Humans have evolved to the point where we tend to not use our 'fight or flight' mechanism for avoiding lions, anymore. So what's the most entertaining way to flood our systems with adrenaline? Horror movies! Let's face it, we're all scared of something. Whether its a monster peering at you from that gap between the closet doors, a masked maniac on the loose, shredding teens with an iconic implement, or heck, maybe it's good old-fashioned clowns that give you the heebie jeebies. Whatever your preferred mode of pant-browning, there's a movie perfectly designed to prey on that fear.
If you enjoy being utterly scared witless, then you're in the right place. Forget all the endless scrolling through the streaming choices available: here's our top 25 picks for the best horror movies on Netflix.
25. Hush (2015)
Region: UK, US
A secluded house in the middle of nowhere. A family terrorised by an outsider trying to drive them slowly mad before offing them one-by-one. You've probably seen this premise unravel a thousand times before, but you probably haven't seen it delivered through such a unique twist.
For Mike Flanagan's follow-up to the superb Oculus, he and his wife Kate Siegel (who also stars) decided to pen a screenplay using the bare bones of that idea with a deaf woman as the lone character singled out by a masked madman. Without access to that one sense which most horror films rely on to convey fear, things have to get inventive. Watching events unfold via her point-of-view, a soundless space, somehow makes the film more terrifying. And even though the killer has multiple opportunities to finish her off, the fact that he chooses to draw things out even moreso just adds to the whole bloody affair.
24. Saw series (2004-2010)
Jigsaw's latest installment hits screen shortly so why not get acquainted with all seven of the previous movies? Yes, there's seven. While the latter sequels degenerate into gruesome puzzles almost instantly, that's fine. The plots all serve as one gigantic yarn told across all of the franchise, and as long as you pay attention to the first few you'll get the gist. If you're going to watch but one, make it the first, which stands above the rest as a chilling thriller that happens to be a little gory.
Two strangers, Adam and Lawrence, find themselves locked in a room, cuffed to their surroundings with clear instructions: Adam should escape the room, while Lawrence must kill Adam by 6pm or his family will die. Things only get more twisted from there.
23. Teeth (2007)
A black-as-night horror comedy that tackles a few weighty topics along the way to delivering its biting - ahem - reveal. Jess Weixler stars as a teenager under the spell of a Christian abstinence group, choosing to voice its mantra of "no nookie" to better the cause.
Doesn't exactly sound horrific, does it?
Wait for the movie's wincing left-turn, as Weixler's teen finds herself charmed by a Christian lad in her class. While her tummy's all a-flutter, his feelings are less admirable, as he tries to force himself on the girl. So she fights back - with her ladygarden gnashers. The girl's got vagina dentata, a fabled happening wherein women grow actual teeth in their genitals. A nutty premise that unfolds as an exploration of budding sexuality.
22. Honeymoon (2014)
You might recognise Honeymoon's leading lady Rose Leslie from her role as Jon Snow's paramour in Game of Thrones. In Leigh Janiak's directorial debut, a strange and creepy rumination on the bonds of marriage, her performance as Bea hails from a previously-untapped place. Somewhere dark, and foreboding. As it should, because Janiak's film doesn't pander to what we already know. It feasts on the unknown chasms between people who choose to spend their lives together.
Things begin with a pair of newlyweds - Leslie and Penny Dreadful's Harry Treadaway - heading out to an isolated cabin to celebrate their nuptials. It all starts to go south when mysterious lights appear in the sky, locals start acting weird and Bea sleepwalks into the night, returning as someone - or something - different.
21. Little Evil (2017)
Region: UK, US
Films like The Omen and Orphan have taught us that having a kid in a horror movie typically doesn't end well. This latest offering from Eli Craig however, who gave us the superb Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, relishes the idea of a hellish parenthood.
Part-satire, part-horror, Little Evil stars Adam Scott as everyman Gary. Having met and married the woman of his dreams, Samantha (Evangeline Lilly), he is faced with the prospect of being a stepdad... to the antichrist. This is a great riff on the aforementioned supernatural kiddy horrors, that mixes up the typical "devil incarnate" trope with some fresh ideas.
20. Curse of Chucky (2013)
Chucky's had plenty of facelifts. Yes, literally. But also in terms of the franchise itself. What started out as a dark, sinister tale of an evil toy doll turned into a comedic tour-de-force in 1998's soft reboot Bride of Chucky. Things went downhill after that with Seed of Chucky which opted for broad silliness over a careful balance of scares and laughs, and the franchise was headed for Nightmare on Elm Street territory.
Until Curse of Chucky.
In a return to the original's straight-up "holy shit, there's a creepy doll that's a serial killer" vibe, Curse is truly scary. That's down to Don Mancini, the writer and director of the original film who plots out a new chapter in the pint-sized killer's story which begins with Chucky arriving at the house of a young paraplegic woman. Deaths ensue until the movie manages to circle back to the events prior to Charles Lee Ray's death, slotting it into the timeline and throwing out a nice link to Bride of Chucky as well.
19. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Why Freddy vs. Jason didn't score a sequel is a mystery. Taking inspiration from countless crossover comics, this early naughts horror mashup is pure fan service from start to finish. Of course it is, I mean, this is Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees we're talking about.
Picking up years after the events of Freddy's Dead and Jason Goes to Hell, Freddy conjures Jason forth to make the teenagers of Springwood fear him once again. A bunch of teenagers, a bucketful of gore and uhhh... one third of Destiny's Child, might make this seem like bargain bin fodder, but trust me: it's worth it just to see two horror heavyweights beating the crap out of each other.
18. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (2010)
Region: UK, US
Horror comedy done right should aspire to two things: be horrific and be comedic. It's hard to achieve, with one often overpowering the other. Tucker and Dale however, manages to land splat between the two with laughs galore and a great sense of tension.
Like Cabin In The Woods and more recently The Final Girls, it puts a spin on the established state of horror. Whenever kids encounter shotgun-totin' locals, that's usually a sign that they're not going to make it to college. In this case Tucker and Dale are those locals, whose actions are misunderstood by a group of teenagers who believe them to be the real-life inspiration for Wrong Turn.
The whole thing plays out brilliantly. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are lovable, hapless oafs who wouldn't say boo to a goose, and watching their fear toward the kids is a nice touch by director Eli Craig.
17. The Visit (2015)
You can knock M. Night Shyamalan all you like. Sure, he wobbled a bit with The Happening, and I'm still not sure about Lady in the Water. But boy, does he make up for it with The Visit.
Two kids head up to spend a week with their grandparents, who they've never met before. The children sense weirdness from this elderly couple who are essentially strangers, but that 'cause they're homesick, right? Told through the grainy videocamera lens of eldest kid Becca (Olivia DeJong), things go from a 'bit off' to downright batshit, with a finale revelation that's one of the director's best.
16. Creep (2014)
Region: UK, US
Mark Duplass normally plays nice guys. If the title didn't give it away, his turn in Creep isn't remotely nice. Both he, and the hideous wolf mask he dons, are the new face of horror.
Duplass co-stars opposite writer-director Patrick Brice, for the latest in a long line of mumblegore movies. Except, the story of a freelance videographer who accepts work from Duplass' loon, isn't really a bloody affair but an intense study in how little privacy we're afforded in the modern, digital age.
Everything shuffles along without too much cause for concern until the mid-way point, when you'll be shouting at the screen from behind your cushion. But make sure you don't miss the final encounter between the two. Haunting stuff.