Best Horror Movies on HBO Max — March 2023
Here are all the best horror movies on HBO Max.
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HBO Max is a one-stop-shop for horror enthusiasts’ every wish. From contemporary frights that interweave sociopolitical issues with startling jump scares to the classics that have sculpted the genre across decades, the collection is quite unique among the streaming platform’s contemporaries.
The likes of Netflix and Hulu offer a seemingly never ending onslaught of horror movie options, but the majority never made it to the silver screen; they often feature old-hat horror contrivances, low-budget special effects, and unfamiliar faces. They’re okay in an hour of gore-hungry desperation, but they don’t exactly move the needle forward concerning genre experimentation.
On the contrary, HBO Max’s curation is pointed. Almost every offering seems to exist with a specific intention. Smaller, more intimate features also have a place on the platform. Antlers (2021) and The Night House (2020) both reign in the scope of HBO Max’s higher-budget ventures but present incomparable performances and taut scripts that supersede the need for visual grandeur.
The horror movies offered on HBO Max and the platform’s impeccable curation are best described as “masterclasses in the genre,” and this list highlights some of the most notable freaky films the streamer has to offer.
New Horror Movies on HBO Max
Release Date: November 18, 2022
Why Watch It? A funny and thought-provoking movie, The Menu will make you laugh while delivering an interesting plot about the pretentious aspects of fine dining. If you’re a foodie, you’ll laugh at a lot of in-jokes but you don’t need to be into food or a former service worker to enjoy The Menu (though it will definitely help). On its surface most horror fans will enjoy this comedic and (very) lightly scary movie.
Official Description: A young couple travel to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.
Don’t Worry Darling
Release Date: September 23, 2022
Why Watch It? There are many reasons to watch Don’t Worry Darling. You could be a fan of The Stepford Wives or want to see a film about feminism and patriarchy. You could be a Harry Styles (or Florence Pugh) super fan. You could just be curious about all the behind the scenes drama. While viewers tend to agree the film is slow, there are a lot of good elements and a compelling story here, even if it’s not organized into a perfect final product.
Official Description:A 1950s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company could be hiding disturbing secrets.
Release Date: September 9, 2022
Why Watch It? A surprising horror movie that’s best to watch with as little information as possible. Ostensibly about a creepy setup where strangers Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) and Keith Toshko (Bill Skarsgård) book the same AirBnb, the film opens up into sheer terror in unexpected ways. Barbarian is a real crowd pleaser for horror fans, and there might be a grin on your face when the credits roll.
Official Description: A woman staying at an Airbnb discovers that the house she has rented is not what it seems.
Release Date: September 10, 2021
Why Watch It? A distinct salute to Giallo cinema — a mystery subgenre containing gore, psychological thrills, and crime fiction — Malignant prioritizes atmosphere over narrative. It eschews jump scares in favor of stomach-churning visuals and an eerie score.
The film is quintessential James Wan, exposing the director’s penchant for frenzy filmmaking with camera angles that zoom through peepholes and ricochet down corridors. The film’s beautiful lunacy culminates in an utterly bonkers final twist that left critics divided as to whether it was effective or simply ineffable.
Official Description: From James Wan comes this innovative horror film about a young woman whose shocking visions are in fact terrifying realities.
Release Date: December 17, 2021
Why Watch It? Guillermo del Toro’s modern take on 1947’s classic noir thriller Nightmare Alley offers a pulpier perspective brimming with rich cinematography. The film features a signature gold and emerald color palette with glamorous jewel-toned costumes and an art deco-inspired set design.
Bradley Cooper plays a sketchy carnival man across from Cate Blanchett’s deceptive psychiatrist, and their performances boast a mesmerizing pretense of nonchalance and hubris. It’s a stylish film that doesn’t skimp out on exploring the depths of its protagonists’ motivations and struggles.
Official Description: A manipulative carnie and a devious shrink join forces in Guillermo Del Toro’s riveting neo-noir remake of the 1947 classic.
Release Date: October 29, 2021
Why Watch It? Combining mystery with local folklore, Antlers operates as equal parts allegory and quintessential creature feature. Though its narrative and thematic undertones are a bit mismanaged, the film contemplates the issues facing small-town America and draws attention to the Native American plight.
The supernatural elements — often suggested but rarely demonstrated — maintain the movie’s ceaseless sense of doom. The slow-burning tale also benefits from a then-15-year-old Jeremy T. Thomas, whose performance — nimbly balancing childhood innocence with unnerving awareness — inspires simultaneous empathy and skepticism.
Official Description: Small-town teacher Julia (Keri Russell) notices something is “off” about one of her students after he shares disturbing stories evoking local lore. Once learning the child is harboring a dangerous secret, the story takes a terrifying turn.
Release Date: October 15, 2021
Why Watch It? What beats Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode teaming up with fed-up townsfolk to defeat Michael Meyers after his decades-long murdering spree? This horror movie is simple syrup for the soul.
Those looking for hardcore violence and an iconic scream queen turned warrior badass won’t be disappointed. It doesn’t necessarily move the franchise forward or traverse the unexplored, but it’s fan-service filmmaking with good ole gallows humor and gallons of gore.
Official Description: Evil dies tonight. Survivors of Michael Myers’ first rampage decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a vigilante mob that sets out to hunt Michael down, once and for all.
Last Night in Soho (2021)
Release Date: October 22, 2021
Why Watch It? Director Edgar Write’s dramatic horror is a love letter to ‘60s fashion, pop culture, and the bohemian allure that defined the Soho of yesteryear. Last Night in Soho is both a romantic time-traveling escapade and a twisty-turny window into the depths of the psychologically fractured.
Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomas McKenzie play intriguing polar opposites, with the former’s blatant vulnerability complementing the latter’s assuredness. Their chemistry is palpable, as they pull back the curtain on the glamor and glitz that defined the era, revealing a degraded and seedy underbelly not so different from the present.
Official Description: Visionary filmmaker Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Hot Fuzz) puts his unique cinematic stamp on the horror genre in Last Night in Soho. Set in London, the psychological thriller stars Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), and Matt Smith (Doctor Who).
Release Date: August 20, 2021
Why Watch It? Rebecca Hall’s relatable and engrossing performance as a despondent yet determined widow carries The Night House. The film is an intelligent horror movie, opting for an emotionally compelling foundation, unpredictable yet inevitable character shifts, and sheer tension over shock-based terrors.
One’s own mind can be the scariest place to inhabit, and this film ensures audiences know just that. Blood-stained footsteps with no identifiable source, hidden messages in notebooks, and slamming noises from afar make The Night House a chilling suspense story with a satisfying (albeit unremarkable) conclusion.
Official Description: A widow digs into the past after eerie visions begin haunting her at the idyllic lake house built by her late husband.
Release Date: July 23, 2021
Why Watch It? M. Night Shyamalan’s Old is an ambitious film that spans multiple genres – family drama, horror, sci-fi, and even comedy — as the mystery at the center unfolds with each frame. Though at times tonally jarring, the actors’ compelling performances breathe humanity into a lacking script.
Old ranked #9 on Creepy Catalog’s list of the best horror movies of 2021. It’s an enviable foray into horror realism because “everything that happens in the plot will happen to you.” Everyone ages. Everyone dies. The simple truths at the film’s core up Old’s provocative nature.
Official Description: In this chilling thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, a family on a tropical vacation discover the secluded beach they are relaxing on is somehow causing them to age rapidly – reducing their entire lives into a single day.
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
Release Date: January 31, 2021
Why Watch It? The coming-of-age horror venture puts teenage anger on display while maintaining an artsy, haunting atmosphere. Though it can be a little weird and too Indie for slash-and-bash horror enthusiasts, it benefits from an original twist on the “body horror” concept.
We’re Going to the World’s Fair is a thought-provoking journey through the isolation tied to adolescence in a rapidly-expanding digital age. The story unravels slowly and with precision. Here, the frights are subtle and cerebral. If you know what Creepypasta is, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair will hit just right.
Official Description: Alone in her attic bedroom, teenager Casey becomes immersed in an online role-playing horror game, wherein she begins to document the changes that may or may not be happening to her.
Horror Movies on HBO Max: 90s, 00s and 10s
Release Date: June 8, 2018
Why Watch It? One of the best horror movies of the 2010s, Hereditary is Ari Aster’s brilliant psychological horror film about family, grief and witchcraft. When a sudden loss rocks an already grieving family, they unknowingly open themselves to an occult presence.
Official Description: A grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences.
Release Date: December 25, 2015
Why Watch It? A grittier take on mermaid lore, The Lure seamlessly merges its fantasy elements with cannibalistic horror. The film spotlights female protagonists and eschews The Little Mermaid trope in favor of women with power who boast their own agency.
These are not the innocent mermaids of dreams, but the sirens of nightmares. However, the two mermaid sisters who lead the film never become villains. The complexity of their relationship and their individual goals keeps this film from becoming a tale that merely glamorizes its antagonists. It’s perverse, intense, and a strong example of controlled ambition.
Official Description: Two mermaid sisters become caught in a love triangle when they fall for the same man.
Release Date: September 19, 2014
Why Watch It? Self-deprecating and ceaselessly absurd, Tusk is one of the weirdest entries in the body horror genre. The film is equally disturbing and amusing as it contemplates the very nature of humanity with an energy best described as contagious. Strong performances from Johnny Depp, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, and Michael Parks help this script bounce between comedic moments and chills.
Official Description: An American podcaster travels to Canada to interview a mysterious, retired seaman, but finds himself trapped in a sinister plot.
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Why Watch It? Ethan Hawke is great in this surprisingly creepy supernatural horror movie. Sinister is from Scott Derrickson, the director of movies including The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and The Black Phone (2021), so you can be assured that there is a strong emphasis on story and characters behind all the spookiness.
Official Description: Ellison Oswald is a crime novelist who movies his family into a home with a horrific past. But when he uncovers a box of mysterious home movies that seem to point to unspeakable terrors, he unlocks a nightmare.
The Cabin in the Woods
Release Date: April 13, 2012
Why Watch It? The Cabin in the Woods is one of the best horror-comedies of the modern era. Many modern horror films are reference tropes and cliches of the genre, but The Cabin in the Woods does so in a way that always remains clever and entertaining. Plus, the movie features Chris Hemsworth as a stereotypical horror jock in a time when he was just beginning to become famous as the MCU’s Thor (released less than a year earlier).
Official Description: It’s old-school horror with a modern twist in this inventive tale that finds a group of college students facing horrors at a remote cabin.
Release Date: November 12, 1998
Why Watch It? Reminiscent of archetypal creature features like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, and The Fly, this sci-fi horror is chock-full of quotable dialogue and gory galore. The Faculty is a high-octane thrill ride from start to finish and sometimes feels like a twisted and terrifying take on The Breakfast Club. The film also features a strong ensemble, including Salma Hayek, Josh Hartnett, Clea Duvall, Usher, Bebe Neuwirth, and Famke Jannsen.
Official Description: High-school students race for their lives from faculty members who have been taken over by aliens in this thriller.
Release Date: March 11, 1998
Why Watch It? All you want to do is look away. The nightmarish incidents are ceaseless and chilling. The violent torture is repulsive and breaches (if not fully ventures) into snuff territory. Each fourth wall break is more disturbing than the last, as they serve to catalyze a chain of heinous abuse. Funny Games is a clear commentary on audience desensitization to on-screen violence.
The film begs viewers to look within, as we become participants in the antagonists’ amoral and macabre game. The terrifying movie is so provocative, so ingeniously paced, and so well-acted that, despite how emotionally unbearable it is, your eyes remain fixed on the screen.
Official Description: An innocent family stumbles upon a holiday in hell. Anna, George and their son arrive at their lovely lakeside home on vacation and meet a strange young man, a guest of their neighbors, who turns out to have rather violent tendencies.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Release Date: January 19, 1996
Why Watch It? From Dusk Till Dawn is grindhouse horror at its best. Directed by Robert Rodriguez based on a script by Quentin Tarantino, this is a genre-bending mixture of crime film, road movie, and vampire movie. Quippy dialogue is delivered by an astonishing cast of movie stars and genre actors including George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Quentin Tarantino, Salma Hayek, Michael Parks, Tom Savini, Danny Trejo, Fred Williamson, and Cheech Marin.
Official Description: Sibling fugitives and their hostages wind up in a strip bar that is crawling with bloodthirsty vampires in this horror classic.
Classic Horror Films on HBO Max
Release Date: June 12, 1987
Why Watch It? Predator is quite possibly the greatest action-horror movie ever made. Arnold Schwarzenegger is at the height of his action-hero dominance battling a high-tech alien in the jungle. What more could you want? How about other action stars like Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, and Jesse Ventura delivering classic one-liners while shooting at everything in sight?
Official Description: It’s muscles vs. monster when Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on a murderous space alien in the jungles of Central America.
Release Date: July 30, 1977
Why Watch It? If you’re interested in bizarre Japanese haunted house movies, House (aka Hausu) is where you should begin. Directed in an experimental style by Nobuhiko Obayashi and inspired by ideas from Obayashi’s young daughter, House is one of the most wildly original and entertaining ghost movies ever. It’s silly, but it has some serious themes. It’s goofy, but it’s so, so good. The official description can’t do this ingenious movie justice, so you’ll just have to watch it yourself and find out why so many people have fallen in love with it.
Official Description: A schoolgirl spends her summer vacation in a haunted house.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Release Date: October 31, 1962
Why Watch It? Bette Davis stars in one of her most iconic roles as former child star “Baby” Jane Hudson in this psychological thriller made in the wake of Psycho (1960). Jane “cares” for her crippled sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) in their shared home, but Jane’s jealous, delusional mind drives her to torment her sister while planning a Hollywood comeback that is doomed from the start. Dark and disturbing, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane is a defining film in the “psycho-biddy’ subgenre.
Official Description: A crazed, aging star torments her sister in a decaying Hollywood mansion.
Release Date: March 26, 1953
Why Watch It? Though more of a drama than a horror movie, Ugestu is one of the greatest and most influential films of Japan’s extensive history of making ghost movies. During the period of civil war in Japan, a potter is tempted by the luxurious life offered to him by a mysterious woman. The offer seems too good to be true, and guilt begins to nag at the potter when he thinks about his wife and child back home. Ugetsu is a beautiful and heartbreaking movie.
Official Description: Two peasants try to make their fortune during a civil war.
More Horror on HBO Max
- Vampyr (1932) Classic tale of a young traveler finding himself in a sinister castle.
- Godzilla (1954) American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.Diabolique (1955)
- The Blob (1958) Formless red slime lands in Pennsylvania and teens try to warn scoffing adults.
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) Donald Sutherland races to stop alien invaders who ‘snatch’ humans and take over their bodies in this scary 1978 remake.
- The Fly (1986) David Cronenberg’s gruesome update of the ’50s classic about a scientist who accidentally combines his molecules with those of a fly.
- Mimic (1997) – A plan to eradicate disease carrying cockroaches with genetically modified bugs goes horribly wrong. Directed by Guillermo del Toro.