Last Updated: August 11th
There’s nothing better than bingeing some good scary movies on Netflix on a dark, stormy night. From ghosts to vampires and zombies just about every morbid fantasy that your demented mind can conjure has representation. We’ve watched the best horror movies on Netflix streaming right now, and here they are, in their beastly, blood-curdling glory. It’s perfect for that late night movie binge to keep you wide awake all the way through 2020.
It Comes At Night (2017)
Run Time: 86 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Writer/director Trey Edward Shults followed up his unnerving family portrait in 2015’s Krisha with a look at another family under the most desperate of circumstances. After an unknown illness has wiped out most of civilization, a number of threats — both seen and unseen — come for a family held up in their home out in the wilderness. It’s a subtle, dream-like tale that stars Joel Edgerton and Christopher Abbot as two patriarchs intent on keeping their families safe, no matter the cost.
The Silence of The Lambs (1991)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 8.6/10
Hannibal Lecter is one of horror’s most iconic characters, but it’s a testament to the creepiness of Anthony Hopkins in a leather muzzle that, no matter how many times the film gets quoted, hearing him tell Clarice Starling he’s having an old friend for dinner still sends chills up our spines. Jodie Foster plays the FBI agent tasked with catching another serial killer with Lecter’s same M.O. and she does it by striking up unnerving conversations with the guy, but Hopkins is the real star here, playing Lecter with a restrained insanity that makes his small talk of enjoying human liver with fava beans so much more nightmarish.
As Above So Below (2014)
Run Time: 93 min | IMDb: 6.2/10
Before Ben Feldman played a lovable know-it-all on Superstore, the guy was surviving a terror-filled jaunt through the catacombs of Paris in this horror movie. Feldman plays George, a reluctant sidekick to Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), a young alchemy scholar and his former girlfriend. Scarlett convinces George a few others to venture into the famous Paris underground in order to find the fabled philosopher’s stone (Harry Potter kids should know all about this thing, we’re not explaining it here). What they find instead is basically Dante’s Inferno come to life as they face down cults, demons, ghosts, and all manner of horrific beings. Let this be a warning, children: Nothing good happens this far below street level. Nothing.
The Perfection (2018)
Run Time: 90 min | IMDb: 6.1/10
Allison Williams, who’s become something of a scream queen after her work in Get Out, continues her horror track record with this thriller about a gifted musician who befriends the talented student who replaced her. Strange happenings begin to occur, events that sabotage the young girl, but as terrifying as this story is, there’s absolutely no way you’ll be able to predict its ending.
Devil’s Advocate (1997)
Run Time: 144 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Al Pacino playing the demonic head of a New York City law firm with Keanu Reeves serving as his greedy, equally-evil protégé? Yes, please. Look, this horror flick doesn’t have as many frights as some on this list, but it’s filled with tense moments, strange happenings, and a twist you don’t see coming. Reeves plays Kevin, a talented attorney from the South, who makes his way to the Big Apple after winning some high-profile cases. His clients were guilty, but what does that matter, right? Charlize Theron plays his barren wife, Mary Ann, a woman who at one point encounters visions of a baby eating her ovaries, and Pacino plays Milton, Kevin’s boss and Satan himself, literally. It’s a whacky ride into the occult, but the performances are worth it.
Murder Party (2007)
Run Time: 120 min | IMDb: 5.9/10
Jeremy Saulnier is someone who knows how to make a story of thrilling and brutal violence. Director of Blue Ruin and Green Room, he manages to make his stories gripping and tense with slight touches of offbeat humor. Well, for his first feature, that offbeat humor is just as extreme as the violence. An awkward guy finds an invite to a random Halloween party and decides to attend, unbeknownst to him that he’ll be the murdered main attraction for a group of eccentric artists. It’s a slow build toward its inevitably over-the-top and bloody conclusion, but it’s a fun ride for a low-budget gory comedy.
The Ritual (2017)
Run Time: 94 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
This Netflix nightmare follows a group of friends who venture into the Scandinavian wilderness in order to honor their recently-murdered brother. The guys, Luke (Rafe Spall), Phil (Arsher Ali), Hutch (Robert James-Collier), and Dom (Sam Troughton) are forced to take a different path from the one planned, a mistake that leads them to cults and sacrificial offerings and an ancient being who prefers to stake its prey. The scenery is gorgeous, the chemistry of the cast is spot on, and the premise — how these men confront their fears and failures thanks to a supernatural being — starts out promising, though it could’ve delivered a better ending.
Run Time: 110 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Ethan Hawkes plays a washed-up true-crime writer in this grisly flick filled with occult deities and possessed children. Hawke’s Ellison Oswalt moves his family to a home whose last residents all hanged themselves in order to uncover the reason for the killings and who was behind them. Unfortunately for Ellison, supernatural forces seem to be at play and he finds a box of snuff films, all depicting gruesome murders across decades, all featuring families who moved into the house. The movie combines the best of the horror genre — creepy kids, weird home videos, demons, etc — and Hawke does a good job of playing a father desperate to save his family from the mess he made.
The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)
Run Time: 111 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Despite a cast that includes Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, and Glenn Close, this unusual, post-apocalyptic film got a bit overlooked during its brief theatrical release. It’s best enjoyed without knowing too much of the plot. Suffice it to say that Melanie (Sennia Nanua), the girl of the title, isn’t quite what she seems, and there’s a reason that she, and others her age, are kept in a secure military facility. But the best trick of the film, thanks in large part to Nanua’s winning performance, is the way its innovations go beyond just putting twists on a familiar genre and, instead, making us question where our sympathies ought to lie.
Green Room (2015)
Run Time: 95 min | IMDb: 7/10
When a punk rock group accidentally witnesses the aftermath of a murder, they are forced to fight for their lives by the owner of a Nazi bar (Patrick Stewart) and his team. It’s an extremely brutal and violent story, much like the first two features from director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin and Murder Party), but this one is made even tenser by its claustrophobic cat-and-cornered-mouse nature. Once the impending danger kicks in, it doesn’t let up until the very end, driven heavily by Stewart playing against type as a harsh, unforgiving, violent character.
The Witch (2016)
Run Time: 92 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Robert Eggers’ Sundance hit attracted some of the oddest complaints directed at any film in recent years when some disgruntled audience members suggested it wasn’t scary enough. Maybe they were watching a different movie? Set in colonial New England, the austere film follows a family outcast from their strict religious community and trying to make it on their own at the edge of some deep, dark woods. It essentially takes the witch-fearing folklore of the era at face value, watching the family disintegrate under the insidious influence of a nearby witch. It’s a slow-burn horror movie, light on shocks, heavy on unease, and thematically rich in ways that only become apparent later.
Run Time: 103 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
Patrick Wilson stars as the father of a little boy trapped in a coma who’s been possessed by evil spirits. Rose Byrne plays his wife, and while the story itself is a bit muddled, the premise is solid nightmare fuel. Really, is there anything more terrifying than a demon child?
Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil (2010)
Run Time: 88 min | IMDb: 7.6/10
This indie comedy quickly became a cult classic, turning familiar scary movie tropes on their heads in bloody and hilarious ways. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine star as two bumbling-yet-well-meaning hillbillies who get pulled into a nightmare scenario when a group of horny coeds think they’re trying to kill them. In a series of events that escalates in violence, Tucker and Dale try to do the right thing while managing to stay alive in the process. As one of the best horror comedies, it’s a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by those looking for off-the-beaten-path hilarity.
Run Time: 97 min | IMDb: 7.1/10
This Thai horror film follows a young man named Tun and his girlfriend, Jane, who accidentally run over a young woman after a party and are haunted by her spirit. Hauntings and horror go hand-in-hand, but this film digs deeper into the supernatural trope by revealing a surprising, gruesome connection between the woman’s ghost and the film’s protagonist. We won’t spoil anything here, but let’s just say there’s a reason this death follows this guy wherever he goes.
Run Time: 99 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
When a graduate student in Chicago who’s completing her thesis on urban legends accidentally summons the ghost of an artist murdered in the late 19th century, things become a bit hellish. The Candyman was the son of a slave who grew up in polite society, became a painter, and fell in love with a white woman before a lynch mob cut off his painting hand, replaced it with a hook, and doomed him to his current existence. It’s a terrifying commentary on race relations and what we inherit, but even if that flies over your head, you’ll still be sufficiently spooked.
Run Time: 81 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Mike Flanagan, who directed Oculus and Ouija: Origin of Evil, expertly directs this simple tale of a deaf woman being menaced by a masked (and later unmasked) killer in her remote home. This is nothing you haven’t seen before, but Flanagan brings real panache and visual energy to a film that could have easily felt redundant in the hands of a lesser filmmaker.
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe (2016)
Run Time: 86 min | IMDb: 6.8/10
Succession’s Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch star in this horror mystery about a father-son coroner team attempting to identify a Jane Doe who was harboring all kinds of dark secrets. When a corpse is brought into a small-town coroner’s lab, he and his son begin to experience supernatural phenomena. Tommy (Cox) and Austin (Hirsch) try to escape the lab but quickly realize that they’re dealing with something far more dangerous than a dead body while demonic spirits, old curses, and witches come to life.
Child’s Play (1988)
Run Time: 87 min | IMDb: 6.6/10
Tom Holland’s ’80s horror flick managed to take a benign children’s toy and transform it into a waking nightmare. The film stars Catherine Hicks as Karen Barclay, a single mother who gifts her son Andy a doll he’s been wanting. Unfortunately for Andy, that doll is possessed by the soul of a serial killer and very quickly, Chucky then begins to wreak havoc on the family.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Run Time: 103 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
Stephen King’s 1992 novel transpires mostly in one isolated lake house’s bedroom where its protagonist, Jessie, lies bound to a bed after her husband dies in the midst of a sex game. That makes it a tough story to film, which may explain why it took 25 years to get turned into a movie. But the wait was worth it: director Mike Flanagan delivers a resourceful, disturbing adaptation anchored by a great Carla Gugino performance (with some fine supporting work from Bruce Greenwood). Forced to find a way out of her situation, while confronting her own past, Gugino’s Jessie is made to go to extremes, which leads to, among other things, one of the squirmiest scenes in recent memory.
Under the Shadow (2016)
Run Time: 84 min | IMDb: 6.9/10
This Iranian horror flick manages to tie in relevant world events with a darker story of demonic possession. The film follows Shideh, a former medical student and mother trapped in her home during the bombings of Tehran with her daughter, Dorsa. The pair are soon haunted by a djinn, a malevolent spirit who can possess a human by taking what’s most important to them. For Dorsa, it’s her doll, for Shideh, it’s a medical textbook her dead mother gave her. The two fight to survive the bombs and this evil spirit, and you’ll be fighting to get to sleep after the nightmares from this one begin
Run Time: 105 min | IMDb: 6.2/10
After losing her father, young Veronica (Sandra Escacena) and two classmates attempt to contact the other side with a Ouija board during a solar eclipse. Something more sinister breaks through, though, as Veronica is haunted by a dark presence everywhere she goes. Veronica excels phenomenally in the cliche horror bits every viewer has seen a thousand times over, such as mishandled Ouija use, frightening entities that only the protagonist is privy to, and twisted dreams. Based on a true story, the film relies on the strong performance of newcomer Escacena, highlighted by her haunting expressions of terror and anguish.
Life After Beth (2014)
Run Time: 89 min | IMDb: 5.6/10
Aubrey Plaza and Dane DeHaan star in this horror comedy about a guy named Zach, who’s mourning the loss of his girlfriend, only to discover she’s come back to life. Plaza stars as Beth, the dead girl revived, who begins exhibiting strange behavior, eventually going into full-blown zombie mode while her devoted boyfriend Zach (DeHaan) tries to manage her mood swings and her pesky craving for human flesh. John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon play Beth’s parents, who hilariously try to cover-up their daughter’s current undead state, and though things go off the rails in the final act, watching Plaza play a moody, angst-ridden walking corpse is one hell of a good time, even if it does give you nightmares.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Run Time: 85 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
This ’80s Sam Raimi creation launched the director’s career and has since become a cult classic. The story follows a group of college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a remote wooded area when they find an audio tape that somehow releases a legion of demons and spirits. Most of the group suffer varying degrees of possession which leads to gory mayhem (hence the film’s NC-17 rating).
Run Time: 82 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
One of the better found-footage movies to come down the pike in Paranormal Activity‘s wake is this creepy gem about a videographer (director Patrick Brice) who answers a strange Craigslist ad from a man (Mark Duplass) who requests to be followed around with a camera for 24 hours. There are a few points late in the narrative where suspension of disbelief becomes an issue (a not-atypical problem for the genre), but if you can look past that, you’ll be treated to a very scary turn by Duplass and a supremely-unnerving epilogue.
Creep 2 (2017)
Run Time: 80 min | IMDb: 6.4/10
(Spoilers for Creep:) What could have very well been a stand-alone character exploration in 2014’s Creep is heightened in Creep 2, which sees Mark Duplass’ chameleon-like killer seeking a different kind of self-portrait. Burned out on his string of murders, Aaron reaches out to a woman who’s looking for her own kind of story by meeting and filming the lonely people she meets online. Instead of a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing path the killer normally follows, he tells the woman what he is off-the-bat and what he wants: An ending to his journey. With all his cards (seemingly) on the table — and her hiding some of her own — it’s an even more fascinating tale than the original.
Train To Busan (2016)
Run Time: 118 min | IMDb: 7.5/10
Zombie movies have been done to death, brought back to life, and repeated a few more times. But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t entertaining stories to be found in the genre. Train To Busan doesn’t bring anything exceptionally original to the walking undead, but it’s no less of a thrilling ride. An overworked dad is riding the rails with his neglected daughter when a Z-word outbreak strikes, causing savagery from corpse and living alike. Its fast-moving, contorted foes are genuinely freaky in the movie’s cramped setting, making the story feel like a zombified Snowpiercer. It’s a fun action flick with a slightly heavy-handed but solid emotional core that’s unsurprisingly getting an English remake.
The Invitation (2016)
Run Time: 100 min | IMDb: 6.7/10
After back-to-back big studio bombs, Karyn Kusama returned to her scrappy indie roots with this contained, brilliantly suspenseful study of the darkness that can arise when people don’t allow themselves to feel. The Invitation isn’t a perfect film, but Kusama does a lot with the scant resources she had to play with here, and you have to appreciate her willingness to tackle grief so directly in a genre that tends to have little time for genuine human emotion.
The Bar (2017)
Run Time: 102 min | IMDb: 6.4/10
A varied group of people is stuck in a bar after a man is gunned down outside. As the paranoia spreads and they turn on one another, they discover a mysterious sickness could be the culprit. It’s a bottle-type plot that has been done before — locking a bunch of frenzied folks in a cage and let instincts take their course — but this Spanish horror comedy injects its own dark humor and keeps the answers to a minimum, making an entertaining story that unfortunately favors the “dark” over the “comedy” in its final act.
Run Time: 114 min | IMDb: 7.4/10
Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper collaborate on this nightmare-inducing horror flick about a suburban family whose young daughter is kidnapped by malevolent spirits. Steven and Diane Freeling live a relatively normal life, taking care of their three children, the youngest of which begins conversing with a static television and issuing ominous warnings about ghosts. Steven and Diane hire a medium to figure out why their house is haunted and discover spirits are using the children’s bedroom closet to kidnap them and bring them to another dimension, forcing both parents to confront their own fears to save their family. It’s the ghost story that all other ghost stories are modeled after, and there’s nothing more terrifying than little blonde-headed girls that are possessed.
Run Time: 130 min | IMDb: 6.3/10
A man (Legion‘s Dan Stevens) travels to an island to infiltrate a brutal cult in the hopes of saving his kidnapped sister. As the group’s leaders close in on discovering his identity, the dark secrets of the island start to present themselves. Written and directed by The Raid: Redemption director Gareth Evans, Apostle is a tense, beautifully shot thriller that doesn’t even seem like a horror film from the get-go. Stevens provides another icy, powerful performance alongside Michael Sheen’s turn as the leader of the harsh cult. It’s certainly a highlight among the Netflix original films.
Recent Changes Through August 2020:
Removed: Cloverfield, The Ring
Added: Poltergeist, The Devil’s Advocate