There’s no disputing that Netflix is one of the best and most successful streaming services for modern and classic movies, blockbuster TV series, and a wildly diverse selection of original programming. But when it comes to scary movies on Netflix, the service seems to lean towards quantity over quality.
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That said, there are some outliers, ranging from bonafide genre classics to blood-curdling modern masterpieces, to terror-inducing indie productions from around the world. Below, you’ll find our list of the best scary movies on Netflix you can stream right now. If you don’t have a subscription, you can get a 30-day free trial and then pay as little as $8.99 each month afterward.
Now turn the lights off, grab your partner/pet/pillow tight, and prepare yourself for the best scary movies on Netflix!
Best scary movies on Netflix:
Editor’s note: We will update this post as more scary Netflix horror movies are added to the service’s catalog and others are removed.
1. The Silence of the Lambs
This 1991 movie swept the major Academy Awards of that year, and the reason is pretty clear. It’s a thriller that features two very strong characters that do no more than talk to each other. Yet, these sequences are among the scariest parts of the movie. Jodie Foster plays the new FBI agent who is recruited to get a locked-up serial killer to help in a new murder investigation. Anthony Hopkins plays that killer, Hannibal Lector, who seems to want to help Foster’s Clarice Starling, but who secretly is looking to get out of his cell. The performances are at the heart of this movie, but there are some very hardcore horror sequences near the end of the movie as well. It’s one of the best scary movies on Netflix you can watch.
2. The Girl with All The Gifts
This is one of the best scary movies on Netflix, and it’s also a very different take on a zombie apocalypse tale. In the UK, the zombie outbreak has taken over the entire country. However, this infection seems to infect some children differently. They still want to eat humans, but they retain their normal intelligence. One girl in particular is being kept safe by uninfected adult humans, in the hope that they can find a vaccine from her blood. Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close play two of the scientists in this well-done horror movie on Netflix.
Not to be confused with the equally brilliant 2004 horror-slasher of the same name, 2014’s Creep is a profoundly creepy (as you might expect from the title) indie movie with a darkly comic streak. It also just so happens to be one of the best examples of the “found footage” horror sub-genre to date and one of the best scary movies on Netflix at the moment.
Not all horror movies need to be terrifying. This is a perfect example of a film that deftly balances creepy scares with flat-out silliness, enabling you to laugh and scream all at once.
Creep was co-written and produced by Mark Duplass who also stars in a career-defining performance as both reclusive oddball Josef and the world’s freakiest furry, Peachfuzz. Duplass has become something of a Netflix darling after producing a bunch of superb shows alongside his brother (such as the critically acclaimed Wild Wild Country miniseries). Creep and its enjoyable sequel (also on Netflix) are examples of horror-comedy done so, so right.
This 1981 classic definitely gets to earn a spot on this list of the best scary movies on Netflix. Directed by Tobe Hooper, the movie was co-written (and some say co-directed) by Steven Spielberg. Like many of Spielberg’s early movies, it centers on a working-class family who has to deal with extraordinary events. In this movie’s case, a new house in a suburban community has become haunted and has taken a couple’s young daughter away from them.
This movie still has some impressive visual effects and scary scenes. It was originally rated PG but was later changed to PG-13.
5. The Golem
Usually, when religious themes are used in horror films, they are sourced from Christianity or some sort of pagan or Satanic cult. The Golem is one of the very few scary movies on Netflix — or anywhere, really — in which the story is rooted in Jewish folklore.
The Golem is essentially a modern retelling of the Jewish legend of the same name. When foreign invaders threaten her beleaguered Lithuanian village in 1673, a young woman summons an ancient horror to protect them. The result is a Frankenstein-esque creature feature that focuses more on creepiness and atmosphere rather than the usual gore.
It’s considerably slower and more deliberate than other entries in the genre, but its unique adaptation of the source material makes it one of the few excellent Jewish horror films in existence.
6. The Evil Dead
Released the same year as Poltergeist, The Evil Dead was the debut film for director Sam Raimi. It’s one of the best scary movies on Netflix, sure, but this is a film that will probably be on the list of best horror movies of all-time.
Some college students go deep into the woods for the weekend and stay inside a rustic cabin. Things go downhill from there, as they find a book that they should not open, let alone read. It’s the Necronomicon, also known as the Book of the Dead. After they read from the book, the dead start to attack them in their cabin and outside. It’s one of the most influential horror movies of all time, and it can still scare the pants off of you.
If you’ve only ever seen the dreadful 2008 US remake of Shutter, you owe it to yourself to see the source material. The original Thai production of this is so good at being creepy that it makes something as simple as snapping a photo utterly terrifying.
Shutter is an unsettling thriller-chiller that draws heavy influence from classic J-horror flicks such as Ringu (remade as The Ring, which is also on Netflix) and The Grudge. While it arguably doesn’t quite hit the same level of quality as its Japanese peers, Shutter has earned a deserved cult following thanks to its gorgeous cinematography, sharp sound design, and clever visual trickery. If you dare look through a viewfinder again, it’ll leave you scratching at your eyes (and shoulders) for weeks.
8. Train To Busan
We know what you’re thinking: “Ugh, another zombie movie?” But hear us out here. While yes, Train To Busan is a Korean zombie film, it is such an example of high-caliber filmmaking that even people bored to death of the genre should check it out. In fact, not only is this one of the best scary movies on Netflix, but it’s one of the best movies on the streaming service as a whole.
In Train To Busan, a typical middle-aged workaholic father and his young daughter board a train (to Busan, obviously) to visit her mother. While en route, a zombie apocalypse breaks out that makes its way onto the train. As the disease spreads through the cars at an alarming rate, they and other passengers need to fight to survive.
It’s more action and jump scares than psychological horror, but it’s a new take on a well-worn genre that’s easily one of the best zombie movies in decades. See it now before the inevitable sub-par US remake appears.
9. Under The Shadow
British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari delivers chilling horror moments and imagery that will scar your subconscious in Under The Shadow. As any great horror film does, it uses the genre well to also throw political commentary and family drama into the mix, making it one of the best scary movies on Netflix right now.
Set in war-torn Tehran during The War of the Cities, the movie centers on Shideh and her young daughter, Dorsa. Accused of radicalism and bound by the restraints of Sharia law, Shideh finds herself in a battle against socio-political oppression, falling bombs, and what she thinks is a mythological demonic presence that’s trying to corrupt and possess her daughter.
Under The Shadow succeeds in constantly making the characters and the audience question what is and isn’t real with nightmarish results.
10. The Witch
Too many people stop watching The Witch once they realize it exclusively uses period-accurate “ye olde English-style” dialogue. They are missing out, because The Witch — or The VVitch, to use its official, stylized title — is a devilishly smart, slow-burn horror of Biblical proportions, and absolutely one of the best scary movies on Netflix.
Set in 17th century New England, it follows a devoutly religious, separatist family. After being banished to a secluded shack in the middle of the woods, the family is plagued by strange, vaguely supernatural happenings prompting fears that the satanic art of witchcraft has infiltrated their holy commune. What follows is a meticulously crafted 93 minutes of raw tension from director Robert Eggers. The deliciously eerie tone of the film trades in cheap jump scares for creeping terror, and The Witch has one of the best endings of any horror movie, period. A modern masterpiece.
Those are our picks for the best scary movies on Netflix. We’ll add more as new horror films come to the streaming service.