From Incantation (2022) to Under the Shadow (2016), here are the best horror movies on Netflix right now.
Horror is one of the most watched genres on streaming services. Netflix boasts quite a few great horror titles 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 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 horror movies on Netflix right now:
1. Incantation (2022)
Kevin Ko’s Taiwanese 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. 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.
3. 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.
4. A Quiet Place (2018)
The post-apocalyptic survival horror/thriller delivers raw genre thrills through the effective use of silence. The 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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 film is a concise and wildly entertaining chiller.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. ARQ (2016)
Netflix original 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 could check this out.
12. 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.
Unlike most found-footage or mockumentary horror flicks, Creep doesn’t rely on jump scares. It 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.
13. 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. The Conjuring 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.
14. 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 best horror movies 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), Gerald’s Game (2017), Mama(2013), The Hunt (2020), Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016), another brilliant horror film from Mike Flanagan. 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.