Here are the best horror films streaming right now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube.
Need something to watch this Halloween weekend? Whether it's ghosts, monsters, vampires, or the depravity of the human mind that scares you most, these movies will chill you to the bone. They transcend the cheap jump scares and thin plot lines of low-brow horror flicks, instead opting for character-driven stories that are as compelling as they are horrifying.
For the purposes of organization, we've limited these streaming picks to the most popular services—Netflix and Amazon Prime, with the occasional offering from YouTube or HBO Go—although most of these films are also available to rent on iTunes Movies.
That said, scouring films for this list was a disheartening experience. Though the films we've listed are high-caliber horror—and, in some cases, the greatest of the genre—suffice it to say that horror is grossly under-represented on Netflix and Amazon Prime. In other words, if you're looking to watch a truly well-crafted horror film on a major streaming service, it's slim pickings. However, some streaming platforms, such as Shudder and Fandor, have more extensive libraries and are well worth checking out.
Expanding upon the premise of Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face (1960), aunt-and-nephew co-directing team Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz have tapped into one of the deepest fears in human relationships: that the person you know and love today may not be the same person tomorrow. When a mother undergoes facial reconstructive surgery, her two young sons find her to be different when she returns home. A shell of the warm maternal figure they knew her to be, she's become cold, menacing, and even exhibits psychopathic behavior. Who is this bizarre simulacrum of a mother? Watch the trailer.
This is an elegant and restrained piece of Gothic cinema that slowly burns to its harrowing climax. If it doesn't feel like a horror film at first, just you wait—it's about as grisly as it gets. And it dismantles family tradition, religion, and patriarchy to boot. Watch the trailer.
Jennifer Kent proves she's a master of atmosphere and horror imagery with this Australian film that gets more unnerving with every passing minute. It stars one of the creepiest mother-son duos you've ever seen (and an Oscar-worthy performance from Essie Davis). Watch the trailer.
On our podcast this week, we named The Witch one of the best horror films of the past two years. That's because it's so expertly crafted—down to the most minute details of period production design, that haunting score, and those eerie performances—that it feels as if you're entering the colonial world of 1630's New England. The entire film is suffused with an unbearable sense of foreboding. Watch the trailer here.
In this tension-filled psychological thriller, a man arrives at his ex-girlfriend's Hollywood mansion for a dinner party and slowly comes to realizes that his host is a member of a cult with a sinister agenda. Watch the trailer here.
Wait, wait. I'm not done with cults! Ti West is back at it with this chilling look into a Jonestown-like cult that slowly builds to a crescendo of mass carnage. Watch the trailer here.
When a couple retreats to a remote cabin in the woods for their honeymoon, the wife starts sleepwalking. One night, she sleepwalks into the woods; when she returns, there's something different about her. Far from a cheap horror flick, this is a mature and nuanced film that provokes existential crisis and will haunt you long after watching. Watch the trailer here.
Irish director Ivan Kavanaugh spins a moody ghost story with the threads of every horror trope at his disposal. Watch the trailer here.
One of the greatest horror films ever made, this harrowing masterpiece is the cinematic manifestation of your worst nightmare. (The worst part: it's realistic.) Watch the trailer here.
Stunning visuals and a creepy atmosphere characterize this Tim Burton classic about a detective (Johnny Depp) who is assigned to investigate grisly murders involving headless corpses in the woods of a remote town. Watch the trailer here.
A compilation of footage found on a VHS tape in an abandoned house reveals horrifying deaths in this nightmare-inducing anthology film. Watch the trailer here.
What's left to be said about Carrie? Brian de Palma's adaptation of one of Stephen King's most famous novels is "spellbinding," as Roger Ebert put it after the film's initial release. Watch the trailer here.
Because it's not Halloween without multiple Stephen King adaptations, here's another, this time about a cult run by children whose favorite pastime is human sacrifice. Watch the trailer here.
Well, make that three Stephen King adaptations. This was my favorite King book growing up. (It's also the most messed-up). Misery stars Kathy Bates in an Academy Award-winning performance as a fangirl from hell. Watch the trailer here.
A Wes Craven creation through and through, this is a bizarre challenge to the slasher genre. Watch the trailer here.
This is a masterpiece of German Expressionism, the first true horror film ever made, and one of the most influential films of the silent era. It's a riveting tale of murder and madness.
George Romero's seminal zombie film was made on a shoestring budget. The fear it inspires stands the test of time. Watch the trailer here.
By my estimation, this Polanski film is one of the finest horror films ever made. It's impeccably acted, shot, and scored, and it produces an unsettling feeling almost unrivaled in the genre. Watch the trailer here.
Vampires & Monsters
Ana Lily Amirpour stunned the indie world with her stylish black-and-white vampire-feminist-Western, which is, to be sure, like no other vampire movie you've ever seen. Watch the trailer here.
A 12-year-old boy befriends a mysterious young vampire in this compelling Swedish fairytale that bites the vampire genre in the neck. Watch the trailer here.
America is overrun by vampires and zombies in Jim Mickle's post-apocalyptic thriller, which boasts interesting characters and lots of gore. Watch the trailer here.
This strange little bird hails from South Korea, where camp, political satire, and creature feature prevail. Directed by Snowpiercer's Bong Joon-hoo. Watch the trailer here.
So scary, it's real: Docs
What if you woke up only to find you were paralyzed—and visited by demons? In Rodney Ascher's documentary, we hear some terrifying stories from people who suffer from sleep paralysis against the backdrop of haunting visualizations. Watch the trailer here.
The patriarch of a upper-middle-class family is accused of running a secret operation in his basement, where he allegedly conducted shocking and horrific crimes. Andrew Jarecki's disturbing documentary is a classic; in many ways, it pioneered the contemporary true-crime genre. Watch the trailer here.
I have bad news: Boogeyman is real. He escaped from an insane asylum in Staten Island and tortured neighborhood kids. You'll never look at urban legends the same way again. Watch the trailer here.
When a Texas teenager returns home after being kidnapped three years prior, it seems too good to be true. Turns out, it is. Watch the trailer here.
After a couple adopts 6-year-old Catherine, she begins to act out. First, she has violent fits of rage and attacks her brother while he's sleeping. Then she hides a knife in her teddy bear. Then she stabs the family dog with a needle. But it doesn't stop there. When the couple inquires about Catherine's background, they learn she was severely abused in ways they never could have imagined.
In 2007, Jennifer Petit and her daughters Michaela and Hayley were raped and burned alive in their home in Cheshire, Connecticut. The most chilling part? Were it not for the irresponsible first responders, it might have been prevented.