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The Best Horror Movies on HBO Max

It really doesn't get better than HBO Max's horror selection right now.

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Meara Isenberg Associate Writer
Meara covers streaming service news for CNET. She recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where she wrote for her college newspaper, The Daily Texan, as well as for state and local magazines. When she's not writing, she likes to dote over her cat, sip black coffee and try out new horror movies.
Meara Isenberg
4 min read

In the mood to watch a scary movie? You likely won't find a horror selection better than HBO Max's right now. From all-time greats like The Shining to recently released hits like The Menu, there's no shortage of outstanding titles to take in on the streamer.

Here's what you should make time for on HBO Max. All these movies received generally favorable reviews or better, according to Metacritic. This list is up to date as of May 3.

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A24

Hereditary (2018)

This is one you shouldn't watch alone. Ari Aster's feature directorial debut about what a family uncovers after the death of its matriarch may be the scariest entry on this list. If you're up for a disturbing flick with great performances, venture cautiously into Hereditary. 

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Barbarian (2022)

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. 

The Menu
Eric Zachanowich/Searchlight Pictures

The Menu (2022)

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. 

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. Pictures

The Shining (1980)

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 this adaptation of a Stephen King novel, 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.

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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 also won for best director, screenplay, actor (Hopkins) and actress (Foster) in 1992.

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Lionsgate

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 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. 

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Warner Bros.

It (2017)

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. 

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Screenshot by CNET

The Witch (2015)

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, his wife and their five children who've relocated to a remote area on the edge of a forest. 

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Video screenshot by Meara Isenberg/CNET

The Night House (2020)

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.

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Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

The Exorcist (1973)

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. Ellen Burstyn stars as a mother to a possessed 12-year-old daughter who enlists the help of a priest. The thoroughly scary flick also won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

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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).

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Libra Films

Eraserhead (1977)

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 is oddly still kind of cute?). There are messages about men and parenthood here, but setting aside the bigger picture, Eraserhead's surreal world is absolutely worth a visit. 

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