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Netflix offers thousands of movies to choose from, and while it’s good to have options, sometimes sifting through all of the titles can be rather laborious. Fortunately, we’ve done the digital grunt work on your behalf and and combed the service for the best offerings currently available. From gruesome throwbacks to new cult favorites, here are our picks for the best horror movies on Netflix.
The Void (2016)
It’s hard to argue there was a better decade for horror movies than the ’80s — it certainly explains why so many recent filmmakers have mined the decade for ideas. The Void is the latest in the ‘80s horror revival, drawing inspiration from the likes of John Carpenter for a stylish, grotesque tale of cosmic horror. The film’s premise is simple: A group of robed cultists surround a rural hospital late at night, and when the people within learn that the walls won’t protect them, they work to maintain their sanity and survive as horrifying creatures begin to appear inside. Good cosmic horror movies are a rare treat, and while The Void has its flaws, fans of the genre should savor it.
The Babadook (2014)
One of the most original horror movies of the past decade, The Babadook is a tense thriller sure to have you on the edge of your seat. The story follows Amelia (Essie Davis), a widowed single mother who attempts to help her son Samuel overcome his arresting fear of monsters. After stumbling upon a book depicting a horrific, shadow-dwelling monster called the Babadook, both mother and son start feeling an eerie presence in their house. Several attempts to destroy the book fail, leaving both Samuel and Amelia in a constant frenzy to stay alive and avoid the sinister Babadook.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)
The premise behind Tucker and Dale vs. Evil revolves around a simple misunderstanding. A gang of college undergrads on a weekend getaway mistake two backwoods rednecks, played by Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, for psychotic killers after the duo saves a young girl who falls in the water and gets knocked unconscious. The ensuing comedic ride is a one-trick pony, yet it’s also one lined with a stream of upended clichés that are equally funny and horrific. The slapstick violence and solid performances, particularly from Tudyk and Labine, also imbue the Canadian flick with an air of uniqueness in an otherwise tepid field — even before one of the kids accidentally jumps into the wood chipper and the bodies start to pile up.
The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 thriller features one of Jack Nicholson’s most iconic performances as Jack Torrance, a novelist and recovering alcoholic who takes on a gig as the offseason caretaker at Overlook Hotel, a large winter resort that just so happens to have been built on a Native American burial ground. Jack brings his wife Wendy (Shelly Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) with him, hoping to use the time in the secluded resorts as a means to work on his novel. However, when Danny starts experiencing strange visions in the empty hotel, tensions between Wendy and Jack arise, finally pushing Jack to break his sobriety and — under the influence of alcohol, cabin fever, and a malicious, ghostly presence — attempt to murder his family. The Shining has endured as both as one of the hallmarks of the horror genre, and one of Kubrick’s best films.
It Follows (2014)
Great horror films produce a sense of inevitable doom, and It Follows delivers that sensation from the minute you see a teenage girl flee an unseen pursuer. The film follows a girl named Jay (Maika Monroe), who becomes a target of the creature after having sex with her boyfriend. He quickly reveals that the mysterious entity is actually a curse passed through sex — a sort of supernatural STD — and now she must flee or else risk passing it on to somebody else. All the while, the entity slowly approaches her in disguise. In addition to its singular creepy premise, the film features first-rate cinematography; director David Robert Mitchell often uses camera movement and background composition to hide the creature as it approaches, leaving viewers wondering where it will strike from next.
The Fly (1958)
While David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of The Fly is great in its own right, the 1958 original version is a horror staple. Chock-full of retro effects and vintage blood-curdling screams, The Fly centers on a recently widowed spouse and an experiment gone terribly wrong. After scientist Andre Delambre builds a controversial teleportation machine, he accidentally swaps parts of his body with a fly passing by the machine. Now his head and arm resemble that of a fly while the fly packs Andre’s human head and arm. As strange as it sounds, The Fly is classic horror at its finest and a must-watch for any fan of old-fashioned scares.
Appearing out of nowhere at South by Southwest, director Mike Flanagan’s Hush is a surprising thriller, one that adds a unique twist to the classic slasher formula. The 2016 film follows Maddie Young (Kate Siegel), a deaf author who lives in a house out in the woods. Maddie’s peaceful existence is disrupted one night when a masked man (John Gallagher Jr.) kills her neighbor and then proceeds to stalk her. Although the killer tries to toy with her at first, Maddie is clever, and they swap roles in a game of cat-and-mouse played out over the course of the night. Hush is a simple film, focusing more on tension than actual twists, and is a must-see for horror fans who have grown tired of blunt thrillers that try too hard to be shocking.
Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning thriller ushered in the very concept of the summer blockbuster, and has long maintained its status as one of the greatest films ever made. Jaws unfolds in the sleepy island town of Amity during a busy and remarkably hot summer. After discovering the human remains of a shark attack, the town’s sheriff, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), attempts to convince the mayor to close the beaches, despite steep opposition. Following another attack, the island is swamped by amateur shark hunters looking to claim the bounty on the animal’s head. Brody joins up with fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) and Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), a scientist from the Oceanographic Institute, and the trio embark on a hunt for the killer shark. The final act of the film culminates in a deadly confrontation that is still emulated by many films today and set a new bar for special effects at the time. From the classic score and quotable dialogue to the way it changed how audiences looked at the ocean, Jaws is a timeless film.
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