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Hulu’s movie library is steadily growing, but its horror section still has a way to go to catch up to Netflix and Amazon. But that there aren’t plenty of scary movies on Hulu. Halloween draws nearer and nearer each day, and time lumbers forward as steadily as Michael Myers (though, unfortunately, Hulu doesn’t have any of the Halloween films). Get a jump on the spooky season with these picks that will thrill and chill, enthrall and possibly appall.
We’ve scoured the shallow depths of Hulu’s catalog to find some gems, some diamonds in the rough, and some that are just plain rough. Here’s our list of the best scary movies on Hulu.
The best scary movies on Hulu
Daybreakers is a stylish movie that tweaks normal vampire lore just enough to feel like something new. The story is set in a world where most people are vampires and the human blood supply is running low. But there is a subset of people working on a cure and it’s a race against time to find a solution before all of the humans are gone. The filmmaking team the Spierig Brothers are known for making high-concept sci-fi/horror movies and this is either their best or second best film. (Check out the trippy Predestination after Daybreakers.)
2) 28 Weeks Later
This movie is so badass. Everybody loves Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, but Juan Carlos Fresdinillo’s sequel is even better. Picking up six weeks after the rage virus ripped through Great Britain, 28 Weeks Later finds the UK overrun with military forces trying to contain the virus. The film follows a small group of survivors navigating the infected and the military. The film is relentlessly thrilling and features dynamic performances from Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Idris Elba, and Robert Carlyle.
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3) The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project is one of the most important horror films of all time. It’s critical and box office success speak to the film’s popularity at the time of its release, but nearly 20 years later, the film still holds up. If you saw the film when it opened in 1999 you either caught it before the hype reached insane proportions or you saw it to see what the hype was all about. It’s about three young filmmakers who get lost in the woods and go through some scary business. Much of the film’s genius derives from its simplicity. Presented as found footage and with unknown actors, it’s easy to get sucked in alongside the characters as they go deeper into the night and the mythology.
4) The Collector
Co-writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan (who also directs) made their bones with the Project Greenlight movie Feast and a handful of Saw sequels. This film is closer to their Saw work, but with less convoluted mythology. The Collector is a straightforward home invasion movie, and it’s as bloody and brutal as the filmmakers’ pedigree implies. This isn’t a movie with jump scares that will linger, but in the moment, it’s pretty nerve-wracking. At the very least, it’ll make you double check the locks before you go to bed.
This Spanish found-footage/survival horror/zombie film was remade for American audiences in 2008 as Quarantine—but accept no substitutions. Even with subtitles, REC is one of the scariest films ever made. Unlike most found footage films, REC has a reason to exist, since it’s the last broadcast of a TV news crew doing a puff piece on local firefighters. When they are called to a locked-down apartment building, things seem normal enough at first—until they hear the sounds of the people trapped inside. Floating in an odd intersection between religious horror and medical outbreak, REC builds tension with a grace that’s rarely seen in the found-footage genre. Make sure you remember to breathe during the final 10 minutes. —John-Michael Bond
You know how when people look back at older movies, they sometimes shrug them off or say, “I’m sure it worked better when it first came out?” Well, this one retains its creepiness and has sacrificed none of effectiveness even four decades after its release. Brian De Palma was the first to adapt a work by Stephen King, and he set a bar few have matched with Carrie, the still-horrifying story of a bullied teen girl with telekinesis. If you only know this cult classic from the prom scene, it’s worth experiencing in its entirety. —Eddie Strait
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7) Let the Right One In
Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In is one of the best vampire films you’ll come across. It’s a sensitive, thoughtful, brutal story about loneliness, bullying and other real-life horrors. Oskar is the loner who strikes up a friendship with the equally isolated Eli. Together they help bring each other out of their shells. But Eli is a vampire, so things are destined to turn sour at some point. Alfredson knows how to deliver vampire scares, but he’s even more effective at capturing the day-to-day moments that will keep you up at night.
8) The Others
The Others may have been slapped with lazy The Sixth Sense comparisons when it first came out, but it stands on its own as a superior ghost story. I kept waiting for general audiences to give The Others the credit it deserves. I don’t know if it ever happened, which is a shame. Nicole Kidman stars as a mother protecting her family in a post-World War II society. They’re sequestered away in their home, but as it usually goes in a lonely house, things go bump in the night. It’s a slow-burn film that comes to a devastating climax.
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This 1987 classic of British horror introduced the world to Pinhead, the sadomasochistic demon who wants to tear your soul apart. Built on a foundation of black magic, Hellraiser is a tale of human sacrifice and demonic sex with a dark sense of humor at its kinky heart. As much a fairy tale as a horror story, Hellraiser has inspired a generation of dark fantasy filmmakers. —John-Michael Bond
10) V/H/S 2
Found-footage films often suffer when needing to be feature length, but some ideas don’t need an hour to be realized. V/H/S 2 exemplifies this philosophy, dealing up four original tales of ghastly horror in bite-sized mini-movies. With moments of dark comedy sprinkled in-between genuinely nightmare-inducing stories like the black magic cult segment “Safe Haven,” V/H/S 2 offers a little bit of something for every kind of horror fan. Just take a Dramamine if you get queasy during shaky cam. —John-Michael Bond
11) Paranormal Activity
After spawning five sequels and spinoffs, as well as two parodies courtesy of Marlon and Keenan Ivory Wayans, it’s easy to forget that Paranormal Activity started out as a low-budget movie that used a stunt release strategy to generate buzz. But the movie is still legitimately freaky. Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat play a married couple whose home is taken over by a demonic force. The movie is an exercise in patience, with its static shots and claustrophobic setting creating a steady simmer of tension. The scares work like gangbusters, although they do lose a little punch on repeat viewings. Similar to The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity is a low-fi classic, taking its budgetary and production limitations and turning them into strengths.
Still not sure what to watch on Hulu? Here are the best movies on Hulu, what’s new, the best shows on Hulu, the sexiest movies you can stream on the service, Hulu documentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu originals.
Looking for something more specific? Here are the best thrillers and action movies to get your heart racing, classic movies when you want a blast from the past, sad movies when you need a good cry, and funny movies on Hulu when you need a good laugh.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Eddie Strait is a member of the Austin Film Critic Association. His reviews focus primarily on streaming entertainment, with an emphasis on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other on-demand services.