Do you like scary movies? Then you should probably read on to learn about Shudder, a streaming service exclusively for horror and horror-adjacent content. But be warned - this is not for the casual horror fan. No Jordan Peele here, no Cabin in the Woods, no Saw. This is for viewers who want to explore the origins of horror cinema, who enjoy documentaries on the rise of slasher films, and for whom Tom Savini is like unto a god. Shudder is a smaller service than something like Netflix (opens in new tab) or Hulu (opens in new tab), but what it does, it does well, and it's both the best TV streaming service (opens in new tab) and best movie streaming site (opens in new tab) if you love, love, love horror.
What Shudder’s library lacks in size it makes up for in variety and reach. With podcasts, TV shows, and movies covering a wide swathe of countries and genres, it’s a delightfully gruesome buffet of blood, dread, and humor. (Hey, death can be funny.)
Shudder also sports some high-quality exclusives, though we didn’t consider any of them to be worth the subscription price by themselves. Perhaps the most fun feature of Shudder is Shudder TV, a nonstop stream of “killer content.” In the mood for something spooky but not quite sure what to choose? Just turn on Shudder TV and let it do the curating for you. It’s like having cable, but without the infomercials.
Shudder review: TV shows
Shudder is noticeably light when it comes to TV shows, though it does have Channel Zero and Creepshow, two excellent examples of the genre. The TV section is also where Shudder’s definition of “horror” gets stretched the most. Story of Science Fiction and Secret History of Comics will likely be of interest to Shudder subscribers, but they’re obviously not horror shows.
There are also a number of “podcast experiences” - most of which can be found on other podcast hosting sites. It’s best for you to consider Shudder’s series as a bonus you get for subscribing to the movie streaming service; it doesn’t offer enough for it to be a factor in your buying decision.
Shudder review: Movies
Shudder’s movie library is not meant for viewers who just want a quick fright on a Friday night - though it works for them, too (just go to the Shudder Essentials section and you’re set). Every kind of horror from the full range of cinema is represented here, though perhaps not in the numbers a true devotee would desire. Slashers from the 80s, classics from the 70s, modern technohorror, Italian surrealism, Korean ghost stories - Shudder provides a sampler of pretty much everything. Guest curators like Rob Zombie and Kumail Nanjiani assemble their own must-watch lists, too, giving you fun insight into what tickles their twisted fancies.
One feature we particularly appreciate about Shudder’s movie library is the fresh approach it takes to creating collections. You can go to any streaming service to look for Zombies, or Ghosts, or Foreign Horrors, but only on Shudder can you find collections like Weird Science, Terror Transgressive, or Bad Genes & Killer Kids. It’s a smart and fun approach to providing a shortcut to selections, instead of making you scroll through an alphabetical listing every single film on the service.
Shudder has two pricing plans (opens in new tab): monthly and yearly. For $5.99 - which is the same as Disney Plus (opens in new tab) - you can go month-to-month, ideal if you just want to get spooky in October or simply have an urge you can’t resist. If you know you’ll want your fix year-round, you may want to consider paying the $56.99 up front for the yearly subscription.
If you’re not sure Shudder is for you - or you just want to binge Maori zombie show The Dead Lands - the 7-day free trial should be more than enough. Don't forget that you can access (opens in new tab) Shudder via your Amazon Prime membership too, if you want to avoid the hassle of signing up to a new service.
Shudder: Quality of Stream
We watched Shudder on an Apple TV, iPad, and a desktop computer: playback on all was typically smooth, with no buffering or lag. Navigation on all was well-designed and logical, and the picture quality was excellent across all platforms.
Should I subscribe to Shudder?
Given the low price and quality of stream, whether you should subscribe to Shudder or not comes down to a single question: how much do you enjoy creepy content? Though Shudder casts a fairly wide net, everything on the service evokes a similar feeling of unease, creepiness, or other form of ick. Assuming you enjoy the darker side of entertainment, it then comes down to whether or not you need the latest from Jordan Peele or Blumhouse, both of which will be notably absent from Shudder, which favors older, smaller offerings over the new hotness. If you’re one of those weird people (the best kind of people) who wants to explore the labyrinthine corridors of the twisted human mind, and you don’t mind a few misfires, you should definitely sign up for Shudder today.