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. So 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. Train to Busan
We kick off our list of scary movies on Netflix with this unique zombie flick from South Korea’s Yeon Sang-ho. A typical middle-aged workaholic father and his young daughter board a train to Busan to visit her mother when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. As the disease spreads through the moving train, they have to fight to survive in close quarters. 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.
2. The Witch
If you can stomach the ye olde English-style dialogue (and you absolutely should), The Witch — or The VVitch, to give it it’s official, stylised title — is a devilishly smart, slow-burn horror of Biblical proportions. Set in 17th Century New England and coming from the mind of debutant director Robert Eggers, The Witch follows a devoutly religious, separatist family. After being banished to a secluded shack in the middle of the woods, the family are 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, a deliciously eerie tone that trades in cheap jump scares for creeping terror, and one of the best endings of any horror movie, period. A modern masterpiece.
3. Under the Shadow
Another directorial debut, this time by British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari, Under the Shadow delivers chilling horror moments and imagery that will scar your subconsciousness, while also throwing political commentary and family drama into the mix. 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 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.
Not to be confused with the equally brilliant 2004 horror-slasher of the same name, Creep (2014) 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. Creep was co-written and produced by Mark Duplass who also stars with 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 (watch Wild Wild Country, thank me later). Creep and its not-as-great, but still enjoyable sequel (also on Netflix) are examples of horror-comedy done so, so right.
5. The Conjuring
For some inexcusable reason The Exorcist (a.k.a. the greatest horror movie in existence) isn’t available on Netflix at the moment. While we wait for that crime to be corrected, we can at least make do with The Conjuring — a 2013 supernatural scary movie from Saw, Insidious, and now 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 clinically produced horror spectacle with stellar performances and packed-full of visceral scares.
If you’ve only ever seen the dreadful 2008 U.S. remake you owe it to yourself to see how truly terrifying photography can be in the original Thai production of this scary movie on Netflix. Shutter (2004) is an unsettling thriller-chiller that draws heavy influence from classic J-horror flicks like Ringu 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 it look through the viewfinder, it’ll leave you scratching at your eyes (and shoulders) for weeks.
7. The Golem
The Golem is yet another scary movie on Netflix with a religious backdrop, but this time the story is rooted in Jewish folklore. When foreign invaders threaten her beleaguered village, a young woman summons an ancient horror to protect them. The result is a part Frankenstein-esque creature feature and part supernatural horror flick. It’s considerably slower and more deliberate than other entries in the genre, but its unique adaptation of the source material make it one of the few excellent Jewish horror films in existence.
8. The Ritual
This fun Andy Serkis-produced British film sees a retinue of old university friends embark on a doomed hiking trip in Scandinavia. Director David Bruckner’s full-length debut revels in exposing barely-hidden tensions within the guilt-wracked group which soon finds itself hunted by a superbly designed mythological beast. It doesn’t all hang together perfectly and there are a few plot contrivances, but The Ritual is a monster movie that truly understands how to deliver on the monstrous front.
Those are our picks for the best scary movies on Netflix. We’ll add more as new horror films come to the streaming service.