The Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now
You might want to keep the lights on while you watch these.
The greatest horror movies of all time get under your skin with original conceits. They sharpen your paranoia to burrow down into your brain. They grab hold of your heart with iconic imagery—you'll never forget Freddy's claws, no matter how hard you try.
Most of the major streaming services take spooky, scary movies quite seriously, and Netflix is no exception. So switch off the lights, grab a blanket, and hold your nearest loved one—these horror movies are here to fill your head with nightmares. Have fun!
Inadvertently capturing a very specific 2020 vibe, #Alive stars Ah-in Yoo (Burning) as Joon-woo, a sweatpants-clad video game livestreamer who inadvertently becomes a witness to a zombie apocalypse happening right on his doorstep. Where most modern zombie movies use technology to draw metaphors about glassy-eyed millennials and their screens (oooh), #Alive, instead, allows phones, drones, and Internet connections to bring survivors together in a world where survival means staying indoors at all costs. Sound familiar?
For his follow-up to his two action epics, The Raid and The Raid 2, director Gareth Evans dials back the hand-to-hand combat but still keeps a few buckets of blood handy in this grisly supernatural horror tale. Dan Stevens stars as Thomas Richardson, an early 20th century opium addict traveling to a cloudy island controlled by a secretive cult that's fallen on hard times. The zealous religious group is led by a bearded scold named Father Malcolm (Michael Sheen) who may or may not be leading his people astray. Beyond a few bursts of kinetic violence and some crank-filled torture sequences, Evans plays this story relatively down-the-middle, allowing the performances, the lofty themes, and the windswept vistas to do the talking. It's a cult movie that earns your devotion slowly, then all at once.
The Babysitter (2017) & The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020)
One preteen boy's (Judah Lewis) fantasy about his babysitter (Samara Weaving) turns into a nightmare when it's revealed she and her hot friends dabble in human sacrifices. Director McG's self-aware spin on the babysitter slasher is more comedy than horror, delivering a bloody fun time in a stylish manner. Archetypes get turned on their heads, laugh lines punctuate almost every scene, and reality mostly ceases to exist while our hero tries to learn some sort of lesson. It's goofy mayhem in all the right ways. When you're finished, jump to its sequel, which has Lewis's Cole running from another night of cult-y mayhem. If you hit play, please don't ruin a good thing by taking it too seriously.
Before I Wake (2016)
Though debated by genre purists, this one most definitely qualifies as a horror flick; it just happens to be a "soft" horror film with an actual heart that parents could probably watch with their kids. It's about a couple, played by Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane, who adopts a kid (Jacob Tremblay) whose dreams become physically real while he sleeps. If you're looking for shocks and kills, you may want to skip this one for now, but Before I Wake is an impressive piece of work from the very consistent horror filmmaker Mike Flanagan (Gerald's Game).
Bullet Head (2017)
Remember the badass 1992 action flick Trespass? Ice Cube, Ice-T, Bill Paxton, and Bill Sadler. It's about a bunch of crooks hiding out in a warehouse while their recent heist falls apart. How about the 1993 sci-fi/horror movie Man's Best Friend, in which a killer dog makes trouble for Ally Sheedy and Lance Henriksen? Bullet Head is virtually the offspring of those two movies. A bunch of crooks (John Malkovich, Adrian Brody, Rory Culkin) find themselves trapped in a warehouse with a killer pitbull. It's that simple. While much of the film is darkly entertaining, it does (fair warning) contain some simulated dog violence that may upset some viewers, so beware.
More than two men going on a vacation together in a horror film is never a good idea. Calibre, a horror tale that follows two childhood friends on a hunting trip in the Scottish Highlands, is a clever and tense entry in this long tradition of male bonding gone haywire. Father-to-be Vaughn (Jack Lowden) and his gruffer buddy Marcus (Martin McCann) aren't as close as they used to be, but the trip loosens them up and rekindles their friendship. After a tragic accident occurs in the woods, Marcus makes a decision that the more reserved, contemplative Vaughn regrets. Director Matt Palmer finds psychological nuance in this well-trodden material, making a familiar hike feel like a brand new journey into the unknown.
The Call (2020)
Take a slice of the "people communicating across different time lines" premise from movies like Frequency and The Lake House—only this time one of the temporal communicators is a psychotic serial killer who is using the situation for very nefarious deeds. This unpredictable Korean export from Chung-Hyun Lee juggles more than a few tones and subtexts, and does it quite craftily.
Unlike the Unfriended films or the indie hit Searching, this web thriller from director Daniel Goldhaber and screenwriter Isa Mazzei isn't locked into the visual confines of a computer screen. Though there's plenty of online screen time, allowing for subtle bits of commentary and satire, the looser style allows the filmmakers to really explore the life and work conditions of their protagonist, rising cam girl Alice (Madeline Brewer). We meet her friends, her family, and her customers. That type of immersion in the granular details makes the scarier bits—like an unnerving confrontation in the finale between Alice and her evil doppelgänger—pop even more.
Patrick Brice's found-footage movie is a no-budget answer to a certain brand of horror, but saying more would give away its sinister turns. Just know that the man behind the camera answered a Craigslist ad to create a "day in the life" video diary for Josef (Mark Duplass), who really loves life. Creep proves that found footage, the indie world's no-budget genre solution, still has life, as long as you have a performer like Duplass willing to go all the way.
Creep 2 (2017)
The first Creep proved to be a quietly compelling and calmly creepy story about a man who unwittingly befriends a real... well, creep played by Mark Duplass. Unfortunately, for online documentary filmmaker Sarah (Desiree Akhavan), the creep is back, as she'll soon find out, in various odd and unsettling ways. But what happens when the creep's potential victim refuses to be, well, creeped out? Akhavan seems to be a perfect foil for Duplass' quietly unhinged lunatic, and together they cook up an oddly satisfying sequel to a satisfyingly odd predecessor.
Crimson Peak (2015)
Guillermo Del Toro's lush Gothic ghost story goes for atmosphere over big scares, but is thrilling none the less. Mia Wasikowsa plays a young writer in the Victorian era who falls for Tom Hiddleston's alluring baronet, but his invitation to his familial mansion comes with a hitch. He's overly attached to his sister—Jessica Chastain at her creepiest—and there are some spirits roaming the halls.
The Conjuring (2013) & The Conjuring 2 (2016)
James Wan's horror trilogy inspired by the lives of real haunting experts Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) spawned a whole franchise full of nuns, Annabelles, and weeping ghosts, but it's the first two Conjuring movies that continue to make us shriek long after the spinoffs have worn out their welcome. The first movie focuses on the ghost of a witch that haunts a farmhouse, and the second takes the Warrens to England where they meet the famous Enfield poltergeist. Let's just say you'll never ever want to play hide-and-clap with your friend after watching these.
The Exorcist (1973)
The original, unquestionable, undisputed great grandfather of "possession" horror, and one hell of a brutally good time, William Friedkin's The Exorcist is not just one of the scariest films ever made, it's also one of the most well-constructed horror movies of all time. The story of demon-inhabited Regan, her distraught mother, and the two priests working their religious mojo to save her life holds up to repeat viewings—partially because the horrific set pieces still hold up resoundingly well, and also because the actors create realistic, believable characters who are worthy of our empathy.
Fear Street trilogy (2021)
Netflix's ambitious series of three interconnected movies based on the classic R.L. Stine books are a gory good time. All are directed by Leigh Janiak and Part One: 1994, introduces audiences to the cursed town of Shadyside and the teens who have been afflicted. The second jumps back in time to 1978 where a killer is stalking a camp, and the third, set in 1666, explains how this all started. Drawing from horror classics like Scream, the Fear Street movies mix gruesome kills with tongue-in-cheek laughs, and feature a refreshingly queer point of view.
Gerald's Game (2017)
Like another one of his low-budget Netflix-released horror movies, Hush—a captivity thriller about a deaf woman fighting off a masked intruder—Mike Flanagan's Stephen King adaptation of Gerald's Game wrings big scares from a small location. Sticking close to the grisly plot details of King's seemingly "unfilmable" novel, the movie chronicles the painstaking struggles of Jessie Burlingame (Carla Gugino) after she finds herself handcuffed to a bed in an isolated vacation home when her husband, the titular Gerald, dies from a heart attack while enacting his kinky sexual fantasies. She's trapped—and that's it. The premise is clearly challenging to sustain for a whole movie, but Flanagan and Gugino turn the potentially one-note set-up into a forceful, thoughtful meditation on trauma, memory, and resilience in the face of near-certain doom.
His House (2020)
Bol and Rial Majur, a married refugee couple newly fled from war-ravaged South Sudan, begin a probationary period of asylum in a London suburb, where they are given a shabby townhouse and a weekly stipend. Bol attempts to assimilate by going out into town, hanging out in pubs, using silverware to eat meals, and buying new clothes, but Rial still clings to their Dinka culture and the memory of the child they lost during their crossing. They see specters all over the house and begin to believe that a witch is haunting them. The power of His House comes not from the intermittent scares or constant building dread, but from the devastating, final-act reveal that forces its characters to reckon with the trauma they've suffered and the guilt that has consumed their lives. There is a particular flavor of horror that exists in experiencing shocking violence and then escaping into a world that makes it seem like nothing more than a dream.
Hollow Man (2000)
Paul Verhoeven's adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic novel The Invisible Man stars Kevin Bacon as Dr. Sebastian Caine, a brilliant scientist who undergoes an experimental serum that renders the user invisible. But, when no one is able to return him to normal, the loss of his body causes him to go on a violent rampage through the city. The movie wasn't well-received in its time, but it's worth checking out if only to see the fantastic visual effects at play whenever Caine puts on his sinister mask.
While films like the classic Wait Until Dark and Don't Breathe have wrung scares from blind heroes and villains, deaf characters haven't been placed at the center of many mainstream horror movies. Enter (very quietly) Hush, a low-budget home-invasion thriller about a deaf and mute woman (Kate Siegel) being terrorized by a masked home invader (The Newsroom's John Gallagher Jr.). This is the type of movie that can exhaust its premise in 20 minutes if the script doesn't deliver—how long can two characters face off in a swanky cabin for, really?—but luckily director Mike Flanagan and Siegel, who co-wrote the film together, have some well-timed twists (and many, many cross-bow arrows) up their sleeves.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)
A meditative horror flick that's more unsettling than outright frightening, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House follows the demise of Lily, a live-in nurse (Ruth Wilson) who's caring for an ailing horror author. As Lily discovers the truth about the writer's fiction and home, the lines between the physical realm and the afterlife blur. The movie's slow pacing and muted escalation might frustrate viewers craving showy jump-scares, but writer-director Oz Perkins is worth keeping tabs on. He brings a beautiful eeriness to every scene, and his story will captivate patient streamers.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Based on the novel by Lois Ducan, I Know What You Did Last Summer features the teen queens and kings of the 1990s at the height of their powers. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr. star as a group of pals in a waterside North Carolina town who accidentally kill someone the summer before they head off for college and then are stalked by a killer with a hook the following year. It's alternately goofy and bone chilling, so what are you waiting for? Start streaming.
In The Tall Grass (2019)
This nasty, little novella from Stephen King and Joe Hill got the inevitable movie treatment; fortunately the producers thought to hire Vincenzo Natali (Splice), one of the most consistent genre directors around. Two grown siblings get lost within a sea of very tall grass, only to discover that this particular patch of land contains threats both mundane and, well, exceedingly freaky. Earns bonus points for consistently finding new ways to keep the location both visually compelling and subtly threatening.
It Follows (2015)
The villain of this retro-thriller doesn't need to creep. "It"—a demon? An embodiment of fear? A walking STI?—can come from any direction at any time and can't be stopped. All its target can do is run, or damn someone new by transmitting the possession through intercourse. A relentless chase set against a picturesque suburban dreamworld, It Follows builds scares from pure suspense, a welcome alternative to the screeching, skittish horror movies that frequent theaters.
Let Me In (2010)
A slightly revised version of its Swedish predecessor, this Twilight-esque teen vampire flick was Americanized and brought to the big screen in 2010. Kodi Smit-McPhee stars opposite a young Chloë Grace Moretz as Owen, an ostracized young boy who rapidly develops an unshakeable bond with Abby, a female vampire. If you're looking to tune into a horror film that's loaded with the typical amount of blood, violence, gore, and jump scares, perhaps Let Me In isn't the one for you—the film has its scary moments, but most of the plot centers on the development of Abby and Owen's relationship.
Little Evil (2017)
A hilarious riff on movies like The Omen, Little Evil stars Adam Scott as the new stepfather of a young boy he believes to be the Antichrist. People tend to die in mysterious, gruesome ways around him while the kid stands around looking possessed, and he generally makes his new stepfather's life into a living hell, leading him to believe that the kid really is evil. Hey, we've all been there. Except, this time, he's actually right.
With all the recent adaptations of Stephen King's celebrated novels, it's easy to forget that the wildly prolific horror writer also has a stockpile of untapped short stories for IP-hungry producers to choose from. 1922, a folksy riff on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" starring Thomas Jane as a farmer who kills his wife, draws its plot from a novella in the 2010 collection Full Dark, No Stars, but it's just as rich and complex as the more famous films based on longer King tales. Plus, there are so many rats in this movie. Seriously, watch out, Willard.
Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight (2020)
This Polish slasher film takes place in a technology detox summer camp for teens, where a group of kids stumble upon a murderous supernatural force that picks them off one by one in increasingly bloody ways. An homage to movies like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp, it was a runaway success at the beginning of 2020's quarantine, where it skipped theaters and dropped on Netflix, becoming a word-of-mouth success.
The Perfection (2019)
The Perfection, Netflix's self-consciously sleazy genre provocation starring Allison Williams as a former child cello prodigy out for revenge, is like a cinematic endurance test. Grossed out by the creepy bug effects and horrifying depictions of self-mutilation? Keep streaming. For some viewers, the act of surviving each grisly twist and body horror scare in this thriller from Richard Shepard will be its own reward, because as shocking as this derailed story of vengeance from one deranged classic musician onto another is, that’s all part of its sick fun.
Pet Sematary (1989)
Director Mary Lambert's adaptation of one of Stephen King's most chilling novels is finally getting a well-deserved reappraisal, as there's lots to appreciate in this horror-tragedy of one family's demise. When the Creed family moves to a small Maine town (of course), their property abuts a "Pet Sematary" made by the local children to bury their furry loved ones. But further into the woods is an area of land actually able to resurrect the dead, and when tragedy strikes the Creeds, they decide to do the unthinkable. But things that come back tend to come back different than they were before, and sometimes dead is better.
The Platform (2020)
It's difficult to watch The Platform, a cannibalistic prison freak-out from Spain, and not imagine a producer sitting in a conference room or a coffee shop and musing, "What if Snowpiercer but vertical?" The debut feature from Spanish filmmaker Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia boasts an appealing high-concept premise, an oddly affable leading man in actor Iván Massagué, and a series of brutal twists that should intrigue anyone currently watching the news and thinking about the possible end game of rampant inequality. Instead of a train, The Platform takes place in a prison-like structure called the "Vertical Self-Management Center" where inmates live two to a floor. Those on the top get first dibs on a giant platform of food that descends from the ceiling everyday; those on the bottom get the scraps—or nothing at all. Dismantling the system of this socioeconomic experiment unravels through David Desola and Pedro Rivero's knotty, exposition-packed script.
In Julia Ducournau's debut, carnal desires turn carnivorous. A coming-of-age story that'll have the queasy retreating from age, Raw finds sheltered vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) embarking on her first year of French veterinarian school. Between graphic dissections, nightly raves, and hazing that makes American fraternity life look like a day at the massage parlor, the student struggles to fit in. Justine's frosh year takes a morbid turn when her upperclassman sister forces her to consume meat for the first time, unleashing an insatiable hunger. The metaphors are obvious, but Ducournau's clinical eye for horror tableaux—the "gross" parts range from skin peeling to gnawing on human fingers to dredging dung from a cow's anus (for science!)—keep Raw perpetually and satisfyingly unnerving.
The Ring (2002)
Horror remakes are rarely worth their weight in disembodied heads, but this Japanese translation of 1998's Ringu, made over in the most slick and perverse way imaginable by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean), is worth revisiting. Filled with creepy imagery—the “Ring video” is only the beginning, as Naomi Watts' Rachel uncovers the true story of Samara, unwanted and tortured in psychoanalysis—this is one to revisit whether it’s “the season” for horror movies or not.
The Ritual (2018)
Four old friends travel into a foreboding forest and... yeah, yeah, yeah. You've heard this one before. So has everyone. Only this time, it's interesting. Suffice to say that these guys stumble across a freaky shack, unwisely opt to sleep in said shack, and then find themselves hopelessly lost. Also there may or may not be a mythologically inspired monster from Norse lore on their trail. The Ritual doesn't try and reinvent any wheels, plot-wise, but it's a very well-shot, -acted, and -conceived piece of horror filmmaking from David Bruckner (V/H/S).
The Swarm (2021)
If you can't stand bugs, avert your eyes and cover your ears: The Swarm features a horde of locusts out for blood. Disaster ensues in this French creature feature when a single mother Virginie (Suliane Brahim) who breeds locusts and sells them as livestock feed discovers her creepy crawlers have a taste for flesh. It's a distinctly feel-bad movie with all of the horror of something like Arachnophobia and none of the levity, as Virginie's obsession leads to the neglect of her family. The bugs are obviously the best part, as horrifying as they are, making you unable to escape their awful sound long after the movie's over.
The indie horror film Sweetheart begins with a simple enough premise when a young woman survives a shipwreck and washes ashore on a deserted island. That's scary enough as is, but it turns out there's also a freakish sea monster that roams the beach at night looking for something to eat. Imagine sort of a gender-switched Robinson Crusoe story, only with the added threat of a sea monster, and you may enjoy this well-shot and gradually intensifying thriller.
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
Netflix's "ludicrously fun and gory art-world satire" sees director and screenwriter Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) team up with Jake Gyllenhaal in a thriller that rips apart the effete Los Angeles art world. While pricey auctions and pretentious collectors are relatively low-hanging fruit, Gilroy, Gyllenhaal, and Rene Russo bring a fast-paced humor that makes the plot—an outsider artist's haunted work starts killing people—more tolerable than you might think. Oh, and names like Morf, Rhodora, and Ventril elevate the film's self-aware kitschiness, which makes the satire even more cutting.
Gotta love a horror film that'll do everything it can to remind you of why playing around with an Ouija board is probably not the best idea. The movie from Paco Plaza (REC) sees a young girl named Veronica (Sandra Escacena) who conducts a seance with her friends in the middle of a solar eclipse. Her goal is to contact her dead father, but as it normally goes in films of the paranormal variety, that doesn't happen. Veronica instead ends up waking up some truly sinister forces and, well, you probably already know how this will end. Or not. And if that's the case, then you're in the same boat as all the other Netflix users who couldn't finish the movie because it's that scary.
Under the Shadow (2016)
Set during the conflict between Iran and Iraq, a desperate mother and her horrified little girl find themselves haunted by the ghosts of wartime past. Tapping into history and the terror of true life bombardment, Under the Shadow is one of the smartest, saddest, and most eerily effective horror films in recent years. Writer-director Babak Anvari uses war as a metaphor as astutely as legends like Guillermo del Toro, and the setting is refreshingly novel for this type of supernatural story. The two leads (Narges Rashidi and Avin Mashadi) are nothing short of fantastic.
The Blair Witch Project popularized the found-footage genre, and Unfriended was the first to tap into the even more niche subset of the horror style—social media/computer screen found-footage. The first of its kind, the movie from Blumhouse isn't always a master of its craft and can feel more like being forced into peering at a screen from over someone's shoulder like you're waiting for your sibling's allotted screen time to wrap up, and is sometimes flat-out silly, but since we're addicted to being online, it is hard to look away. It follows a group of teenagers whose chatroom appears to be haunted by their friend who was recently bullied and died by suicide. Even when the scares are cheap, it's an interesting experiment that's worth logging into.
We Summon the Darkness (2020)
In Marc Meyers' (My Friend Dahmer) We Summon the Darkness, three fun-loving young women head out for a night of rock and roll, but their plans change ever so slightly when they meet a trio of goofy but slightly charming young men. Serendipitously, it turns out there's been a slew of occult-related murders in the immediate area. Will the three young couples run across something horrific? Yes. They will. And the result is a good gory time.