Best horror movies on Netflix for Halloween
Recent blockbusters and genre classics guaranteed to give you Halloween heebie-jeebies
Horror has long been one of film’s most beloved genres, and there’s no better time to cower under a blanket and shield your eyes from the TV than Halloween.
There have been few better eras for the critically maligned genre, with a new breed of directors finding success with fresh takes on familiar horror tropes.
Here are some of the best horror films on Netflix:
In 1922, a rancher plots to murder his wife for financial gain and convinces his teenage son to help out, but their actions have unforeseen consequences.
The film, based on Stephen King’s novella of the same name, has been praised for its moody pace. The Guardian says “there’s an unshakable menace that lingers”, while Variety argues that director Zak Hilditch should get credit for “generating and sustaining suspense throughout a slow-burning drama”.
Thomas Jane, who has previously appeared in the HBO series Hung, stars as the movie’s brooding lead, Wilfred James.
Dan Stevens, best known for his role as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey, takes the starring role alongside Michael Sheen in this creepy Netflix original about a man who goes searching for his missing sister after she is kidnapped by a religious sect.
Radio Times says the film, written by The Raid franchise creator Gareth Evans, is “similarly brutal and intense, loaded with gaudy religious imagery and graphic yet admirably inventive scenes of violence”, while Variety describes it as “a Gothic horror mystery that's less like an adrenaline shot to the heart than a rusty, hand-cranked drill to the skull”.
A dark, mysterious film, 2015’s The Invitation is a masterclass in subtle horror from American director Karyn Kusama.
This low-budget film - it cost just $1m to make - ended up being a sleeper hit, as critics fawned over its intelligent script and nerve-shredding tension. It tells the story of a man (Logan Marshall-Green) who, during a dinner party at his old house, starts to believe that his ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband (Michiel Huisman) have sinister plans for him and the other guests.
But that’s all we are going to say. “The less you know about Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, the better,” says Paste Magazine. “This is true of slow-burn cinema of any stripe, but Kusama slow-burns to perfection.”
Another critically acclaimed low-budget film, Hush centres on Maddie (Kate Siegel), a deaf writer who has retreated into the woods to live a solitary life, until she is confronted by a masked killer at her window.
Minimalist and thoroughly creepy, Hush was described by Consequence of Sound as “a taut thriller that marries sound design with thematic impact”, adding that the film’s sparse use of dialogue makes it “relentless and chilling”.
The Cabin in the Woods
Yet another surprise sleeper hit, The Cabin in the Woods wowed audiences with its mind-bending premise. Starring Kristen Connolly and Chris Hemsworth, the film opens as a cliched horror movie, full of eye-rolling contrivances and predictable character tropes, before the revelation that their lives - and their fate - are actually being controlled from a secret facility of workers who must meet certain horror cliche criteria in order to appease a collection of bloodthirsty deities.
A film that is as startlingly terrifying as it is riotously funny, The Cabin in the Woods is a must watch for fans of whip-smart screenwriting.
IndieWire’s Eric Kohn calls it “among one of the most wryly self-aware works of American pop culture entertainment in years”.
Surreal, nail-biting and unusually epic in scope for a film of such small financial means, Cube is cult horror done right. A bizarre take on Saw before Saw was even a thing, it tells the story of a group of strangers who find themselves in a maze fitted with deadly traps, not knowing if there is an escape route.
This is a classic of the genre that must not be missed.
It Comes At Night
“When a deadly and highly contagious virus spreads across the world, one family decide to forge a life for themselves in seclusion, following a strict set of self-enforced rules to ensure no one else gets infected.”
So says GQ of It Comes At Night, a riveting and terrifying character-based horror drama chock-full of palpable tension. This intelligent thriller is a masterclass showcase of filmmaking, demonstrating the depths of human desperation in the bleakest of circumstances.
What is there to say about Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 Hollywood classic that hasn’t already been said ad nauseum? This is the king of all horror movies, single-handedly redefining the genre and introducing groundbreaking new techniques to the art form.
“He made Psycho fast and cheap (it cost a mere $807,000) to entertain a mainstream audience, using his regular TV crew and shooting in black-and-white to give the production a vérité news-footage feel,” writes Mark Kermode in The Guardian’s list of the 25 greatest horror films in history. “After half a century of terror, Psycho is still ensuring that no one feels safe in the shower.”