Culture

The Very Best Slept-On Scary Movies To Stream This Halloween

A haunting guide to the most underrated horror movies streaming this spooky season.

Creativity knows know bounds when it comes to horror films. The genre has some of the most loyal devotees across cinema, and who can blame them? Horror films can really do it all: induce heart-palpitating jump scares, poke fun at society’s ills, and create worlds so haunting that even grown adults are forced to sleep with the lights on for an extra sense of security. Think of Wes Craven, who spun Scream out into one of the most meta, bloody satirical franchises, or the works of horror composers like John Carpenter or Christopher Young, who scored classics like Halloween and Hellraiser, respectively, that immediately evoke the uneasy feeling of being watched. Horror films embed themselves in the psyche. What more could a filmmaker want?

Like any expansive genre, the real thrill comes from the cult favorites and slept-on features. From supernatural teen films like The Faculty and Ginger Snaps to the freaky black comedy of Ready or Not, the scary movie experience is best when it expands beyond the major hits. Horror monsters can be anything — demonic presences, man-eating creatures, so-called family, and at its most sinister, a person's own mind. Check out the most underrated horror films to stream this Halloween, below.

Possession (1981)

Possession

A dizzying, manic psychological thriller about a woman who begins acting erratically after asking her husband for a divorce. Isabelle Adjani pushes histrionic extremes to the limit in Possession, including a wild miscarriage scene that helped the film achieve cult status. (YouTube)

Perfect Blue (1997)

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Perfect Blue walked so Black Swan could rip it off and run. The animated film follows J-Pop star Mima Kirigoe as she transitions into acting, eager to shed her “good girl” image and expand her career. The decision opens Mima up to the derangement of a stalker and her own psychosis as she grapples with reality and hallucination. As Satoshi Kon’s first directorial feature, Perfect Blue is a gorgeous, haunting anime that belongs among the best psychological thrillers in film. (YouTube)

The Faculty (1998)

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Generally speaking, high school teachers tend to be little freaks, so imagine how weird they are when they’re controlled by alien parasites. The Faculty is messy and entertaining, mashing the teachers versus students trope with sci-fi gore and a hilarious screenplay. (Showtime)

Ginger Snaps (2000)

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Part teen film romp, part supernatural horror, Ginger Snaps follows suburban teenage sisters Brigitte and Ginger who have a morbid fascination with dying. Things take a turn when Ginger starts her period, and is attacked by an unknown creature thought to be mauling the town’s dogs. She begins to change rapidly, becoming aggressive, growing excessive hair, and menstruating heavily. What’s gonna happen during the full moon? Ginger Snaps is a darkly funny lycanthropy satire, and ultimately one of the best in the teen film canon. (Tubi)

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

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Yes, this is technically a “musical,” but I’ve never been more traumatized by a film in my entire life. Björk is a factory worker with a degenerative eye condition; she’s given up hope on herself, but is saving money for her son to get correctional surgery. Dancer in the Dark’s horrors reflect the corruption of society, which is far more harrowing than any slasher or monster. This is all I’m willing to write, because just thinking about this film makes me feel sick. (YouTube)

Scream 3 (2000)

Perhaps the franchise’s most meta installment, Scream 3 takes place in Los Angeles on the set of Stab 3, a film-within-a-film based on Ghostface’s previous murders. No one does meta satire like Craven, baby! Parker Posey is a scene stealer as Jennifer Jolie, an actress portraying Gale Weathers, the reporter portrayed by Courtney Cox. A crucial, hilarious, and sometimes even scary watch. (Pluto TV)

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

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Craven careerists, beware. If you lose your empathy in your bloodthirsty pursuit of capital, just know you run the risk of being haunted by a dark spirit intent on taking you where you belong: Hell. Director Sam Raimi brings equal parts camp and terror to the 2009 film, which also includes an unforgettable, spooky score by Young full of unsettling and ethereal soprano vocals. (Hulu)

Orphan (2009)

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Orphan’s portrayal of its adopted child antagonist was so brutal that the film had to include a public service announcement regarding the plight of unadopted children in the United States and encouraging domestic adoption. The film follows a strained couple fresh off the stillbirth of their third child, who somehow decide that the best thing to do for their family is to adopt a seemingly sweet 9-year-old Russian girl, Esther. It doesn’t take long for Esther to slowly begin to torment the family through little acts like bludgeoning a pigeon with a rock or attempting to trap her adoptive brother in a burning tree house. Ultimately, Esther tries to seduce her adoptive father, which brings me to the big reveal: she’s not a little girl, she’s secretly a 33-year-old woman! And yes, you can watch the film knowing the twist, it’s still good. (YouTube)

Insidious (2010)

Insidious

At its core, Insidious is a cautionary tale about the astral plane. Imagine having your child go into a comatose state because he astral projected too hard and fell prey to malevolent spirits looking to use him as a vessel to crossover into your reality. In this economy?! It’s also from James Wan, the twisted mind behind the Saw franchise, who created the Insidious universe to prove he could make a scary film without brutality and gore. (Hulu)

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

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Set in an imaginary, seedy Iranian town, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night follows its resident lonely vampire. Gliding around on a skateboard in her chador, The Girl keeps an eye out for cruel men, who unbeknownst to them, are doomed to be her next meal. In the vein of traditional Iranian cinema, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night explores love, addiction, and socio-economic strife, complete with a very cool, mostly Farsi soundtrack. (Amazon Prime Video)

It Follows (2014)

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It Follows bravely asks, what if an STI takes an embodied form that only you can see, and follows you forever until it violently murders you, or until you pass it on to someone else? The monsters in It Follows change with every appearance, taking on the form of both strangers and loved ones in order to get close to their victims, completely obliterating any sense of safety. The film eschews traditional jump scares for a slow build to terror, and its eerie Rich Vreeland score only makes your skin crawl even more. (Peacock)

The VVitch (2015)

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It’s a tale as old as time: A father disagrees with his settlement’s interpretation of the Bible, prompting him and his family to be cast off into the unforgiving New England woods. Thomasin, the eldest daughter, is blamed when the family’s infant son goes missing under her supervision. The family becomes convinced they’re being terrorized by a witch, which unfolds into striking faith-based hysteria. The VVitch also has the crucial horror film elements of creepy twin children and a sinister black goat who may or may not be inhabited by the Devil. (Hulu)

Raw (2016)

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The French are obsessed with making truly disgusting horror films (see the 2008 film Martyrs if you want some deeply demented gore) and Raw is no exception. The film is carnal and atmospheric, and follows a young veterinarian student who give ups her lifelong vegetarianism when she develops a craving for — wait for it! — human flesh. Yum. (Netflix)

Climax (2018)

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Micro-dose this, micro-dose that. How about you spike the punch at a remote, snowed-in party full of hot dancers with lethal amounts of LSD and watch everyone completely lose their minds instead! (Showtime)

Crawl (2019)

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With a Category 5 hurricane, horrific flooding, and no shortage of man-eating alligators, Crawl makes a strong case for never living in Florida. (Hulu)

Ready Or Not (2019)

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Faustian bargains meet class consciousness in this horror satire, which follows former foster child, Grace, on the day she marries into the fabulously wealthy Le Domas family. Per the Le Domas family traditions, every new member of the family must play a game (can’t think of a worse omen!) immediately after the nuptials. Grace pulls Hide-and-Seek, a twisted version of the childhood game that effectively turns her into prey; the family will viciously hunt her down in order to murder her before sunrise, lest they burst into flames. What ensues is Grace in the fight of her life, and a film that is funny, imaginative, and a total crowd pleaser. (Amazon Prime Video)