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Turn off the lights and turn on the best horror movies you can stream

October means many things: colorful leaves, pumpkin-flavored everything, and of course, Halloween. If you’re looking for a cheap thrill to get you in the mood but would prefer not to visit a haunted house, we’ve 14 of the best horror films you can stream in anticipation of the holiday. We went a little off the beaten path for selections that are as refreshing as they are frightening. Enjoy!

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The Witch

Subtitled A New-England Folktale, Robert Eggers’ The Witch draws on America’s Puritan heritage to craft a story that is both unsettling and refreshingly straightforward. Opening on a small New England village, the film finds William (Ralph Ineson), along with his family, facing exile for unorthodox religious views. William chooses to leave of his own accord, taking his family out into the wild, where they settle on the edge of a forest. Although they view their new property as God-given, dissonant strings and a wailing chorus play as the camera lingers on the dark woods, the first indication that the wilderness holds evil. From there, The Witch unfolds slowly and sadistically, as supernatural forces plague the family in increasingly awful ways. Eggers prioritizes authenticity, with formal dialogue and period-accurate clothing and sets, each scene lit only by natural light, whether from the evening sun peeking through the trees or a candle wavering in the dark.

Watch now on:

Amazon

The Mist

After a storm destroys his boathouse, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his son go into town to buy supplies for repairs. While at the store, a thick fog rolls over the town, and a man appears warning of monsters. Trapped inside the supermarket, Drayton and others try to keep a fragile order, while the fanatical Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Hay Garden) preaches that the mist is God’s judgment. The creatures of The Mist are terrifying, otherworldly abominations, but as in many great horror stories, humans are as great a threat as any. While trying to build up the store’s defenses, David and other like-minded pragmatists must contend with Carmody’s growing cult, who believe that a Biblical sacrifice is necessary to appease the creatures. The Mist is a tense, wrenching disaster in slow-motion.

Watch now on:

Amazon

The Babadook

Reeling from the death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) struggles to raise her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who is prone to frequent outbursts. Juggling her career as a nurse with a troublesome child, Amelia’s problems intensify when Sam asks her to read a disturbing pop-up book about a creature called Mister Babadook. After she reads the book to Sam, his behavior worsens, and Amelia begins to see a shadowy figure moving about their house. The Babadook is an intensely personal horror film, focusing on Amelia’s grief and her relationship with her son, who’s outbursts are so awful one might suspect he is possessed. Director Jennifer Kent keeps the camera tightly focused on her subjects, at times trapping Amelia in the frame, and giving the film a frightening intimacy.

Watch now on:

Netflix

The Woman in Black

Set in the early 20th century, The Woman in Black is a period piece both in setting and form, telling a slow-burning ghost story in the Gothic tradition. Still mourning the death of his wife, lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) ventures out to the village of Crythin Gifford, where he is to oversee the sale of an old house out in the marshland. The villagers are aloof, and Arthur soon discovers why. While rummaging through the old house, he awakens a spirit who, when sighted, causes the children of the village to kill themselves. The Woman in Black aims to creep rather than shock. The movie keeps the titular phantom in the background for the most part, letting the viewer steep in an atmosphere of dread.

Watch now on:

Amazon

Eraserhead

David Lynch’s first film, Eraserhead shows the disturbing, dreamlike imagery that has come to define the director’s style, portraying parenthood as a grating nightmare. After a bizarre, allegorical opening, the film follows Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), who lives in an unnamed industrial city. Henry’s girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart), has just given birth to their child: a monstrous, reptilian creature. After she moves in with him, the child’s incessant crying drives both of them up the walls, and Mary leaves Henry to raise it alone. The film’s plot is barebones, not that it needs any more storytelling than it has. The horror comes from Lynch’s needling of the senses, with grotesque imagery accompanied by unfathomable sound design.

Watch now on:

Hulu

The Innkeepers

Ti West’s The Innkeepers begins in a strangely relaxed fashion for a horror movie, introducing the viewer to Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy), employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn. It is the last night before the hotel closes down forever, and with business at a crawl, that the two are free to spend their night talking and goofing off. It could be the start of any slacker-comedy, and the casual opening helps define the characters before the movie kicks into gear, as Claire and Luke decide to spend their last night on the job investigating the inn’s resident ghost, a woman who killed herself after being left at the altar. From here, the film plays out in typical ghost story fashion; the duo use sound equipment to detect paranormal activity, a psychic shows up and warns them of danger, objects move on their own. West’s firm direction and careful pacing elevate the film above its formula, however, making for an eerie tale.

Watch now on:

Hulu

Let the Right One In

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) lives in a quiet, chilly Swedish suburb. Tormented by bullies, the 12-year-old boy spends his nights reading about murder and plotting revenge. It’s a lonely existence; that is, until he meets new neighbor Eli (Lina Leandersson), a pale child who only comes out at night and drinks blood. Let the Right One In is a vampire film, and like the best vampire stories, it does not lose sight of the inherent horror of its bloodsucking subject. While Eli is friendly with Oskar, the film constantly reminds the audience that she is a predator, one who will pounce on victims like a small leopard. The relationship between Oskar and Eli is central to the film, and despite Eli’s murderous habits, it is easy to see why Oskar would be drawn to this stranger, who has all the strength and confidence he wants. The film is beautifully shot, with steady camera movements that suit the icy stillness of the film’s setting. Frequently disturbing, but also charming at times, Let the Right One In is the perfect antidote for those tired of sappy vampire romances.

Watch now on:

Amazon

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