A heavy wind blows against your home, slamming window shutters against the face of the isolated abode. Surrounded by miles of empty road and undeveloped land, you sit in the otherwise quiet of the night listening to the howling winds. It would be the perfect night for a horror movie, if only you knew which one to pop on.
If you’re a Netflix subscriber, your options are abundant, though not always worth your time. To keep you from wasting your evenings watching subpar cinema,we’ve put together this list of the 15 best horror movies on Netflix this October (2019). Watch them or dare to suffer the most gruesome of fates – a dull night during the best of seasons.
Since these are all very different movies, it was difficult to put them in order of quality. So, instead, they’re listed alphabetically.
It’s not ghosts, goblins, or zombies you have to worry about according to 1922. It’s your own loved ones and the sins of your past. This adaptation of the Stephen King novella of the same name is jarring and seems to go through several different genres of horror.
While it’s largely a horror drama, some psychological elements sneak their way in, often leaving viewers unsettled by the actions of the intriguing cast. Thomas Jane (The Punisher, The Mist) plays Wilfred “Wilf” James perfectly and is at no point not the creepiest part of the movie. Disturbing imagery is sure to solidify 1922 as a Halloween-season favorite.
Watch if: you want to watch Thomas Jane at his best. Avoid if: you have a fear of rats.
2. As Above, So Below (2014)
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Released during a time of abundant throwaway found-footage horror films, As Above, So Below understandably fell under the radar at first. Those that caught it, though, were treated to a unique film that takes place in the underground Catacombs of Paris.
As Above, So Below relies less on in-your-face jump scares and more on creepy imagery and claustrophobia to keep viewers at the edge of their seats. It’s a rarity in modern horror, but the more time you spend with the hapless victims, the more you feel bad for their inescapable destiny. Even if you don’t find yourself sucked in, As Above, So Below gives you a chance to visit the lost catacombs as the film was shot in the tight underground space.
Watch if: you want to explore the catacombs of Paris. Avoid if: you are insanely claustrophobic.
3. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Director: Andre Ovredal
Headlined by the commanding presence of Brian Cox and the charm of Emile Hirsch, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a few subgenres of horror wrangled into one glorious package. What starts as a haunted house flick evolves into something so much more as the secret behind the deceased “Jane Doe” starts to unravel.
Ovredal uses tricks we’ve seen before in a way that makes them feel fresh, especially in the eerie setting of a hospital morgue. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is well-acted and perfectly paced, leaving you with few moments of respite from that eerie feeling that something terrible is going to happen.
Watch if: you’re looking for a fresh ghost story. Avoid if: you’re terrified of death.
Candyman may be cheesy by today’s standards, but there is always something about Tony Todd’s presence that keeps you glued to the screen. Underneath all of that 90s cheese is social commentary that’s so much more than a ghost story.
Rose and Clive Barker joined forces to create a smart screenplay that touches on the imbalance of race and social classes in the United States’ inner cities. None of its commentaries takes away from the unsettling imagery that Rose perfected, making this a must-see during any Halloween season.
Watch if: you want to see Tony Todd command the screen. Avoid if: you hate bees.
5. Cargo (2017)
Director(s): Ben Howling / Yolanda Ramke
Zombie movies are so early 2000s. The Walking Dead has beaten us down, and the ample indie flops that pop up on every streaming service have given us undead fatigue. Cargo isn’t your average zombie movie, however, as the directorial pairing of Howling and Ramke creates an emotional story led by Martin Freeman.
Yes, that Martin Freeman, who has set aside his sense of humor to fit in as the gloom leading man of his depressing horror-thriller. Cargo is a worthy adaptation of Howling and Ramke’s short film of the same name, which originally released in 2013.
Watch if: you’re tired of the typical gorefest zombie movies. Avoid if: you don’t want to cry during a horror movie.
6. Creep (2014)
Director: Patrick Kack-Brice
You’ll find yourself at many crossroads during your time with Creep. Mark Duplass solidifies himself as a lovable stranger with a few loose screws, but you can’t help but find him charming. That is, of course, until the film’s second act kicks in, and Duplass’ ability to literally creep out audiences kicks into full gear.
There isn’t a ton of substance to Creep beyond Duplass’ performance, but there doesn’t need to be. Everything you need comes into play whenever the camera is honed in on that trusting face.
Watch if: you want to watch Mark Duplass go insane for 77 minutes. Avoid if: you don’t want to assume every lovable stranger is deranged.
Throughout his career, Mike Flanagan has solidified himself as a master of horror. At first, Gerald’s Game doesn’t seem to fit within his repertoire, but in an instant, a tonal shift fixes that completely. Gerald’s Game is an uncomfortable movie to watch as you watch a sexual assault victim live out her life trauma while suffering from dehydration and exhaustion.
There is no relief for the viewer as Carla Gugino (American Gangster, Watchmen) delivers an incredible performance to drag you into her madness. A surprise role by Carel Struycken (The Addams Family, Addams Family Values) makes for some of the eeriest moments while one particular scene will leave you squirming.
Watch if: you want to feel incredibly uncomfortable for a week. Avoid if: you don’t want to cringe whenever you look at your hand.
8. Hush (2016)
Director: Mike Flanagan
Home invasion movies have been around since the early 20th century, and Flanagan proves there is still room for improvement. With Hush, he uses a common impairment to amplify the horror of a familiar scenario. Deaf writer Madison (Kate Siegel) finds herself fighting off a persistent and murderous invader despite not being able to hear him.
Hush doesn’t really do anything different, but it still succeeds at surpassing so many home invasion movies that came before it with a twist in the concept. Siegel (Oculus, Gerald’s Game) has become a face of the horror genre, and, in Hush, once again proves she absolutely belongs.
Watch if: you want to see a fresh take on the home invasion subgenre. Avoid if: you don’t want that “good boy” image of John Gallagher, Jr. ruined.
9. Insidious (2011)
Director: James Wan
One of many collaborations between director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell, Insidious is a classic haunted house movie with a few welcomed twists. Right from the jarring opening credits, there always seems to be something looming in the background, simply waiting for the right moment to strike.
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring, In the Tall Grass) and Rose Byrne (The Dead Girl, 28 Weeks Later) play sympathetic characters that make surprisingly smart choices – a welcomed rarity in the haunted house genre – while Lin Shaye (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Tales of Halloween) serves as our charismatic guide to the astral realm of The Further. Insidious is not only creepy, but it’s also a genuinely entertaining start to a decent franchise with a very likable cast.
Watch if: you want to see Darth Maul’s horror debut. Avoid if: you have frequent out-of-body experiences.
It’s so easy to make a creature feature if you’re looking to add another film to the sea of B-movie material. Bertino clearly didn’t want to fall into that category with The Monster as he weaves a story that’s both gripping and scary. Zoe Kazan (The Savages) and Ella Ballentine (The Captive) play characters you can root for and want to watch beat the impossible odds they face.
To keep the titular monster from looking too campy, Bertino makes the wise choice to keep the lighting dim. The result is a fun creature-feature that takes the best of the genre and weaves it together with the drama of a deteriorating mother/daughter relationship.
Watch if: you love monsters. Avoid if: you only love cheesy monsters.
11. Scream (1996)
Director: Wes Craven
By the time Scream came around, the slasher genre was in need of a facelift. Lumbering brutes and nightmarish entities had run their course, and Scream was the meta-horror movie that the genre needed. A likable albeit suspect cast and an obvious commentary on horror movies came together for a film that very quickly became a classic.
Scream’s greatest feat is being funny, creepy, and outright scary without letting one aspect completely overshadow the others. It’s a well-rounded viewing experience that begs to be streamed every Halloween season.
Watch if: you love intelligent horror movies. Avoid if: you’re terrified of garages.
12. Terrifier (2016)
Director: Damien Leone
The premise of Terrifier stems from the 2013 anthology film, All Hallow’s Eve. Leone’s full-length gorefest follows the demented Art the Clown as he mutilates, maims, and dismembers whoever crosses his path. Terrifier has no depth to it whatsoever, but Art is devilish enough to make the movie entertaining.
Where Terrifier excels is grossing out the audience with practical gore, from a full-on bisection to gnarley trauma wounds. There’s no doubt that Terrifier isn’t for everyone, but those that can stomach the carnage are treated to an unforgettable and quirky horror film.
Watch if: you love a good gorefest. Avoid if: you can’t stomach gore.
Zombie movies are a dime a dozen these days. They’re relatively cheap and easy to make and don’t require much of a plot beyond “infection causes mayhem and chaos.” Train to Busan is a fresh take on the zombie genre that utilizes a claustrophobic setting and an unsympathetic protagonist to really send viewers reeling for 118 minutes.
Zombies haven’t been scary since Dawn of the Dead (2004), but the spazzy infected of Train to Busan makes the undead terrifying again. Their haunting shrills and insatiable bloodlust will keep your blood pumping and your adrenaline high from the opening moments of the infection to the heart-wrenching finale.
Watch if: you need a new take on the zombie genre. Avoid if: you don’t feel like crying.
Director: Paco Plaza
When it first released on Netflix, Veronica was touted as being so scary that viewers were shutting it off. In some accounts, they were even vomiting and passing out. While Veronica has its moments, it isn’t quite that terrifying. It is, however, a fantastic entry into the supernatural genre. A dangerous spirit torments Veronica and her younger siblings in this Spanish supernatural romp.
While movies that focus on kids are usually grating, the casting department hit a home run with Sandra Escacena, Ivan Chavero, Claudia Placer, and Bruna Gonzalez. There are several moments that will make you jump, but Veronica isn’t your average paranormal horror. It’s interlaced with drama that humanizes the targets of the movie’s unrelenting spirit.
Watch if: you appreciate a good supernatural movie. Avoid if: you don’t want to watch children get terrorized.
15. The Witch
Director: Robert Eggers
Saddle up for a movie that is ripe with disturbing imagery, horrifying concepts, and a charming talking goat named Black Phillip. The Witch is set in 17th century New England and follows a family recently banished from the Puritan Plymouth Colony over differences in beliefs.
Anya Taylor-Joy makes her onscreen debut (after being cut from 2014’s Vampire Academy) and draws the audience into this strange and haunting tale of the power of witchcraft and paranoia. The Witch was Eggers’ feature-length directorial debut and earned him his first award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
Watch if: you want to live deliciously. Avoid if: you don’t like psychological horror.