One of the best parts of the Halloween season is a good ol’ fashioned spooky movie night. Picture it: It’s dark outside. You’ve turned off all the lights, and you’re snuggled under a cozy blanket — maybe with a loved one, maybe with some of your favorite snacks — and you’re ready for a good scare. Netflix has more to offer you than “Parks and Recreation” for the 13th time; it’s the resource for horror!
Here are our picks for 10 horror films that you can add to your list for a spooky evening in!
Director: Gareth Evans
Starring: Dan Stevens (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Downton Abbey”), Richard Elfyn and Paul Higgins
Official Synopsis: In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island.
Why watch it: “Apostle” was the toast of the 2018 Fantastic Fest and became an instant success when it debuted on Netflix. The Netflix original horror is dark, chilling and incredibly brutal. So much so that the film has managed to keep its staying power and remains an incredibly popular Netflix watch. If you haven’t witnessed “Apostle” yet, don’t miss it this October!
“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” (2016)
Director: André Øvredal
Starring: Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch and Ophelia Lovibond
Official Synopsis: A father and son team of coroners are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.
Why watch it: “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” has a little bit of everything: supernatural horror, demonic possession, body horror and even some witchy vibes. It’s a well-thought-out mystery that peels back the layers of everything that could possibly scare us. It’s an ideal horror film, perfect for a spooky movie marathon.
“Bird Box” (2018)
Director: Susanne Bier
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes and John Malkovich
Official Synopsis: Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a mother and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety.
Why watch it: Unless you were living under a rock in 2018, you’ve likely seen or at least heard of “Bird Box.” The film holds a lot of the same appeal as other works, like “A Quiet Place,” displaying a mastery of sensory horror and unique innovations in the genre. It’s a film that’s just as interesting to watch as it is to discuss afterward and it’s an incredible performance from Sandra Bullock. Always worth a revisit!
Director: Daniel Goldhaber
Starring: Madeline Brewer (“Orange Is the New Black,” “Hustlers”), Patch Darragh and Melora Walters
Official Synopsis: Alice, an ambitious camgirl, wakes up one day to discover she’s been replaced on her show with an exact replica of herself.
Why watch it: You know we love “Cam” over here at Shuffle! “Cam” was a 2018 Fantastic Fest favorite and even made my list of the Top 10 Films of 2018. The film represents the future of horror and everything it does, it does to perfection. One of the finest examples of using technology effectively, and Madeline Brewer is phenomenal. Check it out!
Director: Brian De Palma
Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie and Amy Irving
Official Synopsis: Carrie White, a shy, friendless teenage girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at the senior prom.
Why watch it: To put it simply, “Carrie” is a classic. The film checks off all the boxes of a perfect October watch. It’s a Stephen King favorite. It’s great horror. It’s reminiscent of the first horror films you checked out during slumber parties of yore. It remains an absolute staple of culture and, of course, it can’t be missed!
Director: THE Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette
Official Synopsis: A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.
Why watch it: In my mind, “Scream” is one of the most important and fundamental films of the horror genre. Think of it as a load-bearing wall in an ancient and intricate spooky house. “Scream” is equal parts a quintessential entry in the slasher subgenre and a representative turning point in the genre, when horror became self-aware and was able to make fun of itself to create new kills and thrills. “Scream” was the first and the best film to use the tropes of the genre to perfect effect. I would never dream of letting an October pass without sitting for it. Bonus: All four films are streaming on Netflix. Binge the whole franchise!
“The Witch” (2015)
Director: Robert Eggers
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie
Official Synopsis: A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.
Why watch it: If you’re feeling a little more high-brow in the spooky season, “The Witch” is a must-watch. If you’re a true-blue film buff and looking to expand your education, “The Witch” is required viewing. If you’re seeking spooky vibes and atmosphere more dread-inducing than your local haunted house, “The Witch” is your movie. It’s a beautiful film. It’s a well-crafted film. It’s a slow burn. It makes the list 100 times over.
Director: Roxanne Benjamin (“Don’t Fall”), Karyn Kusama (“Her Only Living Son”), St. Vincent (“The Birthday Cake”) and Jovanka Vuckovic (“The Box”)
Starring: Natalie Brown, Jonathan Watton, Peter DaCunha and many more
Official Synopsis: Four very unique short horror films that are written and directed by women.
Why watch it: With “XX” you can see the very best of female-driven horror and evoke that feeling of sharing spooky stories. Personally, Halloween is the best season for the anthology. It’s a wonderful display of intentional filmmaking to be able to build a world, build tension and suspense, and execute an effective scare in such a short amount of time. “XX” is one of the best, and it comes with our highest recommendation.
“The Conjuring” (2013)
Director: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga and Ron Livingston
Official Synopsis: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.
Why watch it: Go back to the beginning of an era. The first film in what has become one of the most successful cinematic universe’s in the genre, spawning eight films and more on the way. “The Conjuring” was the film that started it all and for good reason. It’s damn good — legitimately terrifying and stylishly executed. There’s a real thrill to being able to choose to enjoy the film as a standalone introduction or as a jumping-off point. Personally, I like to search for details that give context to the later films.
“In the Tall Grass” (2019)
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted and Patrick Wilson
Official Synopsis: After hearing a young boy’s cry for help, a sister and brother venture into a vast field of tall grass in Kansas but soon discover there may be no way out… and that something evil lurks within.
Why watch it: Revisiting a classic or a favorite is great, but as cinephiles we should always be seeking out new horror. Netflix’s “In the Tall Grass” joins the likes of “Gerald’s Game” and “1922” as another Stephen King story brought to life and streamed into your homes. The film received a very warm welcome at the 2019 Fantastic Fest, and its premise is so eerie and unusual that it has already sent shivers up our spines!
What are you watching on Netflix right now? Let us know in the comments!
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Featured image credit: Christos Kalohoridis
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.