[Ghostface voice] Do you like scary movies? [Slightly less Ghostface voice] Do you, like 203 million other human beings on the planet Earth, have a Netflix account? Then, logically, you’ve probably found yourself scrolling around, looking to find the best horror movies on the service. Unlike Jamie Kennedy in Scream, we have answers.
But rather than wade through that ever-shifting glut of films pouring in and out of the service every month trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve got you covered with a list of our own written and curated by Polygon’s own resident horror aficionados. (And if you’re looking for a list of the best horror movies you can watch across multiple streaming platforms, we’ve got you covered there too).
We’ve slashed our way through the horror offerings on Netflix to find you a heap of movies worth an evening ... alone ... with the lights off ... and surely ... no one watching you ... through the window ... right now ...
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The sensation that launched a franchise, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street lives on as a horror masterpiece decades later. Teenager Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and her friends become the targets of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a deceased serial killer now haunting (and hunting) people in their dreams. As Nancy’s friends start dying in their sleep one by one, she tries desperately to stay awake to survive. A timeless slasher that might also keep you from sleeping, Elm Street and Krueger have staying power for a reason. —Pete Volk
Fans of the classic 1973 horror movie The Wicker Man (let us not speak of the 2006 Nicolas Cage version and its beeeeeees) should be warned: The Raid director Gareth Evans’ 2018 movie Apostle deliberately starts in the exact same place, and then takes the same scenario to much bloodier and more graphic ends. Set in 1905, it opens with addled addict Thomas (Legion and The Guest star Dan Stevens) getting a letter that says his sister is being held prisoner by a cult on a distant island. So he fakes his way into what looks like a quaint religious community, but is actually the kind of place where people routinely leave bowls of their own blood in front of their doors at night, and something is audibly crawling around under the floorboards. Tense, gory, and in places almost ludicrously over-the-top, Apostle has a lot to say about the nature of religious fanaticism, both for the obedient flocks doing whatever their leader says God wants, and for the manipulators that weaponize whoever they can find who’s willing to be led. But this isn’t just Wicker Man redux — it’s a creative, relentless spin on the same idea, leading to its own unique horrors. —Tasha Robinson
Madeline Brewer stars in Daniel Goldhaber’s Cam as Alice, an ambitious camgirl trying desperately to reach the coveted number one spot of the site she streams for. After a particularly intense show, she wakes to find that her account has been taken over by a mysterious doppelganger, one who will seemingly go to any and all lengths to achieve what Alice herself could not. As Alice fights to regain control of her show and expose the identity of her impersonator, she’ll have to deal with the consequences of her offline and online identities blurring into one. Cam is a chilling psychological horror that leaves the audience wondering at every turn how, if at all, its heroine will manage to overcome and survive the horrors that assail her life. —Toussaint Egan
The Conjuring 2
James Wan’s follow-up to 2013’s The Conjuring takes place six years after the original, following paranormal investigators Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) travel to London to aid Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), a mother of four children who believes that she and her family are being haunted by preternatural forces that take hold of their home. The Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullian wrote in his 2016 review, “[The Conjuring 2] manifests a canny understanding of what modern audiences expect from a ghost story, delivering slowly mounting dread, punctuated by alternating bursts of terror and laughter.” —TE
Creep & Creep 2
Leave it to indie darling Mark Duplass and his regular collaborator Patrick Brice (The Overnight) to keep the found-footage horror movie kickin’ 15 years after The Blair Witch Project. In Creep, Josef (Duplass) recruits Aaron (Brice), a videographer, off Craigslist with the intention of filming a goodbye letter to his unborn son. Josef is dying ... at least, that’s how he convinces his new buddy Aaron to spend the night in the woods drinking whiskey with him. The batshit revelations are best left unsaid, and just how Creep 2 picks up the story, with Girls actress Desiree Akhavan front and center as a hopeful YouTube star, is even more of a hoot. Creep is the deranged, internet-friendly horror franchise we deserve. —Matt Patches
The Exorcist is just as terrifying now as when it caused a mild national panic on release in 1973. When a young girl (Linda Blair) starts behaving very strangely, her mother tries anything and everything to get her help, leading to ... well, you know the title of the film. The realism of a mother’s desire to keep her daughter safe in an uncontrollable world set against a supernatural conflict pulls you right in from the very beginning, and keeps its hold on you far beyond the end of its two hour run-time. —PV
His House turns the trials of immigration into a shock-filled ghost story. Gangs of London’s Sope Dirisu and Lovecraft Country’s Wunmi Mosaku play a Sudanese couple seeking asylum in Britain, where they encounter supportive but not exactly friendly social workers (including former Doctor Who star Matt Smith) who can’t accept that the home they’ve been given is haunted. Caught between the ghosts at home and an inflexible system ready to send them back to a war-torn country, the couple struggle with their past and their highly questionable future. —TR
The home invasion movie gets a fresh spin from The Haunting of Bly Manor creator and Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan in Hush, a lean, mean feature that centers on a deaf-mute woman’s fight against a would-be killer. Maddie (Kate Siegel, who also co-wrote the film) lives on her own in the woods, and becomes the focus of a man (John Gallagher Jr.) after he chases and kills one of her friends, discovering through Maddie’s failure to notice that she cannot hear anything. It’s a terrific modern slasher, and even got the seal of approval from Stephen King. —MP
David Robert Mitchell’s breakout supernatural horror film It Follows centers on a young teenager Jay (Maika Monroe) who, after a strange sexual encounter, finds herself stalked by a nightmarish entity that no-one else but her can see that intends to kill her. In order to stave off death, Jay and her friends must stay a step ahead of the creature while attempting to find a means of defeating it, or else resort to passing the curse on to another hapless unassuming victim herself. With a terrific score provided by Hyper Light Drifter composer Richard Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace), It Follows is a memorable, unique, and entertaining teen horror drama that flips the script on the genre’s traditionally puritanical framing of sexuality with terrific results. —TE
Even in our post-Cabin in the Woods world, there are still opportunities for clever filmmakers to spook us with creepy-shack-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-why-the-hell-would-you-go-in-there-what-was-that-in-the-shadows-no-no-no-no-no stories. The Ritual follows four friends who trek along northern Sweden’s Kungsleden trail as a tribute to a fifth friend, who was recently murdered in a convenience store. The death especially weighs on Luke (Prometheus’ Rafe Spall), whose drunken belligerence put his buddy in harm’s way in the first place. Luke is also the member of the group who realizes that, after discovering a wooden deer altar in an abandoned house along their unadvised detour, the group is being haunted by more than memories. Like a unique mix of Euro-horror and The Hills Have Eyes, The Ritual twists a familiar journey with creature-feature instincts to keep the genre fresh. —MP
Under the Shadow
During a string of Iraqi airstrikes in late-1980s Tehran, the Iranian government bars medical student and political activist Shideh (Narges Rashidi) from continuing her studies. She retreats to her family’s apartment, and despite her husband’s wishes, remains with her young daughter in the war-torn capital — this is her home, and she’s not leaving. But when a missile blasts directly through her building, the normal life Shideh and her daughter knew becomes marked by an invisible, nefarious presence. Is it a djinn? Much like in The Babadook, first-time director Babak Anvari allows the question of the supernatural to orbit the action of Under the Shadow as he captures the erosion of his plain, main set, and Shideh’s very existence. —MP
Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended pulls the audiences through the screen — almost literally. Viewed entirely from the perspective of a computer desktop, 2014 supernatural horror film centers around a Skype call between a group of high school students who are joined by an unknown presence known only as “billie227.” What at first appears to be a prank swiftly morphs into something much more horrific, as the mysterious stranger begins to reveal terrifying secrets about each of the friends before killing them off one by one. Unfriended is thoroughly gripping extrapolation of our always-online world; a world where vengeful poltergeists and doxxing exist side-by-side and no secret or offense goes undiscovered or unpunished. —TE
What Lies Below
Braden R. Duemmler’s What Lies Below stars Ema Horvath as Libby, a 16 year old girl who returns home to her mother’s lake house after summer camp to discover that she’s taken on a new boyfriend, John (Trey Tucker). While initially excepting of her mom’s new beau, Libby gradually begins to suspect that something is ... off about John that he’s trying to conceal. With no-one but her friend Marley (Haskiri Velasquez) to turn to for help, Libby must expose the truth of John’s sinister nature before it’s too late to save her mother ... and herself. Filled with mounting tension, creepy ethereal visuals, and a mind-bogglingly bizarre ending, What Lies Below has more appeal to it than what might at first appear on its surface. —TE