As a horror fan, I love a night of binge watching a few horror movies either by myself or with friends. Unfortunately, nowadays, a lot of Hollywood studios seem to think that making up convoluted lore about a demon or ghost and then cramming as many jump scares into 90 minutes makes for a good horror movie.
So, as much as possible, I tend to look for top-rated scary movies with reviews proving it does not bank on jump scares to be scary. Whether it’s the horror of murder being legal in the United States for 12 hours (like that in The Purge franchise) or the classic horror of a ghost with a logical backstory (like the ghost of Kayako in The Grudge), the shock factor combined with the art of making a horror movie is what makes for a good movie and a good experience.
Luckily, Netflix has plenty of scary horror movies you’ll want to watch this year. Here are my top 10 picks for scary movies you can watch now on Netflix.
The Perfection (2019)
Richard Shepard’s The Perfection was premiered at Fantastic Fest in September 2018. Shortly after its premiere, Netflix acquired the rights to the film and was available for streaming eight months later on May 2019. It’s not your everyday haunted horror film, but it deals with the revenge trope and is perfect for those who prefer realistic psychological horrors over the supernatural.
The film focuses on Charlotte (played by Allison Williams, a breakout star in the horror genre after Jordan Peele’s 2017 film Get Out – which is also available on Netflix), a young cellist forced to leave her position in a prestigious music school to care for her terminally-ill mother. When she returns to the school years later, it appears that she is scheming to take down Lizzie, the star pupil who replaced her. But the truth of her motivations reveals a darker and deeper truth about the characters and their quest for perfection.
The Ritual (2018)
The Ritual’s director, David Bruckner, is most known for his hand directing one of the found-footage shorts in the 2012 anthology horror film, V/H/S. If you loved the supernatural blending well in a modern-day scenario, you can expect Bruckner to provide an entertaining film. The Ritual is based on the 2011 novel by author Adam Nevill and was released at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017. Netflix bought the distribution rights for $4.75 million and was available to stream five months later.
In the movie, four men honor the wishes of their late friend by going on a hiking trip in Sarek National Park in Sweden. After one friend sustains an injury, the group decides to take an alternative forest route which results in them seeing the supernatural side of the forest that stalks them. If you enjoyed watching The Blair Witch Project, you’ll enjoy this film as well. Plus points if you’re interested in Norse mythology.
After the success of the cyber-supernatural horror film Unfriended (which is also available on Netflix), Cam follows the same idea of involving modern technology we take for granted with the shocking supernatural horror. The film, directed by Daniel Goldhaber, premiered at the 2018 Fantasia International Film Festival. Less than a week later, Netflix acquired the rights to it, and it was released on the streaming site four months later. Aside from the awards Cam earned in the Fantasia International, it also won three awards in the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.
The movie focuses on Alice, a cam girl with the screen name “Lola” who is obsessed with her ranking on a website filled with other webcam performers. One day, she finds that she’s been locked out of her account and a woman who looks and acts exactly like her has taken over.
Straying away from Netflix-owned films, my personal favorite Asian horror film, Shutter combines the horrors of the supernatural and mankind into one film that leaves you wondering whether or not that smudge in your photos is really just the light or if you’ve captured something else on your lens. While the 2004 film directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom has spawned an English remake in 2008, I personally prefer the original film simply because very few western films successfully combine white main characters and non-western lore, and the remake isn’t one of them.
Couple Jane and Tun get into a hit-in-run incident when Jane runs over a young woman on the road and, on Tun’s orders, drives away. After a series of unexplainable events, Jane is convinced that the girl is haunting her for leaving her to die, but when the girl begins to appear in photographer Tun’s developed photos, Jane does some digging and learns the truth about who the girl really is and why she continues to haunt the two of them.
Jennifer’s Body (2009)
This may not be as scary as the rest of the entries on this list (save for the few jump scares in the movie) and is more of a dark comedy film than your traditional horror, but Jennifer’s Body is a movie ahead of its time. While the movie didn’t perform as good as it did when it came out in 2009, if the movie were released within the last few years in the midst of the #MeToo movement, it would be a horror movie that spoke volumes of women fighting back against the men who sexually assaulted and abused women. You may not find the horror in its supernatural themes of demonic possession, but instead see the horror women experience as a result of men who seek to harm women for personal gain.
Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox star in the movie as Needy and Jennifer, two best friends who live completely different lives. One night out, Jennifer leaves Needy to join her favorite indie band and returns showing supernatural signs. Needy learns that the band attempted to sacrifice Jennifer as a virgin sacrifice to Satan in exchange for fame and fortune, but because she wasn’t a virgin, she didn’t die and was instead possessed and became a succubus.
In late 2017 to early 2018, Veronica made headlines as one of the must-watch films on Netflix after gaining a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and many viewers claiming it is so scary that they couldn’t finish watching it halfway through. The Spanish film was directed by Paco Plaza and is loosely based on a real event where a girl died without explanation after using an Ouija board. It premiered in the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was released on Netflix on February 2018.
The film is set in 1991 and takes place in the span of three days. During a solar eclipse, Verónica and two of her classmates conduct a séance in her school’s basement in an attempt to contact her late father. After the séance ends up going terribly wrong, Verónica begins to experience supernatural occurrences that threaten not only her life, but the lives of her three younger siblings.
The Conjuring (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Since 2013, The Conjuring franchise has gone on to spawn multiple series, including the Annabelle series, The Nun series, and multiple short films focusing on the cases of real-life paranormal investigating couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren. This is in thanks to the commercial and critical success of The Conjuring, the first film of the series. As of 2019, though, only The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 are available on Netflix. Both films were directed by James Wan and released in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
In the first The Conjuring, the Warrens are contacted by the Perron family after they experience paranormal events and unseen attackers after moving into a dilapidated farmhouse. They soon learn that the land once belonged to an accused witch who sacrificed her newborn to the devil before cursing anyone who would take her land and killing herself within the property. In the second film, the Warrens help the Hodgson family against the spirit of an elderly man who claims to enjoy tormenting the family in an effort to reclaim his home. However, Lorraine is haunted by visions of her husband’s death and a demonic nun, which hinders her ability to help the family.
XX is four short horror films compiled into one anthology films. Fun fact: the film was directed and written by women and features four women as the main character in each of its short. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 and, as of 2019, is available for viewing on Netflix. It focuses less on the traditional supernatural or psychological horror and instead highlights the weird form of horror that doesn’t usually have an explanation or a clear-cut ending.
The film provides four stories framed by stop-motion animation segments: “The Box,” “The Birthday Party,” “Don’t Fall,” and “Her Only Living Son.” In “The Box,” Susan’s son Danny decides to stop eating and spreads the practice with the rest of his family members. In “The Birthday Party,” Mary tries to prevent her husband’s sudden death from ruining her daughter’s birthday party. In “Don’t Fall,” four friends head out into the desert and stumble upon an evil spirit. And in “Her Only Living Son,” single mother Cora must deal with her son’s growing aggression.
These are some of my top horror picks you can find on Netflix. Do you agree on these picks or do you have your own horror suggestions? Let us know!