Looking to settle in for a dreadful night of horror cinema? Netflix has got you covered. From ghosts and demons to murderers on the prowl, to creepy kids and their just-as-creepy parents, the streaming giant has a flavor of terror for every horror-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%
Stars: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman
Director: Karyn Kusama
Runtime: 100 minutes
In the Tall Grass (2019)
Stephen King aficionados are sure to be thrilled by this 2019 adaptation of Stephen and son Joe Hill’s 2012 novella. When siblings Becky and Cal (Laysla De Oliveira and Avery Whitted) make a pit stop on their road trip to their aunt’s house, the pair hears a boy named Tobin calling for help in a field of tall grass. The duo dips into the crop themselves, but soon find themselves at the center of a wicked plot involving Tobin, his parents, a grim time loop, and an ancient stone with potentially mystical properties, all within the never-ending rows of grass. A bit of a head-spinner, In the Tall Grass feels like an elongated (and much gorier) Twilight Zone episode. While some have argued that the film overstays its welcome, those in search of a King-flavored fable about literally losing against nature will be more than pleased with director Vincenzo Natali’s novella adaptation.
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Runtime: 90 minutes
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Writer/director Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity reimagined the found-footage genre for a new generation, picking up where stalwarts like The Blair Witch Project left off. This time around, our setting is a beautiful two-story home (Peli’s own residence), in place of the sprawling woods of Blair Witch. Made for only $15,000, the film follows Katie and Micah, a young couple that has been experiencing strange events in their home, specifically Katie. Micah, un-phased at first by the supposed phenomena, purchases a video camera to prove to Katie that it’s all in her head. Of course, it’s not, and the footage the couple begins to capture is unnerving, to say the least. Going on to make well over $100 million at the box office, Paranormal Activity also experimented with a cool marketing technique where eager viewers could request that the film be shown at their local theater — creating a never-ending hype-train for Peli’s pulse-pounding debut.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Stars: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat
Director: Oren Peli
Runtime: 86 minutes
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
Illustrious heart surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) has it all: A perfect family, a mansion, 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%
Stars: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Runtime: 119 minutes
Here’s a nice case of mad science gone very, very wrong. In Vincenzo Natali’s Splice, Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley are Clive and Elsa, two genetic engineers that work for N.E.R.D. (Nucleic Exchange Research and Development). Their day-to-day involves splicing animal DNA to create cryptoid creatures for scientific analysis and protein collection, at least until the two geniuses get the not-so-genius idea to go behind their bosses’ backs and create an animal-human hybrid. The experiment (Delphine Chanéac), who they nickname Dren, begins aging at an extraordinary rate while exhibiting profound abilities, like the ability to breathe underwater. Worried for their scientific secret, Clive and Elsa move Dren to a secluded farmhouse, which is where the film takes a more sinister turn. Natali’s second feature on our list is a sci-fi lover’s nightmare-come-true. Both Brody and Polley are phenomenal as the moralistically challenged mad doctor duo, and Dren’s makeup effects are breathtaking — and plenty creepy.
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Stars: Adrian Brody, Sarah Polley, Delpine Chanéac
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Runtime: 100 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%
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%
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Runtime: 94 minutes
Writer/director Osgood Perkins’ I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is a chilling ghost story about a live-in nurse named Lily (Ruth Wilson) who is hired to care for an ailing horror author, Iris (Paula Prentiss). Taking residence in Iris’s historic New England manor, Lily starts experiencing paranormal events, leading her to question the elder Iris about the history of the house. Denying any kind of phenomena, Lily begins investigating the domicile herself, leading to a series of shocking discoveries and grim truths about the manor’s past. This is a fantastic piece of horror cinema that really drives home the “less-is-more” mindset of filmmaking. A big slow burn of a movie, I Am the Pretty Thing… relies on eerie sound-design, lingering camera-work, and a moody score to effectively sell its scares.
Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
Stars: Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Bob Balaban
Director: Osgood Perkins
Runtime: 87 minutes
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Jonathan Demme’s 1991 killer classic starts Jodie Foster as FBI trainee Clarice Starling. When bodies start piling up, thanks to the efforts of a deranged serial killer, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), Clarice is tasked with conducting a series of investigative queries with incarcerated psychologist and cannibalistic murderer, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). The intention is to gain some insight into the methodology behind Bill’s own trail of terror, but Lecter is a strange shell to crack, to say the least. The stakes get raised a notch when Bill kidnaps Catherine Martin, the daughter of a U.S. senator. It’s a race against time for Clarice, as she and the law enforcement-at-large do everything in their power to track down the maniacal killer, working with (and appeasing) Lecter along the way. The second adaptation of author Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter lore, screenwriter Ted Tally’s The Silence of the Lambs is a brilliant rendition of Harris’ classic and a horror film for the ages — not to mention all the critical acclaim and laurels. The Silence of the Lambs cleaned house at the 1991 Oscars, winning for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Lawrence A. Bonney
Director: Jonathan Demme
Runtime: 118 minutes
The Evil Dead (1981)
If you find a Sumerian Book of the Dead in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere — don’t read it out loud. The victims of Sam Raimi’s bloody cult classic, The Evil Dead, would have been wise to follow this advice. When five Michigan State students, led by Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) take a trip into the remote woodlands of Tennessee, terror ensues when the group discovers the aforementioned book and a tape filled with demonic incantations. The kids play the tape, demonic phrases are uttered, and all hell breaks loose. Raimi’s film was shot for a measly $400,000, a pittance when you consider the multi-million-dollar budgets of most mainstream Hollywood films. Getting inventive with their tiny budget, the crew created their own Steadicam rigs (a 2×4 with a camera strapped to it) and got down and dirty with prosthetic effects, as well as other cost-cutting measures to complete the film. Their efforts were certainly not in vain, as The Evil Dead lives in the annals of great American horror cinema, often being hailed as one of the best chillers ever made. It’s amazing what you can do on a shoestring budget.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker
Director: Sam Raimi
Runtime: 85 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%
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%
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 (Charlie Shotwell), is glad to be rid of his intense protective gear, reveling in his newfound freedom. However, outside of his disease-shield, supernatural events begin to mount, and Eli tries desperately to convince those around him that things within the house are quite amiss. Performances and atmosphere are top-notch in this Netflix original, which features shades of both The Others and The Omen.
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%
Stars: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi
Director: Babak Anvari
Runtime: 84 minutes
“They’re here…” From director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), with a script and story by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist follows the Freeling family, consisting of husband and wife, Steve and Diane (Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams), and their three children, Dana, Robbie, and the youngest, Carol Anne. When the titular band of ghouls descends upon the family’s idyllic home, the invading demons begin with a series of creepy nuisances, like rearranged furniture and bent cutlery. It’s not long though before these minor transgressions give way to outright paranormal kidnapping, when one night, the nether-beings pull Carol Anne into the ghost world. It’s up to her family, and a team of paranormal experts, to try and rescue their daughter and vanquish the evil spirits. A major critical and commercial success for MGM, Poltergeist has become engrained in our cultural fabric. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you’re probably familiar with certain images from it — such as the creepy clown doll pulling Robbie under the bed, or the famous still of Carol Anne with her hands pressed against a static-background TV set. Poltergeist is nearly forty years old at this point, but it’s a horror classic that continues to stand the test of time.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Stars: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight
Director: Tobe Hooper
Runtime: 114 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%
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
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%
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%
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%
Stars: Rafe Spall, Robert James-Collier, Arsher Ali
Director: David Bruckner
Runtime: 94 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%
Stars: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Runtime: 118 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%
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’ Onofrio, James Ransone
Director: Scott Derrickson
Runtime: 109 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%
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%
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye
Director: James Wan
Runtime: 102 minutes
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