20 of the best horror movies to stream right now

‘What’s your favorite scary movie?’


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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)

Credit: Compass International Pictures

Donald Pleasence plays the scene-stealing psychiatrist, Samuel Loomis, in ‘Halloween.’

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.

Watch Halloween on Shudder

2. Starry Eyes (2014)

Starry Eyes
Credit: Dark Sky Films

Alex Essoe plays an ambitious young actress in ‘Starry Eyes.’

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.

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Watch Starry Eyes on Prime Video

3. The Exorcist III (1990)

The Exorcist III
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Jason Miller reprises his role as Father Damien Karras in ‘Exorcist III.’

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.

Watch The Exorcist III on Pluto TV

4. Scream (1996)

Credit: Dimension Films

The Ghostface mask is emblematic of the ‘Scream’ franchise—and ’90s horror at large.

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.

Watch Scream on AMC+

5. Hush (2016)

Credit: Netflix

A masked killer torments a fiction writer in Netflix’s ‘Hush.’

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.

Watch Hush on Netflix

6. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Credit: Vice Films

Sheila Vand plays the vampire vigilante in ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.’

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.

Watch A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night on Shudder

7. The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Lili Taylor faces unthinkable evil in James Wan’s ‘The Conjuring.’

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.

Watch The Conjuring on Netflix

8. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Gary Oldman plays Count Dracula in the 1992 Coppola film.

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.

Watch Bram Stoker’s Dracula on HBO Max

9. The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

The Strangers: Prey at Night
Credit: Aviron Pictures

Damian Maffei, Emma Bellomy, and Lea Enslin play the masked killers in ‘Prey at Night.’

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.

Watch The Strangers: Prey at Night on Netflix

10. Blair Witch (2016)

Blair Witch
Credit: Lionsgate

James Allen McCune searches for his long-lost sister in 2016’s ‘Blair Witch.’

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.

Watch Blair Witch on Hulu

11. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Credit: Bryanston Distributing Company

Gunnar Hansen plays the menacing Leatherface in ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre.’

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.

Watch The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on Shudder

12. You’re Next (2011)

You're Next
Credit: Lionsgate

Wendy Glenn and the late Nicholas Tucci play twisted lovers in ‘You’re Next.’

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.

Watch You’re Next on Hulu

13. From Dusk till Dawn (1996)

From Dusk till Dawn
Credit: Miramax Films

‘From Dusk till Dawn’ stars a young George Clooney.

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.

Watch From Dusk till Dawn on HBO Max

14. The Lighthouse (2019)

The Lighthouse
Credit: A24

Robert Pattinson plays a marooned sailor in ‘The Lighthouse.’

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.

Watch The Lighthouse on Prime Video

15. The Invitation (2015)

The Invitation
Credit: Drafthouse Films

Karyn Kusama’s ‘The Invitation’ stars Logan Marshall-Green.

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.

Watch The Invitation on Netflix

16. The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man
Credit: British Lion Films

Christopher Lee is captivating in the role of Lord Summerisle.

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.

Watch The Wicker Man on Shudder

17. Midsommar (2019)

Credit: A24

A tight-knit commune performs sinister rituals in Ari Aster’s ‘Midsommar.’

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.

Watch Midsommar on Prime Video

18. The House of the Devil (2009)

The House of the Devil
Credit: MPI Media Group

Jocelin Donahue’s phenomenal in the role of Samantha in ‘House of the Devil.’

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.

Watch The House of the Devil on Shudder

19. The Ritual (2017)

The Ritual
Credit: Netflix

A group of friends ventures into the Swedish wilderness in ‘The Ritual.’

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.

Watch The Ritual on Netflix

20. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead
Credit: Continental Distributing

The dead walk in George Romero’s influential zombie picture.

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.

Watch Night of the Living Dead on HBO Max

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