Various trends take over the film industry and reflect the changing interests of the public, but the heightened storytelling of the horror genre has always been a popular style of cinema. Horror has only become more ambitious and fearless over the past decades, and it’s never been a better time to be a fan of genre content.
A packed movie theater is still the best way to experience a horror movie, but streaming services have become satisfying channels for copious creepy content. Netflix continues to be one of the biggest players in the streaming wars, and there’s a substantial collection of horror content that can immediately be enjoyed on the channel.
10 The Ritual Features A Horrific Modern Monster That’s Wrapped Up In Melodrama
David Bruckner recently wowed audiences with the tour de force emotional horror film, The Night Housebut 2017’s The Ritual has much of the same DNA. Internationally distributed by Netflix, The Ritual follows four grieving friends who reunite for a hiking trip after the passing of their friend.
The movie becomes a fascinating examination of grief and guilt, with a surreal quality that effortlessly blends fantasy and reality. There’s also a truly chilling monster at the center of The Ritual, which in itself makes this morose journey worthwhile. Bruckner’s work in The Ritual and The Night House highlight how he’s the perfect filmmaker to tackle the Hellraiser franchises
9 The Conjuring Unleashes A Whole World Of Paranormal Threats
James Wan has proven himself to be one of the most influential names in modern horror after kickstarting Saw, Insidious, and the multi-billion dollar Conjuring connected universe. There are currently eight films in the broader Conjuring universe, with more still on the way, but many argue that it’s Wan’s original movies that make the strongest impression.
The first Conjuring is a brilliant deconstruction of the haunted house and exorcism subgenres, but the movie works as well as it does because of the grounded, human performances that come from Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens have become the heart of the Conjuring franchise, and the original movie confidently introduces this rich world.
8 2009’s Friday The 13th Reboot Brilliantly Adapts The Slasher Classic For Modern Audiences
Discussing bloody slasher cinema without touching upon Jason Voorhees and the Friday the 13th franchise is practically impossible. There are a dozen Friday the 13th movies, including the Freddy Vs. Jason crossover event, but there hasn’t been a new entry in the series since 2009’s reboot. Horror remakes get a lot of criticism, especially when they’re of beloved properties, but Marcus Nispel’s Friday the 13th absolutely understands the assignment.
The smart movie ostensibly crams the first three movies into one, but it makes sure that it’s filled with inventive kills and a version of Jason that’s genuinely intimidating. The film’s extended introduction is still one of the best misdirections in modern horror.
7 Insidious: Chapter 2 Throws Audiences Back Into The Alarming Labyrinth Of “The Further”
Insidious is a dark and atmospheric possession series that’s turned out four feature films and developed rich lore for its disturbing demonic realm, “The Further.” The first Insidious movie is not currently available on Netflix, but its sequel immediately picks up from its predecessor’s cliffhanger ending and once again brings James Wan back in the director’s chair.
Insidious: Chapter 2 explores new demons, but it also intensifies the terrors from the first film as Patrick Wilson’s Josh Lambert becomes a danger to his fractured family. With a fifth entry in the Insidious series on the way in 2023, it’s now the perfect time to revisit this unnerving franchise before it unleashes fresh horrors from “The Further.”
6 Hush Is Home Invasion Horror At Its Smartest And Scariest
Mike Flanagan is one of this generation’s biggest names in horror as well as one of Netflix’s most consistent partners. Turning out critically praised hits like The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass, and Doctor Sleep in both television and film, Hush is more subdued territory for Flanagan. However, the claustrophobic home invasion thriller still hits just as hard as any of his more supernaturally-charged horror stories.
A deaf and mute writer becomes the victim of a masked assailant, which evolves into an exciting battle of wits between the two parties. Hush still contains frightening visuals, and the minimalist mask of its villain is highly effective, but the smart writing and Kate Siegel’s believable performance elevate Hush to something greater.
5 The Ring Kicks Off Cinema’s Love For J-Horror And Proves The Merit Of American Remakes
An ongoing debate in the horror community examines the merits of American remakes of foreign horror films. There’s absolutely no reason to remake an effective foreign horror film just because it’s in another language, but there are still effective examples of this where a remake is able to do something different with the themes and message of the original movie.
Gore Verbinski’s The Ring is able to confidently hold its own against Japan’s Ringu, and the success of this endeavor is largely responsible for the onslaught of foreign horror remakes during the 2000s. The Ring, along with The Grudge, is a rare example of an effective remake that still works decades later.
4 Sinister Gets Lost In The Darkness Of Humanity With A String Of Scary Snuff Films
Some of the best horror films are the ones that can temporarily make the audience forget that they’re watching a movie in the first place. Scott Derrickson’s Sinister Lives in a very dark place where an author slowly becomes consumed by the mystery that he unravels after discovering some disturbing snuff films.
Ethan Hawke delivers a haunting performance where each new film that he watches takes away a bigger piece of his soul. The movie’s story loses a little of its impact in its final act, but each of the “home movies” that Sinister presents will leave the audience shaking in fear.
3 Ouija: Origin Of Evil Is A Superior Sequel That Doesn’t Overextend Itself
2014’s Ouija is a serviceable horror movie that’s ultimately forgettable, making it even more of a surprise that a follow-up prequel film, Ouija: Origin of Evilisn’t just a superior movie, but a standout horror film in its own right.
Origin of Evil really doesn’t share any ties to the 2014 film other than its title. It functions as an early opportunity for Mike Flanagan to showcase his skills when it comes to demonic possession and religion’s relationship with the horror genre. It’s a genuine surprise what a fun ride Ouija: Origin of Evil is, and it feels like it’s an unofficial Conjuring spin-off.
The horror films that manage to become evergreen hits are the ones that naturally incorporate biting social commentary into their messages. It Follows A group of teenagers’ attempts to avoid death through a haunting entity that trails behind them, but it’s also an enlightening metaphor for sexually transmitted diseases and stunted adolescence.
These complex themes can easily be distilled to upsetting sequences that create a growing sense of anxiety. Still, it’s the relevant social commentary and stark visuals that will bring people back to this modern horror story.
1 The Exorcist Is A Chilling Look Into Spirituality And The Loss Of Innocence
William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is nearly 50 years old, but there’s still a strong case to be made that it’s the scariest movie of all time. Based upon William Peter Blatty’s groundbreaking novel, The Exorcist establishes many of the cinematic traditions that are still associated with exorcism and possession films.
The way in which the young, innocent Regan loses her body to a demonic presence is absolutely terrifying. Still, The Exorcist is such an effective descent into horror because of its nihilistic look at religion. This movie doesn’t just present demonic forces; it implies that they have the upper hand and are winning in this ongoing war between good and evil.
NEXT: 10 Best Horror Movie Endings, Ranked