The best horror movies on Netflix

The best horror movies on Netflix

Clockwise from top left: Cult Of Chucky; Splice; I Am The Pretty Thing That  Lives In The House; Killer Klowns From Outer Space; Creep 2; The  Blackcoat’s Daughter; Gerald’s Game
Clockwise from top left: Cult Of Chucky; Splice; I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House; Killer Klowns From Outer Space; Creep 2; The Blackcoat’s Daughter; Gerald’s Game

Streaming libraries expand and contract. Algorithms are imperfect. Those damn thumbnail images are always changing. But you know what you can always rely on? The expert opinions and knowledgeable commentary of The A.V. Club. That’s why we’re scouring both the menus of the most popular services and our own archives to bring you these guides to the best viewing options, broken down by streamer, medium, and genre. Want to know why we’re so keen on a particular movie? Click the title at the top of each slide for some in-depth coverage from The A.V. Club’s past. And be sure to check back often, because we’ll be adding more recommendations as films come and go.

Some titles on this list also appear on our best movies on Netflix list, but we decided horror films deserved their own spotlight since they are often not included on our year-end lists as much as other genres. The criteria for inclusion here is that (1) the film is classified by Netflix as a horror film (so don’t shoot the messenger if you think something is misgenred here), (2) The A.V. Club has written critically about the movie; and (3) if it was a graded review, it received at least a “B.” Some newer (and much older) movies will be added over time as Netflix announces new additions to their library.

Looking for other movies to stream? Also check out our list of the best movies on Amazon Prime, best movies on Disney+, and best movies on Hulu. And if you’re looking to laugh, check out our list of the best comedy movies on Netflix.

This list was most recently updated Sept. 18, 2020.

Advertisement

2 / 28

1BR

1BR

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Screenshot: 1BR

When Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom) first moves into an L.A. apartment complex where people actually seem to care about their neighbors, any denizen of a major city will think they know where 1BR is going. And it is—for a little while. What’s interesting about writer-director David Marmor’s feature debut is the fact that, 45 minutes in, the film reaches what would be the natural end point of most horror movies about cults. Then it keeps going. Real-life details culled from ex-members’ accounts of life in groups like Scientology and NXIVM give the film an edgy ripped-from-the-headlines quality, as well as reinforcing the sheer L.A. of it all. If you enjoyed The Invitation, keep this one on your radar. [Katie Rife]

Stream it now

Advertisement

3 / 28

Aurora

Aurora

Aurora
Aurora
Photo:

We see plenty of premeditated murders in the movies, but the emphasis tends to be more on the murder and less on the premeditation, for the obvious reason that cinema is more accommodating of action than thought. Motives may be established, but they don’t necessarily encompass the wholeness of the perpetrator’s complicated psyche or the deliberate, banal build-up to the crime. Over a difficult three-hour sprawl, Cristi Puiu’s Aurora fully explores the time before and after a killer strikes, and it has the cumulative effect of making what passes for a “motive” seem absurdly simplistic. As played by Puiu, who cast himself after a long audition process proved fruitless, this disturbed man emerges as chillingly unknowable, a mass of long-simmering grievances that finally, violently bubble to the surface. [Scott Tobias]

Stream it now

Advertisement

4 / 28

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe
Photo: IFC Midnight

Going by its title alone, The Autopsy Of Jane Doe sounds like a Faces Of Death knockoff or maybe one of those Japanese gore videos from the ’80s like the one that made Charlie Sheen call the cops because he thought he was watching a real snuff film. No such mistakes could possibly be made about Norwegian director André Øvredal’s follow-up to his breakout hit Trollhunter—not for a lack of gore, but thanks to its self-imposed stylistic restraint. Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox co-star as Austin and Tommy Tilden, a father-son coroner team tasked with performing an emergency autopsy on an unidentified woman found in a shallow grave at the scene of a murder. The assumption is that this woman, the Jane Doe of the title, was one of the victims. But as the Tildens crack open her chest with a giant pair of pliers and begin poking around, it becomes obvious that “Jane Doe” is no ordinary corpse. Large chunks of the film are devoted to the autopsy, with voice of experience Cox providing expository narration as he digs around; each new step provides a new clue to Doe’s true identity, playing out like a murder mystery where the clues are inside the victim’s body. The best way to describe the procedure itself is “clinical,” explicit but not exploitative, with the camera, for the most part, maintaining a professional distance from the proceedings. [Katie Rife]

Stream it now

Advertisement

5 / 28

Await Further Instructions

Await Further Instructions

Await Further Instructions
Await Further Instructions
Screenshot:

A pair of inventive low-budget thrillers brings the spirit of The Twilight Zone alive with their respective narratives. Those who appreciate a good Rod Serling story (albeit one livened up with some nutso John Carpenter-esque horror) will be rewarded by Await Further Instructions, a bottle episode of a movie that finds a family waking up Christmas morning to discover their entire building has been covered with a metallic-like substance, trapping them inside. Their only information: a notification on the TV screen that reads, “Await further instructions.” Inconsistent characterization and people behaving like morons hampers some of the momentum, but overall this descent into paranoia succeeds as a dark little parable—and it has a wild ending. [Alex McLevy]

Stream it now

Advertisement

6 / 28

Before I Wake

Before I Wake

Before I Wake
Before I Wake
Photo: Netflix

A horror fantasy about the worst fears of parents and children, Before I Wake imagines a married couple, Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane), trying to move on after their son’s death by taking in an 8-year-old orphan who’s gone from foster home to foster home under mysterious circumstances. Waiting for the new arrival, Mark screws grab bars to the tub wall (their boy drowned in the bath, which is basically every first-time parent’s nightmare) while Jessie takes down the family photos from the living room, enacting an unwittingly creepy ritual of preparation; skewed in a horror movie’s exposition, the things adults think will make kids safe seem conspiratorial and sick. But slyly, the film keeps turning viewer sympathies about who might be the bigger threat to whom. As the new foster parents soon discover, the kid, Cody (Room’s Jacob Tremblay), possesses a dangerous supernatural power, and when he falls asleep, his dreams haunt the house—projections of a small child’s manias (butterflies are Cody’s favorite subject) and uneasy thoughts about grown-ups and themselves. Often, Cody dreams of the dead son, Sean (Antonio Romero), the little boy’s face unnervingly frozen in the rictus of the only photo of him he’s seen. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Stream it now

Advertisement

7 / 28

The Blackcoat’s Daughter

The Blackcoat’s Daughter

The Blackcoat’s Daughter
The Blackcoat’s Daughter
Photo: A24

The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a clammy hand on the back of the neck, a chill running down the spine, a shot of ice water straight to the veins. Every moment, almost every shot, has been carefully calibrated to stand hairs on end. Most of Frank Oz’s Blackcoat’s Daughter takes place at a fictional, religious boarding school for girls, on the precipice of a long holiday weekend. It’s an unsettling setting: darkened and deserted dormitories, surrounded by dead trees, blanketed in snow. Rose (Sing Street’s Lucy Boynton), who fears she may be pregnant, gets stuck looking after freshman Kat (Kiernan Shipka) while the two girls wait for their parents to retrieve them for winter break, one day late. Trouble is, Kat’s parents aren’t coming. Something horrible has befallen them, leaving their daughter vulnerable to a dark influence. Meanwhile, another young woman, Joan (Emma Roberts), makes her way to the same sleepy East Coast town, hitching a ride with some good samaritans. The plot is bare bones, a skeleton to drench in dread. [A.A. Dowd]

Stream it now

Advertisement

8 / 28

Cam

Cam

Cam
Cam
Photo: Blumhouse

For years now, I’ve found it strange that there were only two or three good movies about the internet, the most important thing in the world. My wish for a film truthfully capturing all the connection, gratification, desperation, and despair of living online came true with this sophisticated thriller, in which a cam girl (Madeline Brewer, making a convincing argument for herself as a bona fide star) discovers that an automated doppelgänger has taken over her channel. There’s a lot to love here, from the low-key sex-positivity to the cringe comedy to the delectable supporting turn from former love witch Samantha Robinson. But I like Cam best as our most ruthlessly honest film about the nightmares of full-time freelancing. [Charles Bramesco]

Stream now

Advertisement

9 / 28

Creep 2

Creep 2

Creep 2
Creep 2
Photo: The Orchard

Let’s make something clear up front: Creep 2 is not a scary movie. Despite a plot that concerns a serial killer and the unsuspecting woman who answers his Craigslist ad and drives to his remote home in the woods, there is nothing about the film that would inspire much in the way of goosebumps. (A few small jump scares are played more for laughs than shrieks of fright.) Whereas the first Creep wrung tension from the familiar tricks of the found-footage style, the new one assumes the viewer already knows the situation with its homicidal subject, and doesn’t really try to generate chills from it. Instead, it’s a serial-killer midlife crisis: Within the first five minutes, Mark Duplass’ character has already desultorily cut someone’s throat, sat morosely as the blood congealed, and said, with heavy existential ennui straight to the camera he snuck into the house, “What’s happening to me?” A slasher sequel this is not. But for fans of the original who don’t mind the loss of scares, Creep 2 improves on the first film in nearly every way, from tone to dialogue to plot. Aesthetically, the two films are more or less identical, as director Patrick Brice maintains a straightforward functional approach to the material. As in the first, the protagonist is a filmmaker, or at least a wannabe filmmaker, thereby narratively justifying a steadier and more professional level of camerawork. This series isn’t all that pretty to look at, but as far as found-footage cinematography goes, it sits firmly in the upper tier. [Alex McLevy]

Stream it now

Advertisement

10 / 28

Cult Of Chucky

Cult Of Chucky

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Screenshot: Cult Of Chucky

2017's Cult Of Chucky is the most purely entertaining Child’s Play film since the original. For starters, it’s darker. Before the opening credits even run, we learn that Andy Barclay—the kid from the original three films—is now an adult, living along in a remote cabin, where he keeps the captured head of Chucky (following a post-credits stinger at the end of 2013's Curse Of Chucky) mounted on a pike, and tortures it routinely. Meanwhile, in the four years since the events of the last film, Nica has been committed to a psychiatric facility, where a doctor has convinced her that she made up the whole “Chucky” story as a way to avoid accepting responsibility for killing her family. Once she moves to a minimum-security center, it’s only a matter of time before Chucky comes looking for revenge. [Alex McLevy]

Stream it now

Advertisement

11 / 28

Gerald’s Game

Gerald’s Game

Gerald’s Game
Gerald’s Game
Photo: Netflix

Coming off of the positive critical buzz surrounding 2016’s Hush and Ouija: Origin Of Evil, Flanagan decided to re-team with Hush producer Netflix for a film adaptation of Gerald’s Game. It’s not an easy sell: Not only is King’s book structured in such a way as to make it extremely difficult to adapt—much of it takes place inside the mind of the main character, Jessie (Carla Gugino), as she lies handcuffed to a bed, alone and unable to escape, after her husband dies mid-kinky sex—but it deals with some very challenging themes of sexual abuse and the silencing of women. Thankfully, Flanagan’s film is up to the challenge, thanks in large part to Gugino and her compelling performance, which deftly expresses emotions from panic to grief to despair to rage, sometimes all at once. [Katie Rife]

Stream it now

Advertisement

12 / 28

Green Room

Green Room

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Screenshot: Green Room

Green Room is a rare gift from the genre gods: a nasty, punk-as-fuck midnight movie made by a genuine artist, a filmmaker with a great eye and a true understanding of the people and places he’s splattering in viscera. His name is Jeremy Saulnier, and his last film, the similarly color-coded Blue Ruin, was an eccentric riff on the revenge thriller, featuring a soft-spoken, sad-eyed vagrant in the Charles Bronson role. Green Room, about a traveling hardcore band caught in a life-and-death standoff with white supremacists, is even better, even bloodier, even more grimly amusing than its predecessor. In clichéd rock-journalism parlance, it’s a bastard lovechild, what you might get if you could somehow mate one of Kelly Reichardt’s portraits of life on the Oregon fringe with one of John Carpenter’s castle-siege action vehicles. [A.A. Dowd]

Stream it now

Advertisement

13 / 28

Head Count

Head Count

Head Count
Head Count
Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Unlikable characters. Bad decisions. Gloomy spaces. Throw them together and you have a recipe for an effective horror movie, at least of the kind that had its heyday in the 1980s, when audiences rooted for killers to butcher whole casts of teenage and twentysomething nuisances. If you’ve seen one of these films, you’ve seen most of them. Their formula was primal but effective: “Kids go to the woods, kids get dead.” Writer-director Elle Callahan plays with that formula in her debut feature, Head Count. Set against the seemingly safe splendor of Joshua Tree in California, the film gathers 10 millennial-aged characters in a rental house for some carefree vacation festivities. But there’s an 11th in their midst: The Hisji, a malicious shapeshifting entity inadvertently summoned at the start of the film by Evan (Isaac Jay). Evan, who begins seeing doubles of his friends everywhere, slowly starts to suspect that the Hisji isn’t a harmless creepypasta after all. His pals think he’s a major buzzkill... that is, until about 45 minutes into the film, when a casual game of “Never Have I Ever” goes fearfully awry. [Andy Crump]

Stream it now

Advertisement

14 / 28

Hush

Hush

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Screenshot: Hush

Though this tense home-invasion thriller involving sensory impairment went straight to Netflix, Mike Flanagan’s ruthlessly efficient Hush would play like gangbusters on the big screen. At just 81 minutes, the film wastes little time setting up its cat-and-mouse game, which pits a deaf novelist (Kate Siegel) against the psychopath stalking the perimeter of her secluded country home. The heroine’s impairment ratchets up the threat level (how can she fend off what she can’t hear?), and Hush toys with genre convention by unmasking the killer fairly quickly. Mostly, though, this is just an effectively straightforward exercise in suspense, one that further positions Flanagan—who also made the well-received Ouija prequel—as a filmmaker with a strong grasp on horror’s fundamentals. [A.A. Dowd]

Stream it now

Advertisement

15 / 28

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Photo: I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House

The horror renaissance continued unabated in 2016, as films like The Witch, The Invitation, The Eyes Of My Mother, Under The Shadow, Don’t Breathe, brought increased respectability to this frequently disrespected genre. But one of the year’s most singular horror movies, I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House, still slipped through the cracks. Maybe it was the unwieldy title. Maybe it was the fact that the movie, an immersive sensory experience, went straight to Netflix. I’d wager the real reason Oz Perkins’ one-of-a-kind ghost story was slept on or even disliked (average grade from the A.V. Club comment community: C+) is that it’s entirely out of step with contemporary horror conventions and trends. It’s an exercise in pure unsettling atmosphere—one so off-kilter that it seems downright haunted itself. A small cult following, as opposed to widespread popularity, is probably apropos for something this rewardingly unusual. [A.A. Dowd]

Stream now

Advertisement

16 / 28

Insidious

Insidious

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Screenshot: Insidious

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne star as a typical suburban couple, moving into a spacious suburban fixer-upper with their two young sons. There are early signs that the house is haunted—a misplaced book here, a creaky floorboard there—but nothing too serious until their eldest child falls from a ladder in the attic and drops unaccountably into a coma. When the comatose boy returns home, the terror amplifies with each day, getting so bad that Wilson and Byrne resolve to move. Yet the hauntings continue unabated, prompting them to invite an exorcist (Lin Shaye) and her two bungling assistants (Angus Sampson and Whannell) to cast out the demons. [Scott Tobias]

Stream it now (leaving Sept. 30)

Advertisement

17 / 28

The Invitation

The Invitation

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Screenshot: The Invitation

A skillfully executed slow-burn thriller for a cynical age, The Invitation begins on an ominous note as bearded L.A. hipster Will (Logan Marshall-Green), in the midst of a petty argument with his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), hits a coyote with his car. Unwilling to let the poor injured creature suffer, Will fetches a tire iron from his trunk and quickly dispatches it just off camera. Shaken, he gets back into the car, and the couple continues on their way to a dinner party being thrown by Will’s ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new beau David (Michiel Huisman) at the stylish midcentury modern home Eden and Will used to share. Will hasn’t seen his ex for two years, and is understandably anxious about their reunion. But everything, Kira assures him, will be fine. With this simple setup, director Karyn Kusama establishes the near-apocalyptic sense of dread that will dominate the rest of the film. [Katie Rife]

Stream it now

Advertisement

18 / 28

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Photo: Trans World Entertainment

Cinematic freak shows that actively attempt to court their own cult following have historically had a rough go; audiences tend to find charm in oddball projects blissfully unaware of their own camp appeal, rather than those that try to force it. Killer Klowns From Outer Space (note the second “K”) wants very badly to be liked. Director Charles Chiodo and his brothers—Edward and Stephen, with whom he cowrote the screenplay—make no effort to obscure just how hard they’re trying, and therein lies the enduring appeal of this bizarro horror-comedy. The Chiodos exhibit no self-awareness in pursuing the heights of weirdness—they’re not poseurs, they’re big, sloppy dogs happily chasing the cult-object ball. The film is patently absurd, but the filmmakers are fully committed to that absurdity. It’s hard not to respect. [Charles Bramseco]

Stream it now

Advertisement

19 / 28

Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Photo: Paranormal Activity

The cinéma vérité horror film/mockumentary Paranormal Activity paradoxically feels more like a sequel to The Blair Witch Project than that film’s actual sequel. Like an ideal follow-up, Paranormal Activity takes the same basic premise—amateur filmmaker documents own descent into paranoia and terror at the hands of sinister unseen forces—in a bold new direction. Where Project got a lot of mileage out of the archetypal campfire-story spookiness of the wilderness where its hapless filmmakers got lost, Paranormal Activity derives much of its power from juxtaposing supernatural otherworldliness with the mundanity of the apartment where its action takes place. At best, Paranormal Activity makes the banal and commonplace deeply unsettling. The film’s resemblance to Blair Witch extends to unknown lead actors who are realistic and convincing enough to come off as shrill and unpleasant. After all, people are seldom at their best when confronted by dark powers beyond their comprehension. [Nathan Rabin]

Stream it now

Advertisement

20 / 28

Poltergeist

Poltergeist

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Photo: Poltergeist

Poltergeist is a Spielberg film, no matter what the credits say. His stylistic fingerprints are all over the movie, never more so than in the opening third, which turns a suburban haunting into an occasion for Spielbergian movie magic before the ghosts get down to business. Even when things go awry, and a family loses its youngest to a spectral plane, the playful visual wit never ceases: Household objects dance harmoniously in the air, skeletons spring up like props in a Halloween spook-house, and tennis balls are tossed through the ghostly void. Maybe Poltergeist really is a family film: Kids need to have nightmares about something, after all, and Spielberg’s dazzling contraption of a movie guarantees a safe landing. A real Tobe Hooper movie wouldn’t offer such an assurance. [Scott Tobias]

Stream it now

Advertisement

21 / 28

The Silence Of The Lambs

The Silence Of The Lambs

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Screenshot: Silence Of The Lambs

After scaring the wits out of millions, Jonathan Demme’s The Silence Of The Lambs joined It Happened One Night and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest as one of the few movies to score Oscars in all five major categories (Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay). Hiring Demme, surely among the warmest and most humane American directors, to handle such a violent story turned out to be a masterstroke of casting against type: He knew from his early years working for Roger Corman how to deliver the genre goods, but his empathy, particularly with regard to women, is what makes the film so enduring. Jodie Foster’s journey makes the film a terrifying fable, and far more than the sum of its overflowing case file. [Rob Dean]

Stream now

Advertisement

22 / 28

Sinister

Sinister

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Screenshot: Sinister

Two trendlets of the mid-2000s—the hitch-stepped, image-phobic world of J-horror films like The Ring and Pulse, and bleak, hard-R extreme horror—combine to diabolical effect in Scott Derrickson’s Sinister, an occult thriller that scares with an absolute relentlessness. Derrickson previously directed The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, a hysterical demon-possession movie that turned a chilling true story—realized much more subtly a year later in the German film Requiem—into an overcranked Exorcist knockoff. Derrickson pulls out all the stops here, too, with the jitters and jump cuts of a Nine Inch Nails video and a Trent Reznor-like score (by Christopher Young) to match. It’s all done in questionable taste, mucking around in the nasty terrain of snuff films and children in constant peril, but Sinister is smart and well-crafted, and it scarcely gives the audience a moment to breathe. [Scott Tobias]

Stream it now (leaving Sept. 30)

Advertisement

23 / 28

Splice

Splice

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Photo: Splice

Lovers and genetic engineers, Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody play a childless couple in Splice. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’ve never created life. As scientists, they can claim Fred and Ginger, two lab-grown specimens made from mixing material from several different animals. The creatures look a bit like what might happen if a slug devoured a turtle, but looks don’t really matter in the world of corporate science. Yet despite their success, Polley and Brody soon face a change of duties that will take their gene-splicing toys away. But not, that is, until they make one last go-for-broke creation that throws in a little human DNA just to see what happens. That Brody and Polley’s characters are named Clive and Elsa should alert fans of old horror movies what sort of story they’re in for, and director and co-writer Vincenzo Natali (best known for the microbudgeted cult favorite Cube) doesn’t let down those expecting a 21st century twist on Frankenstein. He throws in elements of David Cronenberg’s The Fly, too, but ultimately Splice owes as much to David Lynch’s parenthood-inspired Eraserhead as any other film. For all the gleaming technology and echoes of cloning, stem cell research, and other contemporary issues, the horror here stems from the couple’s attempts to keep a fragile, newborn creature alive and do right by her as she grows. [Keith Phipps]

Stream it now

Advertisement

24 / 28

Stonehearst Asylum

Stonehearst Asylum

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Photo: Stonehearst Asylum

Stonehearst Asylum is the kind of hothouse psychological thriller that frames itself around unexpected reveals, and it’s hard to say much of substance about the movie without disclosing the first of its many plot twists. On his first night on the asylum grounds, intern Newgate (Jim Sturgess) discovers that the superintendent, Dr. Lamb (Ben Kingsley), the groundskeeper, Finn (David Thewlis), and the rest of the staff are actually patients who have deposed the asylum’s real superintendent, Dr. Salt (Michael Caine), and imprisoned him along with his staff in dank basement cells. This is where the movie’s source material, the Edgar Allan Poe short story “The System Of Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether,” ends, but it’s where Stonehearst takes off, subverting genre expectations by turning the inmates into representatives of modernity. The presence of Kingsley—as well as all the ornate cabinetry and shadowy atmosphere—might suggest Shutter Island, but the real referent appears to be Tod Browning’s Freaks, with its complicated mixture of fear and sympathy. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Stream it now

Advertisement

25 / 28

Under The Shadow

Under The Shadow

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Screenshot: Under The Shadow

There’s a moment in Under The Shadow where the heroine does something that people in haunted-house movies almost never do: She grabs her child and bolts straight out the front door. Recent additions to the genre have devised some clever justifications for keeping the characters planted, ranging from financial incentive to house arrest to the explanation that the haunters will simply follow the haunted to their new digs. But Under The Shadow cuts through all that noise, allowing its scared-witless protagonist to make a sensible break for it. Trouble is, this young mother lives in Tehran circa 1988, and in her instinctive dash for safety, she fails to cover her head with a hijab. Forget abandoning the haunted house. How many horror movies feature someone fleeing the unholy terror in their home, only to be arrested for not wearing proper attire in public? [A.A. Dowd]

Stream it now

Advertisement

26 / 28

We Summon The Darkness

We Summon The Darkness

Alexandra Daddario in We Summon The Darkness
Alexandra Daddario in We Summon The Darkness
Screenshot: Saban Films

There’s been a burst of satanic panic-themed horror films over the past few years. From The Devil’s Candy to A Dark Song to, well, Satanic Panic, these movies play on the tropes and concepts that first came to national consciousness during the panic of the ’80s, when a wave of sensationalist media and conservative conspiracy theorists started pushing the idea that secret Satan-worshipping cults throughout the country were preying on America’s youth. It was horseshit, of course, but the upside is that it’s inspired some damn fine horror. And We Summon The Darkness doesn’t just embrace that source material: It gives it a soft, warm kiss, right before swiftly flicking its wrist and using the knife hidden in its sleeve to open up a vein and release an arterial spray of blood. We Summon The Darkness is a solidly entertaining little horror-thriller with a sharp sense of humor and an effective balance of those two elements. Honestly, it’s just smarter than most of its brethren, and never feels like it’s having to flail or do something suspiciously over-the-top to hold your attention. If anything, it maintains an even keel where lesser horror-comedy attempts would descend into slapstick. In that sense, it borrows a page from Johnny Knoxville’s even-keeled reverend, keeping his malevolent rage in check despite walking into his kitchen and seeing a murdered police officer lying in a pile of blood [Alex McLevy]

Stream it now

Advertisement

27 / 28

The Witch

The Witch

Illustration for article titled The best horror movies on Netflix
Photo: The Witch

What if the architects and accusers of the Salem witch trials had it right the whole time? What if the women of their community really were in league with the devil, conspiring in black of night and deep of woods? That’s not technically the premise of the new satanic horror film The Witch, which is set in 1630, more than half a century before a group of overzealous puritans put the mark of infamy on their Massachusetts seaport. Still, the events in Salem loom large over the events of the film, like the long shadows of gnarled tree branches. Subtitled “A New England Folktale,” The Witch could be seen as an origin story of American fanaticism—one of the many tall tales that might have inspired a group of young girls to start pointing fingers at their friends and neighbors. Just as easily, however, given the film’s self-advertised stabs at historical accuracy, one could read this singular shocker as something even more disturbing: a kind of fright-flick answer to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, presenting a revisionist national history in which true evil exists and religious hysteria is the proper response to it. [A.A. Dowd]

Stream it now

Advertisement

28 / 28