What better way to indulge your taste for the pants-fillingly frightening than to dim the lights, curl up on the sofa, fire up your streaming device of choice and watch a horror film?
- Read: The best 4K TV
There’s a terrifying treasure trove of scary movies available on streaming services like Netflix, Now and 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:
- The best horror films on Disney+
- The best horror films on Now and Sky Cinema
- The best horror films on Amazon Prime Video and Freevee
- The 13 scariest films on Shudder
Talk to Me
Offering something of a Gen Z spin on The Exorcist, this Australian indie flick follows a group of teenagers who video themselves becoming temporary vessels for the restless souls of the departed: just take hold of this terrifying embalmed hand, speak the solicitation “I let you in” and the subsequent antics will see you becoming a social media hit in no time.
It’s all fun and games until one spirit doesn’t want to give up its new home, making things go predictably sideways and scary. The result is an enjoyable horror romp with one or two genuinely disturbing sequences.
Few horror movies get a Best Picture Oscar nom, but then Get Out isn’t any old run-of-the-mill slasher flick or haunted house story, even if it does offer loads of gore and otherworldly discomfort.
This is a genre-bending flick that works both as a straight-up scary movie and as a wry take on modern-day racism. And, as you’d expect from a film written and directed by former sketch show star Jordan Peele, it’s also very funny. Add in Daniel Kaluuya’s fantastic lead performance (also Oscar-nominated) and its status as a huge box office smash and you can see why it caught the Academy’s eye. But look: who needs Oscar’s seal of approval when you have Stuff’s?
Don’t let its 2.5-hour runtime or subtitles put you off; if you’re a fan of unconventional horror, this Korean film is a must-see. It’s an atmospheric, disturbing and sometimes incongruously amusing slice of disquiet and tension that’ll linger in your brain long after the credits roll.
Following a spate of macabre deaths in a quiet mountain community, suspicion and superstition are running rampant. The spotlight falls on an enigmatic outsider who lives out in the woods, but the investigation into the murders is far from straightforward, leaving both the protagonists and the audience in a near-permanent state of discomfort. As a horror film The Wailing really has it all, taking the viewer to some extremely uncomfortable places – all while keeping you guessing until the end.
A creepy exploration of guilt and displacement, His House is an unconventional British horror movie with a political bite.
A young married couple, refugees fleeing conflict in Africa, find themselves in an empty house on an English suburban council estate. The property may be dirty, the neighbourhood bleak and the locals unwelcoming, but the couple embrace their chance at a fresh start and a safe new life following a traumatic journey to the UK.
Soon they discover that they can’t escape their past – the house itself keen to remind them of that at every opportunity. Someone or something has followed them across the sea and seems to be inside the walls, urging them to atone for some unnamed sin…
Evil Dead Rise
A welcome antidote to the current trend for erudite and intellectual ‘elevated’ horror movies, Evil Dead Rise is a fitting and above all fun return to the franchise that expertly walks the line between silly and scary, delivering gore and wince-inducing wounds aplenty.
Rather than the usual cabin in the woods, our setting this time around is an ageing Los Angeles apartment block cut off from the outside world by an earthquake. It’s the perfect time and place for malicious and murderous demonic entities to emerge from Hell and torment the trapped residents.
Horror icon Michael Myers makes his screen debut in John Carpenter’s surprisingly understated and not-all-that-gory masterpiece. The original Halloween – in which escaped mental patient Myers returns to his old suburban neighbourhood to continue the killing spree he started as a child – established and reinforced genre tropes that still exist today, and remains a tense and creepy watch going on half a century after its release. And Myers, an inexpressive and apparently motiveless ‘shape’ clad in a boiler suit and white rubber mask, makes for a fantastic boogeyman.
“Get out of the water!” Despite its limited screen time, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece made its hungry aquatic antagonist so frightening that Great White sharks have been demonised ever since – and any recent viewer of the film will have thought twice before taking a plunge into the ocean.
That aside, Jaws is a truly fantastic film. Perfectly paced, funny and warm at times, scary and violent at others, it can claim to be the world’s first ever summer blockbuster, and its simple plot – police chief hunts down a killer shark – doesn’t take away from its status as one of the best movies ever made.
Last Night in Soho
Edgar Wright’s stylish supernatural thriller follows a shy and introverted fashion student (Thomasin McKenzie) as she moves from the sticks to London’s swinging Soho – a place she has idealised for years for its lively 1960s heyday.
While her move to modern London isn’t an easy one, she discovers an uncanny aptitude for nocturnal time travel, finding herself experiencing the glitz and glamour in vivid reality, albeit as a powerless witness rather than a participant. Initially she’s thrilled, but soon she realises that dark forces lurk beyond the bright lights – forces that threaten to bleed into her present-day life. Matt Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy also star, alongside real-life 1960s icons Diana Rigg and Terence Stamp.
Evil Dead (2013)
Evil Dead has already been remade once by original writer-director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead 2 essentially being a higher-budget retread of his ultra-indie debut), but this slick Sony Pictures attempt is an entirely different beast – albeit one born from the same DNA and a similar setup: a group of attractive young people decamp to a remote forest cabin and unwittingly awaken something ancient, angry and deadly. Cue demonic possession, gallons of gore and a life-and-death battle against evil itself. Lovely stuff.
Wracked with guilt over a mysterious tragedy, a children’s clothing designer (Eva Green) finds herself suffering from multiple health problems: memory loss, tremors and difficulty breathing. Her husband (Mark Strong) believes these symptoms to be purely psychosomatic, but when a Filipina housekeeper (Chai Fonacier) arrives on their doorstep offering her services – a plus a plethora of apparently effective folk remedies, he puts his reservations aside. This woman isn’t all she seems, however, and Nocebo quickly builds into a compelling and tightly scripted horror film with a fantastic final twist.
The Saw series may have been diluted by an endless parade of needless sequels, but the original remains a psychological rollercoaster – minus most of the painful tropes that litter the genre.
The true genius of the film is that the villain isn’t your typical axe-wielding maniac. Far from it. He actually sees himself as some kind of hero, despite leaving his victims in traps that encourage self-mutilation. If someone manages to escape, they’ll become a better person for it, despite some horrific scars. And if they don’t escape? Well, let’s just say in that case it’s game over.
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.
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 surviving Twinkie. Sharp, witty and blessed with one of the best cameo appearances ever, this is a zombie movie with brains. Is it scary? Not really. Is it a blast? Yes indeed.
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities
OK, so technically this is not a single horror film – but it is a collection of short ones, all of which are brilliant. In order to make this anthology series, horror maestro Guillermo Del Toro recruited a scary movie-making dream team including the creators of Mandy, The Babadook and Splice, tasking each with directing their own hour(ish)-long tale of terror.
The result is a Twilight Zone-style anthology series, with weightless CGI wizardry reduced (if not ditched entirely) in favour of good old-fashioned practical effects. Del Toro himself introduces each story (and wrote some of them) and, from ghastly rituals to ravenous aliens to bizarre beauty products, there’s so much here for horror lovers to savour.
Made on a shoestring budget and running with the “found footage” angle that was already long in the tooth by its release in 2009, Paranormal Activity can still put the willies up all but the hardiest viewer. With its grainy camcorder footage, minimal VFX and cast of unknowns, it works for the same reasons [REC] and The Blair Witch Project work – they all feel more authentic and “real” than any slickly directed and star-studded big budget horror film.
The story centres on a woman who believes she’s been haunted by some kind of supernatural presence since her childhood. A psychic warns her and her boyfriend against attempting to communicate with the presence – advice which, of course, they immediately ignore. Cue minor creepy occurrences captured on night vision video, gradually ramping up to the point that you’ll be going to bed with the lights on.
Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne play a married couple who move into a new house only to find that they and their young children may not be the only inhabitants. When their elder son Dalton falls into a mysterious coma and a series of unexplainable events and sightings prompt them to seek help, it transpires that something truly evil is at work – and they may have to sacrifice everything to save Dalton’s soul.
James Wan’s modern update on the classic haunted house tale comes complete with jump scares, eerie sounds and furniture with a life of its own – a good old-fashioned ghost story that doesn’t require you to turn your brain on.
Blood Red Sky
What do you get when you mash up From Dusk till Dawn, Air Force One and Snakes on a Plane? Something like Blood Red Sky, a German film (with, curiously, about two-thirds of its dialogue in English) in which a transatlantic flight is hijacked by murderous terrorists. Seeking to protect her young son, a mother with a mysterious illness decides to take drastic action.
Despite its b-movie DNA and relatively low budget, Blood Red Sky offers an enjoyable twist on a bunch of familiar movie tropes, and its practical special effects work well. Perfect fodder for a midweek movie night.
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.
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.
This Netflix-made, Australia-set zombie horror stars Martin Freeman as a new father whose outback holiday goes horrifically awry courtesy of a massive viral outbreak. Get bitten by a carrier and you’ve got 48 hours before you become a shambling, mindless, meat-seeking husk yourself – and the wide open landscape means there are few places to hide from either the zombies or the live folks mercilessly hunting down anyone infected.
So far, so familiar, right? Well, Cargo subverts expectations by focussing on the characters rather than on finding different ways to make you jump, and the viral menace is used as a device to drive the narrative rather than define it. It’s more thought-provoking drama than many gore-hounds would like, no doubt, but we’d rather watch it than yet another Dawn of the Dead rip-off.
It’s “found footage” time once more in this micro-budgeted indie flick concerning a videographer hired by a mysterious man for a job – one that initially seems simple but turns out to be anything but.
With a lean cast (it’s basically a two-hander starring writer/director Patrick Brice and co-writer Mark Duplass – yes, he of mumblecore movie fame) and a lean 77-minute running time, Creep relies more on mood and tone than special effects or gore – and it’s well worth sticking around until the conclusion.
Under the Shadow
After her husband is sent away to serve in the army, an Iranian mother is left to care for their young daughter under the looming threat of missile strikes. When their apartment is hit, events take a turn for the paranormal and leave the pair haunted by a mysterious ‘Djinn’ spirit. Though some classic horror tropes soon follow, Under the Shadow‘s unusual setting and creaking, groaning building give it an extra bite.
Purported to be based on an actual police report, this early 1990s-set shocker sees a Madrid teenager and her younger siblings terrorised by a malevolent spirit in their apartment – and throws creepy blind nuns, gnarly Spanish alt-rock and coming-of-age tropes into the mix as well.
Think ouija boards, disembodied whispers and half-glimpsed demonic entities rather than gallons of gore, but once the final reel is over you’ll know you’ve watched not only one of the best foreign language horror films on Netflix, but one of the finest foreign language films full stop.