6 scary movies to watch on HBO Max right now

Here’s Johnny.

words by: Kayla Carmicheal
Sep 11, 2022

In the past, I hadn’t really considered myself a “scary movie” person. I don’t see the appeal in willingly getting scared. But this year, in honor of spooky season coming up, and because of a mix of FOMO and curiosity, I’ve decided to catch up on what I’ve missed. Since I’ve got a lot of work to do, I wanted to start early. So, if you’re a Halloween lover and want to get started on the classics early, here’s what you can watch on HBO Max.


The Shining


Based on a Stephen King novel, this quintessential psychological thriller is a must-see, whether you’re a fan or total newbie like me. This 1980 film is known across pop culture, much like King’s other famous works, like Carrie or It. Plus, it’s directed by Kubrick, who is known for some of the most visually stunning (albeit disturbing) films of all-time. He’s the A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey guy.


In terms of the basic plot, a family visits an isolated hotel for the winter, without regarding cabin fever as a possibility. A psychic son sees things. Plagued by writer’s block and some sort of presence, the caretaker, Jack, becomes violent, and chaos ensues.


It (OG and remake)


That’s right, both versions of this incredibly long film are on HBO Max. I remember this movie taking over the world when the reboot came out. For those unaware, It is about a killer clown that terrorizes children once every 19 years because of a curse. Did I mention both versions are super freaking long?


The Purge


To my surprise, The Purge is mentioned as a horror/thriller. From the commercials, it looked like an interesting attempt at both, but it did well enough to warrant no less than like, 80 sequels. You know the rules and premise, right? In some dystopian universe, once a year, “For the next 24 hours, all crime is legal.” The thinking behind this is so people can get their dark and violent acts out of their system so they generally obey the rules the rest of the year.


In this installment, a rich family is terrorized by a murderous gang all night. Legally, of course.


The Conjuring


2013 was a big year for horror, because this one came out, as well. People love The Conjuring movies, but haunted dolls are not for me. If they’re for you, though, this movie chronicles what happens when ultra-famous haunted doll, Annabelle, torments a family.


Of course, Annabelle is a real doll that taunted a family, and Lorraine Warren was a real person who conducted the séance in an attempt to free the evil spirit from the doll. Now, Annabelle resides in a museum curated by the Warrens. And yes, she still curses people who taunt her.




This one, I will most likely not be watching. But anyway, it’s another ’80s classic that fits the bill. A supernatural flick, Poltergeist is about a family that’s haunted by some sort of demonic spirit. That’s scary on its own, but the demon takes shape in the family’s daughter, who is a child. She does some pretty horrific things, haunting the house and family, and even some murder ensues. If you’ve ever seen the quote “They’re here,” creepily emulated in pop culture, this is where it’s from.


The Blair Witch Project


I was told not to watch this one, but again, I feel like I have to. For those unaware, this movie is regarded as revolutionary in the way it was made and marketed, which was on the newly introduced world wide web. Produced on a shoestring budget of $60 g’s, it earned almost $250 million. People thought that because it was shot documentary style, it was real, adding to the hype. It wasn’t, but the story about teenagers checking out a haunted place in the woods is a tale as old as time.


If you want more scary movies required to get you ready for spooky season, here’s some more options.


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