Halloween may be over but any time is the right time to watch a horror movie. The adrenaline rush of a well-executed jump scare never gets old – and Netflix has a slew of scary flicks to set the mood.
Fans of horror will be the first to admit that much of their beloved genre is really, really terrible. And anyone with a Netflix account knows the streaming platform has a similarly poor good-to-bad ratio of scary movies, so finding one worth watching is no mean feat. We’ve done the heavy lifting to compile a list of 25 of the best horror movies you can stream right now.
From the old-school classics and the guilty gory pleasures to the unsettling flicks that burrow into your brain and never find their way out, the list has it all.
And if you’re still shaking your head at the thought of subjecting yourself to two hours of self-inflicted fear, maybe the new study suggesting that horror fans are coping better post-pandemic will be enough to get you over to the dark side.
1) The Strangers (2008)
It’s become increasingly rare that a horror flick will actually stick with you past the credits but over a decade later andThe Strangers remains as terrifying as ever. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star as Kristen and James whose stay at a remote vacation home is interrupted by a knock at the door. Things slowly but surely build to a horrifying crescendo. A disturbing but simple premise makes for a cult sleeper hit that stands the test of time, time and time again.
2) The Blair Witch Project (1999)
No horror list would be complete without The Blair Witch Project – and as of summer this year, it is finally on Netflix. Twenty-two years since its release and the story will still keep you up at night. For those who don’t know, the film– derived from a slim, 35-page screenplay – tells the story of three student filmmakers who venture into the forest to shoot a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. The three have disappeared but their camera and its footage is discovered a year later. While The Blair Witch Project isn’t the first found-footage film ever, it is the one that changed everything.
3) 1922 (2017)
1922 is one of the many recent Stephen King adaptations from the streaming giant. Thomas Jane (Boogie Nights, The Mist) stars as Wilfred James, a farmer in Nebraska who conspires with his teenage son to murder his wife for financial gain. Of course, that’s not where the story ends. Haunting memories, rotting corpses, and an unnatural number of vermin all crop up in the murder’s aftermath.
4) Apostle (2018)
Set in early 20th century London, Apostle sees Thomas Richardson return home to find his sister is being held for ransom by a religious cult. There are notes of the Wicker Man in the earlier parts of Apostle, before the dreamy style gives way to something more overtly horrific.
5) Cam (2018)
A doppelgänger horror for the digital age, Cam is set within the world of webcam porn. The Handmaid’s Tale star Madeline Brewer plays Alice, a “cam girl” who discovers an exact replica of herself online. The techno-thriller is a disturbing, salacious and suspenseful romp that’ll have you thinking about the film’s end long after the credits roll.
6) Hush (2016)
Co-written with its star Kate Siegal, Hush is a tense home invasion film that takes place over one night. Siegal plays Maddie Young, a deaf writer living in isolation in the middle of the woods when a masked killer begins stalking her. The cat and mouse concept might be clichèd, but its execution in Hush is astounding.
7) There’s Someone Inside Your House (2021)
Not all great horror movies are quality horror movies. Sometimes they’re just good old throwaway fun and that’s ok too. Netflix’s latest offering There’s Someone Inside Your House is a case in point, will you be entertained? Yes. Will you recommend this to your friends? Probably not. Théodore Pellerin stars in a high-school slasher in which teens are murdered one-by-one by an unidentified killer that wears masks of their victim’s face.
8) Hereditary (2018)
Toni Collette is outstanding in Ari Aster’s debut feature about a grieving family – a classic set-up which is given a disturbing and highly effective update in Hereditary. Aster’s directorial stamp is all over this film; it is beautifully shot, thoughtful and slow-cooked to perfection. The Independent called it “one of the most singularly terrifying, singularly disturbing horror films in years”.
9) Sinister (2012)
Ethan Hawke stars as true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt who, in a desperate move to help his failing career, moves his unwitting family to a house whose previous inhabitants had been found dead in the garden. Oswalt stumbles upon a box of home videos whose grainy footage suggest something supernatural is at play. Hawke’s performance as the desperate and twitchy Oswalt moves this film along – its sequel is worth a watch too.
10) Gerald’s Game (2017)
Director Mike Flanagan triumphs in this excellent adaptation of Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name. The Haunting of Hill House’s Carla Gugino gives a stand-out performance as Jessie, a docile housewife whose husband whisks her away to their country escape for a sexy weekend away. When Gerald dies from an unexpected heart attack, Jessie is left stranded in handcuffs without water, food or any possibility of rescue. Sleep-deprived and dying, Jessie is forced to reckon with her inner demons – and a looming bogeyman who may or may not be real. Gerald’s Game is an intelligent, absorbing psychological thriller.
11) Cargo (2017)
Martin Freeman is an everyman in extraordinary circumstances in this subtle Australian zombie movie. Unlike other zombie flicks, the film’s protagonist is already bitten and he has 48 hours to find someone to look after his baby daughter before he turns. It’s a rare type of zombie film: one with soul and pathos.
12) The Perfection (2018)
If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for exactly, The Perfection covers a lot of bases: part horror, part thriller, part revenge story, part mystery. Get Out’s Alison Williams stars opposite Logan Browning (Dear White People) in this dizzying, fun romp about a troubled music prodigy who embarks down a sinister path when she seeks out her school’s new star pupil.
13) Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Of all the horror subgenres, zombie movies can skew especially bad but Dawn of the Dead is a gooden. A re-imagining of George A Romero’s 1978 classic seemed ill-advised at the time but Zack Snyder and James Gunn’s version does right by the original. The movie takes place in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, during which a group of survivors have holed up in a shopping mall to fend off the hungry hordes. There’s tension, some gore and a good deal of laughs on offer here.
14) Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Anthony Hopkins’ cannibalistic psychiatrist is the comfort blanket of horror films: familiar, chilling and just as good on the 20th viewing as it was the first time. Jodie Foster and Hopkins give career-defining performances in this classic thriller from Jonathan Demme.
15) Paranormal Activity 4 (2007)
This low-budget franchise has become a mainstay in the horror movie rotation and was the first to put its creator Jason Blum on the map. While the ratings of the fourth movie are nowhere near as impressive as the first, if you’re looking for a predictable but chilling watch, Paranormal Activity 4 does the job.
16) The Descent (2005)
Yet another cult classic that arrived on Netflix this year, The Descent is finally readily available to watch. The British horror by Neil Marshall is a clever, critically acclaimed piece of work that gives you everything you could possibly want from the genre. The titular descent refers to a cave-diving expedition taken by six women who suddenly find themselves trapped in a serpentine network of tunnels. Of course, they aren’t alone. What follows is a bloody tale with plenty of tension and psychological torment for the characters – and the viewer.
17) Veronica (2017)
Given the sheer amount of brilliant foreign horror films, there is a conspicuous shortage of them on Netflix – but Veronica is a stand-out. During a solar eclipse, Veronica and her friends try to summon the spirit of her dead boyfriend using a Ouija board – instead, they find her late father. The Spanish-language film has a 90 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
18) Insidious (2011)
From the creators of Saw and Paranormal Activity, Insidious offers exactly what you’d expect: jump scares, creepy twins, a looming demon and other hokey contrivances. If nothing else, it’s a fun and gripping watch.
19) Land of the Dead (2005)
It’s unlikely that Land of the Dead is going to keep you up at night, but the long-awaited fourth film in George A Romero’s zombie series was worth the wait. The movie delivers on Romero’s known style of gore, wicked satire, and well-crafted suspense.
20) Curse of Chucky (2013)
The creepy doll trope has taken off in recent years (The Boy, Brahms: The Boy II, Servant, Annabelle) but none do it better than Chucky. While the 1988 original isn’t available on Netflix, fans of the franchise can (kind of) get their fill with Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky.
21) Calibre (2018)
This Highlands-set thriller won the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature at the Edinburgh film festival in 2018. Matt Palmer’s feature debut takes a clichéd log line (tourists vs angry locals) in new, scarier directions. The boundaries of friendship and forgiveness are tested when a pair of mismatched friends (Jack Lowden and Martin McCann) panic after a hunting trip gone wrong.
22) I Am the Pretty Little Thing That Lives in the House (2016)
If you’re looking for a straight-up horror flick, skip this movie – but if you’re up for a more subtle approach to scary, stick around. Ruth Wilson (Luther) stars as a hospice nurse sent to care for an elderly author when she becomes convinced of a supernatural presence in the home. It’s a slow-burner but one that is patient and deliberate, executed with a sleight of hand as opposed to ham-fisted special effects.
23) I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
There has been a lot of hype around this psychological horror/drama by Charlie Kaufman – and for good reason. The story follows a young woman travelling to meet her boyfriend’s family on their secluded farm. Toni Colette gives another memorable performance as the mother. It’s a surreal thriller that is as haunting as it is clever.
24) Ravenous (2017)
Ravenous is set in a remote village in upstate Quebec, which has been left shaken by a zombie apocalypse. The French-Canadian film is surprisingly restrained for a movie about flesh-eating monsters, but it still manages to create some unbearably tense moments.
25) His House (2020)
Horror can an effective vehicle for exploring social issues and His House is a brilliant modern example of that quality. British writer-director Remi Weekes takes the haunted house trope to tell a taut (the film is only 93 minutes) story about immigration and the refugee experience. The film stars Sopé Dìrísù and Loki star Wunmi Mosaku when they arrive in England after fleeing a civil war in South Sudan. Something, however, has followed them across the ocean and refuses to let them settle in this hostile and unfamiliar place.