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The Scariest Shows On Netflix Right Now

Last Updated: October 25th

Making a scary show is tough enough, and making a scary show that’s also compelling entertainment is practically a minor miracle. That’s reflected in the selection of Netflix‘s content library, too. But the small sampling contains quite a few certified gems, not to mention some terrifying programs that don’t quite fall under the horror umbrella. Read on for a reader’s digest of the scariest shows on Netflix currently lurking in wait for you to watch, and know that there’s no shame in sleeping with a nightlight all the way through 2021.

This will be replete with spoilers, so read at your own discretion.

Related: The Best Horror Movies On Netflix Right Now

The Haunting Of Bly Manor

Netflix

1 season, 9 episodes | IMDb: 7.9/10

Mike Flanagan gave us all nightmares with his previous Netflix horror series, The Haunting of Hill House, but this new story — that features a few familiar faces for fans of his original work — feels a bit different. We’re ditching the haunting of one dysfunctional family for the heartbreaking tale of two orphans who, after their au pair dies in a very tragic manner, are assigned a new nanny (You’s Victoria Pedretti), who quickly upends things, for better and worse.

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Ratched

Netflix

1 season, 8 episodes | IMDb: 7.4/10

Ryan Murphy is back to give us his twisted take on the origin stories of one of horror’s most notorious villains. Sarah Paulson plays Nurse Ratched before her One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest days as she arrives at the asylum and starts making some necessary “improvements.” Of course, she has ulterior motives, which include freeing deranged serial killers and tempting patients to commit suicide but she also flips out on co-workers who try to steal her peaches from the breakroom, so hey, at least there will be some comedy paired with the madness of this show.

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Squid Game

Netflix

1 season, 9 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10

This Korean thriller has quickly become the streaming platform’s best performing series and there’s a good reason why. The show’s morbidly fascinating premise — hundreds of in-debt players accept a mysterious invitation to play a series of children’s games in the hope of winning a huge cash prize — combines the best of horror, drama, and weirdly, game-show competition genres to deliver an addictive format. Each episode sees the number of players dwindle — when you lose these games, you die — adding real stakes for fans but there’s an emotional hook as well. None of these people are bad, they’re just unlucky in life and drowning in debt. Do they deserve to die for that? Someone sure thinks so.

Midnight Mass

Netflix

1 season, 7 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10

Mike Flanagan is quickly becoming one of the best genre visionaries in the game and he delivers another win for horror fans with this deeply moving, deeply unsettling story about a small island community plagued by their own religious prejudice. Zach Gilford plays Riley, the prodigal son returning home after a terrible tragedy causes him to question his purpose in life. Flanagan favorite Kate Siegel plays Erin, his high school sweetheart, also dealing with trauma from her past, As the two bond, the rest of the community welcomes a mysterious new figure to its church, a priest with a dark secret and troubling plans for his parishioners. Everyone is on their A-game here, especially Samantha Sloyan as the pious nun Bev Keane and Hamish Linklater as tortured Father Paul.

Kingdom

Netflix

2 seasons, 12 episodes | IMDb: 8.4/10

This South Korean supernatural thriller is set a few years after the Imjin War and follows a Crown Prince named Lee Chang who stumbles upon a plague capable of resurrecting the dead just as his country is thrust into political turmoil. It’s the court intrigue that really sets this show apart from other zombie offerings, but if you’re looking for scares, the undead more than deliver here.

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The Kirlian Frequency

Tangram Cine

1 season, 5 episodes | IMDb: 7.6/10

This web series from Argentina migrated to Netflix not too long ago, and it’s been scaring the sh*t out of people who happen to stumble on it ever since. An animated, short-form horror show, the story revolves around a radio that broadcasts only at night from a small town deep inside Buenos Aires Province where all kinds of macabre and supernatural events occur. It’s twisted and beautifully crafted and the easiest binge-watch you’ll find on this list.

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Dead Set

Channel 4

1 season, 5 episodes | IMDb: 7.8/10

Charlie Brooker, the mastermind behind Black Mirror, was a media critic before he got into fiction, with a particular focus on the unethical behavior and cheap theatrics of reality television. Brooker presented a good cynical, misanthropic front, but as you watch Dead Set, his 2007 series, his concern with how television, especially reality TV, is too often built on dehumanizing and destroying people comes to the fore. And all of that was condensed into one five-episode series.

Dead Set’s premise is simple: the Big Brother house (and yes, it’s the real set) is crashed by a swarm of zombies and a bunch of self-centered celebrity wannabes have to try and take shelter from the undead. It was, blatantly, a stunt, right down to casting multiple real members of former Big Brother casts in small roles. Brooker even talked the network into airing all five episodes on five consecutive nights leading up to the finale broadcasting on Halloween 2008, which makes it perfect for binge watching. What’s admirable is how dedicated Brooker is to the show’s conceit, and it shows the balance of criticism and scares he’d bring to Black Mirror just a few years later.

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The Walking Dead

AMC

9 seasons, 152 episodes | IMDb: 8.3/10

The zombies on AMC’s blockbuster program often serve allegorical purposes in the show, representing any sort of external threat that puts disparate collections of people into crisis mode and revealing extreme truths about human nature pushed to the edge. But of course a zombie series must also be a horror series, and while the show tends to err away from traditional horror filmmaking, there’s still plenty of room for jaw-dropping set pieces of suspense and terror. The zombies themselves have grown ever more gruesome as the show’s budget has increased proportionally with its popularity, but it’s the desperation of life post-outbreak that disturbs audiences the most. Drastic times drive ordinary, good people to commit craven, self-serving, or even sadistic acts. No suggestion the show makes is more unsettling than the idea that decency can no longer exist in a world gone mad.

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Brand New Cherry Flavor

Netflix

1 season, 7 episodes | IMDb: 7.2/10

Rosa Salazar stars in this bizarre horror series set in 90s L.A. Salazar plays Lisa, an aspiring filmmaker who seeks revenge when hit with a devastating betrayal that ruins her dream of shooting her first big feature. To dole out her vengeance, she turns to the supernatural for help and ends up going on a mind-bending journey of her own. Puking kittens is just the beginning here.

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Black Mirror

Netflix

5 seasons, 22 episodes | IMDb: 8.8/10

This speculative-fiction series has packed more ideas and complex philosophizing into seven episodes than most shows manage over several seasons. Like a sleeker, tech-themed Twilight Zone successor, it explores the potentially ruinous effects of leaps forward in cybernetic and virtual innovation, following these possible futures toward the darkest possible outcomes. (Some of these episodes have turned out to be eerily prescient; in one episode, the British Prime Minister violates a pig on national television to placate a kidnapper, which actual PM David Cameron allegedly did for real during his college years!) Unsurprisingly, the cumulative effect of technological advances is usually something deeply disturbing.

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American Horror Story

FX

9 seasons, 115 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10

Living proof that a show need not be well-calculated, intelligent, or even coherent to be scary, Ryan Murphy’s anthology series has made it five seasons by throwing everything at the wall and using whatever sticks. The gambit of starting from square one with new characters in a new plotline every season suits the show well, in that it frees the creators from consequences, American Horror Story‘s enemy #1. The complete absence of internal logic makes effective storytelling of any sort virtually impossible, but it allows Murphy the freedom to assemble whatever traumatizing tableaux might cross his deranged mind without worrying about how it might fit into a larger narrative. Spectacle has historically been Murphy’s strong suit; American Horror Story is really no different from Glee, except the elaborate production numbers have been replaced by displays of hair-curling gore and graphic disfigurement. Everything else is extraneous, and Murphy’s job is to get it out of the way to make room for the fireworks.

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The Haunting of Hill House

Netflix

1 season, 10 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10

Mike Flanagan knows how to do horror, and his series for Netflix, The Haunting of Hill House, is proof of that. The show, like the book off which it’s based, follows the fractured Crain family as they try to make peace with their dark and twisted path. Of course, through some carefully-timed flashbacks, we see why the Crain siblings are so messed up: They lived in a haunted house as children, a house that eventually caused the death of their mother. There are plenty of frights to keep horror fans interested in this thriller, but the real point of this show is investigating trauma and its lingering effects. Makes sense that horror is the best way to do that.

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