The best Netflix horror movies are a varied bunch. Non-scare fans assume that the horror genre is wall to wall arterial spray but the truth is that horror films are far more interesting than that. Sure, body horror and splatter have their place but the genre as a whole is significantly more intelligent than many give it credit for. Psychological horror, creeping dread, societal commentary, exquisite jump scares, and terrifying creatures are all lurking in the best horror movies on Netflix. We’ve endured a lot of nastiness to find you the scream of the crop so whether you’re looking for something to put the laughter into slaughter, or a movie to send you to bed with no intentions of turning off the light ever again it’s all here. Let’s break down the best Netflix horror movies available in both the US and the UK.
The Conjuring (2013)
There’s good reason that director James Wan’s The Conjuring spawned an MCU style horror universe. While the subsequent movies haven’t quite hit the terrifying heights of the original, it’s absolutely worth going back to this classic haunting. Brilliant performances from Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as real life paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren elevate The Conjuring from schlocky ghost train territory to one you’d happily scream through in Universal Studios. There’s also the not insignificant matter of James Wan delivering one of the most terrifying and relentless scare sequences in the last two decades of horror cinema. It’s a little long and there are some bonus The Exorcist vibes but The Conjuring is a stone cold modern horror classic that will haunt you long after the credits have rolled. A must watch.
His House (2020)
Horror has long been a perfect way to process the true horrors of the challenges we face in society. Whether it’s Dawn of the Dead’s approach to consumerism or the Babadook’s stark grief parable, the monsters at work are usually us. His House is the story of Bol and Rial, a refugee couple from South Sudan who have been given a council house in a small English town. What they find waiting in the walls is intense and horrifying but director Remi Weekes perfectly balances this with the challenges of acclimatisation to a new culture and the dehumanising nature of the process. It’s searing and it’s issues are real but that doesn’t stop this also from being a terrifying haunted house parable.
There are only so many saccharine Christmas movies you can watch without wishing that gingerbread men were attempting to murder all of the characters on screen. No? Just us? Regardless, Michael Dougherty’s festive horror is perfect deadly eggnog with Toni Collette in fine form as the matriarch of an ungrateful family who are spectacularly failing to celebrate the season. Krampus is firmly in comedy horror territory but there are still some exceptionally fun scares as the family is besieged by festive monstrosities. The best holiday horrors are the darkest ones and Krampus is enjoyably vindictive as it does for Christmas what Dougherty’s previous Trick R Treat did for Halloween. You’ll never see the kids’ letters to Santa in the same way again.
Hereditary has gained an almost mythical quality since release with some saying it’s the scariest movie ever made, while others loudly declare it’s not worth the hype. For Hereditary to truly dig its menacing claws in, you’ll want to know as little as possible before going in. The debut feature from director Ari Aster, Hereditary centres around a family after the loss of their grandmother. Toni Collette is particularly devastatingly brilliant here but the star turn goes to young Milly Shapiro as daughter Charlie, whose menace is palpable. As is the case with most horror movies, how badly Hereditary will unsettle you is linked directly to how much you’re willing to put in. Offer your soul, and the movie might just eat you whole.
Along with its sequel, the appropriately titled Creep 2, Creep has become a found footage cult classic. It doesn’t quite have the commercial appeal of Paranormal Activity or the raw terror of The Blair Witch Project, but as societal awkwardness descending into horror goes, Creep has it nailed. Following an advert on Craigslist, a videographer called Aaron heads to the home of Josef, played by a truly unnerving Mark Duplass. Josef is eccentric but apparently wants someone to record his final days before he loses his life to an inoperable brain tumor. It might be a wholly inappropriate place to say that’s where the ‘fun’ begins but here we are.
The one word naming trend of the early 2010s means that there are relatively few people who can confidently tell their Sinisters and Conjurings from their Insidiouses - Insidiousi? But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth going back to check. Before he made The Conjuring and kickstarted a horror universe, James Wan directed Insidious, confusingly also starring Patrick Wilson and set in the house of a family who are being plagued by a demon. There’s a very different tone from The Conjuring here though and some great performances and iconic jump scares still make Insidious delightfully unhinged. There’s an exceptionally strong Poltergeist vibe too and, while some might see the final act as jumping the proverbial creepy shark, there’s plenty of old-fashioned scares to enjoy.
If you fancy spending the evening pulling at your own face with tension, there’s nothing quite as excruciating as Calibre. Two friends going hunting? What’s the worst that could happen? Yes, take a swig of your Dr Pepper because this trip to the Scottish Highlands isn’t exactly what Nessie’s home country would choose to put on its tourist site. The politics of a small village mix perfectly with some Very Bad Decisions to make this a must watch horror thriller. Even if that entails watching through your fingers and from behind a cushion.
Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor creator Mike Flanagan has a lot to answer for. Not only has he made two of arguably the most successful horror TV shows of the last few years as well as directed an excellent sequel to The Shining (Doctor Sleep), back in 2015 he quietly directed an intelligent slasher movie. Co-written with his wife and Hush star Kate Siegel, this is the story of Maddie, a deaf horror writer who lives in a remote cottage with only her cat for company. When a masked man arrives and assumes she is easy pickings, her fight to survive is nail-bitingly brilliant stuff.
The Perfection (2018)
It's important to enter The Perfection with one thing in mind. This is not a societal commentary to be accompanied by chin scratching like a lot of modern horror. This is a scuzzily violent horror thriller with no rules. It won't be to everyone's taste but Alison Williams' excellent turn as a cellist with a passion for revenge makes for an exceptionally twisted thriller. Perhaps not one to watch with your parents, there's also one of the most realistic recreations of being unwell on public transport of all time. Yes, on this list, that's a selling point…
Under the Shadow (2016)
Of all the genres, horror is often one of the bravest to tackle the hardest of topics. On one level Babak Anvari's Persian haunting is a traditional ghost story as a woman is plagued by spirits in her home, on another it's a biting commentary on the oppression facing women in 1980s Tehran. Like the Babadook's manifestation of grief, the monsters here might seem fictional but there's a depressing reality to these specters. Scary and thought provoking, Under the Shadow is a modern classic.
The Platform (2019)
Another societal commentary – this time a skewering of capitalist culture from Spain – The Platform is an uncomfortable watch. High concept doesn't come much higher than this. Literally. A luxurious kitchen furnishes a platform with delectable edibles which then descends through hundreds of two person cells. If everyone would just have a few bites then there would be enough for all but of course, that's not how the world works. Following one man on his journey as he wakes up on new levels, The Platform is an unpredictable nightmare.