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20 horror movies on Shudder that will give you nightmares
Shudder is a horror fan’s best friend.
Every major streaming service—Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu—offers horror, sci-fi, and suspense programming to some degree, but if you’re a lifelong fan of those genres, you’ll be craving for more. If you’re the type of person who watches scary movies not just around Halloween but all year long, the kind who feeds on obscure B movies and revels in lost classics, you’re going to want to check out these Shudder movies.
What is Shudder?
Shudder is a standalone streaming service that specializes in horror, sci-fi, suspense, and avant-garde cinema. While the major streaming services have great horror selections for new fans of the genre, often lifetime aficionados find their catalogs to be full of things they’ve already seen or, worse, just don’t care about. That’s what makes Shudder so special.
From movies you’ve only heard about in magazines to TV shows and special new releases exclusive to the service, Shudder has everything a fright fan needs to ruin a night’s sleep. Placing famous classics like Hellraiser alongside more obscure but important films like Dario Argento’s Inferno, Shudder functions as sort of a college level-course in horror.
How does Shudder work?
Movies on Shudder are broken up into subgenres, letting you focus on Asian horror, Euro-trash, smart vampire movies, lost classics, demonic possessions, cerebral thrillers, and any other kind of specific thrilling options you might desire. Movies from every era of horror are represented, with a wide range of international options included that other services simply can’t compete with.
Beware, Shudder is not a safe space. While the most extreme movies come with a content warning beforehand, it takes dealing with a topic like necrophilia to trigger it. This is a service that places frights above all else, so make sure you read the synopsis of each movie before you watch. It’s easy to find yourself in over your head, especially if you’re curious about German horror.
How much does Shudder cost?
The best part of Shudder, besides its incredible selection of titles, is its absurdly low cost. A subscription is just $4.99 per month or $47.88 per year if you pay for it all at once. Students are also eligible for a special 20 percent discount if they’re registered with Student Beans. Users can subscribe through Shudder’s website or via Shudder’s Amazon Prime channel. But not: A Prime subscription can’t be used to watch on the Shudder site or app, and vice versa. They count as separate subscriptions.
Shudder offers a wide range of options when it comes to how you can watch. The service has apps for Apple, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One, all of which can be accessed by subscribing on Shudder’s website or through its app. Shudder also offers subscriptions through Amazon Prime Video and the bundled streaming service VRV. These standalone subscriptions cost the same as a standard membership but limit how you can view your content.
Streaming via the Shudder app or a channel subscription both have their own issues. While the Shudder website is a fine resource for finding the content you want, the Shudder apps are often frustrating to use unless you’ve already built your queue on the website. Shudder’s app doesn’t offer a way to browse every title in its library; instead, it forces you to look through subcategories in the menus. While browsing for a movie to watch can be fun, sometimes you just want to look at a master list.
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However, the Shudder app features exclusive streaming of Shudder TV channels, which let you watch never-ending streams of genre movies from different categories all day long. It’s a joy, especially if you like having a movie on as background noise while you work.
The channels have their own selling points, however. While we have not tested the VRV set up, on Amazon Prime’s Shudder channel, the experience is easier to use. Genres are more clearly defined, navigation is easier, and the menus load faster. Also, Amazon is often slower to delete movies from its listings than Shudder proper. You can’t find Bay of Blood right now on the Shudder app, for example, but you can find it on Shudder via Amazon. Amazon subscribers miss out on features like the live streaming channel options, but there’s something to be said for not having to learn another app.
The best movies on Shudder
With so many movies on Shudder to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. No matter what your taste in horror, there’s something on Shudder that fits your needs. Here’s the best movies on Shudder right now. (Note: For this article, we only include movies that can be found on every version of Shudder.)
1) Hell House LLC (2016)
Five years after an unexplained event kills 15 people during a Halloween haunted house, a group of documentarians set out of finally uncover what happened that night. Mixing footage from the haunted house with the documentary crew’s investigation, Hell House LLC manages to prove there’s still fresh blood to be found in the found-footage genre. Director Stephen Cognetti puts his name on the genre map with this haunting chiller.
2) P2 (2007)
When Angela’s car won’t start in her abandoned office lot on Christmas Eve she’s thankful to find the building security guard Thomas. Offering some help in exchange for her company at dinner, Thomas is a little strange but seems harmless. Until Angela spurns his advances, and she discovers he’s behind her car trouble. Soon she’s stuck in a psychotic game of cat and mouse through the parking garage, as Thomas’ bloodlust eliminates every obstacle between them. P2 may be set at Christmas, but its scary enough to get bumped up to Halloween.
3) Frontier(s) (2008)
Frontier(s) is the film you’ve spent your life being told Texas Chainsaw Massacre is. The film is historically important, but it’s lost some edge over the years. Frontier(s) follows a gang of young thieves fleeing Paris following a series of political riots. The take refuge in a quaint country inn only to discover that it’s home to a family of hidden Nazis. Frontier(s) almost got a U.S. theatrical release in 2008 as a part of the “8 Films to Die For” series, but after it got slapped with an NC-17 rating it was sent directly to video. While it certainly spared us a nasty surprise, the move denied plenty of horror fans the chance to see a classic filled with gore and tension.
4) Black Death (2010)
To people witnessing the plague in 14th-century England, the only possible explanation for many was the witches, or the devil, must be involved. Black Death tells the story of a group of knights and a priest sent to investigate a village where the plague has managed to avoid, fearing they might be protected by a witch. This gothic horror masterpiece is anchored by Sean Bean and Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne, two incredible actors who give weight to a premise that could quickly become a silly mess. Instead, they elevate Black Death into a grime tale of tested faith and violence.
5) Timecrimes (2007)
Director Nacho Vigalondo recently made a splash in Hollywood with Colossal, a giant monster movie wrapped up in a tale of substance abuse starring Anne Hathaway. The film was a surprise for many viewers, but not those who had seen the director’s twisted debut, Timecrimes. In this tale of time travel gone wrong, a man stumbles upon a time machine and accidentally sends himself back in time one hour. As his trips compound one another, he finds himself stalked by a mysterious masked figure, wielding a pair of gruesome scissors. Is he losing his mind or is a deeper horror unfolding through the time stream? The answer is darker than this occasionally funny mystery initially lets on.
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6) Let the Right One In (2007)
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Let The Right One In hit theaters, but this coming-of-age tale of love and unspeakable evil hasn’t lost a beat since its debut. Oskar, a bullied boy in need of a friend, finds one in the form of Eli, a strange girl who isn’t allowed to play until after dark. While Twilight mined vampire lore for a Tiger Beat-ready love story, Let The Right One In explores a darker love—one where murder is a means to an end for survival, whether it’s extending the life of the undead or simply protecting a friendship. Somber, gorgeous, and subtle, Let The Right One In is one of the finest vampire stories ever told.
7) Found Footage 3D (2D Version) (2017)
Sick of found footage? So are the makers of Found Footage 3D, a satirical (until it’s not) send-up of the genre and all of its problems. Unlike the outright horror onslaught of Hell House LLC, Found Footage 3D is a deeply funny movie about independent filmmaking and issues that have caused the found footage genre to grow stagnant over the years. By the time a third act twist arrives with actual frights in tow, the movie will already have won you over, and then it’ll leave you with a terrifying finale you won’t forget.
8) Splinter (2008)
Following a carjacking, four people get trapped in a gas station, fighting for their lives against a crazed monster with a lust for blood and the ability to absorb the corpses of its kills. As a kidnapping movie, Splinter is creepy enough on its own, but when a parasitic monster joins the fun, things ramp up considerably. Shot largely in one location on a micro-budget, Splinter utilizes what little special effects it has to create a creeping sense of dread and the unknown. This smart and scary monster movie is worth every second of your time it takes.
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9) Nothing Bad Can Happen (2013)
Viewers looking to test their limits should check out the German nightmare known as Nothing Bad Can Happen. Tore is a lost youth who finds solace in a Christian punk movement, turning to Christ for peace. When he helps a stranger named Benno start his car, the man brings him home and introduces Tore to his family. Soon the teen moves into a tent in the backyard, and Benno begins to test his faith in God in increasingly sadistic ways. When it showed at Cannes over half the audience walked out. Those who stayed cheered. Enter at your own risk.
10) I Saw the Devil (2011)
There are movies on this list that will scare the hell out of you, and there are movies on this list that very well might hurt your heart. I Saw The Devil is the latter, a mean little piece of work from Korea that features some cruel acts of violence. Beware: This is pure horror without a moment of relief. There’s nothing special about the premise, but the execution is unlike anything you’ve seen before. When a serial murder case becomes deadly personal, a police detective decides to start hunting the killer on his terms. If you fear man above monsters, you can’t pass this chiller up.
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11) Downrange (2017)
The latest from Ryûhei Kitamura, director of Versus and No One Lives, is yet another masterpiece of splatter and tension. Six college students on a cross-country road trip experience a blowout in the middle of nowhere. Upon closer examination, it appears someone shot out their tire, a fear that’s quickly confirmed when the bullets keep coming. Utilizing a single location for the majority of a movie is a brave move, but Kitamura uses the space to create a desolate killing field. Smart, sharp, and chilling Downrange is a Shudder exclusive worth signing up for.
12) The Beyond (1983)
This splatter classic from director Lucio Fulci was brutally censored when it was originally released, but thanks to helping from Quentin Tarantino, the uncut version is finally available. The plot is largely nonsensical, but the imagery is unforgettable, with gore set pieces that will have you howling or gagging depending on your tastes. During renovations on a house she just inherited, a woman accidentally opens a portal to hell, summoning ghosts, monstrous spiders, zombies, and other horrors from its depths. Time has helped soften the blow of the violence, but this is still a film where a zombie child gets its head blown in half. Don’t eat spaghetti while you’re watching.
13) Them (ils) (2006)
Part of the mid-2000s wave of French horror (High Tension, Inside), Them smoothers the viewer in suspense before springing its brutal traps. In the middle of a night, a couple starts to hear sounds outside their home, only to discover a group of hoodied teens hiding in the darkness. The plot was stolen by the film The Strangers, but Them does it better, building a crescendo of dread that’s almost overwhelming. Bleak and cold, Them is the stuff of nightmares.
14) Mayhem (2017)
Grinding your way up the corporate ladder can be soul-crushing, but at least it isn’t murder. That is unless you live in a world that’s discovered a highly infectious virus that makes people act out their wildest desires. When Derek Cho gets framed for someone else’s mistake at work, he decides to fight back. Unfortunately for him, and everyone at his office, an outbreak the virus is about to turn these cubicles into a killing field. This dark as night horror comedy stars Steven Yeun of The Walking Dead and is exclusive to Shudder. It’s also an absurdly fun, occasionally scary, blast of horror action. Shudder has even included a commentary track version of the film for your enjoyment.
15) The Sacrament (2014)
When I saw the Sacrament at a festival in 2013, the friend who sat next to me wept during the final 10 minutes of the film. This deeply disturbing faux-documentary follows a group of Vice reporters who are investigating a remote religious commune called Eden Parish. Inspired by the Jonestown tragedy, The Sacrament is a slow-burning tale of corrupted faith and the horrific consequences that follow in its wake. Mostly free from the gore that often drowns the third act of horror films, The Sacrament still manages to bare its teeth viciously. We highly recommend skipping the trailer as it has plenty of spoilers. Go in blind, and let The Sacrament dark gospel wash over you.
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16) Deadtime Stories (1986)
The ’80s were a magical time for practical effects, with puppets and stop-motion monstrosities causing chaos for unsuspecting teens everywhere. Deadtime Stories is a treat for makeup-obsessed horror hounds. The three-story spine-tingling anthology mines fairy tales for spooky delights. Killer witches, Red Riding Hood, and “Goldi Lox” all come out to play, and the fun starts with the very first frame, a deliciously campy title sequence.
17) The Exorcist III (1990)
You’ll have to trust us, The Exorcist III is a masterpiece hiding in plain sight. Lieutenant William F. Kinderman from the first Exorcist is investigating a series of brutal murders. There’s just one catch, they match the MO of the long-dead Gemini Killer. His investigation takes him to the psych ward of a hospital where he meets a patient that claims to be the reincarnation of Rev Karras from the first film. Mixing a serial killer thriller with a possession narrative, The Exorcist III stands on its own in the horror pantheon, even if it’s a sequel.
18) Big Bad Wolves (2013)
Quentin Tarantino called Big Bad Wolves the best movie of 2013, which serves as both praise and a warning, as the infamous director is well known for his love of violent horrors. Israel isn’t known for producing horror yet, but Big Bad Wolves marks the country’s first bonafide classic. Three fathers are searching for a killer who has been kidnapping little girls in their community and just nabbed their girls. When a police blunder causes the suspected killer to go free, they take matters into their own hands, but revenge is rarely simple.
19) Inferno (1980)
Dario Argento’s surreal classic Inferno deals with witchcraft and the end of the world, but it’s mostly remembered for the terrifying atmosphere created by its stunning cinematography. Following the disappearance of his sister, a young student named Mark travels to New York only to discover a supernatural conspiracy involving three witches who seek to take over the world. As bodies pile up, the mystery deepens, and Mark must uncover the enemies in his midst while fighting supernatural powers beyond his imagination. Argento injects the film with a dreamy quality that makes its graphic violence more palatable, allowing its magic elements to shine through. You’ll have to forgive a few plot holes, but this classic of supernatural horror more than earns your understanding.
20) Ghostwatch (1992)
Here is a true undiscovered treat for horror fiends. This 1992 made-for-TV movie from the BBC caused a major controversy when it first aired, resulting in lawsuits from viewers who didn’t initially realize it wasn’t a real news broadcast. Ghostwatch is framed like a live BBC broadcast, jumping back and forth between a group of reporters investigating a poltergeist and experts in the studio talking about the occult. The BBC went so far as to cast real-life TV personality Sarah Greene in the production, leading to an extra layer of reality for viewers.
New to cord-cutting? Here are our picks for the best movie streaming sites of 2018 and free live TV apps and channels. If you’re looking for a specific channel, here’s how to watch HBO, Showtime, Starz, ESPN, AMC, FX, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, FS1, and NFL RedZone without cable, as well as free movies on YouTube.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adapter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.