Netflix is a great place to stream horror content because of the vast array of options at your fingertips on their site. But that brings up a problem: how can you pick a horror show to binge from such a vast selection?
Netflix originals like The Haunting of Hill House and Squid Game helped the streaming platform make a name for itself as a serious player in the horror genre. From horror anthologies to mini-series to multi-season shows with no end in sight, Netflix has plenty of high-quality horror shows that get your mind (and your stomach) churning.
13: Ares (2020)
Ambitious medical student Rosa (Jade Olieberg) is recruited for an uber-wealthy, secret society at her university in Amsterdam. Despite warnings from her childhood best friend Jacob (Tobias Kersloot), Rosa joins the fraternity and is determined to rise to the top, no matter the cost.
This Dutch horror show provides commentary on the dangers that hide within college fraternities. It poses the question, “how much are people willing to lose to gain riches and social status?” Under every lavish set of silver and behind every pearl earring lie secrets that wealth can only hide for so long.
12: The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
When Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) takes a job as an au pair in the country town of Bly, England, she has no idea what horrors await. The two orphaned children who live in the manor are creepy from the start. Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) plays with strange dolls and warns Dani to stay in her bedroom at night, and Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) spies on Dani while she’s changing.
But they’re not the only ones who are acting odd. The housekeeper, Hannah (T’nia Miller), dozes in and out of vivid daydreams, and it turns out that the kids’ first nanny died by suicide while on the job, leaving the kids to discover her body. On top of that, Dani left her home in the United States and hurried off to Bly in an attempt to avoid reminders of an unthinkable tragedy.
Like other horror series’ by Mike Flanagan, this story is non-linear and dialogue-heavy. The characters are deep and mysterious, and the suspense is drawn out just right throughout the mini-series. In the words of Flora herself, this show is “perfectly splendid” indeed.
11: Open Your Eyes (2021-)
This Polish sci-fi horror show will make you question your memories—and reality itself. Julia (Maria Wawreniuk) wakes up to a voice that informs her that she’s a patient in a special hospital for patients with amnesia. She can’t remember anything about herself or why she’s at the facility.
As the series progresses, the dangerous underbelly of this treatment center begins to reveal itself in strange ways. At the same time, Julia learns more about herself and her past, but one mystery remains. What is the true purpose of the amnesia hospital?
10: Attack on Titan (2013-)
Eren (Yūki Kaji) and his family’s entire world are within his city’s four protective walls. Outside the walls, where most humans never dare to stray, roam monsters called Titans. They’re taller than skyscrapers, and their mouths open wide to reveal massive, shiny teeth. They look almost like humans, but in the eeriest way possible.
However, the city soon learns that its walls aren’t as protective as they seem. The Titans work together to tear the walls down, descending on the city and killing thousands of people. Eren makes it his mission to destroy the Titans and avenge the deaths of the people closest to him.
This Japanese dark fantasy anime series not only has incredibly creative animation but is also heart-wrenching and action-packed. Although you can listen to a dubbed version of the audio on Netflix, I highly recommend reading the subtitles and listening to the audio in its original Japanese because of the impeccable original voice talent.
9: Midnight Mass (2021)
This slow-burn horror mini-series doesn’t hold back in its critique of unquestioned religious piety and the dangers of immortality. The story takes place at the church on a small fishing island called Crockett Island. The church and its priest, Monsignor Pruitt (Hamish Linklater), are the center of the community.
But when Monsignor Pruitt comes down with a mysterious illness, a new preacher named Father Paul (also Hamish Linklater) takes over at the church. At the same time, another man named Riley (Zach Gilford) arrives on the island after a fall from grace. He left the island four years prior when he went to prison for killing a woman while drunk at the wheel.
If you can make it through the monologue-heavy moments (there are quite a few of them in much of Mike Flanagan’s work), then you will be shocked by its horrifying twists and suspenseful turns.
8: Death Note (2006-2007)
What would you do if you discovered a notebook that could kill your enemies by simply scribbling their names on its pages? If you were the bright high school student Light Yagami (Mamoru Miyano), you’d use it to become the most prolific serial killer the world has ever seen: Kira.
Light believes he’s on a righteous mission to rid the world of evil-doers. With the cryptic guidance of the apple-obsessed Shinigami Ryuk (Nakamura Shidō II), Light targets criminals to justify his murders.
But Light can’t fight suspicion for long. A mysterious and renowned agent known only as “L” (Alessandro Juliani) makes the Kira case his top priority. The tension between Light and L only escalates as the series continues. In the end, who will wield the power of the Death Note?
7: The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
As the first of Mike Flanagan’s horror mini-series on Netflix, The Haunting of Hill House laid the groundwork for his success in the horror genre. Its story grapples with generational trauma and coping with the loss of family members to suicide. The Crain family is at the story’s center: a mother, a father, and their five children.
When Olivia (Carla Gugino) and Hugh Crain (Henry Thomas) purchase a large house to refurbish and resell one summer, the whole family moves in. They don’t know that the house is riddled with terrifying secrets.
At the same time as we learn about the events inside Hill House, we also follow the family years later when the kids are all grown up. Each family member copes with the traumas from their brief stay in Hill House in a very different way, but they all must come together when a shocking tragedy hits them all these years later. Can the family work together to discover the truth of what really took place at Hill House?
6: Hellbound (2021-)
When unexplained phenomena sprout up in our everyday lives, it has the potential to cause mass chaos. Yeon Sang-ho’s new horror T.V. series Hellbound fully explores this theme.
Suddenly, strange apparitions begin to appear in front of seemingly random people to tell them they will soon die. It even tells them exactly how long it will take. Once the time runs out, immense, monstrous demons with thick, smoking skin and giant muscles emerge from a portal and beat the living crap out of the victim, eventually killing them.
As humanity attempts to make sense of the supernatural attacks, a cult called the New Truth comes up with a compelling explanation for the deaths: it is God’s will to rid the world of sinners. But, is the leader of the New Truth, Jeong-Jin Soo (Yoo Ah-in), right about the victims’ fate, or are his teachings causing more harm than good?
5: 3% (2016-2020)
Welcome to the dystopian reality of the Inland, where 97% of the population lives in poverty. People in filthy rags live in run-down homes and crumbling buildings. Most have no hope of living a better life; this is their fate forever.
But for those under age twenty, hope is alive. Every year, the twenty-year-olds from the Inland travel out of the grimy city and up the steps to the testing facility where the government holds the Process. There, they go through a series of tests to determine whether or not they’ll make it to the Offshore.
That’s where the other 3% of the population lives. The Offshore is a mystery to those on the Inland, but they know one thing: everyone who makes it there lives in the lap of luxury and can follow their dreams.
When Michele (Bianca Comparato) turns twenty, she’s as excited as anyone else to get her chance to make it to the Offshore. But there’s something different about Michele. She’s a member of a rebel group dedicated to tearing this oppressive society down once and for all. Can she enter the Offshore and tear the only world she’s ever known apart from the inside?
4: Alice in Borderland (2020-)
The unnerving empty streets of Tokyo aren’t the only eerie element in this Japanese horror series. When three friends out on the town exit a bathroom and discover that the bustling streets they left behind are now completely vacant, they soon find their lives will never be the same again.
The three friends enter a parallel universe where some unknown power forces them to play deadly games. Each game is introduced to the players with a traditional playing card. The higher the number on the card, the more difficult the game. The suits provide another clue. Diamonds refer to a physical game, while Spades cards test the players’ intelligence.
This horror thriller is brimming with action, close calls, and high-stakes suspense. It makes us wonder how far we’re willing to go in an attempt to escape a hellish situation.
3: Black Mirror (2011-)
Netflix’s famous sci-fi horror anthology series forces us to wonder what horrors await us in the very near future. Each of the show’s five seasons contains new stories about the perils of advanced technology, individualism, and our political climate.
Season One contains the memorable Prime Minister and the pig episode that can never be unseen. In Season Two, we get a tragic and creepy story about a woman who loses her husband and brings him back to life in A.I. form. Season Three brings us some of the most compelling episodes of the series, like “Nosedive,” “Shut Up and Dance,” and “San Junipero.”
The star of Season Four is the first episode, “U.S.S. Callister.” A mild-mannered video-game designer becomes a deranged madman when he plays an exceptional video game that he programmed to torture duplications of his co-workers’ consciousnesses. Season Five was not as well-received as the previous four seasons. Hopefully, the writers will bring the stories back on track when the show picks up for Season Six.
2: Stranger Things (2016-)
When a young boy goes missing in a small-town Indiana in the 1980s, his family and friends are on a mission to find Will (Noah Schnapp) alive. On their journey, they discover a strange underworld lurking just outside of their reach. At the same time, a mysterious young girl emerges from the woods, and we soon learn that Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) backstory is even more disturbing than we could ever imagine.
As the series continues, our humble clan of outcasts and nerds unite to uncover the mysteries of Hawkins, Indiana, and what lies in the Upside Down. Can the kids keep the monsters at bay while fighting evil Russian forces? They also must face the most significant challenge: finding their place in the world as they grow up.
1: Squid Game (2021-)
Can you imagine drowning so deep in debt that you’d risk your own life to get your hands on a big chunk of cash?
In Squid Game, hundreds of desperate people are willing to do anything to get out of their dreadful situations. That’s how Seong Gi Hun (Lee Jung-jae) finds himself in a large dormitory, wearing a green jumpsuit with the number “456.” He and the other players discover that they have the chance to win a massive pile of prize money as long as they pass each of the six games.
After the brutal first game, the participants know the truth: to pass each game, they must survive the terrors each event throws them. Every game is based on a children’s playground game, like “Red Light, Green Light.” However, they’re morphed into terrifying tasks that many don’t survive.
Squid Game is an excellent show because it is wildly unpredictable. There’s no way you can guess each twist and turn the plot takes. The actors’ performances are sublime, and each moment promises to keep you on your toes.
Netflix’s vast array of horror content holds a story for every horror fan. So whether you prefer stories about corrupt societies, the evils of technology, the terrifying widening socioeconomic gap, scary monsters, or haunted houses, there’s a horror show for everyone to stream.
Check out some of our other Netflix watching recommendations!
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Featured Image Credit: Netflix.
Maya (she/they) is a professional freelance writer and editor. Her writing is featured in TransLash News & Narrative, Healthline’s Bezzy Depression, HorrorPress, the Episodes Newsletter, and more. They’re passionate about social justice, history, and entertainment journalism. In her free time, she loves binging horror movies, spending time with her girlfriend, and needle-felting monster sculptures.