Back in February, Polygon rounded up the best horror movies recently dropped onto streaming services. When you’re in the mood for some spooks, that’s a great place to start. But if you’re specifically browsing Hulu for horror, we’ve got you covered there too. Whether you’re in the mood for a tense, contemplative thriller or a schlocky splatter-fest, the streaming service has plenty of options. Below, we’re recommending ten of our favorites.
28 Days Later
Written by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) and directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire), 28 Days Later reinvigorated the zombie-apocalypse genre for the new millennium. Bike messenger Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma to find London deserted, and soon gets attacked by humans infected by a rage-inducing virus. Jim eventually links up with some fellow survivors, who attempt to escape London after hearing about a potential sanctuary a few hours away. If that sounds familiar, it’s very similar to the opening of The Walking Dead (though creator Robert Kirkman promises it’s a coincidence).
After 28 Days Later, Alex Garland established himself as a master of trippy sci-fi, and his 2018 film Annihilation is his trippiest. Based on the first novel in Jeff VanDerMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson as a team of scientific researchers exploring a forest that has been taken over by an alien presence called the Shimmer. Animal and plant life has mutated inside The Shimmer — plants grow into human silhouettes, a bear screams in their missing teammate’s voice — but that’s not nearly as frightening as the psychological effects on the scientists themselves.
The Cabin in the Woods
There’s something for everyone in Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s loving sendup of the “cabin in wood” genre, encompassing everything from Evil Dead to “torture porn.” The Cabin in the Woods opens on Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins in lab coats, discussing plans for a big upcoming project. It lasts just long enough for you to wonder if you’re in the wrong movie before the title pops up as a jump scare. As it turns out, this underground facility is preparing to perform a ritual: sacrificing a group of teens.
The teens in question head to a cabin, where they check off a bunch of slasher movie clichés: they all explore a creepy basement, the two hot blondes sneak off to have sex in the woods, the stoner kid spouts off a philosophical monologue. Eventually they’re attacked by a “Zombie Redneck Torture Family” unaware that their deaths are appeasing a mysterious evil force.
And if that’s not enough for you, it stars a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth as a jock with a heart of gold.
An adventure trip goes horribly awry in Neil Marshall’s 2005 horror adventure. (Marshall would later go on to direct some of the best Game of Thrones episodes: “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall.”) When a group of friends descends into an unexplored cave system, they discover that the underground cavern is actually a den of terrifying monsters. It’s enough to put anyone off spelunking for good, as the claustrophobic squeezes through narrow rock passages are almost scarier than the monsters tearing apart human flesh.
I Trapped the Devil
When Matt and his wife Karen arrive at his estranged brother Steve’s house for a surprise Christmas visit, he’s shocked and appalled to learn that Steve has a man locked in his basement. Even more worrisome: Steve claims that the man is the literal devil. As Matt and Karen try to figure out what to do, Steve starts having visions of his dead wife and daughter which drive him even further into his paranoia. I Trapped the Devil is nonstop, slow-burn tension, from the moment Matt and Karen pull up to Steve’s house to the inevitable tragic ending. Director Josh Lobo plays with that tension, making the audience feel as uncomfortable and unsettled as the three leads.
Stephen King’s story about a writer, his biggest fan, and a rather ... torturous recuperation process, has only grown in relevancy as social media as connected creators directly to their audiences. Now that we’re in a King movie adaptation boom (and because Castle Rock season 2 lifts directly from the source material), there’s never been a better time to check out Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Misery. Kathy Bates stars as the deranged nurse Annie Wilkes, and it might just be the greatest King-related performance ever committed to screen. —Matt Patches
Mom and Dad
Nicolas Cage is perfectly suited for weird indie horror (see also: Mandy, Color Out of Space,) with his almost supernatural ability to contorting his face and voice into strange new shapes. As a filicidal father stalking his teen children after a rage-inducing virus turns parents against their offspring, he’s delightfully unhinged. Selma Blair more than holds her own as his equally murderous wife. The result is a pitch-black comedy-horror that’s as fun as it is bloody.
Paranormal Activity 3
Paranormal Activity is the rare franchise to improve with each trilogy entry. The original was only shot for $15,000. The third, under the direction of Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish) is a well-polished ghost story which bends the found-footage aesthetic with wonderful, chilling gimmicks. It’s also a prequel: 27 years before the events of the first movie, a young Katie is growing up with her mother, her sister, and her mother’s boyfriend. The Amblin-esque setup opens the door to new frights and new mythology — an unexpected twist for a series built on did-you-hear-that jump scares. More movies need demonology! —MP
OK, OK, Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece class satire isn’t a horror movie in the strictest sense, but there’s enough creepy imagery and flashes of violence that it counts. Plus, what’s scarier than capitalist social hierarchy? If you haven’t yet seen the historic Best Picture Oscar winner, the less you know going into it the better, so we won’t spoil anything here. And if you’ve already seen Parasite, we’d still recommend it. Your second (or third or fourth) watch is even more rewarding.
A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place features one of the simplest and most effective horror concepts: a world where making a single noise can get you killed. As if that wasn’t already tense enough, imagine trying to deliver a newborn when the slightest cry could mean their death. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (John Krasinski, who also directed) are doing their best to keep their family whole, and the movie plays out like a slice-of-life film of their lives, which happens to be in a post-apocalyptic setting.
At times, the scenes are almost idyllic, the twinkling lights strung around the corn fields giving the feeling of a made-for-Instagram wedding venue. But this only serves to underline the stress inherent in their existence. The only mar on this film is the underwhelming monster design itself, which I can excuse because A Quiet Place isn’t really about the monsters. It’s about the way the monsters changed the world to turn every second into a struggle with the basically non-existent margin of error. If you still need to be convinced, check out this piece on the relatable terror inherent in the concept. —Jenna Stoeber
The Wilson family’s peaceful vacation spins out of control when a family of violent doppelgangers appear in their driveway and insist on becoming “untethered.” The leader of the group is familiar to Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) — she and Red had a fateful meeting as children, and now Red’s back to free herself and her fellow tethered.
Us presents a core spooky concept and spins it into something larger and more terrifying. The slow-and-steady build never lets the tension drop — it only lets you catch your breath for a moment before plunging back in. Stylish throwbacks to ‘70s horror root this story in the genre’s long history, even as the visual symbolism — white rabbits, shiny golden scissors — stands out as wholly unique. The entire cast performs their dual roles impeccably, but Lupita Nyong’o is especially mesmerizing as the lead protagonist and antagonist. This tense follow up to Get Out proves that Jordan Peele is not a flash in the pan, but a director of immense skill, capable of pushing an idea without losing sight of the overall story. —JS
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