Rather than an attempt to include as many diverse and memorable choices as possible from what’s currently available to stream, we lean towards those horror movies that scored well on aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. In some cases, we may pick more critically divisive movies that we still feel are worth checking out. The ultimate goal, however, is to ensure there’s something for horror fans of all tastes.
The Best Horror Movies on Netflix
Best Movies on Netflix by Genre:
Please note: This list pertains to U.S. Netflix subscribers. Some titles may not currently be available on international platforms. This article is frequently amended to remove films no longer on Netflix and to include more horror movies that are now available on the service.
David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, once again showcases the director’s brilliance when it comes to the serial killer/mystery genre (that he’d already proven with Seven and Zodiac). Based on Stieg Larsson’s coldly compelling novel, the film follows an anti-social hacker (Mara), who privately wages wars against abusive men, as she partners with a journalist (Craig) to investigate a 40-year-old disappearance.
Red Dragon (2002)
This prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, based on Thomas Harris’ 1981 novel (which had previously been adapted into the film Manhunter in 1986), brought Anthony Hopkins back to the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter and introduced Edward Norton as Will Graham, the brilliant (and troubled) FBI profiler who captured Lecter. Together, they must team up to stop a home invader who kills entire families in the light of each new full moon.
His House (2020)
This new, unique horror flick focuses on a refugee couple from South Sudan struggling to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface. It’s a fascinating weaving of political fears with genuine scares, starring Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu and Doctor Who’s Matt Smith.
The Guest (2014)
This ultra-cool 2014 potboiler from Adam Wingard (You’re Next) features Dan Stevens as a mysterious, unsettling stranger who visits a family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in combat in Afghanistan. With a killer look, soundtrack, and – er – killer, The Guest is a must-watch.
We Summon the Darkness (2019)
Starring Alexandra Daddario, Keean Johnson, Maddie Hasson, and Johnny Knoxville, We Summon the Darkness is a fun slice of throwback horror that nicely balances horror and comedy as three best friends cross paths with sadistic killers at a rustic house party in the woods.
This excellent South Korean zombie film, directed by Cho Il-hyung, features a video game live streamer’s struggle for survival as he is forced to stay alone at his apartment in Seoul during a feral and ferocious zompocalypse. It’s a close quarters potboiler of panic, fear, and isolation.
This unsettling, sadistic horror flick from a few years back, based on the book by Ryū Murakami, stars Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska in the story of a man who hires a sex worker with the intent to kill her, but instead finds himself in a gruesome game of cat and mouse.
Very loosely based on events from 1991 where a young girl in Spain died mysteriously after she used a ouija board, Veronica is a chilling possession story designed to get under your skin, about a household that gets invaded by lurking demons after a seance ceremony.
If you’re up for some horrific mind games, then check out 1BR, about an aspiring costume designer who moves into a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, unaware that the complex’s neighbors intend on indoctrinating her into their cult. It’s a solid, scary, psychological drama with a tortuous twist.
Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight (2020)
This lively, meta Polish slasher film is steeped in nostalgia for the horror cinema and pop culture of yore (the ’80s) and follows a group of teens addicted to technology who attend an “offline” rehabilitation camp in the forest where a sinister stalking force seeks to eliminate them one by one.
This mostly-solo survival horror film follows a shipwreck survivor (Kiersey Clemons) on an uninhabited island who must fend off a malevolent force that surfaces each night. Blending Castaway with creature-feature thrills, Sweetheart just might be a future cult classic.
The Golem (2018)
A chilling slice of folklore, The Golem, an Israeli supernatural horror flick, centers on a woman who conjures up an entity to protect her community from foreign invaders, only to discover that it’s a far greater evil than she imagined.
13 Sins (2014)
The Last Exorcism’s Daniel Stamm directs this horror minefield about a salesman (Mark Webber) who accepts a series of increasingly disturbing and criminal challenges. Rutina Wesley, Ron Perlman, and Pruitt Taylor Vince co-star.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi’s original ghoulish, splattery “Cabin in the Woods” demon possession romp is ready to swallow your soul, as Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams must contend with the nightmarish monsters he inadvertently unleashes while reciting an ancient incantation.
Girl on the Third Floor (2019)
CM Punk, real name Phil Brooks, and Banshee’s Trieste Kelly Dunn star in Travis Stevens’ gross-out Girl on the Third Floor — about a man who tries to renovate a rundown mansion for his family and gets caught up in the home’s heinous history.
This stunning found footage-style slice of psychological horror stars Patrick Brice (who also directs) as a videographer assigned to record an eccentric client (co-writer Mark Duplass) who claims to have an inoperable brain tumor. The film’s excellent sequel, Creep 2, is also on Netflix.
This well-received Netflix original offers up a new kind of doppelgänger yarn as a camgirl, played by The Handmaid’s Tale’s Madeline Brewer, encounters a mysterious woman — who looks just like her and takes over her channel.
Before I Wake (2016)
Having collected dust on the shelf for two years before being released in 2018, Mike Flanagan’s Before I Wake stars Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, and Doctor Sleep’s Jacob Tremblay in a tale about a couple who, mourning the death of their son, welcome a foster child into their lives. A boy whose dreams — and nightmares — manifest physically as he sleeps.
This recent Netflix original centers on a boy, receiving treatment for his auto-immune disorder, who discovers that the house he’s living in isn’t as safe as he thought. Kelly Reilly, Max Martini, and Charlie Shotwell star.
The Perfection (2018)
Girls’ Allison Williams, along with Steven Weber and Dear White People’s Logan Browning, star in this intense stalker thriller about a troubled musical prodigy who seeks out the new star pupil of her former school, sending both musicians down a sinister path with shocking consequences.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
Perhaps no movie on Netflix more blatantly skirts the line between horror and camp humor, and that’s why we love Killer Klowns From Outer Space. This kooky, low-budget cult classic chronicles an invasion by man-eating clowns from outer space. It’s a fun homage to the B-movies of yesteryear, but the creature effects and music are genuinely good, enough that Killer Klowns will still scratch that horror itch even as it makes you chuckle.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
If it’s a horror film distributed by A24, it’s probably worth watching. The Blackcoat’s Daughter may not have garnered as much attention as other A24 releases like The Witch, but it’s a great example of a psychological thriller that avoids the usual cliches and jump scares of most modern horror movies. Emma Roberts and Lucy Boynton star as two boarding school students who stay behind over the holiday break and discover their teachers may actually be Satanists, though the plot takes quite a few turns from there.
It Comes at Night (2017)
One of the great truths of horror is that what you can’t see is infinitely more terrifying than what you can see. Too few horror movies seem to understand that, but at least there’s It Comes at Night. This is a post-apocalyptic horror movie that does a whole lot with very little. It’s set in the middle of a global pandemic, but focuses solely on a single family struggling to stay alive in a remote cabin. The oppressive darkness and uncertainty surrounding the plague and its victims make for a frighteningly good ride.
This Netflix Original tackles a familiar horror sub-genre (the home invasion thriller) with a fun new wrinkle. Kate Siegel stars as a reclusive writer who also happens to be deaf-mute. That disability proves life-threatening when a murderous stalker begins hunting her. Hush is incredibly suspenseful and uses its premises to maximum effect. It was one of the earliest signs that Netflix is a true force to be reckoned with when it comes to original horror films.
In the Tall Grass (2019)
One of the newer additions to the Netflix horror library, In the Tall Grass has quite a strong pedigree. It’s based on a novella written by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill, is directed by Cube and Splice director Vincenzo Natali and stars The Conjuring’s Patrick Wilson. It also boasts a simple and effective premise. Innocent people are lured into a cornfield when they hear screams, only to find escape very difficult indeed. The movie sometimes struggles to pad out that premise into a feature-length plot, but this one is still well worth checking out.
Under the Shadow (2016)
This universally acclaimed, Persian-language horror film is a must-watch for horror fans with a Netflix subscription. Set in the 1980s in post-revolutionary Tehran, Under the Shadow stars Narges Rashidi as a woman grappling with both the ordinary pressures of living under an oppressive regime and some decidedly supernatural shenanigans in her apartment building. Like so many great horror films, Under the Shadow manages to provide both insightful social commentary and spine-tingling horror.
Would You Rather (2012)
If Hostel isn’t enough, Would You Rather is another worthwhile addition to the divisive “torture porn” genre. This one boasts an especially strong premise, with Brittney Snow starring as a struggling woman trying to care for her terminally ill brother. She’s approached by a wealthy philanthropist (Jeffrey Combs) with an intriguing offer – participate in a friendly game of “Would You Rather?” and her brother’s treatment will be paid in full. Naturally, that game involves far more than its participants could have imagined.
Similar to 2018’s Bird Box, Fractured is a Netflix-exclusive horror movie that managed to make a major splash on social media. The film’s twist ending has certainly created a major stir. Fractured stars Sam Worthington as a man whose wife and daughter disappear in a hospital, sending him on a desperate quest to prove they ever actually existed in the first place. Is he just crazy, or is there something more sinister at play?
Like Gerald’s Game, 1922 strongly suggests that Netflix may be the best home for Stephen King adaptations. King veteran Thomas Jane stars as a tortured farmer confessing to an unspeakable crime. He convinced his own son to murder his soon-to-be ex-wife in order to save the family farm. James delivers a career-best performance in a film that’s less about overt scares than it is wallowing in pure human misery.
It may not be the follow-up to The Raid 2 fans were expecting, but Apostle proves that Gareth Evans has a flair for more than just martial arts movies. This period drama carries strong echoes of The Wicker Man (the good version), casting Dan Stevens as a man posing as a new recruit to a dangerous cult in the hope of rescuing his captive sister. Needless to say, the film goes to some pretty strange and terrible places by the time that journey wraps up.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning dark fairy tale tells the story of a young girl in early Francoist Spain, as she retreats into a world of horrifying magic to escape her fascist, violent new stepfather. Her world is so grim that even her imagination is tainted, and her childhood fantasy life more closely resembles a waking nightmare, filled with gruesome monsters and cruel temptations. Pan’s Labyrinth is haunting, earnest, and beautifully eerie.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Carla Gugino travels to an isolated cabin with her husband to spice up their marriage, but he dies while she’s handcuffed to the bed, and now she’s trapped, starving, and staring down a feral dog that’s found its way into the house. Mike Flanagan’s impeccably constructed adaptation of the Stephen King novel Gerald’s Game is a suspenseful film, but also a bravura showcase for Gugino’s incredible acting talents.
The Invitation (2015)
Logan Marshall-Green is invited to his ex-wife’s house for a dinner party, but there’s something… off. He can’t quite put his finger on it but there are suspicious little details everywhere, and director Karyn Kusama skillfully keeps us on a knife edge the whole movie, wondering what the heck is really going on. The Invitation is a subtle horror thriller, but if you like a movie with a slow burn, and impressive psychological insight, it’s a must-see.
The Ritual (2017)
A group of friends are backpacking through the woods, but after spending the night in an abandoned cabin with a bizarre religious icon inside, they start to experience inexplicable phenomena. There are some familiar elements in David Bruckner’s The Ritual, but the film’s got a great cast and eventually leads to unusual, horrifying conclusions.
How We Choose the Best Horror Movies on Netflix
Horror is a wide-ranging genre, ranging from classic monster fests to slasher flicks to high-brow, thoughtful creepers. We try to focus on horror movies that have a time-tested reputation like Poltergeist, as well as those movies that scored well on aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. In some cases, we may pick more critically divisive movies like Cult of Chucky that we still feel are worth checking out. The one common thread is that all these movies explore the scares and the screams in a bloody good way.
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