Why do we like horror films? Is it because they legitimately make you squirm, or that they start off so silly, only to be believable by the end credits? Whatever the reason, horror is one of the most popular genres of film on Netflix. Generally speaking, they are easy entertainment with decent suspense, good build-up and a gory final reveal or final blow…perfect for a Friday night date, or maybe not. Read on for our favourite horror movies, as reviewed by various Canstar Blue staff.
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Seven horror films you must watch on Netflix
From Saw to The Human Centipede, Netflix has a wide variety of horror movies to binge until you can’t bear them anymore. These are the top 7, as reviewed by our resident horror connoisseurs. Tune in and freak out.
If you thought of Adelaide as an idyllic holiday destination, think again. The Babadook is proudly an Australian horror film with some relative unknowns as actors. You’ve got a single widowed mum at her wit’s end with her rather annoying child, you’ve got prescription pill abuse and scary things in books that come to life. What a combo.
The Babadook is a 2014 film directed by Jennifer Kent, with perhaps the ‘biggest’ actor name to be featured in Daniel Henshall of Snowtown fame (the film, not the real-life events). Long story short, the son’s annoying behaviour is realised as more than just being a pain for the down-and-out mother, as a picture book’s character actually comes to life and wreaks havoc. The ending is quite silly, but we won’t be too harsh on it; perhaps it finishes as a metaphor for the beast that lives within everyone of us? Deep.
You had me at Stephen King. This film is based on the author’s novella of the same name. Dat dere some corn fields ain’t it… 1922 is a Netflix Original and depicts Wilfred, a farmer living in Nebraska whose ego is too big to sell the family home. The only option? Murder.
As is usually the case with Stephen King works, the novels and film adaptations somewhat plod along until reaching a final crescendo where all hell breaks loose. 1922 is no stranger to this and is not your typical horror film this way. Rather than relying on jumpy scares and over-the-top idiotic characters, 1922 is more of a slow burn, similar to The Babadook mentioned earlier. It plays on psychosis and the feeling of unease, rather than edge-of-your-seat suspense throughout the film. Oh, and there are rats – lots of them.
Don’t call yourself a fan of horror – or indeed, film in general – if you’ve never seen The Shining. Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is what happens when a great story meets smart direction; the story is occasionally a slow burn, but the eventual payoff is magnificent.
The story of an alcoholic writer who moves his family to the isolated, haunted Overlook Hotel for a winter in order to write the ‘Great American Novel’, The Shining is cinema’s most influential haunted-house movie: the film’s bleeding elevators, Native burial grounds, and murderous ghost children still pop up in film and TV more than three decades later. It also cemented Jack Nicholson as one of horror’s most iconic and unhinged villains. If you like your horror smart, add The Shining to your must-watch list ASAP.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Your enjoyment of Francis Ford Coppola’s take on the OG vampire tale will largely depend on your tolerance for Keanu Reeves’ woeful British accent and underwhelming performance, especially when he’s sharing the screen with powerhouse co-stars Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins. But look past the miscasting, and Dracula has a bit of everything: buckets of blood, a lavish romance, giant bat-people, Tom Waits, Victorian London, and plenty of camp.
Dracula sticks loosely to Stoker’s novel, seeing Oldman’s Count leave his Transylvanian homeland in pursuit of the possible reincarnation of his centuries-dead wife. Throw in the eccentric Dr. Van Helsing, a motley crew of reluctant vampire hunters, and a freshly-turned bride-to-be with a killer thirst, and you’ve got an epic and entertaining horror-drama. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is also beautiful to look at, with gorgeous cinematography and Oscar-winning costuming and makeup effects.
Event Horizon is an interesting movie. It was initially panned upon its cinematic release in 1997 but has since gained a cult following, mainly because you can clearly tell a lot of love went into making it.
Starring a pre-Matrix Laurence Fishburne and a post-Jurassic Park Sam Neill (who definitely isn’t a friendly dinosaur-loving nerd here), Event Horizon tells the story of a space exploration crew responding to a distress signal from a spaceship long believed to be lost – the Event Horizon, the first ship designed for faster-than-light travel. Upon finding the ship, things begin to unravel almost immediately, and the final revelation of what happened to the crew is almost unimaginable…
I won’t give too much away here, but to me Event Horizon is the scariest horror movie I’ve ever seen, purely because of how unsettling it is throughout. You’re in for a hell of a time.
Travelling to her boyfriend’s parent’s remote holiday home for a family celebration, things suddenly turn violent when a group of masked men interrupt their dinner and start butchering left and right. I find home invasion movies more frightening than most as they are within the realm of possibility – anyone could sneak into your home at any time. Why, someone could be in your house right now…
One of my biggest gripes with horror movies is that the characters are often…idiotic to say the least. So, when I first watched You’re Next expecting much of the same, I was pleasantly surprised when the main character was the exact opposite. Because she remains calm and makes sensible decisions to combat this terrifying threat, this movie didn’t frustrate me like so many others do. And when the fightback really starts, You’re Next expertly blends horror with visceral, brutal action.
I highly recommend You’re Next if you don’t mind watching people get their faces mushed in with axes.
Another home invasion film (you might have noticed a trend here) Hush is a unique movie because the protagonist Maddie is a deaf-mute. Staying alive with a killer on the loose is hard enough, but Hush does a great job showcasing just how much harder it would be if you couldn’t hear your attacker. And yet again, our protagonist relies on her own smarts and composure to come out alive (seriously, so many people in horror movies are dumb).
There’s very little gore in this movie too for horror-fans after something less disgusting – the violence is there when needed to raise the stakes but never too in your face. Hush is a well-acted- directed and edited movie that should leave you on the edge of your seat for 90 minutes.
What horror movie should I watch on Netflix?
Horror is a wide-reaching genre and is certainly one of the more popular on Netflix. With that said, there’s more than just your typical teenage popcorn flick, jump-scare styles of films on it. If you’re not a fan of this type of horror – and who can blame you – there are many other types available. From the slow burners, to the psychological ones that will leave you reeling in front of the TV, Netflix has it all.
- If you’re into novel adaptations, 1922 may be what you’re after.
- If you like psychological stuff, The Babadook may be up your alley.
- If you like believable home invasion-type films, You’re Next and Hush may provide the scares.
- If you like classics, The Shining and Dracula are waiting for you.
This selection provides a pretty wide net of horror to watch on Netflix. No matter what type of horror floats your boat the most, Netflix has it all. So, get the blankets and snacks, and maybe someone to hold onto because this Friday night fright night is about to get suspenseful.