Halloween might be right around the corner, but there’s no denying that horror movies are a good watch all year round. Over the past 100 years, the medium has evolved to tickle our primal fears, going from scary makeup and prosthetics to gorefests and jumpscares, and now, tonal horror that slowly builds upon anticipation to keep us at the edge of our seats. Everyone enjoys a good fright now and then, but when scrolling through the seemingly never-ending catalogue of recommendations on streaming platforms, it can be difficult to separate the junk from actual quality material. Hence you hear occasional off-handed comments such as “Horror movies suck these days!”
So dim your lights and get comfortable, as we’ve decided to handpick some of the best horror movies available to stream this weekend, across Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, and JioCinema.
Best Horror Movies Available to Stream in India Right Now
Robert Eggers left a discernible scar on the indie horror filmmaking space with the utterly bleak and thought-provoking folktale, The Witch. Marking Anya Taylor-Joy’s (The Queen’s Gambit) feature debut, it follows a devout Christian family in the 1630s, who get exiled from their settlement for defiling the local church, and relocate to the dead-silent wilderness. But when their newborn child vanishes into thin air and the crops start to dry out, the family turns on each other, believing that a witch had cursed them and that she’s probably lurking among them. Through cheerful songs about Black Phillip, occult magic at play, demonic possessions, and growing paranoia bathed in oil lamps, The Witch is a deliciously frightening experience that’s bound to linger in your mind for a while.
The New England set design is rustic and super depressing, and being an Eggers film, we can’t discount the period-accurate dialect, which simply adds to the craftsmanship. The film also stars Ralph Ineson (The Green Knight) as the father William, Kate Dickie (The Northman) as the mother Katherine, and Harvey Scrimshaw as brother to Thomasin (Anya).
There’s no way we were going to exclude Hereditary from this list, especially considering that its name is usually recommended by at least one person when you plan on doing a horror watch party. After her estranged mother dies, Annie Graham (Toni Collette) notices some peculiar activity around her household, as if some demonic entity is pulling the strings and playing around with the family members as toys. At the same time, she’s forced to deal with the teenage angst of her stoner son Peter (Alex Wolff), who in ignorance commits a horrifying act that sends the tight-knit clan into shock — a kind of grief that soon merges with the supernatural to reveal disturbing secrets about their ancestry.
In a sense, it’s a domestic trauma that soon spirals into fear of the unknown, with filmmaker Ari Aster upping the ante with subtly horrifying additions to the background and stomach-churning body horror for good measure, all the while posing the question of whether the events are all just playing out in the mother’s head. Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects) stars as the often secretive father Steve, Milly Shapiro as the daughter Annie, and Ann Dowd (Mass) as Joan, a support group member who tries to help Annie with her grief.
If you’re looking for something more mainstream, the giallo-leaning thriller Barbarian might be up to the task. Having to live with some stranger in an Airbnb is an anxiety-inducing affair by itself, but when you realise that the house has got a series of mysterious tunnels, you’d die for some company. That’s what happens to a young woman Tess (Georgina Campbell), who arrives in a rundown neighbourhood of Detroit to uncover some vile-looking beings lying in wait beneath the house she’s booked. The events certainly veer into cliché territory, but I find some of its structural choices to be very fascinating. Midway through, the film brings in Justin Long (Drag Me to Hell) and switches the theme to a humorous one, poking fun at his money-hungry aloof character, and serving as a well-deserved break from the shocking events that preceded it.
This has to do with Barbarian director Zach Cregger’s history with comedy, having been part of the infamous sketch comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U’ Know — it’s a part of his DNA that I hope is never suppressed in his upcoming projects. Despite going off-course, the film soon finds its horror footing and introduces themes of sexual abuse and trauma that feel gut-wrenching. It was made on a budget of $4.5 million (about Rs. 37 crore), and also stars Bill Skarsgård (It) in a key role.
Barbarian can be streamed on Disney+ Hotstar.
While every film bro started taking a liking for renowned Korean horror movies since Parasite’s Oscar sweep, Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing seems to be one that hasn’t received as much attention. When a Japanese stranger (Jun Kunimura) arrives in the rural village of Gokseung, a bizarre sickness starts spreading among the locals, causing the infected to go crazy and slaughter their entire families. Soon, a bumbling cop (Kwak Do-won) suffering from demonic dreams is roped into the case, with the investigation leading to an adverse effect on his daughter, who becomes sick and shows symptoms of the infection.
Desperate to save his daughter, policeman Jong-goo is forced to let a shaman perform an exorcism on her, leading to some of the most tension-filled rituals ever captured in cinema. True to its name, there’s a LOT of wailing and sounds of thunderous drums, and prayers that can get quite uncomfortable for the faint-hearted. Through its 156-minute detailed runtime, The Wailing subverts every expectation and features some beautifully haunting cinematography that’s hard to take your eyes off of. Honestly, it’s better the less you know about it.
Given his history with comedic sketches, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut came as a shock to many, pulling horror into an unprecedented direction that is American racism. In it, young photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) are headed upstate to meet her white parents, with the former understandably worried about their reaction to the interracial relationship. However, they respond well — perhaps a bit too nicely. It’s almost as if they’re nervous about offending him in any way, while simultaneously bringing up the achievements of black people in the US.
The weekend soon takes a creepy turn when he uncovers some disturbing occurrences in the isolated society, one that feels targeted and threatening towards people of his race. Without spoiling too much, it’s the kind of fear that stems from human relations, with Get Out largely serving as a social commentary of an amplified experience of being a black person in the US. It won Best Screenplay at the 2018 Oscars, and features an ensemble cast including Bradley Whitford (The Mentalist), LaKeith Stanfield (Uncut Gems), Catherine Keener (Synecdoche, New York), and Stephen Root (No Country for Old Men).
Isolation is a catalyst for fear, and it’s intensified when you’re located in a spaceship hurtling lightyears away from Earth, where nowhere can hear your screams. In Ridley Scott’s Alien, the Nostromo crew intercepts a distress signal from a distant planet, and heads over to help as any group of youngsters in a campy horror flick would. Upon reaching, they encounter a deadly parasitic lifeform that sprays corrosive acid for survival, and inadvertently bring it along for the ride, leading to some terrifying encounters as it stealthily hunts down the entire crew. Officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is the leading force fighting back the alien, all the while dealing with a rogue android who was trying to keep it alive.
It’s insane to think that Alien has secured its spot among the best of both horror and sci-fi genres, partly thanks to H.R. Giger’s disturbing design work on the Xenomorph that gave life to the otherwise cold and metallic interiors of the Nostromo ship. The film won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 1980 and boasts an ensemble cast comprising Tom Skerritt (Top Gun), Harry Dean Stanton (Inland Empire), John Hurt (The Elephant Man), and Veronica Cartwright. It’s worth mentioning that the Alien sequels do not follow the same horror vibe, with James Cameron’s Aliens taking an action blockbuster route, and David Fincher’s Alien 3 being an utter mess due to production issues from the get-go.
Alien is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.