The 23 best horror films on Netflix UK
Looking for something creepy to watch? You'll find plenty of scare-tertainment right here. Updated for January 2023
What better way to indulge your taste for the pants-fillingly frightening than to dim the lights, curl up on the sofa, tune into Netflix and watch a horror film?
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+
It’s extremely rare that a horror movie gets nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, but then Get Out isn’t some corny slasher flick or ghost story – even if it does feature gallons of gore and bags of otherworldly creepiness.
This is a genre-bending piece that succeeds both as a straight-up scary movie and as a wry, insightful satire on race relations. And, as you’d expect from a film written and directed by Jordan Peele, it’s not inadequately stocked with laughs either. Add in Daniel Kaluuya’s fantastic lead performance (also Oscar-nominated) as a black man visiting his white girlfriend’s wealthy family for the first time and its box office smash status, and you can see why it attracted the Academy’s attention. But hey, who needs Oscar’s seal of approval when you have ours?
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.
Watch Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities on Netflix
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.
Nightmare on Elm Street director Wes Craven used this teen horror movie to smartly riff on the genre rules he himself helped establish. In Scream, the masked killer cleaves (no pun intended) slavishly to the stalk-and-slash guidelines set by older scary movies. So if you have sex or walk away from the group while saying “I’ll be right back”, you’re toast.
What could have ended up a trashy parody succeeds on two levels: it’s both a tense slasher flick and an amusing postmodern commentary on the horror genre, bolstered by a strong cast (the most recognisable member of which is killed off in the first ten minutes), killer plot twists and a sheaf of quotable lines. It was followed by a slew of lesser sequels, a TV series and a full-on nostalgia-fuelled reboot, but for our money the original remains the best.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead “reimagining” takes George A. Romero’s beloved 1978 horror film (a wry comment on America’s braindead consumerist culture as well as a bloody survival horror picture), rips out pretty much any satirical intent and dials the action up to 11. And somehow the result is not a cinematic disaster.
Snyder’s zombies sprint rather than shamble, there’s gunplay and gore aplenty and the overall feel is more akin to an action-thriller than a subversively intellectual horror flick. That said, this movie, in which a squabbling group of survivors hole up in a suburban shopping mall, is a whole heap of mindless undead fun. Sometimes, that’s enough.
The Woman in Black
This classic British ghost story, perhaps best known as a long-running stage play, has been brought to the screen for the second time in this 2012 chiller. Daniel Radcliffe plays a young widowed 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 less than hospitable and the weather even worse, our hero decides to spend some time at the house – and uncovers a tragic tale involving death, revenge and lots of strange noises. To reveal much more would risk spoiling the methodical build-up of this slow-burning shocker, which manages to make an old-fashioned spooky story feel pleasingly modern.
Following the critical and commercial success of The Silence of the Lambs, its producers were keen to milk Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar-winning portrayal of murderous psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter for all it was worth. Following a workmanlike sequel, 2001’s Hannibal, all that was left was the book that introduced him; Red Dragon, previously adapted by Michael Mann in 1986’s Manhunter.
Director Brett Ratner (until this film better known for making rap videos) dials up Hopkins’ role for the remake and stuffs the film with a bevy of big names like Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Harvey Kietel and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Manhunter is the more stylish, interesting movie – but thanks mainly to Hopkins and Fiennes’s all-in performances Red Dragon packs its own easy charm. Although ‘easy’ perhaps isn’t the right word for something featuring so much death and destruction.
This blood-drenched space shocker could easily be titled Dead Space: The Movie if not for the fact that it came out 10 years before the horror-gaming classic. The plot’s much the same though, with Sam Neill’s motley crew of space jockeys investigating a seemingly deserted spacecraft on the outer reaches of the solar system and finding all manner of hell aboard it.
So, just another unoriginal B-movie clinging on to Alien‘s coattails? Not exactly. The terrors on board the starship Event Horizon are grotesque enough to lift it above the many inferior rivals and make it more of a horror set in space than a sci-fi with a horror theme. So don’t watch it on your own. Or just before boarding a deserted starship.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
There have been several sequels and a full-on reboot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre over the 48 years since the original caused legions of cinemagoers to spill their popcorn in fright, but this Netflix original is a direct sequel that wipes all that away. A group of well-scrubbed youngsters head to a remote Texas town to start a new business, but find a familiar (leather) face in the process.
While this reboot-cum-sequel is a bit too modern in its horror sensibilities to truly disturb, it’s still a decent slasher flick with a bit of satirical bite thrown in. It also features one particularly gory scene that’s would have been sure to become semi-iconic – had Netflix’s marketing doofuses not ruined its impact by predictably revealing it in the trailer. Another sad example of how scary movies just hit harder in the pre-streaming, pre-web era.
Legend has it that those who are selfish, miserly or generally Grinch-like during the festive period won’t be visited by Santa but instead by his dark counterpart: Krampus. This mythical pagan demon (and antagonist of this horror-comedy) gleefully punishes wrongdoers at Christmas – and we’re not talking about leaving lumps of coal in a stocking here, but something more like ‘dragging you down to spend an eternity in the underworld’. That kind of stuff.
When a squabbling family find themselves snowed in at Christmas, their bickering is interrupted by a series of unnerving goings-on. Can they survive long enough to open their presents, or will Krampus teach them all a deadly Yuletide lesson?
Paranormal Activity 3
There are loads of Paranormal Activity movies rattling around out there and most of them are almost instantly forgettable, suggesting that the pressure to do more and go further than the hugely successful first instalment has seen the series stray too far from its low budget found footage roots.
That being said, Paranormal Activity 3 is the most enjoyably creepy of the later entries in the series. Made by the team behind viral ‘documentary’ (and later reality show spin-off) Catfish, it turns the clock back to 1988 to explore the childhoods of the sisters who starred in the first two movies. You surely know the score by now: malevolent entities, possessions and creepy obsessions with abducting babies abound. But despite treading familiar ground, it can still deliver plenty of chills.
A team of astronauts on the ISS rendezvous with a satellite carrying soil samples from Mars, understandably delighted when they discover microscopic signs of life within. Their giddiness dissipates faster than you can say ‘little green men’ when the organism, which they’ve dubbed Calvin, turns out to be intelligent, cunning and absolutely determined to stay alive – no matter the cost to its hosts.
This is sci-fi horror b-movie stuff at heart, but with a great cast (including Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson), superb visual effects and some disturbing twists and turns, it’s a tense creature feature that doesn’t disappoint.
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.
A family tragedy leads to young American Dani (Florence Pugh) deciding to accompany her boyfriend and his grad-school pals on a vacation to a remote part of Sweden. Their destination is a folk festival celebrating the summer solstice, but Dani’s less interested in fertility rites and feasts than she is in addressing her relationship troubles in the peace and quiet of the idyllic countryside. Quickly, however, it becomes apparent that the local customs are a little more extreme than prancing around the maypole, and she has no choice but to take notice.
Director Ari Aster takes the young travellers and viewers alike on a bright psychedelic trip into ancient pagan rituals, mental trauma and a climax that’s nigh-on impossible to shake off.
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.
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.
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.
When a deaf novelist retires to a secluded woodland cabin to finish off her latest book and get over a breakup, she thinks loneliness is going to be her biggest problem. Instead, she ends up being hunted by a creepy psycho in a featureless mask. It is, we think you’ll agree, a situation that would be pretty pants-filling for anybody – but when you can’t hear the murderer coming, it’s even more fraught. It all makes for a clever twist on what might otherwise be a fairly run-of-the-mill horror yarn.