Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Looking for a good scary movie to watch on HBO Max? Some of the most famous horror movies of all time can be streamed there alongside recent fright-filled hits. Here are 10 of the scariest horror movies streaming on HBO Max.

Update, 4/27/23: After reviewing our guide, we’re confident these are still the best horror movies you’ll find on HBO Max.


Filmmaker Zach Cregger made a successful transition from sketch comedy to horror with the inventively structured Barbarian. The story shifts and expands as it goes on, from a pair of travelers stuck in a double-booked vacation rental in Detroit to a Hollywood actor (Justin Long) experiencing a career meltdown. Cregger balances various tones and subgenres, and the seemingly disparate elements come together in a satisfyingly over-the-top finale.

The Cabin in the Woods

A horror movie about the concept of horror movies, The Cabin in the Woods starts out with the cliché of a group of attractive young people traveling to a spooky remote getaway and getting picked off one by one. From there, director and co-writer Drew Goddard deconstructs the familiar genre elements, creating new terrors out of that deconstruction. It’s a clever and funny commentary on horror-movie conventions, while also succeeding as an inventive, suspenseful horror movie on its own.

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Child’s Play

The first movie featuring horror icon Chucky, Child’s Play is less playful and campy than later Chucky movies, but it still has a sense of humor about the ridiculousness of a killer doll. Voiced by Brad Dourif, Chucky is a cherubic Good Guy doll inhabited by the soul of a serial killer, who terrorizes 8-year-old Andy (Alex Vincent) and his mother (Catherine Hicks).

Director Tom Holland builds tension by keeping Chucky offscreen much of the time, making his eventual attacks scarier. This pared-down slasher movie provides a perfect jumping-off point for one of horror’s greatest franchises.


With his debut feature Hereditary, filmmaker Ari Aster announced himself as a major new voice in horror. Toni Collette is mesmerizing as a mother dealing with a demonic family inheritance, which takes hold of her children. Aster creates memorably unsettling images as the family slowly unravels, bringing the audience along on the protagonist’s descent into madness. The surreal, intense meditation on generational trauma is one of the scariest movies on HBO Max.

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Let Me In

The rare American remake of a foreign horror film that stands up to the original, Let Me In adapts Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In. Director Matt Reeves moves the setting to New Mexico but keeps the essential elements of the story intact, as shy preteen Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) meets his mysterious new neighbor Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz).

The powerful Abby protects Owen from bullies but reveals herself as dangerous and volatile. The central characters form a tender relationship amid the violence, bonding as two different kinds of outsiders.

The Night House

Rebecca Hall gives an excellent performance in The Night House as a high school teacher who’s just lost her husband to suicide. As she’s processing her grief while living in their large, empty, remote house, she starts feeling a presence that she believes is her late husband. Director David Bruckner is great at building tension and intrigue, and Hall is mesmerizing as a slightly unhinged woman who’s starting to realize she may not have really known her husband.

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Night of the Living Dead

Zombie movies as we know them would not exist without George A. Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead. The low-budget black-and-white film kicked off a franchise and established the ground rules that are followed—or deliberately broken—in every subsequent zombie movie. Romero’s film remains chilling and unsettling more than 50 years after its release, with its sparse depiction of the horrors of the dead rising up from their graves to attack the living.


David Cronenberg’s breakthrough horror hit Scanners is still best known for its image of a character’s head exploding via a telepathic attack. But there’s more to the movie than that, with its story of a war between “scanners” (people with telepathic and telekinetic abilities) and the government agency trying to control them. It mixes Cronenberg’s early interest in body horror with a more mainstream sci-fi/conspiracy angle.

RELATED: The Best Horror Movies on Amazon Prime Video in 2023

The Silence of the Lambs

The only horror movie to ever win Best Picture at the Oscars, Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs features one of cinema’s all-time greatest villains in serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). Some might think of Lecter as an antihero, since he helps FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) catch another killer while Lecter himself remains behind bars.

The interplay between Lecter and Starling is fascinating, balanced between manipulation and admiration as they both attempt to maneuver the situation to their advantage.

The Witch

Subtitled “A New-England Folktale,” Robert Eggers’ The Witch is an impeccably researched historical drama that also happens to be among the scariest movies on HBO Max. Eggers uses his attention to period detail to recreate the harsh circumstances faced by early English settlers in North America, then adds the threat of a supernatural presence lurking in the nearby woods.

In her breakout role, Anya Taylor-Joy plays teenage Thomasin, daughter of Puritans who leave their colony and struggle to survive on their own. She’s tempted by dark forces, and Eggers makes them both alluring and nightmarish.

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Profile Photo for Josh Bell Josh Bell
Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and the former TV comedies guide for About.com. He has written about movies and pop culture for Syfy Wire, Polygon, CBR, Film Racket, Uproxx and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.
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