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Best horror movies on Netflix: 30 scary films to watch tonight

Scares on subscription, with these best Netflix horror movies.

Best horror movies on Netflix: 30 scary films to watch tonight
Andrew Williams
14 August 2020

The catharsis of a good horror film is hard to beat. And when you watch one on Netflix, there’s no creepy walk home or waves of dread as you cross the cinema car park afterwards.

UPDATE: There are now 30 films in our best horror movies on Netflix list. We've added the brilliant low-budget chiller Cam, the opulent Bram Stoker's Dracula, the ridiculously fun Krampus, the epic Land of the Dead and the plain creepy Orphan.v

Just keep those lights on a bit later than usual though, ok?

A generous scoop into everything tense, horrific and gory on Netflix reveals a few surprises.

First: how good have the last few years been for horror? We’ve seen handfuls of modern classics recently, and several of them are ready and waiting on Netflix. The service could also do with a bunch more scares, so we'll keep an eye on the Netflix library and add top titles are they appear. You can submit your own suggestions at the bottom of this article.

Upvote your favourite to get these horror movies ranked in an order the devil would give a thumbs-up to.


For all your other Netflix needs head to the following guides:


Best horror movies on Netflix

John Carpenter is the master of horror, so much that he's got two movies on this list (see Christine). The Thing is his masterpiece. It's a cut-throat chiller that's the epitome of paranoia. The plot is ace: scientists in Norway uncover a mysterious ship which unwittingly sets loose a thing that can shapeshift. This horror movie has got it all, and then some

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Best horror movies on Netflix

2. The Cabin in the Woods

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Five friends head to a cabin in the woods and spooky things begin to happen. Sound familiar? Think again, this is a haunted house story with plenty of twists and turns from the brilliant minds of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard.

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Directed by James Wan, this super scary haunted house flick is well worth a watch during spooky season – and any time of year, in fact. It's about a suburban family who move to escape their haunted house. But, here's the twist, it's not their old house that's haunted. If you end up enjoying this one, there are two more in the Insidious series, but this one is, in our opinion, the best one.

More ways to watch:DVD (Triple bill) | HD Digital download

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Okay, so the second part didn't have quite the chills of the first but IT is fantastic horror fodder. Director Andy Muschietti manages to make the clown scary again, thanks to some brilliant tense scenes and amazing special effects. The cast, too, are pitch perfect as the boys and girls of Maine being picked off one by one by a killer clown.

More ways to watch:HD Digital download

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Best horror movies on Netflix

5. A Quiet Place

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This is a fantastic film. Yes, it's got some Hollywood gloss but if you are after horror that's packed with suspense then this is for you. Set in a world where creatures with a heightened sense of hearing roam around listening for their next kill, a family try and survive. The problem: there is a baby on the way. Real-life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who directed) are great in the movie, but it's Millicent Simmonds, who is deaf in real life, who makes the movie.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

6. The Invitation

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It has been a good few years for high-class, low budget horror. Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation keeps you hooked into its increasing bed of tension by nailing it to familiar social pressures and conventions.

A dinner party of old friends starts to fall apart. But is something genuinely odd going on or are we just watching the tectonic plates of complicated relationships rub up against each other? The Invitation is a masterclass in low-key dread.

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A two-sentence summary of Creep does not make it sound original. It’s a found footage horror film in which a creepy guy advertises for a camera operator online. Events ensue.

However, it’s an incredibly memorable and taut micro-budget horror you won’t forget, largely thanks to the efforts of star and co-writer Mark Duplass. It’s an exercise in uncomfortable closeness with a single creepy character brought to unnerving life by an excellent performance. It fits more memorable moments into 77 minutes than many films manage in two hours or more.

It also beats the law of diminishing returns. Creep 2 is great as well.

More ways to watch:HD Digital download

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Stephen King has, quite rightly, had a string of horror movie hits recently but none are better than this version of Christine - about a demon car. Yes, the plot is ridiculous but John Carpenter has done a majestic job of making sure this is one of the scariest movies of the 80s.

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Hush isn't as much of a horror-show as the Kula Shaker song, but it is a terrifying home invasion drama with a twist - the lead protagonist is deaf. This means that when a masked killer comes into her home and she is oblivious, you will no doubt be shouting at the screen. It's tense, taught and Mike Flanagan directs. The star of the show, though, is actress (and Flanagan's real-life wife) Kate Siegel. She's great as the deaf writer who faces a night of terror.

More ways to watch:Prime Video


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Best horror movies on Netflix

10. Hereditary

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Prepare yourself for this one. Hereditary is a stunning piece of cinema with a horror wraparound. It's about Annie (the fantastic Toni Collette), an artist whose mother dies. Her death leads to a whole host of goings on and some jaw-dropping revelations. Collette is stunning as Annie and she is backed by a brilliant supporting cast

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Best horror movies on Netflix

11. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

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Before hitting global stardom with Doctor Strange, Scott Derrickson cut his teeth on two fantastic horror movies.The first was Sinister but perhaps it is The Exorcism of Emily Rose where we see his true genius knack for terror. As with many horror movies, it is the lead actress that makes the movie. Jennifer Carpenter is stunning as the titular Emily Rose, putting in such a physical powerhouse of a performance that it's hypnotic to watch.

More ways to watch:DVD | Blu-ray | HD Digital download

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The second Scott Derrickson movie on this list and it's the scariest one he made. Sinister is about true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) whose finds a box of home movies in a home he has just moved into. The movies show a number of grisly murders which have a supernatural theme. Yes, there are too many jump scares but the foreboding atmosphere is just fantastic throughout.

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The Mist is a novella by Stephen King so you know you are in good hands when it comes to the horror side of things. It's also directed by Frank Darabont - him and Rob Reiner are the ones that have made the best Stephen King movies. This is one bleak movie, with an ending that's rarely seen in Hollywood. The premise: blood-thirsty features descend on a small town and those stuck in a supermarket try and figure out a way to not only stay alive, but defeat them.

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“The penguin always faces north.” It’s hard to believe that Kathy Bates was a relative unknown when she played Annie Wilkes, the psychopathic ‘nurse’ in Misery. She is fantastic in the part, as is James Caan as writer Paul Sheldon who is definitely not nursed back to health by his number one fan after a car crash. Before Misery, it was rare for horror to be recognised by Oscar and the like, after the genre has never been the same again.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

15. Annihilation

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Annihilation did not have a great time at the cinema. Following fights between the director and one of the film’s financiers about whether it was “too intellectual” for a mainstream audience, it failed to recoup profits at the box office. But it has found a comfortable home on Netflix.

It has a dream-like quality, and was adapted from a Jeff VanderMeer novel by Alex Garland, writer of Ex Machina and 28 Days Later. A team of soldiers enter the ever-growing “shimmer”, in which plant and animal life mutate and time appears to bend.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

16. Gerald’s Game

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Director Mike Flanagan's first Stephen King movie (he also made Doctor Sleep) is a brilliant slow burn of a movie, with the fantastic Carla Gugino taking centre stage. Given most of the movie takes place in one room (it's based on a sex game gone wrong, which sees Gugino handcuffed to a bed), it's a masterful film full of suspense and one of the most gruesome scenes that is not for the squeamish!

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Best horror movies on Netflix

17. Apostle

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Gareth Evans was fresh from directing to of the best action movies of all time, The Raid and The Raid 2, when he took on Apostle. The movie is quite the departure for the director but still a brilliant, unnerving watch. Based on Dan Steven's character coming back home to find the occult has taken his town and, most importantly, his sister, this is turn of the century fable that's a pretty frightening watch.

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Please go into this one without reading anything about it. Well, apart from this small recommendation blurb. This is a proper creep fest that relies on many a shock scare to tell the story of Esther, a child who is given a loving home after living in an orphanage. But everything is not as it seems. Isabelle Fuhrman is fear-inducing as the mysterious Esther.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

19. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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Yes, Keanu Reeves’ accent may go some way to try and ruin the movie but there is a lot to love about Francis Ford Coppola’s take on Dracula. It is a labour of love to old-school movie making, using techniques not seen in movies for years. As always, Gary Oldman is superb as Dracula, playing the vampire as the ultimate lothario, while the movie is pretty close to the brilliant source novel.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

20. Land of the Dead

Stream now (Netflix)

It’s been 10 years since Land of the Dead arrived on the big screen, adding another Dead movie to George A Romero’s oeuvre. It’s the most epic of Romero’s zombie flicks, one that probably came out a little too early given that it was just before zombies became cool again with The Walking Dead. It’s a lot of fun, though, with great turns from John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper in a tale about a walled in city that has managed to keep all the zombies out, until something goes very wrong.

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Horror remakes are very hit and miss, but Maniac is a decent one. It tries to do things a little differently. Frank (Elijah Wood) is a loner who spends his time restoring mannequins. He's also a murderer and we get to see in first person his kills. Wood is suitably strange for the role, an actor who like Daniel Radcliffe has done well to shrug off his most famous (Frodo) role. The film is brutal, perverse and schlocky but there's a brain to the blood thirst and it really does work.

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There have been many takes on the Krampus myth - a demon who terrorises those who don’t like Christmas - but this is the most fun. Starring Parks and Rec’s Adam Scott and Toni Collette, it’s a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously but also manages to add in some decent scares. Yes, this is a seasonal horror movie but one that’s worth a watch whatever time of the year it is.

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Eli is about a boy who can't go outside because he's allergic to lots of things. When he arrives at a medical facility that's sealed off from the outside, he finally starts to feel normal again. Well, until things take a very odd and sinister turn. This movie is scary, tense and full of twists - perfect for Halloween.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

24. Psycho II

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Yep, we’re recommending the much maligned sequel to Psycho because, forget what you’ve heard, it’s really rather good. 22 years after the classic movie, Anthony Perkins returns as Norman Bates. This time, though, jobbing director Richard Franklin is in charge. But this is a movie that’s unsettling - one that plays a new story in the old confines of the Bates motel. It’s unnerving and brilliant in places. We see an older Bates trying to stay on the straight an narrow but his world doesn’t allow for that.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

25. Session 9

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Unfairly dismissed when it was first released back in 2001, Session 9 is a brilliant psychological horror by director Brad Anderson (The Machinist). Peter Mullen is fantastic as Gordon Fleming, the boss of workers who must rid a mental asylum of Asbestos. While it strives for The Shining in its psychological horror, it never quite reaches that level but it does have some great David Lynch style moments.

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Cam is a really interesting take on the horror genre with a sex-positive movie that focuses on the obsession of wanting to be liked. Madeline Brewer is Alica, a cam girl who is trying to break into the top 50 of cam girls, with a show that’s not seedy but fun. She gets there but then something happens and the whole film flips on its side. It’s a great low-budget horror that offers more than meets the eye, thanks to the way it never looks down on the sex workers portrayed.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

27. Bloodline

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Bloodline is a gory, unflinching horror that, quite surprisingly, stars Stifler himself Seann William Scott. This is a dark movie. Scott is a social worker who has a newly born son. The lack of sleep and change in life that this entail seemingly drives him to murder. It’s a daring horror movie and one that will keep you guessing throughout. It’s great to see Scott play against type and if you are after a Brian De Palma infused seedy late night watch, then this is for you.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

28. Unfriended: Dark Web

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Much better than it has any right to be given it’s a sequel to a lacklustre yet successful horror movie, Unfriended: Dark Web is a very prescient horror that takes place completely in front of a computer screen. Director Stephen Susco is no stranger to writing horror (he wrote the remake of the Grudge and its sequel) but this is his first time helming a movie and it’s a highly original look at a group of friends figuring out that a laptop that has been sold them houses a lot more than they bargained for.

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Best horror movies on Netflix

29. Child's Play (2019)

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Yep, we were up in arms too when it was revealed that they were remaking Child's Play - especially without the permission of its creator Don Mancini and the voice of Chucky Brad Dourif. But, then Mark Hamill was revealed as the new voice and the movie is, pretty damn good. It's not a great remake as it doesn't really do the original justice but as a standalone movie it's far cleverer than it needs to be and a whole lot of horror fun.

More ways to watch: HD Digital download

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Best horror movies on Netflix

30. Under The Shadow

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Under The Shadow isn't about blood and gore shocks but a film that has an utter feeling of fear and dread permeate throughout it. Based during the Iran/Iraq conflict, this is the tale of a mother and daughter hiding from the horrors of war in a house that seems to be haunted. At times beautifully shot, this is a wonderful movie about horror - real life and otherwise.

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