The 25 Best Horror Films Streaming On Netflix, Ranked

01.09.15 4 years ago 64 Comments

William Castle

The winter months are perfect for mixing up a batch of cocoa and sitting on the couch under your blanket that serves as both a conduit of warmth and an eye shield for some of the scarier moments you’ll see in the films below. All 25 of these movies can be found under the “horror” portion of Netflix‘s streaming menu, so read on and make room in your queue for these creepy classics.

25. Night Breed: The Director’s Cut

Writer-Director-Novelist Clive Barker has one of the darkest and twisted minds in the history of the horror genre (it’s currently not on Netflix, but you should go out of your way to see Midnight Meat Train, based on one of his Books of Blood). This follow-up directorial effort to Hellraiser — which is a bit more slanted to fantasy-horror — was originally a bit of a mess due to rampant studio edits. Netflix has The Director’s Cut now, and it’s drastically better than the theatrical version due to an enhanced character arc that doesn’t bend its will to the slew of creature effects.

24. VHS/VHS 2

Found footage can be hit-or-miss, but in this pop-culture journalist’s opinion, the genre has a place in film. VHS and VHS 2 combines the archetype with an anthology premise that packs several short films around one primary narrative thread, and in both films, they’re forgettable. What’s fun here is the POV-like pleasure you get from entering the shoe’s of the antagonist or protagonist in these ghoulish tales. They’re not all great — with some of the limitations of a minimized budget evident in the weaker entries — but just like a book of short stories, even if it’s bad, it doesn’t last very long.

23. Mimic

Guillermo del Toro’s first foray into the Hollywood machine is his least favorite film, but even so, Mimic still manages to provide some monster movie fun. del Toro’s knack for creating suspenseful set pieces looms largely, even if the payoffs feel contrived. It’s not intellectually pleasing in any manner, as his first American effort after Cronos should have been, but the traces of magic that the Mexican auteur would later wrangle for Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy are evident.

22. Friday the 13th

Jason Voorhees’ mother does the damage in the first chapter of this long-running and oft-remade horror series. None of the Friday the 13th films really deliver any kind of visceral chills other than perhaps a few jump-scares, but as far as campy slasher films go, this one at least tries in some fashion to take itself seriously, and its effect on pop-culture cannot be ignored.

21. Dead Snow

This Norwegian horror-comedy makes no effort to provide anything but an entertaining roller coaster ride set on a track of bones and blood. There’s plenty of gore for those who enjoy their scares spiced with entrails, but what makes this film enjoyable is its ability to stay self-aware while still keeping enough distance to draw you into its Nazi-zombie narrative.

20. Jeepers Creepers

There’s nothing novel about Victor Salva’s part-slasher, part-monster movie, and yet it still manages to entertain. Salva somehow injects the winged, slimy fleshed monster — that enjoys plucking the eyeballs from his victims — with a bit of humor and personality just through its expressions, and the gamble works well. Not a lot of brain power is needed to enjoy Jeepers Creepers, but not everything has to be a Stanley Kubrick film.

19. Hellraiser

Barker makes this list a second time, but it’s this film that almost fully embodies the nightmarish qualities of his literary works. Based on The Hellbound Heart (a frightening novella that is so genuinely disturbing that no film could do it justice), Hellraiser is saturated with enough sexual undertones and creative demonic delicacies to make it a one-of-a-kind morbidity, even if it has some limitations.

18. The Sacrament

Ti West started his fairly young career in the horror genre, but it’s evident that his skills as a filmmaker could thrust him — like the Peter Jacksons and Sam Raimis of this world — into a more mainstream role which might begin to take form with his Ethan Hawke western due the end of this year. To get a taste of the talent of Ti, The Sacrament provides a boiling pot premise — in a David Koresh-like camp — that explodes during the film’s final act.

17. You’re Next

It seems like one of the ingredients to the home-invasion genre these days (whose exciting entries include the original Straw Dogs, Funny Games, and High Tension, even if it falls apart in its final moments) is to mask the perpetrators of the violence in some sort of silly veil. You’re Next continues that tradition, but in the same vein as I Spit on Your Grave and The Hill Have Eyes, the tragedy and unnerving horror of the attack turns the victims into heroes, and this film ends up being more fun than it should have been.

16. World War Z: Unrated 

This apocalyptic zombie film, based on Max Brooks’ novel, was reportedly plagued by problems including star Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster butting heads over a script that endured continual rewrites. How World War Z came out coherent and exciting on this large of a scale is bewildering, but it’s best to leave the secrets of magic to the magicians (or editors) — just enjoy it.

15. Oculus

Much like the fantastically terrifying The Conjuring, Oculus takes a familiar haunted house premise and wrings the cloth in novel ways to squeeze out just enough droplets of fresh blood. Unfortunately, there’s a dearth of films that rely on the presence of horror than there are movies that enjoy throwing deformed creatures in our faces. Oculus stays in the former group, and it does so to our contentment.

14. Stake Land

Jim Mickle’s vampire road movie doesn’t rely on premise, dilapidated sets, or make-up to achieve its thrilling narrative, instead leaning against age-old principles like concrete character development and smart turning points to drive this story of a grizzled vampire killer who takes some young birds under his wing.

13. Day of the Dead

It’s not as groundbreaking as Night of the Living Dead, or as mordant as Dawn of the Dead, but George Romero’s final installment in his original zombie series still stands the test of time. While Dawn of the Dead stabbed at the flesh of the American dream, Day of the Dead charred it by roasting the egocentric qualities of humankind. Land of the Dead built on this idea further, but that entry was forgettable at best, with the height of Romero’s powers long gone before its creation.

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