Now Scream This: Prepare For Spring With These Streaming Horror Movies

(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: As April showers wash away winter blues, it's time for another seasonal to do: spring cleaning! Just as one might tidy up messy garages or reorganize bookshelves, you can also knock a few watches off your ever-growing streaming queue. In particular, I tried to theme my picks around outdoor activities and brighter weather now that the snow's melted. My gift to you, "Now Scream This" readers. Now get out there and embrace the sunshine – from the seat on your couch in front of the television. Crack those blinds (except if there's a glare on your TV, then stay in your cave)!

Chris: If you're anything like me (and if you, I'm sorry), your streaming platform queues are loaded with crap you have yet to get around to. Something strikes your fancy, you add it to your queue, and then you keep putting it off. And putting it off. Time passes, and every time you scroll through that queue, you pass that one title, and think, "Hmm, I should watch that." Well friends, that time is now. In the spirit of spring cleaning, Matt and I are here to help you clean out that damn queue! The time to watch these movies is today. Or, you know, whenever you get a chance. 

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: Fangoria's production banner takes credit for rebooting Charles Band's Puppet Master franchise, with an admittedly eyebrow-raising script by S. Craig Zahler and direction by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund.  What's a little spring cleaning without throwing away old toys? Thomas Lennon plays Edgar, whose possession of a possibly original Blade figure brings him to an Andre Toulon (Udo Kier) convention with intent to sell. Thus instigates Zahler's hack-em-up slaughterhouse (slaughterhotel?) scenario where Toulon's dolls – created to be Nazi foot soldiers because in this version, Toulon's ride-or-die Third Reich – carry out the nastiest, bloodiest, most despicable hate crimes in pure delight reel fashion. Some will *detest* Zahler's murky politics and extreme prejudice, while others will delight in some of 2018's most memorable kill sequences. Know that going in.

Chris:  I hate this movie with the fire of a thousand suns. Look, I don't need quality from a Puppet Master movie. But I certainly need more than whatever this shit is.

Cheap Thrills

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: E.L. Katz's Cheap Thrills stands as one of my favorite feature debuts of the 2000s. Themes of cleanup are evident after the film's plot twists out of control, as Colin (David Koechner) and Violet (Sara Paxton) pit old friends Vince (Ethan Embry) and Craig (Pat Healy) against one another with "friendly" dares. As their gamesmanship turns to sadism, Healy and Embry beat their characters into oblivion over each increasingly nasty request. It's perversely hilarious, blackened to perfection, and so very boosted by veteran character actors doing what they do best. Thrills may be cheap, but the payoff hits one massive jackpot.

Chris: This is definitely one of those movies I've had sitting in my queue for the longest time. Hey, maybe I'll finally watch it! Just like this week's theme suggests!

The Ritual

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: As Mr. Sun starts glowing brighter and warmer, why not go for a nice wilderness hike with your best friends? Although, maybe not through Northern Sweden's dense woodlands? As David Bruckner's The Ritual notes, you might run into a backwoods cult and their demonic demigod. Tricks of the mind plague four friends at the onset of their journey, but Act III reveals nightmarishly vivid monster design that doesn't need to hide behind darkened shadows. Never reliant on psychological thrills and entirely beholden to Bruckner's ability to conjure tension both in the hunt and on the defensive. 2018 was a good year for Netflix's horror originals.

Chris: This movie is loaded with nasty surprises, and some cool creature effects.

Apostle

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Did you ever wish The Wicker Man had more cranium-caving gore? Gareth Evans' Apostle has you covered! Dan Stevens stars as Thomas Richardson, an ex-priest and brother who must invade a naturalist cult to save his kidnapped sister. Michael Sheen goes all power-hungry as a prophet, Evans holsters his character's action sensibilities in favor of folktale horrors, and while overlong, all the haunts build a "mother's love" mystery rooted in wild tendencies. For heaven's sakes, it's Dan Stevens vs. Michael Sheen? You shouldn't need more convincing than that if we're level with one another.

Chris: Apostle is about twenty minutes too long, but there's enough ghoulish mayhem here to enjoy.

Eight Legged Freaks

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: As frozen grounds become greener pastures once again, creepy crawlies come out of hiding. With that in mind, may I recommend Eight Legged Freaks slide into your queue? Arachnids aren't really "my thing," but Ellory Elkayem's goofball creature feature goes about small-town invading with the spirit of Mars Attacks!. David Arquette in hero mode? CGI spiders snatching livestock and spinning webs around townsfolk? It's on the funnier side of the horror spectrum, but still works with enough snatch-and-grab insectoid attack thrills to keep one foot in the muck of terror. Have you been passing by this one because the cover looks like bargain-bin nonsense? Well, don't! Time to finally get tangled in this one's icky webbing.

Chris: Sure! Why not! Scarlett Johansson is in this!

Starry Eyes

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer are about to scare audiences silly with their wonderful new adaptation of Pet Sematary. If you're unfamiliar with the duo's work, and want to see what their deal is before you see Pet Sematary next month, you need to jump on Starry Eyes immediately. Alex Essoe gives an award-worthy performance as a disturbed young actress who would do anything to become a star. And I mean anything. What starts off seeming like a dark satire of Hollywood slowly morphs into something far more horrifying. Get ready to squirm in your seat through almost this entire movie.

Matt: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer are about to stun you with their 2019 adaptation of Pet Sematary - Chris and I both left SXSW riding that reanimated high – but before you go rooting around mystical burial grounds, start with the "Starry Guys'" hit-maker, Starry Eyes. Oh how the price of fame corrupts, and my do these guys manipulate the heck out of Alex Essoe's lead performance.

Last Shift

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: I'm a big fan of movies that find ways to do a lot with a little. Last Shift is like that. Juliana Harkavy is a rookie cop left alone in a police station slated to be closed. But she's not as alone as she thinks – because the building is haunted. Director Anthony DiBlasi does a great job with sound design here, creating the suggestion of menace without always showing it. That's not to say Last Shift keeps all its scares off screen – as the film nears its conclusion, the evil spirits make their presence very well known.

Matt: Last Shift has quite the following based on my social media interactions, but it's not my cup o' prison-set horror tea – even based on prison-set horror movies released in 2015 (Let Us Prey > Last Shift). Creepy Office Chairs That Move: The Movie!

The Uninvited

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: First, it's worth noting that The Uninvited is a remake of a much better movie – A Tale of Two Sisters. You should watch that, too! But I'm picking this because believe it or not, it's surprisingly fun. Months after a suicide attempt following the death of her sick mother, Emily Browning returns to her posh waterfront house and finds that her father (David Strathairn) has started a relationship with her dead mother's former nurse (Elizabeth Banks). Browning and her sister (Arielle Kebbel) are suspicious of Banks, and become convinced she's up to no good. She might have even killed their mother. Or did she? Nothing here is what it seems. As far as American remakes of superior Korean horror movies go, The Uninvited is worth finally sitting down to watch.  

Matt: Before you watch The Uninvited, you *should* see the Korean film it's based on: A Tale Of Two Sisters. Far superior, indeed – but for a lazy Netflix watch? The Uninvited is the American remake you'd expect, and not for the worse.

Psycho (1998)

Now Streaming on HBOGo

Chris: Gus Van Sant followed his Oscar glory from Good Will Hunting with this curious, much-derided experiment – shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho. Many felt Van Sant was crazy to even think about such a thing, and audiences didn't turn this into a huge hit. Over the years, Van Sant's Psycho has developed a reputation for being terrible, but it's actually quite fascinating. Cinematographer Christopher Doyle paints stark, haunting visuals in living color, and the cast is killer. Vince Vaughn's giggly Norman Bates can't even come close to competing with Anthony Perkins' iconic performance, but it's fun to watch Vaughn's take on the character. The real stand-out is William H. Macy, playing a fast-talking, wise-cracking, ill-fated private eye. If you're one of the many people who've avoided Psycho for so long, assuming it was pointless, check it out. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Matt: What a stacked cast, and what a very fine and dandy remake. Not much else worth saying that Chris hasn't covered already!

The Ruins

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Chris: The Ruins is about killer vines! Wait, no, come back! I know that sounds silly, but this is a surprisingly nasty horror movie that will take you by surprise. Writer Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan) adapts his own book here, and while the book is much better, the film version has its charms. A group of Americans on vacation in Mexico go into the jungle looking for the ruins of a Mayan temple. They find it, but they also find killer jungle vines. Again, I know how ridiculous this all sounds, but it somehow works, with plenty of body horror on display to make your viewing experience extra pleasant.

Matt: I passed The Ruins while scrolling through Amazon Prime's watchlist and *almost* snagged it, but deep down left it hoping Chris would notice. Very happy to see it appear. Watch it!