Recently I completed my free trial for Shudder, a streaming service that aims to “kill Netflix” as far as selection of horror movies is concerned. As a small time Horror aficionado myself, I felt compelled to give it a try.
So does Shudder live up to its promises?
Kind of, but not in the ways that actually matter.
First, the Android App (the platform on which I tested Shudder) is impeccably well designed. It’s fast, smooth, well organized, and one of the most intuitive app experiences I’ve ever had. Design-wise, this may be one of the best apps presently on the Google Play store. However, a streaming service does not live by user interface design. It lives (and dies) by content.
So, as far as content goes, does Shudder kill Netflix? Sort of. They do have a decently sized selection. It is most definitely larger than Netflix’s horror films section. So in technical terms, they have a solid selling point here. It’s just a shame that so few of the films are any good.
Rarely do I see such a well designed app utterly unaccompanied by content worth starting it up for. The claim is that Shudder “kills Netflix on selection”, but true as this may be, it’s pointless if the selection is bad to begin with.
More so than even Netflix, the service has tons of low budget films “like” the one you want to watch, but seldom do they have what you ACTUALLY want to watch — I certainly never found the things I wanted to see. Classic 70’s and 80’s slasher films, skeezy 90’s sex-horror, John Carpenter B-Movies, Hammer Horror, experimental 60’s fare, and even public domain 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s films are all conspicuous by their absence. Most of the selection is divided into 2 categories: Asian Horror films, and uber-low budget “shock-schlack”: stuff that flies in under the radar because no radar is respectable enough to display it. Most is of exceedingly low quality, with probably the only decent thing I found to watch being a super-campy 80’s film called “The Stuff” which with full honestly I can say I actually enjoyed, so thank God for that.
Unfortunately, I came for a laundry list of movies, not just one. There are still video rental stores in my city, and if I just wanted one film, I’d go to those. As a long-term subscription service Shudder unfortunately lacks value.
My advice? Plan out a camp-horror marathon weekend with some friends, get the free trial, and go to town. Just cancel the trial before they bill you. It’s simply not worth actual money with their current selection.
Maybe Shudder will get better with time. I hope it does. Most of what Netflix has is serious garbage, and Amazon Prime’s free movie streaming has one hell of a neutered selection. The day may come when Shudder rises to elevate itself above the sub-Sharknado quality selection it currently has, and takes its place among the pantheon of great streaming services.
All I know is that it is not this day.
Enjoy the free trial, but if you’re a serious horror fan, I’d advise you to keep looking.