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Every streaming service has a glut of options for your viewing needs, and Vulture is doing its part to help you find the signals among the noise. Just as we try to keep abreast of the top horror-movie options on Netflix, so too do we want to curate a best-of-the-best list for other platforms. In this case: Hulu. Here are the 40 best titles available to you right now for your art-house-horror and simple-jump-scare needs.
2001 Maniacs (2005)
Barely released in theaters, this 2005 indie horror flick gained a cult following after its DVD release and feels particularly timely today given the controversy over Confederate iconography. A remake of the 1964 Herschell Gordon Lewis film, it’s the story of a group of college students who find themselves in a Southern town that’s still seeking vengeance for losing the Civil War. Gruesome in a way that a Lewis remake needs to be, it’s a memorable little flick.
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Anna and the Apocalypse not only has zombies, it has musical numbers and friendship and coming-of-age drama that follows the titular Anna (Dickinson star Ella Hunt) and a handful of her high-school classmates as they try to survive an onslaught of the undead. See also: large lawn candy canes used as bludgeoning instruments.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
More comedy than horror, sure, but this 1992 cult hit has enough vampire violence to qualify. Considered a mess when it was released, audiences have come around to some of the charms of this Joss Whedon-penned comedy, largely because of the cult following that built up around his TV version of the same concept.
Ryan Reynolds gives one of the best performances of his career in this 2010 thriller about a truck driver who wakes up to find he’s been buried alive. Taking place almost entirely in the coffin from which Reynolds now has to escape, it’s a tense ride that’s absolutely not for the claustrophobic.
Cabin in the Woods (2011)
This Joss Whedon–penned meta-horror-comedy was one of those olive-branch extending scary movies that made wider audiences realize how smart and varied the genre could be. A group of friends take a vacation to a secluded cabin, and everything that can go wrong — and has gone wrong in slasher movies for decades — does go wrong for our attractive, overwhelmed 20-somethings. Huge bonus points for the pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth.
Children of the Corn (1984)
This creepy-kid classic follows a 20-something couple on a cross-country move who get hung up in a tiny midwestern town that is suspiciously devoid of adults. John Franklin gives an all-time horror performance as the child preacher and cult leader Isaac Chroner, whipping his young peers into a murderous frenzy in the name of He Who Walks Behind the Rows. If you’re feeling something aggressively ’80s, join Linda Hamilton for this road trip gone wrong.
Alexandre Aja directed this razor-sharp 2019 film about a father and daughter trapped in a basement as flood waters rise during a hurricane. Oh, and they just happen to be being hunted by alligators. A combination of disaster flick and monster flick tropes, Aja’s film is a delight from start to finish. There’s not an ounce of fat on this one.
Culture Shock (2019)
This entry in Hulu’s Into the Dark anthology series is one of its strongest chapters to date. Up-and-coming feature director Gigi Saul Guerrero helmed this story about a pregnant woman who gets swept up by a nefarious U.S. government operation while trying to cross the border from Mexico to the United States. Horror legend Barbara Crampton co-stars as an evil emissary of the American Dream in this immigration nightmare.
The Devil’s Doorway (2018)
This possession-horror film is set at a Catholic asylum for women in Northern Ireland and follows a pair of priests dispatched by the Vatican to investigate reports of a Virgin Mary statue that weeps blood. It turns out, though, that the crying plaster isn’t nearly as scary as the brutal nuns in residence or what they have chained up in the basement.
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Rob Zombie’s best film to date (and, it would appear given his recent work, probably forever) is this 2005 grisly flick, a movie that blends his extreme sensibilities with a gruesome plot that justifies the overkill. Technically a sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, it has a completely different tone, taking more seriously the crime spree of a trio of psychopaths who murder their way across the heartland.
Larry Fassenden is a prolific creator of genre content, having written, directed, produced, and performed in films for decades. One of his strongest recent efforts is last year’s Depraved, a modern retelling of Frankenstein that he wrote and directed. A maniac scientist funded by a shady backer is picking up men off the street and harvesting them for parts; he finds his biggest success making aggregate humans in the one he names Adam. But what happens when the “monster” develops a mind of its own?
*The Devil’s Candy
Sean Byrne wrote and directed this excellent 2015 slow burn about two men who hear voices. One, played by Pruitt Taylor Vince, commits horrible murders after doing so. Another, played by Ethan Embry, seems to be overtaken by a spirit as he paints his art in the same house. The two paths intersect after the killer tries to find his way home. It’s a great genre movie that came out just before the recent horror renaissance. It would be huge in 2020.
The Domestics (2018)
This rowdy postapocalypse movie features an America divided into two factions: violent gang members who belong to themed mobs and nonviolent people dubbed Domestics. A husband and wife set out to make a perilous drive across the Midwest to reach family, but the several hundred miles between their starting point and their destination are filled with Mad Max–esque heathens looking to kill or imprison anyone who invades their territory.
Ghost Stories (2018)
This movie is what its title advertises: a set of three spooky tales connected by a man who’s investigating the paranormal merits of each one. And it’s really scary! There’s a night watchman encountering a ghost on the job, a disturbed young man traumatized by an accident in the woods near his house, and a wealthy man terrorized by the spirit of his unborn child. A classic collection of scares based on the play of the same name.
Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s 2014 Austrian film is one of the best horror films you could watch on any streaming service. It’s about a pair of creepy twins who become convinced, after a round of plastic surgery, that their mother is not really their mother. They start to work against this perceived stranger and this film gets ickier and weirder until its shocking climax.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Clive Barker’s original Hellraiser is outstanding, but the Tony Randel–directed sequel, which takes us into the depths of the underworld and has even meatier parts for heroine Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) and evil incarnate Julia (Clare Higgins), may be even better. Reopen the Lament Configuration and follow the cenobites into their palace of pleasure and pain.
Clive Barker’s debut directorial effort, working from his own screenplay, may be the best cinematic example of a writer translating his vision from the page to the screen. Shakespearean in its examination of family betrayals and unchecked evil, this is a movie that works just as well today as it did thirty years ago.
One of the best things about Bong Joon-ho winning multiple Oscar for his brilliant Parasite (also on Hulu) is the exposure likely led more people to his other works, including this wonderful film, one of the best monster movies ever made. In fact, this story of a creature in the Han River also stars the leading man from Parasite, the wonderful Song Kang-ho. It’s a gorgeous piece of work that really put Bong on the map worldwide.
The Housemaid (2011)
In this South Korean erotic thriller, a poor young woman is hired as a nanny and live-in housekeeper for a wealthy family. But when the family’s scoundrel of a patriarch sets his sights on her, the fringe benefits of staying in a lavish home and eating fancy leftovers lose their luster.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rob Zombie’s directorial debut rocked the horror world when it dropped in 2003. Clearly inspired by gore masters like Lewis and Argento, but with his own hillbilly horror style, Zombie was a filmmaker who felt like he had a loyal following from his very first shoot. It’s fun to watch this one almost two decades later and see how it’s influenced the genre already.
The Houses October Built (2014)
If you love the idea of extreme haunts but can’t bring yourself to participate in one, just check into The Houses October Built. A group of friends set out to find the most terrifying underground haunted houses around, but along the way they pick up a doll-faced stalker who portends certain peril. No need to search anymore. The haunt has found them.
I Trapped the Devil (2019)
This taut thriller centers on a seemingly disturbed man whose estranged brother shows up at his house hoping they can reconnect. But the man is a little bit busy at the moment, seeing as how he is certain he has Satan himself trapped in his basement. What starts as an apparent delusion becomes a frighteningly real possibility as the imprisoned basement dweller beckons to be set free. Would you really open that door if you were even a little worried that the devil was waiting on the other side?
Little Monsters (2019)
Little Monsters writer and director Abe Forsythe threw up a Hail Mary when he attempted to cast Lupita Nyong’o for this zombie comedy set at a children’s theme park — and it paid off. Nyong’o stars as a kindergarten teacher saddled with both the ne’er-do-well uncle of one of her students and a sociopathic kids’-show star played by Josh Gad. They’re all trying to get out of Playland alive while protecting the kids from the gory truth of what’s happening around them.
The Lodge (2019)
Riley Keough stars in this terrifying Sundance hit that made a quick jump from theaters in early 2020 to Hulu. Keough plays the fiancé of a man with two kids who aren’t exactly looking for a stepmother. At a frozen lodge retreat, new mom’s past experience with a death cult comes to the fore and things get really creepy. Don’t miss this one.
Mom and Dad (2018)
Half of the directing duo that brought you the movie Crank made this bloody black comedy about a global contagion that infects only parents and drives them to kill their kids. Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair star as two of the infanticidal maniacs trying to wipe out their own children, and it is an insane good time.
New Year, New You (2018)
With this Into the Dark installment, writer and director Sophia Takal made a violent satire of social-media celebrity and wellness culture with probably the best cast assembled for any ITD feature. Suki Waterhouse, Melissa Bergland, Carly Chaikin, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste play four friends who get together for a night in one of their childhood homes. But one of them doesn’t know she’s about to be brutally confronted by her three “best friends” for sins committed back when they were teens. To live your best life, maybe you have to murder your past.
The Ninth Gate (1999)
What if there was an ancient book that could literally summon the Devil? Such was the premise of this 1999 horror movie from director Roman Polanski, one of the genre kings. Yes, Polanski retreads some ground that he handled better in earlier films, but there’s still some striking imagery in this vision of a man who may have found a portal to Hell.
Odd Thomas (2014)
Beloved actor Anton Yelchin stars in this adaptation of the Dean Koontz novel of the same name, playing a fry cook with the unique ability to see the dead. When a stranger arrives in his small town and brings a mess of evil spirits with him, it’s up to Odd, his girlfriend, and the town sheriff to stop certain destruction. Always a good choice when you’re missing the dearly departed Yelchin.
There’s a nightmarish quality to The Other Lamb, a 2019 festival hit from IFC Midnight. It may tell a relatively familiar story of cult life, but it does so with the visual language of a dream, anchored by great performances from Raffey Cassidy and Michiel Huisman, who plays the abusive leader of a cult from which the film’s protagonist ultimately rebels. Taut and surreal, it’s another great example of Hulu picking up smaller, relatively unseen recent releases and giving them a second life.
J.J. Abrams produced this alt-programming war movie about a group of American soldiers who infiltrate a Nazi base and find the Reich has been working on a freaky-ass research program to create medically enhanced super-soldiers who are basically ultra-aggressive Nazi zombies. Pilou Asbæk goes full raging scumbag as the evil Captain Wafner.
When a group of nerds get invited to pledge an exclusive campus club, they don’t expect the days-long hazing rituals to turn so bloody, or maybe even fatal. This one’s for fans who have been missing that touch of torture in their horror.
One of the indie-horror gems of 2018, Pyewacket tells the story of a teen girl grieving her father who makes a very bad choice to summon a demon in the woods while doing some classic angry teen dabbling in the occult. Young Leah is pissed at her mom, so she decides to curse her with a blood ritual but quickly realizes the consequences will be dire.
A Quiet Place (2018)
You know her. You love her. Shotgun-toting Emily Blunt stars alongside her husband (and director and co-writer), John Krasinski, in this nail-biting creature feature. Humans have been forced into seclusion by a race of monsters that hunt by sound. Raise the decibel level even the slightest bit and it’s your life on the line. Bonus: Our protagonist parents are raising two kids and have a baby on the way. Not ideal conditions for silence.
One of the great holiday horror movies of all time, Rare Exports is a Finnish film about a mountain-dwelling family that lives perilously close to a shocking new discovery: the tomb of Santa Claus. But in this case, we mean a dark fairy-tale Santa who sends hordes of his evil minions, in the form of naked old men, to wreak havoc on the landscape. Reindeer are being slaughtered. Children are going missing. And little Pietari has to figure out why before Santa is free to fully raise hell.
Neasa Hardiman wrote and directed this 2019 waterbound thriller about … something found under the surface by a fishing trawler. With echoes of The Thing, the claustrophobia and paranoia become just as dangerous as whatever this crew has discovered. It stars Hermione Corfield, Dougray Scott, and Connie Nielsen, and is the kind of indie horror project almost guaranteed to develop a following via word of mouth. Get on the bandwagon now.
Are monster movies too … filled with monsters for your taste? This lovely, haunting story follows a young woman who survived a first-wave attack of the creatures that are wiping out humanity. Taking refuge in the apartment of her dead best friend, she finds a cassette labeled “THIS MIXTAPE WILL SAVE THE WORLD” and starts to think that, if she can crack the code of the signal that triggered the invasion, she can stop the apocalypse.
The Tenant (1976)
Roman Polanski completed his “Apartment Trilogy” (after Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby) with this terrifying 1976 vision of secluded insanity. It’s kind of a perfect quarantine film in that it’s about an average man, played by Polanski, who rents an apartment in a terrifying building in Paris. And you thought your time stuck at home was bad?
Tragedy Girls (2017)
When a small town is shocked into a state of terror by a killer on the loose, a pair of bored high-school best friends decide to capitalize on the tragedies and parlay their close encounter into social-media stardom. But when the murderer goes AWOL, the girls are left with no choice but to keep the bodies hitting the floor to keep themselves close to the headlines. Sandbox love, as we know, is a most powerful force.
Bill Skarsgard and Maika Monroe star in this SXSW hit as a young couple who break into the home of a seemingly average American family only to discover there’s nothing normal at all about these people. Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick are excellent as a vision of Norman Rockwell by way of David Lynch. This is the kind of film that people will discover over the next few years. Get on the bandwagon early.
This Spanish film features a family dealing with the sudden death of the father, which, in addition to being sad, leaves them without someone to fill his patriarchal duty of procuring people for them to eat. (He is also the primary source of income as a watch repairman, but it’s the human hunting that’s harder to replace.) The eldest son seems poised to succeed his father, but will the family starve, be ripped apart, or be found out before they can find a new equilibrium?
The impressive trio of Armie Hammer, Zazie Beetz, and Dakota Johnson lead this head-tripping body horror from director Babak Anvari. Hammer’s character is a bartender existing in a state of arrested development at his New Orleans watering hole, where he flirts with one of his best friends (Beetz) and kind of phones it in with his live-in girlfriend (Johnson). But his coasting existence is destroyed when someone drops a cell phone in his bar and he finds a twisted video on it that ruins his life.
Horror has long been accused of being a boy’s club, which made this 2017 anthology film all the more refreshing in that it features four short films and a framing device, all directed by women. Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), Roxanne Benjamin, and Karyn Kusama collaborated on the Sundance hit. Like all anthology films, it’s hit and miss, but more often the former.