If you’re looking for a show that’s particularly scary this spooky season, you’re in luck: We’ve put culled through Netflix’s expansive library to bring you only the finest of horror shows to stream on the platform.
We’ve got horror auteurs! Breakout hits from overseas! Literary adaptations! Even a... horror comedy procedural? No matter your taste in horror, there’s something for you here.
From Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities to The Haunting of Hill House and beyond, here are the best horror TV shows to watch on Netflix.
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities
Showrunner: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, F. Murray Abraham, Ben Barnes
Few horror anthologies boast a roster as impressive as Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. While del Toro himself doesn’t contribute creatively beyond Rod Serling-style introductions and providing short story source material for a few entries, the filmmaker has assembled a hell of a dream team: The Empty Man’s David Prior, Ana Lily Amirpour, Catherine Hardwicke, Panos Cosmatos, and The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent are among the directors assembled, each bringing their signature stylistic flair. A mix of original stories and classic horror fables from the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Henry Kuttner, Cabinet of Curiosities has something for every kind of horror fan, and at least one — for me, Prior’s “The Autopsy” — will knock it out of the park for you. —Joshua Rivera
The Haunting of Hill House
Showrunner: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas
Easily the spookiest of gothic horror maestro Mike Flanagan’s stable of Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House updates Shirley Jackson’s classic horror novel and turns it into a sprawling family drama, rich with longing and loss as it is scares. The show follows the Crain siblings, who grew up together in the haunted Hill House, only to go on to have terribly maladjusted adult lives. As they’re all lured back one by one, the Crain family is forced to acknowledge things they’ve spent their whole lives running from — hopefully, while they’re still breathing. —JR
Showrunner: Yeon Sang-ho
Cast: Yoo Ah-in, Kim Hyun-joo, Park Jeong-min
Here’s a spooky scenario: What if you knew beyond a shadow of doubt that you’re going to hell and there’s not a thing you can do to stop it? Also, what if a bunch of big burly smoke demons that look like the Michelin Man materialized out of nowhere and just proceeded to mollywhop the shit out of you in front of your loved ones as they helplessly look on? That’s the premise in a nutshell for Hellbound, the Korean dark fantasy drama from the director of Train to Busan. In the aftermath of this startling phenomenon, society undergoes a radical transformation as a new religious sect centered on this inexplicable worldwide terror rises to prominence. An engrossing thriller with the emotional gravitas of a disaster film, Hellbound is scary good time. —Toussaint Egan
Showrunner: Samuel Bodin
Cast: Victoire Du Bois, Lucie Boujenah, Tiphaine Daviot
When compared to movies, a lot of horror TV shows appear to sacrifice scares as a cost of doing business in the medium. TV shows have to buckle down for the long haul, give the audience a sense of place and characters that they’re willing to follow for several hours, and maybe constant scares aren’t a good way to sustain dramatic tension. But if that’s true, Marianne simply doesn’t care. One of Netflix’s best hidden gems, Marianne is absolutely terrifying, with an Alan Wake-esque plot about an acclaimed horror writer returning to her hometown to discover that some of her stories may have come to life. Wickedly focused and pulling no punches, Marianne is a terrifyingly good time. —JR
Showrunner: Allan Heinberg
Cast: Tom Sturridge, Boyd Holbrook, Vivienne Acheampong
While not strictly a horror show per se, the dark fantasy drama based on Neil Gaiman’s DC Comics certainly dabbles in some of the most horror-centric storytelling and settings of any Netflix series to date. What other show are you going to see the protagonist, who happens to be the anthropomorphic personification of dreams, embark on a journey to Hell to confront Satan (Gwendoline Christie), confront a DC comics villain in a diner bar, and crash a secret serial killer convention all in one season? It’s going to be awhile before the second season arrives, so in the meantime — whether you have or haven’t already — watch the first season of The Sandman if you’re aching for some spooky, gory thrills. —TE
Showrunner: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater, Kate Siegel
For me, there is a trifecta of great Mike Flanagan. Joshua extolled the virtues (and frights) of The Haunting of Hill House above, and Austen Goslin wrote about the excellent director’s cut of Doctor Sleep (which, notably, isn’t TV). That leaves, for my money, the best series Flanagan has ever created: Midnight Mass.
In Midnight Mass, a recovering alcoholic (Zach Gilford) returns to the isolated New England island he grew up on. He’s fresh out of prison, and looking for a new start. At the same time, the town’s long-tenured, much-loved priest is suddenly replaced by a charismatic, young stranger (Hamish Linklater), who has a dark secret waiting to be unleashed on the sleepy town.
Flanagan’s group of players are at their best, and Linklater is a fantastic, enigmatic addition to a group of actors well-versed in working with each other. The show makes the best use of Flanagan’s monologue-heavy style this side of Doctor Sleep, and is a fantastic and thrilling portrayal of a small town’s descent into demagoguery. –PV
Showrunners: John Hyams, Karl Schaefer
Cast: Jaime King, Justin Chu Cary, Christine Lee
There are a lot of zombie shows out there. But if you want the best of the best, you have to go with Black Summer.
Co-created by the fantastic John Hyams (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, Alone), Black Summer takes a ground-level view of a zombie apocalypse, but with a higher caliber of filmmaking than seen on shows like The Walking Dead. Hyams, who has a penchant for ambitious one-take shots, directs many of the episodes, and his history filming tense and violent action sequences comes in handy for both seasons of the Z Nation spin-off. –PV
Showrunner: Rob Thomas
Cast: Rose McIver, David Anders, Rahul Kohli
Now for the other side of the horror (and zombie) continuum: A mystery comedy dressed up in zombie trappings. You know the kind of show: A detective has a unique gift that allows them to solve crimes in ways no other person could. This time, that gift is BRAAAAAAAAINS.
Liv Moore (Rose McIver, and congrats — from her character name you now know right away whether or not this show is for you) is a medical student who gets turned into a zombie. Oops! She gets a gig at a coroner’s office to get access to brains, where she discovers she experiences the memories of the person whose brain she is eating. She uses this new skill to solve crimes, along with her friend/boss (Rahul Kohli) and a local detective (Malcolm Goodwin). –PV