The streaming giant offers a crush of content, including more horror movies than you can binge in a given weekend. That doesn’t mean every horror movie in the system is worth your time. In fact, of all the movie genres, bad horror films are particularly plentiful.
And Netflix carries plenty that fall squarely in that category.
Look more closely, and you’ll see some gems in the horror movie file. Of course, no one needs to recommend classics like “The Exorcist.” If you haven’t seen Regan’s head spin around yet, shame on you.
So here are 10 lesser known horror films that lack that film’s pedigree but still deliver some chills.
“The Sacrament” – Director Ti West is the maestro of slow-burn horror. Here, he pilfers from actual headlines for the tale of a colony claiming to have built Utopia. A small team of journalists drops by to see for themselves. And … you can connect some of the dots from there. Even those without the patience for West’s brand of storytelling will marvel at Gene Jones’ performance as the cult leader. He is mesmerizing.
“Pontypool” – Love the idea behind zombies but can’t stand the sight of corpses snacking on entrails? This clever take on the genre is perfect for you. A cranky talk show host tries to keep listeners calm as a series of spooky events unfold outside the station. Stephen McHattie is terrific as the veteran DJ trying to make sense of the senseless.
“The Host” – Imagine an old-school Godzilla movie but with first-rate effects, surprises galore and a genuinely shocking finale. This South Korean import follows an ecologically tortured beast which kidnaps a young girl. The chase is on from there, and what follows is rigorously clever and involving. Picture a less than heroic protagonist, in your face effects and story beats you won’t see coming.
“Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead” – Talk about a franchise that should have been put down after the first installment. “Dead Snow” offered a giddy premise – Nazi zombies – and little else. The sequel manage to nail that rare elixir, the horror comedy hybrid, just right. It’s clever and gross, and while it’s empty calorie cinema it’s wholly worth the stream.
“Housebound“ – This Kiwi shocker also attempts the horror comedy mashup. The result? Arguably the best film of its kind since “Shaun of the Dead.” A wayward teen is forced to live with her parents – again – but they are far from alone in their creepy old house. It’s darn near criminal the movie got so little attention upon its release. An Americanized remake is supposedly in the works, but why bother remaking something that nails so many essential horror elements?
“The Babadook” – No, it’s not the horror game changer we were promised. It’s still a frightening look at single parenthood and the fears, both real and supernatural, that come along with it. Expect the creepiest kid book ever created and dazzling performance by Essie Davis and young Noah Wiseman. Sometimes low-budget horror entries leave us woozy.
“The Human Centipede” – Forget what you’ve heard about this infamous horror hit. And, please, don’t bother with the inferior sequels. The third and, hopefully, last “Centipede” might be the worst film of the past decade. It’s the original that matters. Dieter Laser is the creepiest mad scientist in, well, ever. His surgical dreams become the nightmare for three unsuspecting souls. The film’s diabolical hook isn’t frightening, per se. It simply burrows under your skin and refuses to leave. Director Tom Six creates an enveloping sense of dread that is certainly not for mainstream audiences.
“The Taking of Deborah Logan” – Horror fans have little choice but to endure the found footage approach. For a lo-fi genre it’s too practical for young filmmakers hoping to meet budgetary demands. That’s the case with “Deborah Logan,” a sturdily constructed shocker with a grand lead performance by Jill Larson in the title role. Found footage films often make do with sub-par performances from actors you may never see again. Not here.
“Trollhunter” – Stop us if you’ve heard this before. A group of young filmmakers set out to document something, only to find another truly frightening “thing” right in front of them. This Norwegian fantasy makes clever use of the found footage format for a wholly original tale with glimpses of a creature you won’t soon forget. In between the spooky scenes, “Trollhunter” develops its own arcane mythology. That makes it far better than your typical mockumentary effort.
BONUS: “Hush” – This 2016 Netflix original packs a grand gimmick. What if the Final Girl was deaf and couldn’t hear the serial killer lurking on her property? Director Mike Flanagan doesn’t stop with that fresh premise. He crafts a tense thriller with a shrewd heroine (Kate Siegel) who won’t go down without a fight.