Editor’s Note: This post is updated monthly. Bookmark this page to see what the best horror movies on Netflix are at your convenience.
Updated for January 2019. You can see a complete list of new Netflix releases here.
Is it Halloween when you’re reading this? If not, don’t worry: every day can be Halloween when you try hard enough.
There is nothing quite as fun as embracing the spooky, the creepy, the scary, and all that goes bump in the night. Thankfully we have horror movies to help us down these crepuscular paths. If you ever find yourself in need of a thrill or a chill, check out some of the best horror movies on Netflix, we’ve gathered here.
Every streaming service takes its sacred duty to scare seriously but Netflix in particular means business. These are some of the best horror movies the streaming world has to offer. Enjoy!
Apostle comes from acclaimed The Raid director Gareth Evans and is his take on the horror genre. Spoiler alert: it’s a good one.
Dan Stevens stars as Thomas Richardson, a British man in the early 1900s who must rescue his sister, Jennifer, from the clutches of a murderous cult. Thomas successfully infiltrates the cult led by the charismatic Malcom Howe (Michael Sheen) and begins to ingratiate himself with the strange folks obsessed with bloodletting. Thomas soon comes to find that the object of the cult’s religious fervor may be more real than he’d prefer.
Beyond the Gates
Board games can be creepy. VHS tapes can be creepy. Combine the creepiest versions of both and you’ve got yourself a really creepy movie. Beyond the Gates debuted just last year at the L.A. Film Festival and has ridden its way to Netflix on tremendous word of mouth.
The indie horror movie involves two brothers who got to their father’s estate to settle his affairs after his death. While at his house, they discover a mysterious VHS board game that eventually leads them to clues regarding their father’s death…and pure abject horror.
Christine is directed by John Carpenter and based on a book of the same name by Stephen King. Basically there’s no way it could be anything but a blast. Lo’ and behold…it is a blast!
Awkward and unpopular California teenager Arnie Cunningham just wants a nice 1958 Plymouth Fury. That will help him be cool. Thankfully he finds one and dubs it “Christine.” Unfortunately Christine is a bit of a monster.
2013’s The Conjuring is the first entry into an unexpected horror film franchise that ended up far more successful than it had any right to be. That’s what happens when you get talented people involved like horror maestro James Wan and superb actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. Wilson and Farmiga star as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren who are called to deal with a small paranormal spot of bother in Rhode Island.
The Conjuring is based on a real case of paranormal activity and terrifyingly and effectively sets up the continued film adventures of the Warrens.
Cult of Chucky
Who could have imagined that a horror franchise about a demonic child’s doll would last seven movies? Actually that sounds pretty rad. There really is no upper limit on this thing. Yes, Chucky and friends return in this seventh installment of the Child’s Play franchise.
Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) remains in a mental institution following the events of Curse of Chucky. While there she is assigned a Good Guy doll as a form of therapy. I mean…come on, man. Trained medical professionals should just know better than that. Sure enough blood hits the fan shortly thereafter.
Babysitting is a strange job. Parents need some time away from the kids for date nights and other events, of course. So they trust whatever local teen who needs $15 an hour to somehow keep their kids alive for a few hours. More often than not things go perfectly smoothly. But what if you pick the wrong babysitter? Even more terrifyingly, what if you pick the right babysitter but unbeknownst to you that’s not the person who shows up to your house that night?
Emelie is a 2015 horror film that exploits these fears perfectly. Sarah Bolger stars as the titular babysitting monsters and does such a good job I don’t know how she can be let around children ever again. Emelie is like an old urban legend writ terrifyingly large – just like all the best horror films are.
Some of Edgar Allan Poe’s most terror-inducing tales creep and crawl off the page in this animated horrorshow that isn’t just for kids. The aesthetic of each tale illustrates its particular terror. His Victorian nightmares materialize onscreen in different forms of animation ranging from eerie silhouettes to comic-book graphics to a 3-D effect that makes phantoms pop like digital origami. Poe himself (as—what else—a raven) converses with Death between tales, giving you enough time to catch your breath and calm the beating of your hideous heart before the next freakout.
The Tell-Tale Heart pounds beneath the floorboards in a series of black and white silhouettes, a stark visual of innocence and murder, set to a vintage narration by Bela Lugosi. The torture chamber in the Pit and the Pendulum is so lifelike you think you’re the one about to be razored open. Poe must be grinning from beyond the grave.
From Dusk till Dawn
1996’s From Dusk till Dawn represents the first joint effort from indie film darlings Quentin Tarantino (who wrote it) and Robert Rodriguez (who directed it). It features a awesome gonzo concept that should be familiar to fans of eithers’ work. At one point they must have asked themselves “what if we made movie X, that was also eventually revealed to be movie Y.”
Well in this equation movie X is a bank robbing movie, and movie Y is a vampire movie. Bank robbers Seth and Richie Gecko (Tarantino and George Clooney) arrive at a strip club called the “Twitty Twister” after a busy day of bank robbing to unwind. And woulnd’t you know it, all the strippers reveal themselves to be vampires. From Dusk till Dawn is surprisingly scary for it’s wacky concept.
Who knew Joel Edgerton had it in him?
The Gift is the Australian actor’s writing and directing debut and it doesn’t disappoint. Edgerton stars as Gordon “Gordo” Mosely. He’s a nice enough middle-aged man if a little “off.” One day while shopping he runs into an old high school classmate Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall). After their brief encounter, Gordo takes it upon himself to start dropping off little gifts to Simon and Robyn’s home. Robyn sees no problem with it at first. But Simon becomes disturbed, perhaps because of the unique past Simon and Gordo share.
Many horror movies understand there must be a twist of some sort or at the very least an unexpected third act. Even still The Gift‘s third act switch up is particularly devastated because it is so mundane and logical. The Gift ends up being an emotional drama disguised as horror.
Green Room is a shockingly conventional horror movie despite not having all of the elements we traditionally associate with them. There are no monsters or the supernatural in Green Room.
Instead all monsters are replaced by vengeful neo-Nazis and the haunted house is replaced by a skinhead punk music club in the middle of nowhere in the Oregon woods. The band The Aint Rights, led by bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin) are locked in the green room of club after witnessing a murder and must fight their way out.
In his follow-up to the cult classic Oculus, Mike Flanagan makes one of the cleverer horror movies on this list. Hush is a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse with the typical nightmare of a home invasion occurring, yet it also turns conventions of that familiar terror on its head. For instance, the savvy angle about this movie is Kate Siegel (who co-wrote the movie with Flanagan) plays Maddie, a deaf and mute woman living in the woods alone. Like Audrey Hepburn’s blind woman from the progenitor of home invasion stories, Wait Until Dark (1967), Maddie is completely isolated when she is marked for death by a menacing monster in human flesh.
Further, like the masked villains of so many more generic home invasion movies (I’m looking square at you, Strangers), John Gallagher Jr.’s “Man” wears a mask as he sneaks into her house. However, the functions of this story are laid bare since we actually keep an eye on what the “Man” is doing at all times, and how he is getting or not getting into the house in any given scene. He is not aided by filmmakers who’ve given him faux-supernatural and omnipotent abilities like other versions of these stories, and he’s not an “Other;” he is a man who does take his mask off, and his lust for murder is not so much fetishized as shown for the repulsive behavior that it is. And still, Maddie proves to be both resourceful and painfully ill-equipped to take him on in this tense battle of wills.
All of this inversion and shrewdness makes Hush one of several excellent horror movies to come out of 2016.
Seeing your ex is always uncomfortable, but imagine if your ex-wife invited you to a dinner party with her new husband? That is just about the least creepy thing in this new, taut thriller nestled in the Hollywood Hills. Indeed, in The Invitation Logan Marshall-Green’s Will is invited by his estranged wife (Tammy Blanchard) for dinner with her new hubby David (Michael Huisman of Game of Thrones). David apparently wanted to extend the bread-breaking offer personally since he has something he wants to invite both Will and all his other guests into joining. And it isn’t a game of Scrabble…
Intense, strange, and not what you expect, this is one of the more inventive thrillers of 2016.
So you think you know the term “survival horror?” Not until you’ve seen Killing Ground, you don’t. Killing Ground is like Deliverance on speed. Australian couple Sam and Ian decide to take a nice, relaxing camping trip out in nature. Things don’t go quite as well as planned when the couple discover a bloodied infant wandering through the brush.
further reading: The Best Horror Movies on HBO
That sets them on a path to uncover and incredibly grisly crime and then struggle to escape. Never go camping. Never ever ever ever go camping.
Raw is bloody and violent and weird and French and brilliant. It’s a French-Belgian movie from director Julia Ducournau about one young vegetarian woman and her sudden onset of…well, cannibalism. Justine attends a veterinarian school to continue her family’s tradition of animal care and vegetarianism.
One day she is forced to participate in a hazing ritual in which she is forced to eat raw rabbit kidney. That triggers something deep within her that leads her on an all-consuming pursuit of human flesh. Raw is nowhere near as corny as that description makes it sound. It’s actually quite artful and interesting, being French and all. It’s also a deceptively complete feminist fairy tale.
The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense is much more than a twist ending. The nearly 20-year-old movie has been meme’d to within an inch of its life even back before we had a term for internet memes. “I see dead people,” the twist ending, etc. On some level that’s a shame because M. Night Shyamalan’s first big budget film effort remains a surprisingly excellent horror movie to this day.
Haley Joel Osment stars as the young Cole Sears, a boy plagued by visions of dead people wandering around his day-to-day life. Bruce Willis steps in as therapist Malcolm Crowe to help Cole. Seeing dead people in the condition in which they died every day is a pretty horrifying concept. And no amount of twist ending surprises can rob the images of the dead that populate The Sixth Sense of some power. This is a movie that is certainly overdue for a rewatch.
Under the Shadow
This 2016 effort could not possibly be more timely as it sympathizes, and terrorizes, an Iranian single mother and child in 1980s Tehran. Like a draconian travel ban, Shideh (Narges Rashidi) and her son Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) are malevolently targeted by a force of supreme evil.
This occurs after Dorsa’s father, a doctor, is called away to serve the Iranian army in post-revolution and war-torn Iran. In his absence evil seeps in… as does a quality horror movie with heightened emotional weight.
What is Stranger Things-esque ’80s throwback The Void about? Allow Den of Geek UK critic Kirsten Howard to explain: “The film’s plot is simple enough, with an Assault On Precinct 13-esque set-up.
A fairly small gaggle of unfortunate souls find themselves trapped in a run-down hospital one evening, as a large cult of robe-wearing knife-wielders bear down on them from the outside and a plethora of endlessly-transforming gooey monsters try to consume them from the inside.”
If you let The Witch lure you into its cruel and malevolent headspace, you will immediately realize that you are watching something genuinely depraved and entirely forbidden due to its 17th century unholiness. After all, it didn’t get a thumb’s up from Satanists because it was a generic thriller stuffed with jump scares!
This art house chiller that drops you in the middle of early-1600s New England for the kind of witching campfire tale that would give Puritans nightmares. And it is there that Robert Eggers’ first film uses actual historic accounts from the local Calvinists about their real superstitions to give them life and heinous flesh (and an authentic Elizabethan accent).
There is a witch in the woods in this story, to appreciate it, that must be clear. And her evil reach toward brief salvation or eternal damnation—depending on how you look at it—makes this a movie that will stick with you for days after the lights go up. It’s also made Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays the young Thomasin, an instant star within the genre.