Stream Wars: Horror


Tayla Curry questions whether homegrown Stan or worldwide phenomenon Netflix will give you the horror movie thrill you're looking for.

It’s Saturday night, and you’re sick of spending your weekends drowning in too many tequila shots at clubs you can hardly remember leaving. It’s time to have your besties over for a sleepover. And what better way than to spend it watching a horror film?

You’ve got the blankets and popcorn ready, however, the question remains … should you stream Stan or Netflix? Which streaming service will provide you with movies that leave you on the edge of your seat? Leave you wishing it would be over already, but somehow, you’re still unable to look away?

Before I can answer that, you need to know the elements needed for a good horror film, and how they differ from a thriller.

Horror films are generally more gore-y and outrageously evil, whereas a thriller tends to focus more on the psychological and realistic elements of sin. While both can cause you to hide under the covers, horror films are usually more unsettling and were created for fear and adrenaline purposes, rather than the mind-blowing plot lines that thrillers are known for. 

So, the three most important elements in a successful horror film, you ask?

1. Exemplary Timing

A horror film can only be deemed successful if the timing is flawless. A necessary element in this genre is a build-up of tension. But this can only occur if the timing is perfect. It must leave you braced on the edge of your seat, snuggled up to the person next to you (or your pillow if you’re brave enough to watch it alone). You’re waiting … and then bam! A pop-up that will see the popcorn flying across the room.  

If you’ve seen The Conjuring (2013), you know what I'm talking about. The clock ticking furiously in the background. The tension building up all around you. The gasp, and the leg pull that takes everyone by surprise.

2. Genuine Fear

There’s scary, and then there’s the grotesque kind of scary. It is in this element that a horror and thriller film can overlap, as they are both causes for genuine fear. However, no type of film does the "wanting-to-look-away-but-unable-to-peel-your-eyes-from-the-screen" feeling as well as a horror.

Great horror films create the type of fear that leaves tears welling in your eyes as you watch the characters long to be saved. It is the type of fear that can only be created by superb acting. It is the type of fear you experience in horror films such as The Blair Witch Project (1999), when all you want is for the characters to be rescued.

3. Believable Acting

We are all aware that horror films require most actors to scream and cry. However, it is the good horror films that require these actors to go further. Although you may be unaware, as an audience, we long for the performance that sees more than just a person looking desperate. We want to feel the desperation on behalf of them.

This feeling of empathy for the characters can only arise with believable acting and a real talent for the screen. It is performances such as Emily Blunt's and John Krasinski's in A Quiet Place (2018) that leave the audience with mixed emotions of fear, sadness and a deep understanding of how far a mother and father would go to protect their children. It is acting such as this that leaves you feeling a mixture of emotions, even after the credits have finished rolling.


Stan provides a number of horror films that extend from kidnappings and monsters to mass murders. It has a small number critically-acclaimed films such as Paranormal Activity (2007), which sees a couple set up video footage after suspecting their house may be haunted, and The Cabin in the Woods (2011), about five friends on a holiday that has gone scarily wrong.

Both these films do seem to meet the criteria for a good horror film, however, they are the best of what this streaming service has to offer. The emotions created by the horror genre on Stan are at times powerful, but are not shocking or moving, the way a great horror selection should be.


Netflix, on the other hand, presents a range of films that meet the criteria of a great horror film. Whether it is The Conjuring (2013), which is about paranormal investigators that are summoned to a farmhouse, or Annabelle (2014), the demonic doll who haunts a family, Netflix has much to offer.  It presents multiple films that will leave you sickened, scared and feeling a deep connection to the protagonists.

I have no doubt that Netflix horror films will leave you on the edge of your seat, wishing you had just decided to go for those tequila shots instead, as you fear for the lives of the characters you have come to love.


So if you are looking for a horror film with exemplary timing, genuine fear and believable acting, Netflix is the way to go. Just be sure to have something or someone you can squeeze on tight to. It might be a long night!

With Netflix taking out the horror genre, after round two we are left with a score of:

Stan: 1, Netflix: 1

Tayla Curry is a first-year Journalism student who often finds herself lost in Instagram quotes and 90s music. If you're looking for her in the summer, she’ll be down the beach.