Netflix, of course, is the internet’s premier cinema hub that’s powered by a vast but often uneven collection of instantly watchable films. For every The Piano Teacher, there's a Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead. The “Horror” section of Netflix’s instant streaming library, though, is surprisingly top-notch. Frankly, trimming the numerous sub-categories down to the following list of The 25 Best Horror Movies Streaming on Netflix Right Now was quite the arduous mission, one that left several worthwhile films behind. You know what means, though? You’re about to experience nothing but terrifying, first-class virtuosity.
You want tense thrillers? You got it. Gore galore? Done. Monster movies? Yeah, obviously. The indies, which end up being that much scarier because of their low-fi vibes? Again, yes. What we're trying to say is that Netflix is the only place you need to go to scare the shit out of yourself.
And after you binge-watch all the scary, terrifying, and disturbing movies on this list, laugh off your fear with the best comedy movies Netflix has to offer. If you have a special someone to cozy up with in front of your laptop screen, you might want to browse our list of the best romantic movies available on Netflix right now. Not feeling a specific genre? Just pick one of the overall best movies that are streaming on Netflix right now. Or if you're looking for a smaller (or greater, depending on how many episodes you watch) commitment, check out the top TV shows on Netflix right now. You can't go wrong with these selections. When you've un-glued yourself from your couch, you'll be thanking us.
This list is up to date as of October 1, 2016.
The Host (2006)
Director: Bong Joon-Ho
Stars: Kang-Ho Song, Hie-Bong Byeon, Hae-Il Park
Not to be confused with the 2013 U.S. film also named The Host, this sci-fi horror brings us to Seoul, Korea on the banks of the Han River. Snack bar owner Park Hee-bong lives along the bank with his family of two sons, a daughter and granddaughter. One day a monster emerges from the Han River, sparking hysteria in Seoul. The Korean Loch Ness monster, during its reign of terror, snatches up Park Hee-Bong’s granddaughter.
The film goes beyond typical scares and uses the horror genre to present a political satire that portrays the South Korean government as bureaucratic, useless, and uncaring.
here comes the devil (2013)
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Stars: Francisco Barreiro, Laura Caro, Alan Martinez, Michele Garcia
Argentina's own Adrián García Bogliano can't be put into any one kind of box within the horror genre. With each new film, the young writer-director totally shifts gears and challenges himself to subvert a common scary movie trope; in Here Comes the Devil, Bogliano tries his hand at the supernatural, telling an unsettling and unpredictable tale about two loving, though romantically fragile, parents struggling to figure out where their two young kids have been acting so oddly after returning from a mysterious cave.
Achieving a steady, overwhelming mood of dread from start to finish, Bogliano's latest twists and turns its way into a lane occupied by the most daring of horror movies, where familiar concepts and images never play out how one might expect and interesting, if not sometimes questionable, behind-the-camera choices show a director who's gamely open to risks.
stake land (2011)
Director: Jim Mickle
Stars: Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Kelly McGillis, Danielle Harris, Sean Nelson, Michael Cerveris
The thought of yet another vampire project has lost its gusto. That’s what happens when popular culture transforms the once-scary bloodsuckers into both sissy pin-ups who glisten and don’t eat meat (see: Twilight) and sex-crazed citizens (see: True Blood). Going against such adversity, writer-director Jim Mickle, along with co-writer and star Nick Damici, charged right into the vamp genre with Stake Land, an independent mish-mash of 28 Days Later…, The Road, and 30 Days Of Night.
But Mickle and Damici figured out how to set their post-Dracula flick apart: by making the vampires unsociable killing machines that are actually secondary to rich character development. Damici, a worthy action hero for the IFC circuit, and fresh-faced Connor Paolo play a pair of grizzled survivors (which includes scream queen Danielle Harris) trudging through a post-apocalyptic wasteland full of supercharged vamps, Satanic cults, and gorgeous cinematography.
We Are What We Are
Director: Jim Mickle
Stars: Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Bill Sage, Michael Parks, Kelly McGillis, Wyatt Russell, Nick Damici, Jack Gore
Jim Mickle is more than ready for his close-up. Quietly, the independent writer-director is the horror genre's most gifted young talent, a compelling mix of Terrence Malick and a young Wes Craven. Although his films don't chump out on the gore and violence, Mickle's style of scary moviemaking is impressively elegant, putting heavy emphasis on characters, cinematography, and patient, human narratives. See his 2011 vampire flick Stake Land, or just go directly to his latest, the cannibal drama We Are What We Are, his best movie yet.
A remake of Mexican filmmaker Jorge Michel Grau's grim 2011 festival darling of the same name, Mickle's We Are What We Are is the rarest of genre re-imaginings, one that's much better than its predecessor and doesn't merely rehash what's already been done. Mickle and writing partner Nick Damici move the story flesh-eating family dynamic to rural upstate New York, centering on a God-fearing, subtly tyrannical patriarch (a menacing Bill Sage) and his two teenage daughters (Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner), both of whom want to drop their family's history of ritualistic cannibalism and live like normal kids. Daddy doesn't want that for them, unfortunately, and We Are What We Are shows the family's disintegration, one murder and intestine feast at a time.
It's a grisly, disturbing horror film that even the most uptight of snooty film critics has to appreciate. In time, Jim Mickle's name will be on all of their minds.
At the devil's door (2014)
Director: Nicholas McCarthy
Stars: Naya Rivera, Ashley Rickards, Catalina Sandino Moreno
At the Devil’s Door gives Glee's Naya Rivera and MTV’s Awkward’s Ashley Rickards the opportunity to leave their high school antics behind for some old-fashioned Satanism.
Writer-director Nicholas McCarthy’s three-narrative script is unusual. Rickards plays a young girl who, because she’s sprung off a new boyfriend, haphazardly decides to sell her soul to the devil; Oscar nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno is Leigh, a real estate agent tasked whose latest must-sell home has quite a few horrific secrets, one of which reveals itself to her right away; and Rivera, meanwhile, is Moreno’s younger sister, Vera, a free-spirited artist who has no desire to get domesticated, even though Leigh has specific reasons for wanting Vera to start a family.
Hovering over the three characters is, as the title suggests, Lucifer himself, and McCarthy doesn’t hold anything back. The devil is seen throughout the film, accentuating At the Devil’s Door’s tense and bleak energy. It’s a horror movie for people who don’t like to laugh much. Basically, it’s the anti-Glee. Fans of McKinley High’s New Directions won’t know what hit them.
The den (2014)
Director: Zachary Donohue
Stars: Melanie Papalia, David Schlachtenhaufen, Matt Riedy, Adam Shapiro, Anna Margaret Hollyman
Patience is a must while watching The Den, writer-director Zach Donahue's more-than-meets-the-eye exercise in found-footage horror. In its early sections, the film, about a grad student (an impressive Melanie Papalia) researching the user habits of a video-chat website, suffers from lazy online weirdo caricatures. Papalia's character gets bombarded by horny dudes looking to score, and it's all one-note and hindered by hammy performances. But The Den takes an unexpectedly dark and fucked-up turn for its third act, and that's when Donahue pulls off some of the creepiest first-person POV sequences in recent memory. The Den's bleakness and Internet-as-Hell theme accelerate as Papalia's situation worsens.
For its grand, unnerving finale alone, it's hugely deserving of a DVD/Blu-ray revival and a cult following of horror fans who like their scares aggressively unpleasant.
Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm
Say you're feeling miserable, right, and one of your buddies is always smiling and lighting with joy-you're looking to bring him down a peg, eh? Invite him over, flip open your laptop and consult Netflix for some Antichrist, yet another mega-downer from Danish polarizer Lars von Trier. The heartwarming tale of a married couple's descent into madness and graphic mutilation in the wake of their infant son's accidental death (which von Trier shows in slow motion, mind you), Antichrist is liable to make a Glee reject want to lock his or herself indoors for an extended period of time. At least they'll have done so after watching a beautifully shot and commendably fearless work of mean-spirited art.
The abcs of death (2013)
Directors: Kaare Andrews, Angela Bettis, Ernesto Diaz Espinosa, Jason Eisener, Bruno Forzani, Héléne Cattet, Adrián García Bogliano, Xavier Gens, Lee Hardcastle, Jorge Michel Grau, Noboru Iguchi, Thomas Malling, Anders Morgenthaler, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Banjong Pisathanakun, Simon Rumley, Marcel Sarmiento, Jon Schnepp, Srdjan Spasojevic, Timo Tjahjanto, Andrew Traucki, Nacho Vigalando, Jake West, Ti West, Ben Wheatley, Adam Wingard, Yudai Yamaguchi
Comprised of 26 directors each presenting a different means of life termination based on letters from the alphabet, The ABCs of Death boasts one of those concepts that sounds amazing in theory but has a high potential of turning into a clusterfuck in execution. But it comes with fervent, pleasant enthusiasm to report that The ABCs of Death is an absolute blast.
Granted, several segments are complete wastes of time, namely The House of the Devil filmmaker Ti West's disappointingly lazy "M is for Miscarriage" and Angela Bettis' "E is for Exterminate." The combined weakness of the film's lesser offerings is easily dismissible, however, when one takes into account the awesomeness of The ABCs of Death's high-points, from Deadgirl director Marcel Sarmiento's exceptional "D is for Dogfight," Ben Wheatley's (Kill List) intense first-person exercise "U is for Unearthed," and Jason Eisener's (Hobo With a Shotgun) demented and uncomfortably hilarious "Y is for Youngbuck."
Don't believe the negative hype that's been circulating around the film in recent weeks—though it's flawed, The ABCs of Death is, altogether, a giddily sick, nonstop shot of sadistic perversity to one's system.
The snowtown murders (2011)
Director: Justin Kurzel
Stars: Daniel Henshall, Lucas Pittaway, Louise Harris
Looking for a downer of the most visceral kind? Try Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel's phenomenally bleak The Snowtown Murders, the “based on a true story” serial killer knockout about Aussie’s most notorious homicidal maniac, John Bunting (a masterful Daniel Henshall). From 1992 through 1999, using his disarming charm and manipulative personality, Bunting infiltrated a practically destitute community and amassed a growing legion of followers to help him slay those he deemed as wrongdoers.
Cleverly, Kurzel and screenwriter Shaun Grant enter the hellish events through the eyes of a sympathetic teenager, Jamie (Lucas Pittaway); fatherless and lonely, Jamie yearns for a paternal connection, which, unfortunately, he finds in Bunting. How Jamie’s life devolves into misery and bloodshed is what gives the unflinching Snowtown Murders the ability to have such a vice-like hold on your nerves, right down to the film’s intensely grim final shot.
The babadook (2014)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Stars: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
Storybooks and imaginary friends are pretty typical for any kid growing up. The Babadook takes both commonalities and turns them into a sinister, disturbing force in the lives of a recently widowed mother and son. The imaginary friend is turned into a boogeyman creature, and while the mother, played by Essie Davis, struggles to brace reality, the Babadook won’t let her, leading the family into utter terror and turmoil.
The Australian film isn’t another cheesy scary movie. It showcases real horror as it reaches into your childhood nightmares and brings them back to life onscreen.
Director: Patrick Brice
Stars: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
While found footage reigns supreme in horror (whether viewers like it or not), Creep defers from the hit or miss reputation of the style by actually being worth watching. A freelance videographer, played by Patrick Brice, takes on an assignment worth $1,000 for the day from Craigslist. Filming a terminally ill soon-to-be father for a day named Josef, played by Mark Duplass, seems easy enough. Except that Josef doesn’t won’t let him leave.
All aspects of the film from its rural mountain setting, Duplass’s unsettling performance to the incredibly dark humor makes an aptly titled film one that pushes the viewer’s limits.
Director: Leigh Janiak
Stars: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway
Rose Leslie is most known for her role on Game of Thrones where she utters the now famous line, “You know nothing Jon Snow." But in 2014 she appeared in Honeymoon, a horror film directed by Leigh Janiak and starring Harry Treadaway, who currently stars on Showtime’s Victorian horror series, Penny Dreadful. Leslie and Treadaway play a newlywed couple who take their honeymoon in a middle-of-nowhere cabin—you know, always a good idea. Although things start off nice, Leslie’s character Bea disappears one night and when she returns she isn’t the same. The film, which works so well because of its two lead performances, is a terrifying feature that makes you wonder if you ever really know the person you promise to spend the rest of your life with.
A girl walks home alone at night (2014)
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Stars: Sheila Vand, Arash Arandi
One of the most innovative films from the past year was Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, an Iranian vampire western noir. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what type of film A Girl is (it plays with so many genres), but its horror sensibilities are undeniable. The film follows Arash, a kind and ambitious James Dean look-alike who lives in the barren Bad City. He’s impoverished and his father is a heroin addict. Amirpour introduces the viewer to other members of the city: a creepy tattooed drug dealer, a young and too-curious boy, and an older, tired sex worker. Most importantly we are introduced to Girl, a young vampire who roams the streets of Bad City drinking the blood of the town’s more despicable characters. It’s really a story about Girl and Arash, and it probably would be more accurate to call A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night a horror romance than anything else. Still, with its sparse dialogue and moody backdrop, it’s a pretty spooky film.
dark skies (2013)
Director: Scott Stewart
Stars: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, J.K. Simmons
Before she landed a lead role in FX’s acclaimed The Americans, Keri Russell appeared in Dark Skies, a pretty freaky horror movie about weird things that start to happen to a regular family. The film follows the Barretts, a family of four that start to experience strange things inside and outside their home. It starts with break-ins, but soon birds are flying into their windows, the kids are waking up with bruises and brandings on their bodies, and, in a spectacularly creepy scene, Russell’s character finds herself in a trance, smashing her head over and over again into a window. It’s not exactly new territory, but Dark Sides manages to work because of its strong performances and truly bizarre scenes.
Director: Barbara Brancaccio, Joshua Zeman
Stars: Barbara Brancaccio, Joshua Zeman, Bill Ellis
The documentary section of Netflix isn’t where you normally look for a good horror flick, but Cropsey might get you to change your mind. Two filmmakers who grew up on Staten Island investigate the real-life abductions and murders behind the urban legend they grew up with.
As kids, Brancaccio and Zeman grew up hearing the tale of Cropsey, an escaped mental patient that abducted and murdered children. Sometimes he had a hook, other times he used an ax. If he found a child who had wandered too far into the woods after dark, he would kill them. The documentarians assumed that it was just an urban legend, until children began getting abducted one after another, their bodies found in the woods.
The decrepit abandoned mental asylums and spooky forests of Staten Island give Cropsey a scarier setting than most fictional horror films. Interviews with retired cops and TV news personalities combined with real footage of the search for abducted children won’t let you forget that Cropsey is more than just an urban legend.
Directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisener
While the V/H/S entry was only mildly successful (critics complained that the shorts were uninteresting and that the whole product was a bit long), V/H/S/2 took on the first film's awesome idea and took it to a new, scarier level. The idea behind V/H/S/2 is pretty simple: get a bunch of talented indie directors—all horror buffs—collect some found footage, and create an anthology film with a couple of really spooky shorts. That's it. Simple and effective.
It could take too much time to go into the plots of each of the little films, but each contains some classic, horrifying horror elements. There's zombies, ghosts, a ton of gore (a man cuts out his own eye with a straight razor, aliens, and cult behavior. In that sense, V/H/S/2 really has a little bit of something to offer to everybody.
Director: Eric England
Stars: Najarra Townsend, Caroline Williams
Contracted is a tricky movie. First and foremost, it was advertised poorly, and critics criticized it for marketing a rape that occurred in an early scene as a "one night stand." Still, it has all right elements of a horror film, particularly in the way that it uses the genre to speak about serious moral issues.
Samantha, a young woman devastated after being broken up with by her girlfriend, heads to a party where her friends offer a ton of alcohol and drugs. She is then raped by BJ, a disgusting man who has had sex with a toxic corpse. In many ways, Samantha has become infected, and what seems to be just an STD morphs into something more sinister. While Contracted certainly has the opportunity to inspect the trauma that occurs when someone is raped, it never fully commits to this. Still, it does have some smart ideas and, at least on a surface level, is a pretty horrifying and disturbing film.
wes craven's new nightmare (1994)
Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund
It's been almost a year since Wes Craven passed away, but Netflix, fortunately, has no intention on letting his legacy die. Great evidence of this is Wes Craven's New Nightmare, a metafilm that's sort of part of the Nightmare franchise, but still very much its own entity.
The film follows Heather Langenkamp (the actress from the original film) who has become pretty popular for her role. Things seem good for her and her family, her husband Chase and son Dylan, but, this doesn't last when they are soon haunted by Freddy Kruger, the iconic serial killer who kills people in their dreams, which causes them to die in real life as well. All of Craven's films are horrifying and fun, but what makes New Nightmare so wonderful is its self-awareness, its ability to take a close look at the genre and at the filmmaker's own work. As a result, what could have been another standard addition to the series, ended up being much more.
THE Cabinet of doctor CAligari (1920)
Director: Robert Wiene
Stars: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Fredrich Feher
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is widely considered the very first horror film, and the general aesthetic is indeed what you’d expect from a 1920s movie (it’s silent, the acting is way overdone, and it’s not exactly HD). But it’s still totally worth it. The most striking and memorable aspect of the movie is the set design; it visually mirrors what the film wants you to feel. The weird sharp corners, tilted walls, and uneven lines all put you in unfamiliar territory, just as the insane Dr. Caligari, who deceives those around him to make his senseless murders more terrifying, should make you feel. But let it be known that this German Expressionist masterpiece is not only recommended if you’re a writing an essay for your film class. It’s a disturbing watch, even if it doesn’t have an exorcism or a single zombie.
Director: Mike Flanagan
Stars: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan
We should know by now not to leave vulnerable women in secluded houses by themselves when there are weird masked killers around, and yet, alas! Hush proves we have yet to learn our lesson. The twist this time is that Maddie, our heroine, is deaf and mute. This unexpected twist adds another element of horror to her killer, who, when he discovers it, finds many ways to torture her at the expense of her disability. The film isn’t all silent, but the ambient sounds—especially Maddie’s heavy breathing—make for some strong suspense. Mike Flanagan, who also directed Oculus, holds back on typical scare tactics, refreshing the familiar home invasion trope. If none of this is enough to tempt you, it’s got Stephen King’s seal of approval, so you know for sure it’s going to mess with your head.
The Fly (1958)
Director: Kurt Neuman
Stars: Vincent Price, Patricia Owens, Al Hedison, Herbert Marshall
The Fly’s classic '50s movie aesthetic—the blonde in a dress, the serene family life, those weird semi English accents everyone had—is injected with some ingenious sci-fi twists when a demented science experiment goes very, very wrong. Trust me, the movie is really not as dated as you might think. The Kafka-esque horror of turning into an insect might be more cerebral than, say, a demon terrorizing your life, and it’s true that The Fly doesn’t burn quite as quickly as some other films on this list. You might not scream for your life or really believe in that fly costume, but when you go to bed later that night, think about how insane that scientist had to be to do what he does. Allowing a little leniency here and there in terms of the science, is the premise of the film really that implausible? The true horror is that humanity is capable of some sick things.
They Look like people (2015)
Director: Perry Blackshear
Stars: MacLeod Andrews, Evan Dumouchel, Margaret Ying Drake
This gripping psychological thriller is able to bring the horror genre down to Earth by exploring human themes of mental illness and insecurity. Through character development, the film creates an emotional rawness that is not only rare in horror movies but also creates a deeply unsettling vibe as it juxtaposes “normal” life (work, gym, romance) next to demonic, apocalyptic terror. This is director Perry Blackshear’s first film, and the attention he pays to his characters coupled with his ability to create powerful suspense bodes well for the future of the genre. The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and it won a special jury prize, proving that horror films dedicated to strong character development have a real niche in today’s film world.
Event Horizon (1997)
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan
When Event Horizon was first released, it totally bombed, but, following in the footsteps of Bladerunner, it’s sort of had a moment recently. Set in 2047, it follows a crew sent out to Neptune to investigate the strange disappearance of the spaceship Event Horizon, but there’s no Matt Damon space potatoes to cheer up this rescue mission. Inevitably, things go wrong and the rescue crew begins to learn the true, terrifying reason the original mission failed. The film burrows in your brain the way sci-fi always intended: otherworldly, inhuman forces will terrorize you and those you love for reasons you could never understand. Just don’t watch it expecting accurate, airtight physics.
Director: Bruce McDonald
Stars: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Hrant Alianak
Pontypool is the kind of movie that if you think about it too hard, you’re doing it wrong. The basic storyline involves a radio host in the small Canadian town of Pontypool and a zombie-like infection that spreads via language. It’s a bit ridiculous, of course, but at least it’s original and not another home invasion horror movie. McDonald succeeds in crafting suspense despite a very limited setting (almost the entire movie is shot inside the radio station). Zombies and gore aside, the movie also gestures toward making a significant point about the superficiality and necessity of the English language as it refers to journalism—how much control do journalists have with their words, and just how destructive can those words be?
The Invitation (2015)
Director: Karyn Kusama
Stars: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman, Emayatzy Corinealdi
On the surface, The Invitation is another one of those “dinner party from hell” movies. Will (Logan Marshall-Green) attends a dinner party at his ex-wife’s swanky house with his new girlfriend—that could be a horror movie on its own, but there are much more sinister things afoot. The predictable set-up is tempered with a surprisingly expertly crafted dark, mysterious mood. You feel something will go horribly wrong, and there’s just enough information dangled in front of you to keep you on edge, but not quite enough for you to predict a single damn thing. Moreover, the film dives deep into Will’s backstory—he is deeply struggling with the loss of his son—adding a paranoid element to an already mysterious movie, which is a great move. At times, you’re not sure whether you should be scared at all. Which is exactly when you should be running for the hills.