I tried out the horror movie specific streaming service- here's what I found.
Hey there- thanks for clicking.
If your interests are anything like mine, your YouTube algorithm has been shoving ten Shudder ads per week down your throat. It felt like the streaming service was haunting me, especially since the beginning of the lockdown- so after what seemed like my 300th ad, I decided to take the leap.
I bought a month's subscription, and immediately noticed how the service's layout almost exactly mirrors Netflix- a banner showcasing new releases, scrolling categories, and "My List" and "Continue Watching" sections. The theme is also red and black, which with all of these similarities, makes the service feel very comfortable to navigate. My only downside with the website itself are the buttons, especially the "Add to List" button. That thing needs to be clicked five to eight times before it does anything, which drove me damn nuts.
Although dozens of classics are available to stream on the site, like; Halloween, Scream, Cannibal Holocaust, Oldboy, Heathers, The Babadook, The Hills Have Eyes, It Follows, and more, I was specifically interested in the Shudder originals and exclusives. I wanted to find some quality content that was exclusive to the site, and here's what I found!
The service offers a free 7-day trial, so if you decide to take the leap, let me know if you check out anything on my list- I could use the human connection.
Let's get spooky!
#1- "La Llorona"
(Thriller, Drama, Supernatural.)
Director: Jayro Bustamante
Based on the Hispanic American folktale, "La Llorona" or "The Wailing Woman" is the ghost story of a woman who drowned herself and her children after discovering her husband's affair. Legend has it, she travels as a ghost or apparition in search of her children, appearing to unfaithful husbands or snatching up young children to recreate her murder-suicide.
This centuries old folktale has been recreated in films dozens of times, and in 2020, another was released as a Shudder original. In Bustamante's re-imagining, the Guatemalan film "La Llorona" centres around the family of retired general Enrique, who is facing trial for the genocide of thousands of Mayans over three decades ago. The war criminal's family are trapped inside their opulent home as an angry mob circles their property, and while most of their live-in staff flees, a mysterious Indigenous maid arrives to help.
Unsettling and suspenseful, "La Llorona" is a chilling display of real life horror- with some ghosts thrown in. I'd highly recommend it!
(Horror, Thriller, Monster Movie.)
Director: Joe Begos
Released in 2019, "Bliss" follows formerly successful but currently stagnant Los Angeles visual artist Dezzy, as she indulges in numerous drug benders in an attempt to fuel creative inspiration. As her friends introduce her to increasingly harder drugs, Dezzy finds herself craving an entirely different substance altogether.
"Bliss" is a visually striking movie- with gorgeous drug induced blackout sequences drenched in moody lighting. It's sexy and gory and so much fun, it's truly a horror movie for those in need of some blood.
#3- "Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror"
(Documentary, Horror, Black History.)
Director: Xavier Neal-Burgin
We all know the common tropes about Black people in horror. They're either the token friend, the spiritual advisor, or the criminal- but either way, they're always the one to die first.
"Horror Noire" is a documentary about Black horror, and the history of the portrayal of African Americans in the genre. From historical horrors such as the infamous "The Birth of a Nation", to current day Black horror films like "Get Out", the film explores the journey of Black filmmakers and actors in America as they climbed the steep, rocky mountainside towards recognition and representation.
This is a must-watch for any horror fan.
#4- "Summer of 84"
(Mystery, Thriller, Serial Killer.)
"Summer of 84" follows four American teenage boys during a particularly life-changing summer. The lead, Davey, pins his police officer neighbour as a potential serial killer after multiple young boys go missing from his area. He enlists the help of his three friends- Tommy, Curtis, and Woody, to stalk, research, and break into the officer's house in an attempt to find evidence.
"Summer of 84" has the 80s boyhood vibes of "Stand by Me", and the 'my neighbour might be a serial killer' conflicts of "I Am Not A Serial Killer", which are some great influences, but I could do with a little less of the misogynistic banter. It felt like I was being hit over the head with a sign that said "TEENAGE BOYS ARE HORNY". We get it, they're entering puberty, but I'm really not interested in hearing about what these 15 year-olds masturbate to every ten minutes.
Other than that, it perfectly reflected the nostalgic 80s themes we've been seeing in recent cinema trends- and it was just a fun watch!
Look out for that twist ending, though. Not what you'll expect.
(Horror, Thriller, Satanic.)
Director: Joko Anwar
"Impetigore" is freaaaky.
The movie follows Maya and her friend Nyai, who work as parking lot ticket takers. During one evening shift, Maya is attacked by a man who's been stalking her, ominously pleading that her family pay for the pain they've inflicted on his people. Maya is saved by police, but shaken from the incident, and drawn to uncovering her shrouded family history. She decides to return to the village where she was born, bringing Nyai with her, but starts to figure out that she might be the target of a decades-long manhunt.
Created by the same director as "Satan's Slaves", Anwar has been a major figure in the Indonesian horror scene. From the start, "Impetigore" has you hooked, and it keeps you on your toes throughout. It's exactly the type of gory, spooky horror I was craving. Watch it!
#6- "The Nightingale"
(Period Piece, Drama, Revenge.)
Director: Jennifer Kent
"The Nightingale" was the first Shudder exclusive I checked out- Kent is the director of "The Babadook", which is one of my favourite horror movies, so this was a must-watch.
The movie follows Clare, an Irish convict, who chases a British officer through the wilderness of Tasmania to seek revenge after the murder of her husband and baby daughter. Along the way, she hires Aboriginal tracker/slave Billy, and as they travel, his traumatic past is revealed to closely mirror her own.
I went into "The Nightingale" expecting a traditional "Kill Bill" type of revenge slaughter, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's smart and unpredictable, I definitely started out my Shudder journey on the right foot.
~ I wanted to give a big Trigger Warning for multiple, very graphic rape scenes. They disturbed me, so please watch with caution. ~
(Documentary, Heart-Warming, Haunters.)
Director: Florian Habicht
"Spookers" is a lot like Netflix's "Haunters: The Art of the Scare"- both are about the creators and workers within the Haunted House industry. While "Haunters" showcases different levels of haunting, "Spookers" focuses on one house in particular.
The most successful scare park in the southern hemisphere is run out of a former psychiatric hospital in Rangitikei, New Zealand. "Spookers" interviews the close-knit family that runs it, and the workers who find the scaring process therapeutic for their disabilities, mental illnesses, or traumas.
It's sweet, interesting, and I love seeing all the different costumes and freaky makeup- it also has some pretty artsy credit sequences, which were one of my favourite parts!
(Horror, Haunted House, Supernatural.)
Director: Demian Rugna
"Terrified" is a Spanish horror movie about a group of paranormal investigators who visit a suburban neighbourhood in Buenos Aires after the residents experience a series of supernatural attacks. As they dig deeper, the investigators soon realize that the forces they're up against are thirsty for blood, and might be more than they bargained for.
I'm going to be honest here.. the creatures in this thing gave me a nightmare. I can't remember the last time that happened. It's probably from all those bedroom scenes of the character Walter being haunted by an eight-foot tall naked male ghost, who climbs under his bed or into his wardrobe when he isn't watching him sleep- I mean, what the hell, man.
Yeah, this movie is spooky. It follows the beats of a typical supernatural haunting flick, but much better quality than the garbage that's usually playing at your local theatre. If this sounds like your jam, give it a try!
(Period Piece, Drama, Suspense.)
Director: William McGregor
"Gwen" is a British period folk drama centred around Gwen, a young woman struggling to keep her family together as she cares for her younger sister, her mysteriously ill mother, her absent father, and the townsfolk that are becoming increasingly hostile as they plead for the family to sell their farm.
"Gwen" is a character driven drama, and would be nothing without the great acting from mother Maxine Peaks and lead actress Eleanor Worthington Cox. I felt strong "The Witch" influences while watching, it has those same gothic folk horror vibes. Although, I had a bit of an issue with labeling this movie as horror- it's much more of a bleak period piece drama than a horror movie, and honestly, it isn't much of a thriller either. If the writers had committed to the plot-lines that they teased, it could've amplified the film- but at the end of the day, I left wanting more.
"Gwen" is still a beautiful film with great performances, but don't expect many scares.