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Best horror movies: fantastic films to stream or buy in 2017 in the US

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Hi There! Welcome to TechRadar’s guide to all of the best horror films you can stream on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu in the US.

For one reason or another, people just love scaring themselves senseless with horror movies. There’s not really any other genre that can evoke the same raw emotion that a well-crafted horror movie can, and the best horror movies are likely to stick in your head for weeks (or even months) on end.

After traversing our nightmares from years of horror film consumption, we’ve compiled a list of the best horror movies you can stream from the comfort and supposed safety of your own home.

Now, sit down and prepare yourself while you still can; we’re diving right into the best horror movies available to stream today.

With the exception of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby is likely one of the most iconic horror movies of its time. Roman Polanski’s unrelentingly dark story of an expecting mother and the evil that befalls her is a classic by any measure, even earning a prestigious spot in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. If you’ve never seen Polanski’s terrifying film, it sinks into deep and dark territory that is still unsettling even 50 years after its initial release.

Directed by the peerless Ridley Scott, Alien remains a landmark of both horror and science fiction. The story of the hapless crew of the spaceship known as the Nostromo, led by Sigourney Weaver’s iconic Ripley, and their run-in with a vicious alien stowaway is still a ruthlessly exhilarating thrill ride from start to finish. While the later films in the Alien franchise took a different route and flip-flopped on their genres, the original from 1979 still stands as a perfectly executed monument in horror cinema with plenty of twists and turns along the way.

The Babadook takes the cheap jump scares and loud violins of horror’s past and replaces them with a subtle and chilling story of a troubled mother and her relationship with her son. Revolving around a creepy children’s book, the plot weaves together a traditional horror story with a down-to-Earth look at grief, loss and other psychological issues with great expertise. The final product is a film unlike any other on this list and is absolutely essential viewing for anyone who cares about horror movies.

Much like Joss Whedon’s recent film Cabin in the Woods, Scream is a razor sharp satire of the norms we have come to expect in the horror (more specifically slasher) movies. Even beyond the commentary however is an intriguing “whodunit” mystery that quickly turns into genuine horror. The late legendary director Wes Craven helms this instant classic and helps make it the intelligent and downright horrifying Halloween night benchmark that it is.

Steven Spielberg’s breakout hit famously created a nationwide paranoia of swimming in the ocean in the summer of 1975 and still sticks in our mind every time we go for a dip. While limitations of the time kept the shark itself from being a realistic horror to behold, Spielberg wisely kept the beast hidden for most of the runtime, ramping up the suspense to an almost unbearable level. While we wouldn’t classify this film as a horror movie first and foremost, it’s undeniable that Jaws has horrified viewers for over 40 years. 

The mother of modern found footage horror films is still the one that did it best. The Blair Witch Project is a cheaply made flick that details three film students who’re looking to investigate an urban legend known as the Blair Witch. They vanished into the woods and never came back. A year later, the footage is found (hence the name “found footage”) and the horror that waylaid them is shown for all to see. 

The Blair Witch Project works so well because of its gimmicky shooting style. The found footage element give it a sense of realism that is often missing from horror flicks. This is a legendary cult horror film and should be viewed by anyone who cares about the genre. 

The Witch is…not like any other horror film you’ll see. Robert Eggers’ tale of a family in 1630 New England is a subtle yet deeply traumatizing spiritual thriller that takes all sorts of unexpected turns. 

The story is of a devout Christian family who is befallen with all sorts of evil, which causes them to turn on each other and reveal a brand new evil altogether. While it isn’t a wholly accurate reflection of America’s Puritan past, it’s a dark and haunting art film that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. 

Although the Cloverfield name is attached, don’t be fooled — it’s barely related to the first monster flick. Instead, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a dark and sinister thriller that keeps you wondering which side you’re on for much of its runtime. Anchored by solid performances from its small cast, 10 Cloverfield Lane is deeply unsettling and will rattle around in your brain for hours on end long after the credits have rolled, even if it doesn’t fit perfectly into the generic horror movie genre.

James Wan is quickly becoming the best horror director around, continuously delivering frightening and unique films in a genre that’s become plagued with generic copycats. (Spoiler alert: this isn’t the last time you’ll see Wan on this list.) Insidious could have been a throwaway film in lesser hands, being yet another film about a family who moves into a mysterious home and things began to go awry. With a great cast and an even better director however, the tried and true horror tropes feel fresh, at least for the first two acts. While this isn’t Wan’s best film, it’s a brilliantly made horror film that does all the old tricks right.

If you’re afraid of tight spaces and the walls closing in around you, this is the horror film for you. Director Neil Marshall, helmer of the upcoming Hellboy reboot, delivers a horror film that’s stuffed with jump scares and cliches, but remains a terrifying experience that literally takes your breath away. If the premise of trapped cave divers and horrible creatures in the dark is scary to you, just wait until you’ve sat through it.

The most fun film on this list by a country mile has to be Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. The film begins on solid ground by casting two of the funniest, and sadly underrated actors working today: Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk. Pepper in an insane premise where these innocent and lovable hillbillies are mistaken for chain-saw wielding maniacs and you’ve got a blood-ridden good time. If blood and guts aren’t a dealbreaker for you, throw this one on with some friends and get ready for a great time. 

Sadly, Bone Tomahawk was almost wholly overlooked by the general moviegoing audience. For those who missed out, Kurt Russell leads a stellar cast in a film about the collision of a classic cowboy sheriff and a gang of vicious cannibals. The end result is a brilliant marriage of the western and horror genre’s that plays to the strengths of both. While it’s not a perfect film, Kurt Russell and his supporting cast are all perfect in it. Although it’s a bit longer than your standard horror flick, Bone Tomahawk is well worth the investment.  

When Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick are both in a film’s credits, you know you’re in for a treat. And while King hasn’t been shy about his disdain for this “unfaithful adaptation,” there’s no one that knows film like Kubrick. Although its immortalized by the infamous axe scene in the image above, the entire film is comprised of a tight script, suspenseful direction, and a brilliant performance by Jack Nicholson as the increasingly terrifying Jack Torrence. Stephen King may not have liked this one, but we sure love it. 

Silence of the Lambs virtually wrote the playbook on psychological thrillers. This Academy Award-winning adaptation of the novel of the same name is propelled by characters as timeless as film itself. Jodie Foster’s Clarice must turn to the incarcerated cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter to try and get inside the mind of a despicable serial killer who’s still at large. The end product is a chilling and suspenseful drama with notes of horror that won’t leave you anytime soon. If you’ve never seen Silence of the Lambs, strap in and treat yourself to a true suspense classic.

An American Werewolf in London is a brilliant piece of comedy horror that earns its rightful spot as a cult classic. The film follows two American students on a tour of Britain who are mauled by a werewolf, killing one of them. The survivor has nightmares of being a werewolf and suddenly has visions of his friend and others convincing him to break the werewolf curse. Sounds weird, right? It’s weird and all the better for it. Pop some popcorn and throw this one on for a slightly lighter time in the horror realm.

After a career like the Arnold has had, the last thing you’d expect is for him to churn out a brilliant dramatic performance in an indie-horror-drama flick. But alas, the Governator does just that as Wade Vogel in Maggie. 

The film falls in a post-apocalyptic world in which Wade’s daughter has been infected with the virus that turns humans into zombies. Although she still has her wits and her personality, the clock is ticking to the moment that Wade must make the ultimate decision. It’s a surprisingly heart wrenching story with top-notch performances all around. Chalk this one up as an unexpected joy to watch – or at least as joyful as zombie stories can be. 

James Wan’s second entry on this list is his best film to date. It’s also one of the best horror movies of the last 20 years. The Conjuring is taken from the real life case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and details a family in Rhode Island that is plagued with satanic spirits. The Warrens must face this evil and prevent it from consuming everyone involved. 

The fact that this film, although dramatized, is drawn from real life case files that can be read to this day makes it that much more horrifying and intriguing. Although James Wan is undoubtedly poised to do many more fantastic films, The Conjuring currently stands as his most impressive feat in this difficult to master genre. 

Scott Derrickson may well be a Marvel maestro now but he cut his tooth on horror movies – and great ones at that. Sinister is his best, a creepy heart-wrenching movie centred on a true-crime writer who moves into a new home and finds a box of Super 8 snuff movies. The film takes its time to tell its tale but when it does, it’s pretty horrifying. Ethan Hawke plays the author who discovers the chilling secret, raising this above your average horror yarn. 

Mick Taylor should be up there with Freddy and Jason in the pantheon of horror monsters. He may well look like a regular Ozzy guy who likes a Tooheys New or two, but underneath all that he’s a serial killer who likes to kill tourists in some of the most inventive ways possible. Interestingly, John Jarratt – unknown outside Australia – was an inspired choice for Mick.  The reason: he was the good guy in hit show McLeod’s Daughters, so it completely flipped his good guy image. 

This is not a film for the faint hearted. It’s about revenge, it features some of the most horrific acts of violence ever put to film but it’s also a compelling, if flinching watch. Directed by genius Korean director  Jee-woon Kim, who also did the amazing The Quiet Family, the film is a masterpiece in shock and awe, focusing on a serial killer who is hunted by a retired cop who has vengeance on his mind. 

South Korea is on a roll when it comes to its horror movies, with Train To Busan being one of its recent best. The plot is ingenious: unbeknownst to the public a zombie outbreak is happening in Seoul. We see the effect on this on a fast train to Busan where the outbreak takes over the speeding train and threatens all the passengers on board. This is one of the most frenetic zombie films ever, filled with some fantastic set pieces and a helluva lot of tension.

Hell House LLC is an under appreciated gem. It’s a found footage horror movie that really does shock and scare you throughout. The premise is simple: a group of entrepreneurs have created a horror house for frat boys and others to scare themselves silly in. The problem is, the house actually seems to be haunted. Regardless of it being a little known movie, this is one of the best horror movies to be released in years.

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