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 Netflix original programming. But when it comes to scary movies on Netflix, the service seems to lean towards quantity over quality.
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 alphabetical list of the best scary movies on Netflix you can stream right now.
Keep in mind, you’ll need at least a basic Netflix subscription to watch any of these films. 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. If you time it right, you could easily watch every film on our list of the best horror films on Netflix before your trial runs out.
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.
When the original Candyman came out in 1992, it was met with some good reviews but it had a dismal box office take. Luckily, it fared better on home video and went on to become not only a horror classic but also the start of one of the very few horror franchises with a person of color as the title character. It’s also definitely one of the best scary movies on Netflix right now.
As with any good horror film, Candyman doesn’t just have a bunch of scary scenes lined up one after the other. As much a social commentary as anything else, the film deeply explores racial and economic inequality in the United States decades before the topic would be all over our newsfeeds. But hey, if you’re not into that, it’s also really freaky with plenty of gore and jump scares.
Famed writer/director/producer Jordan Peele will release a sequel to this film (ignoring Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh and Candyman: Day Of The Dead) at some point in 2020. You can see the trailer for that here, but watch the original Candyman on Netflix now so you can tell all your friends you liked it before Jordan Peele made it cool.
2. The Conjuring
We’ll be the first to admit that The Conjuring doesn’t do anything you haven’t seen before in classics such as The Haunting or Poltergeist. However, since those movies aren’t available to stream right now, that easily makes The Conjuring one of the best scary movies on Netflix that centers on the simple haunted house theme.
The Conjuring is a supernatural scary movie from Saw, Insidious, and Aquaman director James Wan. The first and only truly great entry in the misjudged Conjuring Universe series, The Conjuring follows closely in the thematic and stylistic footsteps of some of horror cinema’s greatest hits, delivering freaky demonic shenanigans and a suitably haunted house-style setting. While there’s nothing all that original here, The Conjuring is a well-produced horror spectacle with stellar performances and packed full of visceral scares.
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.
4. Event Horizon
In certain ways, Event Horizon isn’t one movie — it’s the best bits of several better movies compiled together into one “greatest hits” package. Somehow, despite its lack of true originality, the film ends up still being incredibly enjoyable and utterly terrifying, easily beating out plenty of other films to earn a spot on this list of the best scary movies on Netflix.
In general, if you enjoyed Alien, The Shining, and Hellraiser, this movie is like all three of those combined. A spaceship named Event Horizon makes a journey through a hole in spacetime and goes missing. Years later, it suddenly reappears and a team heads out to find out what happened. As one would guess, things don’t go well.
If you read contemporary reviews for Event Horizon, you might think it is the worst film of all time. However, ignore them: since its release in the 90s, the film has gone on to become a bonafide cult classic and is basically a rubric for modern horror films. Just don’t watch it alone.
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. Rosemary’s Baby
Over the past 100 years, there have been some seriously terrifying films released in the horror genre. Even over all that time, Rosemary’s Baby is consistently pointed out as being one of the finest examples of horror ever created. It’s easily 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 for the rest of this century and those beyond.
If for some reason you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time. Stop what you’re doing and experience this film that so many others have attempted to replicate since it first came out in 1968.
If you’re worried that the film’s age will make it less enjoyable, don’t be. Yes, the movie doesn’t have the fast cuts and Steadicam shots we’re used to nowadays, but it still feels remarkably fresh when you consider it’s over 50 years old. In fact, the only reason we can think of to not watch this movie is if you are pregnant. Definitely wait if that’s the case.
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, one of the best scary movies on Netflix, 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, The Witch 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.
Other Netflix best lists:
There’s a ton of content you can stream on the service. Here are some of our other Netflix guides worth checking out: