Hulu is a great service for watching recent network TV programming. It has a decent movie lineup too, making Hulu a great value. There’s plenty to watch, from recent movies like The Spy Who Dumped Me to classics like 1980’s Airplane! But we have a secret obsession for horror. We love the thrill. Thankfully Hulu has plenty to offer here and so we’ve put together a list of the ten best scary movies on Hulu you can stream right now.
You likely already know many titles listed here. In fact, a good chunk stems from the 1980s. The horror genre exploded during that decade thanks to affordable VCRs and the booming direct-to-video market. In addition to the classics, you’ll find a few recent greats on our list. We also throw in five honorable mentions you need to watch. Don’t have a Hulu subscription? Click the button below for a free trial!
The ten best scary movies on Hulu:
- A Quiet Place
- American Psycho
- An American Werewolf in London
- Children of the Corn
- Child’s Play
- Friday the 13th
- Paranormal Activity 2
- The Silence of the Lambs
Editor’s note: We will update our list of the best scary movies on Hulu regularly as the service rotates its movie library.
1. A Quiet Place
What makes A Quiet Place scary is the idea: Make one sound and you’re shredded meat. That means living your entire life without speaking, loudly passing gas, or stepping on twigs even when tiptoeing. To make matters worse, most of the humans and animals are gone. There’s no real bartering or hunting for food. To survive, you must scavenge for necessities undetected.
From a parental angle, the movie is plenty scary. There are many please-oh-please-don’t-eat-the-children-moments. That fear escalates when Evelyn fights to muffle screams while giving birth in a bathtub as monsters lurk outside. Once the baby arrives, their detection level increases. Oh the stress.
2. American Psycho
Before he became Batman, Christian Bale played psychotic investment banker Patrick Bateman. The movie isn’t scary in the typical horror sense. Instead, the “scare” is watching Bateman unravel mentally throughout the film. We clearly see an unhinged man by his reaction to a simple business card. That reaction escalates to Bateman getting rival co-worker Paul Allen drunk and dissecting Huey Lewis and the News while chopping into Allen like a lumberjack. The little pre-chop dance is quite unforgettable.
American Psycho is a great movie, but one that will leave you scratching your head in the end. Just keep in mind that Bateman is clearly psycho, and he may indeed be a killer. However, most of what you see is likely all in his head while he draws vicious murder scenes in an appointment book.
3. An American Werewolf in London
Many werewolf movies are just silly. Not this one. Let’s take the movie theater scene for a moment. You’re an officer walking up and down the dark aisles. You reach the back and there’s a bloodied, gutted man scattered over the floor. Chewing on his innards is a black and brown beast too big for the typical wolf. Its teeth are vicious. Eyes set in black sockets stab through your brain like daggers of evil. A bloodied, jagged mouth opens wide and growls upon your arrival. You run. Fast.
An American Werewolf in London is simply brilliant. The plot: Two New Yorkers decide to backpack across England. David takes the bite to become the movie’s monster. Jack serves as the mostly-eaten zombie with not-so-friendly advice, relieving the biting tension with dark humor. The Howling has a better werewolf, but this move conjures a better story.
4. Children of the Corn
You’re happily driving through rural Nebraska. A glance up from a road map reveals a kid standing in the middle of the road. You can’t help but run him down. You stuff the body – which you notice already has a slit throat – into the trunk and dash off to find a telephone. If that’s not horrific enough for the average Joe, consider the next step: Driving into an abandoned town – with a dead kid still in the trunk – where all the adults are dead. Sacrificed, in fact, by the local children who conveniently worship a deity named He Who Walks Behind the Rows. What are the chances.
Children of the Corn may be somewhat cheesy given its age, but it’s a classic nonetheless based on Stephen King’s short story published in 1977. If anything, it will make you think twice about sticking a hand down into a sink’s garbage disposal… and appreciate the smartphone in your pocket.
5. Child’s Play
There’s no murderous AI here. This movie is all about possession and revenge. It’s a slasher flick laced with dark humor brought to life by Brad Dourif’s excellent voice acting. His character, serial killer Charles Lee Ray, finds himself dying from gunshot wounds in a toy factory. Before Ray bites the bullet, he casts a Haitian Vodou spell on a Good Guys doll, converting it into a storage device for his soul. But there’s a catch: He’s slowly becoming one with the doll.
That very doll eventually arrives in the hands of six-year-old Andy Barclay. After killing Andy’s babysitter, Ray (aka Chucky) exacts his revenge on former accomplice Eddie Caputo, who left him to die in the toy factory. You’d think having your soul trapped in a toy would be a severe handicap, but that’s not the case here. The killing spree keeps on going across six sequels.
6. Friday the 13th (1980)
Unlike Halloween, revenge fuels Friday the 13th. If you haven’t watched this movie already – and honestly who hasn’t – then spoiler alert: Jason isn’t the resident butcher. Instead, mama Pamela Voorhees starts the 11-movie killing spree (no, we’re not counting 2009’s reboot) by making sure Camp Crystal Lake doesn’t reopen for kid-killing business. She has her reasons: We give her that. It’s her methods that the average adult would find problematic.
See, naughty camp councilors neglected her poor son in 1957. He jumped into the lake and drowned while they buffered the floor. That’s enough to anger any parent, but mama Voorhees definitely has anger issues. Still, her short-lived killing spree is nothing compared to Jason’s slash-a-thon raining red with body bits all throughout the following sequels.
Hellraiser was a wickedly evil film for its time. It’s based on The Hellbound Heart, a 1986 novella written by Clive Barker. He wrote the screenplay and directed the film, breathing life into his mysterious puzzle box, the Cenobites, and their realm of pain (or pleasure, depending on your point of view). It’s a love story at heart, with Julia seeking out victims for her lover Frank to ingest like a meat milkshake. Talk about dedication!
Hellraiser introduces us to Pinhead, a “Hell Priest” with vicious methods of tickling with torment. He’s not happy Frank escaped his realm. To get him back, Pinhead makes a deal with Frank’s niece, Kirsty, who claims the puzzle box. If you thought Jason has a mean streak, wait until you see what Pinhead does with little hooks.
This is a roller-coaster ride to Crazy Town. Like American Psycho, it’s not exactly scary. Instead, Jennifer Lawrence does an excellent job filling you with extreme anxiety. Your journey begins with unnamed characters – identified as Him and mother in the credits – as they greet “man” at their door. This stranger is later followed by “woman” and eventually their two sons. Chaos ensues until “man” and “woman” are kicked out of the house.
You’re not mistaken if any of this sounds familiar. It’s an allegory. Lawrence represents Mother Earth, “Him” is God, and the house represents Eden. The movie’s second half addresses His message (poem), the death of His only son, and how humans eventually burn the earth down with war and greed… all within a single house.
9. Paranormal Activity 2
We’d list the first Paranormal Activity film, but it’s shoved behind the Starz paywall. However, the second installment is great and helps flesh out the overall story arc. While the first movie told Katie’s story, Paranormal Activity 2 rewinds two months and explains what happened to sister Kristi before and after the first movie. The found footage element fills you with dread as you squint to see something move within the dark footage. Throw a toddler into the scene and you’re on the edge yelling NO NO DEMON! NOT THE BABY!
The unknown makes movies like this scary. That’s a huge fault for many horror movies like A Quiet Place: You see the monster and go, “Oh that’s all it is?” With the unseen, you’re subconsciously creating something horrifically unimaginable in your mind. That’s why movies like The Blair Witch, The Entity, and Paranormal Activity do so well.
10. The Silence of the Lambs
Humans can be violently brutal. The Silence of the Lambs makes this all too clear not because of Hannibal Lecter (that comes later), but due to serial killer Jame Gumb, aka Buffalo Bill. See, he’s not too keen about his outer appearance. To complete his transformation, he kidnaps and kills young women, removes their skin, and attempts to make a “skin suit.” Unfortunately, this wannabe tailor still can’t compare to Anthony Hopkin’s performance as Lecter, who provides guidance to FBI trainee Clarice Starling from within a cage.
Still, Gumb’s dance is probably one of the most bizarre scenes in the movie. Lecter glaring at Starling from behind his mask is equally chilly. Most of the horror you’ll experience is psychological, at least until the third act when Gumb stalks Starling in the dark using night vision goggles.
The best scary movies on Hulu – Honorable mentions
Let the Right One In – At its cold heart, this is a love story about a bullied 12-year-old who befriends a vampire of a similar “age.” The excellent acting and cinematography make up for the movie’s slow pace and required reading.
Shutter Island – A patient at Boston’s Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital goes missing. U.S. marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck Aule arrive to investigate but find themselves trapped on the island for several days. What could go wrong at a hospital for the criminally insane? Plenty, apparently.
The Crazies – It’s a classic tale of the government dumping toxins into the water, driving the locals crazy. The 2010 film is actually a remake of George A. Romero’s original 1973 film, which focused on bloodthirsty civilians rather than brain-craving zombies created by government-made toxins.
Zombieland – Zombies infest the United States thanks to a mutated version of mad cow disease. The story begins with a college student wanting to journey home and see if his parents are still alive. He’s eventually joined by three others in a comical, action-packed cross-country trek to California.
V/H/S – This is an anthology film using the found-footage format. Bridging all five short films together is an overall story arc about a criminal gang that breaks into a house seeking a specific VHS tape. The horrors they discover within those walls eventually end up on another tape.