(Updated: April 10, 2021) Here are the best horror movies — new and classics, Indian and international — streaming on Amazon Prime, as of April 10, 2021.
1. Tumbbad (2018)
Directors: Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi
Set during the British Raj and divided into four chapters, the central premise of Tumbbad rests on a family secret. A metaphor for man’s greed, the film combines psychology, storytelling, mythology, and morality into a visually potent and sordid combination.
The visuals are rich and remind one of a graphic novel spilling over into film. The notion of evil is stitched into the fabric of every frame, and presents a despondent and dreary world. Hunger, both literal and metaphorical, is utilised to depict a void that is so great it threatens to consume.
I feel very proud of Indian cinema in the recent times for churning out truly thought-provoking and experimental stuff. Yes, Tumbbad is a horror film, but it is also much more than that. Try and watch this one for your next movie night, it’ll be a heady ride.
Watch Tumbbad on Amazon Prime
2. Mother! (2017)
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Aronofsky’s Mother! is a perfectly disquieting roller-coaster of a horror ride. The metaphysical and metaphor-rich horror drama either extracts feelings of reverence or repugnance from its viewers. It doesn’t allow for good deal of middle ground in terms of opinion. While I liked the intensity of this hermetically-sealed chamber piece, I could understand fellow movie-lovers’ intense dislike for it.
The film starts off as a straight-up psychological horror, in the vein of Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.
Arnofsky’s visual energy is well-matched with far ambitious thematic notions. From biblical references to metaphorizing gender roles, artistic creation to delirious fandom, the filmmaker takes on vast number of themes. Some thrive with idiosyncratic energy, while some appear to be banal. In the end, Mother! is a pretty vicious (self) critique on the artist-muse connection or relationship. Despite the outlandishness and sheer irrationality of it, I liked the film on how it provides the space to project our own experiences onto it.
Watch Mother on Amazon Prime
3. The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Director: James Wan
James Wan’s entertaining take on the famous Enfield case (of 1977) once again showcases the director’s impeccable craft to design scares with just claps and mundane dolls. Plot-wise, there’s nothing new. It’s the same demonic-spirit-possessing-teenage-girl thing. But, Wan’s wiggling frames and genuinely chilling set-pieces maintain a constant atmosphere of fear. And, Wan elevates the ghost-hunting couple to sort of super-heroes, expanding the scope for a bigger franchise and future spinoffs.
4. Lights Out (2016)
Director: David Sandberg
Watching David Sandberg’s Lights Out is like taking an amusement-park ride. You know it will agitate your nerves, yet gives you the thrills. Sandberg uses handful of indoor locations and so meticulously manufactures the jump-scares that you can’t stop admiring the craft. The material is thin. The characters are written in a bland manner. But the use of practical effects to create perfect ghost imagery is commendable. It marvelously taps into our primal fear of the dark. Concept-wise, this is one of the best among the recent American mainstream horror movies.
5. Pari (2018)
Director: Prosit Roy
A tale of love’s triumph over hatred, Pari takes a simple concept and weaves it into a folklore-inspired horror story that is amazingly realistic and surreal at the same time. One could say that the film is based in the realm of magic realism. It takes the concepts, images and structures of reality and introduces us to magical elements.
These magical or fantastical elements may or may not be real at all. It all depends on the subjective perspectives on truth. The insistence on the existence of multiple truths and the shunning of absolutism becomes a star characteristic of the film. The main proof of this theory is the amazing twist ending which leads us to question the existence of the supernatural elements in the cosmos of the film itself. This interesting and open-ended take on a horror movie makes Pari stand out as one of the best horror movies in this post-modernist era.
Watch Pari on Amazon Prime
6. Ghost Stories (2018)
Directors: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
If jump-scares and a climactic curtain-raiser (that hints at plethora of social and personal themes, from classic conflict, anti-semitism to bullying and emotional repression) are all necessary for you to enjoy a horror film, Ghost Stories would be fulfilling.
But for those expecting a terrifying experience, devoid of familiarities and which haunts our mind long after the screen turns black, the film doesn’t offer much.
The film would have been better if it simply remained as a triptych of paranormal tales.
Nevertheless, Ghost Stories (97 minutes) is a fairly enjoyable old-fashioned creep-show. Traditional scares that are staged with reverence and adoration for classic British portmanteaus drive the narrative. (Read full review)
7. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Director: Roman Polanski
Right from the unsettling opening lullaby to the final remark, ‘the boy has his father’s eyes,’ Polanski maintains a potent mood of paranoia and eeriness. The film is one of the best slow-burn horrors ever made, gradually pulling the viewers into its doubtful, dreadful atmosphere. It also works as a satire on the corruption of high-society types and a commentary on the persistent dismissal of women’s concerns. Mia Farrow’s phenomenal performance adds much to the simmering nightmare.
8. It Follows (2014)
Director: David Robert Mitchell
It Follows elegantly blends art-house sensibilities and classic horror-genre staples. Unlike most of the horror films, it doesn’t provide any explanation or backstory for the terrifying entity at the center. But the film scores full marks for weaving a terrifying atmosphere. The slow tracking shots and nightmarish long shots keep us in a state of fear. The story is pretty simple. A deadly, unknown supernatural force follows a young girl after a sexual encounter. It may be too ambiguous for seekers of conventional horror flicks. It is a must watch for those who love uncanny horror premises, dripping with rich subtext.
9. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
The horrors of the real world and a fantastical world have never been so beautifully merged. Guillermo Del Toro once again verges into the Spanish Civil War period, providing a more potent story of a child surrounded by fascism. It’s an immensely moving story punctuated with phenomenal horror sequences. The Pale Man — the destroyer of fantasy — would forever linger in the memory of horror fans.
10. Don’t Breathe (2016)
Director: Fede Álvarez
An intense home invasion thriller, Don’t Breathe excels in delivering genuine chills and thrills. Like its title, the razor sharp editing hardly gives you time to settle. Stephen Lang’s performance and Pedro Luque’s cinematography make it an exhilarating watch.
11. The Wailing (2016)
Director: Na Hong-jin
Korean filmmakers have perfected their skills to create impeccable visual designs to portray disorder or chaos. Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing is proof nobody can beat them in that space. The film is an efficient mix of horror and murder/mystery genre. It revolves around random killings in a small town and an inept police officer trying to solve the complex mystery. It has terrifying set-pieces and is coated with layers of ambiguity. The bone-chilling visceral thrills perfectly compliment the thematic weight of the narrative. Altogether, a rare genre film that keenly explores the themes of doubt and fear.
There we are! These are some of the best horror movies streaming on Amazon Prime India. You also might want to check the best horror movies on Netflix.
By Arun Kumar, Soven Trehan, Deepjyoti Roy