Shudder Review: Stream your fears without breaking the bank

The horrors that await on Shudder.
(Image credit: Future)

Traditionally, Horror is a genre for the misfits and the adventurous viewer. Many of us remember wandering through the aisles of the video store in our youth examining the creepy cover art of VHS films on display, challenging ourselves to watch the scariest one possible. Sadly, those days are gone. Due to the unfortunate circumstances of 2020, several video stores have closed their doors for good. These closures have made the browsing experience less enjoyable for horror fans and taken away an aspect of the horror community where chatting with other customers or the staff behind the counter was a favorite weekly pastime. 

Streaming services now dominate the film world and bring thousands of titles into the home. However, none can quench the thirst for thrillers, killers, slashers, gore, and ghosts quite like Shudder. Founded in 2015, Shudder is AMC’s horror streaming service that contains more than 500 horror films including an array of sub-genres and original content. Their interface is user-friendly and oozes with scary original series, informative documentaries, and creepy essential classics. Impressive programming aside, Shudder aims to bring back a sense of community to the genre by offering engagement for its viewers accompanied with the long-lost friendly customer service experience. 

Where you can watch Shudder

Shudder delivers a satisfying home invasion by making itself widely accessible across the globe on various devices. 

It is available on:

  • Android and IOs
  • Amazon Fire devices
  • Android TV
  • Roku
  • XBox One
  • Apple TV+
  • Google Play
  • Chromecast
  • Online
  • Amazon Prime Video channel subscription

In addition to the US, Shudder is available in the following countries:

  • Ireland
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • UK

If you aren’t a horror fan, you can always check Shudder out for a 7 day free trial. This is a popular option during the Halloween season because it gives viewers a taste of its terror without a full commitment. The cost of a subscription is a mere $4.75/month. To save even more money, you can choose the annual plan option of $56.99. Subscribers are also able to cancel their membership at any time. 

What you can watch on Shudder

Anyone can access Shudder’s library without having to purchase a subscription. This type of transparency is refreshing within the streaming world and speaks to the company’s genuine attempt to support the genre and grow the horror community. Shudder’s General Manager, Craig Engler, has emphasized that Shudder aims to foster a sense of community and communal viewing. In an interview with Decider, Engler stated that “horror is something that people like to experience together; they want a communal experience.” One of the best examples is The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, a weekly series that features the horror and exploitation aficionado hosting a marathon of films alongside Darcy the Mail Girl. Viewers can engage with Joe Bob, Darcy, and their special guests through Twitter in order to discuss each film they screen.

Enjoyable campy quirks are added to the website experience. For example, icons shake whenever the mouse hovers over them. Viewers are invited to “Stalk Us” on social media. If you try to watch content without first becoming a member, the site notifies you that “it seems that you’re not one of us...yet.” The black and red color palette is aesthetically pleasing and makes icons and reviews easy to navigate. 

The platform’s set-up is conveniently constructed for old school horror fans and those new to the genre. Several films are broken up into Collections in order to make exploring and choosing a film easier and faster. Collection examples include: “The Family Table”, “Vengeance is Hers”, and “Shudder Essentials”. One of its best qualities is that Shudder amplifies marginalized voices by showcasing “Queer Horror”, “Hispanic Heritage” and “Horror Noire”, which details Black horror highlights. Shudder also produces documentaries to further support Queer and Black voices in the genre. For example, in 2019, Shudder produced and distributed Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, a documentary based on a non-fiction book entitled Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present by Robin R. Means Coleman, PhD.

Subscribers can also filter films by thirteen different sub-genres including Creature Features, Exclusive & Original, Comedy, International, and Supernatural. Viewers can revisit or introduce themselves to classics like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, John Carpenter’s Halloween, and Dario Argento’s Phenomena. Another one of Shudder’s strongpoints is its support for indie and international horror that audiences won’t find on other streaming services or basic cable. Coherence, Demon, and One Cut of the Dead are all unique films that celebrate low-budget horror. Shudder also has a fantastic slate of originals such as the Zoom inspired horror film, Host. Other noteworthy Shudder originals include The Beach House, Revenge, and Terrified. If you’re still undecided on what to watch, you can always jump on Shudder TV to see what film is streaming live any time, day or night. Additionally, guest curators are brought on to pick a list of their favorites. And if there is a movie you’re dead-set on watching but don’t see it in the library, you can request it! 

What’s Shudder like to use?

Subscribing is a pretty easy process. Visiting the platform’s main website guides you to various options to move forward with a free trial or step-by-step instructions for a subscription. Navigating the site and choosing films is very straight-forward and relaxing since there are no bombarding ads. Accessing the details of your membership account is also effortless. You can cancel your membership at any time, and Shudder is transparent about when your membership will renew. 

At the bottom of the page, viewers will find the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy, and Do Not Sell My Personal Information. There are also clear features for the About Us page, Where to Watch, and Support. I have personally reached out to the support team a couple of times when I initially signed up because I accidentally chose the yearly plan instead of the monthly plan. They got back to me very quickly, gave me a credit, and worked with my financial situation to stay on board as a subscriber. I was really impressed with their customer support team and even Engler himself is engaged with subscribers on Twitter because he wants people to have the best viewer experience possible. 

To further encourage engagement, Shudder’s social media pages are linked at the bottom of their homepage. Viewers can also access their blog and sign up for their newsletter. Shudder’s column,“The Bite”, features notable guest writers that discuss horror film history. “Tiny Bites” feature various articles that tie horror into the real-world and include film recommendations that pertain to current everyday life, as well as mention more mainstream horror releases. This section of “The Bite” is also great about spotlighting horror authors and genre mentions on other popular websites such as GQ and Business Insider. The “Things We Love” section spotlights anything from illustrators and artists to horror trivia. Shudder’s love for horror is clearly all-encompassing, and they encourage multiple means of enjoying the genre.

The nerdy stuff

One hang-up that viewers have is that Shudder does not have all of its content in 1080p or full HD. Its tech capacities may not be up to par with its larger scale competitors, but Shudder makes up for that in content, engagement, flexible membership, and speedy customer support. Shudder requires internet connection speeds (download) of at least 6Mbps. There are standard playback and volume controls as well as a 10-second rewind button, not no fast-forward button. However, you are able to use the progress bar to jump ahead, if desired. I downloaded the app to my iphone XS (the app is also available for Android), and there was a 10-second fast-forward button included there. The process was extremely easy and ran smoothly with minimal buffering. Closed captions are available, but they are not customizable to where you can change the size and text. The audio is good quality, but does not have the Audio Descriptions feature like Amazon Prime and Netflix provides. 

Shudder only has one user profile, so there are no parental controls. However, there are multiple reviews of each film and parents can use their best judgement in researching content on their own. Sure, some of their films can be watched by a younger audience but you won’t find cute animated haunted houses or stop-motion singing skeletons in their library. 

The bottom line

Shudder is a horror fan’s go-to for entertainment and education. Their programming changes frequently enough to introduce new talent and has the ability to seduce apprehensive viewers into subscribers. Shudder’s interactive elements, newsletter, blog, and curated content all serve up a savory slice of terror. No matter what your cinematic taste is, Shudder has something fun and frightful for everyone. 

Marisa Mirabal

Marisa Mirabal is an Austin-based writer whose work has appeared on FangoriaColliderBirth.Movies.Death.Eater Austin, and The Austin Chronicle. She is a News Writer for SlashFilm and occasionally serves as a documentary juror for local film festivals. Marisa has a penchant for horror, documentaries, and '80s sci-fi movies. When she isn't conjuring up film analysis or news articles, she can be found reading, spinning film scores on vinyl, and sipping whiskey deep in the heart of Texas. If you want to check out more of her work or random posts about film, books, retro technology, and her dog, Annie Oakley, then you can find her on Twitter and Instagram.