The month of October is dedicated to horror films. Whether it’s gory and macabre, silly and irreverent, eerie and unsettling, the horror genre is as diverse as the ghosts, ghoulies, and homicidal maniacs that go bump in the night. We’ve had a lot of fun this month recommending a wide range of titles to stream and watch via our Halloween Countdown Calendar.
But what if you’re looking for the best horror films available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Paramount Plus, rather than a specific horror film to watch this Halloween season? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We combed through each of the major streaming platforms’ libraries to compile a list of our favorite horror films. The 14 best horror films to watch this Halloween season are listed below.
28 Days Later
With his post-apocalyptic film 28 Days Later from 2004, Danny Boyle breathed new life into the shambling corpse of zombie horror. A handful of survivors attempt to band together and find sanctuary among the ruins of society four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus in a clandestine testing facility spreads throughout the UK, transforming those infected into ravenous man-eating monsters. 28 Days Later is a modern horror classic and patient zero for the zombie horror film’s second renaissance. It was a major breakout film for several notable actors, including Cillian Murphy (Inception), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), and Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who). —Egan, Toussaint
28 Days Later is available to stream on HBO Max.
Alex Garland’s Annihilation stars Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist who, with a team of four other women including physicist Josie (Tessa Thompson), paramedic Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Geomorphologist Cassie (Tuva Novotny), and the enigmatic psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), ventures into a bizarre region of the United States code-named “A. Lena volunteers for the expedition in search of answers to her husband Kane’s (Oscar Isaac) disappearance, only to discover that Area X is a world unto itself that defies any and all forms of rational explanation. Garland’s film is a taut, terse, and macabre ecological horror thriller, brimming with twisted creatures morphed by anomalous forces that reign unchecked over the terrain of Area X, as well as deeper questions with answers that are too unsettling to fit within the shape of words.—TE
Annihilation is available to stream on Paramount Plus.
Wesley Snipes’ career-defining role as Blade, a half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter, delivered Marvel’s first hit movie ten years before Robert Downey Jr.’s debut as Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man. Blade must work alongside his mentor Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) and hematologist Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) to manage his own terrible, suppressed thirst for human blood while fighting an underground society of vampires led by Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), a megalomaniacal vampire with world-ending ambitions. Come for the bloodbath, stay for the high-octane action.—TE
Blade is available to stream on HBO Max.
Anthony Scott Burns (Holidays) writes, directs, and cinematographs Come True, which puts the parasomniac nightmare in its rightful place on the screen. Sarah is played by Julia Sarah Stone, a high school student who runs away from home only to suffer from sleep paralysis on a regular basis. Enrolling in a paid sleep study may appear to be a win-win situation for a stray teen, but the experiments only serve to amplify the horrific images that plague Sarah’s dreams. There’s clearly more going on here, as there should be in any good horror movie. To quote our review, “Essentially, it’s A Nightmare on Elm Street with a sense of pure dread in place of a gleefully evil Freddy Krueger figure. Burns understands the clammy, vivid feelings of a bad dream […] He also has a skilled navigator of those bad feelings in Stone, who makes Sarah’s opacity empathetic and compelling.” —Matt Patches
Come True is available to stream on Hulu.
Alexandre Aja’s pulp thriller features delightfully grandiose alligator action while also telling a suspenseful survival storey full of tense moments and sharp surprises, which is somewhat surprising. When Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is unable to contact her father due to news of a Category 5 hurricane, she returns to her hometown of Coral Lake, Florida (Barry Pepper). She travels through the storm to her old family home and descends into the crawl space, where she discovers bloody pipes and her trapped and wounded father cowering from a giant alligator blocking the exit.
The alligators, the cramped crawl space — a contentious topic among Floridians who mistook it for a basement — and the hurricane all contribute to some claustrophobic, truly terrifying moments, elevating Crawl from a simple creature feature to a tense disaster film that mashes the bizarre and suspenseful into chompingly good fun.—Petrana Radulovic
Crawl is available to stream on Hulu.
Creep & Creep 2
Mark Duplass and his regular collaborator Patrick Brice (The Overnight) have managed to keep the found-footage horror movie alive 15 years after The Blair Witch Project. Josef (Duplass) uses Craigslist to find Aaron (Brice), a videographer, with the intention of filming a goodbye letter to his unborn son. Josef believes he is dying, which is how he persuades his new friend Aaron to spend the night in the woods with him drinking whiskey. The batshit revelations are best left unsaid, and just how Creep 2 picks up the story, with Girls actress Desiree Akhavan front and center as a hopeful YouTube star, is even more of a hoot. Creep is the deranged, internet-friendly horror franchise we deserve. —MP
Creep and Creep 2 are available to stream on Netflix.
The Empty Man
The feature debut of director David Prior is the scariest and best film of the year. The main plot of the film revolves around a man named James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) who is on the lookout for a missing girl. He learns about a legend about a shadowy figure known as “the empty man” who stalks anyone who sees him for three days before striking. While this premise might be enough for a creepy movie on its own, Prior takes it even further, spanning the globe — in an outstanding 15-minute prologue — and finally introducing a cult whose leader may have supernatural abilities. Despite the fact that none of these make sense together on paper, Prior makes all three feel like part of one cohesive, terrifying story. —Austen Goslin
The Empty Man is available to stream on HBO Max.
The Evil Dead & Evil Dead 2
As Ash Williams, the loveable dunderhead-turned-maniacal chainsaw-wielding demon slayer, Bruce Campbell plays a career-defining role in Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. The original Evil Dead is a cult classic of the supernatural horror “cabin in the woods” subgenre, featuring grotesque prosthetic makeup effects and impressive stop-motion animation by special effects master Tom Sullivan. The Evil Dead deftly straddles the horror-comedy divide, delivering both terrifying kills and witty one-liners in equal measure. The sequel, Evil Dead 2, inventively retcons and continues from the conclusion of the first and improves upon the original in almost every aspect. The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are terrific horror films; frightening, thrilling and, to quote Ash himself, absolutely groovy. —TE
The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 is available to stream on HBO Max.
If you’ve seen Halloween (and this year’s Halloween), it’s time to revisit John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s other collaboration with Jamie Lee Curtis. The film tells the storey of a thick fog sweeping over the California coast, and a gang of seafaring spectres who drift along in it. It takes a very different approach to scares than Carpenter’s previous horror films, but it still relies on his slow-and-steady hand to build atmospheric tension. The Fog is a worthy horror movie obscured by a director and actor who made a genuine classic together. It leans a little schlockier in the jump-scare department, but with strong effects work and Curtis’ usual charisma, The Fog is a worthy horror movie obscured by a director and actor who made a genuine classic together.
The Fog is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
It’s like watching a live-action cartoon when you watch Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House. From the first frame, the bonkers cult horror classic bursts off the screen with bold experimentalism and charming surrealism, and it never lets up. The film follows a group of oddball schoolgirls who visit the haunted country home of one of their ailing aunts, only to be terrorised by supernatural forces and apparitions as the house gradually takes on a life of its own. In what is likely to be one of the most hilarious and memorable movie experiences you’ll ever have, oddball comedy meets architectural horror. —TE
House is available to stream on HBO Max.
The House on Haunted Hill
Without the spooky accouterment, William Castle’s fun-forward horror films hold up just as well. House on Haunted Hill stars Vincent Price as a macabre millionaire who invites a number of unsuspecting, money-hungry guests to spend the night at his haunted mansion rental. Anyone who can make it through the night will be awarded $10,000. It is, however, haunted! Is that the case? Castle’s wacky funhouse plot and execution are intertwined.
The sight gags on-screen are the highlight of this film. There are ghosts, skeletons, weapons-wielding hands, and an acid death pit in the basement. House on Haunted Hill is as blissfully silly as any straight-faced remake thanks to its old-fashioned rat-a-tat dialogue and goofy setups (and, seriously, the remake of this one is bad). It’s also a joy to see Price in action, as each scene serves as a reminder of why he’s one of the most important voices in horror history. Back in the day, Castle had to hustle to get butts in seats, but this one is a no-brainer for any audience with varying levels of horror tolerance. —MP
The House on Haunted Hill is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Hush, a lean, mean feature centered on a deaf-mute woman’s fight against a would-be killer, gets a fresh spin from The Haunting of Bly Manor creator and Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan. Maddie (Kate Siegel, who also co-wrote the film) lives alone in the woods and attracts the attention of a man (John Gallagher Jr.) after he chases and kills one of her friends, discovering that she is deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly seal It’s a fantastic modern slasher that even received Stephen King’s seal of approval. —MP
Hush is available to stream on Netflix.
The Strangers, directed by Byran Bertino and released in 2008, is a lean and intensely gripping horror film that strips the home invasion subgenre down to its bare essentials in order to convey the intimate, primal terror of its premise. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star as a married couple who are stalked and terrorised by a masked trio of serial killers after arriving at a secluded vacation house after a fateful night out for dinner together. This all begs the question, “Why?” You’ll be surprised to learn that the answer is both obvious and terrifying. —TE
The Strangers is available to stream on Netflix.
A small village in South Korea is plagued by unsettling rumours of demonic possession and paranormal activity in Hong-jin Na’s horror mystery The Wailing. All clues and intuitions point to a young Japanese priest when police officer Jong-Goo (Kwak Do-won) and his partner are called in to investigate a rash of murders linked to a mysterious disease. What Jong-Goo and his companions discover is a horror that defies description and leaves an indelible mark on the lives and deaths of those who come into contact with it. It’s a mood masterpiece, and it’s a 156-minute parade of every horror trope you can think of. —TE
The Wailing is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.