Spooky season is quickly approaching, and there are plenty of excellent horror movies on Netflix that you can watch right now. What better time to comb through the archives and round up the top horror movies one of the best streaming services has to offer?
Selecting the best horror films to haunt your nightmares is no small task, and naturally, a lot hinges on subjective opinions. But we've taken a stab at it nonetheless, including entries from our personal favorites as well as well-received horror movies on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. We've tried to add something for every kind of horror fan on this list, from monster movies to gripping psychological thrillers to the rare modern zombie movie that's actually worth your time.
So without further ado, here are our picks for the best horror movies on Netflix you can watch right now.
Under the Shadow (2016)
Under the Shadow has one of those premises that feels so ripe for horror movie fodder, I'm surprised I haven't seen it done more. Set in a post-revolutionary Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, Shideh (Narges Rashidi) must care for her young daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) alone after her husband is drafted to the front lines.
As the war escalates, a missile slices through their apartment building but fails to detonate. Though her neighbors evacuate, Shideh chooses to remain, and that's when things take an unsettling turn. Dorsa begins acting stranger and stranger until Shideh questions her own grasp on reality. She slowly grows to suspect that her daughter may be suffering from something more sinister than wartime shock, and that the missile unleashed an evil spirit known as a djinn that means to possess her.
His House (2020)
Whenever I recommend essential horror movies to get non-horror fans into the genre, His House tops the list. It's up there along with Get Out and Midsommar for the kind of psychologically terrifying moments that are sure to haunt you long after the credits roll.
His House follows a young refugee couple, Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku), who are granted asylum in a small English town after fleeing war-torn South Sudan. Met with hostility and racism in their new community, the couple struggles to adjust. Straining their relationship further is a mysterious malevolent force in their house that seems connected to their traumatic past. But while Rial insists something is not right and wants to move, Bol worries that making waves could get them deported. And so the two are on their own to face whatever's haunting them.
This Netflix original is the rare modern zombie movie done right. A cross between The Walking Dead and The Road, it stars Martin Freeman as Andy Rose, a dad navigating the zombie-filled deserts of rural Australia with his wife Kay (Susie Porter) and baby Rosie after a viral pandemic turned those infected into flesh-hungry monsters.
While Cargo does hit a lot of the same beats as other zombie flicks, Freeman delivers a strong performance that grounds the film in relatable humanity. It spins a story of post-apocalyptic survival around a poignant exploration of parental love and sacrifice. And the zombie designs themselves are worth noting too, with Cargo's undead transforming into something uniquely animalistic and disturbing.
The Ritual (2017)
I was honestly surprised to see The Ritual trailed so far behind the other movies on this list on Rotten Tomatoes. It's another frequent recommendation I have for non-horror movie fans, as it uses a monster movie framework to deconstruct moral dilemmas around fear, guilt and what we owe one another.
While out drinking one night, two friends, Luke (Rafe Spall) and Robert (Paul Reid), break off from their group to stop by a convenience store. They walk in on a robbery gone awry, but Luke manages to hide and watches terrified as the burglars kill his friend. The rest of the group decide to honor Robert's memory by going on a hiking trip in northern Sweden. But as they venture deeper into the forest, they become hopelessly lost and begin to suspect a supernatural force may be stalking them. The Ritual expertly cultivates a sense of dread throughout by gradually revealing the unknown horrors lurking in the forest.
Cam is a blood-chilling dive into the darker corners of the internet from director Daniel Goldhaber. It stars Madeline Brewer as Alice, a successful camgirl who performs explicit webcam shows under the screen name Lola_Lola. After she becomes obsessed with climbing the leaderboard of the platform she streams on, she slowly begins to lose her grip on reality.
During one livestream, she goes so far as to fake her own death in a bid to shoot to the top of the charts and rake in tips from viewers. But before she can seize on her popularity, a new rival named Princess_X — who looks just like Alice — appears and shatters the scene. The film seizes on the mob mentality that drives social media circles to obsession, and it turns into a macabre thriller as Alice begs the police for help.
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Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment.
Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats. She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.