Top 10 scary movies & series to watch on Netflix

words Alexa Wang

scary movies & series

It doesn’t matter whether you’re here because you’re looking for a new Netflix recommendation or just looking for a good horror film to show at a gathering, the fact remains that you have nothing to watch.

We understand how big of a problem that is, so don’t worry, we’ve got your back with a list of 10 films and series that will curdle your blood and possibly give you nightmares. We’ve got classics, new series, even foreign, and of course, Stephen King is involved. So strap on, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the ride.

1. Hereditary

Written and directed by the twisted mind of Ari Aster and with a score of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, this film is guaranteed to make you feel true emotional unsettlement. While the majority of modern horror depends on jump scares and loud sounds, this film is eerily quiet and perfectly slow-paced. The story is the classic family gets haunted by an evil presence after the death of a grandmother, which is why the movie is even more impressive.

Not anyone can take a trope that’s been milked so hard and make it into something unique and spine-curling. But it doesn’t stop there, because every element in the film is designed to target the audience’s emotions, making them experience pure discomfort and anxiousness. You’ll find that the emotional effects of Hereditary will linger for a while after the credits roll. So, if you’re up for a film with disturbing yet beautiful imagery, a well-developed plot, and poetic slow reveals, we suggest you check it out.

2. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

If you’re familiar with Sabrina the Teenage Witch comic books or the series, you’ll definitely get excited by this new adaptation of the comics. It’s a dark coming-of-age story of a young Sabrina Spellman. In the beginning, it’ll seem as if the main conflict of the series is whether Sabrina wants to be a witch or remain a mortal, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.

What we love about the series is that it isn’t just about witches and black magic, it offers humor in the simplest dialogue and provides a deep of a glimpse into the normal high school life as it does into the community of witches and warlocks.

As for the cast, from Miranda Otto (Lady Eowyn, Lord of The Rings trilogy) to Ross Lynch (Austin Moon, Disney’s Austin & Ally), there is no doubt you’ll fall in love with their performances. And, spoiler, there’s a replica of the statue of Baphomet so accurate that the satanic temple sued Netflix for it. And, while the case was settled, the fact still remains, the creators of the series went all out on that one.

3. Gerald’s Game

First off, who’s Gerald? Gerald is a mean person. Second, have you ever thought about the different ways a sexual escapade involving handcuffs can turn into a horror story? Because Stephen King did, and then, he turned it into a novel, and like any Stephen King creation, it was turned into a film. On one hand, the main storyline is very simple, nothing related to fantasy realms or parallel universes or anything like that. However, through flashbacks, you’ll slowly begin to realize how much of a rich and incredibly disturbing background the lady has.

The film promises to deliver the claustrophobia and helplessness that can come out of being handcuffed to something with no way out and it more than delivers. Not only that, but you’ll also experience how loud inner voices can be when everything else goes silent, and the answer to that is very loud and beautifully twisted. One thing you should get out of the film? Take care of your mental health. If this film doesn’t inspire you to see a therapist, we’re not sure anyone can.

4. Marianne

The French are as good at making horror series as they are at making desserts, we’ll tell you that. If you’re a seasoned horror fanatic, then you know how films and series play out. They start with a happy life, then a little potentially creepy thing happens and slowly crap hits the fan. But, then, you have Marianne. The series literally starts with a scene of a lady shouting, cursing, reprimanding no one, or maybe an invisible presence, that’s not important. What’s more important is that this lady is also pulling out her own teeth. Do you see what we’re talking about?

Anyway, everything begins when a horror novelist goes back to her hometown and realizes that the childhood nightmares she’d buried long ago and sold to people in the form of a book series are still out there. And to make matters worse, out to get her, it could be because she didn’t ask permission before publishing her books, or because of something a little more complex than that, you’ll know more if you watch. All in all, it’s a compelling story told with gripping techniques and a beautiful romantic language. It’s definitely worth your time.

5. The Exorcist

It’s not new, but it’s a classic you can easily find on Netflix in your region and a must-watch for anyone who claims to like horror. Based on a 1971 novel of the same name, it tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who gets possessed by a demonic spirit and how she was exorcised. First off, we will tell you that the film is so good, it won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was the first horror film to ever get nominated for Best Picture.

Second, this movie is also known for the serious outrage it caused when it hit theaters.

Because of how gross and distressing the imagery is in that film, some viewers had serious physical reactions to the film, vomiting, fainting, heart attacks, and even some miscarriages were recorded. In fact, that’s why this film is one that academics often talk about when discussing the relationship between media and psychology. In other words, the film is not for the faint of heart, it was even banned in some cinemas. But, guess where it’s not banned, that’s right, Netflix.

6. The Haunting of Hill House

What happened at Hill House was believed to stay there and in the minds of the family who made it out, but as we all know, buried memories always find a way to resurface. Using scenes so well-designed, they almost look like paintings, unique shots and camera movements, director Mike Flanagan manages to bring to life the horrors in Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel. Needless to say, he added his magic touch the same way he transformed Stephen King’s ‘Gerald’s Game’ and ‘Dr. Sleep’.

Little by little, and as long as you have a U.S. Netflix account, you’ll get to see how the house still lives within the psyche of each and every family member, and how it still casts a shadow over their lives. Yes, you read right, the series is only available in select regions so, if you have a Netflix Canada account, you won’t be able to follow. That is, unless you manage to use a VPN and get a us netflix in Canada, then it won’t be a big deal. And, believe it or not, this is actually a common problem people face because Netflix content is not the same quantity or quality in all regions. That being said, the series allows its viewers the chance to explore the life of each main character deeply enough to understand their psyche and their relationship with the house without singling them out of the family. If you ask us, painting so many separate pictures and having them complete each other in the end is quite a hard thing to pull off, especially as a filmmaker.

7. The Mist

What’s this? Yet another Stephen King creation. Is it good? Most definitely. As the mysterious mist flows into this little town in Maine, covering everything in white and trapping all the citizens indoors, you’ll be feeling as if you are right there with them. Suffocation, claustrophobia, and confusion, it’s all there. Now, people hear mist and they usually think, is it that rich of a subject to be turned into a series because what can you do with mist? But, this is exactly what the series sets out to prove.

Another thing aside from the people of the town being trapped indoors, the mist constantly plays tricks on their minds which never fails to reveal details about each character. Not to mention, the series has its own way of building tension, as well as, making you fall in love with the characters. So, we recommend you don’t get too attached to anyone because the mist doesn’t care who it takes away. It’s enough to watch them get abducted away by invisible monsters.

8. Bates Motel

If you have already watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho or simply know it from the famous sound effects and the scene where the killer attacks the lady in the shower, get ready to get the full picture with the modern prequel of the original ‘Psycho’ based on Robert Bloch’s novel of the same name. Watching Norman Bates, the infamous Psycho being played by Freddie Highmore whom we’ve known as the sweet, innocent kid who played the role of Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), will be one of the greatest pleasures of your life. He is the perfect actor to take us down the journey that made Norman Bates the person he was.

The series is also perfect for those who would rather watch a big series with a decent number of seasons since there is a total of 5 seasons and 50 episodes. Imagine 50 episodes of a series manipulating your mind and constantly hitting you with reveals combined with pure suspense from the soundtrack to the set design, props, and most importantly the camera work and lighting.

9. The Shining

Stephen King’s crowning jewel directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick and featuring the great Jack Nicholson, who got to cement one of his most popular catchphrases, “Here’s Johnny!” Of course, we don’t have to tell you that this is a must-watch before watching its sequel Dr. Sleep and even after, if you’re the one for analyzing films and connecting theories. The film is filled to the brim with suspenseful, unsettling long shots, ghostly images, and a haunted atmosphere that truly makes it one of the most influential horror films of all time. 

Not only are the plot and story genuinely really good, well-developed, and genuinely scary, which is rarely found in modern horror films, but the director also manages to use all the elements of this film to emphasize the silent power of the house and the madness of the father. Rooms drenched in blood, creepy twins, an entwining maze, a haunted dining hall, little Johnny in his kart roaming all around the hotel, and so much more memorable shot you’ll see coming to life in front of you, ones that will change the way you view horror forever.

10. The Glass House

If you’re not into the supernatural and prefer a more grounded approach to horror, here’s a mystery thriller to cleanse your palate. When Ruby and Rhett’s parents die, the kids are sent to be taken care of by the Glasses, former neighbors and family friends. Slowly, but surely, things take a turn for the worst as secrets get revealed and motives get exposed.

scary movies netflix

One strong point of this film is that the events that occur within the film take exactly how long they should take so, it never feels like the story is being stretched beyond its limits. In addition, if you’re a stickler for details you’ll love putting this film to the test, we won’t tell you why exactly, but suffice it to say, it’s going to be an enjoyable experience for you. However, as we said before, we only recommend this for you if you’re looking for a palate cleanser.

Now, we believe the question you should be asking yourself is what thing to watch first rather than what should I even watch. So, get your popcorn ready and gather around with your loved ones, or watch all alone by yourself (with no backup), and let yourself get lost in the world of horrors. With this list, we can assure you, you’ll be getting a glimpse into the dark side of a few of the best directors and writers in the industry. Last but not least, no horror movie is as scary if you make fun of the characters, so if you get too scared, feel free to hide your fear with humor, we won’t tell.

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