The 25 best Netflix horror movies (March 2019)

5. It Follows (2015)

Region: US

The movie: What if having sex meant contracting the world's WORST STD? That's the idea plaguing young Jay (Maika Monroe), who sleeps with her new boyfriend and is promptly informed she's now in Death's crosshairs and being followed. The "it" follows her wherever she goes, frequently in the guise of people she knows or people who have died. The only way to shake herself loose of its murderous plan? To pass on the curse by sleeping with someone else.

Read more: Disenchantment review: “Merely decent, an easy 30 minute-per-episode binge”

Why it’s worth a watch: Only two-years-old and already a modern horror classic, It Follows is the best John Carpenter movie made by someone else. That somebody is David Robert Mitchell, who nailed the ‘70s and ‘80s slasher feel with long tracking shots, a synth score and a plot to scare you off sex for life.

4. Under the Shadow (2016)

Region: UK, US

The movie: A film with a PG rating can't be really scary can it? Under the Shadow, dubbed Iran's version of The Babadook, aims to dismantle that theory in the most terrifying way possible. Taking place during the Iran-Iraq war, tensions are already high for the residents of Tehran, and especially for one unlucky family. Married couple Iraj and Shideh, find themselves split up over the course of an evening, when Iraj is called away, leaving his wife and their daughter Dorsa to wait out the night in their apartment. Thing is, there might be something worse than a missile attack awaiting them...

Why it’s worth a watch: A genuinely scary horror, with a ripe, tense atmosphere that's largely absent of violence and gore, Under the Shadow channels some deep-rooted fears about Iran's cultural climate, twisting them into a living, breathing terror. Shideh is also a much welcome addition to the horror canon, refusing to idly sit by while evil is at work, and instead taking action to protect her child. 

3. Misery (1990)

Region: US

The movie: One of those rare Stephen King adaptations that faithfully recreates all the best parts from the novel, while adding its own elements of fear, Misery still stands up 28-years-later. James Caan stars as famed novelist Paul Sheldon, whose writing rituals include finishing each book at a secluded locale in Colorado. Except this time as he begins to made the drive back to New York, he hits a storm and his car veers off into a ravine. Lucky for him, his number one fan Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates, in the role that won her the Oscar) is there to save him and nurse him back to health.

Why it's worth a watch: Rob Reiner isn’t exactly known for being a master of suspense, but boy, does he do a good job of earning that title here. Adapting King’s novel for the big screen, Reiner perfectly meshes the over-zealous fanaticism of Bates’ character with the genuine terror of Caan’s imprisoned writer. It’s a near-perfect page-to-screen movie.

Read more: The 30 best book to movie adaptations you'll want to watch AND read

2. The Witch (2015)

Region: US

The movie: A Sundance darling, The Witch takes place in 17th-century New England. Don't be fooled by its mundane setting - this is not your normal period piece. A young couple and their four children flee the confines of the Puritan church for a new life on a remote settlement. A remote settlement that borders a very spooky forest, that is. Shortly after their arrival, their newborn baby disappears... and that's just the beginning. 

Why it’s worth a watch: Eggers' first effort is a masterclass is building and sustaining tension. I mean, who could have thought a movie about a farm would have the capacity to scare you witless? And yet it does. The Witch is part of a new era of horror, emphasising the frightening nature of domestic life through superb camerawork and a stellar collection of performances from its leads. Lest we forget Black Phillip, who really steals the show. Seriously. You thought the fox from Antichrist was fucked up? You ain't seen nothing yet.

1. The Shining (1980)

Region: US

The movie: With an idea ripped from the pages of a Stephen King novel, and siphoned through the eyes of iconoclastic director Stanley Kubrick, you've got one of the most celebrated horror films of all time. Its main story beats have since become rather commonplace in the genre, yet Kubrick dismantles all the typical horror tropes and reinvents them in the most dastardly of ways. The story is a straightforward one: a high school teacher/novelist Jack takes a winter job as a caretaker at a remote hotel, bringing his family with him to enjoy the season. Things don't go to plan, as the trio slowly start to realise that the hotel may be alive.

Why it's worth a watch: Because Stephen King hates it. Despite the fact that Kubrick isolated the most horrific elements of the novel, tore the story apart, and build it around them, King is not a fan of the finished product. The fact its author doesn't like the adaptation, and it remains a beloved genre classic, is saying something. While it's not remotely loyal to its source material, that doesn't matter: this is a lesson in tension-building, a masterclass in maddening, claw-your-eyes-out terror. A must-watch for any horror fan.