Summary

  • Takeaway 1: Netflix offers a wide variety of horror movies, including demonic possessions, slashers, Stephen King adaptations, and both classics and new releases.
  • Takeaway 2: The best horror movies on Netflix deliver visceral thrills and mystifying visual effects, catering to different approaches within the genre.
  • Takeaway 3: For more recommendations, be sure to check out the best TV shows on Netflix, best romance movies on Netflix, and best family movies on Netflix.

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The best Netflix horror movies offer something for all types of horror fans. On the streaming service, Netflix has both curated content from theatrical releases from the past and several of its own critically acclaimed horror releases made directly for streaming. Given the popularity of the genre, Netflix’s commitment to providing scares for spook fans is a big reason to part with the subscription money, especially in the run-up to Halloween.

Among the pick of the platform’s offering are demonic possession movies, slashers, Stephen King adaptations, and both classics and new modern-day horrors. Between the visceral thrills of being scared and the mystifying visual effects, Netflix’s best horror movies will deliver. Whether it’s a jump-scare-filled popcorn flick or an elevated horror where the scares are in the morbid narrative about existential dread, Netflix subscribers can find so many different approaches to the nightmare-inducing genre.

For even more Netflix streaming recommendations, be sure to check out the best TV shows on Netflix, best romance movies on Netflix, and best family movies on Netflix.

Looking for a quick horror movie fix? Here are our picks of the scariest movies on Netflix right now…

Related: 25 Best Horror Movies Of All Time

15 The Strangers (2008)

The Strangers invade a home.

The Strangers

Release Date
May 30, 2008

Director
Bryan Bertino

Cast
Scott Speedman, Laura Margolis, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Liv Tyler, Glenn Howerton

Runtime
86 minutes

The Strangers follows a couple who are trapped and terrorized by three masked assailants in their remote vacation home. The premise is tried and true, as the same concept was used for Jordan Peele’s Us and the cult classic Michael Haneke horror movie Funny Games. However, when it comes to home invasion movies, The Strangers is by far one of the most terrifying due to the realistic portrayal of fear and relentless tension. The film is a masterclass in suspense and minimalistic horror, but the movie’s greatest aspect is how it taps into the primal fear of being targeted by strangers for no apparent reason.

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14 Bird Box (2018)

Sandra Bullock holding a child in the woods in Bird Box

Bird Box

Release Date
December 21, 2018

Director
Susanne Bier

Cast
Machine Gun Kelly, Pruitt Taylor Vince, BD Wong, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Tom Hollander, Julian Edwards, Sarah Paulson, Rosa Salazar, Parminder Nagra, Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Vivien Lyra Blair, John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver

Runtime
124 minutes

Bird Box became a phenomenal success when it was first released, as it was a viral sensation thanks to the meme of Sandra Bullock blindfolded. That led to Bird Box becoming the most-streamed Netflix original movie for years until it was dethroned by Red Notice. However, it wasn’t just the memes that made Bird Box so exciting. The movie follows a small town that becomes ridden with unseen entities that drive people to suicide when they’re looked at, making for one of the most suspenseful Netflix originals. A sequel, Bird Box Barcelona, was released in 2023 and sees the same entities terrorize civilians only on a much bigger scale.

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13 I See You (2019)

Helen Hunt uses a record player in I See You

Release Date: December 6, 2019 | Director: Adam Randell | Runtime: 96 minutes

Cast: Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, Owen Teague, Judah Lewis

I See You is a mind-bending horror thriller that follows the disappearance of a young boy. However, it isn’t just any run-of-the-mill disappearance, as sinister forces may or may not be involved. While predominantly a horror movie, it’s the thriller elements and the film’s ability to keep audiences guessing until the very end that makes I See You great. The eerie atmosphere and unexpected plot twists create one of the most exciting under-the-skin experiences that has mostly gone overlooked. I See You showcases how paranoia and uncertainty can be used to create spine-tingling horror.

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12 The Platform (2019)

The Platform moves between floors in The Platform

Release Date: November 8, 2019 | Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia | Runtime: 94 minutes

Cast: Iván Massagué, Antonia San Juan, Zorion Eguileor, Emillio Buale

The Platform is a surreal horror movie about a vertical high-rise prison. In the center of the prison on the top level is a platform full of food that descends to each floor. As the food runs out quickly, desperation takes over the prisoners, who resort to murder and cannibalism. The Spanish horror movie is an expertly told social commentary that explores the darkest aspects of human nature, such as greed and survival. That’s all wrapped in a claustrophobic and disturbing setting, and The Platform features one of the most harrowing plot twists of any 2010s horror movie.

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11 Lights Out (2016)

Rebecca appearing scared in Lights Out

Lights Out

Release Date
July 22, 2016

Director
David F. Sandberg

Cast
Billy Burke, Lotta Losten, Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Maria Russell, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Maria Bello, Alexander DiPersia

Runtime
81minutes

Not for audiences who are afraid of the dark, Lights Out follows a family’s encounter with a malevolent entity that only exists in darkness. The movie follows Rebecca and her brother Martin, who are haunted by a ghostly figure that resembles their mother’s unstable childhood friend, Diana. The movie becomes terrifying when the lights go out, and it’s one of the simplest but most effective horror films available to watch on Netflix. Lights Out doesn’t rely on jump scares or gore to scare viewers, but instead, the movie masterfully exploits a universal fear to create an atmosphere of total dread and suspense.

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10 Dracula Untold (2014)

Vlad standing over an army of dead bodies in Dracula Untold (2014)

Dracula Untold

Release Date
October 10, 2014

Director
Gary Shore

Cast
Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Samantha Banks, Luke Evans, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance

Runtime
92

Dracula Untold reimagines Dracula’s origin unlike any other story that’s come before. The movie follows Vlad the Impaler’s transformation into the immortal bloodsucker in order to save his family and kingdom. The movie is essentially the beginning of the shortlived Universal Dark Universe, but it’s a fun and scary standalone movie that injects high-octane action into the age-old story. Combining elements of action and horror, the film is an exciting adventure flick, but it also turns Dracula into a more three-dimensional character, as Vlad the Impaler is depicted as a tragic hero as opposed to a monster.

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9 Vivarium (2019)

Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots looking forlorn in Vivarium
Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots in Vivarium

Release Date: March 27, 2020 | Director: Lorcan Finnegan | Runtime: 97 minutes

Cast: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris, Danielle Ryan

Vivarium is one of the surrealist horror movies of the 2010s, as the movie follows a couple looking to buy a house together, only the houses in the suburban neighborhood they move to are identical. The couple finds themselves trapped there and strange occurrences keep happening, such as a baby appearing at their front door. They end up stuck in a neverending loop of suburban life not knowing if they’ll ever get out, which is more terrifying than any jump scare. Vivarium is a masterclass in psychological horror with its Lynchian elements, and it absolutely achieves its goal of provoking discomfort and existential dread.

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8 The Pope’s Exorcist (2023)

Russell Crowe holding a cross in The Pope's Exorcist

Release Date: April 14, 2023 | Director: Julius Avery | Runtime: 103 minutes

Cast: Russell Crowe, Daniel Zovatto, Alex Essoe, Franco Nero

The Pope’s Exorcist provides straight-up scares. Russell Crowe plays real-life holy man Father Gabriele Amorth as he investigates the case of a possessed child. Based on Amorth’s books, The Pope’s Exorcist sees Crowe playing an atypical character for him, but with the same rebellious streak that is perfect for the Australian actor’s presence. While critically divisive, The Pope’s Exorcist is best when Crowe is on screen, with a good scare and it all zips along entertainingly in a way that suits the platform. The 2023 film is especially worth watching given that The Pope’s Exorcist 2 is coming.

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7 Apostle (2018)

Dan Stevens as Thomas in the grass in Apostle

Apostle

Release Date
October 12, 2018

Director
Gareth Evans

Cast
Lucy Boynton, Kristine Froseth, Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens, Bill Milner, Mark Lewis Jones

Runtime
2hr 10 min

Apostle is a gothic horror movie starring Legion’s Dan Stevens as Thomas Richardson. Directed by Gareth Evans, the movie has a lot in common with the classic horror movie The Wicker Man, and it struggled somewhat to get over with some critics due to those comparisons. Typically gory for an Evans project, Apostle sees Stevens’ hero Thomas travel to a Welsh island to rescue his sister, who was kidnapped by a cult and held for ransom. However, what he finds there is a pagan ritual and a hungry god that needs sustenance

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6 The Babysitter (2017)

Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Samara Weaving, Hana Mae Lee, Andrew Bachelor and Judah Lewis in a basement in The Babysitter

The Babysitter

Release Date
October 13, 2017

Director
McG

Cast
Robbie Amell, Hana Mae Lee, Bella Thorne, Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Andrew Bachelor

Runtime
85minutes

Scaring is one thing, but horrors that also manage to pack in laughs are a rare breed. The Babysitter is an under-seen horror comedy that could provide a lot of fun, relatively short, and easy to watch. The movie centers around a young boy who discovers that his babysitter is part of a satanic cult, putting him in the middle of their deadly plans. With broad characters, bloody kills, and a terrific villainous role from Samara Weaving, The Babysitter is hugely entertaining. It was so popular on the streaming platform that it spawned a sequel starring modern final girl Jenna Ortega.

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5 The Ritual (2018)

Campers explore the woods in The Ritual

The Ritual

Release Date
October 13, 2017

Director
David Bruckner

Cast
Sam Troughton, Rafe Spall

Runtime
94minutes

Given the massive library of movies, great horror movies like The Ritual can sometimes be overlooked but it belongs among the best Netflix horror movies. Part of the “don’t go into the woods” sub-genre, The Ritual follows a group of friends on a hiking trip who find themselves in a forest being stalked by an evil force. Sark and ominous in tone, The Ritual plays with horror genres with confident abandon, layering psychologically disturbing imagery with good old-fashioned creature feature goodness. And when the creepiness starts to take over the story, things escalate in shocking ways, giving fans some truly creative and terrifying movie monsters.

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4 Gerald’s Game (2017)

A woman tied to a bed in Gerald's Game

Gerald’s Game

Release Date
September 29, 2017

Director
Mike Flanagan

Cast
Chiara Aurelia, Henry Thomas, Carel Struycken, Bruce Greenwood, Carla Gugino, Kate Siegel

Runtime
103minutes

No Netflix horror list would be complete without horror maestro Mike Flanagan, who has made a name as a purveyor of successful scares and moody atmospheres. There are several iconic horror movies based on Stephen King’s stories, but Gerald’s Game is one of the most overlooked. The movie follows a married couple experiencing trouble in their relationship. As they seek to reignite their spark, something unexpected happens, putting the wife in a fight for her life. Gerald´s Game has a simple yet chilling setup, and the movie has one of the most disturbing scenes in recent horror movie memory.

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3 Creep (2015)

Mark Duplass wearing his Peachfuzz mask in Creep

Creep

Release Date
June 23, 2015

Director
Patrick Brice

Cast
Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass

Runtime
77 minutes

While supernatural elements and masked killers are typical tropes in horror movies, Creep proves such things are not needed for a truly unsettling movie. Creep is a shocking footage horror movie that follows a videographer who takes a job recording the last days of a dying man, only for the subject to make things very uncomfortable. Heavy on slow-build creepiness and a deeply disturbing sense of unnerve, Creep is an incredible showcase for the talents of the inimitable Mark Duplass and never stays around long enough to even begin to outstay its welcome.

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2 Fear Street Trilogy (2021)

Sam and Deena hiding in Fear Street: Part One: 1994

Fear Street: Part One – 1994

Release Date
July 2, 2021

Director
Leigh Janiak

Cast
Darrell Britt-Gibson, Benjamin Flores Jr., Maya Hawke, Jordana Spiro, Fred Hechinger, Olivia Scott Welch, Ashley Zukerman, Kiana Madeira, Jeremy Ford, Julia Rehwald, Jordyn DiNatale

Runtime
105 minutes

The Netflix original movie Fear Street: Part One – 1994 kicked off a trilogy of terrific new horror movies that paid homage to various stories within the genre, from creepy supernatural stories to some terrifying modern horror movie slashers. Based on the Fear Street book series by R.L. Stine, the trilogy moves through three different time zones, telling an interconnected story that delivers for everyone from slasher fans to folk horror aficionados. All three movies hit in 2021 and offered fans a new franchise, with different horror themes tying together in a fun trilogy that is best viewed all together.

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1 His House (2020)

A man scared in water with dead bodies in His House

His House

Release Date
October 30, 2020

Director
Remi Weekes

Cast
Emily Taaffe, Wunmi Mosaku, Javier Botet, Sope Dirisu, Cornell John, Matt Smith

Runtime
93 minutes

His House is an acclaimed and creepy ghost story, and easily one of the best horror movies on Netflix. The movie follows a refugee couple trying to make do with the dismal housing they have been given only to find an evil spirit within their new home. It is a horror movie some fans had trouble finishing due to its real-life horror elements as well as the supernatural ones. It makes for a terrifying and powerful horror gem that more people should seek out. The movie originally premiered at Sundance and ended up as a big award winner, bringing home four British Independent Film Awards out of 15 nominations.

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