The scariest horror films to stream on Halloween

Have your pants well and truly frightened off, at no extra fee besides subscription

Don’t go out this Halloween night. Think of the monsters out there: Freddy, Jason, Michael, and, worst of all, COVID-19. Stay inside in the warm, alive and with a movie!

Here’s 10 of the most frightening flicks you can watch without paying a fee (besides subscription). Oh god, don’t look behind you. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God! Sorry, just kidding!

Or were we…

‘Under The Shadow’ (2016)

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Where to find it: Netflix

A ghost story, set in a crumbling Tehran tower block, in the midst of the Iraq and Iran war. The supernatural horror contained within Babak Anvari’s debut – and there are moments of the film that are surely as close as cinema has ever come to depicting terror at its most base – is only amplified by the sound of falling bombs. The BBC’s Mark Kermode named this the best film of 2016, horror or otherwise.

Scare-o-meter: 10/10

 

‘The Last Broadcast’ (1998)

Where to find it: Amazon Prime Video

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Though production on The Blair Witch Project began in October 1997, five months before the release of this creepy gem, Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler’s film was the first to make it to cinemas, and so is an essential etching on the timeline of found-footage history. The film presents itself as a documentary about the Jersey Devil legend. What plays out is something far more sinister.

Scare-o-meter: 7/10

‘Inside No. 9, Live: Dead Line’ (2018)

Where to find it: BBC iPlayer

In truth, the horror genius of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s Inside No. 9 special – which originally aired on Halloween weekend two years ago – doesn’t now bang like it did at the time of its first broadcast. The show originally aired on the back of a series of breadcrumbs sprinkled within the UK press by the creators in the weeks prior to transmission, while the pair tweeted throughout the show, informing viewers of the status of a live broadcast gone wrong. And yet, for all of this, ‘Dead Line’ remains a document of innovative, modern, wall-breaking terror.

Scare-o-meter: 7/10

‘The Devil’s Doorway’ (2018)

Where to find it: All4

When horror tells its fictional tales within the context of real-world terrors, the result is normally one of amplification. Aislinn Clarke’s found-footage movie plays out against the backdrop of the Magdalene Laundries in 1960s Ireland, Catholic-run institutions for so-called ‘fallen women’ and one of the country’s darkest and most shameful moments. Sure, the movie doesn’t conjure up anything as horrifying as the 155 corpses found in 1993, within a mass grave located in the grounds of one of the laundries, but you really wouldn’t want it to.

Scare-o-meter: 8/10

‘Dark Water’ (2002)

Where to find it: Shudder

Japanese director Hideo Nakata’s 1999 adaptation of Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel Ring arguably brought east Asian horror to the attention of the west. His adaptation of Suzuki’s 1996 short story Dark Water is much less known, and yet is perhaps a better movie. It’s still terrifying in 2020 – the fear of losing a child remains our species most primal horror.

Scare-o-meter: 8/10

‘The Changeling’ (1980)

Where to find it: Shudder

Based on events that writer Russell Hunter claimed he experienced while staying in an allegedly haunted mansion in Denver, Colorado, 20 years prior, by today’s standards, The Changeling is pretty tame stuff. And yet it remains – pun totally intended – a haunting watch. Staring the great George C. Scott – the first actor ever to turn down an Academy award, which he did, on philosophical grounds, when being presented with the Best Actor Oscar for Patton in 1970 – The Changeling is one of the horror genre’s great ghost stories.

Scare-o-meter: 8/10

‘Return To Oz’ (1985)

Where to find it: Disney+

The Mouse House’s streaming platform might not seem like a place you’d head to for your Halloween horror fix, but this unofficial sequel to MGM’s 1939 classic The Wizard Of Oz – a film that allegedly has an actual dead Munchkin hanging from a tree in a series of shots, as well as a host of other dark urban legends surrounding it – is one of the most unsettling children’s movies of all time. Fairuza Balk, who plays Dorothy, grew up to star in beloved ’90s teen horror The Craft. Conversely, anyone who watched Return To Oz as a child, grew up traumatised.

Scare-o-meter: 5/10 (unless there’s a child in the room, in which case 11/10)

‘Noroi: The Curse’ (2005)

Where to find it: Shudder

Until it was added to horror streaming service Shudder, Kōji Shiraishi’s brilliant mockumentary was extremely difficult to find, a fact that contributed to a cult of fascination growing around the movie. This is justified. There are moments within Noroi where viewers may well feel like their heart is about to stop. It features perhaps the most WTF ending in all of horror cinema. Its lore is wonderfully dense. For all these reasons and more, Noroi may well be the greatest found-footage movie ever.

Scare-o-meter: 10/10

‘A Photograph’ (1977)

Where to find it: BritBox

Written by the great playwright John Bowen for the long-running BBC anthology series A Play For Today, A Photograph is a masterclass in creeping dread and one of the finest examples of the folk-horror genre that boomed in the 1970s. A man is mysteriously sent a photograph of two women he doesn’t know sat outside a caravan. His wife suspects he is having an affair. He sets off to investigate. It doesn’t end with him having a nice cup of tea.

Scare-o-meter: 8/10

Horror
‘A Photograph’ from the BBC’s long-running ‘A Play For Today’ series. Credit: BBC

‘The Innkeepers’ (2011)

Where to find it: Amazon Prime Video

Ti West has made more of his fair share of excellent horror movies, The Roost (2005), The House Of The Devil (2009) and The Sacrament (2013) to name but three. His best, however, may well be The Innkeepers, a chilling drama set in The Yankee Pedlar Inn, an actual hotel located in Torrington, Connecticut, that has long been said to be haunted. The film takes a while to get going, and for much of its run time is more comedy than horror – but when the frights do come, they do so with vigour.

Scare-o-meter: 7/10

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