The Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now
Last Updated on May 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 The Conjuring, 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!”
Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Kevin Williamson
Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Jerry O’Connell, Timothy Olyphant, Liev Schreiber, Laurie Metcalf, Jamie Kennedy, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Omar Epps, and Sarah Michelle Gellar
Horror sequels are always hit or miss, but Scream 2 falls squarely into the former category—especially considering expectations. Scream was a bona fide phenomenon, so in following up their meta story of a slasher obsessed with scary movies, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson drew inspiration from horror movie franchises themselves. The result is another whip smart slasher, this time set against the backdrop of college as Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott is trying to move on from Woodsboro. But the past always has a habit of catching up, and this whodunit has a clever twist that ties directly into the roots of the original film—even if Williamson had to change the killer’s identity during production when the top secret script was leaked online. Fun and scary in equal measure, Scream 2 is a winner. – Adam Chitwood
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard
Cast: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane, and Katee Sackhoff
Blumhouse Productions reinvented the wheel, so to speak, with the insane success of their tiny-budget Paranormal Activity, which turned a massive profit, but the output of Blumhouse is a bit hit and miss. One of the studio’s 2014 films, Oculus, wasn’t a massive box office hit, but it is an underrated and criminally underseen horror flick all its own, with filmmaker Mike Flanagan bringing a refreshing sensibility to a tired genre.
The story revolves around a pair of grown siblings struggling to cope with the murder-suicide of their parents 11 years earlier. The sister, played by Karen Gillan, is convinced her father was possessed, and so she acquires a haunted mirror that was in their house at the time, travels to the site of the brutal crime, and sets up shop with her brother with the intention of putting an end to this entity once and for all. Flanagan slowly reveals the past crime through a series of perfectly placed flashbacks throughout the movie, with the two narratives operating in parallel. It’s smart and genuinely disturbing, with solid performances all around. If you’re looking for a good scare with a plot that’ll keep you guessing, Oculus is well worth a watch. – 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
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
Curse of Chucky
Director: Don Mancini
Writer: Don Mancini
Cast: Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif, Chantal Quesnelle, Danielle Bisutti, Jordan Gavaris, Jennifer Tilly
If you’ve never watched a Child’s Play movie, the sixth installment probably isn’t where you want to start. However, if you’re a Chucky fan from way back, then Curse of Chucky should be on your watch-list, especially if you’re a completionist. Franchise creator/writer Mancini oversaw this 2013 thriller that gets back to the roots of the evil doll and puts the emphasis more on horror than comedy. And the sooner you watch it, the sooner you’ll be caught up for the next installment, Cult of Chucky, which arrives on Blu-ray this October. – Dave Trumbore
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
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
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Director: Eli Craig
Writer: Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson
Cast: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, and Jesse Moss
The not-so-well-kept secret with horror-comedies is that they’re not particularly easy to write or direct well. To satisfy both camps, there’s a distinct balance that must be kept that takes something more than mere cleverness. It takes passion for both genres and the thoughtfulness to know where they most potently intersect, and Eli Craig, the director and co-writer of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, showcases both in spades in his debut. In reversing the trope of backwoods perverts and maniacs hunting down young teenagers, Craig undermines a crucial and, indeed, political misgiving at the core of a myriad of horror staples. In the titular roles of two lovable “hick” best friends, Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk prove to be at once uproarious and heartfelt as the blood begins spraying all around them, brought on by a cadre of teenagers who begin accidentally offing themselves out of fear of poor Tucker and Dale. Paced brilliantly at a consistently entertaining 89 minutes, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, it’s easy to ignore the sheer joy and surprising warmth of this minor miracle until you realize and appreciate just how rare movies like this really are. – Chris Cabin
Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman
Being a parent is tough. It’s even tougher when you’ve accidentally unleashed The Babadook, a malevolent spirit while reading from a children’s book to your hyperactive little one. Jennifer Kent’s horror film will fry every nerve in your body as we watch beleaguered mother Amelia (Essie Davis) try to retain her sanity and protect her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) from the evil entity “the Babadook”. While the film is a solid supernatural horror story, what makes it particularly good is how Kent thoughtfully captures the dread and doubt a parent feels when it comes to feeling anything less than unconditional support and love for their own child. – Matt Goldberg
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: Clive Barker
Writer: Clive Barker
Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence
Clive Barker’s name has become synonymous with the horror genre, just as his first feature-length film Hellraiser has become a symbol for leather-wearing, sadomasochistic, pain-worshippers. Both descriptors are fitting, though there’s so much more to Barker’s original 1987 film than mere fetishism. There’s a deep mythology here, a rather original one that started with Barker’s novella “The Hellbound Heart” and was carried on in numerous sequel films, comic books, novels, video games, and more.
And it all started with Hellraiser, a film that explores the linked sensations of pain and pleasure on a number of levels. The main players are Larry Cotton and his second wife Julia, who cheated on him with his brother Frank shortly after they were married. This sets up one of the most bizarre yet rich mythologies in cinema history: Julia’s obsession with Frank continues well after his death and is rejuvenated when Frank himself is resurrected. However, Frank needs fresh blood to return to his full health, blood that Julia is happy to supply by luring men back to Frank’s abandoned childhood home and sacrificing them.
And yet, as horrible as this is, it’s mundane compared to the arrival of the Cenobites, beings from another dimension obsessed with carnal experiences elucidating the extremes of pain and pleasure. Their design and presence is fantastic in the truest sense of the word and the practical effects on display here are just as terrifying today as they were in 1987. If you haven’t seen the original or any of the sequels, Hellraiser is the perfect place to start. If you’re not careful, this movie will tear your soul apart. – Dave Trumbore
This post previously appeared in our 35 Best Horror Movies of the Decade So Far article.
Directors: Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sánchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard
Writers: Simon Barrett, Jamie Nash, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, Jason Eisener, John Davies, Brad Miska
Cast: Lawrence Michael Levine, Kelsy Abbot, Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett
All of the V/H/S films have standout segments, but V/H/S/2 is the first to keep the concept quality and production value above a certain level throughout. If you’ve seen the film, you’re well aware that Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans’ “Safe Haven” is the one that blows them all out of the water. It begins with a news crew doing a report on a reclusive, mysterious Indonesian cult and turns into an absolutely outrageous and deeply haunting bloodbath that’ll achieve in 30 minutes what most films can’t do in ninety. “Safe Haven” could have earned a spot on this list all on its own, but paired with “Phase I Clinical Trials,” “A Ride in the Park,” and “Slumber Party Alien Abduction,” it proves that horror anthologies deserve to be seen on the big screen in front of a wide audience. – Perri Nemiroff
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
Director: Can Evrenol
Writers: Ogulcan Eren Akay, Can Evrenol, Cem Ozuduru, Ercin Sadikoglu
Cast: Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Gorkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu, Muharrem Bayrak, Fatih Dokgöz
Easily one of the best Turkish horror films you’ll ever see, Baskin debuted at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and just closed out its festival circuit earlier this month in Melbourne. While it’s divided critics, Evrenol and Baskin have taken home a few awards, notably Fantastic Fest 2015’s Best Director Award. For some, its gore levels were over the top, acting to cover up flaws in the story; for others, the mythology was just getting going when the film’s ending abruptly (and literally) cut it off.
For me, watching Baskin was like seeing a modern, exotic, and refreshing take on classic horror movies like Hellraiser and Phantasm, movies that started off with a strong, gut-wrenching premise and slowly developed that mythology in successive films in the franchise. Sure, some of Baskin’s story is lost in translation, but it’s a testament to Evrenol’s direction and his cast’s performance that the majority of the plot rings through loud and clear. That plot concerns a team of disparate police officers who fall victim to a Black Mass and find themselves in a very real Hell. Proceed at your own peril! - Dave Trumbore
Stephen King's Children of the Corn
Director: Fritz Kiersch
Writers: Stephen King (short story), George Goldsmith (screenplay)
Cast: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong, John Franklin, Courtney Gains
Definitely not the best adaptation of his work, but one of the oldest, Stephen King’s Children of the Corn brings the 1977 short story to life. First published in “Penthouse” and then included in the “Night Shift” collection, Children of the Corn centered on a bickering couple on a road trip to California for a vacation. Their journey takes an unfortunate side track into the Nebraska town of Gatlin where a gruesome and bizarre cult of extremely devout children do not take kindly to outsiders, especially adults.
While this movie starts out as a faithful adaptation of King’s work, it quickly turns into a more traditional heroic story than the short story intended; purists of King’s writing will likely find the movie infuriating. However, it remains as a great example of the “creepy children” that King’s work has become known for, and of the cultural touchstones of Malachi, Isaac, and He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Yeah, you’re probably going to laugh when you see a bunch of corn stuffed into a car’s engine block “disabling” it or when the hero plays a game of “How Many 5th Graders Can You Take in a Fight?” but it’s a classic nonetheless. - Dave Trumbore
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/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
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