After being invited to participate in an early beta-test of the new horror-streaming service, Shudder, I was immediately pumped to shut out my friends and family just to sit at home in my yoga pants, watching horror movies, and having pizza delivered. Honestly, that's not too far off from what actually happened.
First impressions...I love the layout - when you hover over the various page links, the words shake (or shudder...) a little. It doesn't sound that impressive but it's a subtle touch that shows someone put some actual thought into the site's design. The homepage has a nice combination of "featured" categories, "recently added" movies, and plugs for Shudder.TV. I noticed creepy images paired with horror movie quotes scattered throughout the site - I love them. Like the shudder-effect with the links, they feel like a personal touch from someone who loves horror films.
From the homepage, you can access the "collections" section, which is nicely laid out. The collections are all clever and appropriate - there are a lot of them, though. They cover the wide gambit of horror movies; from "Haunted Habitations" to "Bad Genes & Killer Kids." Even though some of the collections have a pretty small selection, they're fun to read through & come in handy when you know you're interested in watching a "Diabolical Documentary" but don't have a specific title in mind.
In addition to the "collections" section, you can also access the "browse" page. This section lists the entire Shudder library (14 pages worth) and allows you to filter and sort to find the movie you want. When I logged into Shudder for the first time, there were 12 pages of movies - now, as I type this three weeks later, there are 14 pages. That's great news as I've already seen a lot of these so I'd like to see some new & unfamiliar titles. I couldn't seem to locate just a simple "search" field, which seems odd. I feel as if it's pretty essential to have the option to quickly search for a specific title.
Shudder.TV is a pretty fun idea - "an endless stream of screams." It's just movie after movie on a constant stream. It's a feature that sets Shudder apart from the more major players in the "streaming media" game. I've turned to it a couple times when I couldn't really think of anything I felt like watching. It's kinda neat to think a bunch of strangers are watching the same movie as you at the same time. Also, from what I can tell, the Shudder.TV feature can be accessed by non-subscribers. If that is the case, that is pretty fantastic.
The main thing Shudder needs to work on is beefing up their library. I can only assume that will come along with an increased number of subscribers. In addition to adding a "search" field, they would also benefit from adding an option to add titles to a "watch later" list. As far as I can tell, that is not something that's offered on the current site. I love skimming through the full library and just selecting everything I want to watch so I can come back to my list at a later time. Hopefully, this gets added at some point (*hint hint* to you folks at Shudder). As for which devices you can access Shudder on...currently, Shudder is available via desktop, various Android and iOS devices, and Roku players & TV models. Rumor has it that, once the beta phase is over, Shudder will make their way over to PlayStation and XBox.
Shudder, which happens to be the brainchild of AMC and Dramafever (a streaming service for Korean TV), is apparently still in its beta phase but is accepting new subscribers. They are currently offering new members a 14-day free trial, along with a subscription to either a monthly ($4.99/month) or yearly ($49.99/year) plan. With such a visually appealing website, witty "collection" names, and decent, albeit light, movie library, Shudder is off to a great start and on its way to becoming a streaming success. So to all you horror fans, go sign up for the 14-day free trial and watch all the horror movies your hearts desire. Then, if you like what you see, continue with a monthly or yearly subscription so they can bulk up their movie selection.