[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 to watch across multiple streaming platforms, we’ve got you covered there too.) Our latest update added Annihilation.
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...
Editor’s pick: Annihilation
Imagine a world marked by the absence of humanity. Or, rather, a world where humanity and nature have been entwined in a horrific symbiosis through the intervention of an alien meteor that crashes to Earth.
Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 novel, Annihilation follows the story of Lena (Natalie Portman), a cellular biologist whose husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), has been missing for over a year after being deployed on a top-secret mission. When Kane mysteriously returns home one evening, now afflicted with a deadly virus, Lena learns he was sent on an expedition into the Shimmer — an anomalous zone that has been gradually growing out of Florida following the aforementioned meteor strike. Desperate for answers and a possible cure to her husband’s ailment, she agrees to embark on a reconnaissance mission into the Shimmer, only to be confronted by wonders and horrors beyond her wildest imagination.
Surreal and unsettling, Annihilation is a beautiful horror movie that explores the nature of grief and the human propensity for destroying our own environment. With a gorgeous ethereal score by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame, not to mention an astounding cameo performance by frequent Alex Garland collaborator Sonoya Mizuno in the film’s final act, Annihilation is a bracing and memorable odyssey into a perilous posthuman future. —Toussaint Egan
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. —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
“Ghosts are real. This much I know.”
So says Mia Wasikowska in the opening scene of Guillermo del Toro’s 2015 Gothic horror romance about the spirits of the dead and the ties that bind them. Wasikowska stars as Edith Cushing, an aspiring writer à la Mary Shelley and the daughter of a wealthy businessman, who is haunted by a premonition of her late mother’s ghost to beware of a place known as Crimson Peak. Edith meets and falls in love with Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a baronet seeking investors to revive his family’s clay mines.
After her father is brutally murdered, Edith weds Thomas and retreats to his ancestral mansion in the eponymous clay hills of northern England. Upon arriving, however, she realizes only too late that her mother’s warnings were true, and that a mystery at the heart of the home threatens to take her own life in addition to her father’s. With an exquisitely designed set, beautiful costumes, ghoulish practical effects, and a memorable score, Crimson Peak is a terrific ode to del Toro’s love of Gothic literature and an excellent ghost story to boot. —TE
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 House of the Dragon 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
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