Netflix is often a mixed bag when it comes to horror films, so if you embark on extensive research of these selections before actually settling on a movie for the night, you're not alone. Luckily, I've done some research for you. It turns out that checking out Wikipedia synopses is quite handy for determining what might be
the scariest movies on Netflix, and can help you weed out some stale, already-disappointing plots when you're really in the mood for something chilling.
Now, reading plot summaries before watching a movie isn't something I'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 a faulty plot.
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, here are some gems selected from their Wikipedia summaries.
Wikipedia reveals something right off the bat about this Netflix original that should immediately send up red flags for anyone who knows anything about horror — it's
based on a novel by Stephen King.
The film follows Jessie and Gerald 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 argues with him to stop, prompting an argument. Then, things get even
worse when Gerald suddenly dies of a heart attack in the middle of this whole ordeal, leaving Jessie handcuffed to a bed in a deserted neighborhood 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, hallucinations (or are they?), and flashbacks to childhood trauma. It's a wild ride, even for Stephen King material.
, is a classic case of found footage horror. According to Wikipedia, Josef (Duplass) hires a videographer, Aaron, to come over to his house in the woods and film a movie. The doc is meant for his son, Josef tells Aaron — Josef is dying of cancer and wants his son to have a personalized video from his dad long after he's gone. Sounds innocent enough, right? Not so much. Creep, starring Mark Duplass
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.
This Australian film was another that caused a stir when it debuted at Sundance Film Festival, and it's
a lot to handle. The Wikipedia summary reveals that the plot centers around Amelia, who's raising her 6-year-old son, Sam, on her own. The gut punch is that Samuel's father was tragically killed in a car crash that occurred on the way to take Amelia to the hospital during labor. Yikes.
Things get even worse when Sam stops sleeping and starts becoming obsessed with an imaginary monster, the Babadook, which he's seen in one of his storybooks. The monster isn't as imaginary as Amelia originally thought, starts to terrorize the house, and from there, it's a roller coaster.
and turns it on its head. Per Wikipedia, protagonist Will and his girlfriend attend a dinner party together at the home of Will's ex-wife and her new husband. The history between Will and his ex becomes more and more clear to viewers as the movie goes on, and increasingly disturbing. The Invitation takes a seemingly normal plot
The dinner party also goes off the rails as one guest mysteriously fails to show up, the cell phone signal 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.
It Follows was the talk of the town when it had its wide release in March 2015, and for good reason. The film follows a teenager in the suburbs of Detroit who is stalked by a menacing, supernatural entity after a bizarre and traumatic sexual encounter with a boy she'd gone on a date with. Wikipedia offers more details, and they only get more troubling.
The spirit, or demon, or
whatever it is, apparently targets its next victim after it's passed along through sex, and it can take the form of anyone the victim knows in order to get close to them. The protagonist, Jay, bands together with her friends to try and escape the mysterious curse, and it proves to be more difficult than they could have imagined. Hush easily could've been just another home invasion film, but this movie has an even more disturbing twist. According to Wikipedia, Hush's main character, Maddie, 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. A masked killer has begun to terrorize the neighborhood, and when he figures out that Maddie can't hear him, he makes her his next target.
But this doesn't become a story of only Maddie being victimized — instead, it proves how resourceful she is, even though she's lacking one of her senses. 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.
The Disappointments Room
Kate Beckinsale, The Disappointments Room plays upon some traditional horror tropes — abandoned 19th century Southern estates, terrifying visions and nightmares, and a creepy attic that no one knew was there. As anyone could deduce, these things all spell disaster.
According to the plot summary, Beckinsale's character encounters all of these creepy factors as she and her family move to the estate for a fresh start, and she begins to uncover the home's sinister past. She starts to see flashbacks and hallucinations that hint at possible psychological issues within her own brain, and they get more and more sinister as she investigates the history of the house.
The Descent is a classic that takes one group of women's fun girls' trip and changes it into a terrifying adventure in which they fight for their lives.
A group of old friends reunites for a healing vacation, according to Wikipedia, a year after one of them loses her daughter and husband in a terrible accident. They're a group of thrill seekers, and they decide to go caving — what could go wrong? After a series of passages collapse behind them, it's revealed that no one has actually ever
been in this cave system before, and one of the women wanted them to discover it and name it together.
So they're left without a map, without anyone who knows where they are, and to make matters worse, they learn they're not alone.
Another Stephen King-based entry to the list,
from the 1980s that you definitely should have seen by now. But if you haven't yet at the pleasure, let the Wikipedia entry fill you in, and subsequently give you an irrational fear of cornfields. Children of the Corn is a classic horror film
In a rural town where no adults seem to live, a group of murderous children capture and kill anybody who happens to wander through their territory. When the cult-like kids kidnap their latest victims, Vicky and Burt, they face their first real threat in a while. Vicky and Burt attempt to figure out how exactly to not only escape their clutches, but tear down the whole operation as a whole.
This French-Belgian film was controversial because of how gory and graphic its content was, according to Wikipedia, and that's
not surprising given the plot synopsis.
Justine, the main character, is subjected to a twisted ritual in which she has to eat a raw rabbit's kidney, and then starts to have cravings for raw meat. That's not even the most disturbing part! She starts to eat raw chicken and even begins to toy with human meat. The entry says that the violence gets so hard to stomach, that one viewer allegedly fainted during the film's screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Make sure you have a strong stomach before flipping to this movie, and maybe don't plan to eat a big meal.
The title may reference a playful game of hypotheticals shared among friends, but the reality of
Would You Rather is much darker. As protagonist Iris 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 summary. 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 game forces all the night's participants to choose painful and sometimes fatal treatments for themselves and each other — 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.
If you already have a fear of
looking into mirrors late at night, good news! It's about to get worse. Per Wikipedia, Oculus follows a set of siblings who are still reeling from their traumatic upbringings, and it features them both through their childhoods and in adulthood.
At the root of their problems is an antique mirror that mysteriously causes hallucinations. Those hallucinations spurred their father to turn violent against their family, and their mother to slowly lose her mind. As adults, they try one more time to figure out how exactly the mirror brought down their family, and when they make the decision that they have to destroy it once and for all, it gets increasingly violent and disturbing.
If none of these movies sound like your cup of tea, don't despair. They're only a sampling of what Netflix offers. Don't shy away from checking out the synopses of other movies you're considering — with how upsetting some of these plots can get, you'll want to know what you're getting into.