Are you feeling the Halloween spirit yet? (Or is that Halloween spirits?) If so, there are plenty of options for streaming horror flicks. And if you’re not feeling it just yet, maybe watching a good scary movie will get you there.
Quick Synopsis: This mysterious 2010 thriller follows a group of strangers who all end up on the same elevator. But when the elevator stalls, they quickly realize something is wrong… and one of them isn’t really human.
More Information: This movie was co-written and produced by master of twists M. Night Shyamalan, but directed by John Erick Dowdle (“Quarantine,” “As Above, So Below”). It also features a great cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Bokeem Woodbine, Chris Messina and Geoffrey Arend are some of the familiar faces you’ll see. It’s best to go into this one without knowing much; I remember being pretty pleased with its twists and turns the first time I watched it. But it’s also a good rewatch, which is sometimes not the case with a movie this steeped in mystery.
“Ready or Not” (2019)
Quick Synopsis: On her wedding night, Grace (Samara Weaving) has to pick a game to play with her new in-laws in their sprawling mansion. But it could never really be that simple — Grace picks Hide and Seek, which means she’ll have to fight to survive the night as the family hunts her with all kinds of weaponry.
More Information: The horror community has buzzed about this one since its release in 2019, and it’s still not overrated. There’s no way to overstate how fun this movie is. It’s a horror comedy, but it isn’t lacking in gore or tension. The cast is great, including Weaving as the lead, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Adam Brody, Andie MacDowell, Kristian Bruun and Nicky Guadagni in the supporting cast. This film has an ending unlike any I’ve ever seen, and “The Hide and Seek Song” was immediately added to my Halloween playlist after I left the theater (ah, the good old days).
Quick Synopsis: In this 1955 French crime drama/thriller, a wife and a mistress work together to murder the abusive man they both once loved.
More Information: This film isn’t straight horror, but it will leave you guessing up to the end. Even if you’re not very into foreign films (yes, there are subtitles) or black-and-white films, I think you’ll be enraptured by this one. Again, go into it knowing as little as possible.
“The Ruins” (2008)
Quick Synopsis: A group of friends vacationing in Mexico decide to visit a remote Mayan temple. But these things never go as planned, and their trek turns out to be more dangerous than they expected.
More Information: This movie is based off the book of the same name by Scott Smith. There are a number of significant differences between the two, so you can read it then watch or vice versa and still enjoy both, but the basic story is the same. If you think that killer plants can’t be done well because of “The Happening,” think again. “The Ruins” is a brutal horror movie in which you get to watch dumb white Americans go where they shouldn’t, disrupting the lives of locals and getting punished for it.
Quick Synopsis: When Sara (Mary Nepi) has a pregnancy that goes full-term in one day, she and her best friend Hayley (Gabrielle Elyse) know something is very wrong. Turns out, the two teen girls have to come up with a plan to stop the alien invasion that’s happening via Sara’s womb.
More Information: If the premise sounds a little absurd, that’s because it is. This is another horror comedy and, while it’s pretty under-the-radar, it’s a solid hidden gem. This movie has laughs, gore, creature effects, heartfelt friendships and more. It’s also even more in-your-face about aliens and sex than the 1979 classic “Alien” (which is also on HBO Max, if you want an interesting double feature).
“Altered States” (1980)
Quick Synopsis: Harvard scientist Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) begins experimenting on himself with a combination of drugs and an isolation chamber. The result may be more terrifying and dramatic than anyone could have imagined.
More Information: This movie is wild! It can be slow at points, which could be the filmmaker’s style (it’s directed by Ken Russell, and I haven’t seen his other movies) or the era (1980). But it when it gets going, it’s quite the ride. Do you want body horror and psychedelic imagery? Then this is a sci-fi horror movie you should check out.
“House of Wax” (2005)
Quick Synopsis: In this 2005 remake of the 1953 classic, a group of teens get stranded in a remote area, but they do find a wax museum. The twist? These aren’t the figures you’d see at Madame Tussauds — they’re humans covered in wax.
More Information: This movie isn’t beloved by a lot of people, maybe partially because of the inclusion of Paris Hilton in the cast. But she actually doesn’t do a horrible job — especially when you consider all of the horror movies about teens from the early and mid-2000s. Chad Michael Murray is also a lead in this one, and ubiquitous horror star Jared Padalecki is part of the group too. You may not remember how gory and scary this movie could be at times, so if you’re looking for a blast from the past, this R-rated slasher should hit the spot.
“Doctor Sleep” (2019)
Quick Synopsis: In this sequel to “The Shining,” an adult Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) has to not only fight his own demons but also help a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) escape the psychic clutches of a cult called The True Knot.
More Information: Director Mike Flanagan, who also wrote the screenplay based on Stephen King’s book of the same name, really pulled something off with this one. He works in things from King’s novels while also paying homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic film, which famously took a lot of liberties with the story. You’ve probably heard how great Rebecca Ferguson is as the main villain, Rose the Hat, but Curran does a standout job in this film too.
“The Frighteners” (1996)
Quick Synopsis: Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) acquires the ability to see spirits after his wife dies in a tragic accident. He uses his power to scam people — until things get a little too real, and he has to fight to save his town and his own reputation.
More Information: There’s a lot going on in this 1996 horror comedy. It’s mostly lighthearted, but the third act features some truly terrifying scenes, both in the human world and the spirit world. The effects are pretty typical of the era, which is to say they’re not great, but they’re not quite bad enough to be distracting. Danny Elfman scores this film, and it’s as good a score as his others, even if it is lesser known.
Quick Synopsis: A group of friends sign on to have a casual video chat when an uninvited, anonymous guest shows up. They can’t get rid of the mystery person, who appears to have hacked into a dead girl’s accounts — and then the friends start dying, one by one.
More Information: This wasn’t the first-ever video chat movie, but it was the first big one. It covers themes as large as bullying and the common misuse of social media without feeling really preachy, and it’s genuinely spooky. After “Host” was such a hit this summer, it is weird to see Skype as a weapon of choice in this one rather than Zoom, but 2014 was a different time. The teens here are pretty annoying, but that’s by design, as with many slashers. I find this movie is most effective if you watch it on a laptop screen yourself.
Do you have any horror movies that you love to watch this time of year? Share your recommendations with us, and let us know what you think of these 10 picks too!
Featured image credit: Paramount Pictures
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Jackie has called Austin home since choosing to attend the University of Texas, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism. She loves spending time with her dogs, writing about pop culture in all its forms and spending time with friends – eating, drinking and doing trivia.