To find the best films, we dug into Shudder’s impressive catalog. Put them on your watchlist and watch them all.
The film, originally titled Something Else on the festival circuit, is an incredibly intelligent piece of what one might call “elevated horror,” combining traditional elements of romantic drama with something far more terrifying. Jeremy Gardner wrote, co-directed, and stars as Hank, whose girlfriend Abby (Brea Grant) just left him right before something scary starts lurking around his house at night.
Anything for Jackson
A pair of grandparents are willing to do anything to regain custody of their grandson in this brilliant Shudder original starring Julian Richings and Sheila McCarthy. The director Justin G. Dyck has directed television holiday movies like 48 Christmas Wishes, but here he tells a very different kind of nativity tale as grandma and grandpa perform a reverse exorcism in order to put the soul of their dead grandson into the unborn child of a pregnant woman. The meeting does not go well.
The Beach House
Jeffrey A. Brown’s film about two couples in a beach house when the world ends is one of Shudder’s best original works so far. Brown’s film begins as a straightforward character drama but quickly transforms into something much more sinister. You may want to look elsewhere if you are averse to foot-based grossness.
Behind the Mask
This mockumentary, co-written and directed by Scott Glosserman, features the finest movie slasher that you’ve never heard of, Leslie Vernon. The film barely got released after playing at SXSW in 2006, but it gained a loyal following in the U.S. because of its cleverness. The only tragedy is that we have yet to see a sequel.
This Canadian film premiered at TIFF 2020, where it was the Opening Night film for the Midnight Madness program. A tribe of indigenous people discovers they are the only ones immune to the bite of the walking dead in this clever riff on the zombie genre (yes, that’s still possible). George A. Romero would have enjoyed this kind of social commentary and brain-eating. There are even zombie fish!
The 1980 ghost story by Peter Medak was marketed mainly for its scares, but it’s a bit tame now in that department; now it’s more valuable as an example of how good George C. Scott was whenever he appeared on camera. Scott plays a man grieving the loss of his wife and daughter who moves to Seattle and finds a haunted house. I find it interesting to watch this film now and think about how much it visually influenced movies like The Conjuring and Annabelle. It is a clear influence.
Color Out of Space
Stanley co-wrote and directed the film adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft short story of the same name, marking his first time in front of the camera since the disastrous 1996 production of The Island of Dr. Moreau. Thankfully, things went more smoothly this time. A glowing meteor seems to crash in Nicholas Cage’s front yard when his family moves to a remote farm. Then things get really weird in the way only a Lovecraft movie can.
If you subscribe to Shudder, you probably know that Evil is one of the best shows currently on television (get Paramount+ if you don’t). Herbers plays the lead in The Columnist, a wicked black comedy about a writer who starts receiving death threats on social media and sets out to deal with things in the way most trolls never expect. It’s not perfect, but Herbers is totally fearless.
The Deeper You Dig
As a family production, Adams Family Production is a real labor of indie filmmaking love for a husband and wife writing/directing team, who also stars alongside their daughter. It’s the story of a single mother whose daughter is killed in a roadside accident one night. Accidental death is covered up by the driver, causing a rip in the fabric of supernatural events. It’s both creepy and effective.
The brilliant Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead direct and star in a sci-fi thriller about two brothers who return to the cult they escaped years earlier. There’s more to this group than they know or remember. I found it to be a riveting film about cycles and trauma, embedded in a truly gripping story.
Since its release nearly two decades ago, this Canadian film has become a cult classic. Fans of Ginger Snaps love this movie. If you search Google, you’ll find passionate arguments that it’s a modern masterpiece. Check out this feminist werewolf tale for yourself and decide for yourself.
In so many ways, this cult hit from 1989 with Winona Ryder and Christian Slater was ahead of its time. Consider the way Michael Lehmann captures the clique culture of youth in a way that’s still relevant today. Also, the film predicted how violence would become a hazard for people just trying to get an education. This movie was a flop when it was released, but it is growing in popularity every year for a reason.
A midpoint in what is sometimes called Dario Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy, this 1980 Giallo gets overlooked when people discuss one of Italy’s greatest directors. If you enjoy Argento’s more popular films, especially if you like Suspiria, you owe it to yourself to check out this film.