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The best cult movies on Netflix: stream these now

This is what to watch on Netflix, if you want a cool fix.

The best cult movies on Netflix: stream these now
15 November 2023

Ever get the feeling Netflix keeps recommending the same shows and movies? Every now and then it's a good idea to part with the algorithm and dig out something a bit more unusual.

What tends to fall in between the cracks (often courtesy of the service’s less than helpful browsing experience) is all those films that might not have raked in millions or filled column inches over the years, but which still have something special going for them.

UPDATE: We have six new entires for all the cult movie fans out there. Let's take a trip back to the mid-90s with Noah Baumbach's first movie, Kicking and Screaming. And if you'd rather a film that contains both kicking and screaming, literally, you might prefer Dragged Across Concrete, a brutal crime movie with the unlikely pairing of Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn. And if that's already a turn-off, consider the too often forgotten superhero classic Hellboy by Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro.

We’re talking about films that have built up a cult following, or have simply been forgotten over the years.

Here, then, are 22 top cult classic films that are available to stream right now on Netflix. Watch them now before they get lost in the scramble to ‘Netflix and chill’.

Which of these is your favourite? Upvote to send them to the top of the chart.Next, find out about the best horror films on Netflix.

Please note: all of these movies are currently available on the UK version of Netflix - please check your region for availability.

Best cult movies on Netflix

Best cult movies on Netflix

1. Nightcrawler (UK only)

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Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this brilliantly dark take-down of the modern news media. He plays Louis Bloom, a troublingly ambitious video journalist who starts selling crime footage to a local LA TV network. Riz Ahmed plays the hapless sidekick who is slowly dragged into Bloom’s increasingly amoral world. As the lines between fact and fiction start to blur and these recorders of the news start to make it, things take a turn for the grim.

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Before he did a marvelous job with the Blade Runner sequel and started to piece together Frank Herbert’s epic novel collection Dune, Denis Villeneuve made this cult classic that’s a lesson on suspense. The stars and the acting are A List, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman on board but the story of a missing girl is anything but mainstream. Masterful stuff.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

3. Annihilation

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Devs may have cemented Alex Garland as the king of sci-fi but you can see the blueprint for the who in his previous work Ex Machina (which is also on Netflix) and Annihilation. The latter was a Netflix exclusive (when it was frowned upon to go straight to Netflix) and is a brutal, beautiful look at monsters and environmental concerns. The cast is sublime, with Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson all starring. But it is its almost wordless, Kubrickian ending that will stay in your brain the most - even if it is all confusing as hell.

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Creep is a no-budget horror movie that was made by one of the kings of mumblecore, Mark Duplass, alongside director Patrick Brice. Duplass is a mysterious client who asks a documentary filmmaker (played by Brice) to film videos of him for his unborn son Buddy. What ensues is a, well, creepy horror where nothing is as it seems, with the whole thing pieced together from found footage. Its sequel is equally as good.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

5. Under The Shadow (US only)

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This is one of the best horror movies of recent years. Writer/Director Babak Anvari sets the movie in wartorn 80s Tehran and focuses on a mother and daughter who are spooked by ghostly goings-on in their small apartment. It relies heavily on atmosphere for most of its scares, which means that your heart will be in your mouth for most of it. While the movie is a grim analogy of the horrors of war, it is also punctuated by some beautiful and sweet moments between the mother and daughter, gracefully played by Narges Rashidi and Avin Manshadi.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

6. A Classic Horror Story

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We are in a golden age of horror right now which means that we are blessed with some of the most unique scares in recent years. A Classic Horror Story is very original, a movie that questions the tropes of horror movies, while paying homage to many a horror movie before it.

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Forget the terrible 2019 reboot, Guillermo del Torro pulled off the ultimate adaptation of Mike Mignola’s cult comic book series at the first attempt some 15 years earlier. The Mexican director’s distinctive gruesome-yet-heartfelt sensibility marries beautifully with this tale of a demon (Ron Perlman) pursuing a righteous monster-slaying path alongside a ragtag band of supernatural teammates. At a time when comic book over-saturation is real, it’s worth glancing back at a time in the not-so-distant past when such things were a little weirder and a lot more interesting.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

8. The Platform

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A prison laid out vertically, where 333 levels of floating platforms are arranged one above the next. The further you go down, the grimmer the conditions get. This horror-leaning thriller is a potent allegory for the class system of a capitalist society. But even if you just watch it as a genre flick, The Platform is a grimly engaging watch. It's a Spanish language movie.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

9. Zombieland

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Ruben Fleischer’s cult action-comedy takes the late-’00s obsession with zombies and has an absolute ball with them, simultaneously sending up and paying tribute to the tropes of the horror sub-genre. It helps that Zombieland features a hugely charismatic cast of apocalypse survivors, including Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin. It’s all achingly post-modern and self-aware, but Zombieland is so pacy and downright fun you won’t be able to roll your eyes for laughing.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

10. The Ritual (US only)

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A bunch ordinary male friends go on a walking holiday in Sweden, and things go terribly wrong. It sounds like a familiar premise and conclusion, but the Ritual handles the relationship between the normal and the supernatural with remarkable ease. It’s genuinely creepy and engaging, drawing you in not just with atmosphere but the fractious relationships between the leads. UK viewer? This one is streaming on Shudder.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

11. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (US only)

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Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the most intriguing filmmakers working in Hollywood right now. While he's now firmly A-list, thanks to The Favourite, here is in in much weirder territory, with a horror movie that will completely unsettle you.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

12. The Nice Guys (US only)

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How can a 2016 film that stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe be considered a cult anything? We’re not sure, but the fact The Nice Guys did little more than break even at the box office might have something to do with it. It was quite an outlier at the time, with a late-’70s setting and a tone that harks back to the mis-matched cop movies of previous generations, but with a pronounced screwball element underpinning it. Shane Black supplies his usual snappy dialogue and humorous action, while the two leads are clearly having a ball.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

13. Snowpiercer (US only)

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It might have spawned a Netflix show, but 2013’s Snowpiercer was pretty much entirely overlooked by mainstream audiences here in the West. You can likely blame a ludicrously limited cinematic release and Harvey Weinstein’s infernal meddling, despite the fact the film reviewed well and starred Chris Evans in his Captain America pomp. Adapted from a French graphic novel, it tells the tale of a post-apocalyptic future in which Earth’s class-riven survivors are all crammed onto a mega-train perpetually circumnavigating the globe.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

14. Oat Studios (UK only)

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This is one that slipped through most people’s radars but we think it’s well worth watching. While director Neil Bomkamp has never really bettered his first movie District 9, there is no denying his visual flair and that is apparent in this very experimental short film series that’s been made by him. Oat Studios is essentially a big-budget student project, with some very famous stars - including Sigourney Weaver and Dakota Fanning.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

15. Crazy Love (Love Is a Dog from Hell) (UK only)

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If you are looking for the oddest odd film on Netflix, then this is it - so much so, we're surprised it is on the service. Crazy Love (Love Is a Dog from Hell) is a movie based on a number of stories of Charles Bukowski and that means that the film is as booze- and sex-soaked as it can be. This is one of the weirdest coming-of-age stories we've seen, but one that has been critically lauded from the likes of Madonna and Francis-Ford Coppola.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

16. Dragged Across Concrete

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Casting Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as the leads in a movie feels like a total fringe move these days, rightly or wrongly (respectively). But then, Dragged Across Concrete is the latest cinematic effort from the man whole made the deeply unpleasant horror-Western, Bone Tomahawk. This is another wince-inducingly violent movie, very much living up to its name, as Gibson and Vaughn’s bent cops embark on a series of very bad decisions after a bungled drug bust – and proceed to reap the chaotic consequences.

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Netflix really has done Sankofa justice, streaming the movie in a remastered 4K format. It’s great to see, as the movie is a hard but essential watch. It focuses on a self-absorbed fashion model who, when in Africa, is transported back in time where she sees slavery first hand, as well as the history of her own identity. Made in 1993, by Haile Gerima, you won’t see a better movie about the depiction of slavery.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

18. Kicking and Screaming

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Noah Baumbach’s debut was this unassuming slacker comedy starring Josh Hamilton, Olivia d’Abo, Parker Posey, and Chris Eigeman. It offers a near-perfect snapshot of mid-’90s Gen X ennui, with our smart but directionless 20-somethings ladling on the irony and analysis-talk as they reluctantly edge towards an adult world of employment and responsibilities. This being a Baumbach joint – albeit one that most people won’t have seen – it’s meandering, wordy, and of course has an immensely tasteful soundtrack.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

19. Glastonbury Fayre (UK only)

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Glastonbury Festival has come a long way since this documentary aired, which makes this documentary even more appealing. Here we get the Glastonbury that some have misty eyed memories of. It’s an exploration into music and mysticism, with some fantastic live performances and a focus on the spiritual side of the festival. Experimental genius filmmaker Nic Roeg (Don’t Look Now) was behind this one and you can tell by the eclectic editing style.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

20. Other People

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Finding comedy in cancer was always going to be a tough ask but that’s exactly what happens in Other People, a superb film starring Jesse Plemons as a struggling comedy writer and Molly Shannon, his mother suffering from the terrible disease. The movie is based on writer-director Chris Kelly (Saturday Night Live) who went through a similar experience with his mum and you can feel this closeness to the material in the movie.

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Best cult movies on Netflix

21. Mobile Suit Gundam I

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Mobile Suit Gundam I is not so much a movie but a compilation of the TV show that went before it. But don’t let that put you off as there simply isn’t a more influential anime out there, when it comes to bringing the idea of ‘mecha’ (massive robots) to the genre. Created by Yoshiyuki Tomino, it’s a great watch - the two sequels are also available to watch.

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The Call is a new, Netflix-made thriller and it's an absolute blast. This Korean serial killer saga is a time travelling twisty tale that goes way beyond where you expect it, too. The plot is great: a phone in a house is reconnected and it soon becomes apparent that the women on the other end lived in the house som 20 years ago.

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