Halloween is fast approaching, and though we’re all obviously geeking out while we wait for Netflix’s Stranger Things to hit on October 27, we still need some freaky stuff to watch in the meantime. Thankfully, the Big Three streaming services do not disappoint.
We’ve parsed through the good, the bad, the scary, and the terrible to narrow down the best of the freaky on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
So turn down the lights, grab a bag of Halloween candy, and get to bingeing.
Everyone seems to be getting into the Stephen King game these days, but Netflix is shaking things up with Gerald’s Game. Based on King’s cerebral short-ish story, it follows a woman (Carla Gugino) who is trapped, handcuffed to a bed in a remote cabin, after her husband has a heart attack and dies on top of her. It’s a fascinating set-up, and plays out almost like a terrifying stage play, with Gugino’s Jesse becoming more and more desperate as the hours pass and no help is coming.
American Horror Story
There’s a reason everyone raves about FX’s long-running anthology series American Horror Story — the show really is fantastic and positively terrifying. Each freaky season tells its own story, so it’s perfect for bingeing. Pick out a season that sounds interesting, and dive right in. No previous viewing required. If you’re looking for a good starting point, the first season is actually a great introduction to the concept. The set-up is simple: A family moves into a haunted house, then all hell breaks loose. It’s guaranteed to make you question every squeak of the floor in the middle of the night.
Setting out to tell the origin story of future Psycho killer Norman Bates was a tall order, but this A&E series was more than up the challenge. Thanks to the amazing performances of Freddie Highmore (Norman) and Vera Farmiga (Norma), this slow-boil tale of suburban terror plays out perfectly, ramping up the drama and death with each passing season. It’s hard to make you actually like a cold-blooded killer, but this series is guaranteed to give you a newfound respect for Alfred Hitchcock’s knife-wielding murderer.
If you’re looking for some horror on the lighter side of the spectrum, this recent Netflix original film is the perfect palate cleanser. The horror comedy stars Adam Scott and Evangeline Lilly in what adds up to, essentially, a clever parody on The Omen. Scott’s stepson is almost certainly the spawn of Satan, and who ever knew a devil child could cause so much hilarious horror? The movie is hilarious, but holds onto just enough of its horror roots to serve as a perfect mash-up. Queue this one up when you need a break from being scared out of your wits by everything else on this list.
This low-budget horror flick turned into a monster critical hit back in 2014, landing on more than a few “Best Of” lists. It’s fallen a bit off the radar, but this throwback horror flick about a supernatural killer that serves almost as an STD is pure, small-scale terror. It’s a nightmare brought to life, and is perfectly constructed to leave you on the edge of your seat while simultaneously clinging to a pillow. Oh, and questioning your sexual decisions quite a bit, too.
Trying to bring the terrifying video game franchise to the big screen was no easy task, but this 2006 horror flick did a surprisingly great job of capturing the shocking, unsettling imagery that made the games so frightening. The tale follows a mother who heads to Silent Hill to try and solve a mystery surrounding her daughter, but of course, the most evil small town in existence has its own plans. A few Dark Nurses and armless men later, and your skin is guaranteed to be crawling.
Sure, Fox might be geeking us out over some new seasons of the fan-favorite horror series, but we’re talking about OG X-Files here. Dig into the back catalog and catch some of the most terrifying, twisted, and macabre hours ever put on the small screen. Mulder and Scully have faced off with everything from mutant hillbillies to aliens and everything in between. It might be famous as a sci-fi series, but The X-Files pulls no punches in the horror genre, either.
This one is probably the best horror show you didn’t watch last season, or didn’t know existed in the first place. The Fox adaptation of the seminal horror film of the same name managed to put its own clever spin on the concept, while still telling a self-contained story that more than pleased fans of the film series. It also manages to be smart and scary pretty much every step of the way. That’s no small feat. Check it out, and prepare yourself for one heck of a twist by the time it’s all over.
Hulu dropped this delicious, quick-hit horror series in 2016 to little fanfare — but it’s the perfect little horror nibble when you have a few minutes to kill and are looking for something to get your spine tingling. The story tracks a group of students trapped in their high school after a nearby chemical plant starts turning other students into killer freaks. The elevator pitch is “The Breakfast Club meets Walking Dead,” and if that doesn’t sell you, it co-stars Walking Dead alum Chad L. Coleman.
10 Cloverfield Lane
This mysterious, claustrophobic thriller might be set in the same universe as the massive monster flick Cloverfield, but it has little in common with that city-spanning run from a giant creature. Instead, 10 Cloverfield Lane tells a much smaller story of a young woman who wakes up in a bunker and realizes the terror inside may be worse than the monsters lurking on the ground above. It’s a fascinating exploration of the evil in humanity, juxtaposed with the terror of a world gone mad.
The Girl With All the Gifts
This brilliant zombie flick pretty much flew under the radar when it was released in 2016, but it's well worth tracking down now that it’s surfaced on Amazon. The film focuses on a group of children and a young girl who could be the key to surviving a global zombie apocalypse. It has an A-list cast including Glenn Close and Gemma Arterton, and brings a clever new angle to the well-trodden zombie genre.
Bryan Fuller’s acclaimed take on Hannibal Lecter might be gone, but it’s far from forgotten. If you missed the low-rated hit during its first run on NBC, dive back into the deliciously bloody thriller in binge form. It’s not exactly slashers or killer monsters, but there’s something far more unsettling about Mads Mikkelsen’s cannibalistic serial killer.
It’s basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the MTV generation (literally), but Teen Wolf is a pop-culture bite of horror, action, and sexiness. The show started slow but turned into a real guilty pleasure toward the later part of its run. If you looked past it due to the title or fact that it was on MTV, Halloween is the perfect time to give it a shot.
A modern-day spin on Grimms’ Fairy Tales casts a cop as the world’s defender against all kinds of creepy creatures. It’s one of the freshest twists on the cop genre in years, and this show really did a great job of building out its world and cast of characters. If you’re looking for a new fantasy series to get lost in, with a bit of scary bite, you can’t do much better than this.
This period-set supernatural horror tale is visceral and terrifying, traits that landed it on more than a few “must see” lists back in 2016. The film was made for a mere $4 million, but went on to make $40 million at the box office. Not Avengers numbers or anything, but still a monster success considering how little it cost to bring this 17th-century nightmare to life. But fair warning — this one is not for the faint of heart.