clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Viggo Mortensen lies on a couch in black robes at a party, with Ley Seydoux and Kristen Stewart sat to either side Photo: Nikos Nikolopoulos/Neon

Filed under:

The best horror movies you can watch right now

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

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

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 Crimes of the Future as an editor’s pick.

Editor’s pick

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

Year: 2022
Run time: 1h 47m
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart

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

Crimes of the Future is available to stream on Hulu.


Jessica (Jules Wilcox) in Alone. Image: XYZ Films/Magnet Releasing

Year: 2020
Run time: 1h 38m
Director: John Hyams
Cast: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald

A taut spine-chiller from John Hyams (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning), Alone is your classic woman-on-the-run thriller. Jessica (Jules Willcox), a recent widow, is in the midst of moving. If that wasn’t enough stress, a creepy man (Marc Menchaca) appears to be following her on the road. After he slashes her tires, she crashes and wakes up in his basement. What follows is a tightly crafted thriller with great performances, outstanding direction, and enough tension to keep your heart pounding throughout the 98-minute running time. —Pete Volk

Alone is available to stream on Hulu, for free with a library card on Kanopy, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.


A woman in a white shirt with black gloves prepares a deadly syringe in Takashi Miike’s Audition Image: Arrow Films

Year: 1999
Run time: 1h 53m
Director: Takashi Miike
Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina

Best known for its brutally violent finale, Takashi Miike’s 1999 horror film as a whole is a taut and gripping drama that unravels its characters’ psychological hang-ups and neuroses before plunging headfirst into a heart of darkness and unsettling imagery.

As we wrote in the inaugural entry of this year’s Halloween Countdown,

Miike’s film holds its cards relatively close to its chest for most of its run time, unspooling its tightly wound mystery like garrote wire before peeling back its skin of meet-cute artifice to reveal a pulsing mass of horrors roiling beneath. The film descends into a macabre fugue state of assumptions, misdirections, and cinematic sleights of hand, with dreams that feel almost real set against a reality too terrifying to be anything but. In the end, though, these are just words. Only pain can be trusted.

Audition is available to stream on Arrow Video and Hi-Yah!, for free with ads on Tubi, and for free on Kanopy with a library card. It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Apple TV and Vudu.


Georgina Campbell pulls a rope in Barbarian Image: 20th Century Studios

Year: 2022
Run time: 1h 42m
Director: Zach Cregger
Cast: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long

This is one of those movies you should watch without knowing anything else. It’s tense, it’s funny (writer-director Zach Cregger is best known as a member of the comedy group The Whitest Kids U’Know) and features great performances by Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, and Justin Long. The rest I will leave to you to find out. You’re welcome. —PV

Barbarian is available to stream on HBO Max, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.


A car engulfed in flames in Christine. Image: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Year: 1983
Run time: 1h 50m
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul

A high school horror movie about a nerd who falls in love with a haunted car, Christine is an extraordinary Stephen King adaptation and a standout in John Carpenter’s consistently excellent filmography.

Arnie (Keith Gordon) is an unpopular high schooler in California who has just one friend, a popular football player named Dennis (John Stockwell, who in many ways is the emotional core of the movie, as someone who cares deeply about Arnie). When the two come across a broken-down old Plymouth Fury (a vehicle that we’ve already seen commit murder and mayhem in an opening sequence set in a 1950s car assembly plant), Arnie decides he must have it. He quickly becomes obsessed with the car, named “Christine,” and human and vehicle both become jealous of anybody who might interrupt their time together. He also starts to dress and act more like a greaser dirtbag from the 1950s. It’s a great time for everybody, except Arnie’s human loved ones.

The practical effects in Christine deserve special recognition here. The car can heal itself, an effect that is shown on camera in full, glorious display. The special effects team made rubber molds of Christine and then imploded it, running the shot in reverse in the film to evoke the effect of a self-healing vehicle. It’s astounding to behold decades later.

Filled with great high school archetypes that are subverted just enough to keep things interesting, a haunting score by Carpenter, and a brief appearance by Harry Dean Stanton, Christine is popcorn 1980s horror at its best. —PV

Christine is available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon and Apple TV.


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

Year: 1997
Run time: 1h 50m
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Kōji Yakusho, Tsuyoshi Ujiki, Anna Nakagawa

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. —Toussaint Egan

Cure is available to watch on the Criterion Channel.

Deep Red

A strange mannequin stands ominously in a living room in Deep Red. Image: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Year: 1975
Run time: 2h 6m
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia

Among the best and most well known of Italy’s giallo genre, this beautifully shot slasher is full of mystery, terror, and lots and lots murder. The movie’s purposefully complicated story more or less follows a jazz musician who witnesses a murder, but also mixes in some psychic powers for good measure. Giallo movies are, by design, strange, lurid, and full of gross and grimy things — both their plots and their murders. But the incredible filmmaking and gorgeous colors make Deep Red enchanting to watch, no matter how brutally most of its cast dies. —Austen Goslin

Deep Red is available to stream on Shudder, AMC Plus, and Mubi, for free with ads on Pluto TV and Vudu, or for free with a library card on Hoopla and Kanopy. It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, and Google Play.

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

Year: 1959
Run time: 1h 24m
Director: Georges Franju
Cast: Pierre Brasseur, Édith Scob, Alida Valli

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

Eyes Without a Face is available to watch on Max and The Criterion Channel, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon and Apple TV.


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

Year: 1987
Run time: 1h 33m
Director: Clive Barker
Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence

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

Hellraiser is available to watch on Prime Video, AMC+, Shudder, for free with ads on Tubi and Pluto TV, or for free with a library card on Hoopla. It is also available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

The Host

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

Year: 2006
Run time: 1h 59m
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il

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

The Host is available to watch on Max, for free with ads on The Roku Channel, and for free with a library card on Hoopla or Kanopy. It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

Jacob’s Ladder

Tim Robbins as Jacob Singer, lying red-eyed in a bathtub full of water. Image: TriStar Pictures

Year: 1990
Run time: 1h 53m
Director: Adrian Lyne
Cast: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello

Adrian Lyne’s 1990 psychological horror film Jacob’s Ladder stars Tim Robbins as Jacob, a former American infantryman who is plagued by recurring nightmares of his time fighting in Vietnam. As his visions begin to intensify, seeping into his waking reality and seemingly claiming the lives of all those close to him, Jacob will have to descend into world of horrors beyond his wildest imagination where the only way out is through.

As I mentioned on our list of the best movies on Paramount Plus:

Inspired by the works of Francis Bacon and H. R. Giger and utilizing jarring fast motion in-camera special effects, Jacob’s Ladder is a hallucinatory body-horror thriller that’ll have you gripped to your seat.

Keep your head on a swivel when watching this one. —TE

Jacob’s Ladder is available to stream on Prime Video, Paramount Plus and MGM Plus, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

Let the Right One In

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

Year: 2008
Run time: 1h 54m
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar

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

Let the Right One In is available to watch on Hulu and Prime Video, for free with ads on The Roku Channel and Crackle, or for free with a library card on Hoopla and Kanopy. It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

Mad God

A grotesque creature peering down at a shaft of blue light with a ruined landscape in the background in Mad God. Image: Tippett Studio

Year: 2021
Run time: 1h 23m
Director: Phil Tippet
Cast: N/A

If Mad God could be summed up in a single word, it is gross. A feature-length descent into a Boschian hellscape of scatalogical (and eschatological) horrors stacked on top of one another like the strata of an impossible tower of Babel, each layer oozing with pus, bile, blood, ichor, and excrement. Another word to describe it would be phenomenal, an apocalyptic stop-motion horror epic over three decades in the making through the meticulous, unfettered craftsmanship of Phil Tippett, the legendary visual effects director and artist behind such films as the original Star Wars trilogy, RoboCop, and Jurassic Park.

I could tell you about the story of the film, but in truth, the story is little more than a matter of personal interpretation. What matters in Mad God, first and foremost, is the animation. Tippett’s masterpiece is a resounding testament to the power of unrestrained creativity and the intrinsic cathartic capacity of the genre of horror itself. —TE

Mad God is available to stream on Shudder and AMC+, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon and Apple TV.


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

Year: 2021
Run time: 1h 51m
Director: James Wan
Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young

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

Malignant is available to watch on Max, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

The Mist

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

Year: 2007
Run time: 2h 5m
Director: Frank Darabont
Cast: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden

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

The Mist is available to watch on Netflix, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

Near Dark

Bill Paxton bleeding out his mouth but also wearing sunglasses in Near Dark Image: Lionsgate

Year: 1987
Run time: 1h 35m
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen

Finally, Near Dark is available to stream at home.

Kathryn Bigelow’s sexy vampire Western is among the coolest movies ever made, and it was an absolute travesty that it was impossible to watch it at home so long (unless you have a physical copy, of course). Luckily, that situation has been rectified, and you can watch this kick-ass movie to your heart’s content.

Adrian Pasdar (Heroes) plays a country boy who falls for a vampire girl and ends up hanging with the wrong crowd (the kind that hangs upside down, that is). The other vampires in the girl’s clique are suspicious of him and not sure if there’s room for one more in their crew, and what follows is an explosive genre-mashing adventure with plenty of excellent thrills and terrific makeup and costume design. —PV

Near Dark is available to watch on AMC Plus and Shudder.

Night of the Living Dead

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

Year: 1968
Run time: 1h 36m
Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Marilyn Eastman

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

Night of the Living Dead is available to watch on HBO Max, Peacock, MGM+, and Paramount Plus, or for free with ads on the Roku Channel. It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.