Streaming services are popping up left and right these days, and most are for general audiences. But if you’re a horror fan, Shudder UK might be just the thing for you – a streaming subscription service devoted to all those scary things that go bump in the night.
With a curated selection of classic horror movies, old TV shows and exclusive original series and documentaries produced by Shudder themselves, is it worth the monthly cost? Find out in this review.
About our guest reviewer: Stav Drieman is a film and TV composer who specialises in horror, being an avid fan of the genre himself. Learn more about his work here.
Quick Look – Shudder TV
Who is it for: Horror fans looking for a decent library of streaming titles.
- Full of obscure and hard-to-find horror titles
- Excellent documentaries and original content
- Only £4.99/month
- Available to stream on many devices
- Low streaming quality on some of the older titles
- The interface and categories can get confusing
- A very small selection of newer, big-name horror titles
Table of Contents
What Is Shudder And How Do I Watch It?
Shudder is an American subscription VOD service (owned by AMC Networks), that focuses on horror and its sub-genres, such as thrillers and supernatural fiction.
It’s a premium service that’s been around since 2015, targetting horror fans who are willing to pay for a good scare. And with the horror movie industry booming with tons of new titles every year, a dedicated streaming service was only a matter of time.
A Shudder subscription currently costs £4.99/month ($4.99 in the US, or less if you pay for a year in advance), and you can get it either directly from the Shudder website (but would then need to install dedicated apps), or as an “Amazon Prime Video” add-on channel.
If you’re already an Amazon Prime subscriber, you would only need to add the £4.99/month for Shudder. If not, you would need to subscribe to Prime first. And, you can get a free trial for both.
If you subscribe directly, you can watch Shudder on your desktop, or via dedicated apps for some of the leading streaming devices (Currently Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox One and Google Play).
If you subscribe via Amazon Prime Video Channels, you can watch Shudder on every device where you have an Amazon Video app – Smart TVs, the Fire TV stick, gaming consoles, etc’.
Watching on both the browser and on TV is quite seamless, with easy menus and a decent streaming speed (assuming your broadband connection is good).
Streaming quality depends on the source material – most of the older films and TV shows are limited to 720p, and some are even in SD quality (480). The newer films (there aren’t a lot of those) and the original shows, however, are usually in full HD (1080p).
In this day and age with 4K already widely available on other streaming services, 720p is a bit disappointing – but with these being older films, it’s not always up to Shudder. (Although, some horror classics were remastered for 4K Blu-rays)
Watching on mobile depends again on whether you get the service directly or via Amazon Prime Video.
Amazon’s Prime Video app works almost everywhere, but Shudder’s own app had some hiccups on one of my older Android phones (and Shudder’s support tried to help, but to no avail in this case).
On a more modern phone, Shudder’s app worked without issues. However, you can’t download content on Shudder’s up, so you’ll always need WiFi or a decent mobile data connection to watch on the go. Mobile downloads are available on most streaming services today – so it’s a shame Shudder’s left behind on that.
What Can I Watch On Shudder?
With more than 500 titles, Shudder is a treasure trove of goodies, offering titles from the ’30s (like White Zombie) and onwards.
No other streaming service has such a diverse selection of horror flicks, ranging from the classic usual suspects (Hellraiser, Re-animator, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) to the more bizarre and obscure oddities. (Remember that since Shudder’s selection keeps changing, you might not find some of the titles I mention by the time you read this review).
There are a lot of titles from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, with each decade represented by both well-known films and lovely curiosities to satisfy hardcore horror fans. Keep in mind that while new content is being added every month, some titles also get removed from the service occasionally.
There are currently almost no films from the 40’s and 50’s, which is kind of strange as many of them are in the public domain or are probably very cheap to acquire. Shudder could easily add tons of public domain titles to their archive and really fill the gap with titles from these decades.
It’s also sad you can’t find horror blockbusters and critically acclaimed titles such as Hereditary and Get Out, as these were probably bought by the bigger streaming services. But where Shudder truly excels is with hard to find obscure titles and old classics you probably won’t find in other places.
Horror Documentaries on Shudder
The “Documentary” category on Shudder is sparse, unfortunately, but what they do offer is absolutely fantastic.
Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary are a must-watch for classic horror fans, and so is Shudder’s original Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror.
These documentaries were so good, they left me craving for more, but as of this writing, there are only 9 documentaries on the service. Another thing I would have loved is for Shudder to let us hear commentary tracks on some of the titles.
Most streaming services these days try to differentiate themselves with exclusive, original productions – and Shudder is no different, with original films and TV shows.
The original content on Shudder varies in quality, but for the moment the crowning jewel is no doubt the Creepshow remake, which is a superbly executed homage to the classic 80’s franchise with top-notch stories and production values.
Creepshow is a six-parter anthology series that features two horror stories in each episode. The show was produced by Greg Nicotero, a veteran special effects makeup artist, who is also one of the executive producers on The Walking Dead.
Additional Shudder Originals include The Last Drive-in With Joe Bob Briggs, Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire, The Wrath, and several others.
Using Shudder And Finding What To Watch
Whether you join directly or via Amazon Prime Channels, finding something to watch on Shudder is usually a frustrating experience.
I found myself desperately flicking through Shudder’s categories in a desperate attempt to dig something up. It’s not that Netflix is doing much better, however it’s amazing how much “hidden” content you can discover when you use external search providers such as Reelgood.
Confusingly, Shudder’s website has two different categories for movies: “Collections” and “Movies”.
“Collections” offers you a bunch of titles collected under juicy headers such as “Hexes and Ooohs” or “Sun scorched”, with each of these gathered under a parent category, such as “Tales of the Supernatural” or “Borderlands”.
“Collections” also has a “Guest Spotlight” section, with lists curated by some famous celebrities (not all of them directly related to horror, mind you) but the selection is scarce and not very exciting.
Do note that if you join via Amazon Prime Channels, you won’t find these curated collections – instead, content is categorised under “Recently Added”, “Popular Movies”, etc’.
In the “Movies” section, you’ll find the more traditional tags such as Supernatural, Documentary, Sci-fi etc. If it sounds confusing to you – it’s because it is.
I get Shudder’s willingness to go the extra mile and give you a more diverse browsing experience, however the end result is kind of a mess with you missing many potential favourites.
When you ask for an alphabetical list of titles you’ll get a massive list with thumbnails that take forever to load – I think they would do better with clean list sorted by name and year.
On Amazon Prime Video, you don’t get all these tags and obscure categorisation – so it’s a bit less confusing, but also not as interesting to “browse”.
The Bottom Line: Is Shudder Worth It?
At £4.99/month, and with everything taken into account, I’m happy to say Shudder delivers a good experience – even with some of its quirks.
The content is well curated by people who obviously know what the (dark) heart of horror fans is carving, so given time I hope Shudder will grow and get even better.