Looking for a horror fix? Netflix is home to a beautiful goldmine of creepy and dreadful genre pics. From ghosts and demons to murderers on the prowl, to creepy kids and their just-as-creepy parents, there’s a flavor of dread for every terror-hound, and the list of genre films numbers in the hundreds. With so many choices, it can be hard to weed through the murk to find the most effective chillers. Luckily, we’ve done the digital grunt work on your behalf and combed the service for the best offerings currently available in the world of screams. From gruesome throwbacks to new cult favorites, here are our picks for the best horror movies on Netflix right now.
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The Invitation (2015)
Though it may be a slow-build, The Invitation is simultaneously one of the eeriest yet most realistic horror films available on Netflix. The story follows Will (Logan Marshall-Green) after he accepts an invite from his ex-wife for a dinner party. Surrounded by long-lost friends and heartwarming banter, Will can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is awry. Whether it be his ex-wife’s strange new pals or the dark memories that haunt their prior relationship, something is off about the get-together. Will must find some way to cope with the paranoia gnawing at his soul or accept the truths that lie directly in front of him. Is it all in his head or is there something far more menacing occurring? By its culmination, The Invitation will have viewers rethinking any spontaneous RSVPs and plans they may have for the foreseeable future.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Thriller, Horror
Stars: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman
Director: Karyn Kusama
Runtime: 100 minutes
Train to Busan (2016)
A simple recipe for creating a horror movie: Take a group of people, strand them in one location, add monsters, and shake it up. Train to Busan illustrates the flexibility of this formula. Set in South Korea, the film begins with a variety of people, including workaholic businessman Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) and his daughter, Su-an (Kim Su-an), boarding a train for Busan. Unfortunately, an outbreak of zombie flu is striking Korea that very morning, and one of the passengers on the train is infected. Soon enough, a ravenous wave of the undead is chasing the living through the train as the country outside falls into chaos. Train to Busan is a taut, frantic thriller that makes the zombie genre seem fresh again.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Action & Adventure, Art House & International, Horror
Stars: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Runtime: 118 minutes
The Wicker Man (1973)
In this horror-mystery classic, British director Robin Hardy invites audiences to a secluded and quaint Scottish island village in the throes of a young girl’s disappearance. Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) is put on the case following a cryptic letter received anonymously, traveling to the remote locale only to learn rather eerily the missing girl may not have ever existed. With its intense and gripping mystery tinged ever so lightly with horror sequences, The Wicker Man is unrivaled in its production, correlating everything into its story from the sound and music to the filming locations. In 1979, it won the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film in the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, proof of its status as one of the very best horror movies on Netflix.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Classics, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Stars: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee
Director: Robin Hardy
Runtime: 88 minutes
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
Illustrious heart surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) has it all: A perfect family, mansion home, luxury car, bourgeois friends, and an unpredictable, mentally imbalanced teenage protege. Martin (Barry Keoghan), the aforementioned troubled youth, is the estranged son of a man who died while under the knife of Dr. Murphy. We’re not sure exactly how Steven and Martin’s relationship began, but after a series of increasingly odd gestures from Martin, Steven tells him they should start meeting less. The next day, Steven’s son is suddenly paralyzed. After rushing him to the hospital, Steven is summoned by Martin once more, where over lunch, the teenage boy tells Steven he is responsible for his son’s condition, and that if Steven doesn’t kill a member of his own family, a sprawl of ailments will befall the rest of his clan.
From the dark, off-color, idiosyncratic mind of writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, Dogtooth), The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a slow, hypnotic descent into a never-ending hell of bizarre tragedy, with knock-out performances from Farrell, Keoghan, and Nicole Kidman. Sacred Deer also keeps no secrets from us. We know who is causing the evil. We even know why. But the thrill and dread come from watching Martin’s plan slowly come to fruition.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Genre: Horror, Drama, Mystery
Stars: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Runtime: 119 minutes
Joining Netflix this May, Sinister tells the story of Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), whose discovery of disturbing Super 8 footage in his newly bought home invokes a series of, as the title suggests, sinister machinations. The supernatural horror flick was penned by blogger turned screenwriter C. Robert Cargill and Doctor Strange co-writer/director Scott Derrickson, both of whom developed an evil entity with originality over abused horror movie practices. It was even inspired by The Ring, yet another entry among the best horror movies on Netflix. Sinister is an evocative horror experience, showcasing not just a man falling too easily into an unruly addiction but also the aftereffects that shockwave through the family and children, who are the most debilitatingly affected.
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’ Onofrio, James Ransone
Director: Scott Derrickson
Runtime: 109 minutes
2004’s Shutter is a classic entry in the annals of Thai horror, a creeping ghost story with well-placed scares and a plot about karmic retribution. The film opens with Jane (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee) and her boyfriend, a photographer named Tun (Ananda Everingham), enjoying a night of drinking with Tun’s friends, but on their drive home the night takes a turn to tragedy when they hit a woman crossing a road in the dark. They drive off without checking on her, and Tun begins to notice strange distortions in the photos he takes, while Jane has ghastly visions of the woman they killed. For much of the film, Shutter is a straightforward ghost story, but its carefully executed scares and a few neat twists help it stand out from the crowd.
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Genre: Art House & International, Drama, Horror
Stars: Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Achita Sikamana
Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom
Runtime: 95 minutes
Green Room (2015)
If John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 and Tony Kaye’s American History X had a baby, the horrid seed could very well be Jeremy Saulnier’s violent siege-thriller, Green Room. Struggling punk band The Ain’t Rights (Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner) are scrapping for change and low on fuel, and shows are few and far between. When a Portland-based DJ, Tad, screws the band over with another low-paying gig at a Mexican restaurant, the punks are none too pleased. To make up for the botched show, Tad secures a new show for the band through his cousin, Daniel. The catch? The venue is a neo-Nazi compound. The band agrees to take the gig and drives to the outskirts of Portland, where the stronghold is located. After purposefully antagonizing the skinheads with an anti-Nazi cover song, the band prepares to vacate, but not before Yelchin’s character witnesses a dead girl lying in the middle of the venue’s green room, surrounded by Nazis. What follows is one of the most richly layered and violently propelled horror-siege hybrids of the last decade. Oh, and did we mention that the deceptively charismatic skinhead leader is played by none other than Patrick Stewart?
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Horror, Music, Thriller
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Runtime: 94 minutes
Child’s Play (1988)
A solid killer-doll film truly makes the world go round. Okay, maybe not, but if you’re craving terror on two feet (and at roughly 2 feet tall), there’s no better figure to turn to than Chucky and his foul mouth. When serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is gunned down by police, he uses his last dying breaths to enact a voodoo spell, effectively transferring his vile soul into the plastic body of a Good Guy doll. A kind-hearted widow, Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks), purchases the cursed doll for her son Andy (Alex Vincent) from a mysterious street peddler. Well, it looks like Karen should have waited until next Christmas, because once Chucky the Good Guy sets foot in her and Andy’s home, all hell breaks loose. A bit campy, a little dated, but still a ton of fun, Child’s Play is an iconic franchise pic, spawning a canon of films (some better than others), as well as a 2019 reboot starring Aubrey Plaza.
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Stars: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent
Director: Tom Holland
Runtime: 95 minutes
The Witch (2015)
Robert Eggers’ eerie directorial debut, The Witch is a horror film with a distinct vision; a Colonial period-piece with appropriately archaic dialogue and a fascination with Puritan religious anxieties. Set in 17th-century New England, the film follows a family exiled from their settlement due to father William’s (Ralph Ineson) disagreements over scripture. William takes his family — wife Katherine (Kate Dickie), eldest daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), son Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), and twins Mercy and Jonas — to the edge of a dark, remote forest, where they build a home. When an unseen force takes the family’s newborn child, Samuel, however, it becomes clear that something wicked lives in the woods and the rest of the family may soon be in danger, too. The Witch moves confidently, teasing out its scares in a deliberate fashion, and the film’s unique setting and atmosphere are striking.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Horror, Drama, Mystery
Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Director: Robert Eggers
Runtime: 92 minutes
A family of four with a haunted house problem. It’s a trope that’s been done to death, and a fate easily avoidable — just move! In Insidious, father Josh (Patrick Wilson), mother Renai (Rose Byrne), and children Foster and Dalton (Andrew Astor and Ty Simpkins) do just that, but the ghouls follow. For it’s not the house they’re haunting, it’s their son, Dalton. Writer/director James Wan is a horror-savant and an incredibly visual storyteller. Every ominous frame of Insidious is loaded with dread. Even if we’re not facing down one of the film’s many nether beings face-to-face, the camera and finely layered production design keep us trapped in a world of extremes, with rooms that feel too big, making us, the viewers, feel incredibly small. With an orchestral score that could be the melodic sister of The Exorcist, Insidious combines image, sound, and performances for a haunted house chiller you’ll be sure to remember.
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye
Director: James Wan
Runtime: 102 minutes
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Based on Stephen King’s 1992 thriller of the same name, Gerald’s Game was one of Netflix’s earliest successes in the original film game. This profound, provocative story follows a married couple, Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), on a weekend vacation to their lakeside cabin in hopes of reigniting their stagnating relationship. They decide to spice it up with some bondage but Gerald suffers a heart attack in the midst of passion, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed with nobody to free her. Bound and plagued by hallucinations of Gerald and of people from her past, Jessie struggles to free herself and suffers a psychological breakdown. Another fine output from director Mike Flanagan, of Hush (which is next up on our list) and Oculus fame, Gerald’s Game will get the blood pumping despite the story’s bottled setting.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Stars: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Henry Thomas
Director: Mike Flanagan
Runtime: 103 minutes
Mike Flanagan strikes again with the nail-biting Hush, a smart horror film that feels extra uncomfortable because the terror of the film seems like it could easily happen to anyone. Author Maddie Young (Kate Siegel) lives a quiet life in the wilderness with her cat — that is until a masked killer (John Gallagher Jr.) murders Maddie’s closest neighbor, and plans to knife Maddie next. What ensues is a uniquely horrific game of cat-and-mouse, as Maddie must fight for her life against the mysterious madman, a feat made ten times more difficult because Maddie is deaf. Something the masked invader eventually learns. With Hush, Flanagan flips the killer sub-genre on its head, delivering a film filled with rapid-fire terrors both big and small, and a third act that will have you bound to the edge of your couch.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Stars: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco
Director: Mike Flanagan
Runtime: 87 minutes
Ciarán Foy, who brought us Citadel and Sinister II, directs Eli, a slow-burn creeper about an adolescent boy with a rare disease that makes him fall ill when exposed to the outdoors without protection (an ailment similar to the family and children from The Others). When his parents (Kelly Reilly and Max Martini) decide to take him to a remote medical facility, a converted mansion run by the outwardly pleasant Dr. Isabella Horn (Lili Taylor), all is well for some time. The boy, Eli, is glad to be rid of his intense protective gear, reveling in his freedom. But outside of his disease-shield, supernatural events begin to mount, and Eli tries desperately to convince those around him that things around the creepy house are quite amiss. Featuring shades of the aforementioned The Others and The Omen, performances and atmosphere are top-notch in this Netflix original chiller.
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Stars: Charlie Shotwell, Lili Taylor, Max Martini
Director: Mike Flanagan
Runtime: 98 minutes
Under the Shadow (2016)
The Persian film Under the Shadow drew a lot of comparison to the 2014 film The Babadook, and it’s easy to see why. Both films follow mothers caring for troubled children while supernatural forces torment them. Under the Shadow begins during the war between Iran and Iraq in the ’80s. Shideh (Narges Rashidi), a former medical student who had to abandon her career after the theocratic government took power in the Iranian revolution, became a housewife, living with her husband, Iraj (Bobby Naderi), and their daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) in an apartment in Tehran. When Iraj, a doctor, is sent to the field as part of the war effort, Shideh must care for Dorsa alone. After a missile strikes their building, Dorsa begins behaving strangely, convinced that a spirit is haunting the building, and as strange events unfold, Shideh must confront the possibility that something supernatural is happening. Under the Shadow is a moody movie, as much a study of Rashidi’s disenchanted housewife as it is an exercise in terror.
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Genre: Art House & International, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Stars: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi
Director: Babak Anvari
Runtime: 84 minutes
Under the Skin (2013)
Scarlett Johansson is sensational as The Female, a mysterious humanoid that silently traverses the hills and streets of rural Scotland, seducing men into a kind of nether-void in the dark hours of the night. But as her predatory trek progresses, she begins to question her own identity and existence, making for a fine mix of heady-horror-meets-existential-quandary. Director/co-writer Jonathan Glazer went through his own personal hell to get this film into development, but the years of waiting were all worth it. Luscious cinematography, an unsettling score, and jaw-dropping VFX sequences are all staples of Under the Skin, combined with a gripping story that leads to an ultimately otherworldly ending to this epic feature.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Runtime: 108 minutes
Found-footage horror may be a dying art form, yet one of the very few iterations of the genre is a Netflix must-see. Starring Mark Duplass as Josef and the film’s director, Patrick Brice, as its cameraman Aaron Franklin, Creep is a rare breed of horror filmography. Much like The Invitation, Creep takes a while to build momentum, yet still elicits many a cringeworthy experience throughout its entire runtime. Duplass is phenomenal as the oddball neighbor, evoking the perfect blend of comic relief and terror upon his every portrayal. Creep keeps viewers guessing from start to finish, and it’s not until the very end where the real story is brought to life in its most provocative and unsettling dimension. If the first just wasn’t enough, Netflix likewise has its terrifying sequel to get lost within.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Romance
Stars: Mark Duplass, Patrick Brice
Director: Patrick Brice
Runtime: 80 minutes
Get In (2019)
The French horror-thriller Furie (Get In) may not feature any well-known Hollywood stars nor English-speaking dialogue, yet its chilling tale recreated from a Japanese short story is a must-see for every terror junkie. After arriving home from a cleansing family vacation, the Diallos are met by an out-of-place group of residents, whose way of life strays far too close to the disturbing. With an unseen clause written into their lease, which basically bars the police from assisting, the family must learn to live with their new house guests no matter how challenging their newly shared lives may become. Loosely based upon Kobo Abe’s Intruders, a short story in his compilation Beyond the Curve, Get In portrays an experience that is all too real and horrifying: Losing not only one’s living quarters, but also privacy and freedom.
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Stars: Adama Niane, Stéphanie Caillard, Paul Hamy
Director: Olivier Abbou
Runtime: 97 minutes
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Despite not being explicitly horror, Guillermo del Toro’s dark fantasy classic still embodies the scare-tastic trope with relative ease. The Spanish storybook lookalike follows a young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) in the process of moving with her pregnant mother into a large countryside mansion owned and operated by Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez). The story uses real-world concepts, like the Falange political ideology and Spanish unrest, to evoke the burgeoning terror of its underlying narrative. In the process of unveiling the rebirth of Princess Moanna, Ofelia likewise challenges the tropes of belief and the mystical. Lost in the labyrinth of everyday life, Ofelia must come to grips with her destiny as the Underworld itself reaches out to bind her.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Stars: Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Runtime: 115 minutes
It Comes at Night (2017)
An unexpected hit that was projected to make anywhere between $7 million and $12 million upon its release, It Comes at Night captured viewers with intense fear, acquiring a global $19 million at the box office. It garnered immediate acclaim through the writing and directing of Trey Edward Shults, alongside spellbinding acting from Joel Edgerton and Kelvin Harrison Jr., whose role in the film earned him a nomination for Breakthrough Actor in the 2017 Gotham Independent Film Awards. It Comes at Night is not your average horror movie, escaping from jump scares and meaningless deaths to convey the nail-biting and heartbreaking reality of survival. It portrays the shared experiences of a family living deep in the woods following a zombie-like outbreak.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Genre: Drama, Horror
Stars: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Runtime: 91 minutes
The Ritual (2017)
After the death of a close friend mere months before leaving on an expedition together, a group of four decide to make a ritual of the event by way of a hiking trip in Sweden. The getaway seems to serve its purpose with the four, Phil (Arsher Ali), Dom (Sam Troughton), Hutch (Robert James-Collier), and Luke (Rafe Spall), all coming together to mourn the loss of their dear friend. Things start to take a turn for the worse when Dom injures his leg and the four must then embark through an eerie forest that reeks of malcontent and evils unnamed. As the cyclical woodlands draw each party member further and further apart, the reality of their being followed becomes ever-more blatant. Can the expedition escape unharmed, or were they doomed from the very moment of their friend’s untimely demise?
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Genre: Art House & International, Horror
Stars: Rafe Spall, Robert James-Collier, Arsher Ali
Director: David Bruckner
Runtime: 94 minutes
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