The best horror movies streaming right now

Stream till you scream with the best scary movies on Netflix, Hulu, and more

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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 picked out some of the best horror movies on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO. Turn off the lights, turn on the TV, and settle in for a spooky Halloween marathon.

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.

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Netflix

Train to Busan

What’s scarier than snakes on a plane? The fees to check a bag these days, for one, but also zombies on a train. That’s the scenario Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) and his daughter Su-an (Kim Su-an) face when they board a train to Busan at the exact moment a zombie outbreak occurs. Now they, and some other survivors, must navigate train cars crawling with the undead as the train speeds toward safety. Zombies may seem like a dead horse at this point, but Train to Busan injects some fresh blood into the concept, offering a claustrophobic, pulse-pounding survival story.

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Netflix

Suspiria

Remaking a classic film is always an audacious move, but Luca Guadagnino sticks the landing with his take on Dario Argento’s delirious Suspiria. Set in Berlin during the Cold War, the film follows Susie (Dakota Johnson), a new student at the prestigious Markos dance school. A gifted dancer, Susie impresses the school’s artistic director, Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), but little does she know, she’ll be lucky to make it to graduation. A student has gone missing, and rumors abound that the Markos troupe is a front for a coven of witches who have need of young bodies. Suspiria is a gorgeous film, full of striking images and deft camera movement, and like the Markos school, that beauty hides grotesque horror.

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Amazon Prime

Hereditary

For Annie Graham (Toni Collette), her mother’s death is sad, but what comes after is a nightmare. As Annie tries to move on via a support group, she processes her mother’s strange behavior throughout her life and the impact it’s had on her. Trauma seeps down through the generations, however, and the shadow Annie’s mother cast could swallow her entire family. Hereditary is a complicated horror movie, a blend of paranoid possession story and intense family drama. It’s a film that won’t just frighten you, but emotionally batter you in the process.

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Amazon Prime

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.

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Hulu

It Follows

The worst thing you can do in a horror movie — outside of maybe splitting up or stumbling into the basement — is to have sex. Nothing draws the attention of a movie monster like the sound of young people in the throes of passion. For Jay (Maika Monroe), a night with her shady boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), has life-threatening consequences, as Hugh reveals that he has passed on to her a curse, which entails a shapeshifting creature that will pursue her, slowly but unstoppably, until it catches her or she passes the curse on to someone else. With the help of her friends, Jay struggles to stay on the move and find the origin of the curse. It Follows takes a simple concept — it’s creepy to have a stranger staring at you — and builds a great horror movie around it. Director David Robert Mitchell employs a number of techniques to heighten the terror, manipulating the camera to keep audiences guessing as to whether anyone in the background of any scene could be the creature.

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Vudu

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.

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Amazon Prime

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.

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Amazon Prime

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives In the House

Osgood Perkins’ haunted house film begins in darkness, with crackly narration as a woman dresses in white drifts into frame. From there, the camera wanders through a house at night, a small circle of dull light revealing the interior. The story proper doesn’t begin until roughly four minutes in, but I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is far more concerned with atmosphere than plot, and that droning intro establishes a tone of pure dread. The film follows Lily (Ruth Wilson), a young nurse assigned to take care of elderly author Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). Lily is a bundle of nerves, and Iris’ house, full of foreboding doorways and oppressive shadows, wreak havoc on her mind, as do the strange noises she hears at night. This is a slowly paced film, one that gently cranks up the tension, rather than offering a series of bloody climaxes. It’s the cinematic equivalent of the climb at the start of a roller coaster, stretched out for an hour and a half.

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Netflix

Gerald’s Game

An adaptation of a Stephen King novella, Gerald’s Game follows a couple’s romantic getaway as it goes horribly wrong. Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald Burlingame (Bruce Greenwood) spend the weekend at a remote lake house, hoping to rekindle their relationship. Gerald wants to spice up their evening with some bondage, handcuffing Jessie to the bed. So far, so good. Gerald gets a little too rough, however, and in the middle of an argument, he dies of a heart attack, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed with no help for miles. As dehydration sets in, she begins to see visions of Gerald, taunting her, and must think of a way out. With its limited setting and cast, Gerald’s Game is a taut, constricting thriller built around an outstanding performance from Gugino.

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Netflix

Hellraiser

This classic, franchise-spawning horror movie opens on Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) solving an ornate puzzle box. When he completes it, hooked chains appear and rend him to bits. Frank’s brother (Andrew Robinson) later moves into his house, along with his wife, Julia (Clare Higgins); and daughter, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence). After Larry cuts his hand during the move, the spilled blood resurrects Frank, who sets about consuming people in order to restore his body. If Kirsty is to survive and send Frank back to Hell, she must use the puzzle box and strike a deal with its nightmarish owners. Hellraiser is a gruesome work of body horror. Despite the gory special effects, however, it’s a methodical film, unfolding in a slow but unrelenting fashion.

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Hulu

The Conjuring

James Wan may have kicked off the unfortunate torture porn renaissance with 2004’s Saw, but he made up for it with his later, supernatural horror films, particularly The Conjuring. The film follows paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), whose latest case is their most disturbing. The Perron family recently moved into an old farmhouse in Rhode Island. Before long, strange events plague the Perrons, and they turn to the Warrens for help. The Conjuring is the work of a master craftsman, with clever camerawork, unsettling sound design, and a remarkable sense of restraint. Although it doesn’t do anything radical for a horror movie, the execution makes it one of the best haunted house films in years.

Watch now on:

Netflix

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