It’s almost time to say goodbye to those outdoor movie screenings—not to mention summer’s big ‘n’ dumb blockbusters. The fall calls for cool, brainy, Academy Award-bound dramas. And October, more than any month, requires plentiful horror options for stay-at-home Halloween freaks. Fortunately, Netflix is happy to oblige. We’ve browsed every subcategory and found these 15 best horror movies on Netflix, sure to draw you closer to whomever is shivering next to you on the couch.
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Best horror movies on Netflix
Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow
It still ranks as one of the most terrifying American films ever made, and the pea-soup industry still hasn’t economically recovered from its product’s memorable “cameo” in the film. The power of Christ compels you to see it again.
Watch if you liked: The Conjuring
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
Or, as we like to call it, Three Men and a Shark. Yes, it’s the film that created the template for the contemporary Hollywood blockbuster. Pity that most of its successors suck so hard.
Watch if you liked: Sharknado
Director: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
Aussie Jennifer Kent’s supremely confident feature debut already feels like a horror classic, restoring the genre to its psychological prestige while turning the monstrous-mommy gimmick on its head. Inventive, recognizably real and scary as fuck, the film staked out a shadowy domestic terrain last dominated by Roman Polanski.
Watch if you liked: Rosemary’s Baby
Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe
Those blandly blond good looks of Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) are put to sinister use in the role of a house guest who may be preying on a family’s grief. Wingard, a formidable new name in horror who previously brought us the nifty You’re Next and the recent Blair Witch sequel, coolly lets things escalate to a state of delirious violence.
Watch if you liked: It Follows
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Byeon Hie-bong, Park Hae-il
A huge tadpole terrorizes Seoul in Bong’s ode to mutant-creatures-run-amok films—complete with the usual dollop of political paranoia. The director would go on to make the expressly class-conscious Snowpiercer, but this one is just as effective.
Watch if you liked: Mad Max: Fury Road
Director: James Wong
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, Kris Lemche
The third time’s indeed the charm for this horror franchise devoted to free-floating death: Roller coasters run off their tracks, fast-food drive-in lanes turn into demolition derbies, and a weight lifter gets crushed by some heavy metal. Anchoring it all with unusual dramatic commitment is Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Warning: This movie will make you afraid of everything in your apartment.
Watch if you liked: 10 Cloverfield Lane
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh
With Twilight in the rearview mirror, vampires had a rebound in 2014, thanks in part to this pulse-quickening debut by Ana Lily Amirpour. She’s an L.A.-based director who infuses her nighttime tale with weird Lynchian lulls, spaghetti-Western–sounding deep cuts and prickly gender politics.
Watch if you liked: Only Lovers Left Alive
Director: Rodney Ascher
It must be the case that a godlike filmmaker like Stanley Kubrick thought of every angle, right? Maybe not: Filmmaker Rodney Ascher takes this question as a winking premise, as he collects the theories of five fans obsessed with The Shining—normal folk, you imagine, until they begin to speak and reveal hours spent in the dark with their weird ideas.
Watch if you liked: The Shining
Director: Stuart Gordon
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton
Gordon’s debut set a new standard for gross-out horror, most notably with a scene in which a man uses his own severed head to…well, never mind. What’s surprising is how witty and well acted the film is.
Watch if you liked: Shaun of the Dead
Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Jeff Davis
A supremely enjoyable meta-movie, this is no ordinary franchise installment. In it, late director Wes Craven plays himself: a director who knows that Freddy Krueger is real, a demonic spirit released into the world by the movies. Our heroine is, once again, Heather Langenkamp, star of the first film, here a street-famous L.A. mom who is drawn into battle like the dream warrior she always was.
Watch if you liked: A Nightmare on Elm Street