From Incantation (2022) to Under the Shadow (2016), here are the best horror movies streaming on Netflix right now.
Horror is one of the most watched genres on streaming services. Netflix boasts quite a few great horror films if not as many as Amazon Prime. Though the streaming giant faces tough competition from horror genre-specific platforms like Shudder, Netflix has constantly grown its horror catalog. Last year, it had horror classics like The Shining, The Jaws, Scream, etc. There were also modern horror classics like Don’t Breathe (2016) and A Quiet Place (2018).
At the same time, a lot of good horror films are changing out quickly from the library. And to our dismay, the good ones are sometimes replaced by not-so-scary ones. Cue Ghost Ship (2002), Wounds (2019), The 3rd Eye (2017), Fantasy Island (2020), and The Seventh Day (2021). But there are still plenty of quality horror movies, and some of them could really surprise you. New horror offerings such as Fear Street Trilogy (2021) and Day Shift (2022) offer the usual thrills and chills alongside the familiar horror elements. However, hidden gems like Roh (2019), Under the Shadow (2016), Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) make its horror catalog more interesting. There are also great original horror series on Netflix like The Midnight Mass, All of Us are Dead, and Hellbound.
Very quickly then, here are some of the best scary movies on Netflix right now:
Best Horror Movies On Netflix
1. Incantation (2022)
Kevin Ko’s Taiwanese folk horror offers a deeply unsettling take on the found footage formula. The spooky tale of occult haunting takes place in two intertwining timelines. The narrative largely revolves around Ronan (Tsai Hsuan-yen) who commits a sacrilegious act and subsequently gets cursed, while doing a ghost-busting for a YouTube channel. Six years later, despite gradually getting rid of the curse, supernatural terror comes back full swing, targeting Ronan’s little daughter Dodo.
Incantation reminds us of the recent occult horrors like Wailing (2016) and The Medium (2021). The clever use of found footage/mockumentary tropes to evoke tension brings to mind the Japanese found footage horror Noroi: The Curse(2005). Despite the disjointed pacing, Incantation is full of frightening imagery.
2. The Platform (2019)
The Spanish science fiction horror offers a stark commentary on social inequality and the pitfalls of capitalism. The story takes place in a vertically-stacked prison, where inmates on each level receive a platform of food that descends from the top. As the platform moves down, the inmates on higher levels gorge themselves on food, leaving nothing for those below. The film’s central character, Goreng, navigates this brutal system with varying degrees of success, revealing the human cost of societal inequality.
The Platform is a disturbing and thought-provoking film that shines a light on the brutal reality of modern-day capitalism. The film’s use of a single location and a small cast of characters creates a claustrophobic atmosphere that amplifies the tension and horror of the situation. The performances are strong, with Ivan Massagué delivering a standout performance as Goreng. The film’s message is not subtle, but it is undeniably powerful, leaving viewers with much to ponder long after the credits have rolled. A haunting, impactful experience not to be missed!
3. Roh (2019)
Roh aka Soul is a slow-burn Malaysian folk horror by debutant filmmaker Emir Ezwan. Set in the past, in the dense and vast Malaysian jungle, Roh revolves around a single mother and her two kids. One day, the family finds a lone child, covered in blood and mud. The mother takes the child to her small hut and tries to find out the truth. However, more ominous events are set off by the child’s arrival, and the family encounters a few other mysterious strangers in the jungle.
Director Emir conjures a scary atmosphere of existential dread which is gratifyingly maintained till the end. Roh makes familiar religious statements about the good and the evil. Yet it remains engaging because it unfolds from the perspective of an anxious single mother.
4. Saint Maud (2019)
First-time filmmaker Rose Glass’ visceral psychological horror Saint Maud is a tale of isolation and obsession. Set in a drab Northern England coastal town, the film follows the titular Maud (Morfydd Clark), a pious young nurse. She is hired to take care of a terminally ill patient named Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), who leads a depressing life in a Gothic mansion. Soon, Maud starts believing that the purpose of her life is to save Amanda’s soul. This leads Maud into an increasingly violent path.
Rose Glass admirably showcases the extremes of religious faith. Besides, she focuses on the marginalization of the central character which is allowed to happen because of the brutal social system. Clark’s intense and terrifying performance as Maud is another biggest strength of the film.
5. A Quiet Place (2018)
The post-apocalyptic survival thriller delivers raw genre thrills through the effective use of silence. The horror film is set in a near-future, where a ravenous race of extraterrestrial creatures has annihilated most of the human population. The creatures are sightless. But their super-sensitive hearing powers allow them to perfectly zero-in on their prey. The narrative follows the complicated existence of an isolated family, caught in this terrifying crisis.
The set-pieces are nerve-shredding intense, reminding us how silence is a vital part of horror sound design. A Quiet Place deals with the themes of parenthood, resilience, and sacrifice. Besides, the film is emotionally gripping thanks largely to the dynamic performances of Emily Blunt, Krasinski, and Millicent Simmonds.
6. Cam (2018)
This techno-horror benefits from a terrific central performance from Madeline Brewer as an erotic webcam performer. The film also deftly focuses on the business side of cam girl shows as screenwriter Isa Mazzei channels her past experiences in the field. Madeline’s cam girl character finds her audience stolen by a doppelganger who also seizes control of her channel. Consequently, the doppelganger, with no scruples whatsoever, seems hell bent on destroying Madeline’s life.
The horror quotient in Cam is existential in nature. It eerily inquires into a person’s self who is engaged with sex work in the virtual world. Barring the too-neat resolution in the ending, Cam perfectly works as a socially conscious horror film.
7. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
This Netflix original is so intelligently scripted and so imaginatively executed that you begin to wonder at the prowess of human ingenuity. It’s a terrifying and intellectual journey into how the past coalesces with the present, and invariably seeps into our consciousness to determine who we are today.
The show has genuinely scary moments, and does a great job of balancing the psychological with the supernatural. The Haunting of Hill House also imbibes a great technique of revisiting certain moments and presenting them with greater clarity. The result is that we embark upon both a mental and emotional journey, which is equally draining as it is cathartic.
8. Hereditary (2018)
Writer-director Ari Aster’s debut indie horror was an unnerving supernatural drama that revolves around a grieving family who begins to be haunted by disturbing occurrences. Toni Collette gives the performance of a lifetime as Annie, a miniatures artist. Her screams will give you sleepless nights. I remember being impressed by Aster’s writing which goes for scares that are emotionally justified instead of traditional ‘jump scares.’ Hereditary is among the best horror films in recent times streaming on Netflix.
9. Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele’s stunning feature debut is a gripping thriller that explores themes of race, identity, and societal norms. The movie follows a young African-American photographer Chris Washington who visits the family of his white girlfriend for the first time, only to uncover a disturbing secret. The film’s strength lies in its ability to balance suspense and social commentary, as it cleverly weaves a terrifying narrative around the everyday racism faced by black people.
Daniel Kaluuya delivering a nuanced and powerful performance as Chris. The film’s cinematography and score also add to the eerie atmosphere, making it an unforgettable viewing experience. Get Out is a thought-provoking and chilling film that expertly examines the insidious nature of racism and its effects on society. It won Best Original Screenplay at the 2018 Oscars.
10. Gerald’s Game (2017)
The psychological thriller film Gerald’s Game, directed by Mike Flanagan is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name. A romantic weekend getaway turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival for Jessie (Carla Gugino) after her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) falls dead and she’s left handcuffed to the bed in the remote cabin. As Jessie struggles to survive and escape, she confronts her inner demons and traumatic memories.
The horror film is a masterclass in tension and suspense, expertly crafted by Flanagan. Gugino gives an outstanding portrayal as Jessie, convincingly embodying her physical and emotional pain. Gerald’s Game also manages to explore complex themes such as trauma, abuse, and the power dynamics in relationships.
However, some viewers may find the movie’s graphic and disturbing imagery tough to handle. The film’s slow pacing may not appeal to those looking for more action-oriented horror.
11. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
A prequel to the 2014 film Ouija, Origin of Evil is a well-crafted horror film that succeeds in both scaring its audience and telling a compelling story. Directed by Mike Flanagan, the film takes place in the late 1960s and tells the story of a widowed mother and her two daughters who use a Ouija board to scam people into thinking they can communicate with their deceased loved ones, only to unwittingly invite an evil spirit into their home.
The film boasts a strong cast, including Elizabeth Reaser as the mother, Lulu Wilson as the younger daughter, and Annalise Basso as the older daughter. The performances are all solid, with Wilson in particular standing out as the creepy and disturbed youngest daughter.
What sets Origin of Evil apart from its predecessor is its focus on character development and atmosphere. Flanagan takes his time setting up the story and building tension, making the eventual scares all the more effective.
12. Hush (2016)
Hush has an old horror premise. Masked intruder scaring the hell out of a helpless heroine, residing in a secluded country home. However, director Mike Flanagan doesn’t portray his female protagonist as a victim. She rather comes across as a survivor despite suffering from certain physical and psychological limitations.
Flanagan brilliantly ratchets up the tension through his deaf novelist heroine. How can she efficiently play the cat-and-mouse game if she can’t hear? Hush is a good update to the old-school stalker classics, which particularly reminds us of renowned giallo horror titles. It also smartly plays with genre conventions by unmasking the killer at an earlier point. At 82 minutes, this small-scale horror movie is a concise and wildly entertaining chiller.
Here’s what Stephen King had to say about this scary movie: “How good is HUSH? Up there with HALLOWEEN and–even more–WAIT UNTIL DARK. White knuckle time. On Netflix.”
13. Under the Shadow (2016)
Faltering societal values and the stressed psyche of female protagonists are the terrifying forces in Farsi language horror Under the Shadow. A folklore creature called ‘Djinn’ is also thrown into the mix. The story takes us to 1988 Iran, a volatile period in Khomeini’s Islamic revolution. Amidst the political upheaval, a mother and her young daughter are stuck in an apartment, plagued by evil spirits.
The genius of director Babak Anvari is the ability to embed every-day horror elements alongside the supernatural threat. Anvari unfolds the horror aspects with great subtlety and intelligence. Rather than rely on jump scares, the director meticulously builds up an atmosphere of claustrophobic paranoia in this horror movie. The performances, particularly child actor Avin, are exceptionally good.
14. Don’t Breathe (2016)
Fede Alvarez’s taut horror/thriller smartly reverses the traditional roles in the tired home-invasion narrative. Here, sinister element inside the house terrorize our thieving protagonists. We enter into the story through the lawless young thief’s perspective and see no big threat in robbing an old man living with a dog, in the only occupied housing complex of the dilapidated street. They, like us, don’t know what they’re against. Alvarez creates scars as well as suspense from simple, practical things. The second-half twist looks perfectly organic when compared with ridiculous 360 degree twists in other horror thrillers (10 Clover-field Lane, for instance).
Through the blind man’s background as an Iraq war vet as well as the town’s social decay, the director provides ample space for a dry social commentary. When you ponder over the blind man’s distorted view of family bond (especially in the way he commodifies it), you can see it as the product of the collective moral collapse. So the twist isn’t just thrown in as an afterthought.
15. ARQ (2016)
Netflix original horror movie ARQ is a low-budget sci-fi horror thriller that transports us to a dystopian future where the world has succumbed to a totalitarian corporate rule. The central plot reminds us of Groundhog Day, but embellished with a much more sinister twist. The action takes place in a house and among a handful of characters. The central time loop aspect is interesting, but the lack of characterizations adversely impacts the narrative progress.
Some of the performances are quite stilted and there are few apparent plot holes. But there’s a sense of urgency that keeps us engrossed in the first frame onwards. Viewers who enjoy compact, scary sci-fi movie with taut performances might like this one.
16. Creep (2015)
The minimalist horror film is about a naive young man named Aaron responding to a Craigslist ad from a creep named Josef. Josef initially tells Aaron that he is a terminally ill patient and wants to make a video diary for his unborn son. But the eccentric and psychotic Josef confesses to a lot of unsettling things in front of the camera.
Patrick Brice, in his directorial debut, doesn’t rely on jump scares, unlike most found-footage or mockumentary horror flicks. Creep impeccably builds up a sense of dread, while also splashing a fine dose of black humor. Brice surprisingly undercuts some of the cliched elements of the sub genre. Watch the film for Mark Duplass’ master manipulator character Josef. His superb performance makes us overlook some of the plot-holes.
17. The Conjuring (2013)
Doors creaking open, slamming shut, ominous rumbles, moving chairs, crashed family photo frame, stopped clocks, sinister closets, and the possessed shrieking in Latin. This scary movie has all the tried and tested horror tropes. Despite being predictable though, it’s thrilling to watch how James Wan effectively mounts each scary sequence. The director also often excels at keeping viewers uncertain about what might suddenly creep into the frame to spook us.
The Conjuring is allegedly based on the real-life experiences of a Rhode Island Family in 1971. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s paranormal-crusader couple (Ed and Lorraine) characters have created a potent horror franchise and spin-offs.
18. Insidious Chapter 2 (2013)
James Wan’s Insidious Chapter 2 is as gimmicky and uneven as its predecessor. Nevertheless, this horror movie manages to terrorize us with inventive jump scares. The story picks up exactly where it left in the first part. The narrative jumps back and forth as the Josh family tries to chase away the ghost living in Josh’s body, back to its astral kingdom. Like The Conjuring, this is solely designed to satisfy the fans of ‘poltergeist’ scares. And director Wan very well triumphs in that aspect.
There we are! These are some of the scariest movies streaming on Netflix right now. If you are done watching these, you might want to check out The Ritual (2017), Alive (2020), The Lodge (2019), His House (2020), Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game (2017), Mama (2013), The Hunt (2020). Be sure to bookmark the page as we constantly update it with more new titles worth your time.
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Additional writing by Soven Trehan and Shreyas D.S.