It's late October, and the streaming services are pulling out all the stops to outdo each other at being the premiere destination for the best Halloween horror selections — most of which you’ve probably never heard of. While multiplexes have played such horror fare as Annabelle Comes Home, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Escape Room, some of 2019’s scariest movies have flown completely under the radar playing on the big screen only for a short time or bypassing theaters altogether. Shudder is one outlet for these neglected frightfests, while Netflix and Amazon Prime also have plenty to offer. Here are Yahoo Entertainment’s picks for the 11 best underrated and unknown horror films from 2019 that you can, and should, stream right now.
The opening sequence of Belzebuth is so disturbing — trigger warning for parents: it involves the murder of young children — I wouldn’t be surprised if tons of viewers turn Mexican director Emilio Portes’s latest film off immediately. Saw’s Tobin Bell plays a priest who teams up with to homicide detectives to solve one of those brutal deaths, which turns out to have supernatural overtones. Belzebuth is a cut above the usual possession/exorcism flick, playing the melodrama completely straight and never letting up on the tension. The visuals are also unapologetically dark enough to make up for the movie’s less-than-stellar effects and the overall familiarity of its basic premise.
Available to stream on Shudder.
I’m as surprised as anyone to report that the completely unnecessary remake of the 1988 classic, which came and went from theaters earlier this year, is really good! (For the record, the 2019 Child’s Play has been shunned by Chucky’s creator, Don Mancini, who is hard at work continuing the original franchise in the form of a TV series.) It’s so much more fun than it has any right to be, and thankfully doesn’t try to re-tell the original story, instead going all-in on a modern era update, complete with smart toys and cell phones. The kills are shockingly gory and gross but the movie around them is super silly and just plain fun. Chucky’s “radicalization” sequence made this die-hard horror fan howl with glee, and hearing Mark Hamill’s voice coming out of the doll’s mouth is a nice touch.
Available to rent on Amazon Prime, iTunes and Vudu.
Climax is not a horror movie in the traditional sense, but it’s definitely one of the most upsetting and terrifying experiences I’ve ever had in a theater. That’s because the latest cult film from French provocateur Gaspar Noe is an anxiety-inducing descent into drug-fueled madness and chaos. We follow a group of dancers who unwittingly drink spiked punch, and then proceed to lose their minds over the course of one long night. Do I even need to say that things get violent? It’s not a “fun” movie, but definitely an unforgettable experience.
Available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Don’t let the fact that Ciarán Foy’s Eli was unceremoniously dumped by Paramount on Netflix dissuade you — it’s one of the best horror movies of the year. Charlie Shotwell plays the title who character, who is literally allergic to everything, which leads his well-meaning parents (Kelly Reilly and Max Martini) to bring him to an institution for observation. Stranger Things’s Sadie Sink plays Haley, a young girl who reveals to Eli that this particular building has a... well, haunted past. Foy’s kitchen-sink approach to the genre will keep you guessing — Is it a haunted house movie? An evil kid? A demon movie? — and it all builds to a terrific payoff that alone is well worth the price of your Netflix subscription.
Available to stream on Netflix.
47 Meters Down: Uncaged
I was surprised by how good the underrated 47 Meters Down was in 2017, and I’m just as surprised by how good its underrated sequel that nobody asked for is now. The original’s premise — two women trapped in a scuba cage way down in shark-infested waters — was so tense and terrifying, and the runtime so short that it stood out from the shark movie pack. Uncaged, which features completely new characters played by Corinne Foxx and Sistine Stallone, is just as good for the same reason. Returning director Johannes Roberts once again shoots the hell out of what should be DTV-quality dreck; he’s great at making the PG-13 sequences and jump scares pop.
Available Oct. 29; pre-order on Amazon, iTunes and Vudu.
The writers of last year’s breakout horror hit A Quiet Place, Scott Beck and Bryan Wood, are behind the camera with Haunt, an under-the-radar release that I hadn’t even heard of before it showed up on VOD. A group of teens go to an “extreme” haunted house and — you guessed it! — discover that the fake scares are actually real. Despite its generic premise, the movie is an absolute blast, and an improvement on the similarly-themed (and also pretty good) Hell Fest, also from last year. Credit goes to directing team for great atmosphere, unique villains, and above-average performances.
Available to rent or purchase on Amazon, iTunes and Vudu.
Most Beautiful Island
This unknown indie is another not-your-typical-horror flick, but it’s also one of my favorite discovers on Shudder. Ana Asensio writes, directs and stars in a chilling portrait of an undocumented woman’s struggle to survive in America, where everyday is a horror in itself. It’s thoughtful, tense, and under 80 minutes making it a beyond-impressive debut.
Available on Shudder.
One Cut of the Dead
You might think you have this Japanese zombie movie pegged from the first kill, but I assure you... you don’t. A meta-commentary on our thirst for undead entertainment, the under the radar One Cut of the Dead is equal parts inventive, gory and hysterically funny. The big reveal is an absolute treat, so the less you know going in, the better.
Available on Shudder.
It’s a shame nobody saw this underrated J.J. Abrams-produced World War II throwback in theaters last year, because it’s a blast! Written by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith and directed by Julius Avery, Overlord works because it’s a gripping war movie first and a Nazi zombie movie second. (And contrary to early rumors, it’s not a secret Cloverfield movie at all.) The film satisfies in both of those arenas, and when it gets bloody it gets real bloody. We don’t get mid-budget action flicks like this anymore, and likely won’t again, if the movie’s box-office receipts are any indicator.
Available to stream on Epix and Amazon Prime with an Epix subscription.
I usually would chide a movie as manipulative as The Perfection for messing with the audience, but that’s kind of the whole point here. Richard Shepard’s movie — which stars Get Out’s Allison Williams — is all kinds of crazy, and it kind of rules because of it. The twist-filled story spans continents and genres, and commits to its bonkers narrative so completely that you have to admire the sheer audacity of it all even as you’re shaking your head.
Available to stream on Netflix.
Special effects artist-turned-director Damien Leone’s killer clown movie is not for the squeamish. Seriously — you’ve been warned. Pennywise and Arthur Fleck might both be quaking in their boots if they were to run into Terrifier’s bloodthirsty Art the Clown in a dark alley. This movie features the single most disgusting on-screen kill I’ve ever seen, and you will be just as haunted by it as I am.
Available on Shudder.
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