We may be months away from Halloween, although we are sure it will be here in no time, but that does mean you can’t indulge in some of the finest horrors around on one of the UK’s biggest streaming sites.
We have searched through the library and chosen some of the best horror films available on Netflix, and there are a wide variety of films to choose from, some jumpy, some sinister, some funny, and some outright terrifying.
So from the festive Krampus to the chills of Paranormal Activity, we have you covered if you fancy having a horror binge with 28 of the best you can find right now.
Our recommendations are all listed below – so draw the curtains and get ready for a fright night with one of these spooky options!
The Babysitter (2017)
Rising star Samara Weaving who has recently made great impressions in both Ready or Not and Bill and Ted Face the Music shows in 2017’s The Babysitter why she has gone on to be such a popular face in the movie world.
The Babysitter is a very different film from the others that appear on this list and it is one that puts its focus on style – giving it a sense of fun running alongside all the horror elements that come into play as the story progresses. And isn’t it nice to have the trope of the babysitter being a victim turned on its head in such an exciting way? There was also a sequel, also on Netflix, that is also worth a watch, despite not hitting the heights of the original.
His House (2020)
One of the most recent films on this list, His House is the debut of filmmaker Remi Weekes, and expertly blends kitchen-sink realism with horror tropes for an affecting and supremely terrifying haunted house movie.
Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù and Wunmi Mosaku turn in outstanding performances as a couple who flee their home in war-torn South Sudan to seek asylum in the UK – tragically losing their daughter on the perilous journey. Upon arrival in the UK, they are given a run-down house in which to stay, but this is anything but the end of their troubles. The couple soon find themselves fighting the cruel bureaucracy of the asylum-seeking process, prejudice from their unwelcoming neighbours, and perhaps most terrifyingly a which that has followed them from their home.
The Conjuring (2013)
Horror mastermind James Wan directs this creepy thriller, based on the real-life cases of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played here by Patrick Wilson (Aquaman) and Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) respectively. This first entry in the franchise sees the duo come to the aid of the Perron family, who have been experiencing terrifying phenomena in their remote Rhode Island home.
Wan is at the top of his game here, utilising the same skills that made Saw and Insidious so frightening, while the strong performances do a lot to make this story resonate emotionally too. The Conjuring would spawn not only a direct sequel, but also a number of spin-offs including Annabelle and The Nun.
Can’t decide whether to be excited for Halloween or Christmas? This creepy offering caters for both, telling a darkly comedic story of a bickering family terrorised by the eponymous folklore figure who punishes those who misbehave.
While there have been many ill-judged attempts at bringing this story into the modern mainstream, 2015’s Krampus stands head and shoulders above with its tense atmosphere, sharp script and stellar cast, which includes Toni Collette (Hereditary), Allison Tolman (Fargo), and Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation).
The horror slasher franchise returns with an impressive return to form with a sequel to the 1978 original. This is mainly due to the return of Jamie Lee Curtis, who reprises her role as Laurie Strode, a woman living in fear of masked killer Michael Myers.
Low on dialogue but packed with bloody surprises, Halloween throws out the meandering mythos of the franchise in favour of good old-fashioned horror.
Crimson Peak (2015)
Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro is behind this gothic romance, which is brimming with his usual sumptuous visual style and intricate attention to detail.
Set in 1901, the story follows young author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), who falls in love with charming Englishman Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and moves to his grand, but unloved, family home. However, there are restless spirits that roam its corridors at night and dark secrets that must be confronted if she is to escape with her life.
While not your standard jumpscare-ridden haunted house movie, Crimson Peak is an elegantly crafted tale that easily stands out in this crowded genre.
Shutter Island (2010)
Leonardo DiCaprio. Mark Ruffalo. Ben Kingsley. Michelle Williams. If the sheer star power of this Martin Scorsese psychological thriller doesn’t pull you in then the plot will. Set in 1954, the film sees DiCaprio play a Deputy US Marshal investigating a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island after one patient goes missing.
Complete with a chilling atmosphere throughout, this brilliantly constructed noir mystery will keep you guessing until the very end. With a spine-tingling classical score to boot, it’s a smart Halloween watch.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
Charlie Kaufman has established a track record as one of the most innovative writer/directors in Hollywood, and his latest – adapted from Iain Reid’s novel of the same name – is a nightmare journey into the psyche of a young woman who is taken by her boyfriend to meet her family in a secluded farm.
With a terrific cast that includes Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette and David Thewlis, this is about as unconventional as it gets but will be sure to leave you both haunted and scratching your head.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Countless Stephen King novels have been adapted into films in recent years, and one of the best recent examples is this chiller from The Haunting of Hill House director Mike Flanagan. The film follows a woman who is on holiday with her husband when she accidentally kills him during a sex game – while she is handcuffed to her bed.
With little possibility of rescue, the woman she begins hearing strange voices and seeing unsettling visions as she attempts so survive. The film – and Carla Gugino’s lead performance – both rightly attracted significant praise, with it’s haunting, and hypnotic atmosphere ensuring it’s one of the best Netflix original horror films on offer.
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
While the first, and still the best, Paranormal Activity film is noticeably absent from Netflix, all the sequels, with the exception of The Marked Ones, are on the streamer and picking the best of that bunch led us straight to the second.
The story built in the first film is deepened here and the scares come thick and fast while an underlying sense of dread stays with the movie from almost the opening moments. And Paranormal Activity 2 also has the moment that made us jump the most from the franchise, so far, and while we won’t say what that moment was – just be wary that the jumpscares do not always come at night like we have been used to…
Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen star in this brutal horror from The Raid director Gareth Evans set in early twentieth century London. The film concerns a man who has returned home to discover his sister is being held captive by a cult – and he must pay a substantial ransom in order to free her.
The man makes the journey to an idyllic island that homes the cult, where he infiltrates the community and discovers that though the cult claim to have left behind the corruption of mainland society, it is still more than present in their ranks. As he learns more and more about the cult he uncovers one particularly evil secret. This film has clear links back to iconic folk horror film The Wickerman, and contains an uneasy atmosphere of dread.
Child’s Play (2019)
2019 brought us a reboot of the Child’s Play franchise with this updated version of the murderous doll that is far more high-tech than what we are used to. Somewhat confusingly, the original timeline of the films is still going but this can be watched with no knowledge of those entries in the franchise and is a terrifyingly good time – although we still aren’t sold on the new look Chucky.
While the original Child’s Play is not on Netflix at the time of writing, you can get your traditional Chucky fix on the streamer with both The Seed of Chucky and The Bride of Chucky both available to watch right now.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Francis Ford Coppola’s take on the gothic horror classic is a grand, opulent epic – starring a terrific performance from Gary Oldman as the iconic eponymous monster. The film is a fairly faithful adaptation of the source material, complete with tremendous set designs and a supporting cast that includes Anthony Hopkins as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, Winona Ryder as Mina Harker and an often criticised turn from Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker. A feast for the eyes if ever there was one this is over-the-top filmmaking at its most enjoyably indulgent.
Starring scream queen Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard, this psychological thriller performed successfully at the box office due to its creepy, yet unique take on the ‘child from hell’ premise. Orphan follows a couple who, after the death of their stillborn child, adopt a nine-year-old girl who begins to exhibit hostile behaviour. Darkly humorous at points, this film is packed with scares and top performances, especially from Isabelle Fuhrman who played the disturbing titular orphan.
The Visit (2015)
After a career decline, director M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) kicked off his comeback with this neat little horror flick, which sees two young siblings stay at their grandparents’ house for a week. Of course, The Visit wouldn’t be on this list if that was all there is to it. The kids soon notice some odd goings on around the house, later stumbling on some dark secrets, but to say any more than that would risk spoiling the film’s surprises. Deanna Dunagan (August: Osage County) and Peter McRobbie (Daredevil) shine as the mysterious Nana and Pop Pop.
Director Ari Aster made a big impression on movie buffs with this directorial debut, which follows the ill-fated Graham family as they are terrorised by a mysterious presence following the death of their grandmother. Not for the faint-hearted, Hereditary packs some truly disturbing scenes, but stands out as one of the most suspenseful horror movies of the past decade. Toni Collette gives an incredible performance as Annie, a troubled mother pushed to breaking point by unthinkable loss. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is quite simply a must watch.
Another movie that is a bit more of a lighthearted watch that some of the other choices here, 2009’s Zombieland was a refreshingly fun take on the zombie story that had Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin as an unlikely group who are looking to survive.
The violence in this is heightened and there is always a tongue in cheek feel to what is happening but the horror still feels real and the stakes still feel high. And Zombieland builds up to a stelar finish that throws countless zombies at our heroes and it is every bit as tense as it is a spectacle.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Starring Laura Linney, this supernatural crime horror follows lawyer Erin Bruner, who is tasked with defending a reverend being prosecuted for the wrongful death of Emily Rose after he performed a church-sanctioned exorcism on her.
Loosely based on the true story of Anneliese Michel, a German woman with epilepsy who underwent exorcism rites the year before her death, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is both a captivating courtroom drama and a horror flick, full of demonic scares.
With excellent performances from Tom Wilkinson and Jennifer Carpenter, this nerve-wracking thriller is perfect if you’re looking for a more thought-provoking chiller.
American Psycho (2000)
A lean and mean modern horror must-watch, American Psycho perfectly dissects American yuppie culture of the 1990s. But that’s not the reason to watch this 101-minute cult classic. The movie is carried by lead Christian Bale, who serves up a horrifying and hilarious performance as New York investment Patrick Bateman, a man obsessed with status and style. Oh, and violent murder too.
Based on the 1992 novel of the same name, the movie follows Bateman as he dives deeper into his hedonistic fantasies – all the while hiding his psychopathic alter-ego from his co-workers.
Gradually becoming more surreal, this darkly hilarious satire of Manhattan business culture unfolds into a bloody crescendo you won’t forget in a hurry. Already seen it? We promise a re-watch will be worth it: American Psycho carries so many hidden details you’ll spot something new with every viewing.
Under the Shadow (2016)
This 2016 Persian-language release from British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari is a classic example of the way horror films can often act as allegories for serious and relevant themes and issues. The film follows a mother, Shideh and daughter living in war-torn 1980s Iran, whose apartment building is hit by a missile. A superstitious neighbour claims that the missile was cursed, carrying malevolent Middle-Eastern spirits – and this suspicion leads Shideh to believe that her daughter is being possessed.
What follows is a chilling, powerful films works both as a piece of horror fiction and an update on the haunted house genre, but also as a prescient social commentary on conflict in the Middle East. It includes some genuinely brilliant performances from its cast and was selected as the UK’s submission for the foreign language film award at the 2017 Oscars – although it did not get nominated by the Academy.
The Nightingale (2018)
Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent made quite an impression with her debut feature film The Babadook in 2014, and two years she returned for another slice of contemporary horror with the chilling thriller The Nightingale, starring Aisling Franciosi and Sam Claflin.
The film follows Clare, a young Irish convict, who chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness bent on revenge. Her journey sees her enlist the services of an Aboriginal tracker who is marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past. Warning: this is not a film for the faint-hearted.
The Cabin in the Woods (2010)
Our strongest advice for this one? Go in as dark as possible. Avoid trailers, avoid any form of plot synopsis, just check straight in to The Cabin in the Woods.
Have you gone now? No? OK then, we’ll try to keep this vague. Five token friends journey to a remote, dark cabin in the woods and it doesn’t go well. Your first impressions of this one are not going to be positive ones, you’ve seen this before in every. single. B-movie. ever. Expect eye rolling and face-palm moments as Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard drag out every horror cliche imaginable before ripping the rug straight out from under your feet in this subverting horror flick.
Chris Hemsworth – fresh from big breaks in Star Trek and Thor – is joined by Kristen Connolly and Anna Hutchison for The Cabin in the Woods. Prepare yourself. Whatever you think is going to happen, probably won’t.
Madeline Brewer steals the show in this gritty psychological thriller set in the salacious world of online webcam pornography. Her character, Alice, becomes increasingly obsessed with being Number 1, and resorts to increasingly daring and extreme measures to climb the ranking system, culminating with a fake suicide broadcast that proves enough to nudge her into the top 50. Soon after, her identity is copied by a mysterious doppelgänger, leading to an intense hunt for the culprit.
Screenwriter Isa Mazzei – a former cam girl herself – drew on her own experiences of exploitation in the industry as she crafted the story. Originally imagined as a documentary, Mazzei felt a horror movie was the only way to portray the underbelly of the industry, with numerous cries for help to the police and other authorities going unheeded and written off due to the nature of her career. A modern horror for modern audiences.
James Wan’s work creating the Saw franchise put him on the map in the slasher genre, but Insidious saw the Malaysian director successfully tread deeper down true horror lines than previously. He took on the Insidious project in a bid to prove his capabilities outside of blood and guts horror, and managed to produce a blockbuster with some genuinely chilling moments.
Insidious is a haunted house ride. It stays on a steady track, but the film is packed with a variety of demonic forces that always have you scanning the screen for the next scare. There’s little reliance on gore, but less is more here. The film does a fantastic job of ramping up the paranoia with constant suggestions that you might have seen something in your peripheral vision, and occasionally you will. This sustains the threat throughout the movie, coupled with an atmospheric score and cast led by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne.
Spanish film Veronica was released to much fanfare in 2017 with some critics and many on social media branding it “the scariest movie of all time”. Director Paco Plaza had already built a cult following after his successful creation of the [Rec] trilogy, but Veronica caused a storm once it landed on Netflix.
The story follows Veronica (Sandra Escacena) who uses a ouija board during a total eclipse of the sun, a time when dark prevails over light, and events on Earth are believed to reflect that mantra. The glass smashes, she passes out, and seemingly recovers, but the girls’ experience changes Veronica. The rest of the films consists of relentless psychological warfare. How much is reality? How much is in Veronica’s head? The whole things gets crazy.
Oh, and it is loosely based on true events from a tragic case of Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro in 1991. A girl died in Vallecas under mysterious circumstances after using a ouija board. Sleep well.
Back in the mid-00s’, “torture porn” movies were all the rage and you do not get much more brutal than Eli Roth’s terrifying and unnerving Hostel. Focusing on three students who head on a trip to Slovakia, they soon realise that they would have been better off staying at home.
They are all kidnapped by unseen forces and help against their will where they are subjected to some of the most vivid torture that you will see in a mainstream movie. There are actually three Hostel movies, all mostly unrelated, and while the second one is missing from the Netflix line-up, the third is there to watch.
This Stephen King adaptation set in the titular year follows the story of a farming family in Nebraska with the father Wilf James (Thomas Jane) citing the mantra “a man’s pride is his land” as a rule to live by. His wife Arlette (Molly Parker) wants out, however. She intends to move to the city, upgrade, leave the tough slog of farm life behind. In response, Wilf conspires to kill Arlette with the help of son Henry (Dylan Schmid).
1922 is a bleak tale, certainly not one for the rat-haters in your life, but it is transferred very well from page to screen by Zak Hilditch with many critics hailing it as one of the best efforts at replicating King’s work on screen. Much of the trauma throughout stems from the guilt ebbing away at Wilf’s consciousness, a slow chipping away of his resolve, and while there’s little cheer to go around, it’s a worthy Netflix production.
This one is notable for being one of the first to use video calling as a means of making a movie. It has been done since in last years superb lockdown horror, Host, and in the thriller, Searching, and while those two films are better than this Unfriended is still worth your time.
The concept is that six teens have been horrible to a fellow student who went on to kill themselves, Now, they are being stalked by an online presence that looks to do them harm – and give the audience numerous scares in the process.
Alex Garland follows up his stellar directorial debut Ex Machina with this sci-fi horror oddity. Lena (Natalie Portman) is a US army soldier who joins a squad tasked with the terrifying mission of entering a strange alien zone (known as the Shimmer), from which a number of exploratory teams have never returned. Upon entering the surreal place, she and her squadmates encounter some truly macabre and nightmarish beasts, but push on to the lighthouse where they hope to find answers.
Portman gives a brilliant performance in the lead role, with Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok) all giving memorable supporting turns. Its ending proved a little divisive when the film was first released, but the journey Annihilation takes you on is more than worth your time, boasting gripping tension and striking visuals throughout.