20 of the best horror movies to stream right now
‘What’s your favorite scary movie?’
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
Most good horror movies inspire a whole gamut of emotions: they terrify, disturb, make you laugh, and linger in your mind like an awful dream. They not only play on our fears to create a sensory response but also—like any other genre—often illuminate something about the human experience.
The state of horror on streaming platforms—Netflix, Shudder, HBO Max, Prime Video—is pretty impressive at the moment. With a handful of digital subscriptions, your access to great horror can rival the video-store experience of decades past. It’s a little overwhelming at first, though, so allow us to recommend some great starting points. Below are 20 of the best horror movies to stream right now.
1. Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter’s breakout slasher might seem a little toothless to some viewers, given its countless, bloodier imitators. Nevertheless, its memorable characters, exquisite camerawork, and the inscrutability of its masked killer remain timeless.
Like the more recent Get Out, Halloween is proof that horror thrives on minimalism—a modest budget, a limited number of sets, and a singular focus on the hero escaping whatever evil’s tormenting them. Carpenter’s iconic score doesn’t hurt.
2. Starry Eyes (2014)
Five years before their remake of Pet Sematary, directing duo Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer released this spooky little film, about a struggling young actress trying to hit it big.
It’s an unflinching look at the monstrous things showbiz sometimes does to women, and the explosive third act is both appalling and cathartic. Alex Essoe—who later played Wendy Torrance in the film version of Doctor Sleep—does some phenomenal work with the material.
3. The Exorcist III (1990)
Written and directed by William Peter Blatty, author of the original Exorcist novel, this ambitious 1990 sequel is a horror fan’s delight. Starring George C. Scott (The Changeling), Brad Dourif (Child’s Play), and Jason Miller (The Exorcist), it follows a homicide detective as he investigates a psychiatric ward and strange murders that appear to be the work of a dead serial killer—or something even more sinister.
We often moan and groan about the overuse of jump scares in movies, but Exorcist III has probably the all-time best one. Dourif’s performance makes it worth a watch, too.
4. Scream (1996)
Originally called Scary Movie, Scream’s sort of like Michael Myers wandering onto the set of Clerks or Dawson’s Creek and doing what he does best.
It’s smart, witty, and populated with intelligent, believable young people—it’s also director Wes Craven at the top of his game. For a generation of ’90s kids, the Scream movies became a monumental entry point into the world of horror films.
5. Hush (2016)
Mike Flanagan’s a hot commodity these days, expanding the world of The Shining in his Doctor Sleep adaptation and printing money for Netflix with projects like The Haunting of Hill House.
Hush was the director’s first big hit on Netflix—a lean, high-concept slasher starring his lovely wife, Kate Siegel. The film begins with a deaf novelist working on her latest manuscript alone in a secluded house. It isn’t long, though, before a guy in a mask shows up with a crossbow and a knife.
6. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
A lone vampire (Sheila Vand) prowls the streets of a small Iranian town called Bad City. She rides a skateboard, doles out vigilante justice, and eventually falls for a handsome young man dressed as Dracula.
This is a breathtaking debut feature from Ana Lily Amirpour, rich with light and shadow, meticulous composition, and a level of cool you can’t manufacture.
7. The Conjuring (2013)
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as self-proclaimed demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren in this refreshingly conventional ghost story.
Having explored the wilds of his imagination in his Saw and Insidious films, director James Wan shows a certain amount of artistic restraint here, mining bits of real-life history for effective scares. It’s no wonder it spawned so many sequels and spinoffs.
8. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
This really isn’t your typical Hollywood monster movie. From its miniatures and matte paintings to Eiko Ishioka’s costume design, this take on Dracula avoids the obvious, fashionable choice at every turn. The result is convincing, in its way, and hauntingly gorgeous.
For a film released in ’92, it’s hard to believe how well even the creature effects have aged. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the picture stars Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, and Anthony Hopkins.
9. The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)
This fun sequel to 2008’s The Strangers works just fine on its own. A decade after the first film, which was more of a claustrophobic home-invasion flick, the same wandering trio of masked killers winds up in a lonely little trailer park.
Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame plays a struggling mother, and Lewis Pullman shines in the role of her son, Luke. Although some of the first film’s novelty has worn off, this is still a thrilling, creepy slasher in its own right. The swimming-pool scene alone is worth the price of admission.
10. Blair Witch (2016)
Directed by Adam Wingard from a script by Simon Barrett (the creative duo behind You’re Next), Blair Witch (2016) serves as a legacy sequel to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. Employing more modern found-footage techniques than those available in the nineties, on top of a very familiar structure, it ends up feeling like a reboot with a lot of love for the original.
Anyone who ever wanted a better sense of what happened to those film students who went missing in ’94, or to actually get a look at the creature that resides in those woods, should enjoy the sequel. It’s got some genuinely terrifying beats, too, if you can watch it on a quiet night.
11. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
This stunning, low-budget slasher was shot on 16-millimeter film and—following in Psycho’s footsteps—laid the groundwork for the genre’s future.
As with Norman Bates, the character of Leatherface was largely inspired by the real-life crimes of Ed Gein. But there’s more thematic substance to Texas than just the rise of U.S. serial killers; it’s also a scathing look at the industrial meat industry. It spawned a number of sequels, which vary in tone and quality, but the original’s a towering achievement in the history of independent horror.
12. You’re Next (2011)
Adam Wingard’s You’re Next was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a movie theater. A playful subversion of slasher-film tropes like the “final girl,” it’s got much of the tension you find in a movie like The Strangers, but it’s also hilarious.
The cast is great, too: A. J. Bowen, Amy Seimetz, directors Joe Swanberg and Ti West, Sharni Vinson, Barbara Crampton, the late Nicholas Tucci. I wish more horror flicks had as many surprises as this one does.
13. From Dusk till Dawn (1996)
What’s not to love about From Dusk till Dawn? I mean, assuming you don’t mind the sight of blood. A couple bank robbers leave a trail of bodies in their wake as they head for Mexico. What they don’t count on is winding up at a strip joint overrun with vampires.
The script finds Robert Kurtzman and Quentin Tarantino in the mode of Stephen King; the cast features George Clooney, John Hawkes, Salma Hayek, Harvey Keitel, Cheech Marin, Michael Parks, Tom Savini, Danny Trejo, Fred “the Hammer” Williamson. Like Planet Terror, this is a gloriously uninhibited horror romp from director Robert Rodriguez.
14. The Lighthouse (2019)
The less said about The Lighthouse, the better—assuming you haven’t seen it. It’s directed by Robert Eggers, who made The Witch (2015), and was shot in stark black and white.
This film is absolutely bonkers in all the best ways, and it’ll leave you wanting even more of its most bizarre scenes. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, who star in the film, both bring their A game.
15. The Invitation (2015)
Go into The Invitation knowing as little as possible—just watch it. Directed by Karyn Kusama, best known for helming the cult classic Jennifer’s Body, this thing is a work of quiet virtuosity, loaded with suspense and great character moments.
The cast includes Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michiel Huisman, John Carroll Lynch. I envy anyone who’s seeing this for the first time.
16. The Wicker Man (1973)
The great Christopher Lee plays a cult leader in this musical pagan-horror masterpiece set in the Scottish Isles.
It’s easy to see why this one’s so highly regarded: the constant singing, all the witchy erotic dancing, the animal motif, and the neverending suspense. It’s not “scary” in the Blair Witch sense of the word, but it delivers the sort of inescapable dread, ever so subtle, that made Midsommar such a hit in recent years.
17. Midsommar (2019)
This twisted work of folk horror was a perfect follow-up to Ari Aster’s Hereditary (2018), trading that film’s devilish aesthetic for flowers and warm Scandinavian sunshine.
Florence Pugh turns in a riveting performance as a college student named Dani, whose entire family is found dead in the film’s first nine minutes. When she decides to escape to Europe for the summer with her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), she has no idea what horrors await on the other side of the Atlantic.
18. The House of the Devil (2009)
If you’ve fallen out of love with horror and you’re looking for a movie that’ll reignite the spark, look no further than Ti West’s House of the Devil. The cast features Jocelyn Donahue as the goodhearted babysitter, a young Greta Gerwig as her best friend, A. J. Bowen, and Manhunter’s Tom Noonan.
It all seems fairly low-key and suspense driven—shades of Rosemary’s Baby—in the first two acts. But then it builds to a shocking, no-holds-barred climax that’s as scary as anything you’re likely to find at the cinema.
19. The Ritual (2017)
Four friends take a hiking trip in the Swedish wilderness, in honor of their late buddy. After one of them suffers a leg injury, they take shelter inside a creepy cabin in the woods, and things begin to spiral out of control.
There’s something big lurking in the forest—something ancient and terrifying. This is a great movie from director David Bruckner. And Rafe Spall’s fantastic in the lead role.
20. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
George Romero’s seminal classic opens with a brother and sister arriving at a cemetary to pay respects to the dead. On the radio, there’s talk of an interruption due to technical difficulties. Among the headstones, the young man, Johnny (Russell Streiner), teases his sister (Judith O’Dea) about her childhood fear of graveyards, uttering the now-famous line: “They’re coming to get you, Barbra.”
Johnny doesn’t have a lot of patience for this particular ritual; all we’ve seen him do is complain. Barbra clearly does, and she’s the only one who gets out of the opening sequence alive. Ditching their car and fleeing on foot, she takes refuge in a lonely farmhouse nearby. Night’s male lead, Duane Jones, was the first Black actor ever to star in a horror film.