Horror Fan Favorites: The 29 Best Scary Movies on Netflix in 2020

See why Netflix is such a scream!

Whether you only like them close to Halloween or you're a year-round fiend, Netflix is packed with great scary movies. After a lot of time in front of the TV—and a few times scaring ourselves—we've compiled this list of the best scary movies on Netflix.

Don't blame us if you can't sleep after watching them!

01
of 29

As Above, So Below (2014): Best Supernatural Found Footage

As Above, So Below promotional image

Bruno Calvo / Legendary Pictures/Universal Pictures

IMDb rating: 6.2

Starring:  Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, Francois Civil, Marion Lambert

Director: John Erick Dowdle

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 93 minutes

A group of friends (headed up by Ben Feldman, from Mad Men and Superstore, and Perdita Weeks) decide to explore the catacombs beneath Paris—a real-life thing, which are, among other things, gigantic ossuaries (creepy!). Needless to say, people get lost, things go very, very wrong, and the group discovers increasingly distressing terrors beneath the City of Lights. Found footage, so if you have an aversion to that sub-genre, you may want to give this a miss, but it's fun, scary film with a cool ending.

02
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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016): Best Feminist Fakeout

Autopsy of Jane Doe promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.8

Starring: Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, Ophelia Lovibond 

Director: André Øvredal

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 86 minutes

A Jane Doe is delivered to the offices of a father-son coroner's business late one night. The pair, played by Brian Cox (Succession) and Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), discover quickly that this body is more than just unidentified. As they perform the autopsy, they inadvertently dig themselves deeper into a mystery and a centuries-long tale of oppression, persecution, and revenge. Not only is Autopsy a cracking mystery with cool ideas, it's also got a lot to say about patriarchy, feminism, and the history of both.

03
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The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015): Best Demonic Horror

The Blackcoat's Daughter promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 5.9

Starring: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton

Director: Oz Perkins

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 93 minutes

Getting stuck at your boarding school over winter break is never good, but in The Blackcoat's Daughter, it's even worse when there's a demonic horror lurking on campus. Wrap in an escaped mental patient and rumors of satanist nuns, and stars Kiernan Shipka (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Mad Men) and Emma Roberts (American Horror Story) will be lucky to make it to the next semester in one piece. Directed by Osgood "Oz" Perkins, the son of Psycho star Anthony Perkins (and director of another movie later on this list).

04
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Candyman (1992): Best Socio-Political Horror

Candyman promotional image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.6

Starring:Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Tony Todd 

Director: Bernard Rose

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 99 minutes

Increasingly relevant in the era of Black Lives Matter, Candyman adapts a Clive Barker short story into a meditation on the horrors of U.S. racism through the centuries. Virginia Madsen, a graduate student studying urban legends in the Chicago housing projects, runs across the hook-handed, all-too-real mythic figure of Candyman (Tony Todd) and discovers a tragic tale of love, hate, and vengeance. One of the few horror movies to focus on the American Black experience in the '80s and '90s.

A remake of Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta, and co-written by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us), comes out late in 2020.

05
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Creep (2014): Best Ultra-Indie Psycho

Creep promo image

The Duplass Brothers / Blumhouse Productions

IMDb rating: 6.3

Starring: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass

Director: Patrick Brice

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 77 minutes

A dying man posts a Craiglist ad seeking someone to come to his remote home for a day and record his final words. When the videographer (Patrick Brice) responds, he meets a pretty odd guy (Mark Duplass; Room 104) who—big surprise!—turns out to be much more, and much more dangerous, than he appears. This two-hander is as much mumblecore American indie crossed with found footage as it is classic horror movie, but its atypical aesthetics and Duplass' high-energy performance make this all the more effective.

06
of 29

Dark Skies (2013): Best Alien Creeper

Dark Skies promo image

Matt Kennedy / Momentum Pictures

IMDb rating: 6.3

Starring: Keri Russell, Jake Brennan, Josh Hamilton 

Director: Scott Stewart

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 97 minutes

Think movies about aliens visiting Earth are strictly science fiction fare and don't belong on a list of horror movies (the original Alien notwithstanding)? Dark Skies will make you think again. In it, an American family led my mom Keri Russell (The Americans), is plagued by strange occurrences focused on their on young son. While that sounds like the set up for a ghost or possession movie, the explanation here is otherworldly in a totally different, very entertaining way.

07
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The Endless (2017): Best Mindbender

The Endless promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.5

Starring: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez 

Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

Motion Picture Rating: Not Rated

Running Time: 111 minutes

Better if you've seen Resolution, the Moorehead and Benson movie that this is a sequel to, The Endless is nevertheless a thrilling movie about cults, time loops, mysterious video clips, ancient unseen creatures, and rural California. Probably more eerie or unsettling than truly scary, if you like your horror nuanced and packed with ideas, you'll love all of Moorehead and Benson's work

08
of 29

The Evil Dead (1981): Best Gut-Churning Indie

Evil Dead promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 7.5

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor

Director: Sam Raimi

Motion Picture Rating: NC-17

Running Time: 85 minutes

The first major film from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell was one of the original shoestring-budget horror indies. Built around classic tropes like a cabin in the woods, a cursed book bound in human skin, and a bunch of horny young people, Raimi puts the pedal to the metal and never lets up, delivering a gory, no-holds-barred splatterfest. Forget the comedic sequels and the 2013 remake, the original is still the best (and the only one to be at the center of the UK's '80s-era "video nasties" controversy).

09
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The Girl With All the Gifts (2016): Best New-Wave Zombie Story

The Girl with all the Gifts promo image

IMDb 

IMDb rating: 6.6

Starring: Sennia Nanua, Paddy Considine, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close 

Director: Colm McCarthy

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 111 minutes

A dystopian, post-apocalyptic zombie film, Girl puts a different spin on zombies. In this case, the flesh-eaters, called "hungries," are created by a parasitic fungal infection. After the outbreak has destabilized the world, a group of kids—half-human, half-hungry hybrids—are being raised in England as the world's best hope for a vaccine. This requires killing them. When one of the doctors chooses to protect one special girl, they set out on a mission of survival and, hopefully, rebirth.

10
of 29

Green Room (2015): Best Survival Horror

Green Room promo image

Scott Green / A24

IMDb rating: 7.0

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Macon Blair

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 95 minutes

So many horror movies come about because of the economic-desperation-driven choices of their protagonists. In Green Room, those protagonists are a punk band, touring the country in their van, sleeping on floors, and looking for gigs. When they take one in rural Oregon based on a sketchy tip, they find themselves on a white supremacist compound run by Patrick Stewart (!!!) and witnesses to a crime. Trapped in a club's titular green room, they must fight their way out if they want to survive. Truly one of the most harrowing films of recent decades, it's not necessarily fun, but it's unquestionably excellent.

11
of 29

Hold the Dark (2018): Best Quasi-Werewolf Thriller

Hold the Dark promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 5.6

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, James Badge Dale

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 125 minutes

Directed By Jeremy Saulnier, who also helmed Green Room, Hold the Dark is questionably not a horror movie at all. Read one way, it's a story about PTSD, soldiers, racist oppression of Native Americans, and a naturalist (Jeffrey Wright) who's lost his way. Read another, it's about werewolves and skin walkers. Either way, it's a strong film with a spectacular gunfight in the middle. If you like Saulnier, it's a must-watch.

12
of 29

Hush (2016): Best Home Invasion Horror

Hush promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.6

Starring: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco 

Director: Mike Flanagan

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 82 minutes

Rising horror auteur Mike Flanagan masters the home-invasion film with Hush, a thriller about a deaf woman being menaced by a mask intruder. Think home-invasions are scary as is? Imagine what they're like when the main character can't hear creaking boards, breaking glass, or the other things that will keep her safe. A white-knuckle thrill-fest.

Also available on Netflix is Flanagan's 10-part adaptation of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.

13
of 29

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016): Best Mood Piece

I am the pretty thing that lives in the house promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 4.5

Starring: Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Bob Balaban 

Director: Oz Perkins

Motion Picture Rating: Not Rated

Running Time: 89 minutes

What might be the most divisive film on this list. To some, it will be slow, boring, lacking real scares, and without a satisfying resolution. To others, it's a terrific mood piece, a meditation on loneliness and haunting, and a welcome stylistic departure from most mainstream horror movies. Ruth Wilson (The Affair, His Dark Materials) stars as a woman starting a new job as a live-in hospice caretaker for an elderly writer, who discovers something amiss in the house. Directed by Oz Perkins, who also did The Blackcoat's Daughter earlier on this list.

14
of 29

Insidious (2010): Best Franchise-Starter

Insidious promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.8

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye

Director: James Wan

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 103 minutes

The first of many, massively successful collaborations between director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell has spawned three sequels (Wan is also one of the originators of the Conjuring series, which is approaching double-digit entries). Here, parents Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) and Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids, Spy) begin to explore the supernatural—and Wilson's mysterious past—as a means to help their comatose son. Fun, gripping, scary, and featuring a really cool concept for the spirit world.

15
of 29

The Invitation (2015): Best Cult Chiller

The Invitation promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.6

Starring:  Logan Marshall-Green, Michiel Huisman, Toby Huss, Tammy Blanchard

Director: Karyn Kusama

Motion Picture Rating: Not Rated

Running Time: 100 minutes

This totally gripping thriller starts off like a realist take on an awkward dinner party/multilevel marketing pitch. Will (Logan Marshall-Green; Quarry) brings a date to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife, who he hasn't seen since their marriage fell apart after the death of their son. Instead, it's not just dinner: it's a come-on from his wife, her new boyfriend, and others to join the cult, The Invitation, that has helped them through the grief. As the dinner goes on, the situation becomes more strange and tense, until The Invitation's true philosophy becomes chillingly clear. The last shot is a jaw-dropper.

16
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Paranormal Activity (2007): Best Found Footage Haunter

Paranormal Activity promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.3

Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs 

Director: Oren Peli

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 86 minutes

Far from the first found-footage movie, and not even the first major success in the sub-genre (hello, Blair Witch Project), Paranormal Activity is the watershed movie that revitalized the subgenre and made it the horror powerhouse its been for the past nearly 15 years. A somewhat straightforward story of a haunting accentuated by the found footage aspect, Activity's marketing campaign—showing theater audiences jumping and screaming at every turn—is perhaps as good as, if not better than, the movie itself. Still, it's good fun and spawned 5 sequels, at least two of which are better than the original.

17
of 29

It Comes at Night (2017): Best Post-Apocalyptic Headscratcher

It Comes at Night promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.2

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo

Director: Trey Edward Shults

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 91 minutes

Studio A24—which brought us The VVitch (later on this list) and Midsommar, among others—gets a bit of a bad rap in the genre for releasing "elevated" (i.e, allegedly more artistic and sophisticated than standard horror) films. We don't buy that criticism, but those who do might point to It Comes at Night as an example. This post-apocalyptic tale of a family trying to survive the unexplained breakdown of society and—maybe?—a supernatural threat is a little hard to parse, but it's also extremely effective and really scary. If you like post-apocalyptic stories, survival horror, and don't need the story neatly wrapped up, this is absolutely worth a watch.

18
of 29

The Perfection (2018): Best Revenge Thriller

The Perfection promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.1

Starring: Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber

Director: Richard Shepard

Motion Picture Rating: Not Rated

Running Time: 90 minutes

What price do we pay for achievement? And when we realize that the price we've paid is too high, where do we get a refund? Those are some of the questions animating The Perfection, a deceptive film with much more bite and perversity than the standard, mediocre made-for-Netflix movie. Allison Williams (Get Out, Girls) stars as a one-time musical prodigy who's fallen away from her art and is drawn back in by her former teacher and his new star pupil. Packed with twists, switchbacks, and did that really just happens?, it's a surprising and satisfying watch.

19
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Poltergeist (1982): Best Classic 80s Blockbuster

Poltergeist promo image

Warner Bros. Entertainment

IMDb rating: 7.3

Starring: JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke, Craig T. Nelson 

Director: Tobe Hooper

Motion Picture Rating: PG

Running Time: 114 minutes

A true '80s horror classic about a family troubled by a haunting in their new home. One of the touchstones of '80s horror themes—ex-hippie parents who are now Reagan voters, rapacious businesses unleashing horror, vengeance from the past visited on innocents in the present—despite its PG rating, Poltergeist is good, scary fun. Steven Spielberg had a large hand in the creation of this movie, though exactly how much has never been clear.

20
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The Ritual (2017): Best Creature Feature

The Ritual promo image

Vlad Cioplea

IMDb rating: 6.3

Starring: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier

Director: David Bruckner

Motion Picture Rating: Not Rated

Running Time: 94 minutes

A folk horror creature feature that starts out looking like a friends-lost-in-the-woods flick, The Ritual is a lot of fun. A group of British friends on holiday in Sweden get lost, then hurt, while hiking and find themselves trapped in a spooky house during a rainstorm. From there, things get much worse for the group and much better for the audience. Based on the novel of the same name by Adam Nevill.

21
of 29

Session 9 (2001): Best Indie Ambiguity

Session 9 promo image

IMdb

IMDb rating: 6.4

Starring: Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon

Director: Brad Anderson

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 97 minutes

No one would have expected this film from writer/director Brad Anderson, after his first movie—Next Step Wonderland—was a realist indie romantic comedy. Here, a group of down-on-their-luck asbestos removal technicians have to complete a rush job to remove the toxic substance from a former mental hospital that's going to be converted into luxury apartments (the hospital, in Danvers, MA, is a real place and the apartment conversion are real, but the buildings burned down in 2007). Needless to say, the abandoned mental hospital is haunted by more than just asbestos and the team starts to come apart quickly. The film's original release was overshadowed by Sept. 11, robbing this great indie horror film of the audience it deserved.

22
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The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Best Serial Killer Thriller (Part 1)

Silence of the Lambs promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 8.6

Starring:  Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn

Director: Jonathan Demme

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 118 minutes

The only horror movie to ever win the Best Picture Oscar, The Silence of the Lambs is easily one the greatest serial-killer thrillers of all time. Featuring a career-defining, pop-culture shaping turn by Anthony Hopkins as the cannibal doctor Hannibal Lecter, fledgling FBI agency Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) must pair with Lecter to help catch one of his former patients, the serial killer dubbed Buffalo Bill. Creepy, psychological, gripping, and packed with endlessly quotable dialogue, Lambs is as good as it gets.

Netflix also has all three seasons of the TV series-prequel, Hannibal. It's got a totally different cast, and is tied more to the earlier Lecter story Red Dragon than Lambs, Hannibal is nonetheless one of the goriest, and best, horror TV series of all time.

23
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Sinister (2012): Best Supernatural Fiend

Sinister promo image

Summit Entertainment, LLC.

IMDb rating: 6.8

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone 

Director: Scott Derrickson

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 110 minutes

So much horror takes place in your new house after your family moves. Makes you want to just refinance that mortgage and stay put. Well, Ellison Oswalt (Hawke) doesn't take that advice and moves his family into a new home where murders once happened. As he investigates the crimes, he comes across some disturbing film of murders and unleashes an ancient, supernatural terror.

24
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Train to Busan (2016): Best Zombie Rampage

Train to Busan promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 7.6

Starring: Yoo Gong, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma 

Director: Sang-ho Yeon

Motion Picture Rating: Not Rated

Running Time: 116 minutes

If you love a good high-concept premise, Train to Busan is for you. Forget Snakes on a Plane. This is zombies on a high-speed train hurtling its way through Korea. Packed full of action, brain-munching, and social commentary, Busan breathes fresh life into the slightly tired zombie subgenre.

25
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Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010): Best Horror Comedy

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil promo image

Magnolia Pictures

IMDb rating: 7.5

Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden

Director: Eli Craig

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 89 minutes

The only horror-comedy on this list—we don't like those two genres mixed together—Tucker and Dale is so smart, so funny, and so good-hearted that it has to be recommended. Flipping the evil-hillbilly cliche on its head, Tucker and Dale trips from one hilarious misunderstanding to another gory accident to an actual sinister plot, along the way generating a lot of laughs thanks largely to stars Labine and Tudyk. If you want a few laughs mixed in with your gore, and are sick of horror's anti-rural bias, don't miss this one.

26
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Under the Shadow (2016): Best International Haunter

Under the Shadow promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.9

Starring: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi

Director: Babak Anvari

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 84 minutes

Bringing a welcome international perspective, this Persian-language film set in Iran during the '80s Iran/Iraq War certainly offers a setting never-before-seen in the horror genre. In Shadow, a woman is left behind with her daughter when her doctor husband is sent to the war. As they wait, the daughter becomes increasingly concerned about Djinns, Islamic mythical creatures. When a missile hits their apartment building, things take a turn for the worse.

27
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The Wicker Man (1973): Best Folk Horror

The Wicker Man promo image

Rialto Pictures / Studiocanal

IMDb rating: 7.5

Starring: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland

Director: Robin Hardy

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 88 minutes

Not to confused with the so-bad-it-spawned-1,000-memes Nicholas Cage remake from 2006, this is one of the founding documents of the folk horror subgenre, which is focused on isolated communities and strange beliefs. In it, Woodward plays a devout Catholic cop sent to a remote Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. As he investigates, he finds a slightly pagan community that has a disturbing, ritualistic plan for him.

28
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The VVitch (2015): Best Modern Folk Horror

The VVitch promo image

IMDb

IMDb rating: 6.9

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

Director: Robert Eggers

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 92 minutes

Forget the marketing hype that this is the scariest movie you'll ever seen. It's not—but it's probably also not truly trying to scare you. Rather, this is a creepy film, packed with atmosphere, that's really the study of a family that's so inflexibly religious that they kicked get out of Pilgrim-era Massachusetts (which is saying something!). As they try to subsist on a failing farm, they must ask whether their troubles are just hard luck, a witch's curse, or created by their goat (yes, really).

29
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Zodiac (2007): Best Serial Killer Thriller (part 2)

Zodiac promo image

IMDb 

IMDb rating: 7.7

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo

Director: David Fincher

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 157 minutes

In a career full of high points, Zodiac is perhaps director Fincher's greatest work. Based on the non-fiction book by former newspaper cartoonist and reporter Robert Graysmith, the film recounts the real-life hunt for the Zodiac killer, a serial murderer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Featuring top-notch performances by Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, and Mark Ruffalo, there's not a slack moment or out-of-place shot in the film's 2.5 hours a must-watch.