The Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now
Last Updated on January 10th
Any time is the right time to watch a horror movie. Waiting for October to indulge in frightening films is the old way to get your tricks and treats, like renting from Blockbuster or not using Treatster to map out which houses give out the best candy. No, in the modern world you can sit back and enjoy your scares from the comfort of your own couch thanks to screaming streaming content from Netflix.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the Best Horror Movies on Netflix right now, an evolving list that will provide you with classic horror selections and modern cuts to get your fright fix. This month, you can find modern takes on Stephen King stories to contemporary horror like Apostle, and more. There’s something for everyone here and more to come as Netflix continues to expand its catalog. “Viewer beware, you’re in for a scare!”
Shaun of the Dead
Writer: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Peter Serafinowicz, Rafe Spall, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Matt Lucas
Shaun of the Dead may not be straight-up horror, but this contemporary classic horror-comedy has done more for the zombie sub-genre than many other films of its ilk over the years. It opened the U.S. market to the singular talents of Wright, Pegg, and Frost, absolutely catapulting their careers into the stratosphere. It also served as the anchor for the trio’s “Blood and Ice Cream” trilogy of films. So whether it’s just to enjoy a solid zombie flick with plenty of homages to classics in the sub-genre, a fantastic horror-comedy with expert timing and a flawless round of performances, or for one of the best uses of “Queen” in a soundtrack ever, revisit this gem anytime of the year. – Dave Trumbore
Writer: Gareth Evans
Cast: Dan Stevens, Richard Elfyn, Paul Higgins
You are not ready for Apostle. You may think you’re ready for Apostle, but this brutal piece of British folk horror boasts the kind of crazy butchery that will have you watching through squinted eyes and squirming in your seat. Director Gareth Evans, best known for his action masterpieces The Raid and The Raid 2, trades combat for carnage in his new Netflix film, building a sense of sickening tension for the first half before flaying flesh and mangling bodies with abandon when the cult craziness boils over.
Apostle tackles the subjects of faith and fringe society with a lot of heart and some batshit crazy zeal. This film loves its outsiders, even as it inflicts all manner of torment upon them, and Evans clearly has a blast creating a rich mythology to drop them in. It’s a surprising, sometimes shocking cult horror movie that mixes the legacy of The Wicker Man with carnal, fleshy frights and a hint of freaky folklore. It’ll make you groan and grimace through the torment, but it will get your heart racing in all the right ways, even when it occasionally stumbles over its own ambition. - Haleigh Foutch
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, and Harvey Scrimshaw
Wouldst thou like to live deliciously? So bellows The Witch, one of the scariest (and prettiest) horror movies in recent memory. This wholly original story was billed as “A New England Folktale,” and indeed it takes place in 1630s New England and follows a family who has been banished from a Puritan plantation for being too religious. Now secluded near the woods, strange happenings begin to occur—like the kidnapping of their baby—and the parents fall further and further into madness, all the while young Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy, who you know from Split) tries to hold everything together. It’s gorgeous, terrifying, and builds to an operatic finale that you won’t soon forget. This isn’t your typical jump-scare or masked menace horror flick. It’s something far more sinister. – Adam Chitwood
Director: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke
Writer: Yolanda Ramke
Cast: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, Caren Pistorius, Kris McQuade, Natasha Wanganeen, Bruce R. Carter, Simone Landers, David Gulpilil
You’d be forgiven for feeling a bit worn-out on the post-apocalyptic zombie sub-genre, but there’s every reason to put that feeling aside when it comes to Cargo.
Cargo is a tightly focused thriller that’s less concerned about shaking up this particular sub-genre and more intent on delivering solid performances from Freeman and the supporting cast. It’s the interactions between the humans–strangers all, some of the same race and gender, some not–that drive home both the decency and innate inhumanity mankind is capable of. There are some Colonialist aspects of the storytelling that aren’t fully fleshed out, to be honest, but Cargo delivers some creepy “zombies” and really makes you feel for the protagonists, a rare feat in this horror sub-genre. - Dave Trumbore
Director/Writer: Joel Edgerton
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman, and Rebecca Hall
Few thought that actor Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut would be a disturbing little horror gem, but here we are. Produced by Blumhouse, The Gift stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall as a couple who become intimidated by a figure from Bateman’s past. The film plays out as a small-scale character story with lots of tension and terrific performances from the three leads, but it’s the thematic focus of the movie that really leaves a mark. To say more would be to spoil the experience, but give The Gift a shot and you won’t be disappointed. – Adam Chitwood
Director: David Bruckner
Writers: Joe Barton, Adam Nevill (Novel)
Cast: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton, Paul Reid, Maria Erwolter
The Ritual features, hands down, one of the creepiest movie monster creations in recent years. That’s worth a watch by itself. Barton/Nevill’s story may have a familiar setup at the outset, but there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing; a truly traumatic moment that happens early on in the telling will get you to sit up and pay attention because it signals that The Ritual is not your average horror movie.
The story centers on a group of former college friends who plan a getaway, one that soon takes a turn for the horrific–there’s your familiar setup. To tell you more would be to give away too much, but it should suffice to say that the original monster creation is half the fun, and the other half is the introspective psychological journey that one of the main characters goes on. It’s a rare treat in “Movies for Guys” these days, rarer still in the horror genre. Watch this one soon before you’re spoiled. - Dave Trumbore
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, Adrian Brody, Brendan Gleeson, Judy Greer, Michael Pitt, Jesse Eisenberg
Shyamalan’s own success with The Sixth Sense in 1999 backed him into a corner of sorts regarding the reception of his other movies that came after it. Case in point: The Village. Though this aesthetically historical slow-burn thriller came five years after the smash-hit Six Sense, Shyamalan’s films still carried the pop culture tag of “The Twist”, a tag that was well-deserved while also becoming a sort of distraction. So while The Village didn’t shy away from this expectation, it’s still a very well-crafted horror flick.
The Village centers on a secluded town in the Pennsylvania countryside whose townspeople follow a strict set of rules. Their core belief is that crossing over the village’s boundaries will leave them vulnerable to the monsters that await in the woods beyond. What transpires in the story goes far beyond the expectations set up by this familiar premise, dipping into issues of disabilities, communication problems, the rule of authority, and the endlessly curious nature of humans, and feeling very much like a contemporary take on “The Giver.” Now that we’ve had some buffer time and audiences seem to be coming back around to Shyamalan’s films, this one’s worth a revisit. - Dave Trumbore
Director: Raul Garcia
Writers: Raul Garcia and Stéphan Roelants, based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe
Cast: Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi (archival), Julian Sands, Guillermo del Toro, Roger Corman, Stephen Hughes, Cornelia Funke
If you’re a fan of Poe’s works and would love to see unique animated adaptations of some of his best titles, Extraordinary Tales is a must-watch. If you only have a passing interest in Poe’s tales but would love to hear from horror genre icons like the late Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi, and the blessedly still with us Julian Sands, Guillermo del Toro, and Roger Corman (ever so briefly), this is also of interest. It’s a dark, macabre anthology that explores Poe’s equally morbid imagination, and it’s perfect dark-and-stormy-night entertainment.
Garcia’s Extraordinary Tales features five distinct types of animation to bring each of the stories to life. Some of them are easier on the eye than others, but don’t be dissuaded by the rather clunky visual aesthetic that greets you with the anthology’s frame story … in fact, don’t be too put off by the frame story overall, which is unnecessary but not indicative of the tales themselves. Instead, you’ll be treated to interesting adaptations of “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, and “The Masque of the Red Death.” Check it out the next time you’re feeling a little Gothic; you won’t be disappointed. - Dave Trumbore
Director: James Wan
Writer: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Mackenzie Foy, Joey King, Hayley McFarland
James Wan had already made a name for himself in the horror genre with mega-franchise starters SAW in 2004 and Insidious in 2010, and he pulled off the impossible once again with the 2013 pic, The Conjuring. This is a film that was “so scary and intense” at the time that Warner Bros. slapped it with an R rating despite the fact that there was no blood, gore, excessive violence, or profanity. I can remember a convention hall full of people muttering to themselves and shifting nervously as the “clapping game” scene played out, to gasps and thunderous applause. You can relive the same terrifying experience in the comfort of your own home.
The Conjuring introduces Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga), based on the real-life paranormal investigators. They attempt to help the traumatized Perron family whose farmhouse harbors a dark and deadly presence. The Warrens themselves soon discover that this is no mere hoax, but something much more sinister. The Conjuring is a fantastic addition to the horror genre and the start of a solid franchise, so go back to where it all began with this new Netflix addition. - Dave Trumbore
This review snippet comes from Haleigh Foutch’s full review of the movie.
Director: Zak Hilditch
Writers: Zak Hilditch, Stephen King
Cast: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Billy Schmid, Kaitlyn Bernard, Brian d’Arcy James, Neal McDonough
1922 struggles a bit with pacing, rushing the early bits and dragging out Wilf’s long fall. The film tests audience patience a bit, the epitome of a slow burn. But 1922 also has the strength of a simple, direct story, which Hilditch honors in full (aside from one last-minute tweak) by crafting the simmering tension of certain dread. Atmospheric and sparing, 1922 is one of King’s subtle nightmares, but it packs a punch by inspecting the familiar terrors of masculine pride gone wrong and the sinking spiritual punishment of a man who chooses his own damnation. - Haleigh Foutch
Train to Busan
This entry originally appeared in our article The 18 Best Movies You May Have Missed in 2016.
Director: Sang-ho Yeon
Writer: Joo-Suk Park, Sang-ho Yeon
Cast: Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung
Writer-director Sang-Ho Yeon‘s Train to Busan takes a concept as reductive as “zombies on a train” and turns it into a propulsive, action-packed, and surprisingly touching spin on the burnt out zombie genre. The film follows a selfish businessman and his neglected daughter when she begs him to take her home to her mother for her birthday. They board the train just as the world is falling to the zombie apocalypse, and Yeon always makes it feel like there’s never a second to spare. One wrong step, one missed opportunity, and our characters become raging, contorted flesh-eaters. These zombies aren’t just fast; they’re rabid and remarkably infectious (and surprisingly, they pull off that zombie wave thing that was so ridiculous in World War Z). Along the way, they team up with a fantastic cast of secondary characters that you actually give a flying hoot about, especially Dong-seok Ma‘s Sang Hwa, a buff badass and father to be who’ll do whatever it takes to protect what he loves. The film gets a little heavy-handed with the “selfishness is bad” motif at points, but it’s never enough to drag down the breathless action or commanding characters, and the film is a well-needed shot in the ass to the genre that has largely floundered in the wake of The Walking Dead.— Haleigh Foutch
This review is a snippet of Haleigh Foutch’s full review of the film.
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard, Stephen King
Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Carl Struycken, Henry Thomas
Gerald’s Game is the impossible adaptation, but Flanagan has proven himself one hell of an idea man with his string of horror hits, and finding a way to make Gerald’s Game work is his most impressive feat yet. This is an excellent King adaptation. It’s an excellent psychological horror that investigates hard topics without flinching and without exploiting. It’s a soulful piece with its heart and its head firmly in the right place; a rejection of toxic masculinity, oppressive silence, and cycles of abuse. It’s an embrace of female strength, outright, and it’s as moving as it is consummately thrilling. - Haleigh Foutch
The Sixth Sense
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writers: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Mischa Barton
You probably already know the twist in The Sixth Sense, but even if you saw through Shyamalan’s smokescreen, this thriller’s worth a repeat watch. After writing/directing a pair of dramedies, Shyamalan made the genre switch to horror with this film, one that put his career on a whole new trajectory. For a time, even Shyamalan’s most devoted fans had a hard time arguing that The Sixth Sense wasn’t the writer/director’s best effort, but recent years have shown that Shyamalan isn’t just a one-twist pony. Go back to the beginning of the M. Night Cinemaverse with this 1999 classic. – Dave Trumbore
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel
Cast: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan
If you’re looking for a taut psychological “final girl” thriller that isn’t shy on violence but mostly avoids the pitfalls of sexualized assault, you’d do well to check out the 2016 film, Hush. It’s an interesting installment in the recent vogue of home invasion thrillers, but one that’s quite focused on the deranged killer (Gallagher Jr.) and the object of his murderous obsession, Maddie (Siegel). The twist here is that Maddie is a deaf mute, which provides an added twist to the menace present just outside the reach of her remaining senses and really ups the tension since audiences can here everything the killer says.
Hush falls somewhere in line with films like You’re Next, which featured a relatively more complex cast and plot but has the same pro-female survivalist feel, and I Spit on Your Grave, just without the overt sexual violence and exploitation. In that respect, Hush plays things a bit safer than more incendiary films, but it’s also purer with respect to the spirit of the terror at the heart of the conflict.There are other tropes here which will irritate you, of course, but most of them are soon remedied. Even the music gets in on the act, playing throughout the movie in a subtle way that makes it almost disappear beneath ambient noise, at times fading out completely. Hush is a worthwhile addition to any horror library, not just Netflix’s streaming edition. - Dave Trumbore
Director/Writer: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, and Lili Sepe
It Follows is not only one of the best horror movies of the last few years, it’s also one of the most handsomely crafted indies in recent memory. Filmmaker David Robert Mitchell conjures the story of an unseen force that “follows”, unflinchingly, until it catches up with its target. It can only be passed on through sex, one person giving it to another, and after a fateful one night stand Maika Monroe’s character Jay finds herself in its path. Mike Gioulakis’ cinematography favors elegantly composed wide angles to unsettling effect, and Disasterpiece turns out an 80s-infused score that evokes nostalgia for that horror-filled decade while standing on its own as a uniquely creepy piece of movie music. Terrifying, gorgeous, and striking, It Follows is damn fine entertainment for any occasion. – Adam Chitwood
Under the Shadow
This entry originally appeared in our Best Horror Movies of 2016 list.
Director: Babak Anvari
Writers: Babak Anvari
Cast: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Ray Haratian, Arash Marandi
From Tehran comes Under the Shadow, a politically tantalizing, angry tale of repressed spirits unleashed upon the world. Set in the 1980s, Babak Anvari’s story begins with a not-surprising yet nevertheless infuriating scene: Narges Rashidi’s Shideh, a wife and mother, is being refused re-entry to the medical college due to her leftist leanings during the Iran-Iraq War. Her well-meaning yet incessantly condescending husband doesn’t see the big deal, while her daughter can hardly pay attention beyond her dolly. It’s when the husband leaves for the front that things start getting really strange though, both in the supernatural way and the all-too-real way. Mysterious happenings, including Shideh’s daughter’s increasing madness and sickness, are blamed on the arrival of a fabled Djinn, a demonic force of great power, while a missile lands in the top floor of Shideh’s building without going off. The surreal experience of wartime in Iran only enflames the nightmarish conjuring of the supposed Djinn and its agents as it plagues Shideh. Anvari isn’t much for artifice but his sense of visual invention is apparent early on, especially when the Djinn begins tossing people around. Confined largely to one apartment complex, Under the Shadow is perhaps the boldest emblem of the repressed rage felt by women in Iran to be released since A Separation, and announces Anvari as one of the most promising young Iranian directors currently working. — Chris Cabin
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writers: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, John Carroll Lynch
Despite her early success with the powerful Michelle Rodriguez vehicle Girlfight, Karyn Kusama has spent the last decade in the film industry battling studio interventions (with the misguided Aeon Flux) and unexpectedly sour critical reception (I’m looking at you, Jennifer’s Body). But with The Invitation, a deliciously composed chamber piece, Kusama has easily established herself as a horror filmmaker of the auteur set.
Part Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, part House of the Devil, The Invitation centers around a simple enough premise: a dinner party meant to reunite old friends and ex-lovers, that uses its slight runtime to unzip decades-long trauma and, along with it, an all too human center of evil. Like many films of the genre, it’s best to go in cold here, as Kusama’s careful calibration causes the reveal of even simple plot points to feel earth-shatteringly weighty. Probably best defined as a slasher film at its very core, The Invitation holds its cards until the last possible moment, gleefully teetering between supernatural horror and existentialist drama before exploding into a cuttingly violent climax. Bolstered by a near flawless cast, a tightly-wound, untraditional soundtrack and fabulously claustrophobic cinematography, The Invitation has all the ingredients of an instant indie horror classic. - Aubrey Page
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