16 Best Horror Movies on Netflix

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Everett Collection, Netflix

Let’s say you’ve turned on Netflix looking for an adrenaline hit, the rush of anxiety and fear that only a solid scary movie can provide. You’ve got your popcorn, you’ve got your seltzer, but you don’t have any clue what you want to watch. Spending 45 minutes indecisively scrolling through the horror tab is not the move. That’s why we’ve rounded up the 16 best horror films currently available on Netflix. Have fun streaming and screaming!

1. His House (2020)

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This ghost story centers on a young refugee couple who have arrived in the U.K. from South Sudan. They’re placed in a government-sponsored rental home in a state of disrepair that is horrifying enough on its own, as are the various manifestations of racism, classism, and xenophobia they face in their new home. They are both haunted by the terrors they faced on their journey from Sudan, particularly the loss of their daughter, and soon after settling in, the haunting of their home begins. It’s viscerally frightening, but it’s as thoughtful as it is disturbing. With excellent performances throughout, its surprise ending makes you rethink the whole movie, and its commentary on the ways trauma impacts our psyche feels endlessly relevant.

2. Malevolent (2018)

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Technically this is far from being one of the best horror movies on Netflix thanks to an extremely jarring tone shift halfway through the movie. It is, however, one of the strongest horror performances you’ll find on the streamer; it stars a pre-Midsommar Florence Pugh who really commits to her role as Angela, a reluctant scammer messing with the supernatural in ways she very much shouldn’t. It’s worth watching just to see her slay.

3. Things Heard & Seen (2021)

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The cast of this one is excellent: Amanda Seyfried and James Norton are Catherine and George Claire, a couple who relocate from 1980s Manhattan to a small town in upstate New York after George lands a teaching gig at a liberal-arts college. Not sure why he couldn’t simply commute, but all right. Anyway, they obviously move into a creepy farmhouse; the townspeople are super weird to them; freaky supernatural occurrences abound. What’s more interesting about the film is actually its depiction of a marriage falling apart, which eventually is tied into the spirits that are being heard and seen.

4. Under the Shadow (2016)

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This Iranian horror film, set in the ’80s against the Iran-Iraq War, got tons of critical acclaim and accomplishes something the horror genre can do very well: use the supernatural as a vehicle for social commentary. Narges Rashidi stars in Under the Shadow as a young woman attempting to deal with oppression both outside and inside her home; the latter being of the more demonic variety.

5. Cam (2018)

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This film can claim one attribute that few other horror movies can: a genuinely original concept. Alice (Madeline Brewer) is a cam girl who’s quickly rising in the ranks on her camming site under the pseudonym Lola — until one morning, she wakes up to find someone who looks and sounds exactly like her, but isn’t her, streaming from her account. Soon, she can’t even log in. There are plenty of questions left unanswered, but suspend your disbelief to appreciate its larger themes around online personas and how they impact us as individuals and as a society.

6. Train to Busan (2016)

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Sang-ho Yeon’s spectacular horror-thriller Train to Busan follows a group of strangers stuck on a train while a zombie apocalypse hits South Korea. The zombie element is thrilling and terrifying, but the most impressive thing about Train to Busan is how each of the characters is developed. A good one if you want to watch a movie with a friend who thinks they don’t like horror.

7. Thanksgiving (2023)

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This is a good old-fashioned slasher film made expressly for horror buffs. It’s the feature length manifestation of a fake trailer the director, Eli Roth, made for 2007’s Grindhouse. It’s fairly predictable and lacking in development of the character and plot varieties, but that’s all part of the fun. There are a million references and easter eggs to catch instead. And Addison Rae is in it!

8. Cargo (2018)

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Cargo is another, slightly different take on zombie movie genre. Martin Freeman is stranded with his baby in rural Australia after being infected during a zombie-creating pandemic. Before he succumbs, he has to find a way to keep her safe.

9. Gerald’s Game (2017)

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A rare case in which the movie is better than the book, this Stephen King adaptation manages to keep up the suspense and horror without much movement. The genuinely chilling premise is that Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) are spending a weekend at an isolated cabin to “reconnect.” He handcuffs her to the bed but dies of a heart attack soon after, collapsing on top of her and leaving her trapped and entirely alone. Gugino’s gripping performance makes this the furthest thing from a slog, and even the famously terrible ending of the novel is handled with as much grace as humanly possible.

10. #Alive (2020)

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And now, a horror movie for the girls who aren’t that into horror movies. If you have a low tolerance for gore and a high tolerance for pandemic content, this Korean film is for you. It centers on a young gamer, played by Yoo Ah-in, living in an apartment with his parents and spending much of his time with his PC. But he’s home alone when a deadly zombie virus hits, and decides to shut himself inside his apartment and attempt to survive. Unlike the typical zombie movie, this one really zeroes in on the effects that extreme isolation has on one’s psyche, with minimal zombie fighting and a lot of heart.

11. The Meg (2018)

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The Meg is not Jaws, but it knows that — and instead of trying to be, it just decides to have a nice silly time watching Jason Statham beef with a prehistoric shark terrorizing the open waters. Definitely don’t watch it before going to the beach.

12. Creep (2014)

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An underappreciated but truly excellent (and mostly improvised) found-footage-style portrayal of how our fear of social discomfort can put us in dangerous situations. Mark Duplass stars as Josef, a certified weirdo whose penchant for making people uncomfortable is apparent almost the moment he greets Aaron (Patrick Brice), who has come to film him for the day. Josef tells Aaron that he has terminal brain cancer and wants to create a video diary for his unborn son. He slowly and methodically pushes at Aaron’s boundaries until you find yourself screaming at him to leave. Best of all, this movie is a clean 82 minutes long.

13. The Platform (2019)

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If you appreciate cutting social commentary along with your horror, watch this Spanish language film. It takes place in a prison where inmates are assigned two to a floor. Every day, a platform descends through a hole in the middle of a building. At the top, it’s covered in food — theoretically enough to feed everyone, but it never works out that way because those at the top take more than their fair share. With several clever twists and a grisly conclusion, it’s worth a watch.

14. Apostle (2018)

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This one is for the gore-heads and the period piece fans. Set in 1905, it’s about a man who goes undercover, secretly joining a cult that has kidnapped his sister in order to save her. The vision is specific and strong, even if it doesn’t always totally make sense, and the bodily fluids are plentiful.

15. Don’t Listen (2020)

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Your classic haunted house film. A couple who makes a living flipping houses moves into a new one with their son, Eric, and some very creepy things start happening. The performances are strong even when the script isn’t always, but it’s a deeply immersive addition to the genre that keeps the tension going throughout.

16. Lights Out (2016)

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The 80-minute run time is replete with jump scares and popcorn tossers. It’s part ghost story, part mental disturbance, centering on a figure called “Diana” who can only appear and attack when the lights are out. It will convince you to dig out your night light or leave a few lamps on.

16 Best Horror Movies on Netflix