- Any time is the right time to watch a horror movie. Waiting for October to indulge in frightening films is the old way to get your tricks and treats, like renting from Blockbuster or not using Treatster to map out which houses give out the best candy. No, in the modern world you can sit back and enjoy your scares from the comfort of your own couch thanks to screaming streaming content from Netflix.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the Best Horror Movies on Netflix right now, an evolving list that will provide you with classic horror selections and modern cuts to get your fright fix. This month, you can find modern takes on Stephen King stories like Gerald’s Game, classics like The Evil Dead, and contemporary horror like Bird Box, and more. There’s something for everyone here and more to come as Netflix continues to expand its catalog. “Viewer beware, you’re in for a scare!”
We’ll be updating this list on a monthly basis as new titles become available. In the meantime, be sure to visit these other related articles linked below:
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Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker
Cast: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, and Christopher Walken
What do you get when you combine the writer of Seven with the cinematographer behind The Revenant, director Tim Burton, and an iconically spooky story? You get Sleepy Hollow, lowkey one of the best “Halloween” movies ever made. This is a tremendously evocative adaptation that is atmospheric and chilling, but also a little goofy and a lot of fun. Johnny Depp plays police constable Ichabod Crane who is dispatched to the titular tiny town in 1799 to investigate a series of beheadings. Seriously, this is absolutely one of Tim Burton’s best films.
Director: Luis Llosa
Writers: Hans Bauer, Jim Cash, and Jack Epps Jr
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde, and Owen Wilson
If you’re in the mood for a creature feature that is unafraid to be absolutely insane, may I humbly suggest the 1997 box office hit Anaconda? The plot is very simple: a documentary crew working on the Amazon River is plagued by an absolutely massive Anaconda snake. That’s it. That’s the story. But this snake is huge and the kills are gross and Jennifer Lopez kicks all kinds of ass. If any of that strikes your fancy, check this one out. Just maybe leave the lights on if snakes aren’t your thing.
The Silence of the Lambs
Director: Jonathan Demme
Writer: Ted Tally
Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine, Scott Glenn, and Anthony Heald
The 1991 horror thriller The Silence of the Lambs is one of the best films of all time, full-stop. It’s also one of few movies to win “The Big Five” Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay. Based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, Jodie Foster plays an FBI trainee who is enlisted to interview former psychiatrist and serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to gain insight into the pursuit of a serial killer nicknamed “Buffalo Bill.” What ensues is a thrilling, haunting cat-and-mouse game captured in intimate fashion by director Jonathan Demme and backed by a terrifying Howard Shore score. This one will send shivers down your spine.
Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais, and Mark Victor
Cast: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Beatrice Straight, and Heather O’Rourke
This 1982 supernatural horror film is one of Steven Spielberg’s few ventures into the straight-horror genre. Spielberg wrote and possibly/maybe/probably directed some of Poltergeist, which follows a family who begins to experience supernatural dealings inside their home. Their young daughter is particularly in tune with these spirits, conversing with them through the TV set. The movie is full of great scares and freak-outs, and is very much a home invasion thriller by way of a ghost story.
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley
Very few horror movies have managed to burrow their way into my brain enough to keep me up at night. Scott Derrickson’s Sinister is one of those select few. The movie puts the spotlight on Ethan Hawke as true crime novelist Ellison Oswalt. Ellison moves his family into a new home so that he can do some research for a new book. Little do they know, that meant Ellison moved them into a home where the previous owners were gruesomely murdered. As if the lengthy opening shot of that family’s demise isn’t unsettling enough, ultimately Ellison finds a box of Super 8 reels showing a whole bunch more, all connected by one evil deity, Bughuul. The belief is that images of Bughuul function as a gateway for him to step into our world. When Sinister first hit theaters in 2012, I participated in a Twitter giveaway where I won a Sinister poster signed by Derrickson and producer Jason Blum and, admittedly, I did hesitate before hanging it up on my wall because, of course, it had Bughuul on it. That didn’t stop me though and now, as odd as it is to admit this, I do enjoy the weird, twisted thrill I get out of having it in my apartment.
The Evil Dead
Director/Writer: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich, and Betsy Baker
A true horror classic, you simply must see the original The Evil Dead. The 1981 film tells the story of a group of college students who visit a remote cabin in the woods and subsequently fall prey to demonic possession. That’s it. That’s the plot. And the movie is wonderful. The secret sauce that makes The Evil Dead such a pleasure is the low-budget stylings of director Sam Raimi, who gives the camera its own personality and delights in the gory violence that besets the characters. While there is some humor, the true “horror comedy” tone of the franchise doesn’t fully come into play until Evil Dead 2, which is as much a remake of the original as it is a sequel. But in terms of pure cinema history and a prime example of young aspiring filmmakers just doing the dang thing rather than waiting for permission to make a movie, The Evil Dead is a must-see.
In the Tall Grass
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Writers: Vincenzo Natali, Stephen King & Joe Hill (novella)
Cast: Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted, Patrick Wilson, Will Buie Jr., Harrison Gilbertson
Netflix has tapped into the well that is Stephen King in a big way. But with the adaptation of In the Tall Grass, they’ve also got a handle on the next generation of horror authors with Joe Hill. The premise is simple: Passersby are called into a vast field of tall grass by people pleading for help, only to be unable to find their way back out again. But since this is a King & Son joint, abject horror obviously waits for them among the greenery…
In her review of the new Netflix adaptation, our own Haleigh Foutch called the feature film “ambitious, imaginative, and artfully presented, taking King and Hill’s contained short and transforming it to a more expansive, sometimes confounding universe of horrors. In the Tall Grass doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s compelling and gorgeous, and yet another film on the Netflix roster I wish more people had an opportunity to see in theaters.” That’s more than enough reason to add it to your watch-list today.
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Barbara Hershey
Blumhouse Productions may have launched their “micro-budget for maximum success” model of filmmaking with 2009’s franchise-starter Paranormal Activity, but it was 2010’s Insidious that showed that the horror film’s success wasn’t a fluke. Now, almost 10 years later, that franchise-starter in its own right is available to watch on Netflix, of all places.
As Chris Cabin wrote in our rundown of the best haunted house movies, “the crowning achievement of James Wan‘s fascinating filmmaking career thus far, Insidious packs on its roaming, fluid shots with endless amounts of tension and bursts of nightmarish nonsense. It’s one of those rare ghost tales that uses color with almost percussive attention, most notably in the bright red streaks of the man with the long, sharp nails…” It’s a welcome addition to the canon of horror films that deal with possession of children and spookified houses.
Director: Susanne Bier
Writers: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Josh Malerman (novel)
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Tom Hollander, Machine Gun Kelly, BD Wong, Pruitt Taylor Vince
A Netflix sensation, Bird Box follows Sandra Bullock’s reluctant mother-to-be who’s forced to care for two young children after a devastating invasion takes away everyone’s ability to see. Technically, the human beings in this post-apocalyptic scenario still can see if they’re so inclined, but to do so is to invite madness and, ultimately, death. It’s a clever gimmick that’s on par with that of Hush and A Quiet Place, but is it strong enough on its own to carry the movie?
From Matt Goldberg‘s review:
Bird Box wants you to be afraid, but it doesn’t know how to make you feel that fear. There are monsters that make you kill yourself? Yes, that’s scary, but also not real. The monsters in A Quiet Place are a force, but they’re not really what’s scary. What’s supposed to be scary is the possibility of losing characters we care about, and Bird Box never gets that. It stays stuck at “The invisible monsters will make people commit suicide” and never pushes forward from there. If the best conclusion you can get from the movie is “That woman learned how to be a better mother thanks to the apocalypse,” you’ve failed miserably at both scaring the audience and filming a story worth watching
Director: Gareth Evans
Writer: Gareth Evans
Cast: Dan Stevens, Richard Elfyn, Paul Higgins
[This excerpt comes from Haleigh Foutch’s Apostle review from Fantastic Fest 2018.]
You are not ready for Apostle. You may think you’re ready for Apostle, but this brutal piece of British folk horror boasts the kind of crazy butchery that will have you watching through squinted eyes and squirming in your seat. Director Gareth Evans, best known for his action masterpieces The Raid and The Raid 2, trades combat for carnage in his new Netflix film, building a sense of sickening tension for the first half before flaying flesh and mangling bodies with abandon when the cult craziness boils over.
Apostle tackles the subjects of faith and fringe society with a lot of heart and some batshit crazy zeal. This film loves its outsiders, even as it inflicts all manner of torment upon them, and Evans clearly has a blast creating a rich mythology to drop them in. It’s a surprising, sometimes shocking cult horror movie that mixes the legacy of The Wicker Man with carnal, fleshy frights and a hint of freaky folklore. It’ll make you groan and grimace through the torment, but it will get your heart racing in all the right ways, even when it occasionally stumbles over its own ambition.