Being a horror fan means dedication. It is the genre with probably the largest body of work….next to porn. It is also the genre filled with the most ungodly amount of shlock, amateur garbage, and just poorly constructed crap….also, next to porn. It takes time and effort to wade through the sea of crap to find the few gems hidden amongst the muck. Sure the creme de la creme is easy to find, but how many times can you really watch Halloween or Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Ok, probably a lot, but STILL….we horror fans want more of the good stuff. So we at WGN took it upon ourselves to look at a random assortment of movies that are streaming now on Netflix. We’ve also included some of the classics and major releases available on Netflix at the bottom of the page.
After the death of his wife retired police officer Brett Anderson takes a security job at a historic apartment building in Sofia, Bulgaria. It quickly becomes evident that this is no ordinary security job. The owners of the building are harboring a dark secret that Brett is determined to get to the bottom of.
Nightworld looks and feels like a pilot for a SyFy Channel original series. That’s not entirely a compliment, nor is it an insult. It’s a low budget horror film with some interesting concepts that are hindered its production values. One can’t help what could have been in the hands of more proficient filmmakers. Too slow to be truly tense and to fast to be a slow burn, the movie doesn’t seem sure in what it wants to be.
The writing is a bit clumsy, cliches and clunky exposition take up entirely too much of the script. The flow of events and transitions between plot points become increasing haphazard. While the movie starts off quite well, by the end characters are almost showing up out of the blue just so they are present for the climax.
The acting is hit and miss, genre legend Robert Englund is the clear highlight and its nice to seem him not relegated to a cameo here. The mythology for the movie is kind of cool and we won’t spoil it here.
But, it’s kind of a shame that the movie isn’t a pilot for Syfy. The concept and characters would be worth revisiting with some sprucing up. Overall the movie isn’t unwatchable. If you were able to sit through an episode of the Dresden Files, you can make it through this.
A down on his luck private eye becomes embroiled in an H.P Lovecraft meets David Cronenberg mystery in Rusty Nixon’s Residue. Hired to retrieve a book that drives people insane, private eye Luke Harding. is thrust into a fight for his life and his sanity.
Residue is a welcome addition to Netflix’s horror selection, even if it falters more than it should. An amalgam of genres from horror to science fiction to mystery, Residue is not short on creativity or ambition. The movie is, however, short on scares. While the Necronomicon-esq book is creepy in concept, and the madness it instils is well done, it isn’t scary.
The acting is solid even when the script isn’t. The dialog is often good but the pacing tends to drag periodically. However, its odd storytelling and creativity keeps the audience guessing. The special effects are good, the plot is interesting and overall it’s a unique and engaging movie.
Watch if you enjoy: It Follows, In the Mouth of Madness, Lord of Illusions, Witch Hunt
Don’t Kill it
This movie is cheap in pretty much every sense of the word. The script, the directing, the score, much of the acting, and the special effects are pretty sub par. Which is a same as both the initial concept and Dolph Lundgren’s demon hunting hero are great. There was a good movie buried in here somewhere, sadly it’s not the one that made it to the screen. There are some fun over the top deaths, Dolph Lundgren is surprisingly good as the surly demon hunter, and the concept is really cool, but everything else is strictly amateur hour.
Watch this if you enjoy: supernatural action movies, watching paint dry
To be honest, nothing about this movie seemed appealing to me. A slasher film with a killer clown just screams hackneyed drivel. But looks can be deceiving. Terrifier is a well crafted slasher film that is almost a potential contender for modern classic. Almost. The movie doesn’t offer up anything really new and interesting to the slasher genre, but it uses the well worn tropes with real deft and understanding. With only some sparse exposition, Terrifier builds a compelling story and mythology driven by character and action. The opening is engaging and moves at a great pace. However, It begins to drag a bit as it moves into the third act. Writer and director Damien Leone is forced to stretch the plot with filler to keep the story going. Leone manages it well enough and even brings things around in an interesting fashion. Like the best slasher flicks, tension is what drives this film. There are disturbing scenes and gory kills but nothing truly horrendous. It does have one scene that begins to push itself beyond slasher into gore porn but its brief and only detracts from the film a little. I think a little “less is more” would have elevated this work. That said, this movie is a must see for die hard horror fans.
Watch if you like: Slasher films
Die Prasenz (The Presence)
While working on his thesis on the supernatural Markus and his friend Lucas tricks his girlfriend Rebecca into staying at a haunted mansion. Or something….look this movie is so generic that teasing out the nuances of the characters motivations just wasn’t worth it.
Good acting isn’t enough to save this lackluster found footage film. It’s unfortunate really. The Presence isn’t a bad movie, it’s just very late to the party. Nearly every concept, every scare, every development the movie uses is well worn territory in the found footage genre. Each aspect is done fairly well but it’s just too familiar. Its so mundane that the few actual missteps or shortcomings the film has seem glaring. Why are unmanned cameras suddenly zooming in? Are…are the ghosts using cameras? Are they trying to scare the audience? Why do the ghosts know there’s an audience? What the hell is going on here? Honestly, If you are a die hard fan of found footage this film may be worth your while. But I am already bored just writing about it.
Watch if you like: Haunting/Possession style films and/or are a die-hard found footage fan.
What could have been a paint by numbers found footage film is saved by effectively splicing it into a standard scripted horror movie. Demonic starts off with police being called to the scene of a grizzly murder at an abandoned house mirroring one at the same location decades prior. The victims are a crew of ghost hunters who were hoping to capture supernatural forces on tape. Frank Grillo’s detective Mark Lewis and Maria Bello’s Dr. Elizabeth Klein begin trying to piece together the evening through interrogating the only known survivor. Meanwhile the police tech crew is busy rearing and examining the footage of their expedition.
Interesting , well developed characters and good production values help elevate a traditional found footage plot. The film is jam packed with horror movie cliches and predictable moments. The acting and the production values make it all palatable though. Demonic is an enjoyable but ultimately forgettable film.
Watch if you enjoy: Occult movies, found footage, the Amytville Horror, Paranormal Activity, The Possession
The VVitch isn’t for everybody. No jump scares, little gore, a script in authentic colonial american dialects and gobs and gobs of atmosphere and lingering shots of farm life. It is as slow burning as a slow burn horror movie gets, and its brilliant. This movie is high art bordering on the pretentious – a rarity in horror movies. This is true American Gothic horror. It embraces the concepts that Poe, Hawthorne, and Austen put into their works but with more edge and grit that really emphasis the horror aspect.
The acting and cinematography are suburb. The movie drips with tension and atmosphere. However, many will find it boring and slow.
Watch if you enjoy: Slow art house movies or Gothic Horror.
After tragedy strikes, a group of old friends trek into the wilderness for a cathartic weekend of bonding. During a sudden storm, the friends take refuge in an old abandoned cabin. Inside they find disturbing occult like effigies and runes that bring about an ancient darkness.
The Ritual manages a great cinematic feat early on. It effectively establishes its characters and begins the action with in the first 5-10 minutes. This keeps the pacing and the tension going steadily for the first two-thirds of the film. It moves effortlessly through exposition and character development. You almost don’t notice it’s so well entrenched into the action and the dialogue. The movie has some amazing imagery and is wonderfully spooky at times. In many ways, it is incredibly creative and unique, which is what makes the third act a bit of a let down.
Make no mistake, it is not a bad movie or even a bad ending. However, the climax to the movie is more mainstream Hollywood than real horror. It almost becomes an action movie with some minor stunts and a dramatic confrontation that make the movie a little less special. Had it maintained the horror up until the end ala Blair Witch or The Descent this would likely be one of my all time favorite horror movies. Still, it’s extremely well done and worth a watch.
Watch if you enjoyed: The Blair Witch Project, The Relic,
Beyond the Gates
Beyond the Gates has a great premise and some wonderful throwbacks to the 1980’s but…that’s about it. Supporting cast members Barbara Crampton (Reanimator) Justin Welborn (Justified) and Chase Williamson (John Dies at the End) do their best with what they’re given and are the only ones to really eek out a decent performance. Graham Skipper’s wooden performance is possibly intentional given the closed-off character of Gordon, but as the lead, it’s ultimately a poor choice. We spend most of our time with a character who is little more than a monotone blank slate. The rest of the cast range somewhere from rejected acting troupe member to fairly decent.
All of which would have been tolerable if the script had any chutzpah. Lots of really cool ideas are presented which present potential ethical dilemmas and drama. But, they are ultimately relegated to fairly benign and uninteresting plot points. It becomes frustrating watching a great deal of potential squandered in mediocrity. It’s not the worst way to kill an hour and a half, but neither is organizing your sock drawer.
Watch if you like: 80’s horror
I am the Pretty thing that Lives in the House.
I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in The House is an ode to Gothic horror that skimps on the horror. The always wonderful Ruth Wilson plays Lily a semi reclusive, but extremely professional and competent home health care worker. She is hired to care for an aging mystery writer with dementia named Iris. Soon, however, mysterious mold and ghostly happenings begin to cloud the viewers judgment – is Lily really that mentally fit herself? Is Iris perhaps a bit more with that than we thought?
I wanted to like “I am the Pretty thing…” The minimalist approach starts off wonderfully. It’s got a great cast, a haunting score, beautiful cinematography and a story that just goes absolutely nowhere. The relationship between Iris and Lily is one with both care and frustration. It’s a fairly honest portrayal of elder care. But so little is done with either character that the characters nor their relationship really develop in any meaningful way.
The movie attempts a nice slow burn but fizzles out long before then end. There just isn’t enough tension or intrigue to keep the viewer wanting to go on. Getting past the midway point is kind of a slog. Fans of late 1800’s early 1900’s Gothic literature might get a kick out of the languid pacing and atmosphere. Everyone else is bound to struggle a bit.
Watch if you enjoy: Art House or Gothic Horror
A small town hospital staff is taken hostage by armed men claiming to be fighting off an ancient evil. Officer Daniel Carter is the only chance they have at escape. But things take a darker turn when mysterious cloaked figures begin to surround the hospital.
The Void hits the ground running. Writing and directing team Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski thrust you right into the middle of the action. The blood and suspense start pretty much from the word go. From there the action and horror continues to build at a steady pace.
However, you never really get to know the characters well enough to care about them. Rushing into the story here mutes the tension and intrigue considerably. It’s not that the characters aren’t well defined, they are. Every character is written well enough. it’s just that by the time that they are really established the movie is nearly into the third act. Honestly, this turns what could have been a horror classic into just an above average fair.
The acting is middle of the road, no one stands out for either being tremendous or awful. Same can be said with some of the cinematography. Despite the movie being in an isolated and empty hospital, little is done to heighten those feelings.
There are elements of Lovecraft and Carpenter here that work wonderfully. The movie owes a lot to Carpenter’s remake of The Thing. The monsters are great and the premise/mythology is fantastic. Had we just a wee bit more time to build up some intrigue and some relationship with the characters everything would have carried so much more weight. This movie isn’t going to crack many peoples top ten list. Still, it’s well worth a watch.
Watch this if you enjoyed: The Thing, In The Mouth of Madness, House on Haunted Hill
He Never Died
There are no real scares in this movie, but don’t let it stop you. It’s fantastic. This is such a fun supernatural action-horror-comedy movie that it is easily characterized as a “can’t miss” for horror fans. Its best to go into this one blind so read on at your own peril.
Henry Rollins is brilliant as Jack, the polite, socially awkward cannibal with a heart of gold. This movie falls into the horror genre almost by default. It is filled with gore and violence and a clearly supernatural entity, but its charm lies in its dark humor and relatable characters.
Some arguments have been leveled that the film is too vague, offering up more questions than answers. I personally don’t find that to be a fair assessment. The what and why of Jack’s nature is far less important than his relationship to the other characters. Not to mention a cursory understanding of major religions and modern horror tropes will answer enough of your questions.
If your looking for chills and thrills save this one for later, but by no means should you skip it entirely.
Stake Land II
It is frustrating that Stake Land 1 isn’t on Netflix as the two make for a great double feature. More of a post-apocalyptic western than a standard horror movie, Stake Land 2 has a lot to offer – just not in the scares department. Set in a world that has been ravaged by vampires the Stake Land series has some great moments of world building and mythology. Often slow and pensive but never boring, Stake Land is not your typical vampire story. In order to avoid spoilers we won’t get into a synopsis.
However, if AMC’s The Walking Dead was your jam, but you want smarter characters and more cohesive storytelling – Stake Land is up your alley. That said, Stake Land 2 isn’t quite as strong as its predecessor. There is a bit more cheesiness and the action is a little more over the top that the films gritter predecessor. Watching the first Stake Land, while recommended, isn’t necessary.
Watch it you enjoyed: Westerns, The Walking Dead, The Road
Easily my favorite recommendation on this list, Creep lives up to its title in spades. Written, Directed, and starring Patrick Brice, Creep is a ‘can’t miss’ for fans of the found footage style and is a solid enough entry to stand against even the staunchest of the sub-genre’s detractors. Creator Patrick Brice plays Aaron, a man who accepts a one day job as a videographer for Josef, a terminally ill man who wishes to leave a video diary to his unborn son. Played by the always affable Mark Duplass (The League, Safety Not Guaranteed)
Josef initially comes across as a genial but socially awkward man, whose genuinely cringe inducing goofball antics start to have more and more unsettling undertones. The script is clever and engrossing, but is pushed to the next level by its relatively plausible plot and fairly realistic depiction of mental illness. Behind the camera, Brice uses his understanding of the found footage subgenre to play with the audiences expectations to great effect. The subtly in tonal shift in this movie is, in itself, fantastic. The less said about this film, the better. It is something best seen for yourself.
Watch if you enjoy: The Strangers, You’re Next, or found footage films
Other notable films on Netflix: The Babadook, It Follows, Cube, Oculus, The Conjuring, The lost Boys, Queen of the Damned, Interview with a Vampire, Se7en, The Covenant, The Strangers, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Train to Busan, Hellraiser, Red Dragon.
Did we miss something great? Did you watch some of the movies on our list, what did you think of them? Let us know in the comments down below. And stay tuned as we look at lesser known horror movies on Amazon Prime next, coming soon.
Author KJ McDougall exhibits strange behavior every full moon. After each lunar event it is not uncommon to find his office trashed and him lying under his desk naked, mouth caked with blood and feathers. He claims he was bitten by a wolf on the moors of Ireland, we think he might just a drinking problem.