Updated July 20, 2022
Army of the Dead
Army of the Dead is Zack Snyder’s return to the genre that got him started, and it’s an absolute triumph. This just might be the most fun you’ve ever had with a Netflix original movie. It’s a zombie film that puts an intriguing twist on the subgenre’s typical apocalyptic setup, and it tells a unique story that feels surprisingly fresh.
Admittedly, this movie isn’t particularly deep or intellectually stimulating, but it’s so fun that it doesn’t have to be. It features likable characters, great action, and some next-level zombies that challenge everything you think you know about the living dead. As you might’ve garnered from the trailer, these zombies are smart and organized. They present some really unique challenges to the human characters, and they make for some of the best zombie action that’s ever been put on screen.
Simply put, Army of the Dead is pretty much the ultimate fun zombie movie. If you’re looking to sit down, eat some popcorn, and enjoy some awesome undead action, then this is just what the doctor ordered.
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.
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’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 further —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.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Jaws has landed on Netflix once again. It’s hands down the best shark movie ever made, but that doesn’t even begin to explain how great this film is. It’s way more than just the best entry in a rather middling subgenre. It’s even more than just one of the greatest horror movies ever made. It’s one of the best movies in any genre—horror or otherwise. Jaws is the film that put Steven Spielberg on the map, and that alone makes it an absolute must-watch for any cinephile. But if you’re a horror fan, there’s one more reason why you need to watch this movie: it made our entire culture afraid of sharks. Sure, people feared these mysterious creatures before Jaws, but Spielberg’s film cemented that fear and brought it to the forefront of our collective consciousness in a way that nothing ever had before (or ever will again). It’s arguably the most effective horror film ever made, so if you haven’t seen Jaws, you need to put it at the very top of your to-watch list (or your to-rewatch list if you have). Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.
If Saw was director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell’s answer to Se7en, Insidious is their Poltergeist. This classy, inspiredly spooky cinematic funhouse subverts one of the most frustrating tropes found in every haunted-house movie—why doesn’t the family just get out of Dodge? Well, this time, the likable family of five actually moves once the Creepy Occurrences begin and one of the sons falls into an unexplainable coma. As the parents (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) learn from a lovely medium, played by invaluable genre stalwart Lin Shaye, it’s not their house that was haunted…but their son. Dun-dun-dun! Whether it be the raspy voice on a baby monitor, the terrifying face behind a curtain, or a trip via astral projection to a nightmarish netherworld known as The Further, this creepshow showcases Wan’s auteur skill in getting an audience shivering and peering through splayed fingers.
Insidious is just plain old-fashioned fun, and it’s anything but plain. Wan brings expert panache to his operatic brand of scares, beginning with the title card that sneaks up on us like an entire orchestra of screechy string instruments. This is no hyperbole: Insidious still boasts some of the most indelibly creepy imagery seen in the horror movies of yesteryear. And what other film can brag about putting Tiny Tim’s caterwauling relic “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” to such unforgettably weird use?
Insidious: Chapter 2
In some ways, Insidious: Chapter 2 is the movie that really cemented James Wan as arguably the greatest horror director of our generation. At this point in his career, he had already made some of the best genre movies of the 21st century, and when this one came out, he added one of the best genre sequels to his resume as well.
Picking up right where the first film left off, Insidious: Chapter 2 takes the story in some new and really interesting directions, so it avoids the common mistakes that ruin most horror sequels. This movie deepens the franchise’s mythology and ups the weirdness in a brilliant way, and it even manages to reframe some of the scariest scenes from the first film without reducing any of their effectiveness. It’s just about the furthest thing possible from a soulless rehash of its predecessor, and in the world of sequels, that’s half the battle.
The other half is actually making a good movie, and Insidious: Chapter 2 succeeds on that front as well. It’s a really intriguing narrative that mixes in some new characters with all our old favorites, so if you’re a fan of the first Insidious but you haven’t seen this one, you need to remedy that. And if you haven’t seen that original film, give it a watch and then come back for the sequel. You’ll be glad you did.
On the surface, It Follows seems like nothing more than a cheap cautionary tale against having sex, but if you dig even a little bit beneath the surface, you’ll find one of the most original horror concepts of the past decade. It’s about a monster that relentlessly follows its victims no matter where they go, and their only hope of survival is to pass the curse on to someone else by having sex.
However, if it kills its current target, it goes back up the line and begins to follow the last person it was attached to, so even if someone is safe for the moment, they can never be sure that it won’t set its sights upon them once again in the future. On top of all that, this monster can look like anybody, even people its victims know, so if you see someone walking slowly in one direction, you never know if it’s the creature or just another person.
From that description, it should be no surprise that this film favors creeping dread over cheap jump scares. Even when the monster is nowhere to be found, the fact that it could be just around the corner is enough to keep the tension high from beginning to end so you’ll find yourself constantly scanning the screen to see if you can catch a glimpse of the creature. This makes It Follows one of the most subtly scary movies of this century. So if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
If you’re looking for some good gateway horror, then Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is just the movie for you. Based on the popular children’s books of the same name, this film adapts some of the books’ most popular stories and combines them into a single, cohesive narrative, and it works surprisingly well.
Unlike the Goosebumps movie, this one doesn’t just take a bunch of monsters from different stories and put them into a completely new narrative. Rather, it finds a clever way to let each story be itself while simultaneously functioning as part of a larger, overarching plot. On top of that, the film also translates the books’ signature illustrations into grotesquely gorgeous and genuinely creepy on-screen monsters, so Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark isn’t just for kids. It’s a legitimate horror movie that can appeal to genre fans of all ages.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Where the nightmare started… Wes Craven’s 1984 masterpiece is now on Netflix USA! It’s hard to understate just how brilliant and influential A Nightmare on Elm Street was (and still is!). With a wondrously dreamlike atmosphere, spectacular visual effects, and, of course, an instantly iconic reality-bending boogeyman in Freddy Krueger, Craven’s film helped to reshape the horror genre into something altogether weirder and more creative than ever before.
Nightmare is as thoughtful as it is ambitious: a story of a community dealing with its own trauma, bound into a gorgeously metaphysical slasher, with Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy carefully toeing the line between the normal and surreal. All this makes for a film that is truly, sincerely special. Now that it’s on Netflix you have no excuse not to sit down, relax, and enjoy a piece of horror history. Oh, and while you do, be sure not to fall asleep…
Ouija: Origin of Evil
Making a good horror movie is hard, and making a good horror prequel is even harder. Making a good horror prequel to a bad original film is quite possibly the toughest task a filmmaker can have. But man, Mike Flanagan totally knocked it out of the park with Ouija: Origin of Evil, his excellent prequel to the 2014 stinker Ouija. The film is about a family of scam artist psychics who one day decide to add a ouija board to their fake seances, and when they do, they unwittingly unleash a very real evil upon their home.
That’s a pretty cool premise, and the execution is even better. Ouija: Origin of Evil has excellent scares, a really sympathetic group of main characters, and one of the best creepy kid performances this side of The Shining. It’s one of the most effective haunted house movies of the last decade, so if you’re a fan of these films, you’re definitely going to want to check this one out.
The first chapter of a two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 book of the same name, It is a coming of age horror movie with supernatural elements, and it tells the story of a group of seven misfit kids called the Losers Club.
They live in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, where an evil shapeshifter is terrorizing the children. This creature can look like just about anything, but it most often takes the form of a clown called Pennywise. And as if that weren’t enough, the kids in the Losers Club also have their own personal struggles that they have to deal with throughout the film.
It is realistic, gritty, and terrifying, and it deals with important themes like growing up, loss, and friendship. Those themes make it a great all-around movie, so you don’t even have to be a horror fan to enjoy it.
Based on a Stephen King novella of the same name, The Mist has a premise that almost feels like a bottle episode of an anthology series: a bunch of people get trapped inside a grocery store, and when a man runs in from the eponymous mist saying it holds monsters, paranoia and fear start taking over the people stuck inside.
The Mist is a weird mixture of ingredients. The extremely simple throwback premise recalls classic anthology series like The Twilight Zone, but the execution is very grounded and gritty in many ways. What’s more, the characters are well written tropes. For example, there’s David Drayton, the everyman whose main concern is keeping his son safe; there’s Olly, the unassuming bag boy who has the skills of a sharpshooter; and there’s the zealous Mrs. Carmody, by far the most memorable character. The entire plot is merely a pressure cooker, upping the tension among the characters through escalating external threats.
While the movie is certainly dated (mainly in the spare use of CGI, which hasn’t aged well), the simplicity of writing, premise, and execution lends a certain timeless quality to The Mist. Thanks to the memorable performances that completely sell what’s happening on screen, the more obvious flaws are easy to overlook. It’s a cruel and difficult movie, but one well worth seeking out.