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.
Though Netflix holds a strange array of horror content, preferring small independent flicks such as Creep and Hush over other contemporary greats. It is also somewhat thin on the ground in terms of the classics, omitting the likes of The Exorcist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, though this doesn’t mean it’s entirely void of great horror 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 US right down below.
The 10 best horror films on Netflix US:
10. Unfriended (Levan Gabriadze, 2014)
Sure, so Unfriended may not seem like much from the outside, looking like a low-budget Paranormal Activity knockoff, but once you get down to it, there’s much to enjoy from experiencing Unfriended.
All set within the minimal confines of a computer screen, the concept of Unfriended is somewhat novel, invading the ‘safe space’ of social media with a demonic presence. The story, though thin, follows a group of friends in a chatroom who find themselves haunted by the mysterious presence of their dead friend. Spooky, unsettling, short and sweet, Unfriended is a neat gem of a horror film.
9. Creep (Patrick Kack-Brice, 2014)
Starring hero of the mumblecore movement, Mark Duplass who also co-wrote the script, Creep is a clever twisted tale of curiosity and deceit, featuring a violent killer and a naive documentary filmmaker.
The story itself follows a young videographer who answers an online ad for a one-day job in a remote town to record the last messages of a dying man, though when this subject begins acting up in sinister ways the tale takes a dark turn. Cleverly captured in a mockumentary style, director Patrick Kack-Brice puts the audience at the forefront of a moral and creepy dilemma that takes you on a short, wild ride.
8. The Ritual (David Bruckner, 2017)
You can always rely on folk horror to help bring in Halloween, with The Ritual joining the likes of The Wicker Man and Midsommar, from director Ari Aster, as a surprising plot-twisting great of the genre.
With an impressive cast including Rafe Spall, Sam Troughton and Arsher Ali, The Ritual follows a group of old college friends who reunite for a walking trip in Sweden, only to encounter a beastly, sinister presence. With several memorable sequences that have scarred into the retinas, The Ritual has no right to be quite as impressive as it is, proving to be a truly entertaining horror romp.
7. Hush (Mike Flanagan, 2016)
With an impressive filmography of horror under his belt, Hush comes from the same director as Oculus, Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep, as well as popular series’ The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass.
This independent feature, made long before his successful Netflix series, follows a deaf, mute writer who has retreated to a house in the solitary woods, only for a masked killer to come and threaten her very existence. Making clever use of the lead characters’ sensory disabilities, Hush becomes a tense horror, thriller heightened by the simple, yet ingeniously designed mask of the antagonist.
6. The Strangers (Bryan Bertino, 2008)
Making the illustrious list of Stephen King’s favourite horror films of all time, alongside the likes of The Blair Witch Project, The Descent and Les Diaboliques, The Strangers is a contemporary thriller that has earned its high regard in the horror genre.
Playing on the pure fears of home invasion, Bryan Bertino’s film follows a young couple, played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, who are terrorised by three masked assailants whilst on vacation in an isolated home. Suffused with a truly creepy energy, The Strangers is executed brilliantly, playing well with its central concept of home invasion with three terrifyingly designed villains.
5. The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013)
One of the most popular horror films of the 21st century, The Conjuring stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as paranormal investigators who explore the bizarre events taking place in a farmhouse. It picked up several awards and nominations in the horror genre, earning a nomination for Best Horror film at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.
The filmmaker said, “People ask me, ‘Why do you like haunted house films? They’re so done to death.’ And I say, ‘There’s a reason that they’re done to death. If you can make it work, it’s a very effective subgenre!’ We can all relate to it. We all live in houses or apartments, and we can all relate to having siblings or a mom and dad. Right off the bat, you have the shorthand of the characters going into it.”
4. It Comes at Night (Trey Edward Shults, 2017)
Disappointing fans upon its release thanks to a dodgy marketing campaign, once the flurry of fury settled down following the release of It Comes at Night, its true quality as a unique mystery thriller shined through.
Whilst many audiences were expecting a physical beast, or at the very least some paranormal activity, It Comes at Night was instead a smart, subtle analysis of the fragility of human sanity. Brimming with tension, the characters of It Comes at Night bunker up inside a rural home against a sinister, unknown force and drive themselves insane with the fear of the unknown and the trauma of their new life. It’s a bleak, riveting watch.
3. 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.
2. Raw (Julia Ducournau, 2016)
Equal parts horror and dark coming-of-age drama, Raw is a disturbing vision of the adolescent struggle as it follows a girl newly enrolled in veterinary college who develops a cannibalistic taste.
Directed by the recent Palme d’Or winner for Titane, Julia Ducournau, Raw is a surprising film in that, despite featuring such animalistic gore, the main takeaway at the film’s conclusion is its deft touch and insightful approach to adolescence, with little to no indulgence in excess. At its very best, Raw is a smart and enthralling take on growing up with shades of horror sprinkled on top to well contextualise the horrors of change.
1. 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.