October is finally here. Pumpkin spice is flowing like rivers, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year to be a fan of scary movies. Whether you’re a fan of the supernatural, ultra gore, creeping dread, psychological terror, or Netflix has a variety of subgenres to make the best of spooky season. This list skews pretty heavily on recent releases, because, well, that’s what Netflix is offering. There are a ton of great horror comedies available like The Babysitter and Vampires vs. The Bronx, but for those looking for some nightmare-inducing scares, we’ve got the list for you.
How to watch the scariest movies on Netflix from anywhere
There's a hard fact about Netflix: The same shows and movies aren't available in all the same places. Something watchable in one country may be unavailable in another country.
But — it's absolutely possible for your computer to be in once place while you're in another. Or, more precisely, it's absolutely possible for your network traffic to be routed through a specific country. All you need is a trusty VPN. And for that, we're big fans of ExpressVPN (opens in new tab).
ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) is one of the easiest and affordable ways to watch what you want from anywhere you want to watch it. Plus it'll help keep your network traffic away from any prying eyes on public networks.
And it's a great way to watch all the spooky content this halloween season — from anywhere in the world.
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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
The sound of a lone bell ringing in the dark doesn’t seem like it would be one of the most unsettling things in a horror movie, but The Autopsy of Jane Doe shows otherwise. The film centers on a father and son team of coroners (Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch) when the police bring them the body of an unidentified woman found at the scene of a multiple homicide. Her body shows no external signs of trauma, but her autopsy reveals shattered bones, missing teeth and tongue, lungs blackened as if she had been set on fire, and her internal organs reveal numerous cuts and scarring. As the autopsy continues, the pair begin to experiencing unexplainable phenomenon, all seeming to be rooted with the arrival of this Jane Doe.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
Written and directed by Oz Perkins (the son of Psycho’s Anthony Perkins), this exploration in grief and loss uses horror as a vehicle to traverse in themes of fear and sorrow. Starring Kiernan Shipka (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Emma Roberts (Scream 4, American Horror Story), and Lucy Boynton (I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House) this horror film centers around a two Catholic schoolgirls left behind at their boarding school over winter break, where it is rumored the nuns are actually satanists...and that’s only the tip of the twisting and terrifying iceberg explaining what’s really going on at this school.
There have been a lot of movies made in the last few years about the trials and tribulations of online sex workers, but none have captured the true horror of living your life online quite like Daniel Goldhaber and Isa Mazzei’s Cam. Very loosely based on Mazzei’s own experiences working as a cam girl, Cam focuses on a young performer named Alice, obsessed with being the most viewed sex work streamer only for her hard work to be challenged when her account is mysteriously taken over by a doppelgänger hellbent on taking over Alice’s online fanbase and identity.
Creep (2014) / Creep 2 (2017)
Okay, so it’s cheating a little bit to put two films in one entry, but Creep and it’s sequel are such riveting contributions to the POV horror genre that it would be a disservice not to include them both. From the weird and warped brains of creators and stars Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass, Creep offers audiences a look inside the world of the eccentric Josef, and the dangers of gig-culture jobs found on semi-anonymous forums like Craigslist. It’s best to go into these films as blind as possible, because part of the terror is having no idea what is coming next.
The Endless (2017)
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead’s science-fiction horror film The Endless was easily one of the best films of the year on its release, and continues to freak out audiences who discover the film browsing through Netflix. The duo play brothers who receive a message asking them to return to the UFO death cult they both escaped a decade earlier in preparation for a mysterious event. Hoping to find closure, they return to the cult and must attempt to figure out the truth behind the unexplained activities happening to and surrounding the camp, or risk getting sucked back into the cult, forever.
The Evil Dead (1981)
The “cabin in the woods” movie that changed the genre forever, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead is an absolute must-see for those who have yet to experience it. With a now-iconic showcase of Ash Williams vs. the soul-swallowing deadites--this is the bleeding heart of cult classic horror cinema. The first of a monumentally influential trilogy, The Evil Dead has plenty of creepy laughs to add levity to the fact the first Evil Dead film is still genuinely terrifying. Tom Sullivan’s practical effects and stop-motion creations are an absolute dream, and no one handles a screaming bloodbath quite like Bruce Campbell.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
There have been more film and television adaptations of the works of Stephen King than any other author, save for classics like Shakespeare/Dickens/Hugo etc. Yet, when it comes to Gerald’s Game, the story was notoriously called “unfilmable.” Well, that isn’t the case for modern horror master, Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep, The Haunting of Bly Manor). Husband and wife Gerald and Jessie Burlingame go vacationing at an isolated house and decide to have a little fun in the bedroom, but Gerald dies of a sudden heart attack in the moment, leaving his wife handcuffed to the bed without the key and no way of contacting anyone for help. Carla Gugino is breathtaking as Jessie Burlingame, struggling to find a way out while also dealing with her own trauma--personified as dehydration triggered hallucinations.
The Invitation (2015)
Karyn Kusama deserved horror sainthood status after giving us Jennifer’s Body, but for those that can’t get behind Megan Fox brilliance, maybe The Invitation is more their speed. A man reluctantly accepts an invitation to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife, putting him into the most tense and uncomfortable gathering of people one could imagine. As the night progresses on and new conflicts emerge, it becomes apparent that there are more sinister motives behind this party. The Invitation is a clinic in psychological tension and paranoia, and solidifies Kusama as a bona fide master of her craft.
The Perfection (2018)
This very well may be the most insane Netflix distribution, ever. Absolutely brutal scenes of violence, high stakes energy, and classical cello playing all intertwine to deliver what feels like the closest thing possible to an exploitation film for the new millennium. This is a film that is downright unpredictable every step of the way, and has more twists than a double helix. It’s best to go in knowing absolutely nothing at all, but know that Logan Browning and Allison Williams deliver phenomenal performances that will keep you on the edge of your couch.
The Ritual (2017)
If you’re someone who gets creeped out by folk legends and terrifying creatures in the woods, The Ritual might be your new favorite. Based on the novel of the same name by Adam Nevill, The Ritual is about a group of friends that go hiking in northern Sweden in honor of their friend who died just six months earlier on the day the friends all planned the trip. While the group hikes through the forest, they encounter terrifying phenomena, ritualistic slaughtered animals, and one of the scariest creature designs in recent memory. Highly recommended for fans of films like The Blair Witch Project who prefer non-found footage filmmaking.
Session 9 (2001)
When a horror film is described as “atmospheric,” it should be hoping to emulate even a fraction of what this movie manages to pull off. An asbestos cleaning crew is brought in to clear out an abandoned mental hospital, and come across a series of tapes from a patient. As the men rush to try and finish their job, their time in the hospital and the power of these tapes start to infiltrate their stamina and their psyche. Watch. Session 9. Immediately
Home to one of the most effective jump scares of all time, Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill (Doctor Strange) gave us a new movie monster in the form of Bughuul, and some beautifully executed tension. The film tells the story of Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), a true-crime writer that moves his family to an old home that was the site of a grisly murder of an entire family. Oswalt discovers a projector and box of Super 8 films of home movies featuring multiple instances of familicide, awakening something ...sinister.
Super Dark Times (2017)
Perhaps this one falls more into the horror-adjacent category, but the Stephen King-esque storytelling feels all too familiar to some of horror’s favorite films. An inseparable pair of teenage boys named Zach and Josh have been friends forever, but after they endure a horrific accident that forces a cover-up situation, the guilt and paranoia surrounding the secret causes a snowball into escalating behavior, and an increase in uncontrolled violence.
Kiersey Clemons is easily one of the best of Hollywood’s newest class of performers, but she is absolutely mesmerizing in J.D. Dillard’s Sweetheart. The film starts off as many others before, with Clemons’ Jenn Remming washing ashore with her friend Brad who quickly succumbs to his wounds. Stranded on what appears to be an uninhabited island, Jenn now must try to stay alive against the harsh elements and lack of communication with the outside world. However, things take a turn for the monstrous when Jenn discovers the island’s secret--and comes face to face with the cause of the island’s isolation.
What Keeps You Alive (2018)
Colin Minihan is one of the most promising up-and-coming genre directors, and the highly suspenseful, psychological horror film What Keeps You Alive is arguably his best thus far. Jackie and Jules celebrate their first wedding anniversary by visiting a remote cabin in the woods, and it soon becomes apparent that there’s something very, very wrong with Jackie, and that Jules may not actually know her wife as well as she once believed.
BJ Colangelo is an award winning filmmaker and film analyst specializing in dismissed cinema and television. She writes about horror, wrestling, musicals, adult animation, sex and gender, kicking pancreatic cancer’s ass, and being a fat queer in places like Fangoria, Vulture, The Daily Dot, Autostraddle, Playboy.com, and a handful of books college students get assigned to read. She’s also the co-host of the teen girl movie podcast, This Ends at Prom, with her wife, Harmony.
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