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Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now (July 2021)



Looking for a scary movie to watch on Netflix? Any time is the right time to watch a horror movie. Waiting for October to indulge in frightening films is the old way to get your tricks and treats, like renting from Blockbuster or not using Treatster to map out which houses give out the best candy. No, in the modern world you can sit back and enjoy your scares from the comfort of your own couch thanks to screaming streaming content from Netflix.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the Best Horror Movies on Netflix right now, an evolving list that will provide you with classic horror selections and modern cuts to get your fright fix. This month, you can find modern takes on Stephen King stories like Gerald’s Game and In the Tall Grass, horror franchises like The Conjuring and Child’s Play, and contemporary horror like Bird Box, and more. There’s something for everyone here and more to come as Netflix continues to expand its catalog. “Viewer beware, you’re in for a scare!”

We’ll be updating this list on a monthly basis as new titles become available. In the meantime, be sure to visit these other related articles linked below:

RELATED: The Best Horror Movies on Hulu Right Now


Fear Street Part One: 1994

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Image via Netflix

Director: Leigh Janiak

Writers: Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei

Cast: Kiana Maderia, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, and Maya Hawke

The first installment of Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy of films is an absolute blast from start to finish. Very much drawing influence from Scream, this R-rated slasher takes place in the town of Shadyville, where people going back decades have a habit of going on violent killing sprees. Rumors swirl that it’s all to do with a witch’s curse from the 1600s (which is covered in the third movie), and in this 1994-set film a group of teenagers find themselves the target of a bevy of masked killers as the try to figure out what’s going on and how to survive it. At the center of the story is a queer romance that sets this apart from many other slashers of its ilk, and there’s enough comedic relief to keep this from being bogged down as a horror film of the self-serious type. Again the Scream comparisons are apt, so if you’re in for a spooky good time that also sets up a mythology that is concluded in the next two Fear Street movies, give Fear Street Part One: 1994 a whirl. – Adam Chitwood

Child’s Play 2

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Image via Universal Pictures

Director: John Lafia

Writer: Don Mancini

Cast: Brad Dourif, Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter, Peter Haskell

The Chucky that we all know and love, the one standing next to the knees of Freddy, Jason, and Michael as a horror icon, didn’t really evolve into his final form until 1990’s Child’s Play 2. Directed by the original film’s co-writer John Lafia, the direct sequel slightly upped the camp and comedy, allowing Brad Dourif to go fully wild as the voice of The Lakeshore Strangler. Set two years after Child’s Play, the film picks back up with Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), now living in foster care and still coming to terms with the time his doll tried stabbing him to death. At a breezy 90 minutes, Child’s Play 2 does occasionally feel like an extended epilogue but woo boy, it’s still a blast. And it all leads to one of the best slasher scenes of all time, a chase through the conveyor belts and whirling machinery of a Good Guy Doll factory. Not to spoil the best death of the franchise, but keep an eye—or two!—on the security guard. –Vinnie Mancuso

Bride of Chucky

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Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Ronny Yu

Writer: Don Mancini

Cast: Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Katherine Heigl, Nick Stabile, John Ritter

The creative juices of the Child’s Play franchise had run a little dry by Child’s Play 3, so kudos to all involved for taking a full seven years off and returning with the perfect blueprint. Bride of Chucky swings hard into self-referential comedy-horror, turns Chucky (Brad Dourif) into a full-blown protagonist, and brings the great Jennifer Tilly aboard as his homicidal partner in plastic, Tiffany Valentine. The result is a truly bananagrams slice of late-90s horror, in which the story of two eloping twenty-somethings (Katherine Heigl and Nick Stabile) parallels the tale of a murder-doll and his demonic lover hitting the road to find some warmer bodies to possess. Hong Kong director Ronny Yu added a jolt of electricity to the franchise’s aesthetic—Bride of Chucky feels like a Rob Zombie music video directed by Jason Voorhees, this is a compliment—helped immensely by cinematographer Peter Pau, who would win an Oscar for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon just two years later. Admittedly, Bride of Chucky, a movie I must mention does feature a sensual sex scene between two killer dolls, isn’t the entry for everyone. But if you want the wildest Child’s Play? Say I do to the Bride. –Vinnie Mancuso

The Conjuring

Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: James Wan

Writers: Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes

Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy

If you’re looking for a modern update on the haunted house yarn, you can’t do much better than James Wan’s The Conjuring. Following a family plagued by ghostly and demonic forces in their new home, the film introduces Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s instantly-lovable paranormal hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, who face one of the most terrifying cases of their life. Wan’s signature style is on full display here, leading to some of the most enduring creature creations and scariest scenes of his career (I’m particularly fond of/terrified by the work Joey King does in her “there’s something behind the door” scene), and while The Conjuring’s legacy has grown into a billion-dollar franchise, the 2013 original still stands on its own as a super-scary, self-contained modern horror classic. – Haleigh Foutch

The Conjuring 2

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: James Wan

Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, James Wan, David Leslie Johnson

Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney, Franka Potente

Speaking of that billion-dollar franchise, Netflix also has Wan’s follow-up The Conjuring 2 available to stream right now. The 2016 sequel picks up with the Warrens during the investigation of one of their most infamous cases, known as the Einfeld poltergeist, which finds them helping yet another spirit-plagued family, this time in the U.K. While The Conjuring 2 isn’t quite as downright scary as the first film, there are still plenty of wonderful Wan creatures to keep you on the edge of your seat, and of course, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are reliably endearing as the Warrens. Bonus, the film’s opening scene also pays tribute to another iconic horror franchise with a nod to the Amityville Haunting. – Haleigh Foutch

Vampires vs. The Bronx

Image via Netflix

Director: Osmany Rodriguez

Writers: Osmany Rodriguez, Blaise Hemingway

Cast: Jaden Michael, Gregory Diaz IV, Gerald W. Jones III, Joel Martinez, Shea Whigham

The delightfully-titled Vampires vs. The Bronx is one of those modern horror movies with such a simple, clever twist on a well-worn genre you wonder how it didn’t happen sooner. The gist: A crew of kids living in a Bronx neighborhood discovers that the real estate company buying up local businesses is run by a cabal of blood-sucking vampires. Seeing as gentrification is largely the act of sucking a community dry, the concept is a home run. But director Osmany Rodriguez—who is responsible for many an SNL segment, most importantly “A Kanye Place”—also manages to have a ton of fun in the process. The Stranger Things comparisons are obvious, but with the grit and attitude of 2011’s must-watch alien invasion flick, Attack the Block. It’s just such a charming, genuine movie that loves vampire horror enough to show characters literally taking notes from Blade and loves New York City enough to wage war with the undead over the sanctity of a corner bodega. If you know, you know. –Vinnie Mancuso

Creep/Creep 2

Image via The Orchard

Director: Patrick Bice

Writers: Patrick Bice and Mark Duplass

Cast: Mark Duplass, Patrick Bice, Desiree Akhavan

Found footage gets a bad rap, but when it works, it works. And in the Creep movies? Oh yeah, it works. The 2014 original stars director and co-writer Patrick Bice as a videographer who travels to a remote cabin hired by a strange fella named Josef (played by co-writer and producer Mark Duplass in one of the best performances of his ever-unpredictable career), who says he as a brain tumor and wants to film a video diary for his unborn child before he dies. Duplass does incredible work threading the needle between a creepy and likable guy, keeping you guessing about his endgame the whole time. Of course, by the end of the movie, you know the answer… which is what makes it so phenomenal that the 2017 sequel Creep 2 works just as well. Bice also directs the follow-up, with Desiree Akhavan taking on the role of the new videographer in potential peril, and her dynamic with Duplass’ Josef is even more intriguing and unpredictable. Both are fantastic, edge-of-your-seat thrillers that use the found footage format for all its worth. – Haleigh Foutch

Sweetheart

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Image via Blumhouse / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Director: J. D. Dillard

Writers: J. D. Dillard, Alex Hyner, Alex Theurer

Cast: Kiersey Clemons, Emory Cohen, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Andrew Crawford

I’ll always be a little bit stumped as to why Blumhouse didn’t give this one a bigger push, because J.D. Dillard’s creature feature/survival thriller Sweetheart is a striking and gripping genre-hybrid that also has a lot to say. Don’t expect a lot of dialogue though, because in classic Cast Away fashion, the film picks up with Kiersey Clemons stranded alone on a desert island, an excellent performance opportunity Clemons easily rises to that offers plenty of survival thrills on its own before a killer creature comes crawling out of the ocean. As for the creature, it’s got a fantastic design and Dillard shows it off well, making the most of his budget with cleverly constructed set-pieces and scene changes to keep Clemons’ island prison from feeling too small. – Haleigh Foutch

Unfriended

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Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Leo Gabriadze

Writer: Nelson Greaves

Cast: Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman

A natural evolution of the found-footage format in our digital era, the filmmaking approach dubbed “Screenlife” presents a movie entirely from the perspective of computer, tablet, and smartphone screens, and the haunted-Skype horror movie Unfriended was one of the first Screenlife movies to break through with mainstream audiences. It’s easy to see why – most of us spend our lives on screens anyway, and that mode of storytelling offers filmmakers access to all the little secrets we try to tuck away in our deleted texts and secret files. Following the suicide of a classmate after online bullying, a group of teens finds themselves picked off one-by-one during their digital hangout by an inescapable, malicious spirit. It sounds kinda goofy, and sometimes it kinda is, but Unfriended works better than you might expect, and now that we’re all forced to hang out virtually any way, now’s a perfect time for a revisit. –Haleigh Foutch

#Alive

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Image via Netflix

Director: Cho Il-hyung

Writers: Cho Il-hyung and Matt Naylor

Cast: Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye

During the peak of the pandemic, Netflix debuted a new horror film that both timely and familiar with the tried and true tropes of the zombie genre. #Alive, a tech-era zombie survival thriller feels firmly rooted in our internationally shared sense of isolation during the pandemic lockdowns. The Korean horror wastes no time getting to the action, centering on a young man (Yoo Ah-in) who finds himself trapped in his apartment alone after the rapid onset of a zombie plague and following his attempts to stay alive — and sane — from his newfound confinement. #Alive doesn’t exactly break the mold of zombie thrillers, but it’s a tightly-constructed thrilling treat with some of the best zombie transformation scenes in recent memory, and that despairing sense of isolation (along with the inner strength it takes to overcome it) makes it stand out as a unique entry in the zombie canon that feels pitched exactly to the anxieties of 2020. – Haleigh Foutch

In the Tall Grass

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Image via Netflix

Director: Vincenzo Natali

Writers: Vincenzo Natali, Stephen King & Joe Hill (novella)

Cast: Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted, Patrick Wilson, Will Buie Jr., Harrison Gilbertson

Netflix has tapped into the well that is Stephen King in a big way. But with the adaptation of In the Tall Grass, they’ve also got a handle on the next generation of horror authors with Joe Hill. The premise is simple: Passersby are called into a vast field of tall grass by people pleading for help, only to be unable to find their way back out again. But since this is a King & Son joint, abject horror obviously waits for them among the greenery…

In her review of the new Netflix adaptation, our own Haleigh Foutch called the feature film “ambitious, imaginative, and artfully presented, taking King and Hill’s contained short and transforming it to a more expansive, sometimes confounding universe of horrors. In the Tall Grass doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s compelling and gorgeous, and yet another film on the Netflix roster I wish more people had an opportunity to see in theaters.” That’s more than enough reason to add it to your watch-list today. – Dave Trumbore

Bird Box

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Image via Netflix

Director: Susanne Bier

Writers: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Josh Malerman (novel)

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Tom Hollander, Machine Gun Kelly, BD Wong, Pruitt Taylor Vince

A Netflix sensation, Bird Box follows Sandra Bullock’s reluctant mother-to-be who’s forced to care for two young children after a devastating invasion takes away everyone’s ability to see. Technically, the human beings in this post-apocalyptic scenario still can see if they’re so inclined, but to do so is to invite madness and, ultimately, death. It’s a clever gimmick that’s on par with that of Hush and A Quiet Place, but is it strong enough on its own to carry the movie? Your mileage may vary. – Dave Trumbore

Apostle

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Image via Netflix

Director: Gareth Evans

Writer: Gareth Evans

Cast: Dan Stevens, Richard Elfyn, Paul Higgins

[This excerpt comes from Haleigh Foutch’s Apostle review from Fantastic Fest 2018.]

You are not ready for Apostle. You may think you’re ready for Apostle, but this brutal piece of British folk horror boasts the kind of crazy butchery that will have you watching through squinted eyes and squirming in your seat. Director Gareth Evans, best known for his action masterpieces The Raid and The Raid 2, trades combat for carnage in his new Netflix film, building a sense of sickening tension for the first half before flaying flesh and mangling bodies with abandon when the cult craziness boils over.

Apostle tackles the subjects of faith and fringe society with a lot of heart and some batshit crazy zeal. This film loves its outsiders, even as it inflicts all manner of torment upon them, and Evans clearly has a blast creating a rich mythology to drop them in. It’s a surprising, sometimes shocking cult horror movie that mixes the legacy of The Wicker Man with carnal, fleshy frights and a hint of freaky folklore. It’ll make you groan and grimace through the torment, but it will get your heart racing in all the right ways, even when it occasionally stumbles over its own ambition. – Haleigh Foutch

Cargo

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Image via Netflix

Director: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

Writer: Yolanda Ramke

Cast: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, Caren Pistorius, Kris McQuade, Natasha Wanganeen, Bruce R. Carter, Simone Landers, David Gulpilil

You’d be forgiven for feeling a bit worn-out on the post-apocalyptic zombie sub-genre, but there’s every reason to put that feeling aside when it comes to Cargo.

Cargo is a tightly focused thriller that’s less concerned about shaking up this particular sub-genre and more intent on delivering solid performances from Freeman and the supporting cast. It’s the interactions between the humans–strangers all, some of the same race and gender, some not–that drive home both the decency and innate inhumanity mankind is capable of. There are some Colonialist aspects of the storytelling that aren’t fully fleshed out, to be honest, but Cargo delivers some creepy “zombies” and really makes you feel for the protagonists, a rare feat in this horror sub-genre. – Dave Trumbore

The Ritual

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Image via Netflix

Director: David Bruckner

Writers: Joe Barton, Adam Nevill (Novel)

Cast: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton, Paul Reid, Maria Erwolter

The Ritual features, hands down, one of the creepiest movie monster creations in recent years. That’s worth a watch by itself. Barton/Nevill’s story may have a familiar setup at the outset, but there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing; a truly traumatic moment that happens early on in the telling will get you to sit up and pay attention because it signals that The Ritual is not your average horror movie.

The story centers on a group of former college friends who plan a getaway, one that soon takes a turn for the horrific–there’s your familiar setup. To tell you more would be to give away too much, but it should suffice to say that the original monster creation is half the fun, and the other half is the introspective psychological journey that one of the main characters goes on. It’s a rare treat in “Movies for Guys” these days, rarer still in the horror genre. Watch this one soon before you’re spoiled. – Dave Trumbore

The Invitation

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Image via Drafthouse Films

Director: Karyn Kusama

Writers: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi

Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, John Carroll Lynch

Despite her early success with the powerful Michelle Rodriguez vehicle Girlfight, Karyn Kusama has spent the last decade in the film industry battling studio interventions (with the misguided Aeon Flux) and unexpectedly sour critical reception (I’m looking at you, Jennifer’s Body). But with The Invitation, a deliciously composed chamber piece, Kusama has easily established herself as a horror filmmaker of the auteur set.

Part Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, part House of the Devil, The Invitation centers around a simple enough premise: a dinner party meant to reunite old friends and ex-lovers, that uses its slight runtime to unzip decades-long trauma and, along with it, an all too human center of evil. Like many films of the genre, it’s best to go in cold here, as Kusama’s careful calibration causes the reveal of even simple plot points to feel earth-shatteringly weighty. Probably best defined as a slasher film at its very core, The Invitation holds its cards until the last possible moment, gleefully teetering between supernatural horror and existentialist drama before exploding into a cuttingly violent climax. Bolstered by a near-flawless cast, a tightly-wound, untraditional soundtrack, and fabulously claustrophobic cinematography, The Invitation has all the ingredients of an instant indie horror classic. – Aubrey Page

1922

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Image via Netflix

This review snippet comes from Haleigh Foutch’s full review of the movie.

Director: Zak Hilditch

Writers: Zak Hilditch, Stephen King

Cast: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Billy Schmid, Kaitlyn Bernard, Brian d’Arcy James, Neal McDonough

1922 struggles a bit with pacing, rushing the early bits and dragging out Wilf’s long fall. The film tests audience patience a bit, the epitome of a slow burn. But 1922 also has the strength of a simple, direct story, which Hilditch honors in full (aside from one last-minute tweak) by crafting the simmering tension of certain dread. Atmospheric and sparing, 1922 is one of King’s subtle nightmares, but it packs a punch by inspecting the familiar terrors of masculine pride gone wrong and the sinking spiritual punishment of a man who chooses his own damnation. – Haleigh Foutch

Gerald’s Game

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Image via Netflix

This review is a snippet of Haleigh Foutch’s full review of the film.

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard, Stephen King

Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Carl Struycken, Henry Thomas

Gerald’s Game is the impossible adaptation, but Flanagan has proven himself one hell of an idea man with his string of horror hits, and finding a way to make Gerald’s Game work is his most impressive feat yet. This is an excellent King adaptation. It’s an excellent psychological horror that investigates hard topics without flinching and without exploiting. It’s a soulful piece with its heart and its head firmly in the right place; a rejection of toxic masculinity, oppressive silence, and cycles of abuse. It’s an embrace of female strength, outright, and it’s as moving as it is consummately thrilling. – Haleigh Foutch

Hush

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Image via Netflix

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writers: Mike Flanagan, Kate Siegel

Cast: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan

If you’re looking for a taut psychological “final girl” thriller that isn’t shy on violence but mostly avoids the pitfalls of sexualized assault, you’d do well to check out the 2016 film, Hush. It’s an interesting installment in the recent vogue of home invasion thrillers, but one that’s quite focused on the deranged killer (Gallagher Jr.) and the object of his murderous obsession, Maddie (Siegel). The twist here is that Maddie is a deaf-mute, which provides an added twist to the menace present just outside the reach of her remaining senses and really ups the tension since audiences can hear everything the killer says.

Hush falls somewhere in line with films like You’re Next, which featured a relatively more complex cast and plot but has the same pro-female survivalist feel, and I Spit on Your Grave, just without the overt sexual violence and exploitation. In that respect, Hush plays things a bit safer than more incendiary films, but it’s also purer with respect to the spirit of the terror at the heart of the conflict. There are other tropes here that will irritate you, of course, but most of them are soon remedied. Even the music gets in on the act, playing throughout the movie in a subtle way that makes it almost disappear beneath ambient noise, at times fading out completely. Hush is a worthwhile addition to any horror library, not just Netflix’s streaming edition. – Dave Trumbore

Under the Shadow

under-the-shadow

Image via Vertical Entertainment

Director: Babak Anvari

Writers: Babak Anvari

Cast: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Ray Haratian, Arash Marandi

From Tehran comes Under the Shadow, a politically tantalizing, angry tale of repressed spirits unleashed upon the world. Set in the 1980s, Babak Anvari’s story begins with a not-surprising yet nevertheless infuriating scene: Narges Rashidi’s Shideh, a wife and mother, is being refused re-entry to the medical college due to her leftist leanings during the Iran-Iraq War. Her well-meaning yet incessantly condescending husband doesn’t see the big deal, while her daughter can hardly pay attention beyond her dolly. It’s when the husband leaves for the front that things start getting really strange though, both in the supernatural way and the all-too-real way. Mysterious happenings, including Shideh’s daughter’s increasing madness and sickness, are blamed on the arrival of a fabled Djinn, a demonic force of great power, while a missile lands in the top floor of Shideh’s building without going off. The surreal experience of wartime in Iran only enflames the nightmarish conjuring of the supposed Djinn and its agents as it plagues Shideh. Anvari isn’t much for artifice but his sense of visual invention is apparent early on, especially when the Djinn begins tossing people around. Confined largely to one apartment complex, Under the Shadow is perhaps the boldest emblem of the repressed rage felt by women in Iran to be released since A Separation, and announces Anvari as one of the most promising young Iranian directors currently working. — Chris Cabin


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