The scariest movies to watch on Netflix right now
If you have any time to kill for movie watching, especially if you're in the mood for scary stuff, we've got you covered.
Here is EW's list of the scariest movies you can watch on Netflix right now.
*Titles added for fall 2021 are denoted with an asterisk.
The Raid director Gareth Evans leaves his martial arts comfort zone for this Wicker Man-type story of an outsider (Dan Stevens) coming to an isolated community with their own violent pagan religion. Apostle is a mash-up of lots of different ideas, but it gets truly terrifying when Quinn (Mark Lewis Jones), one of the community's founders, starts asserting himself as an authoritarian patriarch. There are brutal fight scenes that recall some of the flavors of The Raid movies, and a good amount of demonic magic, but nothing is as horrifying as Quinn's reaction to learning his daughter has had premarital sex.
Related reading: Dan Stevens descends into the occult in Netflix's Apostle: EW review
Army of the Dead (2021)*
Earlier this year, right around the time that Zack Snyder's much-anticipated director's cut of Justice League was finally materializing on HBO Max, the director was also setting up a new kind of zombie movie on Netflix. Having previously remade George Romero's Dawn of the Dead as his directorial debut, Snyder conjured a new kind of zombie movie by making it a heist and setting it in Las Vegas. Dave Bautista leads a cast of battle-hardened zombie killers against more than enough undead monsters to freak you out.
Related reading: Army of the Dead review
The Conjuring (2013)
The one that started it all. The Conjuring has spawned a whole galaxy of sequels and spin-offs since it hit theaters in 2013, but the original James Wan-directed supernatural horror film still makes a thrilling watch in and of itself. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as fictionalized versions of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, investigating the Rhode Island home that the Perron family has just moved into and found filled with unexplained phenomena. As a clairvoyant, Lorraine is able to see things that no other character can, and Wan uses this device to terrifying effect.
Related reading: The Conjuring: The "real" story in pictures
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
If The Conjuring makes you want to watch more movies like it (and given the plethora of follow-up films, you wouldn't be the only one so affected) then you're in luck because the direct sequel is also currently streaming on Netflix. The actual Warrens are most famous for investigating the Amityville murders, and the second film tackles it head-on in a way that lives up to previous cinematic takes on the material. On top of that, The Conjuring 2 pits the Warrens against a whole other case of demonic possession, one that went on to inspire the 2018 spin-off, The Nun.
Related reading: First look at The Conjuring 3: James Wan teases horror threequel
If you prefer your horror to be based on jump scares, boy oh boy, is this the movie for you. The story of a videographer (director Patrick Brice) answering a strange Craigslist ad by an eccentric man (Mark Duplass) is full of one horrific surprise after another. At first, it seems like the client is just a fan of surprises, who likes playfully toying with his hired help, but each eerie coincidence is progressively more unnerving than the last. Duplass, who even in his warmer roles exudes offbeat energy, is just perfectly cast as the titular creep. On top of that, the fact that the whole movie is filmed, found footage-style, by a character played by the director himself is a delightful meta touch.
Related reading: Mark Duplass talks about his found footage horror movie Creep
Creep 2 (2017)
It's rare that Netflix will stream multiple horror films from the same franchise on its platform at once, so be sure to take advantage of the fact that both Creep movies are currently on the site. Director Patrick Brice and star Mark Duplass both returned for this spooky sequel, which builds on the revelations of the first movie to ask, is a character like this any less dangerous if you know the truth about them? New character Sara (Desiree Akhavan) thinks so, but she might be in over her head.
Crimson Peak (2015)*
Guillermo del Toro likes to change his genre for almost every film, and with 2015's Crimson Peak, he charged headlong into Gothic romance. Mia Wasikowska stars as an American heiress and aspiring writer who falls for dark and mysterious Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), but when he whisks her away to his family's estate, she doesn't exactly find a romantic happily ever after. As if Thomas' sister Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain) wasn't scary enough, the rotting mansion is filled with bad memories and angry ghosts. Del Toro and his team put so much effort into the period costuming and production design that you'll be marveling at the beautiful details whenever you aren't chilled to the bone by the unraveling of this horrific mystery.
The Fear Street Trilogy (2021)*
Horror often has deep roots. That's what director Leigh Janiak explored in her three-part adaptation of R.L. Stine's Fear Street books about the town of Shadyside, which has been dealing with darkness for centuries now. Beginning in 1994, the first film evokes teen slashers of that era like Scream, while the middle segment homages '70s horror like Halloween, and the last part goes all the way back to the 17th century to uncover the origin of evil in Shadyside. Altogether, it's a heady brew with enough for any horror fan to enjoy.
The Forest (2016)
Aokigahara Forest in Japan is often referred to as the "suicide forest" for the number of people who go there to die. What better setting for a horror film? The thought of a natural environment weighed down with so much death, combined with the sadness that must drive one to such a death, gives this entire film a creepy atmosphere that's further compounded by figures who might be ghosts and Natalie Dormer playing twins searching for each other — it's not always clear which one is alive and which isn't.
Related reading: The Forest EW review
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Stephen King's 1992 novel was long thought to be unfilmable — after all, what's cinematic about a woman handcuffed to a bed by herself with only her own memories to interact with? Enter Carla Gugino, who uses her considerable charisma to put this film adaptation from director Mike Flanagan on her back (little wonder they would collaborate again for another Netflix release, The Haunting of Hill House). The scenario is classic King ingenuity — what if you started a BDSM sex game and then your partner died before releasing you? — and Gugino convincingly portrays the relatable terror of a seemingly simple situation quickly devolving into a life-or-death struggle.
His House (2020)
One of horror's greatest strengths is using outrageous storytelling to channel experiences and ideas we might otherwise find unspeakable. Remi Weekes' remarkable debut film focuses on two Sudanese refugees (Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku) who are trying to make a new life for themselves in England but can't seem to let go of their guilt about all their friends and loved ones who didn't make it out. This guilt is literalized in the form of the apeth, or "night witch," that haunts their new home. In order to survive this threat, Bol and Rial need to first reckon with what actually happened to them.
Related reading: The best horror films of 2020
Like Gerald's Game, that other Mike Flanagan Netflix horror film already present on this list, Hush has an imaginative yet simple premise. This story is about a deaf woman (Kate Siegel) being stalked by a killer she can't hear. Flanagan and his actors mine a lot of fun horror out of the premise, particularly. Anytime the killer is making moves just out of the woman's line of sight, you might end up screaming yourself hoarse, begging her to turn around in time.
Further reading: Mike Flanagan recommends the best movie to watch over Halloween
Bong Joon Ho's one Netflix-exclusive film is not usually described as a horror movie, but it still gets much scarier than you might expect from a story about a girl and her animal friend. In classic Bong style, Okja combines all sorts of tones and genres. It's not as tightly controlled as Parasite, but Okja's terrifying moments are just as emotionally deep as their happy ones. Jake Gyllenhaal's performance has already become rather infamous for how high-pitched his performance is in this film, but it's not exactly a laugh riot; at one point, the combination of his hysteria with an assault on the titular animal is so horrifying that you won't soon forget it. At the time it was released, Tilda Swinton's climactic deployment of blackshirt mercenaries to round up animal rights activists seemed like a terrifying vision of a possible future; these days, it plays like a terrifying replica of real life.
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