The best horror movies you can watch right now

Photo: United Artists

From Netflix to Hulu to Max, the eeriest, scariest, and best horror to watch at home... or else

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, 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 best horror movies you can stream right now, from old classics to new hits. Our latest update added Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Sinister, and Totally Killer.

Editor’s pick: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

A man (Donald Sutherland) examines the face of a body enmeshed in a strange web-like skin of sinuous fibers. Image: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Director: Philip Kaufman
Cast: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy
Where to watch: Prime Video

Invasion of the Body Snatchers has a timeless, perfect premise: What if the people you know weren’t themselves anymore? What if they had been replaced by something that looked like them, talked like them, and remembered like them, but didn’t feel the same? It’s viscerally upsetting, even as an idea, which is probably why this story has been remade nearly a dozen times since the original was released in 1956.

But for all the remakes, the 1978 version of the movie stands out as a particular highlight. Starring Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy, Philip Kaufman’s version of the story imagines a San Francisco slowly overrun by aliens who steal the faces of humans. The lurking paranoia of the original movie is similarly on display in this one, but its real step up is in the effects department.

Where the original movie left the body snatching mostly to the audience’s imagination, this version shows the process in all its gross, gooey, alien detail. Fresh, formless bodies slide out of pods while sentient threads of plant fur creep across victims, giving details and features to the newly printed doubles, all before the person’s old body disintegrates. It’s a wildly effective, extremely off-putting effect that the movie makes tremendous use of to both heighten its paranoid atmosphere and justify it. All that, and the movie has one of the greatest endings in horror movie history. —Austen Goslin


The silhouette of a woman stands in front of a wild field of glowing trees on fire under a darkened sky. Image: Paramount Pictures

Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez
Where to watch: Paramount Plus, free w/ ads on Pluto TV

Annihilation might be the creepiest movie about plants ever made (with all due respect to The Ruins.)

Annihilation follows a group of scientists (played by a phenomenal group of actors) investigating an area struck by a meteor. The area that was hit has slowly spread and grown into what’s now known as The Shimmer, an area where nature seems to be taking over everything around it, but it’s a different kind of nature; strange, unnaturally green plants grow over everything, and creatures (animals and humans) slowly merge with the vegetation around them. At the center of all of this is a lighthouse the group must reach. Annihilation helps realize this strange Earth-but-not incredibly well, with beautiful and haunting production design and a finale as memorable as any horror movie on this list. — AG

Blair Witch

A woman stands behind bushes with a backpack on in the 2016 Blair Witch movie Image: Lionsgate

Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: James Allan McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott
Where to watch: Prime Video, Hulu

Sequels to The Blair Witch Project are very dicey propositions. After Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was greeted as a disaster immediately after release, the franchise stalled out and the idea of returning to the black forest faded from the minds of aspiring horror filmmakers. But in 2016, writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard, the duo behind the excellent You’re Next, went back into the woods for a new Blair Witch sequel. And it’s actually pretty great.

The movie follows James Donahue, the brother of Heather from the first movie, as he sets out to investigate what happened to his sister. James and some friends, including film student Lisa, set out on an adventure through the Maryland woods and, of course, run into some very creepy activity when they get there.

Blair Witch isn’t interested in trying to recapture the formal magic of the first movie, exactly. There’s no mistaking this one for a documentary, and there’s clearly a lot more going on production-wise than a few kids in the woods with a video camera. It’s decidedly a studio version of found footage, but that isn’t a bad thing; it means the movie is full of delicately framed shots that really capture and amplify the terror of this new group of kids stuck in the woods. And when things really start to pop off in the second half, it means that we get careful, tantalizing, terrifying glimpses of whatever lurks in the darkness, but never too much to ruin the scare. —AG


The troupe dancing in Climax. Image: A24

Director: Gaspar Noé
Cast: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub
Where to watch: Digital rental/purchase on Amazon, Apple

Climax isn’t for the faint-of-heart — and we’re saying that in the context of a horror movies list. The movie is set at an all-night dance party inside a gymnasium, which turns sour after someone spikes the sangria with a little too much LSD. Climax is told in beautifully disorienting long takes that go from dozens of minutes of uninterrupted and propulsive dance sequences to hazy walks through hallways as the camera mimics the dizzy stumbling of the movie’s characters. As the psychedelics kick in, so too do some of the attendees’ long-held feuds, leading to disastrous and horrifying consequences. It’s rare that a movie truly defies description, but if you’ve got a strong stomach and a will to see something you haven’t before, Climax is the perfect movie for you. —AG

Crimes of the Future

A man with his mouth and eyes sown shut and growths shaped like ears protruding from his forehead and skull in Crimes of the Future. Image: Neon

Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart
Where to watch: Hulu

Microplastics: They’re everywhere!

They’re in our lungs, our blood, our food and drinking water; even the air we breathe. What the fuck is it doing to our bodies? We don’t really know, but David Cronenberg’s 2022 body horror drama sure has an idea of what it might mean for our children. Crimes of the Future imagines a world where humans have lost the ability to feel pain. In addition to that, several people have developed a disturbing disorder which causes their bodies to spontaneously spawn new organs.

This new reality has spawned a trend: Live surgery, wherein performance artists plagued with this condition tear into their own bodies in an effort to shape meaning out of this strange new biological fact. Viggo Mortensen stars as Saul Tenser, a world-renowned performance artist who, alongside his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux), stands on the cutting edge — both literally and figuratively — of this cultural phenomenon. When Saul’s activities catch the attention of a mysterious group of evolutionary activists, as well as the lascivious eye of a government employee named Timlin (Kristen Stewart), he’s forced to confront what he — and everyone else around him — is changing into, and whether what that is can even be considered “human” anymore.

As macabre as it is moving, grotesque as it is sensuous; Crimes of the Future is an exquisite work of science fiction horror where surgery is the new sex and our very bodies have rebelled against us for the incalculable destruction we have inflicted on the planet. It’s a film that exists in intimate conversation with the anxieties of our present, as well as one that represents a stunning return to form for one of cinema’s most forward-thinking directors. Howard Shore’s growling, guttural score is engrossing, while the leading trio of performances by Mortensen, Seydoux, and Stewart are a virtual match made in heaven in bringing to life this speculative slice of post-human hell on Earth. In short: It’s a great film and highly recommended, but whatever you do, don’t see it on a full stomach. Trust me. —Toussaint Egan


Detective Takabe (Kôji Yakusho) claspes his hands over his face in exhaustion and horror in Cure (1997) Image: Janus Films

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Kōji Yakusho, Tsuyoshi Ujiki, Anna Nakagawa
Where to watch: Criterion Channel

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 having known each other or having any recollection as to what possessed them to do it. 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 unlike 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. —TE

Encounters of the Spooky Kind

Sammo Hung and a grey-faced vampire look at each other quizzically in Encounters of the Spooky Kind Image: Criterion Channel

Director: Sammo Hung
Cast: Sammo Hung, Chung Fat, Dick Wei
Where to watch: Criterion Channel

This Halloween, I had one goal: Finally watch Sammo Hung’s jiangshi (Chinese hopping vampire) martial arts comedy Encounters of the Spooky Kind. It was finally added to streaming via the Criterion Channel earlier this fall after years of being unavailable digitally. And reader, my priorities were correct, because this movie is an absolute blast.

Best known for his collaborations with childhood friends Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, Sammo’s excellence as a director, choreographer, and performer are on full display in what is frequently a one-man show.

Sammo directed the movie, co-wrote it, choreographed the action, and stars as Bold Cheung, a pedicab driver and skilled martial artist who’s also kind of a dolt. He is dared to spend the night in a haunted house with a hopping vampire — a dare he accepts, because he is “Bold” Cheung, after all. What follows is a Looney Tunes-style slapstick action horror movie with legitimate scares (the vampire makeup is terrific: gray with a gross texture, like a wet papier-mâché mask), dazzling rhythmic martial arts choreography, and perfectly placed dashes of comedy (there’s even an extended Duck Soup homage).

Sammo is truly one of the greatest directors to ever do it, but he doesn’t get the proper credit globally because of the genres (and nation) he’s primarily worked in. The jaw-dropping choreography and onslaught of funny bits are outstanding, but it’s his skill with the camera that has always separated Sammo from his counterparts.

Bringing it back to his old friend Yuen Biao for a second — Biao co-stars as the silent vampire, and does a terrific job selling the undead creature’s fight sequences with stiff limbs and startling hops. This movie is colorful, funny, scary, tense, and an incredibly fun time. If you like the Evil Dead movies, this is one you must check out; Sam Raimi basically directly ripped one of Spooky Kind’s fight sequences for Evil Dead II. —Pete Volk

Eyes Without a Face

Edith Scob wears her mask and is on the phone in Eyes Without a Face. Image: Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France

Director: Georges Franju
Cast: Pierre Brasseur, Édith Scob, Alida Valli
Where to watch: Max, Criterion Channel

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


The cenobite Pinhead in Hellraiser, with needles all up in his head Image: Entertainment Film Distributors

Director: Clive Barker
Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence
Where to watch: Prime Video, AMC+, Tubi, Pluto, Hoopla

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


hereditary - toni colette and cast Image: A24

Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro
Where to watch: Max, Kanopy

Hereditary is a victim of its own success. The poster child for the misguided term “elevated horror,” and the subject of more than a few memes (particularly around telephone poles), the thing that often gets lost about Hereditary is that it’s actually really fucking good. And it’s damn scary too.

The movie follows Annie Graham, a difficult mother of two, who just lost her mom. During the funeral service, Annie notices quite a few people are here to mourn the mother she thought had no friends. She eventually learns this group of old people all belonged to the same bizarre semi-cult her mother did. And that’s where the witchy stuff starts.

From there everything descends into a complicated mishmash of tightly coiled family drama, supernatural plotting, and years-old resentments, and it’s absolutely excellent. Who’s to say which is scarier in this movie, the verbal immolation or the literal one?

Even if you’ve seen it already, you probably owe this movie a rewatch. You definitely remember that it’s good, but you probably don’t remember just how great it really is. Hereditary is elegantly creepy, right up until the point that it becomes terrifying. You can’t really ask any more from a horror movie than that. —AG

The Host

Go Ah-sung and Byun Hee-bong in the shop in The Host. Image: Showbox Entertainment

Director: Bong Joon-ho
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il
Where to watch: Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, Mubi, Hoopla, Kanopy, Crackle

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


A woman’s face with some of the skin replaced with a fiery video effect in 1977’s House Image: Toho via Criterion Channel

Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Cast: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Ohba
Where to watch: Max, Criterion Channel

Few movies are as weird and excellent as Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House.

The bizarre ghost story follows a group of school girls who take a vacation to a haunted mansion in the countryside of Japan. Everything starts off well enough, but before long the kids are being attacked by demonic gates, getting eaten by pianos, or opening portals to hell — all with visually an inventive silliness few movies have ever matched. House isn’t all that scary, but it is weird in all the best ways, and nothing else looks or feels like it. — AG

In the Mouth of Madness

Sam Neill is having a very bad time in In the Mouth of Madness, with crosses sharpied on his face. Image: New Line Cinema

Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jurgen Prochnow
Where to watch: Digital rental/purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, YouTube

Among the wildest movies John Carpenter has ever made (and that’s saying something), In the Mouth of Madness follows insurance investigator John Trent (Sam Neill), who is hired to find a missing fame horror novelist. Things become increasingly unhinged as the plots of the author’s books and the various monsters seem to invade the real world. Neill, a staple of this list, is absolutely fantastic responding to the horrors of hell, slowly becoming exactly as off-kilter as they are. By the time the movie makes it to the third act, the door to hell is halfway open and Trent is ready to dive headfirst into the void, which is honestly how every movie’s third act should go.

This is also the third in Carpenter’s apocalypse trilogy, which also includes two other stone-cold classics, The Thing and Prince of Darkness. They aren’t on this list, but you should watch them anyway. — AG

Let the Right One In

Lina Leandersson sits atop a frozen sculpture in Let the Right One In. Image: Sandrew Metronome

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
Where to watch: Hoopla, Kanopy, Plex

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


sideways shot of Annabelle Wallis as Madison lit in red as a mysterious shadow hovers over her bed in Malignant Image: Warner Bros.

Director: James Wan
Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young
Where to watch: Max, Tubi

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

The Mist

A giant multi-legged creature with writhing tendrils lumbering through a mist-covered landscape. Image: The Weinstein Company

Director: Frank Darabont
Cast: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden
Where to watch: Freevee

Any fan of Stephen King worth their salt knows that the so-called king of horror has a lot of movie adaptations of his work. Few films have managed to eclipse, let alone successfully adapt, King’s capacity for horror storytelling, with the exception of (a) Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and (b) Frank Darabont’s The Mist.

Darabont’s third adaptation of a Stephen King story, the film stars Thomas Jane (The Expanse) as a Hollywood poster artist living in Maine who, along with his wife and son and the rest of his neighbors, takes shelter in a supermarket in the wake of a mysterious storm that covers the town in a deadly mist.

Supernatural, otherworldly horrors abound throughout The Mist, but the greatest horror of all is — you guessed it — humanity itself, as seen in the way the townspeople succumb to the temptation to scapegoat those among themselves under the influence of a local religious fanatic. The ending is a gut-punch and sincerely one of the most chilling in any mainstream horror film of its time. If you’ve managed to go unspoiled until now, I won’t ruin the surprise, but needless to say, it’s worth it. —TE

Night of the Living Dead

Duane Jones in front of a boarded-up door in Night of the Living Dead. Image: Continental Distributing

Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Marilyn Eastman
Where to watch: Max, Peacock, Criterion Channel, Shudder, Kanopy, Tubi, Pluto TV

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


Isabelle Adjani with blood coming out of her mouth, and Sam Neill standing behind her, both looking distressed, in Possession. Image: Metrograph Pictures

Director: Andrzej Żuławski
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Heinz Bennent
Where to watch: Shudder

Outside of the most ardent of cinephile circles, Andrzej Żuławski isn’t a name that inspires enthusiastic recognition in the United States. Known for his transgressive brand of arthouse cinema, Żuławski’s career was stymied by Communist authorities in his homeland of Poland, with many of his early films being either heavily censored, banned, or, in one instance, nearly destroyed upon release. It also doesn’t help that the few films of his that have been released in the States have since gone out of print — though that appears to be changing soon.

If you do know Żuławski’s name, it’s likely for his 1981 psychological horror film Possession, a film whose cult status among horror connoisseurs has only been amplified in the decades since its release by its difficulty to obtain on physical media or to view online. Fortunately for everyone, that’s no longer the case.

Set in Cold War-era West Berlin, Żuławski’s film stars Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill as Mark, a Russian spy who returns home to find that his wife, Anna (Isabelle Adjani), has left him and wants a divorce. When Anna refuses to divulge why, only saying that she has not left him for someone else, Mark grows suspicious and has her tailed. What he eventually discovers is a horrifying secret beyond his comprehension, one which awakens a long-dormant wellspring of anxiety, resentment, and despair between the two that threatens to tear apart not only their small family, but their very sanity as well.

Inspired by Żuławski’s own tumultuous divorce in 1976 and his subsequent struggles with suicidal ideation, Possession blurs the line between the autobiographical and the phantasmagorical, with hysterical performances by Neill and Adjani that vacillate between disturbing, comical, and disquietingly sympathetic. An inspiration for everything from Ari Aster’s Midsommar to the 2016 music video for Massive Attack’s “Voodoo in My Blood,” Possession is an essential watch for any serious horror fan. —TE


A young woman wearing a red jacket talks into a microphone on a TV broadcast from a fire station in Rec. Image: Filmax

Directors: Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza
Cast: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Martha Carbonell
Where to watch: For digital rental/purchase on Amazon, YouTube

One of the best and most disturbing found-footage movies ever, [REC] follows a TV reporter and camera person who follow emergency workers into an apartment building, only to discover the dark truth inside: Some of the residents are turning into monsters. Set squarely in the zombie-craze of the mid-2000s, [REC]’s undead creatures owe quite a bit to the raving cannibal infected of 28 Days Later, but the Spanish movie’s flesh-eaters are quite a bit creepier and more disturbed than their predecessors. While many found-footage movies obscure their scariest moments, [REC] uses the format to enhance its creeping dread and drag out the character’s slow careful exploration of the apartment building, ramping the tension up to 11 just in time for the downright terrifying finale. — AG


Ethan Hawke is very serious and on the phone in Sinister. Image: Summit Entertainment

Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Clare Foley, Fred Thompson
Where to watch: Max

A desperate true crime writer, played by Ethan Hawke, moves his family into a house that once played host to an extremely gruesome crime in Scott Derrickson’s terrifically dark horror gem, Sinister. Despite the fact that this movie preceded the latest renaissance of true crime by several years, Hawke seems to have a perfect bead on the genre’s worst creators. He’s one of the all-time-bad horror movie parents, throwing his kids into untold danger all in the hope of writing a new book that could save his career.

Of course, by the time he realizes he’s actually put his family in the path of genuine danger and certain death, it’s already too late for him to write a single word. It’s a straight-over-the-plate premise that feels like you’ll see the scares coming a mile away, but Derrickson takes the story to darker and creepier places than you’d ever expect at first glance, turning it into one of the most terrifying horror movies of the 2010s. —AG


A helmetless man in a bloodied astronaut suit scowls at a man with a flashlight in front of a downed space capsule with an eerie red light emanating from its porthole. Image: Art Pictures Studio/IFC Midnight

Director: Egor Abramenko
Cast: Oksana Akinshina, Fedor Bondarchuk, Pyotr Fyodorov
Where to watch: Digital rental/purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, YouTube

If you’re hungry for a great piece of contemporary Russian sci-fi horror (i.e., something not directed by either Andrei Tarkovsky or Yakov Protazanov), then Egor Abramenko’s 2020 directorial debut is just the film you’re looking for.

Set during 1983 at the height of Cold War tensions, Sputnik (which for your information is Russian for “fellow traveler”) centers on Tatyana (Oskana Akinshina), an uncompromising young psychiatrist with a staunch attitude with regard to the ends justifying the means. Tatyana is recruited by the Soviet military to treat Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov), a wounded cosmonaut and the lone survivor of a mysterious satellite crash. Only upon arriving at the remote hospital facility housing the patient and interacting with him does Tatyana come to realize the horrifying truth: Konstantin did not in fact return from space alone; rather, his body has now become the unwitting host to an organism unlike anything seen on Earth. Caught between her duty to study the creature and her desire to save Konstantin from further harm, Tatyana must make a hard decision upon which the very survival of all humanity may rest.

What makes Abramenko’s debut so compelling is how it takes the basic premise of the “trolley problem” thought experiment and twists it repeatedly (and successfully) to dramatic emotional effect. Akinshina (The Bourne Supremacy) delivers a convincing and compelling performance as Tatyana, a woman forced to confront and overcome the uncompromising attitude that had once assured her success but now threatens to endanger not only another man’s life, but potentially the lives of everyone on the planet along with her own soul. Fyodorov, for his own part, delivers a sympathetically complex (and on occasion, implicitly sinister) performance as Konstantin, a Russian “hero” torn between his perceived duty to his country and his emotional obligation to a loved one he all but abandoned before embarking on his most recent mission. The creature design in this movie is terrific, as is the cinematography and the film’s score.

Having previously been slated for a world premiere at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and subsequently dumped on video-on-demand in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sputnik is exactly the kind of horror movie this list was intended to spotlight: a kind of rare gem of intellectually and viscerally stimulating horror that otherwise goes unappreciated if not given the opportunity to shine. —TE


Jessica Harper holds a sharp object in her hand while looking scared in Suspiria. She stands next to a curtain, with red, blue, and white lighting around her. Image; Seda Spettacoli

Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci
Where to watch: Kanopy

One of the best-looking movies of all time with one of the best soundtracks of all time. What’s better than that?

Dario Argento’s Suspiria tells the story of Suzy Bannion, an American dancer who moves to Germany to study at the prestigious Tanz Akademie. It just so happens that the academy is run by witches. As the facade of the school unravels, Suzy’s fellow students slowly start going missing or dropping dead in increasingly bizarre and horrible ways.

While the plot for Suspiria is interesting, what really makes the movie great is how it looks and how it sounds. Everything about the production design, the costumes, and the colors is eccentric in ways no other horror movie has ever matched. Couple all that with the incredible and haunting soundtrack from European rock band Goblin, and Suspiria becomes an unforgettable horror classic that everyone should see at least once. — AG

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Leatherface is contemplative in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, with a mask on his face Image: Bryanston Distributing Company

Director: Tobe Hooper
Cast: Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Allen Danziger
Where to watch: Peacock, Tubi, Freevee, Pluto TV

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

The Thing

Kurt Russell holds up a lantern in a frosty room Image: Universal Pictures

Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
Where to watch: Digital rental/purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, and YouTube

John Carpenter’s postmodern creature feature takes the idea of alien monsters and makes them simultaneously more recognizable and more gross and unworldly than in any other movie in history. The Thing, the second adaptation of the excellent novella Who Goes There?, remains thrilling, terrifying, and absolutely disgusting more than 40 years after its release.

The Thing follows a group of researchers working at an Antarctic base. Suddenly, a dog from a local Norwegian camp rushes into their base, with Norwegian men hot on its heels, trying to kill it by any means necessary. However, once the American crew takes the dog in and shelters it, they discover it’s an alien that can transform into any living creature, mimicking it perfectly — and that makes every one of them a suspect.

It’s one of the great paranoid thriller premises of all time, but it just so happens to also be filled with gross and fantastic alien gore. There’s nothing quite like The Thing. —AG

Totally Killer

Kiernan Shipka hunched on top of a toilet under a sickly yellow light holding a baseball bat in Totally Killer. Image: Blumhouse Television

Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Olivia Holt, Charlie Gillespie
Where to watch: Prime Video

Totally Killer is a slasher with a sci-fi twist, not unlike the fabulous Happy Death Day movies. The movie follows Jamie (Kiernan Shipka), who has to go back in time to the 1980s to stop a masked serial killer before he kills her mom in the future. When she arrives in the past, however, the high school versions of her mom (Olivia Holt), her dad (Charlie Gillespie), and every other adult in her life aren’t exactly who she thought they’d be.

While Totally Killer isn’t the scariest horror movie on this list, it is undeniably one of the most fun. The cast elevates an already funny script thanks to some fantastic and ridiculous line readings, and the movie has a few novel approaches to time-travel shenanigans that keep the concept from ever overwhelming the movie or dragging it down with too much science. Totally Killer is endearingly silly with just the right amount of sweetness, making it one of the most fun and unique slashers of the last several years. —AG

The Unfriended movies

The teens in Unfriended start to panic on their call Image: Universal Pictures

Director: Levan “Leo” Gabriadze (Unfriended); Stephen Susco (Unfriended: Dark Web)
Cast: Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Renee Olstead (Unfriended); Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel (Unfriended: Dark Web)
Where to watch: Digital rental/purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, and YouTube

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 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


Lupita Nyong’o holding a golf club in Jordan Peele’s Us Image: Universal Pictures

Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss
Where to watch: Digital rental/purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, YouTube

Jordan Peele’s already a horror master just three movies into his career, but Us probably still doesn’t have the reputation it deserves. His 2019 psychological slasher had the unfortunate fate of following up the cultural phenomenon of Get Out, so it had a hard time breaking through, in the way that sophomore projects often do. But taken on its own terms, Us is a fantastic little horror movie with tons of atmosphere and an underground society’s worth of great scares.

The movie follows the Wilson family, whose vacation is interrupted by the arrival of a group of doppelgängers who match up with each member of the family perfectly. The clones, it turns out, are called Tethered, and where they come from is very complicated. But before any kind of explanation of the Tethered, what we see is a parade of violent attacks, home invasions, and some very tense encounters between Lupita Nyong’o and herself.

Us may not be Peele’s best movie, but it is a fascinating mix of slasher thrills and world- building, supported by a fantastic cast all operating at their A games. While the entire cast is great, Elizabeth Moss is a particular standout for her extremely brief but extraordinarily loathsome role as one of the family’s friends. Her performance gives this movie so much of its weird off-kilter vibe, and leads to some of its most unstintingly and gleefully over-the-top violence. Alongside the terrifying tone, Peele manages to build an entire second world underneath our own, and will give you a very unhealthy fear of what you’re really seeing when you look in the mirror. —AG

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