Movies & TV / Columns

The Top 15 Best Horror Films On Netflix Right Now

March 24, 2019 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Netflix SIlence of the Lambs

Netflix has been around for a long time, and they’ve helped many a horror fan discover new titles. If you’re like me, you may have been a member going back to their DVD-only days and used the service as a means to finally see movies you hadn’t had a chance to otherwise. That was how I was able to see so many Asian and French New Wave horror films that I would miss in my neck of the woods.

These days, thanks to whoever is in charge of curating the horror section, I can usually still catch independent movies I’ve missed or, thanks to Netflix making their own movies now, see talented people get the chance to make films that perhaps wouldn’t get a release from a major studio. Gerald’s Game was considered unfilmable before Mike Flanagan and Netflix adapted it. Now he’s used the success of that to adapt Doctor Sleep.

My point is, Netflix is a great streaming service and you can always find something good in the horror genre on there, even if you have to look past the norm to do so. So here are the fifteen best horror films available right now on the service.

Like my best horror films on Shudder list, this list will be updated every month as Netflix adds and removes titles from the service, so keep checking back!

Apostle (2018)

Director: Gareth Evans

Cast: Dan Stevens, Lucy Boynton, Mark Lewis Jones, Bill Milner, Kristine Froseth, Paul Higgins, Michael Sheen

Story: In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island.

This movie made my best horror films of 2018 list and it makes this because it shows that Netflix isn’t playing around when it comes to their original content. Apostle is a period piece that is just dripping in mood and atmosphere that evokes films like The Wicker Man in all the right ways. If you’re not there for the mood, you can stay for the monsters, the gore and viscera (our hero literally has to swim in it) or the performances that elevate the material. This is a nasty little horror movie and it’s one that definitely deserves more praise.

Creep (2014) / Creep 2 (2017)

Director: Patrick Brice

Cast: Mark Duplass, Patrick Brice, Desiree Akhavan

Story: Two separate video professionals run afoul of a bizarre man who is not quite what he seems and end up getting terrorized by him as a result.

I could not choose between these two and they’re both short enough that you could easily combine them into one film as a perfect little double feature. Plus, Creep 3 was recently announced so you really should get on the bandwagon. If you just know Mark Duplass as “that guy from The League“, he’s actually quite a versatile actor as his work in this or even the recent drama Paddleton would show you. In these movies, he’s equal parts charming and creepy as hell. You want to keep watching him, even when you know that doing so puts your likeable leads in danger. The first film is more about the mystery of finding out what is up with this guy, while the second is a thrilling game of cat and mouse. They both compliment each other and they’re both incredibly enjoyable watches. Horror fans should not be sleeping on these movies.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Salma Hayek, Tom Savini, Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin

Story: Two criminals and their hostages unknowingly seek temporary refuge in a truck stop populated by vampires, with chaotic results.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this movie. From Dusk Till Dawn is up there with Ghostbusters and Robocop as one those infinitely rewatchable movies for me. It’s endlessly quotable, and equal parts bloody and hilarious. It’s also one of the coolest damn horror movies you’ll ever see. In what other movie can you see a man called Sex Machine sporting a gun on his crotch? Just this one. In terms of blood, well, there’s so much of it they had to change the color just to avoid an X rating. So sure, there’s not as much of the red stuff, but it still gets plenty gross. Sure, the cat’s out of the bag now with the vampire twist so you’re not likely to find someone that doesn’t know about it, but it’s still a wild movie and one that’s definitely a must for every genre fan.

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel

Story: While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.

As I mentioned, Mike Flanagan is currently working on the big screen adaptation of Doctor Sleep and it was probably his work on this Stephen King book that got him the gig. That’s not to discredit the rest of his body of work either. The man is probably my favorite modern director in the genre, as everything from Absentia to this has been top notch. Gerald’s Game is set in a single room and is essentially a two-person stage play, which makes it sound a lot more boring than it is. It’s actually very compelling and it’s the performances of Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood that make it that way. Our lead is also in a pretty nasty situation which offers up an equally nasty conclusion that as I said when I wrote about this before, could only come from the mind of Stephen King. Gerald’s Game went from a book I thought was okay to one of my favorite adaptations and it was definitely one of the best horror films of the year it came out.

Hush (2016)

Director: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr, Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan, Emilia Graves

Story: A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that Mike Flanagan is a damn good horror director, which is why he has two movies on this list. If you’re into suspense, this movie is right up your alley. This movie is sort of the predecessor to A Quiet Place in the way it plays with sound. In that film, any sound at all signaled a threat. In this one, our heroine has no sense of sound, which allows the killer to toy with her. There are some very tense moments in which the killer is behind her and doing things that would alert a normal person, but not her because she’s deaf. It’s really simple, edge-of-your-seat stuff that I’m surprised more people don’t try. Don’t think because she’s deaf that she’s disadvantaged, because she eventually tries to turn the tables and turn things into a deadly back and forth that doesn’t let up until the film is over.

Jaws (1975)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb

Story: When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach resort, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.

Did this movie really make a generation of people afraid to go in the water? Did it really drive beach attendance down? I have no idea, I wasn’t alive. What I do know is that this horror film (yes, it’s a horror film, don’t let those snob critics say otherwise) is the prototype for the blockbuster and set the stage for the summer movie season we enjoy every year. Jaws is a very effective film with scenes that still hold up today. Is it still scary? It’s definitely creepy in that “this could actually happen” sense. The scene in the opening is still gut-wrenching. The score is suspenseful and iconic. But if you really want to know if the scares are there, the only way to find out is to watch it yourself. One thing is for sure, it’s still a classic and one of the very best in the genre.

Poltergeist (1982)

Director: Tobe Hooper

Cast: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Heather O’Rourke, Zelda Rubinstein, James Karen

Story: A family’s home is haunted by a host of demonic ghosts.

Arguably Tobe Hooper’s last great movie (although Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is certainly fun), Poltergeist is a movie that is equal parts family adventure film, comedy and horror all in one. It has a little bit of everything. I can go from laughing at the remote control battle at the beginning to getting creeped out by the clown in that kid’s room. It’s not so much the clown as it is the really long arms it suddenly has. Anyway, Poltergeist is great and somehow it still holds up, even after two middling sequels and those rumors of a curse that killed off several cast members. Hooper (yes, Hooper, not Spielberg) delivered another horror classic here, one that is still fondly remembered to this day.

Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Director: Jonathan Demme

Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine, Scott Glenn

Story: A young FBI cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

The movie that turned Anthony Hopkins into the next great horror icon, something that perhaps he wasn’t expecting at that stage of his career. Silence of the Lambs is a movie that plays like a police procedural but it is horror through and through, mostly for the way it plays out with Bundy and Gein-inspired serial killer played by Ted Levine, who is the only one in the cast that didn’t win an Oscar (and he totally should have). Sure, Hannibal Lecter steals every scene he’s in, but he’s theatrically over the top. Buffalo Bill was inspired by real people. Either way, the film franchise has been trying desperately and failing to match this film ever since it was release and we’ll sadly never get to see if the TV series adapt it. Definitely watch this one.

The Conjuring (2013)

Director: James Wan

Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor

Story: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.

This one’s also about a haunted house although there’s not much fun to be had in The Conjuring. The movie only has one goal and that’s to scare the hell out of you. Whether or not it works, of course, will depend on your tolerance for that sort of thing, but you can’t argue at how well-crafted the attempts are. The movie relies totally on the atmosphere and suspense to build to its scares, carefully planning them instead of providing empty jump scares that many Hollywood horror films go for. It felt like such a breath of fresh air when it came out that it was heralded as an instant classic. Is it still that good? Perhaps, perhaps not. I do know that the scares that worked when I first saw it are still reasonable unnerving now, but this movie lives and dies by the character work that drew us in from the start, and that’s still great. James Wan reached his peak as a horror director with this, which is probably why he branched out to do other things not long after.

The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

Director: Nicolas Pesce

Cast: Diana Agostini, Olivia Bond, Will Brill, Kika Magalhaes, Clara Wong, Paul Nazak

Story: A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.

The Eyes of My Mother is a very quiet horror film that nevertheless is very unsettling. It’s definitely not going to be for everyone. It’s focused on one character and it’s more of a study of that character and their disturbing actions than any actual narrative. So if you’re not into that, there’s fourteen other options here that you’re going to love. If you have more of an open mind, then what you’ll get is a movie that leaves you feeling unclean after. The movie does this mostly through suggestion, as most of the gruesome details are left to your imagination and what you see in the aftermath. Not every horror movie has to be loud and in your face to be effective. Some of them can just crawl under your skin and make a home there like this one does.

The Ritual (2018)

Director: David Bruckner

Cast: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton

Story: A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.

This is another Netflix original and another movie that made my best of the year list for 2018. The movie begins with a really solid cast and a equally solid premise. An unknown force is stalking them in the shadows while at the same time, they’re all losing their minds a little bit. It’s a bit of a bad combination, which makes for the best kind of horror. How can you possibly hope to survive what’s on the outside while battling what’s on the inside? It’s like an allegory for mental illness in today’s world or something. The Ritual works because it has great moments of tension broken up by some insane moments of character study, ending with a bonkers finale that almost collapses under the weight of how nuts it is but manages not to.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Trevor Morgan, Donnie Wahlberg

Story: A boy who communicates with spirits seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.

Thankfully he’s managed to somewhat salvage his reputation, but I remember a time when M. Night Shyamalan had movies get nominated for Academy Awards and he was being called the next Spielberg. You know, kind of like Jordan Peele is getting right now. Let’s hope he doesn’t have a Lady in the Water-sized disaster coming soon. Anyway, The Sixth Sense is that movie that put Shyamalan on the map and its twists are so common knowledge now it’s almost hard to explain exactly why this movie blew everyone away when it originally came out. It’s not so much because it’s scary. It does have its moments (the kid that wants to show off his dad’s gun in particular gets me) but the twists were unknown at the time and no one saw them coming. Now they’re like Vader being Luke’s father. It kind of takes some of the sting out of it, but it doesn’t change the fact that this film is still great.

The Void (2017)

Director: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie

Cast: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong

Story: Shortly after delivering a patient to an understaffed hospital, a police officer experiences strange and violent occurrences seemingly linked to a group of mysterious hooded figures.

Take a little bit of cosmic horror in the vein of HP lovecraft, mix in some creature work in the style of John Carpenter’s The Thing and add in just a dash of Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond and you get the 2017 mindtrip known as The Void. This movie technically has a story but it’s not really about the story. That’s only there as a means to an end, to get you to take a trip to insanity full of gooey creature effects (practical effects too!), blood everywhere, scenes that make you feel like you dropped acid and a movie that’s generally just crazy from start to finish. The movie begins with someone begin lit on fire, in case you’re wondering. If that’s how it opens, just imagine how it ends. Whatever you’re thinking, it probably out-crazies that.

The Witch (2016)

Director: Robert Eggers

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson

Story: A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.

This seemed to get some pushback when it first came out and became a critical darling, but now it’s settled as an underrated gem among horror fans. I think that may be partially due to minor modern horror icon Black Phillip, who just wants us all to live deliciously. The Witch is a slow burn and I happen to be a fan of slow burns, especially when the pacing is deliberate as opposed to just slow. It’s done that way on purpose to make the dread palpable before the conclusion. Things go from bad to worse for characters and the ending eventually justifies the build that led up to it. Plus, you know, Black Phillip.

Train to Busan (2016)

Director: Yeon Sang-ho

Cast: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Su-an, Kim Eui-sung, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee

Story: While a zombie-virus breaks out in South Korea, a couple of passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan.

Nothing has made me happier over the years than introducing Train to Busan to people and having them come back and tell me how much they absolutely love it. So maybe by telling you about it, you’ll find a movie you love as well. This is the movie that made me believe that there are still stories to be told within the zombie genre, something I thought was impossible. Yet Train to Busan came along and kicked my ass. It’s a movie that was equal parts scary and heartwrenching, as it has characters you both love and hate as you follow them on this hell-filled ride to the titular location surrounded by the living dead. It’s so great to see that this has become something of a modern classic in the eyes of many fans, as it definitely deserves it. It’s such a great film that demands to be seen.