15 Best Netflix Original Horror Movies: We, the humans, have liked to terrify ourselves through stories since antiquity. So, it’s no wonder that horror became one of the most sought-after genres in cinema. From the Golden Age of horror in 1930s Hollywood to the A24 “elevated horror” cycle, our preference for scares and thrills has undergone many changes. But psychological, paranormal, or otherworldly, it’s entertaining to watch all hell breaking loose from the safety of our screen. With the advent of streaming platforms, getting our horror fix has become much easier. Yet it’s always tricky to zero in on the decent and good horror amidst the swamp of bad horror flicks. 

From prestigious theme-driven horror to delightfully pulpy scarefests, the Netflix catalogue has got a great variety of engaging flicks. This list focuses on the collection of Netflix original horror movies that range from psychological horrors to slashers and spooky ghost stories. Considering that Netflix has been churning out originals at an ever-increasing rate and the possibility of hidden gems waiting to be widely seen, the list will likely undergo changes in the near future. Now, let’s take a look at the horror entertainment you can feast upon that’s just a few clicks away.  

1. 1922 (2017)

Netflix Original Horror Movies

Zak Hilditch’s 1922 is an adaptation of Stephen King’s novella of the same name. It tells an Edgar Allan Poe-esque tale of a grumpy and proud farmer named Wilfred James (Thomas Jane). He takes care of a small tract of land, which is the inheritance of his wife Arlette (Molly Parker) from her father. Arlette detests country life. She wants to sell the land and split the money from the sale, and she will forge her own path by relocating to the big city. But the enraged Wilfred, with the aid of his teenage son, Henry (Dylan Schmid), plans to kill Arlette. While the father and the son get away with the crime, they are haunted by an all-consuming force known as guilt. Soon, the farm is beset with supernatural occurrences, and a sense of decay pervades.

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1922 perfectly works due to the chilly and exemplary characterization of Wilfred. Brutish, guarded, and aloof, Wilfred is key to this study of madness and masculinity. And Thomas Jane excellently embodies this creepy and despicable character. Writer/director Hilditch and the cinematographer Ben Richardson do a fine job of visualizing the protagonist’s psychological torment. The bleakness and the beauty of the land also add to the haunting atmosphere. The Bonnie & Clyde-like subplot involving Henry (which was in the novella, too) takes us out of this focused character study. But, overall, 1922 is one of the best Stephen King adaptations

2. Errementari (2017)

Errementari_ Netflix Original

Paul Urkijo Alijo’s Spanish horror fantasy, Errementari, partly reminded me of Alex de Iglesia’s movies, although it lacks the knack for absurd comedy prevalent in his works. Loosely based on a Basque folktale, the narrative is set in 1835 during the first Carlist War. A blacksmith named Patxi (Kandido Urango) escapes the government firing squad and lives as a recluse in a village. Even though the blacksmith contributes to rebuilding the war-torn village, he remains the subject of the locals’ gossip. 

One day, Usue (Uma Bracaglia), a bullied orphan girl looking for her doll, comes across Patxi’s abode in the woods. When she enters his home, Usue finds a wretched man in a cage. What follows is a peculiar conflict that challenges the notions of good and evil. Errementari has some great set designs and brilliant lighting to immerse us in the eerie atmosphere of 19th-century northern Spain. Although the film offers an intriguing take on the devil, it’s a bit low on the scare quotient. But there are quite a few surprising turns, and the comedic bits work pretty well (especially using chickpeas against the devil). Overall, Errementari is a decent atmospheric horror film with a lively morality drama at its center.

3. Gerald’s Game (2017)

Netflix Original Horror Movies - Gerald's Game

Thanks to his fruitful collaboration with Netflix, Mike Flanagan has emerged as one of the most prolific and fascinating horror filmmakers working today. Gerald’s Game marks Flanagan’s first attempt at adapting a work from one of the masters of horror literature. Generally considered unfilmable, Gerald’s Game is one of Stephen King’s little-known novels, first published in 1992. The story revolves around a middle-aged couple – Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood). The couple take a holiday to alleviate their marital issues and go to a remote lakeside cabin. 

There, the attempt to rekindle the romance goes wrong as Jess is handcuffed to the bedframe, and her husband has perished in a heart attack. What follows is a harrowing fight for survival while processing the unresolved trauma. In narratives like this, where horror is profoundly psychological, the central performance matters the most. And Carla Gugino is absolutely brilliant in portraying a woman who figuratively and literally liberates herself from the horrors in her life. In Gerald’s Game, Flanagan doesn’t rely on jump scares and maintains the tension through unflinchingly distressing sequences. There are a few convoluted aspects in the narrative. Yet, the film largely succeeds in creating an effective horror movie experience. 

Related to Netflix Original Horror Movies – Every Mike Flanagan Film Ranked

4. The Ritual (2017)

The Ritual (2017)

Written by Joe Barton and directed by David Bruckner, The Ritual is based on Adam Neville’s novel of the same name. Friends reuniting for a trip can either lead to a heartwarming or horror narrative. The Ritual belongs to the latter as four friends, including Rafe Spall’s Luke, embark on a hiking trip in the Swedish wilderness to honor the memory of their dead friend. Soon, they are terrorized and hunted down by a forest-bound creature from Norse mythology. From Deliverance (1972) to The Descent (2005), The Ritual’s horror elements are unavoidably derivative despite the pretty good creature design. 

At the same time, Bruckner does a fine job of sustaining the tense atmosphere throughout the first half. Bruckner’s top-notch aesthetics combined with Ben Lovett’s eerie score brings a sense of dread without relying much on jump scares. Perhaps the problem with the film is the character writing, which doesn’t rise above the archetypal characterizations and familiar conflicts (masculinity in crisis). The decent performances do add some relatability factor to the characters. Yet, in horror films like this, the experience becomes a tad underwhelming when we don’t care much about the characters. Still, The Ritual is an entertaining, visually stunning, and delicately crafted genre exercise. 

5. Annihilation (2018)

Best Netflix Original Horror Movies - Annihilation (2018)

Alex Garland’s eco-horror Annihilation is loosely based on Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 novel of the same name (which is the first part of his Southern Reach Trilogy). The book belongs to the New Weird literary genre, which combines elements of fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. Although Alex Garland’s cinematic vision is less ambiguous and speculative than the book, we can understand the sources of his inspiration: Solaris, Stalker, and Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Natalie Portman plays a grief-ridden biologist, Lena. She volunteers herself for an expedition into a mysterious quarantined zone known as ‘Shimmer.’

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While the previous expedition sent into the zone consisted of military people, Lena goes with a group of female researchers and scientists (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny). The zone is hinted to have been created by a visitor from outer space. It causes bizarre mutation and transformation of the flora and fauna. The shimmering borders of the zone are also gradually expanding, causing fear that it will take over the world. 

Writer/director Alex Garland does an incredible job of creating the visceral horrors of this otherworldly setting. The rampage of a mutated bear or the harrowing image of a human corpse splayed across a wall are uncanny and brutally intense. Yet despite providing lots of atmospheric horrors, Annihilation is frustratingly shallow. The character writing, in particular, is the film’s weakest aspect. While the film has a few exciting metaphors to unpack, it never comes together to be a solid sci-fi horror.

Related to Netflix Original Horror Movies – 30 Underrated Sci-Fi Movies From Across The Globe

6. Apostle (2018)

Apostle (2018)

Gareth Evans, known for the violently entertaining The Raid films, makes the switch to a Wicker Man-like horror in Apostle. While it is as aesthetically pleasing as those action films, Apostle’s script packs in a lot of elements but lacks the narrative focus to create a uniformly unnerving movie experience. Set in 1905, the film begins as a slow-burn thriller as a drifter named Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) returns to his family home after a long absence. He finds that his sister, Jennifer (Elen Rhys), has been kidnapped by a mysterious religious cult. She is being held for ransom on an island controlled by the cult. 

Richardson travels to the island, pretending to be a true believer of the cult leader, the charismatic prophet Malcolm (Martin Sheen). There, he unveils the island’s dark secrets, which kind of ventures into supernatural territory. Bolstered by the relentlessly tense score by Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal, Evans guides us on a journey full of twists and misdirections. By the end, one might wish the narrative was less convoluted, yet Evans and his cinematographer Matt Flannery’s bleak and beautiful imagery immerses us into this horrific dispute. Moreover, the violent final act skilfully delivers the much-anticipated catharsis while also leaving us with an indelible final image.

7. Cam (2018)

Best Netflix Original Horror Movies - Cam (2018)

The identity crisis created by the protagonist’s bizarre and dark journey into the online world is at the center of Daniel Goldhaber’s Cam. What if the dreams and fantasies that originate as a result of digital anonymity become an actuality and replace us? The path-breaking anime “Serial Experiments Lain” explored the idea of doppelganger and malleable identity within the online world a couple of decades before Cam (long before chat rooms and Deepfakes). While the anime offers a very complex viewing experience, Goldhaber’s film provides a simple and little-too-neat mystery, warning us about the perils of our online constructs. 

The film revolves around Alice Ackerman (Madeline Brewer), who takes up the identity of Lola to earn a living by fulfilling her audiences’ sexual role-playing fantasies. She has meticulously crafted her online persona to develop her business and reach the top of the web-cam internet platform agency. Alice doesn’t seem to have much of a social life, as her job consumes most of her time. But out of nowhere, Alice is locked out of her account, and a doppelganger version of Lola takes control. Things turn sinister as Alice’s online persona behaves in an extreme manner and oversteps Alice’s professional boundaries. 

Cam is written by Issa Mazzei and is loosely based on her experiences as a cam girl. She also wrote a memoir titled CAMGIRl in 2019. Director Goldhaber deftly moves the narrative into the stranger, eerie directions. He brilliantly translates the story and ideas into a compelling horror with exemplary visual grammar. Finally, Madeline’s extraordinary central performance is crucial to our absolute engagement with the narrative. 

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8. The Perfection (2018) 

The Perfection (2018)

Richard Shepherd’s Netflix Original horrorThe Perfection is a twisted, trashy horror that explores the themes of systemic abuse and creative sacrifices. It revolves around Charlotte (Allison Williams), a talented and troubled cello prodigy who quit the illustrious music academy to take care of her ailing mother. After her mother’s passing, Charlotte reaches out to the head of her former music academy. At his invitation, Charlotte flies to Shanghai to attend an academy event. There, she meets the academy’s current prized pupil, Lizzie (Logan Browning). They instantly forge a bond, and there’s ample sexual tension. But something sinister hides beneath the surface, which escalates into a full-blown bloody mayhem. 

It’s better to watch The Perfection without going through much of its narrative details because the thrill and horror lie in the sheer unpredictability of the journey. Director Shepherd and his co-writers, Nicole Snyder & Eric Charmelo’s attempts to consistently disturb and destabilize the viewer may prove to be divisive. Yet this Brian de Palma-esque psychological horror contains the right amount of paranoia and gore. Both the lead actors – Williams and Browning – provide a gloriously unhinged performance. The Perfection definitely lacks depth in dealing with the themes of abuse and trauma. But it’s a wildly entertaining artsploitation flick. 

9. The Platform (2019)

Best Netflix Original Horror Movies - The Platform (2019)

Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform is set in a dystopian near-future, where a prison facilitates a grim social experiment. Vertical Self-Managment Center, or The Pit, is an unimaginably massive prison with hundreds of floors. Each cell holds two prisoners with a vertigo-inducing hole at its center. A moving platform passes through the hole every day, carrying a banquet. The platform halts at each cell for a few minutes before descending floor by floor. While the prisoners at the top enjoy the feast, those at the bottom might not even have the leftovers. The catch is that the prisoners (two in the cell) are randomly shuffled to a different floor every month. 

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In The Platform, our protagonist is Goreng (Ivan Massague), who wakes up on floor 48 with a seemingly composed older inmate, Trimagasi. Every inmate can bring one personal item to The Pit. While most bring weapons, Goreng has brought a copy of Don Quixote. He soon learns that this isn’t the place to read about a knight lamenting the loss of chivalry. The Pit, in fact, is fueled by greed and desperation and shows how the gnawing hunger and survival instinct can quickly replace human virtues. 

At the outset, The Platform’s central conceit feels vaguely similar to Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, Denis Villeneuve’s short Next Floor, and Vincenzo Natali’s Cube. But the narrative has intriguing layers and hard-hitting metaphors that brilliantly convey its thesis on capitalism and the human condition. The film gets better in the rewatches as the script by David Desola and Pedro Rivero withholds profound socio-economic allegories, provided you can stomach the extremely violent imagery.  The Platform is much more than an innovative genre exercise since the horror it speaks of is all around us. 

Related to Netflix Original Horror Movies – The Best Netflix Original Movies, Ranked

10. His House (2020)

His House (2020)

British writer/director Remi Weekes’ feature film directorial debut revolves around a South Sudan refugee couple seeking asylum in the UK. His House opens like a sociopolitical drama with Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) placed in a detention center, dreading if their asylum claims will be declined. Finally, they move to a slightly dilapidated house in an unnamed impoverished neighborhood in London, although they are constantly subjected to racial prejudice. But soon, they also start experiencing terror in the form of a restless spirit that resides inside the walls. 

The grief, guilt, and trauma of the couple become the fuel that manifests the vengeful apparition. Remi Weekes does a decent job of balancing the real horrors the refugees face and the familiar haunted house tale. The supernatural presence is as scary as the local boys who don’t like refugees. The fascinating central idea, however, is afflicted by the ordinary jump scares in the middle portions. Yet His House ends on a memorable and poignant note, and the performances uniformly convey the profound emotional conflicts of the central characters. Most importantly, the horrors we witness in the film aren’t something that’s talked about in cinema. 

11. The Fear Street Trilogy (2021)

Best Netflix Original Horror Movies - The Fear Street Trilogy (2021)

Leigh Janiak’s Fear Street Trilogy is based on R.L. Stine’s teenage horror fiction series. The trio of films are set in the years 1994, 1978, and 1666, respectively. The films are set in the fictional town of Shadyside, which is infamously known as a murder capital. Every few years, a killing spree plagues the town, committed by seemingly ordinary people. The law enforcement conveniently explains the tragedies as a result of sudden psychological breakdown. At the same time, Shadyside’s counterpart, Sunnyvale, is lionized as the economically superior, crime-free town. 

Shadyside and Sunnyvale’s youngsters link this contrast to a witch’s curse. Sarah Fier, a woman executed in 1666 for allegedly performing witchcraft, is probably behind the murders. The teenage protagonists of Fear Street believe Sarah Fier possesses Shadysiders every few years to commit mass murder. The attempts to avert the curse and win over the supernatural entity take us to three timelines, which pay ample homage to popular Hollywood horror films. Janiak’s trilogy is a bit heavy on nostalgia, while the horror factor isn’t that bloodcurdling. Yet there are some inventive and nasty kills. At times, Janiak also cleverly diverges from the slasher movie stereotypes. 

The films’ core message about discrimination – class, sexual, and racial – is pretty well handled. Notably, the third part (set in 1666) that explores the origins of Sarah Fier is entertaining and meaningful. The queer relationship at the film’s center is also refreshingly complicated. 

Related to Best Netflix Original Horror Movies – The Monstrous Feminine: 30 Best Feminist Horror Movies

12. Incantation (2022)

Incantation (2022)

Taiwanese Netflix original horror by Kevin Ko is a disquieting dive into the eerie rituals and mysterious cults. Unfolding as a mockumentary, Incantation revolves around Li Ruo-nan (Hsuan-yen Tsai), a single mother who is trying to save her six-year-old daughter, Dodo, from a supernatural curse. Li Ruo-nan worked as a videographer, busting the paranormal myths. But when Li and her boyfriend try to unveil the dark secrets of the ancient ritual, they encounter dangerous consequences, especially those afflicting Li’s little daughter. 

Incantation attempts to provide a chilling account of a paranormal investigation. The frustrating ambiguity and headache-inducing shots of horror mockumentaries are replete in Incantation. Yet, as it details the scary and esoteric rituals surrounding a fictitious deity (inspired by Tantric Buddhist figures), we are gradually immersed in the atmosphere of impending doom. Kevin Ko and his co-writer Chang Che-wei effectively employ every trick in the mockumentary/found footage style to convey the scarily bizarre stuff. The anticipatory fear of Dodo’s suffering also adds a compelling dimension to the terror. Yet, Incantation’s visceral and psychological horrors aren’t as profoundly impactful as it’s in Noroi: The Curse (2005) or The Wailing (2016) – horror-mystery hybrids with arcane rituals.

13. El Conde (2023)

Best Netflix Original Horror Movies - El Conde (2023)
Netflix Original Horror Movies – A still from “El Conde”

One could say the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet haunts the filmography of Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain. His three earlier films (Tony Manero, Postmortem, and No) were somber dramas that subtly explored the damages caused by the Pinochet regime on Chilean society. With El Conde (The Count), Larrain returns to make a film in his native country (after making biopics on Jacqueline Kennedy and Diana), and this time, he squarely sets his narrative on the dictator himself. Moreover, Larrain finds the right genre befitting this ruthless, inhumane man: dark comedy fantasy sprinkled with horror elements. 

In this alternate history, which Larrain has co-written with Guillermo Calderon, Pinochet is still alive. In fact, the despicable authoritarian has been alive for 250 years, literally sucking blood out of the people. He lives a calm life in the countryside with his wife, Lucia, and his needs are attended by the loyal vampire servant, Fyodor. When there’s a report of someone eating the hearts of young people across Santiago, Pinochet’s children visit their father, suspecting he is behind the carnage. Edward Lachman’s foggy black-and-white shots are reason enough to watch this bloody satire. The grotesquerie is equally unsettling and darkly comedic. El Conde isn’t as incisive or nuanced as Larrain’s earlier Chilean films. Yet there’s something darkly fascinating about this reimagination of Pinochet as an aging, morose vampire. 

14. Sister Death (2023)

Sister Death (2023)

Spanish filmmaker Paco Plaza is best known for the riveting found footage horror film REC (2007). After making a couple of underwhelming sequels to REC, Paco Plaza further ventured into the horror genre with another familiar subject: demonic possession. Veronica (2017) – not a Netflix original horror – is an outlandish dramatization of an alleged real story featuring a teen girl in 90s Madrid battling against evil supernatural forces. Common horror elements like an Ouija board and solar eclipse play a pivotal role in the advent of malevolent spirits. But one unique aspect of Veronica was the characterization of an old nun, dubbed as ‘Hermana Muerte’ (Sister Death) by the teenage girls. 

Plaza’s Sister Death chronicles the origins of the titular character, who is originally named Narcisa (Aria Bedmar). Set in the mid-1940s, in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Narcisa, the novice nun, arrives at a convent that also operates as a hostel and school for underprivileged girls. In her childhood, people in Narcisa’s village perceived her as a holy figure. The burden of that perception, alongside the crippling doubts, follows Narcisa into the convent. Moreover, she is tormented by strange occurrences that signal the presence of a vengeful spirit. Eventually, Narcisa learns some dark secrets that are connected to religious dogma and the barbaric acts of war. 

Sister Death is a slow-paced atmospheric horror that’s filled with incredible cinematic flair. Paco Plaza brilliantly uses the spartan architecture of the convent to generate genuine scares. While the filmmaker’s predictable use of the genre tropes impacts the final payoff, the fascinating stylistic choices and solid lead performance keep us hooked. 

Related to Netflix Original Horror Movies – The 10 Best Horror Films of 2023

15. The Conference (2023)

Best Netflix Original Horror Movies - The Conference (2023)

There are quite a few Netflix Original slasher horrors in the offering. Most, though, look promising at the outset, the bloody ridiculousness doesn’t truly morph into fun popcorn entertainment – for instance, McG’s The Babysitter (2017), despite having the incredible Samara Weaving. But Swedish filmmaker Patrick Eklund’s The Conference is a solid horror-comedy whose familiar satirical commentary on corporate culture and innovative kills go well together. Although the film is based on Mats Strandberg’s novel, it reminds us of Christopher Smith’s Severance (2006).

The plot revolves around a team-building work conference for public-sector employees at a remote lodge in the Swedish countryside. They are also there to celebrate the launch of the shopping mall, for which land has been taken from hard-working farmers. The group consists of individuals with varying temperaments, from the hyper-excited to the skeptical and the level-headed. Before the killer strikes, we get a fine estimation of the characters we despise, like, and are uncertain about. 

The Conference also doesn’t waste time slowly building tension or blandly throwing expository information. The over-competitive nature of the workers bestows some extraordinary comedic scenarios. At times, the enraged killer haunting the woods seems less threatening than the cut-throat corporate attitude. The mascot head the killer wears is perfectly creepy, and the odd musical choices substantially impact the killing routines. The film’s ending also playfully subverts the expectations we usually have from this horror subgenre. 

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