There’s a universal thrill in being scared – especially when there’s no actual danger involved. And what better way to indulge your taste for the pants-fillingly frightening than to dim the lights and cue up a horror movie on your favourite streaming device?
Thankfully, the days of having to venture out to the video shop or cross your fingers that something suitable is on are over: there’s a horrifying wealth of scary movies available at your fingertips on streaming services.
We’ve already run down the movies most likely to give you nightmares on Netflix. Here, you’ll find the Stuff team’s pick of the best horror films on Amazon Prime Video. There are also a few films even non-Prime subscribers can view on Freevee, Amazon’s ad-supported but free-to-watch channel. There’s sure to be something in here that’ll put the willies up you.
You can sign up here for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime Video: so, go on: fill your boots on scary flicks.
The only English language film made by controversial Polish auteur Andrzej Zulawski, Possession stars Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani as a young couple in the throes of divorce. Filmed and set in Cold War Berlin – the partitioned city an apt metaphor for a marriage torn asunder – it’s a film that doesn’t do anything by halves.
From the breathless, histrionic acting (Adjani in particular delivers some of the most intense performances we’ve ever seen) to the evocative score, stark cinematography and revolting visual effects, this is artistic horror turned up to 10. Some consider it a masterpiece, others a confusing mess, but one thing is for certain: once the credits roll, you’ll be feeling something.
A glossy teen horror tale that has spawned god-knows-how-many sequels, Final Destination comes with a killer premise: your death is predestined, and if you somehow cheat the plan it’s merely a bump in the road. By hook or by crook, the grim reaper will get you in the end.
This setup leads to some of the most wildly imaginative death scenes in teen horror. With the killer being fate itself rather than some cleaver-wielding maniac, there are countless interesting ways for the cast to perish – and discovering how these fresh-faced ingenues will meet their sticky ends is this film’s real hook.
A veteran priest and a young nun-in-waiting are sent to investigate an apparent suicide at a remote convent, and in the process uncover an infernal plot to release a hell-spawned demon into the world.
This spin-off from The Conjuring series explores the origins of the creepy habit-clad presence that stalks ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren in the earlier movies. Whether viewers of those films really wanted or needed to know where this creepy nun came from is another question, we suppose, but this by-the-numbers horror movie, set mostly in the Romanian backwoods, manages to rack up a decent amount of scares while doing so.
When a teenager is given a cute, cuddly and friendly creature as a gift, he’s warned not to get it wet or feed it after midnight – but not what happens if he breaks those rules. We quickly find out the answer to that question, and the rest of the film concerns dealing with the grim consequences.
Gremlins isn’t your typical horror movie, despite its grotesque creatures and ability to rack up tension. It’s actually a remarkably light-hearted, family-friendly take on the genre with very little visible violence or gore, buoyed along by a rather wholesome Christmas setting. In fact, it skirts the line so well that it inspired the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating.
A bunch of squaddies on a training exercise bump into a pack of bloodthirsty werewolves in the wild Scottish Highlands. Neil Marshall’s low-budget Brit flick is a stone-cold cult classic – gory, tense, humorous and just plain fun. And here’s a nice bit of trivia: despite being set in Scotland, it was filmed almost exclusively in Luxembourg. Put that in your fact pipe and smoke it.
Don’t let this South Korean film’s 2.5-hour runtime deter you. It’s well worth your time, being an atmospheric, disturbing and often incongruously funny masterpiece of uneasiness and tension that’ll sit with you long after the final credits roll.
When a series of grisly killings occur in a quiet mountain community, suspicion and superstition begin to run rife. The spotlight quickly falls on a mysterious Japanese man who lives out in the woods, but the investigation into the murders is far from straightforward, leaving both the protagonists and the audience in an almost permanent state of discomfort and agitation. As a horror film, this really has it all, and goes to some extremely uncomfortable places, all while keeping you constantly guessing until the end. Masterful.
The Neon Demon
If Drive is Nicolas Winding Refn’s mainstream masterpiece, The Neon Demon is his “don’t worry, I’m still weird” shout out to fans who want to walk away from a movie not quite sure what it was they just watched, but knowing it was powerful.
An all-out assault on the senses (and possibly your sensibilities), beautifully shot and managing to be both at once restrained and shockingly over-the-top, this parable of the cutthroat LA fashion scene is more like a Lynchian or Kubrickian horror story than the rags-to-riches drama it begins as. Strong stuff that requires a strong stomach.
This Brit flick, co-directed by Andy Nyman (who also stars) and The League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson, offers a triple whammy of spooky tales, each of them masterfully interlinked with the others.
This anthology of creepy shorts, all framed as investigations by Nyman’s sceptical paranormal investigator, might not be particularly gory or shocking by modern horror standards, but it succeeds in delivering the old-fashioned feeling of discomfort and impending dread you expect of a British ghost story – and even manages to squeeze in an unforeseen twist here and there. Paul Whitehouse and Martin Freeman are among the supporting cast.
The House of the Devil
Ti West’s slow-burn horror came out in 2009 but you’d barely know it: technically and aesthetically, it feels like it was made 30 years earlier, in that golden era of horror when scary movies weren’t afraid to take their time to establish characters and gradually ratchet up the tension.
Shot on grainy 16mm film and set in the 1980s, it stars the unknown Jocelin Donahue as cash-strapped college student Samantha, who takes on an unusual babysitting job in an effort to raise some extra money and ends up in a seriously creepy old house. This isn’t just an exercise in nostalgia, though: it’s a finely crafted film that builds to an unforgettable final reel. We wouldn’t want to spoil a thing.
Writer/director Alec Garland follows the triumphant one-two punch of Annihilation and Ex Machina with another intellectual genre flick, this time a folk horror flick that tackles a range of themes (possibly too many of them to feel focussed).
Jessie Buckley plays Harper who, having endured an horrific and traumatic experience at home in London, decides a weekend break to the English countryside could be the best way to kickstart her recovery. Her destination boasts all the hallmarks of a rural arcadia –charming church, cosy pub, characterful Airbnb and some of the greenest woods and fields we’ve ever seen on screen – but she finds peace and quiet hard to come by amidst a set of strange encounters with the locals (all of whom are played by Rory Kinnear).
With a final reel and a shocking reveal that’s not for the weak of stomach, Men is a curious slow burn that has divided audiences. We think it’s certainly intriguing enough that horror fans should give it a shot. But take our advice: don’t eat a big TV dinner while you watch.
Serving both as sequel to and reboot for the 1990s classic of the same name, Nia DaCosta’s horror film (co-written by Jordan Peele of Nope and Us fame) once again explores the urban legend of a ghostly hook-wielding killer, summoned by speaking his name five times while looking into a mirror: Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman…
While it works well enough as a straight-up scary movie, DaCosta and Peele make few attempts to hide the fact that they’re using Candyman as a vehicle to make Very Important Points About Society. Horror films have done this forever, of course – Peele’s own Get Out is a masterpiece of it – but cloaking the satirical barb a little better may have made this film a more enjoyable watch.
A group of aspiring moviemakers descend upon a Texas farmstead to make an adult film, only to encounter something else that goes bump in the night. Bursting with retro charm, Ti West’s movie wears its influences proudly, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre being perhaps the most obvious. It also succeeds in forging its own identity, being as much a treatise on fame, sexuality and aging as it is a gory, suspenseful stalk-and-slash flick. Mia Goth, playing two key roles, is fantastic.
The movie that kicked off the late 90s Japanese horror craze, Hideo Nakata’s Ringu is a masterpiece when it comes to gradually building up tension and releasing it to maximum effect.
The story? Well, there’s an urban myth about a weird videotape doing the rounds. Pop the tape in your VCR, watch it, and you’ll receive a creepy phone call shortly thereafter with a scratchy voice uttering the words, “seven days.” Then you’ll be dead within the week. With a group of teenagers reportedly falling victim to the curse a curious and sceptical journalist decides to uncover the truth. But are some stories better left untold?
Later remade in the US as Quarantine, this low budget, lo-fi Spanish movie offers a slightly new spin on the well-worn found footage horror yarn: it’s presented in real-time. A TV news crew, documenting the night shift of a crew of Barcelona firefighters, finds themselves trapped in an apartment building amidst an unspecified emergency. While the subject matter doesn’t tread new ground, the real-time approach brings the viewer right into the action. It’s good, simple and strong stuff that rarely gives you a chance to relax, and the climactic scene is terrifically tense.
Dark Water (2002)
Ringu director Hideo Nakata returns with another chilling, slow-burning J-Horror. Dark Water follows a single mother, Yoshimi who, along with her young daughter Ikuko, moves into an aging, unloved apartment building following a divorce. The pair’s attempts to settle into their new life are hampered by water leaking into their flat. At first, it’s a drop here and there, then a trickle, then a torrent. With the landlord and caretaker mystified by the problem, Yoshimi begins to suspect the cause may not be related to leaky pipes. Rather, is the work of a creepy little girl she catches glimpses of in the building’s corridors?
Horror doesn’t have to be played dead straight to work, as evidenced by the silly, camp and somewhat tongue-in-cheek Jeepers Creepers. Jeepers Creepers is a film that’s not short on gore or scares, but steadfastly refuses to take itself too seriously. A brother and sister, driving home from college, endure a threatening encounter with an old truck. Later, they witness its driver dumping what seems to be a dead body into a sewer pipe. Choosing to investigate rather than immediately calling the police is their first mistake. Thankfully for us, the decision sparks off a life-and-death chase with the apparent killer.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The second in George Romero’s series of zombie classics this is one of the most iconic and influential horror movies of all time, despite its low budget. When an epidemic of undead starts to unravel society from within, four survivors decamp to a giant abandoned shopping mall in a bid for safety. They then discover that the shambling hordes also find themselves drawn to this palace of consumerism.
You’d have to be braindead to miss Romero’s satire (no pun intended) but there’s so much else going on here that it hardly matters. Zack Snyder’s 21st-century reimagining isn’t a patch on this for atmosphere, and the practical effects and synth score give it an eerie atmosphere you just don’t get with modern horror flicks.
Genres get sliced and diced as much as the unfortunate characters in S. Craig Zahler’s brutal debut. Bone Tomahawk starts out like a Western but gradually unfolds into a nightmarish horror flick, albeit one with some great comedic dialogue and character moments.
Kurt Russell heads a killer cast as the upstanding sheriff who assembles a small posse to track down tribe of cannibalistic kidnappers. There’s an old-school nastiness about Bone Tomahawk not often seen in modern movies, not to mention a refreshing tendency to take its time, allowing you to get properly acquainted with its characters and its world.
Scanners might be best known for that famous shocking scene early on (if you’ve seen it, you’ll know the one). Nevertheless, David Cronenberg’s psychological (and psychic) thriller is a great piece of early 80s cinema, all bad haircuts and doom-laden synths. A shady corporation seeks to turn “scanners” – a growing number of powerful psychics – into living weapons, but somebody appears to be murdering them just as fast as they can be found. When one particularly powerful scanner goes on a killing spree, the corporation sends its latest recruit to hunt him down – but things don’t go to plan.
“If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.” Honestly, this Australian indie flick is going to stick with you for some time. In addition to all the thrills and chills you’d expect from a standard horror movie, The Babadook has something extra hidden in its basement under the stairs: smarts.
Yes, this film will fray your nerves like wool dragged across a barbed wire fence. But it’s also a powerful meditation on loss and trauma. Can single mother Amelia finally lay the repressed memory of her dead husband to rest and save her son Samuel in the process? You’ll simply have to watch this modern classic to find out.
Made on a budget that would barely get you a Ford Focus, 2009’s Paranormal Activity will nonetheless put the willies up all but the hardiest viewer.
The story centres on a young couple, one of whom claims to have been haunted by some kind of presence since her childhood. A psychic cautions the pair against attempting to communicate with said presence. This turns out to be good advice, given that when they don’t take it the entity goes on to torment everyone throughout the remainder of the film. Cue minor creepy occurrences captured on grainy night vision video, gradually ramping up to the point that you’ll be sleeping with the lights on.
Let Me In
Hollywood movie remakes are often about as welcome as a set of razor-sharp fangs to the neck. While we wouldn’t say Let Me In comes close to matching the frost-bitten brilliance of Swedish horror flick Let the Right One In, it’s one of the few remakes that does stand up in its own right.
Kodi Smit-McPhee plays a boy tormented by bullies, who befriends a female vampire in 1980s New Mexico. While it lacks the same level of childlike innocence found in the original, it makes up for it with plenty of tension. If you really can’t handle subtitles (or you’re just a horror completist), Let Me In is well worth sinking your teeth into.
Luca Guadagnino’s stylish reimagining of the Dario Argento classic is bound to divide audiences. Ponderously paced and tottering under the weight of more themes and ideas than it knows what to do with, this is peak arthouse horror. Some might find the eventual gory payoffs too little reward for the investment, though.
Others will appreciate the movie’s strong sense of place (late 1970s Berlin, a divided city riven by political turmoil). The film builds an atmosphere of oppressive discomfort throughout with its use of sound effects, strange camera angles and Thom Yorke’s krautrock-inspired score. Dakota Johnson stars as an unworldly young dancer joining a prestigious all-female company that just might be a coven of witches, while Tilda Swinton excels in three separate roles.