Here at NOFS, we are big fans of the exclusive horror streaming site Shudder. If you don’t know about Shudder, it’s a streaming service hosting a large collection of the best genre films out there. From cult classics to indie darlings and everything in between, the site has you covered for all your creepy viewing needs. Shudder has such a wide variety of films, it’s not hard to uncover a hidden gem each time you log in.
To make your digging a little easier, I’ve taken the liberty of making this list of the 10 most underrated films currently streaming on Shudder! I guarantee that you haven’t seen at least 5 of the films that follow, if not less. You’re welcome in advance.
10. Splinter (2008)
Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still-living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror.
Kicking off the list is the skin crawling creature feature Splinter. Though it is a monster movie, the film is character driven focusing on the different dynamics between the couples and even challenges the idea of traditional masculine character roles. But don’t be fooled, you come for the monster movie and Splinter gives it to you in gruesome fashion with a unique creature design and brutal body horror. More your standard creature feature, Splinter excels as a character drama led by a great performance by genre film veteran Shea Whigham.
9. Lace Crater (2015)
A woman encounters a strange presence in a guest house.
Not going to beat around the bush: this one is about ghost sex. Yes, you read that correctly. Lace Crater is a lot of film movie crammed into a tiny indie film, spanning multiple genres from comedy to body horror. The film is very intimate, focusing mainly on our protagonist Ruth in one primary location. While leaning heavily into the weird and absurd, the film does take an interesting look at the limitations of love and what happens when you die. If you’re a fan of It Follows, this film would be perfect as a companion piece for a double-feature!
8. Cheap Thrills (2013)
A scheming couple put a struggling family man and his old friend through a series of increasingly twisted dares over the course of an evening at a local bar.
The black comedy Cheap Thrills is one nasty film. How far would you go for money? This film not only pushes our characters to the limit physically, but morally and emotionally as well. Honestly, not sure which is scarier. But amidst all the brutality, Cheap Thrills is a razor-sharp black comedy led by a fantastic ensemble cast including David Koechner, Ethan Embry, Pat Healy, and Sara Paxton. With it’s one-two punch of blood and jokes, this film will be a cult classic in no time.
7. Dogtooth (2009)
Three teenagers live isolated, without leaving their house, because their overprotective parents say they can only leave when their dogtooth falls out.
Before acclaimed director Yorgos Lanthimos would take the genre world by storm with hits such as The Favourite and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, there was Dogtooth. The film is a slow burn revolving around repression, emotionally and sexually. Dogtooth is hardly a horror film at all, but it’s dark exploration of the old ’nature vs nurture’ debate manages to get creep under your skin. Sprinkle in some grim humor and a dash of WTF, this greek drama will mesmerize you in the worst way.
6. November (2017)
In a poor Estonian village, a group of peasants use magic and folk remedies to survive the winter, and a young woman tries to get a young man to love her.
Werewolves, magic, The Devil…November has a little bit of everything. This Estonian folk tale is easily the most visually dazzling film on this list, combining grotesque imagery with beautiful black & white cinematography. It also melds together elements of fantasy and romance together that is utterly addictive. It’s a slow watch the first time, but after that you’ll be yearning to return to it. With a staggering 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, it should be on everyone’s radar.
5. The Perfect Host (2011)
An on-the-run convict looking for temporary cover finds it at the house of a very colorful character.
If you are a fan of the “strange LA Dinner Party” subgenre of horror, you’re in for a treat! Without giving anything thing away, The Perfect Host is a dizzying thriller packed with twists until the very end. This mental cat-and-mouse game gives ‘wrong place, wrong time’ a whole new meaning. David Hyde Pierce is so good at selling the chaotic nature of Warwick Wilson, you’ll never look at Niles the same when watching Frasier. This movie should be in the same conversation of acclaim as films like The Invitation and Coherence.
4. Ms. 45 (1981)
A timid and mute seamstress goes insane after being attacked and raped twice in one day, in which she takes to the streets of New York City after dark and randomly shoots men with a .45 caliber pistol.
Ms. 45 has finally been getting its much deserved love nearly 40 years from its release, but never too late! The 1981 exploitation film is gritty and intense right from its controversial opening. The revenge thriller is built around a complex heroine, who despite being sexually assaulted multiple times and being mute refuses to ever be a victim. Zoe Tamerlis brings the heat as Thana in this film, especially in the absolutely bonkers Halloween party finale. Want to talk underrated? Thana’s nun costume should be a Halloween staple.
3. Let Us Prey (2015)
Held in a remote police station, a mysterious stranger takes over the minds and souls of everyone inside.
Let Us Prey is a violent, poignant hard-boiled crime thriller bathed in blood. From unraveling the mystery of Six to discovering the true nature of each character, cops & inmates alike, Let Us Prey gets better with every layer. The small scope of the film, confining the majority of it to the police station, compliments the intimacy of the film. The dialogue is wickedly clever, offering both genuine themes and light doses of humor. Liam Cunningham is hypnotizing as the mysterious Six and is worth checking out for his performance alone if you haven’t seen this gem.
2. Ganja & Hess (1973)
After being stabbed with an ancient, germ-infested knife, a doctor’s assistant finds himself with an insatiable desire for blood.
The penultimate entry to this list is the 1973 classic Ganja & Hess. More underseen, rather than underrated, Ganja & Hess has been praised for its contributions to African-American cinema but should also be praised impacting genre filmmaking in general. This isn’t your typical vampire movie, where the mythology is totally warped and bloodlust is a metaphor American excess and greed. Duane Jones shines as Dr. Hess Green, depicting a charming aristocratic black man, which was rarely seen in film at the time. Ganja & Hess is not only subversive and impactful, but is absolutely stunning with it’s cinematography and lavish set design. If you’ve watched the documentary Horror Noire also streaming on Shudder, you don’t need me to tell you how underrated it is.
1. Maniac (2012)
As he helps a young artist with her upcoming exhibition, the owner of a mannequin shop’s deadly, suppressed desires come to the surface.
Going out with a bang, ending the list with a hot take: Maniac, the 2012 remake starring Elijah Wood is better than the 1980 classic. This one is ridiculously underrated as remakes usually get a bad reputation and are judged before one even sees it. Maniac is a terrific way to remake it, by telling the story for a whole different angle…literally. Choosing to film the almost the entire film from Frank’s point of view was extremely effective in getting into his head and added sympathy to this broken character. Wood is manages to make you empathetic towards Frank while still being deeply disturbed by him, all based mainly off his voice. And though this Maniac humanizes Frank more than the original, this version is still bloody and disgusting as ever. Maniac also features a dynamite synths score by Robin Coudert. Between it’s fresh narrative take, style, and Wood’s powerhouse performance, Maniac does not deserve the middling reviews it’s received over the years. Often compared too heavily to the original, Maniac stands on its own merits and should be judged accordingly making this the most underrated film Shudder has to offer.
There you go, folks! 10 underrated films currently streaming on Shudder! Hopefully this list has inspired you to check out one of these wonderful films that deserves more views. Shudder is absolutely amazing when it comes to offering movies that were probably nowhere near your radar that should be. They also update their library quite frequently, so chances are we’ll have another list for you in a few months. Until then, enjoy these underrated genre gems.