The best Shudder movies are a varied bunch. The newish Netflix for scare fans has taken a few years to build up a solid foundation, but we’re now at the point where Shudder is absolutely worth a monthly subscription – in fact, it's essential for any horror movie fan. But scrolling through the home page can feel overwhelming and, because this is horror, there are some rather disappointing offerings even if the poster does look neon and cool. No, a puntastic name doesn’t always guarantee fun times – yes, we’re looking at you Blood Vessel. Thankfully there are plenty of gems and we’ve waded through the oozing swamp so you don’t have to.
The addition of Zoom horror Host last year has really upped the caliber of Shudder’s offerings. There are some brilliant Shudder exclusives too and, in an age of VOD horror, there are plenty of creepy new additions which might not have found a home otherwise. From terrifying found footage and haunted board games to Indonesian frightmares and modern horror classics, Shudder has it all. We’ll try and avoid the obvious additions here too. You are probably scare-savvy enough to know to watch Audition. So, whether you want to rinse your free trial or just make sure you’ve got a full watch list, here are the best horror Shudder movies available right now.
The terrifying jewel in Shudder’s creepy crown. Host isn’t the first horror movie set on a computer screen, but it is the first movie filmed over Zoom that devastatingly pits our learned pandemic behaviors against ourselves. When Haley, Jemma, and friends settle down for a seance instead of a dreaded Zoom quiz, we’re subjected to one of the most terrifying hours in modern horror history.
Things that go bump in the night don’t come much scarier than this as an unknown force joins the call and each individual Zoom square plays, well, host to our own worst nightmares. Cleverly manipulating every trick in the tech book, including one exceptional use of a moving Zoom background, director Rob Savage has crafted a scary masterpiece. It’s no coincidence that Savage and writers Gemma Hurley and Jed Shepherd have been snapped up by Blumhouse with a three-picture deal. Be afraid. Be very afriad.
The Cleansing Hour
It’s not easy being a streamer. You’ve constantly got to be online, incessantly making content to stay relevant, and even come up with unique merchandise. This is also the case for Max, an exorcist who streams demonic possessions live to his millions of adoring fans. Except he doesn’t, because it’s all fake. That is, until it isn’t.
The Cleansing Hour is a surprisingly inventive take on the possession genre with some brilliant scares. Yes, you know things are going to turn but that doesn’t stop this being a deftly executed – pun intended – demon flick. With some seriously crunchy body horror and surprisingly earnest performances, The Cleansing Hour might not be worthy of Father Karras but it certainly makes for brilliant Holy Water-drenched fun.
One Cut of the Dead
Truthfully, the joy of the zombie-filled One Cut of the Dead lies in knowing as little about it as possible so you’ll need to just trust us when we say it’s brilliant, inspired, funny, and heartfelt. Given that so much of your enjoyment depends on you not reading anything more about it (other than this purposefully vague list entry), we ask you to stay away from YouTube and IMDb and just watch.
Trust us when we say you have to stick with it. As frustrating as this reads, and as you might find the start, the pay off is real. One Cut of the Dead is a horror indie darling for very good reason.
Beyond the Gates
What if the original Jumanji... but horror? Well Beyond the Gates is the answer to this, admittedly, very specific question but as pleasingly high concept horror goes, this is gory joy. When two brothers discover a VHS board game as they clear their missing father’s video store, they discover the real reason behind their dad’s disappearance.
Horror legend Barbara Crampton stars as the ominous VHS host who steers players through the dastardly table top experience and hams it up happily. The real world manifestations of the board game are too fun to spoil but it’s important to note this is played for laughs rather than all out scares. Just make sure you’ve finished your dinner before the blood starts to flow.
It Follows might fall into the slightly too obvious category, but there’s a reason this is on our list of the best horror movies of all time. In the wrong hand, this concept would have been played for laughs but the sexually transmitted curse at work is true nightmare fuel. Nothing can prepare you for the relentless forces pursuing Jay and her friends after she has a one-night stand with someone intentionally passing the curse on.
Disasterpiece’s atmospheric score feels like it’s dripping icy water down the back of your neck and that’s before some of the greatest scares of the 21st century arrive. Terrifying and expertly crafted, It Follows is a modern horror masterpiece that takes no prisoners. And you’ll never open doors in the same way ever again.
If you’ve missed the work of Indonesian director Joko Anwar, a Shudder subscription is the best way to catch up and Impetigore in particular is the perfect place to start. Far more than just a brilliant pun, this is a twisted folk horror as a young woman called Maya and her BFF Dini head into the woods to try and find out more about her past. What they find is, well, why this is Impetigore and not 'I’m Secretly A Disney Princess'.
Anwar perfectly juggles true horror with the odd comedy moment to lighten the mood and Maya and Dini’s relationship is true friendship goals. For more scares from Anwar, check out Satan’s Slaves – which is also on Shudder – and he wrote the ultra gruey Queen of Black Magic which has also just arrived.
Anything For Jackson
Old people are lovely aren’t they? So sweet… offering you cups of tea and biscuits… Or, maybe... maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re just adults, willing to make a deal with the devil to get back what they want because they can’t cope with the grief of losing their grandson. Yeah, that got dark quick, didn’t it? Welcome to Anything For Jackson.
Director Justin G. Dyck has previously only been responsible for romcoms, meaning that this might be some kind of release valve for repressed horror creativity. If this is the case, it’s probably better it’s out of his system. Anything For Jackson is a brilliant descent into madness as a couple summon far more than they, quite literally, bargain for. Gory, violent, and really, really scary, this isn’t one for the faint of heart.
If you’re already afraid of the apparent domestic bliss of settling down with 2.4 children, Vivarium really isn’t going to help. Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg play a couple whose house hunt goes entirely pear-shaped when they are left abandoned in an inescapable identikit estate.
Forced to ‘settle down,’ the pair are faced with a truly nightmarish future. Those who haven’t left the house in a year might relate a little too hard but this is a surreal and unnerving experience with an exceptionally dark heart. It’s possible to know too much so there will be no spoilers here but an especially brilliant performance from Poots makes this a compelling, if strange, slow burner.
The Mortuary Collection
There are a selection of anthology horrors hiding on Shudder’s gore-splattered shelves but few have quite the same gleefully nasty sense of humor as The Mortuary Collection. Built effortlessly around a new starter getting a tour of a camply creepy funeral home, this collection of four short horror films is a slickly depraved affair with rotting tongue firmly in cheek.
Whether it’s the skewering of bro culture or a twisted take on the babysitter urban legend, this is a solid popcorn affair. One of the shorts doesn’t quite hit home and errs a little into tastelessness but it wouldn’t be a horror anthology without at least one dud. Thankfully the strength of the other stories and the slick creepy wrapping more than make up for the misstep. An excellent Friday night spooky treat.
Not to be confused with the Megan Fox flick of the same name, Rogue is the creature feature we all need and deserve. Even fourteen years on, Wolf Creek director Greg Mclean’s toothy crocodile movie still has serious bite. Rogue stars Radha Mitchell as a tour guide steering a boat of unsuspecting tourists through an Australian national park and, of course, something in the water sees them as a floating buffet.
Embracing its scuzzy B-movie roots, Rogue serves up gleefully vindictive death with a sweaty outback tension. Without the over-the-top gloss of something like the Meg, there’s a real sense of risk here as the tourists are whittled down. Oh, and if you’re looking for more snappy shocks, The Pool is also on Shudder and follows a man who ends up trapped at the bottom of an empty swimming pool with a giant crocodile. Yes, it’s just as silly as it sounds.
Rape revenge movies are, quite rightly, a hard sell. Long the staple of exploitative male-led productions, this is a horror genre largely left in the past for good reason. Which is exactly why director Coralie Fargeat’s blood-drenched Revenge is a searing reclaiming of the concept. This is an oversaturated and stylised gory descent into madness and you will be here for every second of it.
Fargeat’s deft handling of the subject matter turns an exploitation movie on its head and turns it into something very different, all accompanied by a relentless synth score. Matilda Lutz is a violent force of nature and if you’re not on the edge of your seat throughout, you might actually be doing horror movies wrong.
The House of the Devil
You’d be forgiven for thinking that The House of the Devil looks like something you accidentally recorded in the middle of the night on a long play VHS. Ti West’s stylish 70s throwback is a grainy homage to horrors of decades gone by but still manages to deliver an exercise in unbearable tension. When Samantha takes a babysitting job at a remote house that, let’s face it, we’re all screaming for her not to accept, she discovers something much more sinister is at work.
There’s a stack of slow burn long shots and atmospheric empty silences here but the pay-off is worth the wait. Back in 2009 this was a serious change of pace for a decade long obsessed with Saw sequels and noughties nastiness but still packs a bloodstained punch.
Horror films should have taught us enough by now. If you get together with a group of friends, don’t go online, find a chant that summons vengeful spirits, and then say it out loud. But regardless, that’s exactly what Evan does in director Elle Callahan’s supernatural horror, and yes, he and his friends absolutely face the consequences of his actions. Ooops.
Head Count isn’t an all-out grue fest or quite as tension-inducing as It Follows but this is an assured and unnerving experience. There’s a refreshing dismissal of the usual disposable characters too, making this a far more considered and riskier undertaking. And get your speakers or headphones cranked up, you won’t want to miss the disturbing sound on offer.
The Beach House
The very presence of The Beach House in this feature means that when Emily and Randall head to the coast for a much-needed break, they don’t get the holiday they deserve. This is an odd slow burn affair from first time director Jeffrey A. Brown but delivers an intense cosmic horror dread. It turns out that you don’t need the threat of a giant shark to make the ocean ominous and terrifying.
It’s perhaps a little too long but the tone is fascinating and there’s a moment of seriously disgusting body horror that even the strongest of stomachs might find churnworthy. Another one not to eat dinner with then but The Beach House is an intriguing watch nonetheless that might lurk in your brain long after the credits roll.
Hell House LLC
The success of the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity often fools filmmakers into thinking that found footage is easy. It’s not. Found footage needs to be far more than just a shaky camera and some screams. Which is why the little-known Hell House LLC is so good. Yes, there’s running and screaming as a group of friends try to build the ultimate haunt attraction in a dilapidated hotel, but there’s also the quiet moments; shots of empty corridors… gazes down ominous basement stairs…
Hell House LLC’s schtick isn’t new - coulrophobes beware - but the scares are surprisingly effective. A documentary-style is a perfect fit to uncover the truth of what happened on Hell House’s opening night and, as ever, there’s always something so compelling about safe scares turning very real. A warning though, the sequels aren’t nearly as good.