Thrills, classic chills, gore, and spine chilling twists – here’s our selection of the best horror movies on Netflix if you’re looking for your fix. Not limited to just one kind of horror, this is a cross-section of good scary movies on Netflix. Come for the suspense, stay for the vampires.
1. The Shining
A classic of psychological suspense, The Shining is the horror film for people who don’t like horror. Its tension unspools slowly and mostly without jump scares or graphic violence, as it gracefully, eerily, builds an overwhelming sense of there being something terribly wrong in the snowbound hotel it’s set in. Stanley Kubrick adapts Stephen King’s story and makes it horrifying – but largely, it’s simply mesmerizing, as Kubrick uses the terrain of the hotel and specific visual motifs and audio cues to plunge the viewer into a world, and a brain, going slowly mad.
2. It Follows
Some of the best horror movies on Netflix came out in the last three years. Deliciously dread-filled It Follows quickly expanded into a wider release after rave reviews and reception in 2014. The monster at the heart of it is amorphous – it can take any shape, or no shape, and the terror this creates is the kind that sticks with you long after the opening credits. A teenager has sex with her boyfriend and inadvertently picks up a monster, which stalks and ultimately kills its victims unless the victim has sex with someone else and passes on the curse.
3. The Babadook
This 2014 film made quite a splash among critics and horror-lovers alike. Essie Davis gives an intense performance in a visceral film about the horrors of parenting, as a single mother faces off against the monster from her son’s nightmares. Is her worst opponent the monster, or her troubled, troublesome 6-year old son? Beautifully shot, The Babadook elevates itself above its genre with its visuals and emotional complexity.
Werewolves. You need them. John Landis’ 1981 film is considered a classic of the genre, and its gruesome special effects hold up to this day. It starts out something of a fish-out-of-water comedy, and morphs into a unrivaled monster-out-of-his-element tale of thrills and chills.
For a change of pace (but still sticking with the classics), go with this vampire flick from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. It’s a bonkers, gore-infused shocker starring Tarantino and George Clooney as a pair of crime brothers who have to fight their way out of a Mexican strip club. There’s a whole category of good scary movies on Netflix from the 90’s.
6. The Host
Korean director Bong Joon-ho is one of the most admired, innovative directors working today, and this excellent monster film works on several different levels. Korea’s top star Song Kang Ho stars as a man whose daughter is kidnapped by a giant amphibious monster that births out of the Han river after the U.S. dumps formaldehyde into it (inspired by real events in 2000). Big-budget with strong special effects, it’s a disaster film and a parable as well as a horror movie, and easily one of the best horror movies on Netflix.
Game of Thrones‘ Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway star in a movie that mines the terrors of intimacy. A newly married couple goes on a honeymoon to the bride’s family’s remote lake house. Things slowly take a turn for the worse after the husband finds his wife wandering naked in the woods. His suspicions grow as she begins to act strangely, and the movie ponders how well you know even the closest person to you, even as the gruesome body horror kicks in.
Returning to the franchise, Wes Craven made a clever, meta horror film that reclaimed what originally made Freddy Krueger an icon of terror and launched eight films, a TV show, and comic books. The disfigured serial killer this time targets Wes Craven, Robert Englund, and Heather Langenkamp, as they star within the film as themselves, making another Freddy sequel. This time, the character of Freddy starts leaking over into the real world, and targeting the filmmakers and stars. Eerie and largely successful.
Bloody and bleak, this Tim Burton movie stars Johnny Depp as a crazed barber and serial killer who slits his customers’ throats, and then delivers them to his accomplice Mrs. Lovett (Helene Bonham Carter) who turns their corpses into meat pies. Shot in hues of black and white and violent red, it’s a demonic musical that won several Golden Globes and an Academy Award for Art Direction.
10. Stake Land
This stripped vampire movie trades in a high-budget for a nightmarishly brooding post-apocalyptic setting, and cheap thrills in favor of a gripping survival tale. Humanity’s few survivors have holed up in cities and trade for goods using the teeth of dead vampires. A veteran vampire hunter and an orphan he rescued travel through a wasteland looking for refuge. Along the way, they pick up several other people, all looking for a fabled safe haven called “New Eden.”
Offbeat hilarity underscores a bloody good and very bloody film. Tucker and Dale are just two good-natured pals from the rural hills of Virginia, out at their cabin for a fishing vacation. That is until a group of preppy college students mistake them for chainsaw-wielding killers, and that assumption might just turn into a reality. A kooky example of the good scary movies on Netflix.
Of course, you have to watch this. A found-footage classic, this mock documentary tells the story of three film students who vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend. A smash hit driven by a brilliantly viral marketing campaign, this is the movie that launched a thousand found-footage horror films. A bonus? It’s short – 81 minutes. Anyone can watch that to experience one of the best horror movies on Netflix.
Cujo is a psychological horror film in which a friendly, 200-pound St. Bernard dog gets rabies and goes on a reign of terror in a small American town, stalking and trapping a mother and child inside a car as it attempts to kill them. Based on a Stephen King novel, it came out in 1983 and has become a cult classic, though it’s not to everyone’s taste.
Creep is a twisted little found-footage film starring Patrick Brice as a videographer and Mark Duplass as a man who puts out a Craigslist ad requesting to be followed with a camera for 24 hours. Lies abound and several twists and turns take the viewer on an increasingly dark and sometimes violent journey.
Less “scary” than innovative, this Irish-set film combines home invasion and monster scares with a minor subplot about conservation. A family moves into a remote millhouse in Ireland, ignoring warnings from villagers about creatures of the night, and soon need to defend themselves against attacks from demonic creatures – until one of them gets bit….
Stop feeling safe at home by watching this immensely creepy movie about a masked killer who stalks and then gradually infiltrates the home of a deaf and mute woman. An emphasis on sound effects elevates a standard plot, and dread builds slowly even as the heroine fights back in a cat-and-mouse game. Worth the watch.
17. Under the Shadow
An Iranian mother and her child are targeted by a malevolent supernatural force after their building is hit by a dud missile during the Iran-Iraq War. Though the damage is minimal, it leaves a crack that let something evil in, and Shideh struggles to protect herself and her daughter while her husband is away in this bracingly unnerving 2016 film.
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can literally kill you in this 2008 Canadian horror. A radio DJ is trapped inside his station as a virus outside turns people into zombies – a virus spread by the utterance of certain words. He has to decide whether to keep broadcasting, as a beacon of hope, even as he runs the risk of killing people with his words. Pontypool draws inspiration from Dawn of the Dead for a suspenseful, clever film that overcomes its low budget.
And now for something entirely different in the roster of good scary movies on Netflix: this Persian movie blends vampire movie, love story, and Western in a black-and-white, gorgeous mashup. In the Iranian ghost town of Bad City, there is a girl who walks alone at night. Meeting her may be bad for your fate. A young man forced onto the streets by his father’s heroin addiction finds himself fascinated by her, not realizing she may be leaving a trail of bodies behind her.
20. The Canal
Atmospheric horror buoys this ghost story about a film archivist who discovers that his house was the scene of a gruesome turn-of-the-century murder. Slowly, his sanity begins to crumble as a secret destroys his marriage and he blames it on dark spirits in the house. Then, his wife is killed mysteriously, and the line between reality and imagination begins to blur…a well-done Irish horror film.
Whether you’re in the mood for an old-fashioned slasher film, a zombie thriller, a ghost story, or a home invasion horror, you can find a wide array of good scary movies on Netflix. Enjoy!