The hot summer months tend to be synonymous with vacationing, and road-tripping ranks high among the top ways to travel on holiday. But so many things can go wrong on the open road, and horror exploits all of it. Car troubles, creepy rest stops, and seedy motels don’t compare to humanity’s worst prowling the highways.
Road trip-based horror movies help ensure you’ll never want to leave your couch again.
This week’s streaming picks are dedicated to the road trip and will make you happy to stay home to avoid encounters with psychopaths, vampires, and bizarre parasites.
Here’s where you can stream them this week.
Splinter – Kanopy, Plex, Pluto TV, Prime Video, Tubi, Vudu
In this fun creature feature, a road trip gets stalled out by the unexpected. A young couple sets off for a romantic camping getaway but instead gets car-jacked by an escaped convict and his girlfriend. Then they get a flat tire that prompts them to seek help from a nearby gas station. Something is very, very wrong there, and the foursome must team up against a bizarre parasite infecting everything. A parasite that spreads and turns its hosts into deadly beings. Brutal, suspenseful, and with a highly cool creature concept, Splinter hides its low budget well.
Dead End – Plex, Vudu
It’s late, and Frank Harrington (Ray Wise) still has a long drive ahead of him to get to his in-laws on Christmas Eve. His eyelids are growing heavier by the mile; Frank decides to try a shortcut in the middle of nowhere. After narrowly avoiding a car crash, Frank’s detour proves to be a nightmare when he and his family become haunted by paranormal activity and a strange hearse. Dead End is a small, quiet little haunter with a great cast. Lin Shaye plays Frank’s wife, with Alexandra Holden as Frank’s daughter. Toggling between eerie chills and dark comedy, Dead End offers some holiday chills to help cool the summer months.
The Vanishing – Criterion Channel
Rex and Saskia are traveling on holiday and make a routine stop to refuel. While there, Saskia enters the gas station for refreshments but never returns. Three years pass and Rex remains unable to move past Saskia’s disappearance, and that obsession gets exacerbated by mysterious postcards from her kidnapper. Based on the novel The Golden Egg, this Dutch thriller unfurls a slow, meditative portrait of loss, grief, and obsession. It builds to an unforgettable finale that sticks with you. If you’re looking for bleak and unsettling, this is the pick for you. The road trip here is only the inciting event, offering instead the grim aftermath of a road trip gone wrong.
Suck – Prime Video
Road trip horror movies tend to lean toward pessimism or more serious fare. Suck showcases the humorous side of road trip hiccups. This horror-comedy musical follows a struggling band touring across Canada and the US, struggling to get gigs and keep afloat. They’re the definition of a starving artist until bassist Jennifer gets bitten by a master vampire. Jennifer’s stage presence skyrockets, growing their audience tenfold, but it comes with an insatiable lust for blood that compounds their road-tripping woes. It’s a silly yet endearing rock horror-comedy that features Malcolm McDowell as Eddie Van Helsing. Look for a slew of notable cameos from Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, and Moby playing hilariously against type.
The Hitcher – Cinemax
This road trip nightmare stars C. Thomas Howell as Jim Halsey, a young man driving from Chicago to San Diego to deliver a car. The solitude on isolated stretches of Texas highway instills severe drowsiness, so Jim picks up a hitchhiker to stave off sleep. He soon learns that his mysterious Hitcher (Rutger Hauer) is a deranged killer who made Jim his latest target in a dangerous cat and mouse game. No road trip horror list would be complete without a mention of The Hitcher. Even though Hauer’s performance could carry the film alone, screenwriter Eric Red (Bad Moon, Near Dark) and director Robert Harmon bring their A-game to deliver one of the best ‘80s gems.