What better way to indulge your taste for the pants-fillingly frightening than to dim the lights, curl up on the sofa and watch a horror film?
There's a terrifying treasure trove of scary movies available on streaming services like Netflix, Now and Amazon Prime Video. Here, you'll find the Stuff team's pick of Netflix's selection. Whether you like your horror movies bloody, creepy, arty or with a twist of comedy, there's sure to be something in here that'll put the willies up you.
Searching for scares on a different streaming service? We've got you covered:
Drag Me to Hell
Sam Raimi’s 2009 popcorn-horror recalls his breakout hit Evil Dead by sprinkling its over-the-top jump scares and gross-out SFX with plenty of knowing humour. When Alison Lohman’s ambitious bank clerk tries to impress her boss by repossessing a penniless old woman’s house, she ends up on the receiving end of a gypsy curse – and this particular spell goes a lot further than warts, nightmares or bad luck. Can she reverse the curse before it’s too late?
Some of the CGI effects haven’t aged particularly well, but it doesn’t knock this fun old-school horror flick off its tracks.
The tension ratchets up masterfully in this slow-burn psychological thriller, in which Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play a young couple whose romantic night in is interrupted by three masked strangers. Simple as it is, the home invasion setup makes for a suspenseful 90 minutes as the pair gradually realise the peril they’re mired in, then attempt to fight back against their mysterious tormentors. The Strangers uses silence and stillness to its advantage, eschewing standard horror techniques like jump scares and ominous music in favour of a steadily increasing sense of dread.
Shaun of the Dead
The first entry in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s loosely-linked “Cornetto trilogy”, this horror-comedy skews towards guffaws over gore – although it’s not without its moments of graphic violence or human drama. Pegg plays Shaun, an electrical shop assistant who’d rather be slacking around with his best friend Ed (Nick Frost) than moving up the professional ladder. When a bust-up with his long-suffering girlfriend prompts him to finally grow up, it coincides with a massive zombie outbreak – meaning he must navigate a walking corpse-infested North London to save his loved ones and survive the night.
Packed with clever references, visual gags (Wright’s signature quick-fire editing is something to marvel at) and witty one-liners, Shaun of the Dead adds up to far more than your average comedy horror flick. There’s a genuine heart and soul to it too; it’s easy to see how it transformed Pegg and Wright into Hollywood hot properties.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
If teen horror leaves you cold, best dig out your cosiest pair of mitten before hitting play on this 60s-set yarn which, despite being executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro, doesn’t quite pack the edge you might expect from something with one of the world’s most interesting filmmakers’ fingerprints on it. That said, younger viewers might well appreciate this cautionary tale about how old acts of cruelty and greed can reverberate through the generations: there’s more than enough creepiness, suspense and genuine scares to make for a fun evening of diving behind the sofa. It also seems set up for a sequel, which some of its mysteries left unsolved by the time the credits roll – whether or not it’ll get one remains to be seen.
Part of an early noughties wave of provocative mainstream horror movies (Saw being another prime, and more enduring, example), Eli Roth’s Hostel a grim escalation of the classic horror setup: a group of young travellers find discover that foreign hospitality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Jay Hernandez and friends are American backpackers experiencing all Europe has to offer – including a visit to a (we suspect zero star) murder hostel in which the guests part with vast sums to torture and butcher hapless tourists. The Airbnb from hell – and then some.
Hostel is executive produced by Roth’s buddy Quentin Tarantino, but don’t expect any postmodern twists on the horror genre here: this is a fat old slice of bleakness, and all the more effective for it.
Based on a case investigated by real-lifeghost hunters Ed an d Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring tells the story of a New England family haunted by a vindictive spirit – and comes with all the standard jump scares, whispering voices, flying furniture and wailing you’d expect from a modern-day horror flick. It’s far from the cleverest movie in this list, but for those times you just want a good popcorn yarn to wrap yourself up in, it’s spot-on.
Despite taking some liberties with the source material – the real life Ed and Lorraine weren’t quite as easy on the eye as stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, for one thing – it’s an entertaining, well-paced ride on the ghost train.
Jordan Peele’s follow-up to the sensational Get Out isn’t quite as hard-hitting as its predecessor, but artfully concealed just beneath its home invasion horror exterior, in which a middle-class African-American family is assaulted by a pack of twisted doppelgangers, there lies a barbed critique of class, upward mobility and the American Dream.
Even on the surface it makes for an exciting, creepy and gory watch, but dig a little deeper and it might give you cause to question your own position in society’s hierarchy – and whether or not your own aggrieved double is out there somewhere, just waiting for the right time to bump you off and take your place.
The Woman in Black
This classic British ghost story, perhaps best known for its adaptation into a long-running stage play, is brought to the screen for the second time in this 2012 chiller starring Daniel Radcliffe. He plays a young bereaved lawyer, sent to a remote coastal town to settle the affairs of a deceased client – who happened to live in a creepy mansion surrounded by even creepier marshes.
With the locals unfriendly and the weather inclement, our hero decides to spend some time at the house – and uncovers a tragic tale involving suicide, drowned children and lots of strange noises. To reveal more would risk spoiling the slow-burn build-up of an old-fashioned spooky story that feels pleasingly modern.
Somewhat counterintuitively for a zombie film, this slacker comedy hits the ground running – in a brilliant, self-aware opening credits sequence that lays out the ground rules for survival in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world. Jesse Eisenberg's Columbus is a coward who survives by following those rules to the letter. His companion, Woody Harrelson's Tallahassee, is a zombie-killing machine on a quest for the last remaining Twinkie. Sharp, witty and blessed with one of the best cameo appearances ever, this is a zombie movie with brains.
Mixing genres doesn’t always pay off, but Overlord is a wild ride that manages to be both a serviceable war movie and a decent horror film. Following a group of US paratroopers dropping into Nazi-occupied France the night before D-Day, it starts out fairly serious but quickly descends into a schlockly, Wolfenstein-esque funfest, full of excellent practical special effects. It’s perfect stuff for a casual Halloween movie night.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
At times almost hilariously campy (Keanu Reeves’ savanging of an English accent being a prime example), at others springing to life with its stunning gothic imagery and tone, Francis Ford Coppola’s faithful adaptation of history’s best-known vampire story is quite the cinematic feast.
With a star-studded ensemble cast (Gary Oldman! Anthony Hopkins! Winona Ryder! Tom Waits!), extravagant costumes, lighting so dramatic it might as well spell out “spooky!” and some of the most extraordinary hairstyling in ‘90s cinema, Coppola’s Dracula feels like an unmissable curiosity rather than an out-and-out horror film. It captures the novel’s doomed romanticism better than any other adaptation we’ve seen, presenting the bloodthirsty count as tragic figure rather than moustache-twirling villain. A fine addition to the vampire movie canon, we say.
I See You
A smart modern horror film that cleverly plays with the genre’s tropes and its viewers’ expectations, I See You is one of those under-the-radar movies that will hopefully get the attention it deserves on Netflix. We can’t say too much without risk of ruining the fun, but it involves creepy, unexplained goings-on around Helen Hunt’s house while she struggles to keep her family together and local children are going missing in strange circumstances. If it sounds like a lot to follow, rest assured everything comes together pretty satisfyingly in the end.
Land of the Dead
George Romero isn’t just the father of the zombie movie – he’s one of the first directors to use horror as a means of critiquing the world we live in. And the social commentary is hard to miss in Land of the Dead, Romero’s fourth film in a loosely connected series of six about shambling brain-munchers.
So the world has been all but conquered by the undead and Dennis Hopper (enjoyably over the top) is the corrupt ruler of a huge walled city still holding out against the hungry hordes. He and his cronies reside in a luxury high rise tower lording it over the remainder of the city’s population, who are mired in abject poverty but safe from the dangers outside the walls. The fragile status quo is threatened when zombies begin to exhibit apparent intelligence, suggesting the barriers and rivers that protect the city may no longer be sufficient…