Photo: Justin Lubin/Universal Pictures
This article is updated frequently as movies leave and enter Netflix. *New additions are indicated with an asterisk.
You want to see something really scary this October? Netflix subscribers have commonly made horror films the most-watched on the streaming service, and the original filmmaking factory at the company keeps churning out new ones in time for Halloween — or picking them up at film festivals. The truth is that the horror section of Netflix’s movie library is one of its deepest catalogs, which can make separating the quality from the junk harder than in some other sections. That’s why we’re here. These are the best horror films on Netflix right now.
Runtime: 2h 10m
Director: Gareth Evans
Did you know the director of The Raid (and its awesome sequel) has also directed a kick-ass Netflix Original horror movie? Released in 2018, Apostle stars the great Dan Stevens (The Guest) as a man who journeys to a Welsh island in search of his missing sister and finds a community that’s not exactly welcoming. Kind of written off as a riff on The Wicker Man, this is a wicked little movie, elevated greatly by a fantastic performance from Michael Sheen.
Runtime: 1h 35m
Director: Daniel Goldhaber
You haven’t seen a mindbender quite like this one. Madeline Brewer stars as a camgirl who will do whatever it takes to rise the ranks of her online service. As she does so, she discovers that there’s a competitor who has basically taken her place, leading to a Lynchian dissection of how much someone can give of themselves to the internet machine. It’s unforgettably weird.
Runtime: 1h 59m
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Everyone seems to love the director of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water, but this 2015 gothic romantic horror flick often falls through the cracks when people talk about Guillermo del Toro. It shouldn’t. It’s a masterfully made period piece with sumptuous details and perfectly calibrated storytelling. Mia Wasikowska plays a woman who moves to a remote mansion with her new husband (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister (Jessica Chastain) and discovers the secrets buried in the earth.
Runtime: 1h 47m
Director: Leigh Janiak
Remember how much this took over the horror world in Summer 2021? Based on the books by R.L. Stine, these three films told the story of a curse that had descended on a small town and unfolded across three films set in different eras — 1994, 1978, and 1666. Fans argued over which one was the best (1994), but it’s best to appreciate these now as one piece of sharply-written horror entertainment. And a couple of the most talented Stranger Things stars (Sadie Sink and Maya Hawke) help too.
Runtime: 1h 43m
Director: Mike Flanagan
Before he helmed The Haunting of Hill House, Mike Flanagan co-wrote and directed one of the best Netflix Original horror films in this adaptation of Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name. Carla Gugino is phenomenal as a woman who gets handcuffed to her bed by her toxic husband…and then he has a heart attack. As she tries to figure out how she will survive, she accesses the trauma of her past.
Runtime: 1h 44m
Director: Jordan Peele
This is the one that really changed the current state of horror, reminding studios how acclaimed and popular it could be if treated with the right respect. It also won its creator an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, launching one of the most interesting careers of the current era. It’s held up remarkably well, and it’s hardly ever available on streaming services, so take this chance while you can to rewatch a movie whose influence is still shaking the industry.
Runtime: 1h 33m
Director: Remi Weekes
What if it’s not houses that are haunted but people? That’s the question at the core of this story of an immigrant couple (a fantastic Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu) from South Sudan who move to an English town and face enemies both outside of their new home and within it. This is a strikingly original horror flick that has been largely underrated. Don’t miss it.
Runtime: 1h 27m
Director: Mike Flanagan
Even before Gerald’s Game, the future creator of The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass helmed this tight little thriller about a deaf-mute woman (played by Flanagan regular and his wife Kate Siegel) who has to survive a home invasion at her remote location. Sharply constructed, this is the kind of old-fashioned horror movie that Hitchcock would have liked.
Runtime: 1h 45m
Director: Jessica M. Thompson
Sony bungled the release of this one, being coy about its plot in ads that didn’t make it seem that appealing. It’s a fun horror movie, a retelling of Dracula from the perspective of a victim bride. It follows a young woman who goes to find her estranged family overseas only to, well, you can imagine. Nathalie Emmanuel goes all in on a film that should have found a bigger audience, and likely will on Netflix.
Runtime: 1h 49m
Director: Albert Pinto
More thriller than outright horror, Nowhere is still upsetting enough to qualify for a list like this one. Recently added to Netflix, it’s a Spanish film about a dystopian future with an intense refugee crisis. As women and children are being rounded up into cages, Mia (Anna Castillo) and Nico (Tamar Novas) try to escape, but they get separated and Mia ends up alone in a cargo shipping container adrift in the ocean. Oh, and she happens to be nine months pregnant. This one works largely thanks to Castillo’s committed, thrilling performance.
Runtime: 1h 39m
Director: Mike Flanagan
Sequels to mediocre horror films aren’t traditionally any good. Every rule has an exception. The director of Gerald’s Game helmed this fantastic prequel about a couple who have a phony séance business. Their lives are turned upside down when they bring a Ouija board into their act, unknowingly unleashing a spirit that possesses their daughter. Smart and tightly made, it was a sign of things to come from the future Hill House creator.
Runtime: 1h 30m
Director: Richard Shepard
Girls and Get Out star Allison Williams stars in this twisting and turning tale of a talented young musician who travels to Shanghai where she meets a competitor named Lizzie, played by Logan Browning. A story that keeps shifting and changing ultimately arrives at a shocking conclusion in this Netflix Original that took the festival scene by storm in 2018 and 2019.
Runtime: 1h 34m
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Sometimes the only thing a fun horror movie needs is a clever concept. This one is undeniably that. This Spanish film takes place in a “Vertical Self-Management Center,” a prison with dozens of floors to house its inmates. For sustenance, a platform descends the center of the tower. People near the top get much more than those at the bottom, which is kind of like a symbol for, well, everything. Unpredictable and tense, this is one of the best Netflix Original horror flicks.
Runtime: 1h 43m
Director: Julius Avery
Listen, this is no masterpiece, but there’s something fascinating about seeing an Oscar winner like Russell Crowe commit so completely to a B-movie this ludicrous. Crowe is all-in as the infamous Father Gabriele Amorth, a purported real-life exorcist who tries to save a possessed boy in Spain. This is a defiantly goofy movie, but it’s better than its quick theatrical run would have you believe, and a great fit for the Netflix horror roster of movies you can watch while you do something on your phone.
Runtime: 1h 28m
Director: Dave Franco
AirBnBs are weird, man. The general discomfort of staying in someone else’s house gets the horror treatment in this tense 2020 horror film, the directorial debut of Dave Franco. Two couples head off to a rental house, and sense that something’s not quite right about their chosen location. What starts as a relationship drama becomes something very different in a film that suggests Franco may have a rich life behind the camera.
Runtime: 1h 25m
Director: Bryan Bertino
Loosely based on a true story, this is one of the best home invasion flicks of the modern era. It’s the terrifyingly relatable story of a couple, played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, who are attacked in their vacation home in the middle of the night. Made for almost nothing, The Strangers was a huge smash, tapping into something we all fear could happen when we hear a strange sound outside in the middle of the night.
Runtime: 1h 41m
Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan star in this original sci-fi/horror flick from the directors of Spring and The Endless. They play paramedics in New Orleans who discover a drug that, well, allows for time travel. It’s the kind of crazy idea that really shouldn’t work but the talent of Benson and Moorhead hold it together.
Runtime: 1h 59m
Director: Juel Taylor
This is one of the best Netflix original films of the year, and almost no one has even heard of it. John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, and especially Jamie Foxx simply rock in this genre hybrid that plays like nothing else on the streaming service. Boyega plays an average dude who gets shot one night in his neighborhood but wakes up the next day, somewhat startling the pimp (Foxx) and prostitute (Parris) who saw him get gunned down. They look into the conundrum and discover a sci-fi premise that’s clever and kind of terrifying. Don’t miss this one.
Runtime: 1h 24m
Directors: Babak Anvari
The Iranian-born Anvari wrote and directed this brilliant interplay of horror tropes and commentary on how war and violence can shatter the world more than a ghost could ever consider. A mother and daughter are haunted in 1980s Tehran during the historical War of the Cities. If the falling bombs won’t get them, something more supernatural might.
Runtime: 1h 56m
Director: Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele followed up his Oscar-winning debut with one of the best horror films of the last decade, a stunning story of doppelgangers and the divided history of this country. Lupita Nyong’o is simply amazing as a woman who discovers the hard way that violent doubles of everyone are coming up from underground to claim their place above it. Visually striking and thematically fascinating, this is one of the best films of 2019.
If you subscribe to a service through our links, Vulture may earn an affiliate commission.