November 29, 2022

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10 scariest horror movies on Shudder

6 min read

Horror movies come in all shapes and sizes.

You’ve got your comedy horrors, your psychological horrors, your tense thriller-y horrors — and, of course, your genuinely scary horrors.

I’m not just talking about your run-of-the-mill, yikes-that’s-a-bit-creepy kind of films, here, either. I’m talking about the truly terror-inducing — the type of movies you wake in the dead of night thinking about, and which stay with you for a long, long time after the credits have rolled. The horribly twitchy, sleep-with-the-lights-on-and-avoid-all-mirrors kind of movies.

Streaming platform Shudder has a lot to offer in this regard.

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The best movies on Shudder that you can’t stream anywhere else

We’ve combed through the archives of the service (which is chock-full of horror, sci-fi and thrillers of all kinds) to track down the most terrifying films we could — from jumpy classics like The Descent to Demian Rugna’s aptly named Terrified. If you’re unable to deal with jump-scares, these are not for you.

Cushions to hide behind at the ready…

What’s it about?

After the strange death of their mother, a family begins to suspect that her presence may not have entirely left the house.

Why’s it so scary?

Indonesian director Joko Anwar knows how to make a creepy film. It’s apparent during the opening scenes in Satan’s Slaves, when Rini (Tara Basro) makes a grim discovery in her mother’s bedroom, and it only gets clearer from there on out. The movie has a solid mixture of slow build, bumps-in-the-night style tension, and outright jump-scares, putting you on edge early and offering little by way of reprieve.

For fans of Ring (which features further down on this list), there’s even a very creepy well…

What’s it about?

After one of her twins dies during childbirth, a new mother grows increasingly fearful that something is coming after her surviving baby.

Why’s it so scary?

Fair warning: If you’re expecting a child, have recently had a child, or are considering having a child at any point in the near future, this may be one to avoid. Brandon Christensen’s film very effectively plays on fears of motherhood and mental health, bringing together pretty much every worst nightmare scenario imaginable for a new parent.

Like Christensen’s other film on this list (see Z, further down), Still/Born thrives on its jump-scares — and there are plenty of those to be had, often delivered via the medium of fuzzy-screened baby monitors and late-night security camera footage.

SEE ALSO:

The best women-centric and feminist horror movies

Stay away from those unmarked video tapes.
Credit: Omega/Kadokawa/Kobal/Shutterstock

What’s it about?

A journalist attempts to get to the bottom of a cursed video tape, which supposedly kills the viewer a week after they’ve watched it.

Why’s it so scary?

Hideo Nakata’s 1998 horror classic not only kick-started a global franchise, but it also proved you don’t necessarily need high-tech special effects and intense music to generate scares. By today’s standards, Ring may not provide as many jump-scares as some as the other films on this list, but there are still plenty of nightmare-inducing scenes and images (and you probably won’t ever look at a well, or a grainy TV set, in quite the same way again).

What’s it about?

A brother and sister return to their parents’ farmhouse to help their mother care for their dying father. But after things take a sudden, tragic turn, they realise something more sinister is going on.

Why’s it so scary?

Creaky old remote farmhouses are already the ideal setting for jumps, but Bryan Bertino’s chiller is extra effective because of its use of sound — whether it’s jangling horseshoes placed to ward off evil, a jagged background score or simply yawning, empty silence. The jumps in this one are unexpected and genuinely terrifying, and the story is unremittingly bleak.

What’s it about?

Unable to meet in person due to the coronavirus lockdown, a group of friends decide to try out a seance over Zoom.

Why’s it so scary?

One word: realism. The premise of the story, its Zoom setting, and the very natural dialogue all conspire to make Host feel horribly realistic. It’s like you’re watching the recording of an actual Zoom call between friends, and that makes it all the more unnerving when things begin to go really, really wrong.

Oh, and if you’re worried that the movie’s set-up might be limiting in terms of scares, don’t be: the jumps in this one are frequent, and — thanks to the creativity of director Rob Savage — always inventive.

SEE ALSO:

How ‘Host’ director Rob Savage went from viral tweet to 3-movie deal

What’s it about?

A group of paranormal investigators examines some disturbing goings-on in a neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Why’s it so scary?

Rather than just having one scary monster or theme, Demián Rugna’s Terrified has a whole bunch of them — from IT-style voices gurgling away in the drain to the unmoving corpse of a dead child, returned home from the grave to sit stiffly at the dinner table.

Basically, the film is a trick box full of scares, and if one thing doesn’t get to you, chances are something else certainly will.

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What’s it about?

After the opening of a haunted house tourist attraction results in death, a fictional documentary crew tries to uncover what really happened.

Why’s it so scary?

Like all the best found-footage horror movies, Stephen Cognetti’s Hell House LLC uses realism to amp up its fear factor, splicing shaky camera shots with moving mannequins and half-glimpsed figures in the night. The tourist attraction setting could easily have come across as cheesy in this one, but luckily the movie’s prop department sourced some genuinely creepy-looking clowns for the occasion (one of which provides more than a few nasty jumps).

What’s it about?

A mother grows increasingly worried about her eight-year-old son after he gets a new imaginary friend called “Z.”

Why’s it so scary?

If the likes of The Babadook and Hide and Seek have taught us anything, it’s that children having imaginary friends (at least in the context of a horror movie) is never a great thing. Brandon Christensen’s Z takes this concept and gives it a fresh twist, putting us in the shoes of Beth (Keegan Connor Tracy) as she grows increasingly disturbed by her son’s behaviour.

The thing that makes Z so unnerving isn’t so much the creepy child aspect as it is the unknowable monster — the lingering idea of “Z,” this unseen creature that dominates every scene with its absence. The fear of seeing something is often more disturbing than the thing itself, and this is an idea that the movie understands perfectly well — and uses to nail-biting effect.

What’s it about?

A policeman investigates a village rampant with a mysterious disease linked to murderous rages.

Why’s it so scary?

Na Hong-jin’s 2016 South Korean horror film The Wailing is an offbeat and low-simmering horror that’ll unsettle you to your core. Less of a belligerent shock-riding horror and more of an atmospheric long game, the film is still frankly terrifying. As Vox points out, the film does include some xenophobic elements, which the director has dismissed. — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor

What’s it about?

A group of women go spelunking in North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains. After they become trapped in an unexplored part of the cave system, though, it becomes clear they’re not alone.

Why’s it so scary?

Wriggling through horrendously narrow underground tunnels is already bad enough, but when you throw cave-dwelling zombie creatures into the mix things really ramp up. Neil Marshall’s movie is very jumpy, and one to steer well clear of if you suffer from claustrophobia.

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