10 Christmas horror movies to watch for an eerie holiday in 2021

Santa Claus with a bloody knife
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Christmas and horror have been an unlikely (but winning) combination for decades. Now, scary movies that take place during the holidays are a thriving subgenre. Here are 10 of the best Christmas horror movies you can check out to add a little fear to your holiday.

Anna and the Apocalypse

Absolutely the world’s only zombie Christmas musical comedy, this inventive low-budget Scottish production is like Glee meetings Shaun of the Dead. The plot follows a group of teenage outcasts who must ward off the undead the day before the Christmas holidays.

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The teen characters are appealing and relatable, even before being chased by zombies. The film also incorporates the Christmas mood creatively (it turns out that a giant candy cane is great for crushing zombie skulls). Plus, the soundtrack is filled with Broadway-caliber songs, staged in full-on musical tracks that continue throughout the killing.

You can stream Anna and the Apocalypse on Pluto TV (free with ads). It is also available for purchase ($ 9.99 +) and rental ($ 3.99 +) from Amazon Prime, Apple TV / iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

Better watch out

What starts as a misunderstood teenage romance becomes nicely demented in this twisted thriller, which is a kind of horror version of Home alone. Levi Miller stars as a seemingly sweet 12-year-old who is in love with her slightly older babysitter (Olivia DeJonge). He tries to protect her during a Christmas invasion of the home.

But the dynamic shifts in the first of several turns of the plot, and the child’s innocent infatuation are revealed as something much more sinister. The filmmakers make familiar, feel-good holiday comedy elements completely grotesque.

You can stream Better watch out on Peacock (free), Shudder ($ 4.75 a month after a 7-day trial), Crackle (free with ads), Pluto TV (free with ads), Tubi (free with ads) and through many libraries at Hoopla. It is also available for purchase ($ 4.99 +) and rental ($ 1.99 +) from Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play and Apple TV / iTunes.

Black Christmas

Bob Clark’s 1974 horror film about a murderer who persecutes the occupants of a clubhouse during the Christmas holidays is one of the earliest slasher films. It is also one of the first to be set at Christmas, making it a genre pioneer twice.

It’s creepy and disturbing with strong performances from Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin as the head sisters. There was a forgettable remake in 2006, but the 2019 version, directed by Sophia Takal, cleverly updates the story with themes of toxic masculinity and rape culture.

You can stream the 1974 version of Black Christmas free on YouTube, Criterion Channel, Peacock, Shudder ($ 4.75 a month after a 7-day trial), Shout! Factory TV, Tubi and via many libraries on Kanopy.

You can stream the 2019 version on HBO Max ($ 9.99 per month), Vudu (free with ads) and can be purchased ($ 14.99 +) and rented ($ 3.99 +) from Google Play, Apple TV and YouTube.

The children

A bunch of unruly kids in the house for Christmas might sound good until they all run around creating chaos. It’s also bad if those kids are infected with a mysterious substance that makes them murderous, which is what happens in this slow-burning British horror film.

Children’s behavior begins to deteriorate within the credible limits of immaturity. Gradually, however, it becomes more dangerous until it is too late for the adults to escape. The filmmakers throw in some surprisingly effective adult drama along with the pint-sized killers, creating more emotional investment for the audience.

You can stream The children on Tubi (free with ads), Vudu (free with ads), Amazon Prime Video (free with ads) and for purchase $ 5.99 +) and rent ($ 3.99 +) from YouTube, Google Play and Apple TV.

Christmas evil

An insane killer dressing up as Santa is plotted in lots of Christmas lasher movies for bargains, but Christmas evil is more of a psychological thriller. It is uncommonly aware of the underlying trauma of its protagonist (Brandon Maggart).

A kind of tragic figure, driven by his extreme, childish love of Christmas, he only resorts to violence when he encounters any resistance to spreading good humor. There is gravel and pathos in this story that leads through to its bizarrely hopeful, magically-realistic ending.

You can stream Christmas evil on Showtime ($ 10.99 a month), Shudder ($ 4.75 a month after a 7-day trial), Vudu (free with ads) and Roku Channel (free with ads).


Dangerously cute little monsters terrorize a small town on Christmas Eve in this enduring favorite. It has somehow become a go-to family movie, despite all the murder and chaos. It’s hard to get mad at the heady green gremlins that get just as excited to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as they are when they destroy property and kill people.

Director Joe Dante drew on his love of B-movie creatures to create the gremlin invasion that causes chaos in a charming, sleepy little village that usually embodies Christmas cheer.

You can stream Gremlins on HBO Max ($ 9.99 per month) and can be purchased (14.99+) or rented ($ 3.99 +) from YouTube, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Vudu.


There has been an abundance of low-budget horror films in recent years involving Krampus, the demonic counterpart to Santa Claus that is popular in some European countries. Michael Dougherty’s dark comic take is easily the best of them. He manages to turn family togetherness into a kind of eternal purgatory.

Krampus is released on an extended family, and the quarrels must then unite to combat the evil presence. There are strong performances from Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman and David Koechner along with an eerie atmosphere.

You can stream Krampus on Hulu + Live TV ($ 64.99 per month) and can be purchased ($ 14.99 +) and rented ($ 3.99) from Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube and Vudu.

Merry Christmas

Micro-budget Christmas horror movies have messed up streaming services in recent years. Ryan Nelson’s tough production, however, rises above the herd with sympathetic performances and a cheerfully gruesome tone.

This film enthusiastically embraces alternative main courses for Christmas dinner. When a lone office drone is invited home to his beautiful colleague, he quickly discovers that he may be more than just a guest.

You can stream Merry Christmas on Paramount + ($ 4.99 per month), Vudu (free with ads), Pluto TV (free with ads), Epix ($ 5.99 per month), and can be purchased ($ 9.99 +) and rented ($ 3.99 + ) from Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Apple TV and through many libraries on Hoopla.

Santa’s Killing

The pun in the title is a sign of the ridiculousness of this exuberant campy movie. Santa Claus (former pro wrestler Bill Goldberg) is the son of Satan. He has finally been released from a 1,000-year-old curse that obliged him to bring joy and gifts instead of murder and death every Christmas.

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Now Santa is finally free to go on a killing spree and deliver silly one-liners, like a Christmas lunch Freddy Krueger. The film takes place in Canada and culminates in a major showdown involving curling. It also features mutated reindeer and exploding Christmas presents. The filmmakers know how cartoonish it all is, and feel good about the absurdity.

You can stream Santa’s Killing on Peacock ($ 4.99 + per month) or buy ($ 7.99 +) or rent ($ 3.99 +) it from YouTube, Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.

Quiet night, deadly night

This 1984 slasher launched what is probably the only lasting Christmas horror franchise (there have been four sequels and one reboot so far). Due to a series of Christmas-related traumas in his harsh childhood, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) finally snaps while working in a toy store at Christmas.

Wearing a Santa costume, he begins to pick random victims. The film’s inexcusable ugliness (including a violent finale at an orphanage) inspired protests at the time of release. Now it just feels like a typical slasher movie with some extra sham.

You can rent ($ 1.99 +) Quiet night, deadly night on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play and Vudu.

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Are you traveling away from your home country this season and still want to stream your Christmas favorites? If you encounter geographical constraints on region-specific content, consider using a VPN. It’s actually quite easy. We recommend using ExpressVPN. Just download and install it, connect to a server in your home country and you should have access to your normal streaming content.

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