The best cult movies on Netflix: stream these now
This is what to watch on Netflix, if you want a cool fix.
Ever get the feeling Netflix keeps on recommending you 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.
We’re talking about films that have built up a cult following, or have simply been forgotten over the years.
Here, then, are 19 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
1. Nightcrawler (UK only)Watch now at Netflix
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.
2. PrisonersStream on Netflix
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.
3. Annihilation (UK only)Stream on Netflix
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.
4. CreepStream on Netflix
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.
5. Under The ShadowStream on Netflix
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.
6. Akira (UK only)Watch now on Netflix
One of the very best anime ever made, Akira is a mesmerising movie that revels in cyberpunk and the economic and social issues of Japan at the time it was made. Set in a Tokyo of the future, Akira is about a military experiment gone wrong, one which turns a biker into the ultimate psychic weapon. Despite being made in the 80s, this is still one movie that feels utterly fresh.
7. I Don't Feel At Home In This World AnymoreWatch now on Netflix
Anytime we see a movie with Macon Blair's name attached we will watch it. The indie auteur is a master of left-field moviemaking, whether he is behind the camera or in front of it. I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore is his directorial debut and it's an assured revenge thriller about a nursing assistant (Yellowjackets' Melanie Lynskey) who goes on the hunt for the person who robbed her house.
8. A Classic Horror StoryStream on Netflix
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.
9. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (UK only)Watch now on Netflix
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.
10. Boiling Point (UK only)Stream on Netflix
It’s been recently revealed that there will be a TV spin-off of Boiling Point, also starring Stephen Graham, which is amazing news as this movie is a masterclass in tension. It’s a one-shot (or thereabouts) film that centres on one tumultuous day in the life of head chef Andy Jones (Graham). Be prepared for your nerves to be singed by this one.
11. The Ritual (US only)Watch now (Netflix)
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.
12. Oat StudiosStream on Netflix
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.
13. The Platform
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.
14. Crazy Love (Love Is a Dog from Hell) (UK only)Watch on Netflix
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.
15. SankofaStream on Netflix
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.
16. Mobile Suit Gundam IStream on Netflix
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.
17. Glastonbury Fayre (UK only)Stream on Netflix
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.
18. Other PeopleStream on Netflix
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.
19. The CallWatch now (Netflix)
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.
- These are the best Netflix hidden gems around.