Where once upon a time friends and family might venture to Blockbusters on a dark, cold, stormy Halloween, these days Netflix is the preferred choice of video rental, with the aforementioned physical store having long since been laid to rest.
Now, at the mere touch of a button, we can enjoy a multitude of films from the comfort of our own armchair, a particularly appealing thought in the spookiest month of the year.
Netflix holds an impressive array of horror content too, from original projects such as His House to a wide selection of contemporary favourites, including The Conjuring and Insidious. Whilst it may be thin on the ground in terms of the classics, omitting the likes of The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Possession, it still holds a bevvy of titles ready to be enjoyed on Halloween.
To save you the trouble of the endless flicking and scrolling through the horror genre on Halloween weekend, we’ve put together the definitive list of horror films available on Netflix UK right down below.
The 10 best horror films on Netflix UK:
10. Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder, 2004)
It’s rare that horror sequels are ever even slightly good, so it’s somewhat of a miracle that Zack Snyder’s remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead makes for such an entertaining piece of adrenaline-pumping cinema.
Starring the likes of Sarah Polley, Ty Burrell and Ving Rhames, Dawn of the Dead is elevated by an invigorating script from The Suicide Squad director James Gunn. Following the same story as the original film, Dawn of the Dead sees a collection of unlikely heroes team up in a shopping mall to fight and survive against an army of dogged zombies. Violent and joyously playful, this is one of Snyder’s greatest ever achievements.
9. Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)
The idea of a breakup being the backdrop for horror is no new concept, having been explored in Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession among many other classics. What is new, however, is concealing such terror behind the veil of folk horror, creating a strikingly unique horror hybrid.
Following a group of friends who head for a Swedish retreat in the countryside, Midsommar spirals into a terrifying claustrophobic horror that messes with the mind and twists the perception of reality. Speaking about the film, Ari Aster said in discussion with YouTube channel Birth.Movies.Death, “I just wanted to write a breakup movie, and I saw a way of marrying the breakup movie that I was having at the time with the structure of a folk horror film”.
8. Drag me to Hell (Sam Raimi, 2009)
Raimi’s first real return to his self-made horror-slapstick sub-genre since his iconic Evil Dead trilogy is a wild crowd-pleaser, mixing disturbing satanic context with sickeningly gory goo and guts seamlessly.
For Raimi, the director approached Drag me to Hell with a new direction in mind, aiming to make the film rated PG-13 and moving slightly away from the gore-driven content: “I didn’t want to do exactly the same thing I had done before,” he said. The comedy is perfectly compiled, fun and totally over the top yet strangely still very disturbing, a skill that Raimi and few others have ever mastered.
7. His House (Remi Weekes, 2020)
In Remi Weekes’ debut film, His House, claustrophobia, isolation and discrimination reside in the very walls and ceilings of the titular decrepit home, communicating the fears that are imported with those who come to the UK as refugees.
Evading a war-torn South Sudan in the hope of finding refuge in England, the story follows couple Rial (Sope Dirisu) and Bol (Wunmi Mosaku), who awarded temporary accommodation, though find their attempts to assimilate with small-town English life, thwarted by a lurking evil. Large, empty crevices, inhabited by bulging paranoia, guilt and regret, manifest as watchful eyes, reminders of their harrowing past in this atmospheric terror.
6. Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992)
Released just as the horror slasher sub-genre was ebbing away from popularity, and entering into a new stage of revision, Bernard Rose’s Candyman was a film that very much took its slasher identity seriously, contextualising terror within a strong racial subtext.
For a fairly stereotypical horror tale, the narrative that Candyman explores throughout its runtime speaks of a more pertinent truth about mythmaking that exceeds its apparent slasher simplicity. Starring Tony Todd as the titular Candyman alongside Virginia Madsen as the protagonist, Helen, Todd would later become an icon of horror cinema thanks to his towering stature, fur jacket and terrifying hooked weapon.
5. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)
A contemporary horror classic, Edgar Wright’s parody game-changer Shaun of the Dead is one of the finest films to ever blend both the terror of a zombie apocalypse as well as the hilarity that can ensue as a result.
Starring longtime collaborators Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Bill Nighy and Dylan Moran, Shaun of the Dead follows Shaun (Pegg) and his best friend Ed (Frost) as they try and survive a zombie attack in central London whilst protecting their family and friends. Speaking about why he’s never made a sequel to the hit film Wright noted that originality is more challenging as a filmmaker, stating, “I haven’t gone back to horror-comedy, because with Shaun Of The Dead I felt like I had said much of what I wanted to say with that movie”.
4. The Descent (Neil Marshall, 2005)
Part monster film, part a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare, The Descent is a cinematic achievement on the smallest scale. Shot in very limited, tight spaces, the underground world of the film was shot largely on a set, though this is never made obvious.
Horror is at its best when it’s at its most simple, with The Descent playing on the same fears as the unknown fears of a gloomy forest, though replacing this overused cliche for the depths of some underground caves. It’s a horrible, highly uncomfortable watch following a group of young women on a caving expedition in America who find difficulty when the intricate cave system collapses and a new breed of terror stalks their whereabouts.
3. Under the Shadow (Babak Anvari, 2016)
Babak Anvari’s extraordinary BAFTA-winning directorial debut, Under the Shadow, is a captivating Iranian horror film that is as much a critical analysis of the terror of war on innocent civilians.
Focusing on 1980s Tehran, Under the Shadow follows a mother and young daughter who are struggling to cope with the terror of a war-torn city, whilst a separate ancient evil plagues their home. A creepy, atmospheric chiller, Anvari’s film provides a genuinely fascinating perspective of war by heightening the horror with the curse of the djinn, supernatural creatures rife throughout Islamic folklore.
2. Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)
A game-changer when it comes to the contemporary horror genre, 2018s Hexreditary brought brains to the classic horror tale, with the story itself not too extraordinary, but the execution, revolutionary.
Horrifically hopeless, dread is built upon within an intense hotbed of guilt, envy and regret with help from fantastic performances across the board, specifically from Toni Collette. That car scene is, as a single entity, an example of horror at its very best. Aster’s follow-up Midsommar would cement his prominence in the contemporary horror genre, lacing his bleak narratives with strong subtextual emotion.
1. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
Introducing one of cinema’s first-ever slasher killers, Halloween is perhaps the genre’s most influential release, leading a whole sub-genre into the late 20th-century kicking and screaming in fear.
With a blank, white rubber mask, Michael Myers (a name as fearful in the genre as Freddy or Jason) wreaks havoc on a small Illinois town following his escape from a mental hospital. A town as defiantly postcard-American as David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, John Carpenter’s Halloween brought a sense of unease to every small town U.S suburb—suggesting something fantastically abnormal could be lurking in the shadows. Setting the standard for modern horror cinema, Carpenter’s film is underscored by his own, timeless creeping score. A synth-led nightmare that has you instinctively checking over your shoulder.