Movies are added and removed from Netflix every week. With so many options, it can be stressful to try to pick just one to watch. What if it sucks, you know? I took the liberty of combing through the many horror films currently on Netflix and selected 20 of the best ones for you to watch (if you haven’t already watched them, that is). You’re welcome.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Anyone who has ever taken a film class has undoubtedly already seen Robert Wiene’s German Expressionist silent film, but now that it’s available on Netflix so a re-watch is in order! The film tells the story of a somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) who runs around Holstenwall committing murders at the behest of a hypnotist (Werner Krauss). Running at a brief 71 minutes, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is mandatory viewing for any horror fan.
William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel is one of the best films ever made, horror or otherwise. The winner of two Academy Awards (and nominated for eight more), The Exorcist is the rare horror film to earn widespread acclaim from audiences and critics alike. It is also one of the scariest films ever made.
The film that introduced the world to Pinhead and his fellow cenobites still shocks to this day (though I’m partial to Hellbound: Hellraiser II). Clive Barker’s tale of a puzzle box that will grant its solver unlimited pleasure (or pain) is a classic for a reason. Jesus wept.
Robert De Niro stars in this intense thriller as a rapist who is released from prison only to go after the defense attorney (Nick Nolte) he deems responsible for putting him there. While not a horror movie per se, it features enough horrifying elements to merit a spot on this list (just try not to get the chills during De Niro’s flirtatious scene with a teenage Juliette Lewis (the actress was 21 at the time of filming, but her character is definitely a teenager).
Some people love it, some people hate it. Either way, you’ve got to give Paul W.S. Anderson’s space nightmare some credit for its truly haunting imagery. The special effects don’t really hold up after all these years (all of the CGI anti-gravity effects look cartoonish by today’s standards), but Event Horizon is a pretty freaky mind-fuck of a film.
From Dusk Till Dawn
El Rey’s television adaptation may be all the rage now, but you just can’t beat the original. Robert Rodriguez’s crime-vampire flick is a hoot and a half. Starring a George Clooney (just one year before Batman and Robin happened to him), From Dusk Till Dawn follows two robber brothers (Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) as they kidnap a family and seek refuge across the Mexican border in a bar (aptly named the Titty Twister) that just so happens to be run by vampires. It’s even more fun than it sounds.
Curse of Chucky
After the stinker that was Seed of Chucky, who ever thought we would get an above-average sixth installment of the Child’s Play franchise. Curse of Chucky returns the series to its horror roots and while it’s not without its flaws, it is a serious improvement over its predecessor. The only issue with watching this one on Netflix is that you lose the fantastic post-credits stinger, so make sure you don’t deprive yourself of that luxury if you watch it.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Wes Craven was on fire in the 90s. New Nightmare is essentially his meta precursor to Scream, and it mostly works. In the film, the Freddy Krueger entity has escaped into the real world after the Nightmare on Elm Street films stopped getting made and started attacking the actors and crew that have worked on the film, with his prime target being actress Heather Langenkamp (Nancy from NOES 1 and 3). While the film could use a few more kills, it’s still whip-smart. It was just released a few years too early.
While we all wait patiently for a sequel (seriously, does anyone know what happened to that thing?), check out Bong Joon-ho’s original 2006 masterpiece The Host. This is how you do a creature feature. The simplistic story follows the Park family as they go on the hunt for the youngest daughter in the family that has just been taken hostage by a creature that suddenly jumped out of the Han River. The Host is more than your average creature feature, as it focuses more on the close bond forged by the Park family (as opposed to the creature’s antics) as they try to rescue one of their own.
The Hunger What? Kinji Fukasaku’s adaptation of Koushun Takami’s novel of the same name is the original child vs. child story, and boy is it tough to watch. In the near future, the Battle Royale Act was enacted when 800,000 students walked out of school. As part of the act, one class is selected to participate in a death match where only one student will be left standing. It’s a brutal, harrowing film and one of the best films to come out of the 2000s.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Otherwise known as “The first Iranian vampire-western,” Ana Lily Amirpour’s visually striking film (shot entirely in black and white) is also one of the most feminist horror movies to come out in quite some time. The plot is relatively simple, but it also a very sweet story of the love between a lonely vampire and a human misfit.
The Babadook gets a lot of hate from mainstream moviegoers, and I can understand why. It’s mostly due to the obnoxious child, but I’ve come around on the film since being so hard on it a couple of years ago. It is a rather scary allegory for grief and learning to let go. The creature design on the titular boogeyman is fantastic (even if he’s barely on screen). If you found yourself not liking this one, give it another watch with your expectations in check. You may find yourself having a new appreciation for it.
One of the funniest films of 2014 came to us courtesy of New Zealand. When Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is placed under house arrest at her parents’ home, she begins to suspect that the house is haunted. What follows is scares and laughs galore with a few twists thrown in for good measure (one of which was stolen by this year’s The Boy). If you want something to watch with friends, Housebound should be your top choice.
One of the few movies to truly unsettle me this decade has been Zachary Donohue’s The Den. The majority of the film is told from the viewpoint of webcams, but unlike other films with technology gimmicks, The Den actually creates a believable (and totally creepy) situation. Running at a brief 81 minutes, The Den flies by and will have you thinking twice about signing in to Skype or Chat Roulette.
We Are Still Here
While it may be a bit too slowly paced for some, We Are Still Here is a moody and atmospheric horror film that focuses on a quartet of adult characters for a change. Set in 1979, the film follows a couple grieving the recent death of their son who move to a new home in New England, only to come under attack from some crispy spirits.
While not popular with quite a few readers here at Bloody Disgusting, Hush is nonetheless a tense and exciting experience (my review). The latest film from Oculus director Mike Flanagan (at least until Before I Wake finally gets released in September) is a fun little potboiler of a film that sees a deaf-mute woman get stalked around her house by a psychotic killer. It doesn’t really reinvent the wheel, but it spins that wheel remarkably well.
If you saw The Neon Demon and walked out underwhelmed, give Starry Eyes a watch. The Kickstarted film chronicles Sarah’s (Alex Essoe, a revelation) journey to becoming a famous actress. Though a slow burn, Starry Eyes has plenty of cringeworthy body horror elements that will be sure to have you squirming in your seat.
Let Us Prey
This British-Irish horror film was a huge surprise for me last year. The film tells the tale of a mysterious stranger named Six (Liam Cunningham, aka Davos Seaworth from Game of Thrones) who is arrested and put in a prison cell, only to cause the criminals and police officers inside to come to terms with their sins. The ultimate reveal of Six’s true identity may be a bit predictable, but the road there is a gory blast.
They Look Like People
The feature film directorial debut of Perry Blackshear is less an outright horror film and more an intense look into mental illness. Running at a brief 80 minutes, the film stars MacLeod Andrews as a man who believes that the world is being taken over by evil creatures. You will have to watch the film to find out whether or not he is correct, but suffice it to say that the film leads to an appropriately disturbing conclusion.