Updated Feb. 24, 2021
Netflix’s gigantic horror catalogue is both a blessing and a curse. You can never complain that you don’t have anything to watch, but the abundance of options can also make it tough to know what’s worth seeing and what you should avoid. Nobody has unlimited time to watch every horror movie Netflix has to offer, so we naturally want to skip the lesser offerings and go straight to the good stuff.
And that’s where we come in. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best horror films currently available on Netflix so you don’t have to waste your time wading through a hoard of mediocre titles just to hit on a few good ones. If you find the sheer volume of choices overwhelming, or if you just don’t know what’s good and what’s not, take a look at our recommendations and find something that suits your tastes. We bet you won’t be disappointed.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space | Leaving soon on March 31st
We’re not going to pretend that Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a paragon of the fine art of filmmaking. It’s not. It’s every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, and it’s an absolute blast. It’s a horror-comedy from the 1980s about a bunch of clown aliens that come to earth and go around kidnapping and killing people.
What’s great about this movie is how much it really leans into the clown angle. Not only do the aliens look like clowns, but they act like them too. To take just two examples, they live in a big circus tent, and they store their kidnapped victims in cotton candy. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, so if you’re a fan of stupid fun, then Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a must-watch.
The Evil Dead
The Evil Dead is about a group of friends who go to a remote forest cabin for a nice, relaxing vacation, but instead, they end up awakening ancient demons that possess them and turn them into hideous, zombie-like monsters. It’s one of the most beloved horror movies of all time, and it kicked off what many consider the greatest horror trilogy ever made.
These days, the Evil Dead franchise is known just as much for its comedy as for its horror, but the original film is different. The series didn’t embrace its comedy side until Evil Dead 2, so while this one still has a lot of the campy gore the franchise is known for, it does it with a much more serious tone. But don’t get the wrong idea. This movie is still a ton of fun, so if you’re looking to have a good time with a few gory possessions, you can’t go wrong with The Evil Dead.
Shutter is a Thai movie about a young couple named Jane and Tun who run over a woman with their car and then begin to experience some scary paranormal events. They fear that they’re being haunted by the ghost of the woman they hit, so Jane does some research into her past and finds out that she has a shocking connection to her boyfriend.
This movie works so well because it’s a lot more than just a generic ghost story. It has its fair share of scares and spooky scenes, but it’s also an engrossing narrative. The story behind the woman in the road and her connection to Tun hooks you and reels you in as it unfolds, so you want to keep watching to find out what comes next. Simply put, Shutter is a gem of modern Asian horror, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely add it to your list.
Under the Shadow
One of the best things about streaming services like Netflix is that they give you access to movies you might never come across otherwise, and Under the Shadow is a great example of that. It’s a Persian-language film set in Iran in the 1980s, and it follows a woman and her daughter who are haunted by a djinn in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War.
This movie has two things going for it. First, it’s based on Islamic rather than Christian lore, and that adds a really refreshing twist to the evil spirit subgenre. It’s not necessarily better than Christian-based movies, but it’s different, and there’s real value in that.
Secondly, it has a really good story too. It combines the horror of the djinn with the main character’s struggle against her patriarchal society, and it works equally well on both levels. This film has some real narrative substance to go along with its scares, so if you’re looking for a horror movie that has something to say, Under the Shadow should absolutely be on your to-watch list.
Paranorman is a stop-motion animated film about a boy who can communicate with the dead, and he has to use that ability to save his town from a zombie attack. This movie is obviously geared towards younger audiences, but like the best children’s films, there’s also a lot in it that can appeal to older viewers as well.
For example, it has a lot of cool allusions to famous horror movies, and it’s really fun looking out for all the ways it pays homage to the films that came before it. On top of that, it has a really great message too. It’s all about accepting people for who they are, and it teaches kids that it’s okay to be themselves even if it makes them different from everybody else.
So if you’re looking for a movie that the whole family can watch, give Paranorman a shot. It may not be as well-known as some other children’s horror films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, but it’s still well worth your time.
Vampires vs. The Bronx
If you like a little urban flair with your horror, then Vampires vs. The Bronx just might be what you’re looking for. It’s a horror-comedy about a neighborhood in the Bronx that’s set upon by vampires under the pretense of gentrification, and it’s up to three teenage boys to stop them.
This movie is pretty much the total package. It has some cool vampires who do a great job of switching back and forth between being deceptively charming and scarily menacing, and it also has some really great human characters that you’ll grow to love by the time the credits roll.
What’s more, it also has a really great message to go along with its great characters. It’s all about the value of human life, especially the lives of the poor and disadvantaged, so if you want a super fun horror movie that can speak to a pressing moral issue in our society today, Vampires vs. The Bronx will certainly fit that bill.
The Binding is an Italian film about an engaged couple named Francesco and Emma who travel to Francesco’s childhood home with Emma’s daughter Sofia. When they arrive, Francesco introduces his mother to his fiance and her daughter, but soon afterward, they realize that Emma has become the target of a nasty curse.
From there, the movie takes a bunch of twists and turns, and your eyes become glued to the screen because you want to find out what exactly is going on. The movie keeps you off balance until it wants you to know the truth behind Emma’s curse, and once it lets you in on its big secret, it throws even more surprises at you. In a nutshell, The Binding is just a captivating narrative, so if you’re in the mood for a scary story you can really get lost in, you should definitely give this movie a shot.
#Alive is a South Korean zombie film that takes a super simple premise and turns it into a surprisingly uplifting story. It’s about a young man who gets stuck in his apartment when the zombie apocalypse breaks out, and he has to find a way to survive even though his food and water supplies start to run desperately low.
A good zombie movie has to be about more than just the zombies, and this film understands that. While it does a really good job with its take on the living dead, it’s really about the human characters and their fight for survival. It tells us that human life is worth fighting for and defending, even to the point of putting ourselves at risk to protect the people we care about, and it embodies that message with some really cool zombie action. #Alive has just about everything you could want from a zombie movie, so if you’re a fan of this subgenre, we highly recommend putting this one on your list of films to watch.
Before I Wake
In recent years, writer/director Mike Flanagan has been cementing himself as one of the best in the business. Films like Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Doctor Sleep have put him firmly on the horror map, but not all of his movies get the love they deserve. Case in point, Before I Wake is a film of his that is all too often overlooked and underseen. It’s not his best movie, but it’s still really good.
It’s about a young boy named Cody whose dreams come to life in the real world. As you might guess, he suffers from terrible nightmares, and they wreak havoc on everyone around him. On the surface, that probably sounds like a lame and predictable story, and it probably would be in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, but Flanagan handles it brilliantly. He manages to turn that cliche premise into a touching story about love, death, and the ability to hold on to our lost loved ones while still moving forward with our lives. Before I Wake has good scares, relatable characters, and a whole lot of heart, so it deserves to get a lot more love than it normally does from the horror community.
May the Devil Take You
May the Devil Take You is an Indonesian horror movie about a young woman who learns a dark secret about her father’s past, and it brings her face to face with the evil forces that have been lying in the background of his life for years.
This movie is a love letter to the Evil Dead franchise, and it totally works. Much of the film is very reminiscent of Ash’s battles with the deadites, even down to some of the details, but it never feels like just a cheap rip-off. It simply takes elements from that franchise and makes them its own in a way that feels comfortably familiar.
This movie has fun gore, effective scares, and likable characters, so there’s not a lot to dislike about it. If you’re an Evil Dead fan, you should give May the Devil Take You a watch. It’ll make you feel right at home with its style of horror while also introducing you to a whole new world of scares.
If you don’t know about Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, you need to check these guys out. They’re co-directors who’ve worked on a number of movies together, including The Endless, a sequel/spin-off of their earlier film Resolution. It’s a Lovecraftian sci-fi/horror story about two brothers who go back and visit the cult they escaped from ten years ago, and when they arrive, they encounter some unexplainable phenomena that force them to reconsider the cult’s unusual beliefs.
This movie has a lot going for it, but hands down the best thing about it is the mystery surrounding the god the cult worships. The story reels you in and makes you wonder just what this thing could be, and when the film finally divulges its secret, it’s nothing you would’ve ever expected. It’s a really creative idea that will stick with you and make you think more deeply about some of your priorities in life. It makes for an intriguing and thought-provoking story, so if you like horror that has real intellectual substance, The Endless is just the movie for you.
The Gift is a psychological thriller about a young couple that moves into a new neighborhood and runs into an old classmate of the husband’s. At first, their rekindled friendship is just a bit uncomfortable, but it soon turns into a living nightmare as old secrets are revealed and past misdeeds come back to haunt them.
This movie is tough to talk about without spoiling it, so I’m going to have to be a bit vague here. It starts out with a seemingly generic stalker plot, but it soon turns into a roller coaster ride of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. And speaking of the end, wow. This film ends on a chilling note of psychological torture that’s so distressing it almost makes you feel bad for a character that you shouldn’t sympathize with at all. It’s just that effective, so if you like movies that really emphasize the psychological element of psychological horror, then The Gift is a movie you have to see.
Few names in horror are as well-respected as Guillermo del Toro, and few of his films are as beloved as his dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s set during the Spanish Civil War, and it’s about a young girl whose mother has just married a cruel general. The girl and her mother go to live with the general, and when they arrive, she encounters a hidden world of mythical creatures and learns that she’s actually the reincarnation of a magical princess.
Like almost all of del Toro’s films, this one masterfully juxtaposes beautiful fantasy with a gritty, hard-hitting exploration of the ugliness rampant in the world around us. Both elements work equally well, and they come together to tell a heartwarming story about one person’s search for meaning and goodness in a seemingly indifferent universe. It’s one of the best adult fairy tales ever told, so if you’re a fan of mythology, monsters, and magic, then Pan’s Labyrinth is a must-watch.
If you’re a fan of haunted house movies, then this film is essential viewing. The Conjuring isn’t just one of the best horror movies on Netflix; it’s one of the best horror movies of this century. It’s about a family that moves into a new home and immediately begins experiencing inexplicable and terrifying phenomena, so they reach out to paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren for help. On the surface, that may sound like a generic haunted house story. We’ve seen that plot a million times before, so what makes this film stand out from the rest?
For one, the scares are fantastic. They’re not super original, but director James Wan executes them so well it simply doesn’t matter. This movie was essentially rated R for being too scary for PG-13, and it totally earns that rating. What’s more, the film also has great characters. You quickly become attached to all of them, from the family that’s being haunted to the Warrens and their assistants, so you genuinely care about them. You become invested in the story as well as the scares, so The Conjuring isn’t just a great horror movie. It’s a great movie, period.
The Conjuring 2
James Wan’s Conjuring Universe may have grown a little out of control in recent years, what with the mixed reception towards the Annabelle spin-off series and The Nun, but the core series still remains a testament to back-to-basics horror entertainment. The second installment follows the Warrens, fictionalized versions of real-life paranormal investigators, as they come out of retirement after investigating the infamous Amityville haunting to thwart a spirit haunting a small apartment in Enfield, London. However, Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga, giving the role her all) is still haunted by the spirits and premonitions she encountered in Amityville, and worries that she won’t be able to stop the horrible fate she’s foreseen for her husband Ed (Patrick Wilson).
Aside from some slightly dated effects, occasional predictable jump scares, and a bit of an anticlimactic finale, The Conjuring 2 works horror magic by injecting a dose of humanity into its haunted-house story. Wan excels at creating tension through long takes and shots that linger just a little too long, resulting in moments of genuine edge-of-your-seat dread. But when Ed and Lorraine interact with each other and the English family they’re doing their best to help, we get to see them just being people. Whether it’s Patrick Wilson delivering a sweet rendition of an Elvis Presley classic or Vera Farmiga comforting the family’s youngest daughter with stories from her childhood, moments like these draw the audience in even farther—and make them even more worried when the terror returns. If you’re looking for an entertaining, spooky, and sweet film to put on, this one might be just right for you.