Whether it’s something gory and macabre, silly and irreverent, or eerie and unsettling, the genre of horror is as rich and varied as the multitude of ghosts, ghoulies, and homicidal maniacs that go bump in the night.
Looking for the best horror films available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Paramount Plus? No worries, we’ve got the goods. We’ve combed through the libraries of each of the major streaming platforms to bring you a list of our most recommended horror movies. Here are the 26 of the best horror movies you can stream right now, from old classics to new hits. Our latest update added Jacob’s Ladder and Saloum.
A taut spine-chiller from John Hyams (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning), Alone is your classic woman-on-the-run thriller. Jessica (Jules Willcox), a recent widow, is in the midst of moving. If that wasn’t enough stress, a creepy man (Marc Menchaca) appears to be following her on the road. After he slashes her tires, she crashes and wakes up in his basement. What follows is a tightly crafted thriller with great performances, outstanding direction, and enough tension to keep your heart pounding throughout the 98-minute running time. —Pete Volk
Alone is available to stream on Hulu, or for free with ads on Tubi.
I missed out on the experience of watching Child’s Play as a child, which I’m sure is a uniquely spooky and fun experience. Instead, I knew of the franchise only by its reputation, or more accurately, the reputation of its foul-mouthed lead doll (for a long time, I thought the movie was named Chucky!). When I caught up with the movie this year, I was delightfully surprised to find a subversive black comedy with some legitimately scary thrills.
If you don’t know the setup for the series, it’s pretty simple. The iconic Brad Dourif plays a serial killer who is shot by a detective in a toy store and then performs a last-second ritual to move his soul from his own body to the body of a nearby doll. That cursed doll finds its way into the home of a young boy, whose mom couldn’t afford to buy the doll at full price and had to settle for a second-hand peddler (unknowingly selling a murderous killing machine).
Directed by Tom Holland (no, not that one), Child’s Play is scary, funny, a tight 87 minutes, with astute social commentary about the way goods are marketed to children and an absolutely unhinged performance by Dourif. He’s a horror icon and a national treasure, and his Chucky is an absolute hoot. While you’re in the mood, also make time for the excellent Bride of Chucky, one of the rare examples of a fourth movie in a series that actually ruled. —PV
Child’s Play is available to stream on AMC+ through Prime Video and Fubo, or for digital rental or purchase.
A high school horror movie about a nerd who falls in love with a haunted car, Christine is an extraordinary Stephen King adaptation and a standout in John Carpenter’s consistently excellent filmography.
Arnie (Keith Gordon) is an unpopular high schooler in California who has just one friend, a popular football player named Dennis (John Stockwell, who in many ways is the emotional core of the movie, as someone who cares deeply about Arnie). When the two come across a broken-down old Plymouth Fury (a vehicle that we’ve already seen commit murder and mayhem in an opening sequence set in a 1950s car assembly plant), Arnie decides he must have it. He quickly becomes obsessed with the car, named “Christine,” and human and vehicle both become jealous of anybody who might interrupt their time together. He also starts to dress and act more like a greaser dirtbag from the 1950s. It’s a great time for everybody, except Arnie’s human loved ones.
The practical effects in Christine deserve special recognition here. The car can heal itself, an effect that is shown on camera in full, glorious display. The special effects team made rubber molds of Christine and then imploded it, running the shot in reverse in the film to evoke the effect of a self-healing vehicle. It’s astounding to behold decades later.
Filled with great high school archetypes that are subverted just enough to keep things interesting, a haunting score by Carpenter, and a brief appearance by Harry Dean Stanton, Christine is popcorn 1980s horror at its best. —PV
Christine is available to stream on AMC+ through Prime Video, or for digital rental or purchase.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 1997 horror masterpiece Cure follows Kenichi Takabe (Kōji Yakusho), a Japanese detective frustrated by an inexplicable rash of seemingly unconnected murders that nevertheless all appear to be connected, despite none of the perpetrators knowing each other nor having any recollection as to what they have done. When Takabe’s investigation leads him to a suspect, a student of psychology and mesmerism known as Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara), he finds himself plunged into a conspiracy that threatens to engulf anyone who gets too close. In Cure, violence is less an act of premeditation or passion as it is a virus, coursing its way through the bloodstream of society, corrupting innocent bystanders not like aberrant cancer cells attacking from within without ever understanding why they did so in the first place. How do you confront a horror like that, much less stop it? The answer is as simple as it is terrifying: You can’t. —Toussaint Egan
Cure is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
Among the best and most well known of Italy’s giallo genre, this beautifully shot slasher is full of mystery, terror, and lots and lots murder. The movie’s purposefully complicated story more or less follows a jazz musician who witnesses a murder, but also mixes in some psychic powers for good measure. Giallo movies are, by design, strange, lurid, and full of gross and grimy things — both their plots and their murders. But the incredible filmmaking and gorgeous colors make Deep Red enchanting to watch, no matter how brutally most of its cast dies. —Austen Goslin
Eyes Without a Face
Georges Franju’s influential 1960 film is a master class in supernatural fantasy horror. An unsettling tale about a plastic surgeon (played by Pierre Brasseur) who kidnaps young women and performs surgery on them to try and find a face replacement for his daughter (Édith Scob), Eyes Without a Face is equal parts haunting and beautiful. Scob’s iconic face mask in the movie was later referenced in her role in the also-excellent Holy Motors many decades later. —PV
Eyes Without a Face is available to watch on HBO Max and The Criterion Channel.
Hellbender tells the story of Izzy, a teenager who lives isolated in the woods with only her mother, who says Izzy has a debilitating disease and can’t be around other people. That isn’t quite true. The movie delicately balances Izzy’s perspective and her mother’s, working as a movie both about the struggles of adolescence and about the inherent terror of trying to raise a child well. But for all the virtues of its story, Hellbender’s greatest feat is how gorgeous it looks.
Created by a filmmaking family who produce, direct, and star in the movie, Hellbender is an early contender for 2022’s most visually striking horror film. Directors John and Zelda Adams and Toby Poser use forests, and the movie’s many mystic visions, for both serene beauty and creeping terror, swapping effortlessly between the two to match their characters’ fears and discoveries. —AG
Clive Barker’s 1987 directorial debut adapts his 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart to tell the story of Larry (Andrew Robinson) and Julia Cotton (Clare Higgins). The Cottons are a married couple who move into the home of Larry’s recently deceased brother, Frank (Sean Chapman), with whom Julia had a previous affair. After inadvertently being resurrected by a drop of blood spilled by Larry on the floor of the house’s attic, Frank seduces Julia into luring new men to the house so that he can drain their life force and fully regain his mortal form. Surrounding this core narrative is the the story of the Lament Configuration, a puzzle box Frank acquired before his untimely death. When solved, it conjures hellish beings known as Cenobites to the mortal plane of existence, which indulge in hellish exercises of sadomasochistic mutilation. Easily the best and most enduring of the Hellraiser movie series, Barker’s 1987 original is a must-watch for horror fans. —TE
The Host was Bong Joon-ho’s follow-up to the smash success serial killer drama Memories of Murder. A critical and commercial success, it was the highest-grossing South Korean film ever after its release and won Best Film at the Asian Film Awards and the Blue Dragon Film Awards.
Years after chemicals are dumped into the Han River, a huge mutated fish monster emerges and kidnaps a young girl. Her father (Song Kang-ho) sets out to find and rescue her, before being kidnapped by the American scientists responsible for its existence. A fun monster thriller that doubles as insightful commentary on U.S. intervention, ecological disasters, and much more, The Host is a high mark in Bong’s impressive filmography. —PV
Adrian Lyne’s 1990 psychological horror film Jacob’s Ladder stars Tim Robbins as Jacob, a former American infantryman who is plagued by recurring nightmares of his time fighting in Vietnam. As his visions begin to intensify, seeping into his waking reality and seemingly claiming the lives of all those close to him, Jacob will have to descend into world of horrors beyond his wildest imagination where the only way out is through.
As I mentioned on our list of the best movies on Paramount Plus:
Inspired by the works of Francis Bacon and H. R. Giger and utilizing jarring fast motion in-camera special effects, Jacob’s Ladder is a hallucinatory body-horror thriller that’ll have you gripped to your seat.
Keep your head on a swivel when watching this one. —TE
Jacob’s Ladder is available to stream on Paramount Plus.
Let the Right One In
A 12-year-old Swedish boy finds a friend in a vampire who looks roughly his age, but is actually an old vampire permanently trapped in the body of a young child. The film is kaleidoscopic, each viewing revealing something different than the last. The first time I saw the film, I was a pessimistic college student, and I read the central relationship as a warning about the parasitic nature of love. After college, the children’s bond reminded me of the impermanence of youth, and why growing up is a mixed blessing. This past year, I was far more focused on the girl’s relationship with her caretaker, an older man who sacrifices everything for her existence.
The film was adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel of the same name, which inspired not just this Swedish film, but a 2010 American adaptation, a comic-book prequel, and two stage plays. The latter has its own legacy — it was adapted by the magnificent National Theater of Scotland, and it eventually had a run at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2015. Few books inspire so much additional great art. So I suppose I’m recommending the book just as much as the film. —Chris Plante
If Mad God could be summed up in a single word, it is gross. A feature-length descent into a Boschian hellscape of scatalogical (and eschatological) horrors stacked on top of one another like the strata of an impossible tower of Babel, each layer oozing with pus, bile, blood, ichor, and excrement. Another word to describe it would be phenomenal, an apocalyptic stop-motion horror epic over three decades in the making through the meticulous, unfettered craftsmanship of Phil Tippett, the legendary visual effects director and artist behind such films as the original Star Wars trilogy, RoboCop, and Jurassic Park.
I could tell you about the story of the film, but in truth, the story is little more than a matter of personal interpretation. What matters in Mad God, first and foremost, is the animation. Tippett’s masterpiece is a resounding testament to the power of unrestrained creativity and the intrinsic cathartic capacity of the genre of horror itself. —TE
Mad God is available to stream on Shudder.
There was just no way to see it coming. After the Conjuring and Insidious franchises, plus blockbuster turns with Furious 7 and Aquaman, James Wan could have cashed in chips to make another moody franchise-starter to stretch his jump-scare muscles. Instead, he made Malignant, a high-emotion giallo stuffed into dingy ’90s direct-to-video pastiche like some kind of horror-movie turducken. Wan pulls back the layers in an almost tedious fashion: The pregnant Madison (Annabelle Wallis) is first the victim of domestic abuse, then she encounters another killer, and then she starts dealing with psychotic episodes tied to her childhood imaginary friend Gabriel, and theeeeen it’s revealed… Well, please go behold it.
Strung together with a melodramatic cover of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” reveling in horror tropes to the point of parody, the final twists of Malignant are some of the most gratifying lunacy of the year, and the acrobatic actor Marina Mazepa brings it all home in a display of gruesome ballet. I won’t explain anything more out of fear of spoilers — just get on the Malignant train. Wan put his dream (nightmare?) on screen for us all to enjoy. —Matt Patches
Malignant is available to watch on HBO Max.
Night of the Living Dead
The movie that launched the modern zombie film in the United States, George A. Romero’s debut feature was written, directed, photographed, and edited by the nascent zombie film master on a shoestring budget, which only adds to the eerie atmosphere and grounded terror. In this film, a group of survivors hide out in an abandoned house in western Pennsylvania at the start of a zombie apocalypse. Led by the level-headed Ben (Duane Jones), the group not only has to deal with the conflict of zombies trying to break in, but internal conflicts stemming from disagreements on how to handle their precarious predicament.
Night of the Living Dead is the first example of Romero’s typical blend of jaw-dropping (and stomach-churning) practical effects and astute social commentary. Fun fact: This movie came out a month before the MPAA film rating system, which meant a heaping amount of controversy when children were able to see the quite graphic movie in theaters. And another fun fact: Night of the Living Dead was never copyrighted and is in the public domain because of an error by the original theatrical distributor. —PV
Night of the Living Dead is available to watch on HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount Plus, for free with a library card on Hoopla, or for free with ads on Tubi, Pluto TV, Plex, Vudu, and The Roku Channel.
Director Julius Avery (of the upcoming Sylvester Stallone superhero movie Samaritan) delivered a genre mashup for the ages here. “World War II, but with zombies” is not exactly new ground — Dead Snow, among many others, have delved into the “Nazi zombie” sub-subgenre of horror. But Overlord works so well because it succeeds on both levels — as a war thriller following soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, and also as a zombie horror movie.
It helps to have such a gifted ensemble cast. In addition to lead Jovan Adepo, who shines as the brave paratrooper Edward Boyce, Overlord boasts Wyatt Russell (Lodge 49), Pilou Asbæk (Game of Thrones), John Magaro (First Cow), Bokeem Woodbine (Fargo), and Iain De Caestecker (Agents of SHIELD). Hard to go wrong with a group like that. —PV
Overlord is available to watch on Paramount Plus.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 2001 Japanese horror classic Pulse is one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever watched. Set near the turn of the century, the film follows a group of Japanese teenagers who, in the wake of their friend’s inexplicable suicide, begin to experience strange visions and unsettling encounters linked to a mysterious floppy disk their friend was investigating prior to his death. Pulse is widely championed as one of the definitive works in the canon of Japanese horror, with several critics and fans citing it as the definitive internet horror film of the 21st century. Be sure to have all the lights off for this one ... and something to cover your eyes when you get too freaked out (trust me — you will). —TE
Pulse is available to watch on Prime Video, on AMC+, and for free with a library card on Kanopy and Hoopla.
A classic genre mashup for the ages, Rampant combines a 17th-century Korean period piece (with all the political intrigue those stories tend to include) with a fast-paced, bloody zombie apocalypse. When the arrogant young prince to the throne of the Joseon dynasty is called to return home after his older brother’s death, he uncovers an impending zombie apocalypse and attempts to convince his father (and his father’s advisors) to do something about it. —PV
Rampant is available to watch on Hi-Yah!, or for free with ads on Plex, Tubi, PlutoTV, and FreeVee.
This Hong Kong movie falls somewhere between action and horror and is one of the coolest, strangest movies on this list. Rigor Mortis follows a down-on-his-luck actor who moves into a run-down hotel and immediately tries to kill himself. Before he can actually die two spirits attempt to possess him, and a vampire hunter breaks down the door and performs an exorcism. And from there things only get weirder and the monsters in the hotel get even more deadly. —AG
The early 2000s were a fascinating time when studios were spending tens of millions of dollars on horror blockbusters. Among the best of these is the American remake of Ringu, a Japanese movie about a haunted videotape that kills the viewer seven days after they watch its strange montage of images. While the remake lacks the empathy and scares of the original, The Ring is a wholly unique and worthwhile experience on its own and feels completely different from the horror movies of any other era. With the blockbuster budget and gorgeous direction from Gore Verbinski, this remake is somewhere between a ghost story and a mystery-thriller and relies more on its world’s excellent sense of haunting dread than direct scares. —AG
The Ring is available to watch on Paramount Plus.
Saint Maud is kind of a reverse possession story. It follows a young nurse who, after her patient dies, becomes a devout Roman Catholic and gets a new job as an in-home nurse for the elderly and infirm. After meeting her new charge, Amanda, Maud finds herself transfixed and seeks to save the woman’s soul. Maud is unmistakably the villain of this story, but it seems destined for you to sympathize with her as she makes every wrong decision imaginable. While most of the movie is a tremendous slow burn about the dangers of zealous faith, the movie’s ending is an explosion of emotions and one of the best horror endings of the last decade. —AG
One of the most memorable new movies of the year is this genre-bending mashup of influences and styles, all combining into an unforgettable 80-minute thriller with stark characterization, remarkable set-pieces, and a whirlwind ending.
From my plea for you to watch Saloum:
From the beginning, Saloum’s evocative costuming choices clue you in to each of the three principal characters: When you first meet them, the three leads are wearing identical ponchos, but the camera focuses on their footwear (one wears Versace, one wears sneakers, one goes barefoot) to instantly tell you what you need to know about this eclectic group of friends and colleagues. [...] I will leave the rest for you to discover for yourself, but I will say there’s a reason this movie is on a horror-centric streaming service.
Guess what — there’s a reason this movie is on this list, too. —PV
One of the most genuinely unsettling horror movies of the last 20 years, Sinister follows a true-crime author, Ellison Oswalt, and his family as they move into a new house that may or may not be haunted by the presence of a demon. Sinister takes cues from decades of haunted house movies, carefully playing into some expectations and wildly subverting others for some very satisfying twists. Perhaps the best part of Sinister, though, is how it uses its main character. Rather than the well-meaning man of the house that’s normally at the center of this genre, Oswalt spends the entire movie chasing its monster down and is always a little too smart for his own good. It’s a delightful flip from director and co-writer Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange), and is only outdone by his excellently nightmarish depictions of the murders that surround the movie’s monster. —AG
Sinister is available to watch on Peacock.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Another shoestring production gone huge, Tobe Hooper’s 1974 masterpiece made over $30 million at the box office on a budget of around $140,000. The movie follows a group of friends who find themselves hunted by a family of cannibals in the middle of Texas, and is a chilling, violent fever dream that permanently lodges itself in the minds of those who watch it.
Eight films have followed, including a Netflix version in 2022, but the original stands out as an unhinged encapsulation of pure chaos and terror. At a tight 83 minutes, the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is well worth the small time investment to catch up on one of the most influential horror movies ever made. —PV
Train to Busan
Imagine if, instead of eating cockroaches and warding off ax-wielding thugs on their way to the one-percenter front carriage, the passengers aboard the Snowpiercer train warded off zombies. OK, OK, stop imagining: Train to Busan is better than anything you’ll come up with. Propulsive, bloody, and glimmering with the dark whimsy particular to Korean cinema, animator-turned-live-action-director Yeon Sang-ho’s take on the zombie apocalypse wears its heart on its sleeve ... until the flesh-eating undead tear the heart to shreds. It’s a father-daughter story. It’s a husband-wife story. It’s a who-deserves-to-live-and-die survivor narrative. It’s a people story trapped in a high-speed rail train, where the only hope of escape is a well-timed leap into the baggage shelf. It’s a hell of a movie. —MP
As many people have learned over the past few years, there aren’t that many things scarier than a video call you can’t leave.
A masterfully contained horror movie that makes full use of its (at the time) groundbreaking gimmick, Unfriended is a tense teen horror movie that takes place entirely on a character’s laptop screen. Definitely watch it on a laptop screen if you can, and check out the very good sequel Unfriended: Dark Web if you dug this one. —PV
From our list of the best horror movies on Netflix:
Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended pulls the audiences through the screen — almost literally. Viewed entirely from the perspective of a computer desktop, 2014 supernatural horror film centers around a Skype call between a group of high school students who are joined by an unknown presence known only as “billie227.” What at first appears to be a prank swiftly morphs into something much more horrific, as the mysterious stranger begins to reveal terrifying secrets about each of the friends before killing them off one by one. Unfriended is thoroughly gripping extrapolation of our always-online world, a world where vengeful poltergeists and doxxing exist side by side and no secret or offense goes undiscovered or unpunished. —TE
Unfriended is available to watch on Netflix.
A home invasion slasher, You’re Next was a smash hit for director Adam Wingard (Netflix’s Death Note, Godzilla vs. Kong) and writer Simon Barrett, who later teamed up once again for The Guest. When members of a wealthy family are invited to celebrate a wedding anniversary at a remote estate, things turn in a bloody direction when violent attackers wearing animal masks and using crossbows start killing them off one by one.
A slasher movie with a tinge of Agatha Christie mystery and an added flavor of family drama, the film also features acclaimed horror directors Ti West, Amy Seimetz, and Larry Fessenden in acting roles. —PV
You’re Next is available to watch on Peacock.