TV & Movies

The 17 Scariest Movies On Netflix, According To Their Wikipedia Synopses

This one’s dedicated to everyone who reads the plot first.

by Bustle Editors
Originally Published: 
Carla Gugino in Gerald's Game. Photo via Netflix

Netflix is often a mixed bag when it comes to horror films, so if you embark on extensive research of their library selection before actually settling on a movie for the night, you're not alone. Luckily, we’ve done some research for you to help speed up the process. It turns out that checking out Wikipedia synopses is quite handy for determining what the scariest movies are on Netflix and can help you weed out stale, already-disappointing plots when you're in the mood for something more bone-chilling.

Now, reading plot summaries before watching a movie isn't something we’d ordinarily condone or encourage, but horror films are a different animal. Sometimes if you're basing your choice on trailers, it can be hard to know what you're getting into. There's nothing worse than cozying up on the couch for a night of frights with friends and ending up terribly bored or put off by an unimaginative storyline.

Of course, reading sypnoses doesn't eliminate this risk entirely, but it at least gives you a little more context to the story than the little Netflix blurb does. And, if you don't want the ending spoiled for you, you can stop reading anytime after you deem a movie worthy of your time. So behold, from buzzy mainstream hits to more niche independent films, these are the 17 best horror movies on Netflix, selected based on their Wikipedia summaries.

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Fear Street Part One: 1994

Reading the Wikipedia synopsis of this 2021 film is a wild ride involving murders, a witch, the undead, a resurrection, and a possession. Intrigued yet? Based on the books by horror master R. L. Stine, Fear Street Part One: 1994 begins with a massacre in Shadyside, Ohio, aka the “Murder Capital.” When a group of teens visits during a vigil, Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) gets a vision of the Fier witch, who put a curse on the town.

A series of strange occurrences happen, including accidents, deaths, and, oh, a swarm of undead murderers comes to life. When the group finally realizes what Sam unwittingly did to anger the witch, they realize they’re all in grave danger. The next two movies in this trilogy, Fear Street Part Two: 1978and Fear Street Part Three: 1666, sound equally chilling.


Fatal Affair

Stalker films abound, but this one is especially creepy since the stalker is a tech whiz, always one calculated step ahead of the object of his obsessions. When Ellie (Nia Long) meets David (Omar Epps) at her new job, she has no idea what he’s capable of — at least not until she rejects his advances and he retaliates by hacking into her home’s security and showing up everywhere, even befriending her husband.

Ellie gets a brief respite for a minute when police officers announce David’s death. But that, too, is planned. And after she learns that David murdered his ex-wife, she must find a way to keep her family out of harm’s way.



This 2018 techno-thriller follows Alice (Madeline Brewer), a cam girl who does live broadcasts under the username Lola_Lola. In order to boost her rank on the site, one day she simulates her own death by suicide. Not long after, Alice tries to capitalize on her rank momentum by doing another stream, only to see that somehow Lola_Lola is already live. When she checks the stream, she’s shocked to discover her own doppelgänger has seemingly taken over her account.

As Alice tries to figure out who has stolen her online identity and how, she faces nothing but judgment, ridicule, and danger from those she seeks help from due to the stigma of her being a cam girl. And when she stumbles upon other streams taken over by doppelgängers, Alice sets out to do whatever it takes to unravel this mystery and reclaim her own identity.



If you’re not yet tired of thinking about global viruses, the 2017 post-apocalyptic film Cargo should be next on your watchlist. After the world is infected by a virus that turns humans rabid within 48 hours, Andy (Martin Freeman) attempts to escape to a supposed refuge with his wife, Kay (Susie Porter), and Rosie, their baby. Things go south when Kay catches the virus and bites Andy.

As Andy’s infection worsens, he bumps into Thoomi (Simone Landers), who believes that the infected — including her father — can still be cured. As they attempt to hide from those hunting them, Andy encounters people who’ve let the pandemic strip their humanity, all while his grip on his own life loosens.


Gerald's Game

Wikipedia reveals something right off the bat about this Netflix original that should immediately raise excitement for any horror fans — it's based on a novel by Stephen King.

The film follows married couple Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) as they head to an isolated lake house in Alabama and embark upon some kinky sex involving handcuffs and roleplaying. Jessie is definitely not as into Gerald's sexy games as he is, and at one point asks him to stop, prompting an argument. Then, things get even worse when Gerald suddenly dies of a heart attack, leaving Jessie handcuffed to a bed in a deserted area with no means of escape.

The rest of the synopsis offers plenty of specifics about what happens to Jessie afterward — including encounters with a strange (and hungry) dog, terrifying hallucinations (or are they?), and flashbacks to childhood trauma. It's a wild ride, even for Stephen King material.



Creep, starring Mark Duplass, is a classic case of found footage horror. According to Wikipedia, Josef (Duplass) hires a videographer, Aaron (Patrick Brice), to come over to his house to film a movie. Josef tells Aaron that the project is a gift for his son since Josef is dying of cancer and wants the child to have this video from his dad long after he's gone. Sounds innocent enough, right? Not so much.

Josef's sense of humor gets more and more worrisome as the film goes on, and it soon becomes clear that perhaps not everything Aaron's been told about the reason he's been hired is true. What starts as a seemingly innocent (if a little odd) assignment turns into a bona fide thriller, and the synopsis has all the deets.



After his sister is kidnapped and held for ransom by a cult in 1905, Thomas (Dan Stevens) travels to the isolated island the cult operates out of to save her. There, he learns that the cult believes the naturally barren island is only fertile due to the group’s practice of ritual blood sacrifices. Turns out, at least on this point, the cult isn’t wrong. The island’s deity actually appears to Thomas, and it’s revealed she’s being imprisoned by the cult’s leader Malcolm (Michael Sheen).

And if that seems like we’ve already given away the whole movie, you are sorely mistaken. Things only escalate from there, per its Wikipedia, leading to what sounds like some seriously wild and violent twists.



Hush is far more interesting — and gripping — than your typical home invasion horror. According to Wikipedia, Hush's main character, Maddie (Kate Siegel), is a deaf woman who is completely unaware when her neighbor frantically runs to her home and begins to beat on her door for help. It turns out that a masked killer has begun to terrorize the neighborhood, and when he figures out that Maddie can't hear him approaching, he makes her his next target.

Thinking of Maddie as easy prey, the killer begins taunting her. Only, Maddie is far more resourceful and clever than he bargained for. She's a total badass who manages to outsmart the killer on more than one occasion, and what follows is a super intense game of cat and mouse.



“Loosely based on true events” is how many of the best horror Wikipedia pages begin, including the one for Verónica. Set in 1991, the 2017 film follows the 15-year-old Verónica (Sandra Escacena), who gathers her friends for a séance with an ouija board on the same day of a solar eclipse. But when Verónica accidentally drips blood on the board at the moment of the eclipse, a dark connection is made that seemingly dooms this innocent teen.

Now subject to terrifying paranormal occurrences, Verónica goes to one of the school’s nuns, ominously dubbed Sister Death, who reveals that she has a dark spirit attached to her. As Verónica becomes increasingly desperate to protect her younger siblings from this demonic force, she realizes just how little control over the spirit — and herself — she actually has.



Here’s another Stephen King-inspired banger to add to your watch list. The movie, unsurprisingly set in 1922, begins with farmer Wilf (Thomas Jane) convincing his son Henry (Dylan Schmid) to be an accomplice in his mother’s (Molly Parker) murder, all to prevent Arlette from moving away and selling their farm. The duo goes through with the crime, slitting Arlette’s throat and dumping her body down the well, where rats feast on it.

Years later, Wilf and Henry remain haunted (literally and figuratively) by what they’ve done. Hordes of rats turn out to be Arlette’s chosen agents of justice on the mortal plane as her ghost refuses to rest until her twisted justice is served.


The Ritual

When four men set out on a hike in Sweden to honor their recently murdered friend, things immediately turn when one of them, Dom (Sam Troughton), injures his leg. As a result, they decide to veer off the path and cut through the woods to save time. Mistake! Once in the woods, they begin experiencing strange phenomena, like one guy waking up with puncture marks on his chest, while also being haunted by the memory of their friend’s death. The situation quickly escalates when they realize they are being stalked by a sinister cult looking for some human sacrifices.

Based on the Wiki summary, it sounds like this friend group was already fracturing before this hiking trip, and these disintegrating relationships get put through the wringer in this spine-chilling fight for survival.


Secret Obsession

Disney alum Brenda Song plays Jennifer, a woman who wakes up in a hospital with amnesia after a car accident in 2019’s Secret Obsession. With no parents nor friends, it’s solely up to her doting husband, Russell (Mike Vogel), to help her recover in their secluded mansion in the woods.

Good thing she has him, right? Wrong. When Frank (Dennis Haysbert), a detective who thinks something doesn’t fit quite right, digs into the events surrounding Jennifer’s crash, he discovers that while Jennifer is married to a Russell, she isn’t married to this one. That’s not even his name at all. The excitement builds up as Jennifer slowly catches on to her situation and Frank starts looking for her captor. This movie by Peter Sullivan is way darker and murderous than it seems, a chilling tale of a crazed stalker who (sort of) succeeds.


The Perfection

This twisty thriller is so much more than a former musical prodigy jealous of the shiny, new star. When cellist Charlotte (Allison Williams) loses top billing at her music school while on a hiatus to care for her ill mother, she gets jealous of the new star performer Lizzie (Logan Browning). After Charlotte cozies up to Lizzie in a one-time rendezvous, she then drugs Lizzie, causing her to hallucinate and hack off her hand — the one she uses to play. Obviously.

But the plot summary goes way beyond extreme jealousy and amputation, especially since Charlotte had a righteous (even altruistic) reason for manipulating Lizzie into self-mutilation. Two words: sex cult. The Wiki entry of The Perfection alone is bizarre and highly disturbing, so the movie will likely haunt viewers even more.



A soul for a soul is the principle that courses through 2019’s Rattlesnake. Katrina (Carmen Ejogo) is on a trip with her daughter Clara when Clara is bitten by a rattlesnake in the desert. With no one else to turn to, she enlists the help of a creepy woman who miraculously heals the bite – marks included. When she takes Clara to the hospital, she’s reassured that all is well. That is, until a man appears at her bedside to tell Katrina that the price of saving Clara should be repaid with another human soul, else she dies anyway.

As Katrina sets out to find anyone to kill to keep her daughter alive, she discovers the town’s dark past and realizes that its inhabitants are not at all what they seem. If you aren’t sold, the Wiki summary also refers to a creepy shadowy figure in photos and drawings for an added chill factor.


Things Heard & Seen

Amanda Seyfried and James Norton star in 2021’s Things Heard & Seen, a horror flick based on the Elizabeth Brundage novel, All Things Cease to Appear. The Claires move to a new home, unaware of the eerie abode’s dark history — the previous owners died by suicide, and at least one spirit lives on in the residence.

While there are multiple B-plots difficult to follow from the Wiki synopsis alone, the summary promises a twisty story with séances, deaths, and eternal damnation.


His House

The 2020 British film His House garnered critical acclaim, bagging multiple awards in the Brit Awards circuit. It also managed to score 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Under Remi Weekes’ directorial debut, it follows a refugee couple, played by Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù and Wunmi Mosaku, who lost their daughter on board while fleeing from South Sudan to the UK. They think the perils are over once they’re on land, but after they’re finally assigned a home, they find it’s haunted.

In the political commentary style of Jordan Peele, His House tackles themes of racism, trauma, and immigration, all while the haunted house storyline effectively spooks viewers. It’s definitely worth adding to your Netflix queue.


A Classic Horror Story

Fans of Midsommar will enjoy this 2021 Italian entrant in the cult horror genre. The pregnant Elisa (Matilda Lutz) books a rideshare carpool to head to her parents’ place when she finds herself stranded with the other passengers in a forest. As Elisa examines her spooky surroundings and tries to find a way back to the main road, she witnesses various forms of mutilation, all in the name of demonic ritual sacrifice. For a gory preview, check out the jarring Wikipedia synopsis.

A Classic Horror Story isn’t all about cultish rites, though. In fact, unlike its title suggests, it isn’t classic at all. A very modern, 21st-century twist awaits, causing Elisa to go on her own vengeful rampage.

Happy streaming — and no shame if you have to sleep with the light on.

Reporting by Sadie Gennis, Taylor Maple, and Alyssa Lapid

This article was originally published on