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 are
the scariest movies on Netflix, and can help you weed out some stale, already-disappointing plots when you're in the mood for something more 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 just basing your choice on trailers, it can be hard to know exactly 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 12 best horror movies on Netflix, selected based on their Wikipedia summaries.
This 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 Alice simulates her own suicide. But 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.
—Sadie Gennis 2 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.
—Taylor Maple 3 Creep 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.
—Taylor Maple 4 Apostle
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. And it turns out, that 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 Wikipedia, leading to what sounds like some seriously wild and violent twists.
—Sadie Gennis 5 Insidious Insidious combines two of the most classic and chilling horror elements: a spooky house and a creepy kid. According to Wiki, after a family moves into their new home, their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) inexplicably falls into a coma. Afterwards, they begin experiencing spooky and unexplained phenomenon — including hearing voices on the baby monitor and the unconscious Dalton sleepwalking at night.
The parents eventually call in a team of paranormal investigators, who reveal the harrowing truth behind these events — which involve some pretty otherworldly revelations that we won’t spoil here. (Though Wiki is always here for you if you want to know what we’re talking about.)
—Sadie Gennis 6 Hush 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.
—Taylor Maple 7 The Invitation The Invitation takes a seemingly normal plot and turns it on its head. Per Wikipedia, protagonist Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend (Emayatzy Corinealdi) attend a dinner party together at the home of Will's ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband (Michiel Huisman). The history between Will and his ex becomes more and more clear to viewers as the movie goes on — and increasingly disturbing.
The dinner party also goes off the rails as one guest mysteriously fails to show up, the cell phone signal for the partygoers randomly disappears, and Will begins to uncover evidence that his ex and her husband are involved in some strange kind of cult. His paranoia only gets worse, and eventually is revealed to be completely justified.
—Taylor Maple 8 Verónica
“Loosely based on true events” is how many of the best horror Wikipedia pages begin, including the one for
Verónica. Set in 1991, the film follows the 15-year-old Verónica (Sandra Escancena), who gathers her friends for a séance with a 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.
—Sadie Gennis 9 Would You Rather
The title may reference a light-hearted game of hypotheticals played among friends, but the reality of
Would You Rather is much darker. As protagonist Iris (Brittany Show) searches for a way to fund her brother's cancer treatment, she meets a rich philanthropist who offers her a unique opportunity, according to the Wikipedia. If she attends his dinner party and wins his favorite parlor game, his charity will pay for her brother's treatment.
The horrible twist comes when the nature of the game is revealed: In each round, all the night's participants are forced to choose between painful and sometimes deadly actions to do to themselves or one another — including electric shocks, stabbings and whippings. There's no obvious escape from the game in sight, and it becomes a night of desperate and traumatic decisions.
—Taylor Maple 10 1922
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 go 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. Hoards of rats turn out to be Arlette’s chosen agents of justice on the mortal plane — which truly just sounds horrifying to watch — as her ghost refuses to rest until her twisted justice is served.
—Sadie Gennis 11 Shutter
Jane (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee) and her photographer boyfriend Tun (Ananda Everingham) clearly never watched
I Know What You Did Last Summer, since Wikipedia says the movie starts with them running over a woman and leaving her for dead. Afterwards, Tun begins seeing mysterious faces in his photographs, and starts having bad neck pains. Convinced Tun’s being haunted by the ghost of the girl they hit, Jane investigates the mystery and discovers the hit-and-run victim was Natre, whom Tun had been in a secret relationship with in college.
The more Jane looks into Natre, the more she learns the insidious truths about Tun and his friends. While nothing that happens next is too shocking, based on the summary, it does sound like the film features some memorable horror imagery and intriguing ways of depicting the crushing — and sometimes fatal — weight of guilt.
—Sadie Gennis 12 The Ritual
When four men set out on a hike in Sweden to honor their recently murdered friend, things immediately take a bad 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 some time and Dom some pain. (Mistake!) Once in the woods, they begin experiencing strange phenomenon — like one waking up with puncture marks in his chest — while also being haunted by the memory of their friend’s death. The situation quickly escalates, though, 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 really get put through the wringer in this spine-chilling fight for survival.