Mental Floss

The 8 Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now

Jake Rossen
Peri Baumeister in 'Blood Red Sky' (2021).
Peri Baumeister in 'Blood Red Sky' (2021). / Stanislav Honzik/Netflix

The psychology behind our love of horror films is pretty simple: We love the adrenaline rush, and we feel comparatively safe knowing that a hatchet-wielding clown isn’t lurking outside our window. (Probably. Feel free to go check.)

If you’re ever in the mood for those particular thrills without leaving the comfort of your couch, there’s an easy solution: Kill the lights and check out any one of the best scary movies on Netflix right now.

1. Blood Red Sky (2021)

This creepy and inventive German-language chiller has become a standout hit on the service. When a group of terrorists hijacks a transatlantic flight, they're surprised to discover that one woman on board will go to any lengths to protect her son—up to and including unleashing her vampire side. Director Peter Thorwarth said he got the idea during a transatlantic flight, wondering what he would do if he were a vampire flying toward the rising sun.

2. The Perfection (2019)

The dark side of musical genius is explored in this gory thriller about a cello prodigy (Allison Williams) who returns to her old private school to find her teacher (Steven Weber) taken with a new student (Logan Browning). It's a triangle of jealousy that only gets twistier—and more twisted—from the first frame to the last. Williams and Browning did most of their own cello playing.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Wes Craven directs this classic about a monstrous boogeyman (Robert Englund) who uses his morbid imagination to victimize the teens of Elm Street in their sleep. Englund has said he based his performance as Freddy on Klaus Kinski's portrayal of Dracula in 1979's Nosferatu as well as Hollywood icon James Cagney.

4. Gerald's Game (2017)

A romantic weekend retreat turns into a claustrophobic struggle for survival for Carla Gugino after her husband drops dead and she's left handcuffed to their bed. This adaptation of Stephen King's novel is one of the rare films to do right by the author, preserving his psychological (and visceral) scares. For Gugino, however, it came at a cost: The handcuffs she wore for weeks were so uncomfortable that director Mike Flanagan, who wanted to show solidarity with his actors, could only wear them for five minutes before quitting.

5. Hush (2016)

At a remote retreat, a Deaf writer (Kate Siegel) finds her solitude disrupted by a masked intruder who has no apparent motive other than to terrorize her. The film was praised by Stephen King, and director Mike Flanagan would go on to make two King adaptations, including the aforementioned Gerald's Game and 2019's Doctor Sleep.

6. Creep (2014)

Mark Duplass stars in this low-budget found-footage chiller about a very strange man named Josef who solicits the help of a videographer. As the bizarre behavior mounts, Josef seems to be looking at his new hire more like a victim than an employee. Director Patrick Brice and Duplass originally envisioned it as a "dark comedy about two sad people forming a connection" under the title Peachfuzz, but feedback from friends convinced them to shoot more footage and go in a darker direction.

7. The Conjuring (2013)

The cinematic universe of paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren begins with the 2013 original. Here, a Rhode Island farmhouse is the setting for their spooky investigation. Screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes were approached to work on the film from the perspective of the homeowners but decided to switch it to that of the Warrens—a decision that helped spawn a franchise.

8. It Follows (2015)

A lethal evil is stalking a group of friends, passing from one to the next. It will take a lot of ingenuity—and a bit of luck—to break the cycle. Director David Robert Mitchell based the movie on dreams he had as a child of being followed.

A version of this story ran in 2021; it has been updated for 2022.