The best horror movies on Netflix right now feature ghosts, monsters, cults, curses, witches, cannibals, and serial killers, with the following 21 of the scariest films on the streaming service.
Netflix have been in the horror business for a while, first buying and curating great scary movies, then making and streaming some of the most terrifying movies in recent years. Meaning the streamer now combines classics with new releases and movies made in-house.
With rights changing hands, it’s also an ever-evolving list, with old scary movies disappearing, and new horror movies taking their place.
So the following is a list of the best horror movies on Netflix right now, divided up into scary movies only available in the UK, then those only viewable in the US, and finally the films streaming in both territories.
The following are the best horror movies currently streaming in the UK (and not the US) at the time of writing…
1974’s Black Christmas might have beaten it to the punch, but 1978’s Halloween is considered the godfather of the slasher genre. And for good reason. The kills are brutal, Michael Myers is a terrifying villain, and Jamie Lee Curtis is the ultimate “final girl.”
The film kicks off in Haddonfield on Halloween night, with young Michael brutally butchering his sister. The film then continues some 15 years later, with Myers breaking out of a sanatorium and returning to murder the town’s teens. But he meets his match in the form of JLC’s Laurie Strode. It was followed by sequels, remakes, and reboots, but the original Halloween has never been bettered.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Just as Halloween precipitated the slasher craze, so Night of the Living Dead invented the modern zombie movie a decade earlier. Writer-director George Romero then bettered that scare-fest with Dawn of the Dead, by punctuating the horror with a wicked dose of satirical humor.
The location is a shopping mall, with a group of survivors being picked off by hordes of the undead. While the joke is that their blind ambling is little different to how materialistic man behaves when mindlessly moving around a mall.
Combining comedy and horror can be a tricky balancing act, but Romero managed it, and director Ron Underwood also gets it right on Tremors, the script filled with big laughs, and enough horror to satisfy gore-hounds.
Kevin Bacon is Val McKee, a handyman working in the desert town of Perfection, who thinks a serial killer is on the loose when he finds a bunch of dead bodies. Only to discover that the truth is much more outlandish – giant worms are under the earth, and hungry for humans.
The Others (2001)
Alejandro Amenebar writes and directs this terrifying tale that plays out at the tail-end of World War II. Nicole Kidman plays Grace, who lives in a country pile in Jersey with her two children, her husband having died in combat.
The children suffer from a form of photosensitivity that means they must stay indoors, while the arrival of three new servants coincides with a series of supernatural happenings. That’s the set-up for this gothic masterpiece that’s anchored by a superb Nicole Kidman performance, and ends with some storytelling brilliance that causes you to question everything that has gone before.
Three friends – two Americans and one from Iceland – go backpacking around Europe. The boisterous boys party hard, and treat the people they meet and the places they visit with little respect. They then head to Slovakia and meet two beautiful girls. Which is where things start to go wrong.
From the twisted mind of Eli Roth, Hostel smartly turns the tables on its protagonists, as the objectifiers become the objectified, in initially scary, and ultimately gory fashion. So while it became one of the key releases in the so-called “torture porn” movement, Hostel is much smarter than many of the similarly-themed movies that followed.
The Witch (2017)
This unsettling chiller is set in New England in the 1630s, and revolves around a Puritan family whose baby goes missing while in the care of teenager Thomasin. What follows may or man not have something to do with a witch. But the real horror concerns the way in which the community – and eventually her family – turn on Thomasin.
Anya Taylor-Joy makes a startling big-screen debut as the troubled teen in question. While writer-director Robert Eggers masterfully builds tension as the film works its way towards an unforgettable climax.
There are shades of The Wicker Man (the original, not the Nic Cage remake) in this folk horror with a horrific sting in its tail. Florence Pugh plays Dani, a psychology student traumatised by the death of her parents at the hands of her sister, who also then kills herself.
Joining her boyfriend and his mates on a trip to a commune in Sweden to celebrate midsummer, Dani takes mushrooms and has a horrible trip. Then witnesses a pair of suicides. Both of which get the holiday off the a bad start. And it only gets worse from there, as when the celebrations proper begin, it quickly becomes clear that the locals have horrific plans for Dani and her friends.
The following are the best horror movies currently streaming in the US (and not the UK) at the time of writing…
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Are you ready for Freddy? Because the film that launched one of the most successful franchises in horror history is currently available in the States. And this is the razor-gloved killer before he became a joke machine, when his only priority was killing kids.
Robert England delivers an iconic performance as Fred Kruger, but the genius was in the premise – a killer who can enter your dreams meant that writer-director Wes Craven could go anywhere and do anything his imagination (and the film’s budget) would allow. The result is visually engaging horror that’s filled with shocks, surprizes, and scares.
The Mist (2007)
Cruelly ignored when it was released, the reputation and popularity of The Mist has grown in the intervening years. And it’s thoroughly earned, as this Stephen King adaptation is big horror that’s filled with huge ideas and concludes with a killer ending.
Thomas Jane plays a poster artist who becomes trapped in a supermarket when monsters invade. Though while a trip outside is deadly, it becomes just as bad indoors, as the humans start to turn on each other. Which makes for a tense affair, though these scenes are nothing compared to the climax, which is a genuine all-timer.
It Follows (2014)
It Follows has a simple but effective set-up – woman is pursued by a deadly spirit after a sexual encounter, and can only escape by having sex with someone else, thereby passing the curse on.
Directing from his own script, David Robert Mitchell imbues the film with style, suspense, and when that entity approaches, genuine scares. While as the girl being followed, Maika Monroe delivers a star-making turn, announcing herself as Hollywood’s newest scream queen.
The following are the best horror movies currently streaming on both Netflix UK and Netflix US at the time of writing…
The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring is big, glossy, blockbuster horror that launched a franchise which has raked in more than $2 billion at the global box office. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play Ed and Lorraine Warrern, the paranormal investigators who famously worked The Amityville Horror. This is another of their cases – the haunting of a Rohde Island farmhouse that supposedly happened in 1971.
Directed by skilled horror helmer James Wan – whose previous credits include Saw and Insidious – the film deftly combines supernatural goings-on with jumps scares as well as horror that’s altogether more psychological. And audiences lapped it up, with The Conjuring grossing $319 million from a budget of just 20 million.
This found footage film is the brain-child of Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice, the latter making his directorial debut with the movie. The pair came up with the premise, and play the leads in a two-hander that finds scares in the most unexpected places.
Brice plays Aaron, a videographer who heads to a remote cabin for a mysterious gig. Duplass is Josef – his employer – who wants to make a video diary for his unborn son before a brain tumor kills him. What follows starts out weird, then gets unsettling, before becoming all-out terrifying. A sequel followed in 2017, which was just as effective.
Under the Shadow (2016)
A scary movie with with a strong political message, Under the Shadow is a story about the horrors of war, which also packs a powerful emotional punch. Written and directed by Babak Anvari, on the surface it’s the tale of a Djinn haunting a medical student Shideh and her daughter Dorsa.
The story unfolds in the 1980s, and examines the way in which society oppresses women head on. While it plays out as war is ravaging the city, with post-traumatic stress also taking a toll on the family. Meaning the horrors outside their house are more terrifying than what’s haunting them therein.
Coming-of-age stories have inspired some great horror, with a vampire coming-of-age in The Lost Boys, and a werewolf doing the same in Ginger Snaps. Julie Ducournou’s Raw is an unusual coming-of-age story, however, in that its about a cannibal.
Garance Merillier plays the flesh-eater in question, whose tastes start changing when she starts her first semester at veterinary school. The cravings begin with rabbit kidneys and progress to raw chicken; then she wants something altogether more human in nature. The story isn’t for the squeamish, but if you can stomach the subject matter, the visuals and sounds are stunning, making Raw a feast for the ears and eyes.
The Ritual (2017)
The Ritual doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but it’s also a very creepy thriller with a genuinely unsettling denouement. Directed by David Bruckner (The Signal, The Night House) and based on a novel of the same name by Adam Nevill, the film kicks off with a group of friends planning a holiday, only for one of them to then die.
Cut to six months later and the lads are hiking in Sweden in memory of their fallen companion. Soon however, what can goes wrong, does go wrong, as they get lost, suffer injuries, and experience seemingly supernatural phenomena. Then they find a cabin in the woods, and all hell breaks loose. Quite literally.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
In late 2016, Netflix made a movie based on the supposedly unfilmmable Stephen King novel Gerald’s Game. Published in 1992, the book revolves around one character, handcuffed to a bed, and for the bulk of the story alone with their thoughts. Which is hardly the stuff of great cinema.
But writer-director Mike Flanagan found a way to tell this story of a sex game gone wrong in the most visual way possible. While Carla Gugino delivers a powerhouse performance as a woman fighting for her life in the present, while dealing with the demons of her past. On top of that, Gerald’s Game features one scene that’s so shocking we’ll be amazed if you don’t avert your eyes.
Bird Box (2018)
Based on Josh Malerman’s 2014 novel – and adapted by Arrival scribe Eric Heisserer – Bird Box was little short of a phenomenon when it launched on Netflix in December 2018. Indeed, the film quickly became the streamer’s second most watched film ever, clocking up 26 million views in a week.
Sandra Bullock plays a mother desperately trying to protect her children from entities that drive people to suicide when seen. Tense and terrifying in equal measure, director Susanne Bier crafts some several stunning set-pieces, while Bullock has rarely been better.
His House (2020)
Written and directed by Remi Weekes, this is a haunted house movie with a difference, the scares wrapped in a horrifying immigration tale. Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu play Rail and Bol, a young couple fleeing war in the Sudan. They make it to the UK, where they find housing, get jobs, and try to assimilate, while at the same time desperately clinging to the culture and customs of home.
Outside the house, they experience bigotry and racism, while inside, an apeth – or Night Witch – visits the couple, demanding repayment of some undisclosed debt. Is the spirit real, or are Rail and Bol losing their minds? That’s the question at the heart of His House, one that builds towards a heartbreaking climax.
Fear Street Trilogy (2021)
This entry is a bit of a cheat, as Fear Street is actually three separate films, and the quality is all over the place across the trilogy. But it’s nevertheless a blast watching the interlinked story play out in three different time periods.
Inspired by the L.R. Stine books, Fear Street Part One: 1994 centers on a group of teens trying to defeat the evil force that has been terrorizing their town for centuries. Fear Street Part Two: 1978 is summer camp horror that revolves around the parents of those teens. While Fear Street Part 3: 1666 plays out in the time of the witch trials, while ultimately bringing the whole story full-circle.
Coming Home in the Dark
On the surface, Coming Home in the Dark is a thriller about a pair of drifters taking a family hostage. But the unsettling places it goes – and the upsetting themes it explores – makes this full-on horror by the time the credits roll.
Based on a short story – which Eli Kent and director James Ashcroft dramatically expand for the movie – proceedings kick off with a family of four enjoying a road trip into the New Zealand countryside. But the drifters in question – Mandrake and Tubs – soon take them prisoner, and it quickly becomes clear they want more than money. As the stakes are raised, terrible secrets from their past are revealed, while as played by Daniel Gillies, Mandrake becomes an unforgettable villain.
British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari – who wrote and directed the aforementioned Under the Shadow – is at it again with what Stephen King called “a tight little thriller that will remind you of Ruth Rendell and Patricia Highsmith.”
I Came By stars George McKay as Toby, a graffiti artist with a story to tell, which he does by breaking into the homes of the rich and scrawling on their walls. But when he enters the house of a famous judge – played by Hugh Bonneville – Toby finds a man imprisoned in his basement. A discover that sets of a chain of events which set the two men on a deadly collision course. While I Came By isn’t as scary as Anvari’s previous effort – being as much thriller as horror – the film is nevertheless tense from start to finish. Or as King Tweeted: “It does the job.”