The best horror movies on Paramount Plus right now

AV Club best horror films on Paramount+: Saint Maud, Scream, The Blair Witch Project, Candyman, The Ring, 10 Cloverfield Lane
AV Club best horror films on Paramount+: Saint Maud, Scream, The Blair Witch Project, Candyman, The Ring, 10 Cloverfield Lane


(Clockwise from top left:) Saint Maud (Courtesy of A24), Scream (Paramount), The Blair Witch Project (screenshot), Candyman (Universal Studios), The Ring (screenshot), 10 Cloverfield Lane (Michele K. Short )

October is here, which means Halloween season is in full effect on streaming platforms. Paramount+, always home to a bevy of horror offerings, has plenty of films to satisfy movie buffs and thrill-seeking couch potatoes alike. As a studio, Paramount has historically produced some of cinema’s most enduring classics, from Paranormal Activity to A Quiet Place. And as a streamer, it’s only looking more and more promising, considering it’s home to well-received new hits Orphan: First Kill and this year’s Scream. Read on for The A.V. Club’s top horror film recommendations, and get ready to turn off the lights, and log onto Paramount+—if you dare.

This list was updated on October 1, 2022.

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10 Cloverfield Lane


10 CLOVERFIELD LANE | Official Trailer

The P.T. Barnum of blockbuster salesmanship, J.J. Abrams makes good movies and better ad campaigns; he doles out pre-release information in tantalizing droplets, getting moviegoers hooked on the mystery he cultivates. But does this strategy always benefit the films themselves? Conceived and shot in near-total secrecy, like a surprise album dropped with little advance notice, 10 Cloverfield Lane follows in the clawed footprints of another project produced but not directed by Abrams: the 2008 mock-doc monster movie Cloverfield. And yet those primed to watch more camera-toting hipsters run for their lives across Manhattan, a skyscraper-sized lizard in hot pursuit, should know that a title is close to all that the new film shares with the old one. On top of that, this “spiritual sequel” seems almost perversely at odds with the expectations it inflates: What comes packaged as a major motion-picture event quickly reveals itself to be something more modest—a pressurized chamber thriller, not an early prelude to the clang-and-bang summer season. [A.A. Dowd]

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The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project - YouTube
The Blair Witch Project - YouTube


The Blair Witch Project

What’s scarier, a wolf in the house or a wolf at the door? Is it more frightening to be eaten by a monster or to live in fear of such a fate? Eduardo Sanchez and Dan Myrick’s debut film The Blair Witch Project leaves its horror to the audience’s imagination, and in doing so creates a truly scary horror film, something akin to a lost art these days. An opening screen announces that the movie consists of footage recovered from three lost student filmmakers who disappeared in the Maryland woods while searching for the legendary Blair Witch, and never allows anything to shatter that illusion. Shot with handheld cameras, Blair Witch has the look of a student film and its accompanying outtakes, but more importantly, it feels real. [Keith Phipps]

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Candyman (2021)


Candyman - Official Trailer 2

When the scares of this slasher variation do arrive, Candyman can be quite effective. [Director Nia] DaCosta instinctively keeps both audience and legend at arm’s length, occluding kills by focal length and abstracting them into slivers of light under a door or a red-splattered movement across a window you have to squint to catch. The reflective mood flip-flops with requisite carnage, and while the true nature of Candyman has changed, horror fans who come for blood will get it by the bucket. The jokes are applied with intent and purpose; the funniest smash-cut gag of 2021 comes after a Black character asks who would be foolish enough to do the Candyman prompt for fun, just before a white girl traipses down a hallway to her doom. It’s a throwaway goof until DaCosta sees the concept through to interesting places in the film’s final act… [Anya Stanley]

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The Craft


The Craft (1996) - Official Trailer (HD)

1996 was the year of the teen witch: Sabrina, The Teenage Witch debuted on ABC in September, and Nicholas Hytner’s film adaptation of The Crucible was released a few months later. The enduring appeal of The Craft, and the idea of the teen witch more generally, can be attributed to a fantasy of supreme female agency. It suggests there’s an unknowable mystery and dormant threat inside teenage girls that the rest of the world can’t possibly comprehend. The Craft allows viewers to imagine having control over—and taking revenge on—a restrictive, male-dominated world. The teen witch doesn’t reject the teen girl experience; if anything, the trope embraces the strange magic and intensity of female friendship. It challenges a society that both limits the power of young women and perceives them to be naturally limited. By having supernatural strength, these characters can defy a social structure that equates female adolescence with weakness and vulnerability. [Sinead Stubbins]

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Orphan: First Kill


ORPHAN: FIRST KILL | Official Trailer | Paramount Movies

In director William Brent Bell’s Orphan: First Kill, our favorite pint-sized, parent-less antagonist with a killer sensibility and the instinctual skill to slay all day is back and better than ever. While its title is a bit of a misnomer considering where this journey begins, it’s the rare prequel that surpasses the original. And similar to others in its genre, like Ouija: Origin Of Evil and Annabelle: Creation, it cleverly re-engineers those foundational building blocks to ingeniously complement its predecessor. [Courtney Howard]

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Paranormal Activity


Paranormal Activity (6/9) Movie CLIP - The Sheets Move (2007) HD

The new cinéma vérité horror film/mockumentary Paranormal Activity paradoxically feels more like a sequel to The Blair Witch Project than that film’s actual sequel. Like an ideal follow-up, Paranormal Activity takes the same basic premise—amateur filmmaker documents own descent into paranoia and terror at the hands of sinister unseen forces—in a bold new direction. Where Project got a lot of mileage out of the archetypal campfire-story spookiness of the wilderness where its hapless filmmakers got lost, Paranormal Activity derives much of its power from juxtaposing supernatural otherworldliness with the mundanity of the apartment where its action takes place. At best, Paranormal Activity makes the banal and commonplace deeply unsettling. The film’s resemblance to Blair Witch extends to unknown lead actors who are realistic and convincing enough to come off as shrill and unpleasant. After all, people are seldom at their best when confronted by dark powers beyond their comprehension. [Nathan Rabin]

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A Quiet Place


A Quiet Place (2018) - Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures

In the ingenious suspense contraption A Quiet Place, Earth has been overrun by blind beasties from above: a species of fast, spindly, vaguely reptilian monsters who can’t see their prey but can sure as hell hear it, pouncing with scary velocity at any sound louder than a handclap. That’s a drag for humanity, chatterboxes that we are. It’s also a great hook for a creature feature, and John Krasinski, star and director at the helm, milks it for all it’s worth. Horror movies often play with the contrast between deathly silence and deafening cacophony, one puncturing the other to shred nerves and send asses out of seats. A Quiet Place takes that strategy to a new extreme, engulfing characters and viewers alike in an eerie sustained hush, and then generating anxiety about how and when it will suddenly be shattered. It turns sound itself, cinema’s first invader, into a threat. [A.A. Dowd]

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A Quiet Place Part II


A Quiet Place Part II (2021) - Final Trailer - Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place Part II follows the standard sequel protocol of upping the ante, with more characters, more locations, and more scuttling predators putting their powerful lugholes to the proverbial ground in search of noisy prey… The film does recall, in at least one respect, the most revered Part II in cinema, going full Godfather saga with an opening passage set before the events of the last movie. Krasinski, returning to direct, rewinds to the start of the invasion, which allows him to briefly reprise his starring role as Lee Abbott, husband and father of a family about to be thrust into a new nightmare normal. This “day one” sequence is spectacular: As a peewee ballgame is interrupted by something streaking through the sky overhead, an idyllic stretch of American everytown erupts into panic and death, which the former sitcom star stages through a series of extended shots, including one that surveys the mayhem from a moving vehicle, Children Of Men-style… [A.A. Dowd]

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The Ring (2002)

The Ring 2002
The Ring 2002


The Ring (2002)

In spite of the technological twists, The Ring is at heart a classic ghost story, and it knows it. It allows the horror to unfold out of a campfire-ready opening scene, as two teenage girls exchange the story of the videotape while left alone in a seemingly peaceful house. The evening doesn’t go well, which prompts single mom and Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Naomi Watts to investigate. Her efforts lead her to a remote cabin and, inevitably, an unmarked videotape whose spooky contents could pass for unused dailies from Mulholland Dr. “Very film school,” says unimpressed former flame Martin Henderson. While he’s not far off the mark, the images have an unsettling quality that portends the troubles to come. Expanding on the strong visual sense evinced in the otherwise mediocre The Mexican, director Gore Verbinski creates an air of dread that begins with the first scene and never lets up, subtly incorporating elements from the current wave of Japanese horror films along the way. He succeeds mostly through sleight of hand. When the shocks come, they interrupt long stretches in which the camera lingers meaningfully as characters accumulate details that confirm what they already know: What they’ve seen will kill them, and soon. [Keith Phipps]

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Saint Maud

Saint Maud - Courtesy of A24
Saint Maud - Courtesy of A24


Saint Maud

The new converts are usually the most intense. Even those raised in an evangelical environment complete with speaking in tongues and creationist puppet shows (à la the subjects of the infamous Jesus Camp) can’t compete with the flinty fervor of an ex-addict who’s found God. Some even replace old vices with religion, in a kind of one-to-one swap of self-destructive obsession. Such is the case with the title character of writer-director Rose Glass’ first feature. Maud (Morfydd Clark), a home nurse with a troubled past, depends on her regular fix of communion with the divine in order to stay on her newfound righteous path. And when she doesn’t get it? Well, you’ll see. Saint Maud’s combination of talky chamber drama, Paul Schrader-esque character study, and visceral body horror is an ideal fit for A24. In fact, the film contains a scene that’s in direct conversation with an oft-quoted sequence from one of the distributor’s early “elevated” horror triumphs, The Witch. And if there’s no taste of butter for Saint Maud, that’s because her supernatural visitor is the Old Testament type of angel, the kind that inspires both transcendent awe and bone-shaking fear. [Katie Rife]

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Scream (2022)


Scream | Official Trailer (2022 Movie)

Cell phones were supposed to kill off the slasher picture. For a genre built on isolation, miscommunication, and unheard cries for help, surely the ability to contact anyone, anywhere with the push of a button would be (pardon the pun) a death blow? And it might have been, if those masked killers—and the people who bring them to life—weren’t so darn resilient. Scream, the fifth film in the postmodern slasher series that confusingly shares a title with the first, engages with this conundrum throughout. In the 2022 Scream, smart home devices, location tracking apps, and phone cloning software are all tools in the Ghostface Killer’s murder kit… [Katie Rife]

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World War Z


World War Z Official Trailer #1 (2013) - Brad Pitt Movie HD

In terms of pure scope, there’s never been a zombie movie like this one. Made for close to $200 million, the film spans several continents, flooding the streets of major cities with hundreds, maybe even thousands of extras, and giving audiences a taste of the mass chaos and hysteria movies like this normally skip past. The wow factor arrives early, with a Philadelphia traffic jam that escalates into a full-blown mob scene. As retired UN operative Brad Pitt attempts to navigate his family out of the outbreak zone, the camera pulls back and up, and the panoramic view—of bodies in fevered motion, of the dead in hot pursuit of the living—is pretty stunning... [A.A. Dowd]

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