October is the month for watching horror. Whether it’s something gory and macabre, silly and irreverent, eerie and unsettling; the genre of horror is as rich and varied as the multitude of ghost, ghoulies, and homicidal maniacs that go bump in the night. We’ve had a blast this month recommending a diverse host of titles to stream and watch this month through our Halloween Countdown Calendar this year.
But perhaps, maybe, you’re not looking for any one specific horror film to watch this Halloween season, but rather the best horror films available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Paramount Plus? No worries, we’ve got the good. 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 nine best horror movies to watch this Halloween season.
28 Days Later
Danny Boyle injected new life into the shambling corpse of zombie horror with his 2004 post apocalyptic film 28 Days Later. Set four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus in a clandestine testing facility spreads throughout the UK, transforming those infected into ravenous man-eating monsters, a handful of survivors attempt to band together and find sanctuary among the ruins of society. A sizable breakout film for several notable actors including Cillian Murphy (Inception), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), and Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), 28 Days Later is a modern horror classic, and patient zero for zombie horror film’s second renaissance. —Toussaint Egan
28 Days Later is available to stream on HBO Max.
Based on Jeff Vandermeer’s 2014 novel of the same name, Alex Garland’s Annihilation stars Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist who alongside a team of four other women including physicist Josie (Tessa Thompson), paramedic Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Geomorphologist Cassie (Tuva Novotny), and the elusive psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) ventures into a bizarre region of United States code-named “Area X” that is separated by strange barrier that continues to expand with each passing day. Spurred by the disappearance of her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac), Lena volunteers for the expedition in search of answers to his disappearance, only to discover that Area X is a world unto itself that defies any and all forms of rationale explanation. Garland’s film is a taut, terse, and macabre ecological horror thriller, brimming with twisted creatures morphed by the anomalous forces which reign unimpeded over the terrain of Area X alongside deeper questions with answers too unsettling to fit within the shape of words. —TE
Annihilation is available to stream on Paramount Plus.
10 years before Robert Downey Jr.’s debut as Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man, Wesley Snipes delivered Marvel its first hit movie through his career-defining role as Blade, a half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter. Forced to wage a war against an underground society of vampires led by Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), a megalomaniacal vampire with world-ending ambitions, Blade must at the same time work alongside his mentor Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) and hematologist Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) to manage his own terrible, suppressed thirst for human blood. Come for the blood rave, stay for the kickass action sequences. —TE
Blade is available to stream on HBO Max.
In Come True, writer-director-cinematographer Anthony Scott Burns (Holidays) brings parasomniac nightmare to its obvious place on the screen. Actor Julia Sarah Stone plays Sarah, a high school student who runs away from home only to fall victim to recurring episodes of sleep paralysis. Enrolling in a paid sleep study seems like a win-win for a stray teen, but the experiments only seem to make the horrific images that clog Sarah’s dreams even more harrowing. There’s obviously something more going on — as there should be in any good horror film. To quote our review, “Essentially, it’s A Nightmare on Elm Street with a sense of pure dread in place of a gleefully evil Freddy Krueger figure. Burns understands the clammy, vivid feelings of a bad dream [...] He also has a skilled navigator of those bad feelings in Stone, who makes Sarah’s opacity empathetic and compelling.” —Matt Patches
Come True is available to stream on Hulu.
Alexandre Aja’s pulp thriller delivers on delightfully grandiose alligator action, while, somewhat surprisingly, conveying a suspenseful survival story full of tense moments and sharp surprises. In Crawl, Haley (Kaya Scodelario) heeds news of a Category 5 hurricane and returns to her hometown of Coral Lake, Florida, when she can’t immediately contact her father (Barry Pepper). After finding his apartment missing, she journeys through the storm to her old family home and descends into the crawl space — finding bloody pipes and her trapped and wounded father, cowering from a giant alligator blocking the exit.
The alligators, the tight crawl space — a controversial topic amongst Floridians who thought it was a basement — and the hurricane all work separately, but together they create some claustrophobic, truly terrifying moments, taking Crawl from a simple creature feature to a tense disaster film that mashes the outlandish and suspenseful into chompingly good fun. —Petrana Radulovic
Crawl is available to stream on Hulu.
Creep & Creep 2
Leave it to indie darling Mark Duplass and his regular collaborator Patrick Brice (The Overnight) to keep the found-footage horror movie kickin’ 15 years after The Blair Witch Project. In Creep, Josef (Duplass) recruits Aaron (Brice), a videographer, off Craigslist with the intention of filming a goodbye letter to his unborn son. Josef is dying ... at least, that’s how he convinces his new buddy Aaron to spend the night in the woods drinking whiskey with him. The batshit revelations are best left unsaid, and just how Creep 2 picks up the story, with Girls actress Desiree Akhavan front and center as a hopeful YouTube star, is even more of a hoot. Creep is the deranged, internet-friendly horror franchise we deserve. —MP
Creep and Creep 2 are available to stream on Netflix.
The Empty Man
Director David Prior’s feature debut is the scariest movie of 2020 and one of its best. The movie’s main story follows a man named James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) as he searches for a missing girl. While on the case, he hears about a legend of a shadowy figure called “the empty man” who stalks anyone who’s seen him for three days before he strikes. While this premise alone might be enough for a creepy-enough movie, Prior blows the concept up into something truly special, spanning the globe — in an outstanding 15 minute prologue — and finally bringing in a cult whose leader might actually have supernatural powers. Despite the fact that none of these make sense together on paper, Prior makes all three feel like part of one cohesive, terrifying story. —Austen Goslin
The Empty Man is available to stream on HBO Max.
The Evil Dead & Evil Dead 2
Bruce Campbell stars in Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead in a career-defining role as Ash Williams, the loveable dunderhead-turned-maniacal chainsaw-wielding demon slayer. The original Evil Dead is a cult classic of the “cabin in the woods” subgenre of supernatural horror, filled with grotesque prosthetic makeup effects and impressive stop-motion animation courtesy of special effects maestro Tom Sullivan. The Evil Dead expertly skews the line between horror and camp, thrumming with terrifying kills and quippy one-liners in equal measure. The sequel, Evil Dead 2, inventively retcons and continues from the conclusion of the first and improves upon the original in almost every aspect. The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are terrific horror films; frightening, thrilling and, to quote Ash himself, absolutely groovy. —TE
The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 is available to stream on HBO Max.
If you’ve already given Halloween (and 2018’s Halloween) a spin, it’s time to go back to John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s other collaboration with Jamie Lee Curtis. The tale of a thick fog sweeping over the California coast, and a gang of seafaring specters who drift along in it, the movie takes a radically different approach to scares than Carpenter’s foray into horror, but relies on his slow-and-steady hand to build atmospheric tension. The movie leans a bit schlockier in the jump-scare department, but with strong effects work and Curtis’ usual charisma, The Fog is a worthy horror movie obscured by a director and actor who made a genuine classic together.
The Fog is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Watching Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House is like watching a live-action cartoon. The bonkers cult horror classic bursts off of the screen with bold experimentalism and charming surrealism from the first frame and at no point ever lets up. The film follows a group of eccentric schoolgirls who travelled to the haunted country home of one of their ailing aunts, only to be menaced by preternatural forces and apparitions as the house gradually begins to take on a life of its own. Oddball comedy meets architectural horror in what is likely to be one of the most hilarious and memorable movie experiences you’ll ever have. —TE
House is available to stream on HBO Max.
The House on Haunted Hill
Gimmick-meister William Castle’s fun-forward horror flicks hold up just as well without spooky accoutrement. With a cast led by Vincent Price, House on Haunted Hill finds a macabre millionaire inviting a number of unsuspecting, money-hungry guests for a night at his haunted mansion rental. If anyone can last the night, they get $10,000. But it’s haunted! Or is it? Castle’s funhouse tricky weaves its way into both plot and execution.
The fun here is all the sight gags on screen. There are ghosts, skeletons, violent hands brandishing weapons, and a basement with its own acid death pit. The old fashioned rat-a-tat dialogue and goofy setups keep House on Haunted Hill as blissfully silly as any straight-faced remake (and, seriously, the remake of this one is bad). It’s also a joy to see Price in action, reminding viewers with each scene why he’s one of the key voices of classic horror. Castle had to hustle to get butts in seats back in the day, but this one’s a no-brainer for any crowd with varying degrees of horror tolerance. —MP
The House on Haunted Hill is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
The home invasion movie gets a fresh spin from The Haunting of Bly Manor creator and Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan in Hush, a lean, mean feature that centers on a deaf-mute woman’s fight against a would-be killer. Maddie (Kate Siegel, who also co-wrote the film) lives on her own in the woods, and becomes the focus of a man (John Gallagher Jr.) after he chases and kills one of her friends, discovering through Maddie’s failure to notice that she cannot hear anything. It’s a terrific modern slasher, and even got the seal of approval from Stephen King. —MP
Hush is available to stream on Netflix.
Byran Bertino’s 2008 film The Strangers is a lean and profoundly gripping horror movie that strips the home invasion subgenre down to its bare essential parts to drive home the intimate, primal terror of its premise. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star as a married couple who, upon arriving at a secluded vacation house following a fateful night out for dinner together, are stalked and terrorized by a masked trio of serial killers. All of this raises the question: Why? The answer is more obvious and horrifying than you can imagine. —TE
The Strangers is available to stream on Netflix.
In Hong-jin Na’s horror mystery The Wailing, a small village in South Korea is plagued with unsettling rumors of demonic possession and paranormal activity. When police officer Jong-Goo (Kwak Do-won) and his partner are called in to investigate a rash of murders linked to a mysterious disease, all clues and intuitions point to a young Japanese priest. What Jong-Goo and co. uncover is a horror that defies description and indelibly marks the lives, and deaths, of all who encounter it. It’s a masterpiece of mood, and a 156 minutes, a parade of every horror trope imaginable. —TE
The Wailing is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.