The best horror movies on Netflix are a varied bunch – they’re a motley crew of monsters just waiting to haunt your nightmares after the credits have rolled. Whether you’re looking for psychological frights, traditional hauntings, or full-on slasher movies, this lot are sure to scratch your terrifying itch.
Grab some snacks, turn off the light, and make sure that the stranger hiding under your bed upstairs knows you are busy. Here are the best Netflix horror movies you can watch right now.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Sometimes the very best horror is simple. It doesn’t need multiple locations, spectacular gore effects, or CGI ghosts. Instead, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, starring Emile Hirsch and a perfectly on-form Brian Cox, is a beautifully minimalist, not to mention terrifying, affair. When an unidentified body arrives with a coroner, he settles down to a night of unravelling precisely what happened to her. To stay spoiler-free, it would be safe to say that she’s not like any other body he has ever encountered and quickly becomes a dangerous puzzle as her secrets reveal themselves.
The Guest (2014)
This is sadly one of Blair Witch and You’re Next director Adam Wingard’s lesser known thrillers but should be right at the top of your Netflix watchlist. Dan Stevens is a US military man paying a visit to his fallen comrade’s sister and her son, but a series of violent goings-on suggest that he isn’t in the area just to pay his respects. This is a joyously windy and unpredictable thriller and while it’s pushing it to say it’s a full horror, a classic Carpenter-style soundtrack makes this a love letter to the genre.
Along with its sequel, the appropriately titled Creep 2, Creep has become a found footage cult classic. It doesn’t quite have the commercial appeal of Paranormal Activity or the raw terror of The Blair Witch Project, but as societal awkwardness descending into horror goes, Creep has it nailed. Following an advert on Craigslist, a videographer called Aaron heads to the home of Josef, played by a truly unnerving Mark Duplass. Josef is eccentric but apparently wants someone to record his final days before he loses his life to an inoperable brain tumor. It might be a wholly inappropriate place to say that’s where the ‘fun’ begins but here we are.
If you fancy spending the evening pulling at your own face with tension, there’s nothing quite as excruciating as Calibre. Two friends going hunting? What’s the worst that could happen? Yes, take a swig of your Dr Pepper because this trip to the Scottish Highlands isn’t exactly what Nessie’s home country would choose to put on its tourist site. The politics of a small village mix perfectly with some Very Bad Decisions to make this a must watch horror thriller. Even if that entails watching through your fingers and from behind a cushion.
The Invitation (2015)
Sometimes it’s easier just not to talk to your ex, isn’t it? Then you wouldn’t be invited with your new partner to a dinner party and be served up a large helping of super weird. Sadly Logan Marshall Green’s Will isn’t like the rest of us and drives with his new girlfriend Kira to the house of his ex-wife. Karyn Kusama’s tensionfest is littered with flags but it’s up to you to work out which ones are red and which ones are merely red herrings. This is an expertly wrought psychological nightmare.
Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor creator Mike Flanagan has a lot to answer for. Not only has he made two of arguably the most successful horror TV shows of the last few years as well as directed an excellent sequel to The Shining (Doctor Sleep), back in 2015 he quietly directed an intelligent slasher movie. Co-written with his wife and Hush star Kate Siegel, this is the story of Maddie, a deaf horror writer who lives in a remote cottage with only her cat for company. When a masked man arrives and assumes she is easy pickings, her fight to survive is nail-bitingly brilliant stuff.
The Perfection (2018)
It’s important to enter The Perfection with one thing in mind. This is not a societal commentary to be accompanied by chin scratching like a lot of modern horror. This is a scuzzily violent horror thriller with no rules. It won’t be to everyone’s taste but Alison Williams’ excellent turn as a cellist with a passion for revenge makes for an exceptionally twisted thriller. Perhaps not one to watch with your parents, there’s also one of the most realistic recreations of being unwell on public transport of all time. Yes, on this list, that’s a selling point…
Under the Shadow (2016)
Of all the genres, horror is often one of the bravest to tackle the hardest of topics. On one level Babak Anvari’s Persian haunting is a traditional ghost story as a woman is plagued by spirits in her home, on another it’s a biting commentary on the oppression facing women in 1980s Tehran. Like the Babadook’s manifestation of grief, the monsters here might seem fictional but there’s a depressing reality to these specters. Scary and thought provoking, Under the Shadow is a modern classic.
The Platform (2019)
Another societal commentary – this time a skewering of capitalist culture from Spain – The Platform is an uncomfortable watch. High concept doesn’t come much higher than this. Literally. A luxurious kitchen furnishes a platform with delectable edibles which then descends through hundreds of two person cells. If everyone would just have a few bites then there would be enough for all but of course, that’s not how the world works. Following one man on his journey as he wakes up on new levels, The Platform is an unpredictable nightmare.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Another unmissable classic, Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead is the definitive cabin in the woods experience. After all, this comes from a time before anyone seemingly knew it was a bad idea to read aloud from a book bound in human skin. Importantly though, Ash’s original adventure still has the power to shock as its monsters make their way out of the cellar. This innocent weekend away is gratuitously violent, atmospheric, and drowning in diabolical gore. So yes, still kind of an acquired taste.
The Witches (1990)
What do you mean ‘what’s a kids’ film doing on this list?’? On the other hand, if you’ve already seen Nicolas Roeg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s toe-less bald masterwork, then you’re already nodding grimly. The Witches is what happens when the director of Don’t Look Now sets a monstrous gaggle of child murderers on a young boy and his grandmother. With the magnificent Angelica Huston as the Grand High Witch, this gleeful horror might be rated for children but delivers British seaside town-flavored nightmares. Worth watching over the newer version from Robert Zemeckis. Five words. The girl in the picture…
As Above So Below (2014)
Despite corridors literally made of skulls, there aren’t actually too many horror movies about the Paris catacombs. Especially if we politely ignore the dire Pink-starring 2007 Catacombs. Thankfully, As Above So Below is a found footage journey into the depths that comes with serious chills. Everything oozes claustrophobia even before significantly nastier problems arise for the documentary crew. The frights err into the fantasy realm as the team hunt for the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, but solid performances and unnerving imagery make this a thrilling found footage surprise.
Another old classic. It would be remiss not to include Tobe Hooper’s haunting when we’re talking about the best horror movies on Netflix. There’s none of the visceral terror of something like Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre but Poltergeist manages to walk the perilous line of fun scares and comedy. This might have something to do with Steven Spielberg on co-writing duties but don’t mistake that cosy feeling for reassurance. A certain clown doll scene still packs a punch and Poltergeist is creepy kids 101. They’re heeeeerre…
Green Room (2015)
From the cosiness of a good haunting to the sheer evil of very human horror. Green Room, starring the late Anton Yelchin, follows a band who end up doing a last minute gig supporting a Neo Nazi Black Metal band. It wouldn’t be in this list if they didn’t realize a little too late that they were in serious trouble and surrounded by skinheads. There’s no disguising the fact that Jeremy Saulnier’s thriller is brutally violent and tense but this is a gloriously nasty piece of work fueled by brilliant performances. Oh, and if you needed any further convincing, Patrick Stewart is excellent.
The Ritual (2017)
Let’s finish on a monstrous high. In the woods. When a group of men go hiking in the forests of Sweden in memory of a recently murdered friend, they expect to bond and mourn. What they encounter means they end up doing an awful lot more of the latter. An adaptation of a book by UK scaremaster Adam Nevill, The Ritual is both a psychological endurance and a genuinely terrifying folk horror. Like a gender flipped The Descent, this is as much an exploration of masculinity as it is a cat and mouse game. And yes, if you go down to the woods today, you’ll be sure of a big surprise.