The best horror movies on Shudder are a terrifying bunch. The good news is that the streaming giant that's exclusively for scares is just getting better and better every month. There's never been a better time to be a horror fan as the service picks up favourites from festivals and creates its own Shudder Originals. Where previously brilliant horror films would sit for years with nowhere to go, Shudder is bringing these hissing creatures into the cold light of day.
Shudder collects all different types of horror too so you'll always find something to suit you. All out slashers are here alongside old school folk horror, creature features, and psychological nightmares. Whether you're looking for something fun and scary like Jakob's Wife or the all out frights of Zoom-based Host, Shudder is happy to serve up the right terror from its buffet of horror. Mind the mystery meat, won't you?
The best horror movies on Shudder in this list are available in both the US and the UK so you don't need to worry about being in the right region. All you need to do is find your perfect popcorn and lock the door. You never know what's lurking outside. Grab your remote control and pop the fire poker down by your feet just in case and enjoy the best horror movies on Shudder.
Anything For Jackson (2020)
Elderly grandparents tend to be depicted in a specific way. Sweet… doting… on hand day or night to offer a kind word or a cup of tea… Well that’s Audrey and Henry too. Although, they’re Satanists and so bereft with grief after the death of their grandson Jackson, that they are willing to kidnap a pregnant woman and sacrifice her in the hope of Jackson’s return. It’s a blackly comic premise, literally executed exceptionally well. Anything For Jackson manages to be hilarious, tense, and often truly terrifying. Oh, and if you don’t like tooth-based horror, you’re going to have to look away during one particularly grim moment. Shudder truly lives up to its name here.
Jakob’s Wife (2021)
It’s been a while since we had a solid vampire movie and Jakob’s Wife doesn’t just tick the gruey monster box but also manages to bite off some societal commentary about suburban life at the same time. The iconic Barbara Crampton is electric as Anne, the wife of a small town minister, who is transformed into a creature of the night. This gives her a fresh perspective on life as well as a hunger for redder meat than she’s used to. Or should that be stakes…? Splattery and ludicrous fun, Jakob’s Wife is an old school style horror with a gory bleeding heart.
Lake Mungo (2008)
Trying to talk about the plot of Lake Mungo is a little bit like bringing a certain Chuck Palahnuik book into everyday conversation. Breaking that first rule a little is essential though, just to get you to press play. Lake Mungo is a combination of mockumentary and found footage as it tells us the story of the Palmer family who have tragically lost their daughter. Also, like the very best found footage movies, it happens so be absolutely terrifying. It’s gained a cult following over the years for very good reason. Turn off the lights and your phone to find out for yourself. The devil here is in the details.
The Mortuary Collection (2019)
Finding a good horror anthology movie always feels like something special. Especially when a film perfectly understands the creepy brief by feeling like a haunted VHS you’ve just discovered in the attic. And the structure is beautifully simple. When a young woman applies for a job at a suitably menacing-looking mortuary she gets the mortician to tell some of his scariest stories from over the years. One of the short films is a little grim but the others are a perfect blend of hokey, funny, scary and just plain gross. One safe sex allegory is particularly spectacular on that front... Add in a brilliantly atmospheric wrapper around the whole thing and The Mortuary Collection is creeptastic fare.
Sometimes, every so often, a little indie horror movie comes along containing such spectacular scares that we worry what would happen if the director had been given a little more cash. Caveat from Damien McCarthy sees a man journey to an island to look after a disturbed young woman. Honestly, there are more questions than answers here but Caveat is like a haunted house movie where you’ll have no idea what will happen next and it's all the better for it. Genuinely swear-inducingly terrifying in its third act, this is a movie that you won't want to watch alone. Oh, and there’s a really creepy bunny with a drum that should have its own entire horror movie universe.
And here you were thinking that the scariest thing about Zoom was the potential announcement of yet another mandatory work pub quiz. Lagging issues and forgetting to turn off mute are the least of this group of friends’ worries when they get together for a Zoom seance over lockdown.
It’s no surprise that things go rather wrong but the way the action unfolds over a frankly ludicrously economical 56-minute run time makes for a relentlessly terrifying horror movie. Great performances, gloriously innovative uses of modern tech, and nods to found footage classics make Host a horrific lockdown masterpiece.
Firstly, don’t let the title put you off: Joko Anwar’s Impetigore isn’t wall-to-wall arterial spurts. Instead, this is a beautiful Indonesian folk horror with great characters and some brilliant scares. Following an incredible horror opener, Maya and her best friend Dini head to a remote village to uncover the mysteries of Maya’s dark past. Now it wouldn’t be on Shudder if she found a long lost family and a happily ever after, would it? It gets a little exposition heavy in the latter half, but there are plenty of thrills here and even some excellent comedy moments.
The Beach House (2019)
When Emily and Randall head to the beach for some much-needed R&R, they’re not expecting another couple to arrive at the same holiday house. However, it turns out that’s the least of their worries when a bright blue phosphorescence starts lazily floating inland. As cosmic horrors go, The Beach House starts off slow but there are tentacles, slime and body nastiness aplenty here, making it well worth a wince-inducing watch. Prepare for jellyfish on the beach to become even more horrific.
Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)
Taking a leaf from Guillermo del Toro’s book of mixing heartbreak and horror, Issa López’s nightmare blends fantasy with the lives of children amidst the Mexican war on drugs. When Estrella’s mother goes missing in the chaos in her city, she finds herself with an unlikely gang of orphans. There’s a heavy mix of tragedy and monstrous fairytale fantasy that at times feel slightly at odds, but Tigers Are Not Afraid still delivers a fresh story that’s a world away from more traditional jump-scare packed horror.
Perhaps you’re new to the horror genre? Maybe you’ve never heard of Audition – innocent and unaware of the two decades of scars it has left on cinema’s collective consciousness? Burying Takasha Miikes’s horror masterpiece here as something to merely add to your watchlist feels, quite frankly, cruel – but what else can we do? When Shigeharu Aoyama makes it his mission to find a new wife and thus “auditions” a series of women, he ends up in a predicament that has haunted horror fans since 1999. You’re unlikely to want to go on Tinder or Bumble ever again.
La Llorona (2019)
Not to be confused with the utterly snooze-worthy extension of The Conjuring Universe released last year, this Guatemalan treatment of “The Weeping Woman” is a truly unsettling ghost story. Like Tigers Are Not Afraid, this is the kind of horror happy to wrap its tendrils around very real and human stories. La Llorona centers around the family of a Guatemalan dictator responsible for horrific war crimes and, while director Jayro Bustamante adds in more traditional horror scares, it’s the darker side of history that unnerves in this atmospheric nightmare.
Few horror subgenres feel scuzzier or more exploitative than the rape revenge movie, so as feature debuts go, writer and director Coralie Fargeat had quite the challenge on her hands. But in joyous, if gloriously gory news, it turns out that it’s entirely possible to wrestle the genre back from years of toxic masculinity. A searingly colourful feast for the eyes, and with a thumping synth soundtrack and tour de force performance from Matilda Lutz, Revenge is a deftly handled horror with a brutal message and relentless violence. Revenge is, after all, deliciously sweet.
The Cleansing Hour (2020)
Sometimes horror movies don’t have to be too smart; they just have to be the perfect accompaniment to a pile of sweet-and-salty popped kernels. This possession tale delivers on both schlock and horror, telling the tale of a streamer who performs *ahem* “live exorcisms” and sells religious merchandise receiving a nasty surprise during a live broadcast. The appearance of real demons might be predictable from the outset, but there are plenty of fun surprises and genuinely nasty moments to keep both the frights and comedy rollicking happily along.
High concept horror movies can go one of two ways. The sadly more common direction is the shallow fin-filled vapidity of ‘oh, we’ll fix it in post’ Sharknado. But then a gory gem like Slaxx comes along about a pair of murderous jeans and you realise that even the silliest of horror ideas can have something valuable to say. Sure, Slaxx makes sure its message is well lubricated with gallons of blood, but as anti-capitalism subtexts go, shop assistants and influencers being picked off by a pair of bloodthirsty trousers is a killer concept with great execution. Belt up for this one.
As we said above regarding Revenge, the rape revenge movie is a challenging and controversial genre but that doesn’t make it an impossible task. Violation was written and directed by Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer and stars Sims-Fewer as Miriam, a woman who is raped by her sister’s husband. Sims Fewer’s performance is exceptional and the fragmented dissection of her subsequent actions is a masterful depiction of trauma. As you’d expect, it’s not an easy watch, but Violation is a terrifyingly human experience. Maybe watch Revenge as a palate cleanser afterwards…
Some horror movies feel so relevant that they feel like they’ve been pulled - obviously screaming and covered in gore - from current public consciousness. Natasha Kermani’s Lucky, starring and with a script from Brea Grant, is a stinging commentary on violence against women. Initially the movie feels like a mere slasher as author May is terrorised on a nightly basis by an ultra-creepy masked stalker, but Lucky only gets smarter as it goes along. If you’re hunting for a traditional horror experience you won’t find it here but go along for the ride and this will be an unexpected #hardrelate for a lot of people.
The Power (2021)
Whenever we’re afraid of the dark, all we need to do, even if it feels irrationally far, is reach for the bedside lamp. But what if a flick of that switch did nothing at all? Set amidst the miners' strikes of 1974 as Britain’s electricity just stopped overnight, Corinna Faith’s The Power drips with atmosphere as a young nurse takes on night shifts in an old hospital. The subtext isn’t quite as clever as you might like it to be but for sheer feeling alone, The Power is worth the 90 minute run time.
Witchfinder General (1968)
It’s time for some folk horror homework. The so-called Unholy Trinity of the genre is made up of The Wicker Man (no, not the one with Nicholas Cage), The Blood on Satan’s Claw, and the infamous Witchfinder General from Michael Reeves. The latter two films are on Shudder and we advise watching both but as sheer horror goes, Witchfinder General should be first on your list. There’s nothing going bump in the night, meaning that the real terror comes from the evils of humanity, all the more shocking amidst a peaceful rural setting.
Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1982)
If you want to treat Shudder as a source of movies you would have accidentally recorded overnight on a long play VHS, Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is the ultimate slasher discovery. Also known as Night Warning, this bold 80s nightmare stars the incredible Susan Tyrrell chewing up the scenery as a loving aunt who adopts her nephew when his parents die in a tragic accident. Given that you probably heard the italics of that last word, you might think you know what to expect but this is an unnerving thrill ride with some seriously crunchy subtext.