27 Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now (October 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 Fear Street, 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!”

Editor's Note: This article was last updated on October 1.

Newly Added: Jaws

Recently Expired: Insidious

RELATED: The Best Horror Movies on Hulu Right Now

Jaws

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writers: Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb

Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton

For some reason, a lot of folks don’t consider Jaws a horror movie these days, but that is some pretty impressive recency bias because when it first came out, Steven Spielberg’s killer shark movie was so effective at terrorizing the audience, it famously scared people away from the beach. And man, if you’re not afraid of a giant killer shark? Well, you are made of tougher stuff than most of us. A truly astonishing feat of filmmaking, Jaws is a masterful character drama wrapped up in a thrilling survival tale about the horrors of nature (and poor governance, while we’re at it). It’s the kind of movie that makes you feel like there’s something, unseen, always lurking, ready to eat you alive - and then when you finally see it… well, that’s no mercy, because it turns out an enormous man-eating shark is terrifying in its own right. Bolstered by phenomenal performances and Spielberg’s legendary craft, Jaws is one of the best movies ever made, and yes, a very scary horror movie. - Haleigh Foutch

The Strangers

Writer/Director: Bryan Bertino

Cast: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Glenn Howerton, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis

In a decade filled with home invasion horror, Brian Bertino's blunt-force simple and honest entry still endures as one of the best. The Strangers is bleak. There's a haunting randomness and pointlessness to the violence beset upon our heroes Kristen and James, played by the painfully sympathetic Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. Divided, but obviously still in love; that's when a trio of masked assailants shows up on the porch of their remote vacation cabin whispering threats, silently stalking the halls of their home, and doling out calculated moments of all-too-realistic violence. The heightened realism, combined with Bertino's commitment to silence over spectacle, creates a piercing atmosphere of dread and the dawning realization that this could be happening next door, or worse, to you, should you be unlucky enough to be at home when sadistic strangers come calling. -- Haleigh Foutch

The Strangers: Prey at Night

Director: Johannes Roberts

Writers: Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai

Cast: Lewis Pullman, Bailee Madison, Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson

Ok, so this is more of a "best scene" than "best movie". In full honesty, the first half of The Strangers: Prey at Night is a bit of a stilted drag, and not much of anything that the characters do makes much sense. But hoo boy, the second half of the movie is a wild bit of throwback fun, and the film's highlight sequence is a five-minute fight scene set in and around a neon-lit pool with "Total Eclipse of the Heart" full-on blasting in the background. It's a great piece of pop-horror; colorful, fun, and thrilling, and it's the cherry on top of a final act that makes the first bits worth trudging through. -- Haleigh Foutch

It Comes at Night

Writer/Director: Trey Edward Shults

Cast: Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

It’s a shame that a misleading marketing campaign soured moviegoers on this one because if you came waiting for some monster that literally comes at night, you’re in for a disappointment. Trey Edward ShultsKrisha follow-up is a psychological art house horror flick that demands patience from its audience in a slow-burn tale of two families fighting to maintain a semblance of safety and sanity in a world where social order has collapsed. Fueled by nerve-rattling tension and a simmering sense of impending doom, It Comes at Night is a flavor of existential dread that isn’t for all tastes, but if you’ve got the disposition, it’s a beautifully shot pensive tale of mortality and trauma that will leave you with plenty to mull over long after the credits role. -- Haleigh Foutch

Fear Street Part One: 1994

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

Fear Street Part 2: 1978

Director: Leigh Janiak

Writer: Zak Olkewicz and Leigh Janiak

Cast: Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, McCabe Slye, Ted Sutherland, Jordana Spiro, Gillian Jacobs, Chiara Aurelia, Jordyn DiNatale

It's tempting to loop all of the Fear Street films into one entry because they're such a satisfying (you might even say limited series-like) whole, but they're also so stylistically distinct and uniquely effective, they're worth singling out on their own. As for the second installment, 1978 takes audiences back to another Shadyside massacre, this time inspired by the summer camp horror trend of the 70s and 80s. Anchored around the story of two estranged sisters finding their way back to each other despite their differences, 1978 unleashes the Nightwing killer scene in the first film while investigating the story behind how he became a cursed mass murderer and deepening the established mythology and character work in the process.

I wouldn't recommend watching them out of order on your first watch but if you're looking to head back into fear Street and don't have time to watch the whole trilogy 1978 is easily the most self-contained of all three, but good luck not immediately hitting play on the next one. - Haleigh Foutch

Fear Street Part 3: 1666

Director: Leigh Janiak

Writers: Phil Graziadei, Leigh Janiak, Kate Trefry

Cast: Kiana Madeira, Ashley Zukerman, Gillian Jacobs, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Darrell Britt-Gibson, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Fred Hechinger, Jordyn DiNatale

The final film in the trilogy, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 brings it all together by traveling to the origins of the curse, so if you're looking for a bit of period horror with a big action payoff, this is your best bet. It's stunning how writer-director Leigh Janiak created a distinct language for each installment, not just cinematically, but in the horror traditions she employs. In keeping, 1666 is the darkest of the three, delving into the rotted core of society behind the Shadyside curse. But Janiak keeps a tight tonal command, never fully abandoning the fun spirit that makes her trilogy such a treat.

Understandably, considering how much story 1666 has to carry as the installment that answers it all, Part Three might be the least cohesive as a standalone film, but it also might be the most rewarding of them all as you watch Janiak’s magic pull it all off. - Haleigh Foutch

The Conjuring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1922

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

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