The Best Horror Movies On Shudder You Probably Haven’t Heard Of
Shudder has done a few really smart things in their quest to dominate the genre streaming market. The first is they have cultivated cult classics that fans rave for. The kinds of films that word of mouth alone have elevated them to legendary status. If you are a true fan you know exactly the kind of films I’m talking about. Some are slashers, some horror comedies, some just unexplainable fun guaranteed to scare your pants off. Whole Reddit subs are devoted to the discussion of these greats.
The second clever thing is snagging hidden gems to get their day in the sun. These are the foreign films, the oddballs, the uncategorizable movies that once seen are loved. Some are the scariest stories you will ever see, some are visually arresting, and some are brilliantly written. What they all have in mind is they are little known or forgotten. With that in mind here are the best horror movies you probably don’t know about. We curate a list each week. The best psychological horror movies and the grossest movies are recent lists. Come back each week for a new list.
In this now celebrated creeper, an asbestos abatement crew wins the bid for an abandoned insane asylum. What should be a straightforward job, is complicated by the discovery of audiotapes from a former patient with multiple personalities. Slowly, the team succumbs to whatever darkness lies inside the Danvers State Mental Hospital.
Cast: David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle
Session 9 is unbridled madness. David Caruso swaggers and scowls his way through every scene and the setting just can’t be beaten. They actually filmed at an actual abandoned mental institution and it shows on screen. This is one creepy place all by itself. The ambiguous story will leave you wondering who did what to whom and WTAF did you just watch.
In a remote Alpine village in the 15th century lives a marked woman. The scapegoat of ancient superstitions and monstrous misogyny, this self-styled witch begins to assert her otherworldly birthright. This atmospheric debut feature from Lukas Feigelfeld is a haunting pagan death trip and a startling vision of psychedelic horror.
Cast: Aleksandra Cwen, Celina Peter, Tanja Petrovsky, Claudia Martini, Haymon Maria Buttinger
Speaking of strange, this rural horror is as bizarre as it gets. Beautifully shot and well-acted this foreign film gets under your skin. Sexuality simmers just below the surface in this truly horrific film that will remind you of The VVitch only weirder. After watching read this for a full explanation of what happened.
In this folktale of love and survival in 19th century Estonia, peasant girl Liina longs for village boy Hans, but Hans is inexplicably infatuated by the visiting German baroness that possesses all that he longs for. For Liina, winning Hans’ requited love proves incredibly complicated in this dark, harsh landscape where spirits, werewolves, plagues, and the devil himself converge, where thievery is rampant, and where souls are highly regarded but come quite cheap. With alluring black and white cinematography, Rainer Sarnet vividly captures these motley lives as they toil to exist—is existence worth anything if it lacks a soul?
Cast: Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi, Katariina Unt, Taavi Eelmaa
This arthouse hem is the epitome of dark fantasy mixed with Lynchian surrealism. It’s unsettling, scary, haunting, and gorgeous. If you like your horror way out on the edge November is the film for you.
Tigers Are Not Afraid
A haunting horror fairytale set against the backdrop of Mexico’s devastating drug wars, TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID follows a group of orphaned children armed with three magical wishes, running from the ghosts that haunt them and the cartel that murdered their parents. Filmmaker Issa López creates a world that recalls the early films of Guillermo del Toro, imbued with her own gritty urban spin on magical realism to conjure a wholly unique experience that audiences will not soon forget. A SHUDDER EXCLUSIVE.
Cast: Paola Lara, Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes, Ianis Guerrero, Tenoch Huerta
Rarely are horror films so moving. This is one of those rare examples that maintain the scares but infuse bone-deep emotion as well. Callbacks to del Toro’s early days are highlights. This is the kind of film even none horror fans will appreciate so watch it with that significant other that just can’t figure out why you like the genre so much.
On the U.S. / Mexico border, special agent Emanuel Ritter leads a police investigation into a series of shocking deaths involving young children. When a priest from the Vatican links the ancient demon Belzebuth to the murders, a descent into horror ensues. From director Emilio Portes, BELZEBUTH is a dark, terrifying new work of demonic possession. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL.
Cast: Tobin Bell, Joaquín Cosio, Tate Ellington
I’m a sucker for devil and demon movies and this one from Portes is pretty darn good. A shudder exclusive it capitalizes on good acting and interesting twists. The special effects are good and there is a lot to unpack after watching. If EVP, the third coming of Christ, and exorcism by crucifixion sound entertaining stream it up.
A former addict begins to have strange episodes after moving into her childhood home in this relentlessly disturbing ghost story from BLAIR WITCH PROJECT director Eduardo Sanchez. But where that film relied on off-screen atmosphere to create dread, here Sanchez serves plenty of on-screen scares, resulting in a film that follows in the footsteps of graphic shockers like THE ENTITY. Richly exploring the parallels between psychosis, addiction, and demonic possession, LOVELY MOLLY is a gripping look at how the traumas of the past come back to haunt us. Contains strong language, sexual scenes, violence and gore.
Cast: Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis, Alexandra Holden
This brutally gory film is a personal favorite. Everyone’s favorite sexy ghost maid Alexandra Holden costars, but Gretchen Lodge steals the show as a recovering drug addict who may be chased by a demmon from her past. If demonic possession and disturbing priest sex scenes are your things, look no further. This is probably the scariest film on this list.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
The first Iranian Vampire Western, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave. Amped by a mix of Iranian rock, techno and Morricone-inspired riffs, it’s airy, anamorphic, black-and-white aesthetic and artfully drawn-out scenes combine the simmering tension of Sergio Leone with the surrealism of David Lynch.
Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Mozhan Marno, Marshall Manesh, Dominic Rains
The first line of the description above should be enough to sell you on this wildly creative offering from Ana Lily Amirpour. She really is one to watch for. This is the kind of movie that makes you smarter for having seen it. At the very least you sound smarter for talking about it.
Determined to make it as an actress in Hollywood, Sarah Walker spends her days working a dead-end job, enduring petty friendships and going on countless casting calls in hopes of catching her big break. After a series of strange auditions, Sarah lands the leading role in a new film from a mysterious production company. But with this opportunity comes bizarre ramifications that will transform her both mentally and physically into something beautiful… and altogether terrifying. From the producer of CHEAP THRILLS and JODOROWSKY’S DUNE, Dennis Widmyer & Kevin Kolsch’s STARRY EYES is an occult tale of ambition, possession, and the true cost of fame.
Cast: Alexandra Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Fabianne Therese, Pat Healy, Marc Senter
Writer/Directors Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer, deliver razor-sharp commentary on perfection and acceptance. Star Alexandra Essoe gives a career-making performance and this bleak look at desperation is the more cogent sister to Neon Demon. Plot and characters are well developed and this moralistic fable gets a modern treatment.
We Are Still Here
When grieving parents Paul (Andrew Sensenig) and Anne (Barbara Crampton) move into the home of a family of bloodthirsty spirits, they mistakenly think the presence is their son. Seeking help, they invite psychic friends May (Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden) to make contact, but soon realize vengeful spirits aren’t all they have to fear. This grisly splatterpunk spin on haunted house flicks brilliantly twists audience expectations before culminating in an outrageously bloody finale you won’t be able to shake. Named one of 2015’s top 10 horror films by Rolling Stone.
Cast: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden
It’s familiar territory, that feels completely fresh. Well-paced scares, great performances, and awesome gore come together to form one entertaining movie. It should be on everyone’s best lists 2015 and the entire decade. We Are Still Here is funny and disgusting in the perfect mix.
Do not forget to tune into the Horror Pod Class and their weekly podcast on all things horror and science fiction, you might just learn something. Look for our newest podcast called Drafting Horror. Every two weeks the hosts draft two top five lists in a specific subgenre and then debate to the death. JK, mostly they crack jokes and give fun and obscure facts about the films. All of the movies must be available for streaming so it’s a great place to learn more about all your favorites on Shudder. It’s something new every other week. Just for Signal Horizon readers, we have a free trial that lasts twice as long as their normal offer. Signal Horizon readers can sign up for a 30-day free trial using the link and code SIGNAL. Tell us what you think and let us know if you find something in the streaming service that warrants further discussion.
As the Television Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.