The Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now
Last Updated on October 12th
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 Under the Shadow, 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!”
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
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Writers: Bong Joon Ho, Ha Won-jun, Baek Chul-hyun
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-Bong, Park Hae-il, Doona Bae, Ko Ah-sung, Oh Dal-su
Yeah, not the 2013 sci-fi mess from the Twilight author, but the 2006 creature feature from the writer/director of Snowpiercer and Okja. Creature features are rare treats these days; The Host is one of the best in recent years. Set in Seoul, South Korea, the movie centers on a poor, dysfunctional family that earns money through selling snacks along the river’s edge. When a horrific monster emerges from the river itself and steals away the family’s youngest member, they must get their acts together if they have any hope of saving her.
The Host is one of those rare films that delivers fun creature effects centered around an emotional core, making it a worthwhile watch at any time. – Dave Trumbore
Director: Mel Brooks
Writers: Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks,
Cast: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr
If you want a little comedy mixed in with your horror (or vice versa), look no further than Brooks’ classic, Young Frankenstein. One of the comedy legend’s best features, this movie takes advantage of the many tropes and beloved aspects of the Frankenstein franchise. Endlessly quotable and a real pleasure for fans who are familiar with both Frankenstein films and Brooks’ other work, Young Frankenstein is a must-watch movie, hands down. – Dave Trumbore
The Addams Family
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer: Charles Addams (characters), Caroline Thompson and Larry Wilson (written by)
Cast: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman, Judith Malina, Carel Struycken, Christopher Hart, John Franklin
Lightening things up a bit is The Addams Family, the 1991 horror comedy that was the first big-screen adaptation for the Charlie Addams’ comics. Sonnenfeld’s vision drew inspiration not only from these cartoons but from the live-action TV series that brought the titular family to life in the 60s; Orion Pictures held the rights to both, but Paramount Pictures stepped in to finish out the production and handle domestic distribution. It’s another example of how a solid, crowd-pleasing movie can come out of a tumultuous production.
The Addams Family plot centered on the presumed reunion between Gomez and his brother Fester after a 25-year absence. Unfortunately for Gomez, there are some shenanigans afoot as Fester may not be who he claims to be. And while the titular family is normally quite comfortable within the confines of their mansion and estate, more unexpected comedy came when the Addams family was forced to find jobs in the modern world. As far as horror movies go, there are surely some scarier ones out there, but in the realm of horror-comedies this remains a 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: Nick Murphy
Writers: Stephen Volk and Nick Murphy
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, and Isaac Hempstead Wright
Director Nick Murphy delivers a terrific, brooding period horror film in The Awakening, with a great central performance by Rebecca Hall as Florence Cathcart, a paranormal debunker working in 1921 England. When a boys boarding school claims they’re being haunted by a ghost, Cathcart goes to investigate and discovers that this time there might actually be a specter in her midst. The film features some wonderful twists and turns, and at its best is reminiscent of The Sixth Sense. This is a film that slipped by too many people when it was released, but you should definitely carve out some time for it. – 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
John Dies at the End
Director: Don Coscarelli
Writers: Don Coscarelli (written for the screen by), David Wong (based on the story by)
Cast: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Doug Jones
Sometimes you need a few laughs to break up all the tension in a horror movie. John Dies at the End is one of the best new entries to the horror/comedy genre, owing to David Wong’s online webserial in the early 2000s providing the source material. And who better than Don Coscarelli, director of Phantasm, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, to bring this dark comedy to life.
The story centers on David Wong and his buddy John Cheese, who both end up experiencing the effects of a drug dubbed “Soy Sauce,” effects which cause them to slip in and out of the timeline and perceive alternate dimensions … or just straight up hallucinate. What follows is a wacky cavalcade of aliens, bizarre creatures, time-travel, phantom limbs, evil supercomputers and a surprisingly talented dog. It’s a fun little romp through a drug-fueled fantasy story in which almost anything is possible. But does the title give away the ending? You’ll have to watch to find out! - 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
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Washington Irving (story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”), Kevin Yagher and Andrew Kevin Walker (screen story), Andrew Kevin Walker (screenplay)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Ian McDiarmid, and Christopher Walken
No list of horror story adaptations is complete without American storyteller Washington Irving‘s 1820 short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Almost 180 years after that tome came into existence, Paramount Pictures produced a feature film version of the classic in 1999’s Sleepy Hollow. The adaptation starred Johnny Depp fresh off of his performance in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which also happened to star Sleep Hollow‘s leading lady Christina Ricci.
This Academy Award-winning film–earning a well-deserved Oscar for its Art/Set direction–followed Ichabod Crane (Depp), a peculiar police constable from New York City who is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of violent murders by the legendary Headless Horseman. What followed was a dark tale of intrigue, mystery, romance, and action the folded forensic science into a well-trod mythology, one that cautions viewers not to make a deal with a devil. - Dave Trumbore
Previously posted on Chris’ Best Horror Movies of the 90s article.
Director: Antonia Bird
Writers: Ted Griffin
Cast: Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, David Arquette
In any decently run universe, this malevolent dark comedy would have skyrocketed director Antonia Bird to the top of Hollywood’s A-list, and though she developed several projects with the big studios, none of them got off the ground, save the minor miracle, Ravenous. An act of military cowardice lands Guy Pearce’s Lieutenant Boyd at the all-but-deserted Fort Spencer in the Sierra Nevadas, and soon after, the few men left at the Fort, along with an enigmatic stranger (Robert Carlyle), begin eating one another. The story works off the folk tale of the Wendigo, but it’s real thematic meat (ha!) is in the price and rewards of the bloodshed and death of others. Boyd was to be honored as a hero until it’s revealed that he allowed his men to die, and the act of eating flesh does indeed heal wounds and clear disease from the body in Bird’s wild world. The ugly truth that is faced here is that the duplicitous and cowardly live longer than others in high-stakes situations because they don’t pretend to have a moral concept of honor. The late Bird, aided by an excellent score by Michael Nyman and Blur frontman Damon Albarn, has a riotous, occasionally hugely disturbing time peeling back the veil of the frontier hero with wicked relish. - Chris Cabin
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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