Horror movies don't always get great critical receptions, but even by those standards the Five Nights at Freddy's movie – which is available to stream on Peacock – is getting an absolute shoeing from reviewers: Buttered Popcorn calls it a "monstrous mess", The Independent calls it "generic horror movie sludge" and Double Toasted says "they didn't have anything for two hours, much less five nights".
It's only fair to note here that one member of team TechRadar loved the movie, but others in our group who saw it… did not. However, it's been a massive hit for Peacock, giving the streamer its best movie launch numbers to date, beating The Super Mario Bros. Movie (via IGN).
But with a truly terrible 27% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this is clearly one to avoid if you're not a fan of the franchise – especially since Peacock has such a rich catalog of much better movies. So here are four brilliantly horrific thrillers and thrilling horrors you can enjoy with your Peacock subscription instead.
With a 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating from the critics, M3GAN has the kind of reviews that'd make FNAF's creators weep. It doesn't really do anything new, but what it does do it does tremendously, and this tale of a robot companion turned bloodthirsty slasher has tremendous fun with its horror movie tropes. It's not particularly gory or scary, but it's very tense in places, with fantastic use of humor at just the right moments to stop it becoming too much, and to give it a satirical edge. It's that rare thing, a film that lives up to the trailer. M3GAN is one of our very favorite movies of the year period, not just one of our favorite slashers.
Someone on social media cracked us up the other day by claiming John Carpenter's 1982 monster movie was actually a Christmas one: you have snow, a man with a beard, crackling fires… but it's safe to say that few Santa stories have bits quite like the truly horrific CPR scene that we still have nightmares about decades after we first saw it. The Thing's effects have barely dated, because they're from a pre-CGI era and so are frequently totally inexplicable, leaving you wondering how this was possibly acheived. When combined with the brutally isolated and paranoid atmosphere, it remains an absolute horror masterpiece that's up there with Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the original) as a film that doesn't just make you jump out of your seat but that also gets under your skin.
Jordan Peele is a modern master of horror whose debut, Get Out (also available on Peacock) is one of the most frightening things we've ever seen – in Peele's world, Hell really is other people. His second movie, Us, is just as frightening but this time Peele is painting with a much larger canvas, and in a much more slasher-y vein.
It's a strange, slow-burning film that does a spectacular job of ratcheting up the tension to unbearable levels. What begins with a young girl seeing her doppelgänger in a funhouse becomes a deeply disturbing psychological horror that's only rarely violent, but when the violence does come it's the barely-watchable bone-crunching kind, not the cartoonish violence of many other movies.
Like Get Out, this is a horror with something to say – and what it has to say is deeply uncomfortable. As the New York Times put it, "Us offers no easy answers, but indicts us all."
Let The Right One In
Where to start? This is as close to perfect as horror movies get, and somewhat ironically given that it's about a vampire it also helped bring the vampire genre back to life after years of schlocky horror and high camp. Set in snowy Sweden, it's a story about loneliness, about yearning for connection, about young love, about queerness… even without the vampire element it would have been a beautiful movie.
But Oskar's friend Eli is no ordinary child, and their doomed friendship elevates the story into something truly special. NPR's Fresh Air called it "probably the best vampire movie in the last 75 years", while the LA Times called it "sinister, but gorgeous and compelling". TV Guide said "pre-adolescent angst has rarely been as eerie or as unsettlingly honest".
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.