens making them feel more connected. But warring big businesses want to control the rights to the hottest celeb diseases and a virulent black market has blossomed. Following in his father’s footsteps, this is a smart sci-fi horror that’s not for the squeamish.

Black Rock (2012)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

Directed by Katie Asleton from a screenplay written by her husband, mumblecore darling Mark Duplass, Black Rock is a taut tale of former friends on a girls weekend who are hunted by a group of men after a horrible accident. It’s a somewhat generic story elevated by the performances of Asleton herself, Kate Bosworth, and especially Lake Bell who goes full feral in the fight for survival.

Ryan Reynolds in Buried

Buried (2010)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

Ryan Reynolds stars in this incredibly tense horror thriller from Rodrigo Cortes. Based entirely around a man (Reynolds) in a coffin with a phone and a lighter trying to work out what’s happened to him and why, it’s almost unbearably claustrophobic at times. Will he be rescued in time to save his life? What the devil is going on? And why are there snakes down his trousers? All is revealed over the course of 95 stressful minutes.

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes (2014)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

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This satanic horror takes a swipe at Hollywood as a nervous young starlet, Alex Essoe, sacrifices her body and soul in exchange for fame and fortune. It’s a #metoo movie ahead of its time, and a gross out body horror to boot. It’s directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer who went on to make the not-that-great remake of Pet Sematary from last year, but don’t hold that against them.

Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In (2008)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

Beautiful Swedish supernatural romance between a lonely bullied 12-year-old boy and a little girl (in the film) called Eli who looks 12 too, but most definitely isn’t. It’s a tale of companionship and loyalty but also murder and revenge. Delicate and nuanced, this is one of the most interesting vampire movies of recent years.

Jess Wexler in Teeth

Teeth (2007)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

Vagina Dentata is the mythical condition at the centre of this satirical horror that sees a virginal young woman bite back when she’s pressured into sex. A comedic take on the rape revenge trope, Teeth casts Jess Wexler as the avenging angel taking down the men who try to assault her in a cautionary tale that might feel even more satisfying post Me Too.

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Absentia

Absentia (2017)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

An early feature from Mike Flanagan, the man behind Oculus, Doctor Sleep and The Haunting Of Hill House this is low budget and not entirely polished at the edges but shows early signs of Flanagan’s deft hand at suspense, slow burn hills and emotional horror. The story follows a woman who’s husband has disappeared discover that a strange tunnel might be the key. Well worth checking out.

The Borderlands

The Borderlands (2013)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

British found footage movie with shades of The Wicker Man and Kill List which focuses on a small church in Devon which appears to be experiencing miracles. Men are sent by the Vatican to investigate and discover strange phenomena which could be related to former pagan worship in the area. The Borderlands is a cut above your average horror movie for it’s great chemistry between the lead, dry sense of humour and an absolutely terrifying ending. Released as Final Prayer in the US.

The Pact

The Pact (2012)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

A film of two halves that’s not always entirely successful, The Pact is worth checking out for several terrific scares that’ll have you jumping out of your seats (and then possibly thinking “wait, what?”). Caity Lotz plays a young woman who returns to her childhood home after the death of her mother and disappearance of her sister who starts to experience strange phenomena in the house. Is it something supernatural, or could it be something scarier still? Not entirely consistent but when it works it really works.

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The Transfiguration

The Transfiguration (2016)

Loved Let The Right One In? Check out this similarly arthouse slow-burn vampire-adjacent tale about a troubled teenage boy obsessed with vampires who finds love and redemption through his relationship with an equally damaged girl. It’s set against a backdrop of violent crime in New York and plays like a social realist drama with genre tropes built in.

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

Issa Lopez’s horror fairytale is also set against a background of violence, this time in the Mexican drug cartels. We follow Estrella, a recently orphaned ten year old, who joins up with a group of orphaned kids. Estrella believes she has three wishes, but in her world wishes don’t often come true as planned. Similar in tone to Pan’s Labyrinth, Tigers Are Not Afraid is a beautiful, lyrical fantasy, rich in imagination, juxtaposed against horrific real world events

Spring still

Spring (2014)

This love story from The Endless duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead is a genre mashup of Before Sunrise-esque indie romance and Lovecraftian horror, as a young man flees the USA and travels to Italy where he meets his dream girl. However, she has a dark secret holding her back. Spring is a somewhat Twilight-for-blokes wish fulfilment (she’s not a vampire FYI) but Benson and Moorhead’s movie is full of sympathy and surprise.

The Witch In The Window

The Witch In The Window (2018)

A creepy ghost story which sees a father and his estranged son attempt to fix up an old farmhouse which is haunted by its previous occupant, a malevolent spirit who only grows stronger as the house gets repaired. A family story with successful scares, The Witch in the Window could be a good pick for anyone craving an old fashioned chiller.

Terrified

Terrified (2017)

A weird Argentinian horror with some extremely effective scares, Terrified is probably best avoided by anyone shut in alone prone to hearing strange noises in the house. Terrified begins with a couple who hear sounds coming from the sink and rapidly escalates into a story of multiple ‘hauntings’ by otherworldly creatures, and the paranormal investigators who are trying to crack the case. Non-linear and not exactly packed with logic or explanations, what Terrified does have is scares in spades.

Hideo Nakata's Dark Water

Dark Water (2002)

Remember when J-horror was all the rage and you couldn’t move for long-haired, jangly pasty-face ghosts? Dark Water was one of the best of them. Based on a story by Koji Suzuki and directed by Hideo Nakata – the team behind apex J-horror Ringu – it sees a mother and daughter move to an apartment which seems to have haunted water. Creepy but not gimmicky, there’s a family drama at the centre of this chiller. 

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Maika Monroe in It Follows

It Follows (2014)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

A different kind of infection movie. David Robert Mitchell’s breakout horror hit is a terrifying tale of a sexually transmitted ghost – a shape-shifting ghoul that will relentlessly tail its victim at a walking pace until the curse is passed on. Maika Monroe stars as the latest to be tagged, trying to find a way to either pass the curse on or destroy it forever. Deeply spooky, It Follows will stick with you long after the film has ended.

House Of The Devil

The House Of The Devil (2009)

Ti West’s authentically ‘80s looking homage to ‘Satanic Panic’-era movie making is a very successful slow-burn indie, which sees a young woman take a babysitting job and find herself in grave danger at the hands of her mysterious employers. Comes with a slightly bonkers ending but the attention to detail and great central performance should please genre nuts no end.

Black Christmas

Black Christmas (1974)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

Stone cold classic slasher film where a group of Sorority girls are hassled by a stalker making obscene phone calls during the holiday season. Black Christmas is that rare beast, a stalk n’ slash which turns out to be actually scary. It’s thanks in part to classy central performances from  Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder, and the masterful direction of Bob Clark, who went on to make Porky’s.

Better watch out

Better Watch Out (2016) 

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

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Another Christmas horror, this one much more recent. Olivia DeJonge plays the young babysitter trying to protect her 12-year-old charge Levi Miller when intruders threaten the house. Or at least you’ll think that’s what the film is about for the first 20 minutes at which point the rug gets well and truly pulled. Violent, funny, fresh and with excellent central turns this is a fun horror at any time of the year.

The Changeling

The Changeling (1980)

A classic haunted house ghost story that frequently makes horror best of lists The Changeling sees a bereaved composer move into a creepy mansion that’s been vacant for 12 years. Vacant that is, except for the spirit of a little boy who met an untimely death… An unravelling mystery with a sense of intrigue and pathos that draws you into the narrative, all the way to the sad and disturbing final act revelation.

The Hills Have Eyes 1977

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Wes Craven’s 1977 cult classic sees an extended family become stranded in the desert when their trailer breaks down and they start to get picked off by cannibals living in the hills. It’s brutally violent but it also has things to say about the nature of violence, as the seemingly civilized Carter family turn feral. The film was remade in 2006 but the original is still the best.

A Tale Of Two Sisters

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

Kim Jee-woon’s chiller sees sisters return to the family home after a spell in hospital to be tormented by their new stepmother, and troubled by ghosts in the house. Released in the peak of the J-horror/K-horror boom, this is a highly sophisticated and deeply scary addition sub-genre. It was remade in 2009 as The Uninvited but skip that, the original is infinitely superior.

Society

Society (1989)

This outrageous body horror satire was the directorial debut of Brian Yuzna. It stars Billy Warlock as a young man who suspects his family are into some weird stuff when his sister’s ex gives him a video tape showing seriously sinister activity. Part Stepford Wives-esque mystery part utterly bonkers gross out comedy Society is a cult classic which demands at least one watch.

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Big Bad Wolves

Big Bad Wolves (2013)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

The second feature from Israeli directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado is a black-as-sin super-violent crime horror about a child killer, the cop who wants to bring him down, and the father of the latest victim. Released the same year as Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, it plays almost like a brutal and occasionally darkly funny companion piece.

Takashi Miike's Audition

Audition (1999)

Takashi Miike’s horror classic is a weird mix of melodrama, mystery, and excruciating torture as a widowed man fakes a casting call for a made-up movie in an attempt to meet the perfect woman and gets more than he bargained for. Frequently making it to best horror of all time lists, Audition is a beautiful nightmare of needles and piano wire that’s impossible to forget.

Oldboy

Oldboy (2003)

Park Chan-wook’s shocking, twisty revenge thriller sees a man held hostage in a hotel room for 15 years with no idea of why. When he’s finally released he has just days to track down his captor and discover his motives. The second part of director Park’s Vengeance Trilogy (which is also a standalone – though Sympathy for Mister Vengeance and Lady Vengeance are also available in the US), it’s packed with standout sequences like the infamous corridor hammer massacre and the eating of a live octopus. The ending is bonkers too.

One Cut Of The Dead

One Cut Of The Dead (2017)

Very much a film of three parts, it starts as what looks like a low budget Japanese zombie film gone wrong, morphs into an interesting meta movie, and ends with a final third that’s more joyful than you could possibly imagine. The fun is in the discovery so try to avoid reading about this, instead hang around until the end for a clever, funny, and uplifting love letter to indie film-making.

We Are What We Are (2013)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

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We Are What We Are

This US remake of the Mexican horror of the same name is a slightly different beast to its counterpart, and perhaps better for it (you can watch and enjoy both for different reasons). Cold In July’s Jim Mickle directs this suspenseful, bloody tale of a secluded family who indulge in violent traditions who become more visible to the world than they’d like after the matriarch of the family dies. Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner star in this nuanced cannibal tale.

Doug Bradley as Pinhead in Hellraiser

Hellraiser (1987)

Directed by Clive Barker based on his novella The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser is an infernal body horror featuring S&M demons who’ve found a way out of a dark dimension and want to take you back there. This is the movie which introduced chief Cenobite Pinhead (played by Doug Bradley) – who would return for seven more Hellraiser sequels. But the first is of course, remains the edgiest and the best. Hellbound: Hellraiser II is also available.

Wake-In-Fright

Wake in Fright (1971)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

Ted Kotcheff’s nightmarish story of a school teacher who becomes trapped in an outback town after drinking too much and running up a gambling debt is highly unusual horror. This is a nihilistic and bleak view of outback life as the locals coerce the broke John (Gary Bond) into increasing destructive behaviour and a full on descent into hell. Wake In Fright is grubby, brilliant and highly disturbing.

Tetsuo The Ironman

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

A cyberpunk hybrid of Eraserhead, Blade Runner, Scanners, and your worst nightmares about machines run amok, Tetsuo: The Iron Man was the first feature by iconoclastic Japanese filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto (who also stars in the picture). Surreal, shockingly violent and unforgettably relentless, Tetsuo is a fever dream of orgasmic human/metal mating and murder that is almost indescribable and utterly strange. You can’t unsee this perverse triumph of twisted imagination

The Bay

The Bay (2012)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE UK

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Oscar winner Barry Levinson directs this found footage eco-horror charting the spread of a deadly parasite in a small town on the Chesapeake Bay. Constructed from snippets of news reports, police footage, and personal videos it’s a nightmarish portrait of what might really happen to a town during an outbreak, which was praised for its realism.

The Love Witch (2016) 

The Love Witch

Anna Biller’s auteur project The Love Witch is an absolutely stunning contemporary-set tale that feels like it’s been filmed in 70s technicolour. Biller wrote, produced, directed, edited, handled the set design, designed the costumes and composed the music herself and what results is an insanely detailed, strikingly beautiful, one of a kind, which follows a modern day Witch who enchants men to fall in love with her, to deadly consequences. Classy arthouse horror.

Wendigo

Wendigo (2001)

Maverick independent producer/director/actor Larry Fessenden – who runs his own low-budget genre film factory called Glass Eye Pix – had perhaps his finest moment behind the camera on his third directorial effort, an eerie, low-key tale of a family from the city running into menaces both human and supernatural during a trip to the country. Fessenden is adept at blurring the line between what is real and not, creating a hallucinatory experience that is uniquely his own.

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps (2000)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

Ahead of its time in many ways, this cult Canadian favorite from director John Fawcett and screenwriter Karen Walton stars Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as death-obsessed teen sisters whose relationship is put to the test when one (Isabelle) turns into a werewolf. Sharply funny and deeply insightful about the bonds of sisterhood, the fearsome power of female sexuality, and the loss of innocence, Ginger Snaps is a film well worth rediscovering.

Train to Busan

Train to Busan (2016)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

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Just when you thought the zombie genre was running out of gas, Train to Busan comes barreling down the track at full speed to give it a jolt again. Director Yeon Sang-ho wisely puts an endearing relationship between a father and his little girl at the heart of the movie, keeping audiences invested as the pair fight to stave off an undead invasion on their bullet train. The zombie action is familiar if also freshly orchestrated, but the movie is gripping to the genuinely moving finish. 

Exorcist 3

The Exorcist III (1990)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

Of the several attempts at a sequel, only this one by original author William Peter Blatty (who also directed) hits the mark. Woefully underrated at the time of its release, The Exorcist III puts a handful of secondary characters from the first story at the forefront of a chilling new tale that respectfully spins off the original in a new direction. And one central sequence (the hospital corridor scene) remains a minor masterpiece of sustained unease leading to a shocking payoff.

The Beyond

The Beyond (1981)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

Italian workhorse director Lucio Fulci dabbled in many genres, but was clearly most in his element with horror. His “Gates of Hell” trilogy may be the highwater mark of his career, and the second film, The Beyond, is a gruesome, surreal, Lovecraftian treat about a Louisiana hotel that may be a portal to said nether regions. It doesn’t always make sense, but the movie is a must-see and a Fulci favorite.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE US

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One of the true landmarks of ’70s horror cinema, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre remains one of the most relentless and terrifying films of all time — even as it barely spills a drop of the blood that its title seems to promise. Its simple tale of a small group of hippie kids running smack into a houseful of rural cannibals spoke to the cultural divide roiling the country at the time, and its low-budget aesthetic gave the whole thing an air of documentary realism. A delirious masterpiece.