Looking to scare yourself silly this Halloween weekend but aren’t prepared with a host of spine-chilling Blu-rays and DVDs? We have just the thing for all you Netflix-subscribing gorehounds out there.
We have trawled through the ever-increasing catalogue, put in the watching hours and handpicked the best horror movies on Netflix for your viewing ‘pleasure’ – all so you can sit through as many as you can bear this Halloween weekend.
See you in your nightmares…
Fresh from his deeply harrowing Hereditary (which also makes this list), Ari Aster raises the shock bar with his first foray into folk horror – and it’s a real screamer. When a young American couple and their friends travel to Sweden for a remote midsummer festival, what seems like a tranquil paradise transpires to be something much more sinister. There’s a lot to admire about Midsommar – its unique, refreshing and thought-provoking direction, its beautiful colour palette… – but above all, it’s a masterclass in building suspense, as Aster carefully and calculatedly unravels the menacing goings-on until it reaches peak psychedelic madness. Prepare yourselves for an ending that will leave you positively reeling.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
Following his cult-favourite Trollhunter and the clever, morgue-set mystery The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Norwegian director André Øvredal takes the helm adapting Alvin Schwartz’s eponymous collections of short horror stories for children. This anthology – produced by Guillermo Del Toro – isn’t quite a child-friendly family film night affair (it’s age-rated 15 in the UK; PG-13 in the US), but it’s faithful to the tone of the books, thrives on traditional atmospherics and visually interesting, inventive monsters, and bookends its concise and creepy short stories with a framework that’s more solid than most.
Fans of The Wicker Man and Kill List, this one’s for you. (Not seen them? Right that wrong straight away.)
The year is 1905 and Thomas Richardson (Daniel Stevens) has returned to London only to learn that his sister is being held on an island for ransom by a religious cult. He embarks on a rescue mission, but it isn’t long before he realises the residents are the least of his worries, for there lurks a sinister evil within the community’s roots.
Apostle is, riskily, a bit of everything (and pulls that off well), but at its core it taps into the genre’s ever-popular folklore element and from it delivers a creepy, well-crafted tale.
Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzei’s intriguing feature debut is set in the cut-throat, narcissistic world of a webcam girl. In it, Lola’s identity and channel is hijacked by a mysterious doppelgänger set on raising her profile but subsequently destroying her life. Cam is strange and stylish, not without its twists and turns and not afraid to send its audience down rabbit holes – ideal fodder if you’re in the mood for something a little different.
His House (2020)
Original, empathetic, and genuinely horrifying both visually and in its social-political commentary – Remi Weekes’ tale of immigration and loss, cleverly contained within a haunted-house framework, every bit deserves the critical acclaim and BAFTA Award it has attracted since premiering at Sundance last year. It sees a South Sudanese couple narrowly escape their war-torn home and seek asylum in the UK, only to be trapped inside a council house that has an evil of its own to impart on its new refugee residents. It’s fresh and powerful and an ingenious portrayal of the refugee experience; last year’s must-watch movie.
Ari Aster and A24 are probably genre film’s most important director and independent distributor team-up right now – pretty remarkable considering their film count is only two strong. Aster’s feature debut, Hereditary, which has since been followed up with the equally ingenious Midsommar (above), is arguably one of the decade’s most harrowing horrors.
Hoisting the viewer on tenterhooks early on and keeping them there until its deliriously disturbing climax, Hereditary is a masterclass in suspense and a consistently visceral assault that very few pictures these days can rival.
As eerie as its title suggests, this out-and-out horror follows a writer (Ethan Hawke) who finds a selection of 8mm movies that depict a series of murders that happened in his new home decades earlier.
It’s not without the usual horror tricks, but the story is imaginative and driven by an element of mystery that you can really sink your teeth into. It’s pretty frightening, littered with horrific images that you’ll be begging your brain to erase before bedtime. Oh and watch out for that lawnmower scene…
Under The Shadow (2016)
A politically charged supernatural chiller, Babak Anvari’s feature debut is set in war-torn Tehran during the ’80s Iran-Iraq war. When her husband is drafted into the army, medical student Shideh is left to fend for herself and their young daughter in their apartment as missile bombs fall around them… and an evil entity threatens their survival.
Its chilling paranormal premise, amid such uncompromising conflict and culturally rich commentary, makes for an intelligent and intense picture that deserves as wide an audience as it can get.
Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (2017)
In 19th century Basque Country, a village’s recluse blacksmith captures and tortures a demon as revenge for the troubles life has thrown his way. But when a young orphaned girl takes pity on the demon and releases it from its enclosure, it unleashes some disastrous consequences.
Paul Urkijo’s dark fable is refreshingly original and, honestly, completely crackers. Case in point: it asserts that one way to torture demons is by throwing chickpeas on the floor as they are unable to resist trying to count them. By combining absurdity with riveting storytelling and fairytale imagery, Urkijo has produced a charmingly authentic, fantastical folktale.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
From the writer of the deservedly popular The Haunting Of Hill House and The Haunting Of Bly Manor TV series (also on Netflix) and Hush (also on this list) comes this faithful, spine-chilling Stephen King adaptation about a woman who must fight for survival in a remote lake house after her husband dies of a heart attack while she’s handcuffed to a bed.
A deliciously dark psychological thriller that marvels with misdirections and hangs on Carla Gugino’s exceptional performance, Gerald’s Game is the best King homage since 2007’s The Mist. Just prepare yourself for a scene that’ll have you momentarily putting aside your popcorn.
The Bar (2017)
One of the pleasant genre surprises from the 2017 film festival circuit, The Bar (or El Bar) is a Spanish black comedy thriller about a group of strangers who are forced to take refuge in a Madrid cafe’s basement after it mysteriously comes under attack from a sniper.
Thriving off the group’s snowballing paranoia and suspicion, it’s funny and well-paced, with some hysterical action sequences, and a pronounced nod to director Álex de la Iglesia’s penchant for comic-book melodrama.
Arguably an even more nerve-wracking thriller, also set in a world of silence, this time featuring a masked killer who turns up at the window of a deaf and mute writer who lives a solitary life in a remote cabin in the woods. Hush is a taut exercise in suspense by Mike Flanagan, who also penned and directed Absentia, Before I Wake, Oculus and Gerald’s Game (a recommendable horror on Netflix that gets a special mention on this list).
It’s nail-bitingly intense and satisfyingly gory but above all delivers with its reactive execution, which craftily capitalises on the victim’s missing sense.
Alex Garland followed up his wonderful Ex Machina with this equally intriguing and ambitious psychological sci-fi thriller, about a biologist (Natalie Portman) who signs up for a secret, all-women expedition into an environmental disaster zone following the mysterious disappearance of her soldier, and fellow biologist, husband.
A well-considered love letter to David Cronenburg’s body horror, David Lynch’s uncanniness, and Ridley Scott’s extraterrestrial imagery, but with a confident ingenuity of its own, Annihilation will stay with you long after the credits roll.
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