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 TV 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:
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.
David Gordon Green’s Halloween sequel takes a bold stance: ignore all the previous sequels (yes, even that one starring Busta Rhymes), don’t make Michael Myers Laurie Strode’s long lost brother, delete all supernatural elements – just generally smash that reset button. The result is a modern slasher movie that’s a direct follow-up to perhaps the greatest slasher movie of all time (the 1978 Halloween, sadly not on Netflix), and almost as well-crafted and creepy.
Michael Myers has been locked away in a high security psychiatric hospital since his now-infamous killing spree, but four decades behind bars apparently hasn’t quelled his desire to creep around suburbia filleting babysitters. Meanwhile, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie is a PTSD-addled gun collector, obsessed with the idea that Myers will slip his bonds and return for revenge. Her daughter and granddaughter think she’s nuts, but when her predictions start to play out, all three generations of Strode women are suddenly in a fight for their lives.
Written and directed by Crispian Mills, former frontman of Britpop also-rans Kula Shaker, this breezy horror-comedy set in a posh but dysfunctional boarding school. Despite featuring a number of familiar faces (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Michael Sheen and Margot Robbie), the film really centres on a group of pupils who find themselves in a battle for their lives after a sinkhole spews hellish creatures into the school grounds.
Paranormal Activity 3
There are seemingly dozens of Paranormal Activity movies out there and, given the hype (and, let’s face it, money) generated by the tiny-budgeted first movie, it’s not hard to see why. Most of them are pretty forgettable, suggesting that the pressure to do more and go further than the first instalment proved too much for the filmmakers, even with more money and fancier CGI effects to play with, but Paranormal Activity 3 is the most enjoyably creepy of the later entries in the series.
Made by the team behind the viral “documentary” (and later MTV reality series spin-off) Catfish, it rewinds back to 1988 for a found footage bonanza concerning the childhood of the sisters who starred in the first two movies. You surely know the drill by now – malevolent entities, possessions and creepy obsessions with abducting babies abound – but on a still night, it can still deliver plenty of jumps.
When a nerdy high school kid buys and fixes up a battered 1957 Plymouth Fury called Christine, his confidence begins to grow. But when that turns into cruel arrogance, his friends start to question the car’s influence: is Christine just a machine, or is something sinister lurking in her engine block?
Despite being one of the lesser-known Stephen King adaptations and lesser-known John Carpenter movies, Christine is well worth any horror film fan’s time. Carpenter’s trademark synth score juxtaposes cleverly with the uncharacteristically ominous 50s rock ‘n roll that wafts from Christine’s radio and, despite a lack of blood and gore or sophisticated visual effects, the demonic motor exudes a palpable sense of menace, even when parked harmlessly in a garage.
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…
Writer-director Alex Garland’s follow-up to the dazzling Ex Machina had a tricky release. Originally destined to get a full release in cinemas worldwide, in the end studio Paramount decided it deserved only a limited US theatrical release, with everyone else getting their first chance to see it on Netflix. Why? Because they likely figured it’d flop in cinemas – it’s chilly, complex and brainy and, right or wrong, big studios don’t credit the average filmgoer with much intellectual curiosity.
Don’t let Paramount’s decision put you off. This is one of the most accomplished and interesting science fiction horrors of recent years, a visually and sonically arresting film that’ll leave you with more questions than answers, but enough clues to work everything out too.
When an unexplained “shimmer” engulfs a tract of land in the southeastern United States, then starts increasing in size, authorities seem powerless to stop it. Everything and everybody they send inside disappears, never to return – with one exception. When Natalie Portman’s biologist finds herself personally drawn into the mystery, she joins a team venturing into the Shimmer to attempt to uncover the truth.
For our money the most interesting horror film of 2018, Hereditary starts out like a family drama and ends as… well, that’d risk ruining a ride filled with more twists than a runaway rollercoaster.
When her secretive mother dies, Toni Collette’s Annie tries to parse the ways in which her behaviour shaped and warped her family – not just affecting Annie herself, but her deceased brother, her son Peter and her daughter Charlie, the latter two of which seem particularly troubled. When these troubles lead first to tragedy, then full-on nightmare, it already may be too late for Annie to steer things back on course.
If you’re looking for an intelligent, brilliantly crafted film that retains the power to shock, look no further. Director Ari Aster (who more recently made Midsommar, another smart and scary movie) leaves plenty of clues and cues in to hint at the ending, but you still might not see it coming.
M. Night Shyamalan goes down the found footage route in this creepy (and somewhat comic) horror yarn. A family emergency sees two young siblings sent to stay at their maternal grandparents’ remote farm. Having never met granny and gramps before, they decide to document the visit on video camera – and quickly begin to capture some very weird goings-on amongst the familial bonding.
The Visit is a back-to-basics approach from Shyamalan following a series of big, overblown pieces, but it still manages to work in the director’s trademark twist. Even if you’ve spotted this particular brain-melter a mile off the film’s tone, plot and performances make it a genuinely involving fright fest.
A Quiet Place
This thriller racks up tension via a simple premise: there are horrible alien monsters roaming the world and thanks to some super-sensitive ears they’ll come and get you if you make so much as the slightest cough.
Real-life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who also co-writes and directs) are superb as the parents striving to keep their children safe from these sonar-wielding uglies. Despite barely a word being uttered in the film – most of the dialogue is signed with subtitles – audio becomes a major part of cranking up the fear. A good set of surround sound speakers goes a long way toward making the viewing experience even more bum-clenchingly stressful, particularly when Blunt’s character goes into labour…
Gareth Evans is best known for directing the kick-ass Indonesian action flicks The Raid and The Raid 2, but with Apostle, which he also wrote, he immerses himself into the world of dramatic horror. In this period piece, a clearly troubled Dan Stevens joins a mysterious island-based cult (led by Michael Sheen’s demagogue-like prophet) in order to rescue his sister from its clutches. He quickly discovers there’s much more to this bunch of outcasts and misfits than a spot of misguided religious fervour. Cue mangled bodies, bloody carnage and some extremely creepy reveals.
Even if Evans doesn’t quite manage to pull things off with the same flair as we’ve seen in his stellar pair of action movies, Apostle is an atmospheric folk horror with some truly squirm-inducing scenes and a great final shot.