The Best Horror Movies on HBO Max

Trying to conjure up a new scary movie to watch on HBO Max? The Warner Bros. streamer hosts a bunch of great horror flicks, from instantly recognizable classics, like The Shining, to some more recent entries to the genre, like 2020’s Vince Vaughn-led slasher Freaky.

Here are the tales you should make time for on HBO Max. All these films received generally favorable reviews or better, according to Metacritic.

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

Now that Universal is working on not one, but three brand new Exorcist movies, it’s time to jog your memory about the terrifying events in the original. Ellen Burstyn stars as a mother (she’s also reprising her role in the new films) who enlists the help of a priest to help her possessed 12-year-old daughter, Regan. The thoroughly scary flick also won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

Video screenshot by Meara Isenberg/CNET

Love psychological horror movies? Wait till this flick comes knocking. The Night House homes in on a woman (Rebecca Hall) who’s grieving after the death of her husband. As she uncovers a dark mystery, she begins to question what she thought she knew about her marriage. This haunting movie is a standout in HBO Max’s horror portfolio.


In case you haven’t yet been introduced to well-groomed investment banker Patrick Bateman, it’s time to pull out your business card and get acquainted. Elements of dark comedy, thriller and horror are on display in this film, a satire of late ’80s excess that stars Christian Bale as a wealthy young professional with murderous hobbies. Tune in for blood-splattered scenes and a committed performance from Bale.

Brooke Palmer

When this adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel hit theaters in 2017, it had moviegoers like me looking twice at storm drains and dreading red balloons. With a cast of intrepid kids and a lot of heart, it makes a compelling case for more supernatural coming-of-age stories. And a strong case against clowns.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

In 28 Days Later, protagonist Jim (a pre-Peaky Blinders Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma to find the world has gone through a horrifying shake-up. It’s similar to the beginning of another post-apocalyptic tale, The Walking Dead, except instead of a reality that involves slow-moving zombies, this flick features virus-infected humans that are fast and filled with rage. Yeah, Rick Grimes had it easy. Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire), this tense horror film is essential viewing.

Libra Movies

David Lynch’s first feature-length film will make you feel like you’re in a bizzare nightmare. The 90-minute black-and-white horror flick is packed with odd sounds and imagery, and the result is incredibly eerie. Don’t even get me started on the main character’s freakish, otherworldly-looking “baby” (that’s oddly still kind or cute?). There are messages about men and parenthood here, but setting aside the bigger picture, Eraserhead’s surreal world is absolutely worth a visit.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero’s first horror film is an easy recommendation. A group of survivors take refuge in a house while members of the undead swarm outside. The influential flick is often regarded as the first modern zombie movie, and while it may not serve up Freddy Krueger-level frights, you’ll be drawn in by the characters at the center of its story. You’re going to want to leave the door open for this one (but in the case of an actual apocalypse, keep it very, very shut).

Warner Bros.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

You can’t go wrong with A Nightmare on Elm Street. The iconic ’80s slasher from Wes Craven is streaming on HBO Max along with most of its sequels, so a marathon may be in order. The first film follows teenager Nancy Thompson and her friends who begin to dream about the same man — a disfigured, sweater-wearing villain who wields blades on one hand. Get your binge on, and good luck trying to sleep tonight.

Universal Pictures

This recently-released horror comedy may not grab your attention from the beginning, but if you stick around long enough to see Vince Vaughn’s immaculate portrayal of a teenager stuck in a serial killer’s body, you’ll see why it’s included here. In true slasher form, the movie racks up a number of dead bodies before it runs its course. If that’s something you can stomach, and you want a more fun and fluffy flick, look no further than Freaky.

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