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13 Netflix Horror Movies and Shows That'll Scare the Shit Out of You

Say goodbye to sleeping with both eyes closed after watching these downright terrifying films and tv shows on Netflix right now.

by Emerson Rosenthal
Jun 8 2018, 9:30pm

Screengrabs from left, Red Dragon and Devilman Crybaby

If you like the type of horror that gives you chills, puts a lump in your throat and sends a tingle up your spine, look no further. We've got the list for you: from zombie apocalypses (Cargo) to South Korean curses (The Wailing), we’ve compiled a list of 13 of the best horror movies and tv shows on Netflix (US) right now that will absolutely scare the shit out of you.

Cargo

As totalitarian-minded ideological blocs congeal on both the left and right, the idea of an apocalypse caused by group-thinking zombies out for fresh blood becomes ever more terrifying with each passing day. Case in point is Cargo, a feature-length version of a viral Australian short film about a father and a daughter alone in the Outback against a legion of the living dead. English actor Martin Freeman is the binding that grounds this survival epic amid a terrifying zombie thriller.

The Conjuring

The original film that sparked a mega-franchise pits a family of seven—and two ghost hunters—against a seriously nasty demon witch. If you’re a horror snob, James Wan’s Amityville Horror-inspired screamer is likely not your cup of tea. If, on the other hand, you’re down for cheap thrills and up for a genuinely fun time inside an intrinsically American ghost story, consider finding out for yourself why Annabelle is all the rage worldwide.

Cube

As anyone who’s struggled with mathematics will attest, geometry can be murder. Seven years before Saw, five people awoke in terror inside a deadly hexahedral labyrinth that would become the stuff of pulp-torture-movie lore. Is it wildly creative and gory as shit? Definitely. Is it a critique of the modern prison industrial complex? Probably not. But it is a touchstone for 90s sci-fi horror, so get ready to see characters get fucked up in multiple dimensions then want to continue your descent with Cube 2: Hypercube and Cube Zero.

Devilman Crybaby

Until Netflix released Devilman Crybaby, the anime based on the Japanese horror manga franchise was mostly a deep-cut for cartoon-gore connoisseurs. Not so with Devilman Crybaby, which takes the premise of the original story—boy meets demon, boy becomes demon, boy-demon goes on a killing spree against demon and humankind—and amps it up with cutting-edge animation and, somehow, even more carnage. It’s not for the squeamish, but Devilman Crybaby comes highly recommended, and if you like the ten episodes in the first season, check out Cyborg 009 VS Devilman on Netflix, and dig around the internet (or your local video store) to find the 1987 OVA (original video animation) where it all started, Devilman: The Birth.

Hellraiser

Anyone who thinks “Hellraiser isn’t scary” has it twisted. Not only is the transdimensional leather punisher, Pinhead, an all-time classic villain for the delicious flair of aristocratic sadism he brings to lashing anyone insensible enough to cross his path, Hellraiser is really a story about fucked-up family relationships replete with copious creeper-vibes. Sure it lacks the jump scares of modern horror films, but the lore of Clive Barker’s multiverse is exceeded only by the likes of Giger and Lovecraft.

Nymphomaniac

While far from a “horror movie” in the classic sense, Lars von Trier’s operatic bildungsporno encapsulates the most unsettling elements of the genre in its heady two-part, four-hour runtime. From meat-and-potatoes tropes like handheld cameras, the “woman in distress,” and the “unreliable narrator,” to scarring cuts like interrogation sequences and “do you trust me?” moments, Nymphomaniac will get under your skin and stay there, not unlike the scariest installments in the diabolical von Trier canon, Antichrist, The Kingdom, and Epidemic.

Penny Dreadful

The premise of Penny Dreadful is fairly straightforward: What if horror’s most legendary baddies—Dorian Gray, Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, The Wolfman—had feelings too? What if they were more than just monsters, they were friends? :’-) It might sound campy, and at times it is, but the best elements of the genre come through the Showtime series’s downright exhilarating passion for its source material and the undeniable chemistry of an all-star cast that includes Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Patti LuPone, Rory Kinnear, and Timothy Dalton. Season Two also has one of the most well-researched and heartfelt witch subplots on film. The Craft, eat your heart out!

Red Dragon

Although it’s neither as quietly perfect as Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs or as stylish as Michael Mann’s Manhunter (of which this is a remake), Brett Ratner’s Red Dragon is easily the third-best film in the Hannibal Lecter franchise (sorry, Ridley Scott! Hannibal just isn’t very good). This version of the story of Will Graham’s quest to capture the Tooth Fairy killer gets its teeth from the superb pairing of the cerebral Edward Norton against a roiling Ralph Fiennes, and is robust with psychological-horror thrills up until its nerve-racking finale.

The Ritual

This straight-to-Netflix scary-story-to-keep-you-up-at-night takes the “friends in a forest” trope of the Blair Witch franchise to dizzying new heights. It also encapsulates many of the best elements of the British cult horror genre, including “sacrificial offerings, psychogeography, [and] erotic religion.” If you’re into both fun but gore-riffic filmmaking and binge-watching, why not pair this with Trollhunter (also on Netflix) for a forest creature double-feature?

Seven

In the wake of 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, the only horror movie to ever win Best Picture, a big question remained as to what film would next bear the heavy psychological-horror mantle. Then, in 1995, following a colossal failure with Alien 3, studios took another chance on the precocious commercial and music video maven David Fincher. He pretty much delivered Hollywood the gauntlet in a cardboard box with Seven, a razor-sharp horror thriller featuring Brad Pitt and a cat-and-mouse detective tale of biblical proportions.

Supernatural

Creating successful fantasy horror is hard enough on the big-screen that the 13-season, 287-episode Supernatural is nothing less than a monumental achievement in character design and worldbuilding. Winchesters Sam and Dean are, without a doubt, two of the most beloved brothers on TV and on Tumblr. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll stay up wide awake at night wondering what happens on their cryptid/demon/ghost/witch-hunting adventures next—but you won’t, at least until you just get started already.

Verónica

Spanish horror director Paco Plaza’s slow-burning period piece is a hidden gem amidst the nebulous Netflix library. Not only is the story of the titular 15-year-old trying to protect her younger siblings from a seriously nasty demon a formal achievement in terms of blocking, cinematography, and setting, it’ll have you thinking twice before breaking out that Ouija board when you learn that it’s actually based on a true story.

The Wailing

What begins as a detective story quickly descends into a demonic murder nightmare for policeman Jong-goo. Set in a small South Korean mountain village, The Wailing is downright bloodcurdling in its execution: a picturesque and restrained horror story that respects its audience enough to lead them gently into the horror that awaits.

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