The 15 Best Horror Movies on Max


We’re closing in on Halloween, so a scary movie marathon is probably in order. Max has a ton of great titles right now, from classics like Carrie and A Nightmare on Elm Street to newer releases like The Menu and Barbarian. Some movies won’t be sticking around after spooky season, so make sure you watch The Cabin in the Woods and It before Nov. 1.

If you need a creepy movie to watch, eyeball the 15 flicks below. All these films received generally favorable reviews or better, according to Metacritic. If you’re wondering what Max is all about, here’s more on the streaming service, which unites the HBO Max and Discovery Plus libraries. 

The Descent
Video screenshot by Meara Isenberg/CNET

In this British horror film from 2005, six young women go spelunking and rub up against terrifying humanoid cave dwellers. It’s a race to evade the dark before becoming creature food. If you need another reason to descend, the flick’s high user score on Metacritic suggests you’ll be glad you went on this chilling expedition. 


The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

For surprises and plenty of nightmare fuel, The Cabin in the Woods is the way to go. The twisty and terrifying horror-comedy introduces a group of unsuspecting college kids, including one played by Chris Hemsworth, who head to a remote cabin for a fun weekend. The first half hour or so is relatively calm, but when the horror show starts, it doesn’t let up. 


This is one you shouldn’t watch alone. The feature-length directorial debut from Ari Aster (Midsommar) is about what a family uncovers after the death of its matriarch, and it may be the scariest entry on this list. If you’re up for a disturbing flick with great performances, venture cautiously into Hereditary. 

Orion Pictures

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Jodie Foster interviews Anthony Hopkins’ evil Hannibal Lecter in this classic psychological thriller. Foster plays FBI agent Clarice Starling, who’s determined to bring down a killer. It’s the only horror movie ever to win a best picture Oscar, and it also won for best director, screenplay, actor (Hopkins) and actress (Foster) in 1992.

Warner Bros It movie
Warner Bros.

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. 

Iconic film still of Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining. Eyebrows raised and grinning widely, he peers sinisterly through a hole he's just bashed in a door with his axe.
Warner Bros.

If you’re still on the hunt for a horror movie, you can’t go wrong with The Shining, the excellent Stanley Kubrick-directed movie starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. In the film — another Stephen King adaptation — a writer (Nicholson) staying in a remote hotel with his family exhibits some troubling changes in behavior. This one will absolutely satisfy your horror cravings.

Warner Bros.

A family accidentally unearths some unimaginable evils in this gory supernatural horror story. It’s the fifth entry in the film franchise after The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (’87), Army of Darkness (’92) and Evil Dead (2013).

New Line Cinema

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

This iconic slasher film is streaming on 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. Good luck trying to sleep after watching. 

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 of the original. Star Ellen Burstyn’s character, the mother of a possessed 12-year-old, enlists the help of a priest. The thoroughly scary flick won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

the witch
Video screenshot by Meara Isenberg/CNET

This historical horror movie pretty much guarantees nightmares. The disturbing flick centers on a family in 1630s New England and marks Anya Taylor-Joy’s film debut. Over the 90-minute flick, strange and shocking things happen to a farmer and family who’ve relocated to a remote area on the edge of a forest. 

The Menu
Eric Zachanowich/Searchlight Pictures

Anya Taylor-Joy shines in this horror satire about an elaborate dinner with a dark twist. It presents an assortment of guests gathering at Hawthorne, an exclusive restaurant on an island. Renowned chef Julian Slowik, played by a magnetic Ralph Fiennes, has planned every detail of the evening except for the inclusion of Taylor-Joy’s Margot. Dishing out thrills and social commentary, The Menu will have you pleading for seconds. 

Red Bank Films

It’s more Stephen King, and you have to watch Sissy Spacek’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of the prom queen at least once in your life. Why not now?

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 offer 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).

Libra Films

David Lynch’s first feature-length film will make you feel like you’re in a bizarre 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 of cute?). There are messages about men and parenthood here, but even setting aside the bigger picture, Eraserhead’s surreal world is absolutely worth a visit. 

Georgina Campbell in Barbarian
Video screenshot by Meara Isenberg/CNET

A young woman travels to Detroit for a job interview and discovers her Airbnb has been double-booked. That may be how this engrossing horror film starts, but it soon descends into complete chaos. With twists in the story and superb acting all around, Barbarian is freaky, five-star horror fare. 


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