The formula for the perfect horror film has been hotly debated among movie makers and film buffs for decades now, and it looks like the furore around this topic won't be cooling down any time soon. So, when it comes to picking the best horror films on Netflix UK, some of our choices are bound to be controversial, but stick with us — we're sure there's something in this list to satisfy every taste.
Horror fans fall into very distinct categories: are you a traditionalist, with every Hitchcock movie ever made in your personal collection, or a modernist, AKA the first person in line for Jordan Peele's new era-defining flick? Or maybe you're a steadfast Stephen King fan with some serious *thoughts* on the new It adaptations? Whichever camp you fall into, picking out something to watch among Netflix UK's vast horror selection is far from easy. So we've done the hard work for you. Below is a list of the very best horror films on Netflix UK that you can settle down with on a movie night with friends, a cosy date night when you're keen to have a snuggle, or — if you're brave enough — an evening in alone. But be careful: these movies are not for the faint-hearted. You have been warned.
Often cited as the beginning of the slasher genre, Psycho is a must-see for every horror fan. Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece developed a lot of the tropes and motifs used in horror today, while also changing the film landscape immeasurably since its release in 1960.
Starring Anthony Perkins (who plays Norman Bates) and Janet Leigh (in the role of Marion Crane), Psycho will make you think twice when booking into a motel. Especially if a mysterious house on a hill resides nearby. — Sophie McEvoy
If you’re on a Stephen King kick thanks to his ongoing film adaptation renaissance, then you need to see this classic. Starring Kathy Bates and James Caan, Misery follows novelist Paul Sheldon as he is kidnapped and held captive by deranged fan and nurse Annie Wilkes. During his captivity, she forces him to rewrite manuscripts of his book series to her liking, while torturing him in the process.
Misery would also be a horrifyingly perfect companion to Psycho if you’re prepping for a Halloween marathon. Two films are both set in isolated locations and feature chilling villains that have become icons of horror cinema. Sounds like my kind of movie night. — Sophie McEvoy
'Final Destination 5'
While the first four films aren’t available to stream on Netflix, Final Destination is one of those horror franchises that doesn’t require you to keep tabs on the overarching story. The plot of each film remains the same: after escaping death, a group of people are stalked by a supernatural entity that goes after them one by one — usually by seemingly mundane means. And, boy, does Final Destination 5 contain an ample amount of normal situations to become terrified about. After watching this instalment, prepare to develop irrational fears of things like laser eye surgery, working out at the gym, and acupuncture. — Sophie McEvoy
'The Silence Of The Lambs'
More psychological thriller than horror, but still very much worthy of a mention, The Silence of the Lambs uses tight framing and uncomfortably close POV shots to intimidate and terrify viewers psychologically. This, along with the crimes committed by serial killers Hannibal Lecter (played by Anthony Hopkins) and Buffalo Bill (played by Ted Levine), will leave you feeling fairly shaken up.
There’s a reason why The Silence of the Lambs received a lot of critical acclaim, and you need to see it to truly understand what all the fuss is about. — Sophie McEvoy
There’s nothing like a creepy child to haunt your nightmares, and watching Orphan will achieve just that. The film follows a couple (played by Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) as they adopt 9-year-old Esther (played by Isabelle Furhman).
After fitting into their lives perfectly, Esther begins to display strange and terrifying behaviour, which eventually leads the couple to believe that there’s something terribly wrong with their adopted daughter.
The film has recently found traction again due to a bizarre case in the States where a couple adopted a Ukrainian child who they now believe is an adult woman. The case is ongoing, but the alleged similarities are eerie AF. — Sophie McEvoy
If you’ve ever fancied the life of a true crime writer, Sinister will put you right off. Ellison Oswalt (played by Ethan Hawke) is in need of some inspiration for his new book. When he moves into the house where a murder took place he realises the only thing scarier than his writer's block is the box of eight homemade films he finds, which suggest that the murderer he is researching may have been at work for decades. This is supernatural spookiness at it’s finest. — Alice Broster
‘Would You Rather’
If you think Would You Rather features the game you’ve played a million times before then you’d be very mistaken. In a bid to help her brother, Iris (played by Brittany Snow) agrees to take part in one of the scariest games of "would you rather" you can imagine. The sadistic aristocrat at the centre of the game is not dealing in hypotheticals and she finds herself having to make the most gruesome decisions. If you’ve got a sensitive stomach, this isn’t the horror film for you. — Alice Broster
The Purge has been heralded as one of the scariest modern day horror films. Directed by James DeMonaco, who went on to create an entire Purge trilogy, the film is set in an altered U.S. where all laws go out the window for a 12-hour period. The story follows what people will do when there are no rules and how to survive when you’re being hunted. It may not star ghosts and ghouls but The Purge will have you triple checking that you locked your front door. — Alice Broster
‘Before I Wake’
After experiencing problems Jessie (played by Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane) decide to adopt Cody (Jacob Tremblay). Happy that they finally have what they always wanted, Jessie and Mark don’t become aware of Cody’s affliction until it’s too late. They believe Cody’s trouble sleeping is do to with his turbulent upbringing. However, when he goes to sleep at night his dreams, and his nightmares, physically manifest with deadly consequences. They set out on a mission to find out why his nightmares become a haunting reality. — Alice Broster
Directed by James Wan, the supernatural horror flick Insidious follows the story of a couple whose son enters a comatose state and winds up becoming a vessel for evils spirits in a dimension known as The Further. As the story unfolds, the entire Lambert family become increasingly affected by the ghostly goings-on, and realisations surrounding the origins of the supernatural activity begin to emerge.
The success of Insidious went onto inspire an entire franchise, which currently consists of one sequel and two prequels. Naturally, the best place to start your journey into the franchise is with the first outing, and buckle up, because this haunted house tale is sure to give you nightmares. — Sam Ramsden
'The Cabin in the Woods'
Despite being riddled with comedic elements, The Cabin in the Woods centres around all things horror, and as the title suggests, follows a group of American college students as they travel to a remote cabin in the woods. During their stay, the group fall victim to some horrific zombie-like figures, and an almighty twist reveals who is really manipulating the terrifying events thrust upon them.
The film went onto receive critical acclaim, and a consensus on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes praises the movie's ability to be "funny, strange, and scary" all at the same time. — Sam Ramsden
'The Exorcism of Emily Rose'
Supernatural horror The Exorcism of Emily Rose is loosely based on the story of Anneliese Michel, a woman who underwent Catholic exorcism practises in the year prior to her death. The film centres around a defence attorney as she takes on a negligent homicide case, after a parish priest performs an exorcism on a young girl.
Due to the nature of the story, The Exorcism of Emily Rose could be compared to other heavyweights in the genre, including William Friedkin's The Exorcist, and this frightful flick manages to perfectly combine the elements of horror, religion and crime. — Sam Ramsden
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