From Incantation (2022) to Under the Shadow (2016), here are the best horror movies on Netflix right now. The article was updated on December 5, 2023.
Netflix faces tough competition from horror genre-specific platforms like Shudder. Yet, it has constantly grown its horror catalog. Last year, it had 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 scary 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 the streaming service 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:
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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 is 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 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 movie 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. 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.
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. Cam (2018)
This techno-horror benefits from a terrific central performance from Madeline Brewer as an erotic webcam performer. The movie 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.
5. 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 offers genuine scares, and excellently balances 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.
6. 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 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.
7. Gerald’s Game (2017)
The psychological thriller 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 scary movie 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.
8. 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 movie 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.
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 terrorizes 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 scares 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 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.
12. Creep (2015)
The minimalist scary movie 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 reply 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 it for Mark Duplass’ master manipulator character Josef. His superb performance makes us overlook some of the plot-holes.
13. 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 great scary movies streaming on Netflix right now. If you are done with these, check out Drag me to Hell (2009), They Cloned Tyrone (2023), The Ritual (2017), Alive (2020), The Lodge (2019), His House (2020), Mama (2013), The Hunt (2020).
Additional writing by Soven Trehan and Shreyas D.S.
An ardent cinephile, who truly believes in the transformative power and shared-dream experience of cinema. He blogs at ‘Passion for Movies.’