February is winding down, and before it does, you should check out some of the great horror that Netflix has to offer. Right now, Netflix has a huge variety of horror and thriller films, including everything from old classics to modern blockbusters, and Netflix Originals. It’s way too much to cover here (there are over 50 titles!), but we’ve rounded up some of the highlights for you.
This supernatural horror flick based on the short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker follows a graduate student in Chicago who is writing a thesis on urban legends. When her research turns up the legend of the “candyman,” things start to get weird. This film is considered a modern classic thanks to its smart storytelling and effective chills and thrills. You might be surprised by how well this movie’s depictions of racial and social issues have aged.
Child’s Play (1988)
The film that introduced us to our favorite possessed doll, Chucky. If you’ve always been curious about the Chucky franchise but not known where to start, well, this is it. Watch in horror and fascination as a well-meaning single mom gives her son a doll for his birthday, unaware that it’s possessed by the soul of a serial killer.
The Evil Dead (1981)
This movie is a cultural touchstone that has spawned a franchise and is frequently cited as one of the best horror films of all time. It was initially a low budget film that wasn’t expected to earn much at the box office, but when Stephen King gave it rave reviews, it turned into a cult hit. The premise is simple but extremely effective: College kids get possessed by demons while staying in a cabin in the woods, and all kinds of horrific hijinks ensue.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
This psychological horror classic by director Roman Polanski was deemed “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant” enough to be selected for preservation in the Library of Congress in 2014. This film follows the story of Rosemary as she becomes convinced that an evil cult wants to use her baby in their satanic rituals. Rosemary’s Baby was hugely influential. Films like The Exorcist, The Omen, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose owe a lot to Rosemary’s Baby.
Honorable Mentions: Scream 2, The Craft, The Crow, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Event Horizon, Final Destination, The Ring.
Modern Box Office Hits
One of the highest-grossing movies of 2011, Insidious, made a splash in the world of blockbuster horror. It tells the story of a family who realizes that the coma their son seems to have fallen into is supernatural in nature. He isn’t in a coma, but instead visiting the astral plane, and by doing so, he has become a vessel for ghosts who wish to inhabit his body. An Associated Press review of the film stated: “Insidious is the kind of movie you could watch with your eyes closed and still feel engrossed by it.”
The most profitable movie ever made, based on its return on investment, Paranormal Activity became an overnight sensation when it was released in 2007. Since then, it has spawned sequels, video games, and comics. Paranormal Activity tells its story through the “home video” of a couple who decides to record the demonic haunting that is going on in their home. It’s pure suspense from beginning to end.
If the recent sequel has you hankering to rewatch the original, then Netflix has you covered. Relive the hilarious and gory story of three misfits trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. And maybe feel a little nostalgic for 2009 while you’re at it.
Honorable mentions: Sinister 2, The Witch, Cult of Chucky.
The premise of this post-apocalyptic film is simple but fascinating. Humans find themselves overrun by strange non-corporeal creatures that possess people and force them to commit suicide. The catch is that they can only possess you if you look at them. The only way to protect yourself is to stay inside, close the blinds, and wear a blindfold if you have to venture out.
The main character Malorie ends up caring for two children and trying to get them and herself to a sanctuary she has heard of. The tension between groups of humans trying to survive on the one hand and between humans and their supernatural predators on the other is reminiscent of a zombie film. But the predators, in this case, are more dangerous than any zombie. The character development is also well done, and the ending is not your typical horror film finale.
This film is an incredible blend of horror subgenres. It’s a period piece that follows the main character Thomas Richardson who goes to a Welsh island to rescue his sister, who is being held for ransom by a mysterious cult. As he learns more about the island and why the cult exists, the film goes from dreamy and creepy to gory and horrifying. A little bit dark fairy tale, a little bit slasher, this is a slow burn film that chooses an eerie sense of dread over jump scares.
I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in This House
If you are looking for a good old-fashioned ghost story, look no further than this Osgood Perkins film. Lily Saylor is hired as a live-in nurse to care for Iris Blum, a retired horror writer who is now suffering from dementia. Lily quickly realizes that the house is haunted, and she becomes intrigued when she discovers connections between the current haunting and a novel by her employer. The film flashes back between 1813 and the “current” era of the film ( mid 20th century), to tell the story of the events that have triggered the haunting. If you prefer literary style creepiness to jump scares, then you should give this one a try.
Honorable Mentions: Before I Wake, Calibre, Hush, Gerald’s Game