Looking for scary movies to watch on Netflix on a lonely night? I got you, fam. Here’s a list of top horrors on Netflix.
Note: This article is updated frequently with the newest additions to the Netflix catalogue.
#1 The Wailing (2016)
Asian horrors often shift their source of dread from gore and graphic imagery to an ominous, under-your-skin and palpable atmosphere of unease. A prominent example of such is The Wailing (2016). The terror begins with a body found in a Korean village, and one unlucky police officer who works the case. This incident is related to an elderly foreigner from Japan who recently moved to the area.
I love how The Wailing (2016) slowly grows on you. It’s the kind of film that requires patience, but once the hook catches your attention, there is no way not to be pulled in. Acclaimed director Hong-jin Na sets the story agains constant drizzle, and a palette of blue tints, with dark interiors and secrets hiding there. As much as it delivers on the horror side – with the use of occultism and paranormal activities too – The Wailing (2016) is also a complex vivisection of anti-Japanese attitude rooted in rural Korea. This adds an extra level of awesomeness to this Korean horror movie.
#2 Creep (2014)
In order to bring out the creeps in Creep (2014), director Patrick Bryce needed just one super actor. That man is Mark Duplass, who plays a loner-turned-stalker who hires an amateur cameraman to film a day of his life. Unaware of this guy’s true intentions, the filmmaker named Aaron wades on to explore the bizarre nature of his employer.
Creep (2014) is a very low-budget movie, but Bryce’s script never runs out of ideas to push the right buttons that evoke dread. Creep (2014) thrives on our misperceptions regarding Duplass’ character, and his sadistic mind games. Therefore what scares in Creep (2014) isn’t gore, or anything paranormal, but the sheer unpredictability of the antagonist. It’s also one of the most inventive low-budget movies of the last decade.
#3 Psycho (1960)
While there’s more and more new releases every year, and Netflix keeps up with the Joneses, there’s also a buttload of old movies worth your time.
Psycho (1960), the all-time classic by Alfred Hitchcock, needs no introduction. Hitchcock’s timeless style is propelled by Anthony Perkins’ blood-chilling role as Norman Bates. The movie starts with an earthquake and the tension only rises, according to the director himself. It’s a classic thriller, one whose particular scenes and concepts are still used decades later.
#4 The Maus (2017)
This tiny Spanish-Serbian-German collaboration isn’t your regular horror movie. While The Maus (2017) features a guardian protector, which also happens to be a deadly weapon in the hands of a Bosnian girl who travels in Serbia with her boyfriend, the scare factor depends more on the cultural context.
What I mean here is that director Yayo Herrero derives the scariness of The Maus (2017) from the hatred that’s nurtured between Serbians and Bosnians. That hostility is then boxed in a stuffy setting, and with the slow-burner type of pacing, The Maus (2017) effectively puts you in the shoes of a person whose only fault is her nationality, and that binds her to all the horror inflicted upon her.
#5 Train To Busan (2016)
After years of derivative zombie movies, this horror sub-genre has finally found its way to excavate more creativity than before. An evidence for that switch is the Korean horror movie Train To Busan (2016), which broke a domestic box office record in South Korea in 2016.
The film’s premise is fairly simple. In the country turmoiled by a zombie apocalypse, the last train to an only safe haven departs. Its passengers won’t experience an easy ride though, but instead a deeply terrifying experience. Drawing from the success of Joon-Ho Bong’s Snowpiercer (2014), Train To Busan (2016) plays with the fish can where people and zombies fight for their lives, all within the accelerating danger of the speeding train.
#6 The Endless (2017)
Easily one of the most overlooked films about occultism of the century (and generally a criminally underrated film as a whole), The Endless (2017) tells a story of two brothers who return to a cult they were raised at. But despite the past, their arrival isn’t too welcome, and soon very bizarre events begin to happen, all questioning the congregation’s real agenda.
The Endless (2017) escapes categorizations, and does so with boldness. It is a very complex story to follow, and one that comes with a full-bodied pay-off as the film nears its end. For the fans of more mind-boggling horrors that aren’t drowning in blood, The Endless (2017) will be a lot of fun.
#7 Hostel (2005)
Eli Roth was once praised as the generation-defining voice for genre filmmakers, after his debut Cabin Fever (2002). His Hostel (2005) was an equal box office hit, though critics weren’t as much in favor of this macabresque.
Indeed, Hostel (2005) finds a bunch of horny Americans who travel to Slovakia in a never-ending search for getting laid. Europe isn’t too welcoming though, and they soon find themselves trapped in a sadistic game where you are what you meat finds a whole new meaning. Roth goes the whole hog in Hostel (2005) – this is torture porn at its prime.
#8 The Shining (1980)
In The Shining (1980) Jack Nicholson stars as Jack Torrance, a man hired to be the caretaker of an enormous hotel during an off-season interval. Things go south, and Jack soon begins to see things, as well as be haunted by ghosts of the hotel.
Nothing short of brilliant was Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. Kubrick didn’t adhere to the source too much, yet expanding the creative space to work more freely resulted in a fantastic horror, and – on top of that – a genuinely creepy psychological drama as well. As far as scary movies go, The Shining (1980) has set the path for plethora of films to come after it.
#9 Apostle (2018)
Fan of occultism, aren’t you? You’re in for a treat then, because Apostle (2018) is one hell of a wicked flick where cult plays the pivotal role.
Apostle (2018) pictures a blood-curdling congregation, which worships a goddess of the island where the cult lives. Told through the eyes of a stranger who arrives at the isle with a rescue mission, Apostle (2018) is a perfectly paced story about losing oneself in a spiral of madness. It’s also phenomenally meticulous in its process of world building, and delivers plenty of terrifying scare points along the upward-sloping line of its disturbing, meticulous design that grows on you over time.
#10 The Ritual (2017)
One of my favorite films of 2017, this cunning horror has a psychological undertone that makes all more connectable. In The Ritual (2017), a bunch of friends go on a hike in Sweden to commemorate their pal’s death. One of them witnessed that tragic moment, and it’s his guilt that brings evil like a magnet.
David Bruckner’s setting paints a solemn, and quite scary background for the story. The dusky woods, occult symbols scattered around the trees, and a monumental monster to top it all off – The Ritual (2017) is a really sweet treat for horror lovers.
#11 The Battery (2012)
In The Battery (2012), two men roam around the US, which is a post-apocalyptic area after the zombie apocalypse went down. The film documents their everyday struggles, how they survive and spend days without going insane.
This indie gem about zombies isn’t particularly a scary movie per se. Director-actor Jeremy Gardner uses the zombiepocalypse as a canvas to paint on, as he focuses on friendship in the pretty much destroyed world. The writing in The Battery (2012) is top-notch, and its low-budget character will surely deliver a blast for those tired of derivative zombie movies.
#12 The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Two men, one morgue and one unnamed body. That’s all it took for director Andre Ovredal to direct one of the finest horrors of 2016. In The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), the two coroners are called late in the night to establish what happened to a young woman before she turned into a cold body.
Andre Ovredal’s hermetic horror film relies on the brilliance of his ever-surprising script. Step by step, the director unravels the story before the two men, and unleashes hell as they proceed with the autopsy. I really enjoyed all those twists and turns, and Andre Ovredal’s unshackled freedom, which the director exhibits in The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016).
#13 Cam (2018)
While all-things-connected technology can be scary, genre filmmakers weren’t successful in bringing that kind of horror to life. Movies such as The Den (2013), Bedeviled (2016), and a few other explored killer technologies, but the title to most original movie in that area belongs to Cam (2018). The story follows a cam girl whose popular show is jeopardized when she sees her mirror reflection in a parallel show. The situation gets out of hand – to say the least.
Fiercely driven by its charismatic lead Madeline Brewster, Cam (2018) looks backstage into a niche of software erotica in its most modern form. On top of a curious insight that director Daniel Goldhaber provides, this Netflix Original uses the tech background to let the evil flow in. I also loved how kitsch, which defines those kinky streams, was used to strengthen the feeling of alienation of the protagonist.
#14 Green Room (2017)
Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin (2013) has been a milestone in the history of independent filmmaking. Financed by a Kickstarter campaign, the film landed one of the major awards at Cannes. Saulnier’s career sky-rocketed, and his second film entitled Green Room (2017) only cemented his position.
Green Room (2017) is a gruesome hostage movie about a rock band which is forced to fight for their lives with a group of batshit crazy neo-Nazi skinheads who commit a crime at a bar. Saulnier’s movie boasts a stellar cast, including Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots. With the skillful direction and heavy, sweaty atmosphere which is conjured up by the cinematography, Green Room (2017) scares you effectively, and with a sense of dread – rather than pure graphic imagery.
#15 Ich Seh Ich Seh (2014)
This Austrian horror was a spectacular hit while doing the festival circuit. Two boys, their loving Mommy, all together shut in one house in the middle of nowhere. While it doesn’t sound like the most capably frightening story, you’re guaranteed to get your hair bristled.
In Ich Seh Ich Seh (2014), the mother of two boys undergoes a facial surgery. Unfortunately, upon her return, the kids can’t recognize her. That’s where the story takes off – an emotional tale of distrust that reach dangerous, and shocking, extremes. The film is a typical slow-burner, but its immersive horror is more blood-chilling than most modern scary flicks.
#16 Malevolent (2018)
Before Florence Pugh won my heart in Midsommar (2019), the actress starred in a Netflix Original called Malevolent (2018). The movie depicts a story of students who trick less rational people into scouting houses in search for ghosts. Bad luck brings the scammers to a house that actually is haunted, and that wouldn’t be the only secret hidden there.
As I wrote in my review of Malevolent (2018), this scary movie suffers from uneven pacing, and a huge gap that separates its atmospheric first half with carnage in the second one. In spite of those flaws, Malevolent (2018) has some blood-chilling moments, and does the homework for the horror workshops. Additionally, it’s Florence Pugh!
#17 Tusk (2014)
Kevin Smith’s bizarre career ranges from making raunchy, ultra-low-budget comedies about guys talking about sex, to a horror movie where an insane man turns the other into a… walrus.
I might be compromising my reputation here, but Tusk (2014) was actually insanely scary for me. As Kevin Smith usually does, he’s not really serious about this endeavor, but the concept of cutting flesh, patching and sewing its pieces together so that human body looks like a walrus seemed every bit of wrong and disgusting to me. And while plot might not be the strongest in Tusk (2014), seeing Justin Long as the walrus is just priceless. Additionally, it is one of Michael Parks’ last roles, and one of his most edgy too.
#18 Eli (2018)
Creepy children are embedded in the horror genre, and while most scary movies reveal the little antagonists early on, Eli (2018) re-invents that schematic introduction. In this horror flick, a boy is protected from the outside world – quite literally – due to a deadly allergy to air outside. His bereaved parents decide to administer him to a clinic that specializes in treating such rare diseases.
To tell the truth, Eli (2018) takes a lot of time to take off, and the balance between exposition and actual plot is a bit unhinged. As a result, the scares aren’t too densely scattered, with most terrifying moments being the uncomfortable surgeries performed on Eli. All is made up for in the film’s grand finale, bloody and terrifying, and delivering a fine twist.
#19 Raw (2016)
This French horror flick had a blast at Cannes, when critics left the screenings, and some viewers reportedly fainted due to the explicit imagery. While I managed to watch the whole film without the need to turn my head, indeed Raw (2016) isn’t for the faint of heart.
Raw (2016) follows a vegetarian veterinary school freshman, who finds a peculiar craving to taste blood. The young girl, driven by her rebel sister, pushes the envelope, and steers further away from her non-meat diet. In her exploration of one’s boundaries, director Julia Ducournau finds pleasure in disturbingly graphic scenes that won’t cover any bloody details.
#20 Humanoids From The Deep (1980)
The only true B-movie on this list, Humanoids From The Deep (1980) is your shot at 80s nostalgia. The film’s premise is a typical monster movie, with mutated salmon-like creatures emerging from the sea and pillaging the nearby beaches. It’s obnoxiously filled with gratuitous nudity and carnage, and it’s every bit of camp as you’d imagine. Grab a cold one, call your friends and you’re got yourself a sweet deal.
#21 Terrifier (2016)
I’m terrified of clowns, and I’ll hand it to Art The Clown that he scared the shit out of me. Terrifier (2016) follows Art’s victims on the Halloween night, when the demon is out there hunting.
Terrifier (2016) stars one of the most malefic monsters I’ve seen in a horror movie, and trust me – I’m no stranger to both blockbusters and festival-circuit scary movies. However Art The Clown’s havoc is on another level. The murderous clown is every bit of sadism mixed with pantomime-soaked madness, and director Damien Leone finds really horrific ways to let the monster roam freely. Terrifier (2016) is also the rare example of a horror flick where comedy bits aren’t used for relief, but rather a continuous build-up to carnage. And boy that carnage comes round.
#22 The Heretics (2017)
Collateral damage from occult rituals can cause trouble, as we’ve all learned in Jennifer’s Body (2009). In The Heretics (2017), the protagonist is kidnapped by an insane cult that sacrifices her body so that it can become a host for their deity.
Partly body horror, partly occult movie, The Heretics (2017) builds its dread, and smoothly transitions to a bold, very graphic twist on The Fly (1986). The atmosphere in the movie is foreboding, and dark throughout the entire runtime, and the final reveal of the creature is sure a nightmare fuel.
#23 Sinister (2012)
Ethan Hawke stars in Sinister (2012), a nasty horror most crippling sound design I encountered in any modern scary movie. The plot follows a writer, who moves to a newly bought house, and once moved-in, he finds a box filled with mysterious VHS tapes. Upon playing the first tape, the writer unleashes evil that won’t leave him at peace.
Sinister (2012) drives on pure nightmare fuel provided by its main antagonist – a demon known as Bagul. With its dark hair, and face straight from Zdzislaw Beksinski’s paintings, Bagul’s capable of making you brown your pants. The ominous sound design adds a lot of flavor to his appearances, and Ethan Hawke’s convincing role of a man lured into madness gives Sinister (2012) every reason to be a genuinely frightening experience. If you’re in for a seriously scary movie on Netflix, this one is your bet.
#24 Deliver Us From Evil (2014)
Although Deliver Us From Evil (2014) is often bogged with its own symbolism and meandering plot, there’s an undeniably powerful blend of scares that make it an entertaining horror movie. Plus, it’s based on a true story.
Two men join forces in order to fight evil in Deliver Us From Evil (2014) – an exorcist and a police officer. In their pursuit after an evil entity that terrorizes New York, Deliver Us From Evil (2014) offers a bunch of memorable scary scenes, and its dark color grading establishes a very unwelcoming vibe of NYC. And you won’t wanna miss the exorcism scenes in particular.
#25 The Golem (2018)
Folk horrors are going strong recently, and it’s the one horror renaissance that I’m an avid fan of. Thanks to films such as Midsommar (2019) and The Witch (2015), more genre filmmakers explore old folk tales and legends. That’s the case of the Israeli horror The Golem (2018), which tells the story of a monster that protects the Jewish communities.
Though the plot moves slowly, The Golem (2018) evokes dread thanks to its very climatic cinematography, and the effective practical effects. Plenty of gore was also smuggled here and there, which all together makes it a solid offering for fans of folk-infused scary movies.
There you go – 25 awesome scary flicks on Netflix. If you’d like to flick through the whole catalogue, I recommend visiting flixlist.com. Share your top picks in the comments!