(Updated: March 3, 2020) From classic horror to post-modern ghost stories, old-fashioned spooky thrills to bloodiest-slashers, Netflix is currently streaming some great horror films. As the online streaming service continues to expand its catalog, there’s an exhaustive variety of scary movies to satiate all horror fans. Flickside picks some of the best. Netflix and thrill!
1. A Quiet Place (2018)
Director: John Krasinski
The post-apocalyptic horror delivers raw genre thrills through the effective use of silence. The film is set in a near-future, where ravenous extraterrestrial creatures have annihilated most of the human population. The creatures are sightless. But their super-sensitive hearing powers allow them to zero-in on their prey. The narrative follows the complicated existence of an isolated family, caught in this terrifying crisis.
The set-pieces are nerve-shreddingly intense, reminding us how silence is a vital part of horror sound design. Moreover, the film is emotionally gripping thanks largely to the dynamic performances of Emily Blunt, Krasinski, and Millicent Simmonds. (By Arun Kumar)
2. Killing Of A Sacred Deer (2017)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Lanthimos, the prominent filmmaker of the Greek New Wave, has previously made profound provocative pieces like Dogtooth and The Lobster. With Killing of a Sacred Deer, the idiosyncratic filmmaker doubles down on weirdness and shock value.
Moving like an unpredictable nightmare, Lanthimos’ unsettling tale has its roots in biblical stories and Greek Tragedy. His trademark drollness and stunning eye for composition imparts subdued intensity to the proceedings.
Maybe this film doesn’t have the allegorical acuity of Dogtooth or the weirdness seemed more studied, unlike Lobster. Yet, the director puts us in extreme discomfort with his brilliant assemblage of imagery akin to the works of Michael Haneke and Stanley Kubrick. Sacred Deer lacks the emotional weight to work as a tragedy, but provides a maddening film experience.
3. The Shining (1980)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
The legendary filmmaker’s snow-bound tale of madness and supernatural visions still remains one of the most viscerally disturbing films. Although it deviates a lot from Stephen King’s ghost story, virtuoso Kubrick’s study of isolation and empty space offers an intense movie experience. Jack Nicholson going about crazy with an axe is still the most chilling moment on the big screen.
4. The Invitation (2016)
Director: Karyn Kusama
Set in the plush, remote house in the hills of Los Angeles, The Invitation is cloaked with slow-burning menace. Indie filmmaker Kusama’s chilling chamber drama revolves around a dinner party. The hipster protagonist isn’t too psyched to meet his ex-girlfriend and party host. Then the mutual friends arrive and a familiar sense of awkwardness remains in the air. Gradually, as the unspoken tragedy is revealed, the narrative lurches into weird territory. The film has the most spine-tingling end shot among recent horror films.
5. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Director: Robert Rodriguez
The genre mash-up is a brutal as well as funny horror flick. Written by and co-starring Tarantino, the film opens in a very Tarantino-esque manner. George Clooney and Tarantino play the bank robbing brothers, who on their escape route to Mexican border chill out in a bar called Titty Twister. Here on, it becomes an action-packed gore-fest. As the feasting begins in the bizarre bar, heads are decapitated, limbs torn off alongside a slew of impalements. For gore-fest lovers, this is a must-watch.
6. Hush (2016)
Director: Mike Flanagan
Hush has an old horror premise. Masked intruder scaring the hell out of a helpless heroine, residing in a secluded country home. Flanagan ratchets up the tension through his deaf novelist heroine. How can she efficiently play the cat-and-mouse game if she can’t hear? Hush is a good update to the old-school stalker classics. It also smartly plays with genre conventions by unmasking the killer at an earlier point. At 82 minutes, this small-scale film is a concise and wildly entertaining chiller.
7. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Director: Drew Godard
Like many works of the American pop culture, Cabin in the Woods is marked with post-modern stylishness. The film has a generic group of annoying youngsters, on their trip to backwoods retreat. Then there are the neatly dressed, systematic technicians working in a giant lab with weird consoles. When the conventional meets up with the bizarre, a lot of blood starts to spill. It may not be that scary, but never falls short of providing riotous thrills.
8. The Conjuring (2013)
Director: James Wan
Doors creaking open, slamming shut, earth opening up, ominous rumbles, moving chairs, crashed family photo frame, stopped clocks, sinister closets, and the possessed shrieking in Latin. Conjuring has all the familiar horror tropes. Despite being predictable, it’s a thrill to watch how Wan effectively mounts each scary sequence. The Conjuring is allegedly based on the real-life experiences of Rhode Island Family in 1971. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s paranormal-crusader couple (Ed and Lorraine) characters have initiated a potent horror franchise and spin-offs.
9. Sinister (2012)
Director: Scott Derrickson
The occult horror thriller reminds us of the bleak imagery of J-Horror trend-setters The Ring and Pulse. There are also shades of Stephen King with the protagonist becoming overly obsessive. A true-crime writer moves in with family to a murder house to work on a new book. As he investigates the events in the house, freshly disturbing events begin to happen. The answer to the mystery points to an evil, supernatural creature. Sinister occasionally delves into cliches, but its creepy atmospherics are hard to shake off.
10. Creep (2015)
Director: Patrick Brice
The minimalist horror film is about a naive young man Aaron responding to a Craigslist ad from a creep named Josef. Unlike most of found-footage horror flicks, Creep doesn’t rely on jump scares. It impeccably builds a sense of dread, while also splashing a fine dose of black humor. Brice surprisingly undercuts some of the cliched elements of the sub genre. Watch the film for Mark Duplass’ master manipulator character Josef. His superb performance makes us overlook some of the plot-holes.
11. Jaws (1975)
Director: Steven Spielberg
The blockbuster entertainer taps on our primordial sense of fear. The tricky editing and sudden looming of shock images derives as much dread and tension as the great white shark. Spielberg’s superb orchestration of fear is perfectly balanced with the trio’s magnetic performances. It’s an impeccable mixture of set-pieces and well-defined story. John Williams’ unforgettable soundtrack soars up the menace and frenzy to unbearable levels. Four plus decades since its release, this populist American cinema still possesses the power to shock us.
Recommended: 50 Greatest Horror Movies Of All Time
12. Oculus (2013)
Director: Mike Flanagan
Oculus, although a derivative ghost story, conjures something truly haunting. The MacGuffin is a mirror named ‘Lasser Glass’. It has ruined the lives of Kaylie and her brother Tim, and killed their parents. The grown-ups go to their childhood home, set up state-of-the-art equipment to weed out the evil force inside the mirror. While the backstory is full of clichés, the elements of horror are far better than the usual ‘boo’ moments. The scares consist of some good, subtle mind games.
13. Under the Shadow (2016)
Director: Babak Anvari
Faltering societal values and stressed psyche of female protagonist are the terrifying forces in Farsi language horror Under the Shadow. A folklore creature called ‘Djinn’ is also thrown into the mix. The story takes us to 1988 Iran, a volatile period in Khomeini’s Islamic revolution. Amidst the political upheaval, a mother and her little daughter are stuck in an apartment, plagued by evil spirit. The director elegantly balances political context with traditional scary stuff. The performances, particularly child actor Avin, are exceptionally good.
Recommended: 15 Best Horror Films Of 2016, Ranked
14. Don’t Breathe (2016)
Director: Federico Álvarez
Fede Alvarez’s taut horror/thriller smartly reverses the traditional roles in the tired home-invasion narrative. Here, sinister element inside the house terrorize our thieving protagonists. We enter into the story through the lawless young thieve’s perspective and see no big threat in robbing an old man living with a dog, in the only occupied housing complex of the dilapidated street. They, like us, don’t know what they’re against. Alvarez creates scares as well as suspense from simple, practical things. The second-half twist looks perfectly organic when compared with ridiculous 360 degree twists in other horror thrillers (10 Clover-field Lane, for instance).
Through the blind man’s background as Iraq war vet as well as the town’s social decay, the director provides ample space for a dry social commentary. When you ponder over the blind man’s distorted view of family bond (especially in the way he commodifies it), you can see it as the product of the collective moral collapse. So the twist isn’t just thrown in as an afterthought.
Recommended: 20 Best Haunted House Movies Of All Time
15. ARQ (2016)
Director: Tony Elliott
Netflix original ARQ takes us to a dystopian future where the world succumbs to a totalitarian corporate rule. The central plot reminds us of Groundhog Day, coated with a scary twist. The action takes place in a house and among a handful characters. There are quite a few plot holes. But there’s a sense of urgency that keeps us engrossed first frame onwards. Viewers who enjoy compact, scary sci-fi with taut performances could check this out.
16. Cam (2018)
Director: Daniel Goldhaber
This techno-horror benefits from a terrific central performance from Madeline Brewer as an erotic webcam performer. The film also deftly focuses on the business side of cam girl shows as screenwriter Isa Mazzei channels her past experiences in the field. Madeline’s cam girl character finds her audience stolen by a doppelganger who also seizes control of her channel. Consequently, the doppelganger, with no scruples whatsoever, seems hell bent to destroy Madeline’s life.
The horror quotient in Cam is existential in nature. It eerily inquires into a person’s self who is engaged with sex work in the virtual world. Barring the too-neat resolution in the ending, Cam perfectly works as a socially conscious horror flick.
17. Train to Busan (2016)
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
The highly entertaining action/horror thriller has some inventive set-pieces for zombie films. The protagonist is an apathetic fund manager taking his smart, little daughter to see her mom (his divorced wife) in Busan. They take a high-speed KTX train, unaware that the country is in the grip of a rapidly spreading zombie infection. One infected lady jumps into the train at the last minute of its departure, leading to a blood-curdling frenzy. Alongside the characters’ efforts to survive, the director makes an overt reference to indict the behaviour of those at the top rungs of class structure and socio-economic hierarchies. There are plenty of cliches in the narrative and the Korean brand of sentimentality gets a bit over the top. Nevertheless, the chillingly crafted ‘zombie’ chases create a thoroughly engrossing movie experience.
Recommended: 9 Best Horror Movies On Amazon Prime India
That’s that! These are the best horror movies Netflix is streaming right now. What are you watching?
By Arun Kumar
To get more stories like these straight to your inbox, subscribe to Flickside.
Have something to share with our readers? Thoughts on a film you saw recently; an obscure piece of film trivia; or a film you just finished watching and can’t seem to get out of your head? Head over to our Submit section for details and shoot us a mail at [email protected]
Recommended: 11 Best Indian Horror Movies: ‘Eeram’ To ‘Tumbbad’