What goes best with fun-sized Hershey bars? Horror movies! And while everybody knows the classics (Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus, The Craft, the original Halloween, etc.), sometimes you want a less immediately familiar movie that won’t just entertain you — it’ll scare the daylights out of you, too. Here are 12 movie picks from across a variety of streaming services.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Where can I watch The Autopsy of Jane Doe?
(Watch on Shudder) André Øvredal (Trollhunter, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark) directed this 2016 chiller about a coroner (Brian Cox) and his son (Emile Hirsch) conducting an autopsy on the body of an unknown young woman whose cause of death — not to mention the contradictory conditions of her various body parts, some of which indicate recent death, others of which suggest she’s been dead a long while — is confusing, to say the least. That’s just the start of the ordeal for the men tasked with unravelling what proves to be a very witchy mystery, and the tension builds along with the unease that comes with watching a movie where you have no freaking idea where the story is going to go next.
Where can I watch The Changling?
(Watch on Shudder in the U.S.) Peter Medak’s 1980 ghost story stars George C. Scott as a professional pianist who loses his wife and daughter in a car accident. Soon thereafter, he moves into a ramshackle mansion that’s absolutely the wrong landing spot for anyone who sincerely needs some quiet time to recover from a horrific tragedy. Or maybe it’s the best landing spot, since the further Scott’s character pursues the mystery-slash-conspiracy of the restless spirit in his house, the less time he has to worry about his own trauma. At any rate, The Changeling is legitimately terrifying and has earned its cult-favourite designation by infiltrating the nightmares of just about everyone who watches it.
Note: The Changeling (1980) is not currently available on Australian streaming services
Where can I watch Censor?
(Watch on Hulu in the U.S.) In this unique meta-horror tale that came out just this year, a film censor working at the height of the UK’s “video nasty” controversy — it’s her job to determine, for example, how many gouged-out eyeballs are too many — already has a lot on her plate when the Ed Gein-inspired movie she’s allowed to be released is blamed for a horrific crime. But the frustration of her new notoriety can’t match the psychic pain she’s been carrying around for years since her beloved younger sister went missing, and her troubled state of mind gets even worse when reality begins to bleed into the films she watches for work, and vice versa. Wonderfully directed by Prano Bailey-Bond, the film is further elevated by Niamh Algar’s vividly intense lead performance.
Note: Censor is not currently available on Australian streaming services
Where can I watch Deep Red?
(Watch on Kanopy) This genre-defining 1975 giallo from Dario Argento (Suspiria) stars David Hemmings as a British jazz musician who witnesses a murder while working in Turin, Italy — but can’t quite make out the killer’s face. With the help of a local journalist (the great Daria Nicolodi, bringing the comic relief), he becomes drawn into a lurid mystery tied to a crime in the past so horrific its gory echoes are still shaping events in the present day. Argento’s trademark colourful style and a killer soundtrack by Goblin keep things gorgeously sleazy at all times.
Eyes Without a Face
Where can I watch Eyes Without a Face?
(Watch on Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max in the U.S.) Georges Franju’s 1960 French-language classic introduces us to a surgeon obsessed with repairing the accident-scarred face of his daughter, Christiane (Édith Scob) — to the point where he operates on kidnap victims, trying to use their skin to reconstruct her once-lovely visage. Eyes Without a Face has mad-scientist terrors and body horror to spare, but it’s also a deeply poignant tale about the dark places people will go when grief clouds their judgment. Even though she’s wearing an eerie white mask nearly the entire movie, Scob’s performance as the disfigured, deeply conflicted daughter is gut-wrenchingly effective.
Note: Eyes Without a Face is not currently available on Australian streaming services
Where can I watch His House?
(Watch on Netflix) This 2020 release from director Remi Weekes follows a married couple (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù and Loki and Lovecraft Country’s Wunmi Mosaku) who flee the horrors of war-torn South Sudan, hoping for a better life in London. The racism and xenophobia they experience in their new city is sadly unexpected; far more surprising is the fact that the run-down apartment they’re repeatedly told they’re lucky to call home is haunted. Outstanding performances and a timely plot help lift His House above the usual haunted-house fare, and while the scenes with the ghouls are frightening, the movie’s flashbacks to the characters’ lives before London are just as unsettling.
In the Earth
Where can I watch In the Earth?
(Available for digital rental) Set in a familiar-seeming world that’s learned to live somewhat functionally amid a deadly pandemic, Ben Wheatley’s 2021 Sundance standout In the Earth blends eco-horror and folk horror with eerie precision. (It has some gnarly body horror, too.) When a researcher and a guide set out to find a scientist who’s stopped checking in from her isolated outpost, they discover secrets lurking in the forest that spring from both the human mind and — even more worrisome — a force of nature that seems ready for a reckoning. Haunting and trippy, In the Earth will make you think twice before going on that next deep-woods hike.
Where can I watch 1990’s It?
(Available for digital rental) Yes, yes, the recent movies were great. But when’s the last time you prodded that portion of your brain that keeps Tim Curry’s Pennywise from bursting into your nightmares every time you close your eyes? Don’t let the “made for TV” label fool you — this version of the Stephen King killer-clown-in-a-horror-town classic is scarier than most theatrical movies, too.
Where can I watch The Medium?
(Watch on Shudder in the U.S.) We reviewed this Thai-Korean new release recently and frankly, we haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Styled as a “documentary,” The Medium purports to follow a woman who dutifully serves the goddess that’s taken residence inside her soul, mostly by helping her neighbours with spiritual ailments. Things take a turn when we meet the rest of her family, including the twentysomething niece who’s starting to show signs of possession — and they just keep turning as the movie escalates toward its thrilling, unexpectedly gruesome final act.
Note: The Medium is not currently available on Australian streaming services
Where can I watch The Omen?
(Watch on Disney+) We couldn’t resist throwing at least one bona fide horror classic on here; The Omen might not scream “Halloween,” but there’s still plenty of screaming, about a lot of things, in Richard Donner’s 1976 cautionary tale about why you should never, ever switch your stillborn baby at birth with a living child of unknown origin. Gregory Peck’s diplomat character learns this the hard way when baby Damien grows into a supremely spooky kid and starts flexing his Satanic powers.
Where can I watch Raw?
(Watch on Binge) When Julia Ducournau won the prestigious Palme d’Or for Titane at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, nobody who’d seen her tremendous 2021 directorial debut Raw was one bit surprised. As this coming-of-age tale begins, a veterinary student (Garance Marillier) who’s a committed vegetarian is forced — by her older sister, a second-year student — to eat a rabbit kidney as part of a hazing ritual. Soon after, it awakens new cravings for meat… specifically human flesh. That sounds lurid and trashy and while Raw is definitely a cannibal movie (with the repulsive visuals to match), it might be the most emotionally nuanced cannibal movie on record. Maybe finish up your candy stash before you watch it though.
Where can I watch Terrified?
(Available for digital rental) Writing about horror movies, we get asked “What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?” kind of a lot. While there are several very good answers to this question, it’s always tempting to just point people toward Demián Rugna’s 2017 Terrified. When strange things start happening to the residents of an otherwise quiet street in Buenos Aires, a weary policeman and a team of paranormal investigators get pulled into an extremely distressing mystery. Even after multiple viewings this one still gives us the shivers.