Horror movie buffs, it’s that time of year again. Bust out that scare-inducing watchlist. What better time to indulge with spooky movies than this month? Yes, Halloween is almost here. Temps are dropping. And so might be your jaw. Call it “the jaw-drop of terror.” Now, you can seek the comfort of your couch and enjoy the scares. Or, you can scream your way through the horror streaming content from Netflix. On that note, it’s not a very simple task when it comes to zeroing-in on the most entertaining and scariest films that are available on the service.
Netflix has a commendable, comprehensive library of horror films including The Shining, The Silence of the Lambs, The Descent, and The Babadook. There are also the subpar, critically panned horror choices, though still arguably enjoyable, like The Cloverfield Paradox, Things Heard & Seen, The Open House, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022), Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight Part 2.
All points considered, we’ve put together a list of the best Halloween movies on the streaming platform. From the modern horror classic The Mist to the recent scariest Taiwanese horror Incantation, here are some of the best scary movies to satiate your fright fix:
Best Halloween Movies On Netflix
1. The Mist (2007)
Based on the short story by the master of horror Stephen King, Frank Darabont’s The Mist is a spooky tale of alien invasion. Like most of King’s stories, Mist is set in small-town Maine. The protagonist David Drayton and his young son Billy find themselves stranded inside a supermarket alongside familiar members of the small community when a freak storm hits the town. A strange mist engulfs the town, and soon they are attacked by giant tentacled monsters.
Frank Darabont scores big on constructing the scary atmosphere, though the CGI moments are poorly conceived. This horror film isn’t about surviving the alien monsters. It rather brilliantly displays how the fear of the unknown makes us humans fight against each other.
2. It Follows (2014)
David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows is an artful horror flick with plenty of eerie long-takes. It’s set in a Detroit suburb and revolves around a young college student Jay (Maika Monroe). One day, she goes on a date with Hugh and has sex with him in his car. However, Jay wakes up tied to a chair, although Hugh assures that he isn’t a serial-killer. He explains that he has been under a curse, which he is now passing onto Jay.
The curse is as scary as the monster in Carpenter’s The Thing or the tape in Hideo Nakata’s Ring. Michell’s storytelling method and aesthetic sense reminded me of Stephen King’s novels. The horror element in It follows remains as a blank signifier that can be a metaphor for many things.
3. Creep (2014)
In Patrick Brice’s low-key horror Creep, a videographer named Aaron answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day job at a remote mountain cabin. Oon his arrival, the videographer learns that he needs to record the last messages of a dying man (Mark Duplass). But there’s something sinister about this man who claims to be dying of cancer. Writers Brice and Duplass brilliantly blend elements of found footage horror with mumblecore (low-budget indie films with improvised dialogues and naturalistic performances).
The premise of Creep is realistic and the jump scares are organically infused. Duplass is terrifying as the eccentric sociopath. The narrative is unbelievably gripping in the final act, and perfectly blindsides us with that riveting ending.
4. Crimson Peak (2015)
Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is a visually inventive gothic romance, sprinkled with few elements of ghost story. Set at the turn of the 20th century in New York, the film follows ingénue novelist Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska). Edith falls in love with a visiting English aristocrat Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). When Edith’s wealthy father passes away in a tragic manner, she marries Thomas and moves to England to live at his ancestral home.
Subsequently, Edith discovers that the vast dilapidated mansion is alive with ghosts and dark memories. As usual, del Toro offers a visual feast with sumptuous set designs and fantastic colour texture. Crimson Peak doesn’t have gory imagery, but there are quite a few well-crafted scares.
5. Hush (2016)
Hush is based on the original screenplay by Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel, the latter also plays the central role. The narrative set-up is pretty simple and reminds us of 80s slasher horror. Maddie, a mystery novelist and a deaf woman lives alone in a big, secluded house. One night, a masked man appears on her doorstep intending to kill her. Though the plot sounds generic, Hush is smarter and engrossing than it initially appears.
Flanagan and Kate also subvert our expectations as they intimately portray Maddie’s vulnerabilities and fears, while she attempts to overcome the threat of a masked killer. Siegel does a brilliant job conveying her characters’ emotional and physical strain without uttering a word.
6. The Conjuring 2 (2016)
James Wan’s sequel to his blockbuster ghost horror The Conjuring fictionalised the Enfield haunting of 1977 in North London. The film revolves around the Hodgson family who are tormented by a terrifying poltergeist. The family consists of single mother Peggy and her four children. The economic collapse of the era obviously impacted the working-class mother. However, the two teenage daughters have lots of fun, until a malevolent spirit possesses the eldest daughter Janet.
The intrepid ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren are called to investigate the supernatural phenomena. Like its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 owes a lot to Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Wan excels in crafting an atmosphere of creeping dread without always relying on jump scares. Though the final twist is easily predictable, the horror set-pieces work perfectly.
7. Raw (2016)
Julia Ducournau’s French arthouse horror Raw draws heavily from Cronenberg’s body horror flicks to narrate a deeply unsettling female coming-of-age story. The narrative revolves around Justine, a first year veterinary student. Her older sister Alexia already attends the same university, where their parents also graduated from. At the vet boarding school, Justine has a difficult time being a vegetarian. But Justine’s appetite for flesh is awakened after a strange hazing ritual.
Raw offers a scary examination of peer pressure, herd mentality, and female subjugation. Ducournau doesn’t offer much explanation about the characters’ depravity and taste for human flesh. But when regarded metaphorically, Raw comes across as a spooky film about sexuality and adolescence.
8. Under the Shadow (2016)
British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Avari’s Under the Shadow mixes real-world horror with supernatural forces in a haunted house setup. Set in the backdrop of Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, a mother and daughter endure the terrors of bombing campaign on Tehran. The mother, Shideh is labelled as a subversive and is re-educated under the theocratic post-revolution Iran. All the while, a mysterious evil begins to destabilise the petrified mother-daughter pair.
Under the Shadow is a perfectly paced horror with an emotionally gripping storyline. The action is largely set inside an apartment complex. Like Roman Polanski, Anvari generates paranoia and unnerving tension in limited space and atmosphere. The film can be considered as a companion piece to Jennifer Kent’s character-driven horror Babadook (2014).
9. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
From the indie horror Absentia (2011) to the spooky Netflix series The Midnight Club (2022), Mike Flanagan has proved to be one of the most influential contemporary horror filmmakers. Ouija: Origin of Evil is a prequel to the dreadful 2014 horror Ouija, directed by Stiles White. Set in the mid-1960s in Los Angeles, the narrative revolves around a widowed mother and her two daughters.
The mother swindles people by conducting fake séance sessions to pay her bills. However, the family unknowingly invites an authentic evil spirit. The merciless entity possesses the younger daughter, wherein the mother fights to save her soul. Flanagan does a marvellous job balancing humour and atmospheric horror. Another highlight of the film is Lulu Wilson’s performance as the youngest daughter Doris.
10. It: Chapter One (2017)
Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s It is moderately successful. Considered as one of the greatest horror novels of all time, the two-part film perfectly delivers the jumpscare moments. Besides, the script-writing team does a fine job condensing the storyline to fit into a movie narrative. It is set in the summer of 1989 in the small New England town of Derry. The story revolves around a group of bullied kids who encounter a malevolent, child-killing clown, known as ‘Pennywise’.
The scares aren’t very original, yet Bill Skarsgard is fabulous playing Pennywise, the personification of evil. The ensemble cast of teen actors do a wonderful job. They succeed in making us believe that they are the worthy adversaries of the evil clown.
11. Gerald’s Game (2017)
Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game proves to be one of the most interesting adaptations of Stephen King stories. It was long considered one of King’s unfilmable works. The Netflix original is not out-and-out horror, but more or less unfolds like a Hitchcockian thriller. It follows middle-aged married couple Jessica and Gerald out for a weekend getaway to rekindle their love life. During a kinky sex game, while Jessica is handcuffed to the bed, Gerald has a heart attack and dies on top of her.
With a hungry wild dog prowling their lake house, Jessica has to rely on her survival instinct to free herself. Carla Gugino offers a marvellous performance as Jessica, a woman who’s faced abuse all her life.
12. The Babysitter (2017)
McG’s The Babysitter is a teen horror-comedy spectacle with surprising self-reflexivity. Its gorefest and slap-stick violence may not work for all, but McG’s set pieces overflow with energy and inventive kills. The Halloween movie follows nerdy 12-year old boy Cole (Judah Lewis), who pines for his cool and sultry high-school going babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving).
When Cole’s parents go out of town for the weekend, Cole is supposed to settle in for a night of pizza with Bee. Instead, the boy catches Bee and her friends performing a satanic ritual. The Netflix film is a stylized horror with no deeper meaning. It is outrageously absurd and would be perfect for viewers seeking “simple horror” at its most basic entertainment level.
13. The Ritual (2017)
David Bruckner’s British supernatural horror The Ritual is based on Adam Nevill’s novel of the same name. The narrative revolves around four men, who are traumatized after witnessing the tragic murder of their friend during a robbery. To honour their friend and mourn his death, the four men trek through the Swedish wilderness. They take a misguided detour through the dense forest, and find themselves lost. Subsequently, they are stalked by a monstrous creature from Norse mythology.
The Ritual, though dabbles with a familiar horror movie premise, offers edge-of-the-seat chills through stark cinematography and deeply felt performances. The build-up in the first-half makes us expect top-class horror. But no real surprises in the later-half make it a tad bit underwhelming.
14. Apostle (2018)
Welsh writer/director Gareth Evans was best known for his violent martial arts thrillers The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2. The gloomy ambience of his action movies is apparently there in Apostle, which however, is a suspenseful folk horror. The plot is set in the year 1905 and revolves around Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens), the black sheep of a wealthy family.
Thomas travels to a remote island, off the coast of Wales, to find his sister Andrea. She is said to have been kidnapped by a bizarre religious cult that demands a steep ransom. Apostle is watchable for its brooding atmosphere and surprise elements. The film pays homage to the classic British horror The Wicker Man (1973).
15. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
This one makes for a perfect Halloween movie night! Andre Ovredal’s horror anthology is based on Alvin Schwartz’s horror short story collections, which first appeared in 1981. Guillermo del Toro serves as one of the producers and has written the screenplay for a segment. The narrative revolves around three high school students and a good-looking drifter, who on Halloween night inspect a local haunted house in the fall of 1968. In the deserted house, they stumble upon a book with stories written by a malevolent spirit.
To their dismay, the four find that the grisly stories are about themselves. While the stories are somewhat shallow, Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark perfectly delivers a creepy atmosphere and a genuine sense of dread. It deals with themes like abuse and prejudice.
16. His House (2020)
Remi Weekes, in his directorial debut, crafts a horror film enveloping it with real-life horrors such as PTSD, refugee crisis, and racism. His House revolves around a young refugee couple who reach the shores of England after making a harrowing escape from war-torn Sudan. They receive temporary political asylum and move to a broken-down flat in an impoverished London neighbourhood.
Soon, the couple are haunted by a vengeful spirit which lives inside their home’s rotting walls. Some might not find the supernatural horror imagery too scary or disturbing. Even the twist is somewhat predictable. However, the grief-stricken refugee couples’ fear of living in a hostile, racist neighbourhood delivers the chills.
17. #Alive (2020)
The international success of Train to Busan (2016) has pushed the demand for the zombie film genre in South Korean cinema. Call it a zombie outbreak! Il Cho’s #Alive is a minimalist, fast-paced zombie horror with a pinch of dry humor. The narrative is entirely set in an apartment complex, where our protagonist and care-free social media enthusiast Oh Joon-woo (Yoo Ah-in) learns to adjust himself to the ‘new normal’.
The dynamic execution and compact setting livens up the action and thrill. The existential anxiety of the central character is portrayed very well. It reminds us of the character-driven zombie films like 28 Days Later and The Night Eats the World. My only grouse is the use of generic horror movie tropes in the final-third of the narrative.
18. Vampires vs. The Bronx (2020)
Oz Rodriguez’s compelling dark comedy aims for the feel of Lost Boys and Stranger Things. The plot revolves around three smart Bronx neighbourhood teenagers, Miguel, Bobby, and Luis. They find out that the shady real estate developers, who are buying up a lot of properties in their neighbourhood, are actually a clan of vampires. Vampires vs. The Bronx feature a simple, run-of-the-mill narrative with the same-old vampire clichés.
The final stand-off between the vampires and Bronx inhabitants feels rushed and a little less challenging. At the same time, Rodriguez layers his story with timely social themes such as gentrification and classism. Overall, it’s a lightweight horror that can be watched with the family for a Halloween night.
19. The Fear Street Trilogy (2021)
Leigh Janiak’s clever slasher horror trilogy is based on R.L. Stine’s books. The films are a perfect fit for an all-night Halloween watch party. Each movie in the trilogy is set in a specific year — 1994, 1978, and 1666 respectively. Besides, it focuses on the cursed town of Shadyside. Janiak’s films feel like a love letter to the horror genre. They draw inspiration from some of the best horror movies like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Scream, and The Witch.
Each instalment brings together a bunch of young characters trying to solve a wicked mystery. In fact, the supernatural premise and Janiak’s use of playful genre tropes remind us a little of Stranger Things. My favourite among the three is Part Two: 1978.
20. Incantation (2022)
Dubbed as the scariest film of 2022, Taiwanese horror Incantation is a great Halloween movie. It revolves around a mother’s quest to save her daughter from a supernatural curse. Directed and co-written by Kevin Ko, Incantation unfolds like a mockumentary. In the narrative, the young mother Ronan shares her story in the form of a documentary. Furthermore, she investigates various footages to understand the chilling paranormal events.
Kevin Ko perfectly sets up the film as a horror mystery. However, the rushed third-act despite the clever final twist frustrates us a little. At the same time, the film offers a warm, emotional drama and a few heart-stopping jumpscares. Some of the film’s unsettling imagery might haunt you for days.
There you go! These are some of the most spine-tingling, horror-inducing Halloween movies on the streaming platform. If you’re done with these, check out 1BR (2019), Cargo (2018), Cam (2018), Unfriended (2015), Veronica (2017), 1922 (2017), Day Shift (2022), The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020), and The Perfection (2018). What are your favourite horror movies we missed out on or those that you’d love to re-watch this Halloween?
An ardent cinephile, who truly believes in the transformative power and shared-dream experience of cinema. He blogs at ‘Passion for Movies.’