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Best Shudder movies: the greatest horror films to watch on the streamer

The Advent Calendar
(Image credit: Shudder)

The best Shudder movies are a horrifyingly brilliant bunch. The scary streamer might not be the size of Netflix but load up the app and you'll find a slew of razor sharp modern indie horrors as well as old classics. A lot of the best Shudder movies are straight from the horror festival circuit and where previously these films would never see the light of day, investment from the streamer means we can enjoy them whenever and wherever we want. Whether that's feeling brave alone in bed with the lights out, or in the middle of the day where the scary things can't get us as we speed to work on the train. Or so we'd hope... 

If you normally head straight to the horror section of streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime and are sad to find everything lumped in together, you'll be especially excited to see Shudder's breakdowns. Here you'll find creature features, found footage nightmares, psychological terror, hauntings, demons, and even brilliant documentaries all perfectly separated into their respective subgenres. The below movies are the perfect place to start on your terrifying journey and there are plenty of frights to keep you going. We've even got some documentary suggestions for doing your horror homework. So grab your gummy vampire teeth, it's time for some snacks and the best Shudder movies. 

The Sadness

The Sadness

(Image credit: Shudder)

Let’s make one thing very clear. The Sadness really isn’t for everyone. A virus that transforms ordinary people into sexually depraved monstrosities isn’t the plot you need to finally convince your horror-averse other half of the merits and intricacies of the genre. But if you love your zombie movies lean, mean, and darkly, darkly hilarious you shouldn’t miss Rob Jabbaz’s gorefest. 

There’s some boundary-pushing content but, importantly, the tone is always more Evil Dead than Hostel and, like the best horror, you’ll end up feeling terrible about how much fun you’re having. Get some like-minded friends over for a Friday night viewing and prepare for your jaw to hit the floor.         

The Advent Calendar

The Advent Calendar

(Image credit: Shudder)

You don’t need to wait until Christmas to watch this festive nightmare but it would definitely add some authenticity – or at least the smell of eggnog - to proceedings. When Sophie gets a handcrafted advent calendar from a friend, she’s excited to open her first door for a treat. What she finds inside though is far more than just cheap confectionery and disappointment. 

This brilliant French horror manages to walk the line between horror and comedy just right, with director Patrick Ridremont deftly delivering laughs and some incredible scares as the days count down. If you thought Gremlins was the only Christmas horror that could have rules for survival, think again.  

The Found Footage Phenomenon

The Found Footage Phenomenon

(Image credit: Shudder)

Shudder has slowly built an impressive collection of horror documentaries for the days you fancy some critical analysis instead of just endless screams. The Found Footage Phenomenon is a brilliant breakdown of the genre with some seriously heavy hitter talking heads. In just 104 minutes, it tracks the origins of found footage with Cannibal Holocaust, through The Blair Witch Project, up to modern classics like Paranormal Activity and NOROI: The Curse. 

With great insights from key directors and critics, there’s real love for the genre here. You’ll also end up with a list longer than an unspooled VHS tape of found footage horrors that you’ve somehow missed. Follow this up with Woodlands: Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror from Kier-La Janisse (also on Shudder) to continue your horror education.  

V/H/S/94

V/H/S/94

(Image credit: Shudder)

It’s been a terrifyingly long time since the original found footage anthology V/H/S was released back in 2012. A couple of lacklustre sequels didn’t quite scratch the same creepy itch but we’re pleased to say that V/H/S 94 puts things back on top form. The concluding short film isn’t much to write home about but the first few are a lot of retro fun with some real scares and inventive use of the found footage medium. 

Whether you’re willing a local news crew not to go into the sewers after a rumoured Ratman has been spotted on the streets of a small town, or watching in horror as a girl looks after a funeral home for the night, there’s a lot of brilliant nastiness here. And if you want to go back to the original, that’s sitting on Shudder too.  

SLAXX

Slaxx

(Image credit: Shudder)

Yes, we’re recommending a horror movie about killer trousers and yes, you’re just going to have to trust us. Of course SLAXX is firmly in horror comedy territory but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have anything important to say. Quite the opposite as a teenager has her first day at a new Instagram-bait clothing shop and things take a turn for the, well, murderous. 

Influencer culture is happily and often literally skewered and the launch of the Super Shaper jeans is drenched in absurd gore. This isn’t the scariest horror movie you’ll find on Shudder but its sharp script is one that proves that the genre continues to address global issues without sacrificing on the fun and frights. Look, it’s about killer skinny jeans, what exactly are you waiting for?

Lake Mungo 

Lake Mungo

(Image credit: Arclight Films)

People sometimes assume that found footage and mockumentary horror movies are easy to make. Surely no need for an enormous Hollywood blockbuster budget means that anyone can do it? This just isn’t the case and Lake Mungo is a perfect example of a movie that makes it look effortless. It’s another that you’d do better not knowing much about but this fake documentary follows the Palmer family who have lost their daughter in a swimming accident. 

Just like something like The Blair Witch Project, Lake Mungo works best in its silence and the things you don’t see. Incredible natural performances and a keen eye for the true terror of loss makes this a found footage frightmare. A warning; Lake Mungo is the kind of movie that sneaks up on you and stays forever.   

Jakob's Wife 

Jakob's Wife

(Image credit: Shudder)

Who wants to see iconic horror actress Barbara Crampton dancing with a lamp while discovering her power as a newly turned vampire? Jakob’s Wife is a brilliantly schlocky bloodsucker yarn as a clergyman’s other half goes on a gory journey of self discovery after an encounter with a monster known as The Master. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but that doesn’t mean you won’t care about these characters as their smalltown life is suddenly turned upside down. 

The central performances from Crampton and Larry Fessenden are a delight and the success of the movie is largely down to their spark. There’s a nice meaty message in here too about the fear of aging and the expectations put upon women. Perhaps one to watch before you head into true shock territory, or an  ideal palate cleanser before you go to bed. 

Caveat

Caveat

(Image credit: Shudder)

Caveat is steeped in strange. It often has more questions than answers but this little movie is a powerful hit of creepy scare after creepy scare. While we definitely wouldn’t take on the role of a lone caretaker in charge of a disturbed woman in a creepy house on an abandoned island, it’s a good thing that a man called Isaac does. Simply because it delivers one of the most oddly satisfying horrors on Shudder. 

A word of warning too, if the creepy toys of something like The Woman in Black got under your skin, there’s a rabbit with a drum here that makes Watership Down look like the Peter Rabbit movie. It’s sometimes a little odd but Caveat delivers real frights and a constant sense of utter dread. Be afraid of what writer, director, and editor Damian McCarthy will do next if this is his first film. Double bill with Sator, also on Shudder for some more unique lonely folk horror.    

Host 

Best Shudder movies

(Image credit: Shadowhouse Films)

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 

Best Shudder movies

(Image credit: Skubalon)

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. 

Beyond the Gates

Beyond the Gates

(Image credit: Destroy All Entertainment)

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. 

Impetigore

Best Shudder movies

(Image credit: Rapi Films)

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

Anything for Jackson

(Image credit: Vortex Media)

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. 

The Mortuary Collection

Best Shudder movies

(Image credit: Trapdoor Pictures)

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. 

Rogue

Best Shudder movies

(Image credit: Dimension Films)

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. 

Revenge

Best Shudder movies

(Image credit: MES Productions)

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 stylized 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

Best Shudder movies

(Image credit: Constructovision)

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.

The Beach House

Best Shudder movies

(Image credit: Low Spark Films)

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. 

If you like the look of any of these movies, be sure to check out a Shudder free trial (opens in new tab) today. Want more streaming options? Then be sure to check out the best Netflix movies available right now.

Louise Blain
Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in gaming, technology, and entertainment. She is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s monthly Sound of Gaming show and has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland. She can also be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, Netflix UK's YouTube Channel, and on The Evolution of Horror podcast. As well as her work on GamesRadar, Louise writes for NME, T3, and TechRadar. When she’s not working, you can probably find her watching horror movies or playing an Assassin’s Creed game and getting distracted by Photo Mode.