Now Scream This: The Best Fantastic Fest Horror Movies Streaming Right Now

(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: Every September, there exists a genre film festival mecca called Fantastic Fest. I've been lucky enough to attend for four of the last five years, soon to be five of the last six. Mr. Evangelista is new to Austin's most fantastic excursion, but the time has finally come. This year, 'dem "Now Scream This" boys are taking down Fantastic Fest together. We've already conquered New Orleans, Austin's up next. Why not honor some past festival favorites now streaming as a primer? 

Chris: This marks my first year attending Fantastic Fest, and I honestly don't know what to expect (other than consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol). So to help get into the spirit, Matt and I have combed through the Fantastic Fest history to come up with some highlights that played at the fest. 

Hatchet

Now Streaming on Tubi

Matt: Adam Green's Hatchet is the last of a dying breed of slasher that's kill-heavy, practically proficient, and worthy of franchise continuity. There have been four New Orleans entries under Green's creation, but one golden cinematic rule rings true – nothing tops an original. John Carl Buechler's effects work disembowels and tears apart some of the slasher genre's most memorable kills since its release, from a three-sixty jaw rip (cleanest edit I've ever seen) to a pervy pornographer's screwhead demise. Victor Crowley was born on a bayou, and the resulting massacre is a fan-favorite with good reason. Well beyond the Hofstra University alumni bond both myself and Mr. Green share.

Chris: Other than the gif of Victor Crowley ripping someone's head open, I've never actually seen Hatchet. I'm sorry. 

The Children

Now Streaming on Tubi

Matt: Fantastic Fest never shies from "Christmas Horror," but their greatest screening decked in holiday frights is Tom Shankland's The Children. Toddlers become infected by a suspicious disease that turns them against adult parents, working innocence into an equation that always equals bloody deaths. This movie is *ruthless* when it comes to both mommy's injuries and kiddo kill shots, answering the simplest question, "Who could kill a child?" Sledding hills become gory landscapes while an a**hole papa is forced to confront his spawn as they plot their next attack. It's a shame Shankland hasn't done more feature work, because The Children goes straight for the jugular like so few horror movies do these days.

Chris: Kids are fucking creepy, and this film confirms that tenfold. 

Tigers Are Not Afraid

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: After hiding since last Fantastic Fest, almost a year ago, Shudder has *finally* released Issa López's Tigers Are Not Afraid. I reviewed the film a few months later in Montreal at the Fantasia Film Festival, and have been waiting impatiently for larger audiences to share in my enthusiasm. López creates something both beautiful and torturous, weaving a dark fable about wandering stuff animals, fierce graffiti come alive, and urban Mexico's cultural hardships through a child's eyes. I can't sing this film's praises enough, melting one horror fan's core like ice cream in a California heatwave. Astounding visuals, shot-to-the-heart performances, and one the year's most transfixing, original twisted fairytales you ever did see.

Chris: A lovely fabel with shades of Pan's Labyrinth and Crimson Peak

Knife + Heart 

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: Fantastic Fest is an endurance test. My first viewing of Knife + Heart was at midnight, two thirds through the festival, and was at about 12:15AM. Reader, I might have been a tad bit exhausted/manic/delusional by this point. My immediate reaction was "eh" to a rather long, vastly "disjointed" modern giallo that wasn't fit for my headspace. Cut to Knife + Heart hitting Shudder, and a second eyes-open watch allowed me to appreciate the tonal shifts that embolden this LGBT Euro-sleaze porno slasher. I mean, the opening dildo kill alone. Wait – sorry. I've said too much already.

Chris: Now we're talking. Neon sleaze and style at its finest. You can't beat that opening scene. 

Climax 

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Matt: Sometimes at Fantastic Fest, you walk into a screening and everything is normal. Intro, movie, Q&A you skip because nothing good happens as post-festival Q&As. Other times, a troupe of Fantastic Fest employees bust into your midnight Climax screening with boas and handheld lights so the can rave upfront in lieu of any type of introduction. Then they hand out sangria Jell-O shots. I promise that's not why Climax is my favorite horror film of 2019. I even waited until after a second screening to write my review. GO WATCH IT AND BECOME ONE WITH GASPAR NOÉ'S DEVILISH DANCE STRAIGHT INTO BEELZEBUB'S LAIR.

Chris: This movie fucks. I know people throw that term around so much that it's lost all meaning, but I promise you: this movie really does, indeed, fuck.

Bug

Now Streaming on Starz

Chris: Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd slowly go absolutely crazy (or should I say bugnuts) in William Friekdin's nasty, skeevy, stripped-down thriller. Judd strikes up a relationship with Shannon, and soon the two are sequestered away in a motel, growing more and more paranoid about bugs under their skin. Things get increasingly unpleasant as the story progresses. You won't forget it. 

Matt: I'm a bad film watcher who still hasn't seen Bug. It released the year before I got into film journalism and dove headfirst into an "everything and anything" approach to horror. I'll get there.

Darling

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Chris: I'm so-so on Mickey Keating's movies. And even Darling has plenty of flaws. But this slow-burn, highly-disturbing character study excels thanks to the stunning lead performance of Lauren Ashley Carter, playing a deranged young woman inhabiting a spooky old mansion. The entire film rests on Carter's shoulders, and she never disappoints. 

Matt: I've never seen a pair of eyes act so well, and that's not a dig at Lauren Ashley Carter. I'm being honest. In a black and white, silent film, Carter's glares tell their own story. Hypnotic stuff.

A Dark Song

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: An utterly haunting film that would pair perfectly with Hereditary. A woman hooks up with an occultist with the hopes of contacting the dead woman's son. To do so requires grueling prep and harsh rituals that would drive a sane person running for the hills. 

Matt: I remember the ending shot of this film so vividly, which is not to say the rest of the film is a waste. Instead, it's a lesson in how you pay off slow-burn whimsical horror with an occult twist.

The Endless

Now Streaming on Netflix

Chris: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are the best at what they do: crafting weird, time-bending curiosities that are both creepy and heartfelt. They're at the top of their game with The Endless, playing two brothers who escaped from a death cult so many years ago. That doesn't stop them from taking a road trip to visit the cultists they left behind, though. It's a trip that will test their very sanity, and open doors to entirely new worlds. 

Matt: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are two of my favorite filmmakers on the planet. The Endless is up there with their best. Existential dread like a beast.

You’re Next

Now Streaming on the Roku Channel

Chris: A violent, funny home invasion film with a killer lead performance from an ass-kicking Sharni Vinson, Adam Wingard's You're Next is full of big, bloody moments that keep you enthralled. Nothing is as it seems here, and one of the fun things about this film is the way it doles out info little by little, giving you a bigger picture of what's at play. 

Matt: Chris is just picking all my favorites this week. You're Next is the kind of flick I throw on whenever in need of immediate comfort. Never lets me down. The blender kill alone, y'all.