Netflix is a blessing. People tend to bemoan the corporate behemoth for their questionable business decisions ($100 million for 1 year of Friends? Come on, son.) and their unquenchable thirst for an Academy Award – but without Netflix, we wouldn’t have the rich horror world we live in today. Whether it’s through direct production or after-festival distribution, Netflix has delivered some of the absolute best horror movies and series that we get to enjoy today from the comfort of our own home.
It’s those Netflix Original movies that I want to highlight for this article. I have spent the past few weeks re-watching every Original horror film Netflix has to offer, and I have compiled a list of the ten you absolutely cannot miss. Now, I have already been getting some guff on the Twitter.com for including some of these films in my best-of list, so let me be clear with my rules for inclusion. First of all, the film has to be exclusive to Netflix. That’s easy. Secondly, the film can either be produced directly by Netflix (green-lit, financed, developed, etc.) or it can be purchased and distributed by Netflix. A film can have a limited theatrical run either here or overseas and still qualify.
We good? We good. Without further ado, here are the ten Netflix Original Horror movies that you cannot afford to miss:
10. The Ravenous (2017)
I am totally and completely over zombie horror. They have never been my favorite, and after investing five or six years into The Walking Dead, I just got burned out. I would have been totally fine never seeing another stumbling hungry fella for the rest of my life, until I watched Ravenous.
It’s funny, scary, thought-provoking, and exhilarating, sure. More than that, though, it’s gorgeous as hell. You get sucked in with the filmmaking from the very start and don’t want the amazing camera work to stop. It’s features a new wrinkle (at least to me) in zombie lore and is set against a sometimes breathtakingly beautiful Canadian backdrop. You won’t learn anything super-new, or be blown away by Ravenous, but you will definitely be left wanting to watch it again.
9. 1922 (2018)
Stephen King has been hotter than Hansel for the past few years. It seems like everyone is getting in on the King spooky-train, from Hulu, to CBS All Access, to something called Audience. Without this hunger for the Master’s work, we probably would have never gotten to see this short story from Full Dark, No Stars made into a film. While the movie has its issues, and you can definitely tell that the filmmakers had to stretch it to make it full-length, but there is one very compelling reason why you need to watch this tonight.
That reason is Thomas Jane. He is captivating as the murderous farmer Wilfred James. I found it hard to take my eyes off of him throughout the entirety of the film. His voice is low. Lower than low. It’s full of gravel and hatred for the woman threatening to take away his land and his son. Like I mentioned, the story could have been a half-hour shorter, but every second Thomas jane is on-screen makes it worthwhile.
8. Apostle (2018)
I wanted to love Apostle so badly. It checks almost every Tyler Box. It’s a period film that stars Dan Stevens (hunk) and a bearded Michael Sheen (daddy) that is set on a mysterious island where a cult is practicing terrible things in the name of Utopia. I wanted it to be my new favorite film, finally dethroning She’s All That from the top spot. Unfortunately, there was just not enough of the spooky stuff to make it number one, but it had just enough to make it a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
7. Cargo (2018)
I have to admit something to all of you. Cargo wrecked my life. There’s no way around that. I sat there in bed, glass of boxed chardonnay in my hand, and cried like I was watching the end of She’s All That for the first time. It’s a beautiful, haunting, gut-wrenching film that I wanted to hate, but couldn’t.
Martin Freeman plays a father who, after getting bitten, has 48 hours to find someone to take care of his baby before he turns into a zombie. He battles the walking dead, other survivors, and nihilistic bite-victims in the harsh Australian outback and breaks the heart of any parent watching. It’s not a perfect film, but it was damn good enough to make me put two zombie movies in this list.
6. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)
This is a controversial selection, I know, but there are few movies out there that have sat with me longer than this. It doesn’t have a traditional horror-movie payoff and it doesn’t manage to make you jump nearly as much as some would like, but director Osgood Perkins created a believable world where ghosts walk the halls of old houses and step through the television to haunt my dreams. If you’re looking for a slow-burn-spooky ghost story, you have to give this one a watch.
5. Bird Box (2018)
Based on the outstanding book by Josh Malerman, Bird Box hit audiences right in the mouth last December and spawned a huge fandom and thousands of memes. It has an all-star cast (including Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich and Sarah Paulson) that is stuck trying to survive in a world where if you look at what is chasing you, you go mad and kill yourself.
This is yet another Netflix Original that is a hard-watch if you’re the parent of a little one. It brings the scares, for sure, but it also makes you sit back and think about your life. What would you do to protect those that mean the world to you? How far would you go to ensure that they not only live to see adulthood, but that they find the humanity locked behind their dirty blindfold? It’s a film that will have you shivering under your covers at night, sure, but it will also force you to examine your heart.
4. Gerald’s Game (2017)
In another example of Netflix giving us the Uncle Steve that we want, Gerald’s Game came at us in 2017 and re-kindled a love for director Mike Flanagan that I thought had gone completely to ash.
In what is probably my favorite of her performances, Carla Gugino plays the hell out of the handcuffed and psychologically damaged Jessie as she attempts to free herself from a bed and save her life. People said for decades that this is one King property that could never be adapted, but Flanagan, Gugino, Bruce Greenwood and the gang delivered something that will go down as one of the absolute finest adaptations ever made.
3. Hush (2016)
It’s Mike Flanagan going Back-to-Back like he’s in the opening credits of a TGIF sitcom! This guy, if you haven’t heard, has been absolutely killing it, and Hush is another example of his world-building that is nearly unmatched in the horror genre.
Kate Siegel plays Maddie, a deaf-and-mute author who is living in seclusion to help herself finish her next novel. After a rude interruption by her bleeding and dying neighbor, Maddie realizes that there is a man outside that wants to murder her. That’s not quite right… He wants to play with her, before he kills her. It’s a quiet, brutal, and scary film that cranks up your own survival instinct to eleven while also making sure that you install an alarm system in your home immediately after watching.
2. Cam (2018)
Directed by Daniel Goldhaber and written by Isa Mazzei, Cam is a gorgeous film about the dangers of seeking fame through an online persona. What if your social identity takes on a life of its own? What if it begins to garner the respect and admiration that you have always craved? What if you begin to lose control of who you are?
Madeline Brewer absolutely blew my mind with her performance as a cam-girl looking to find the truth behind the doppelganger account pretending to be her. She is able to lead a stellar script from Mazzei that never manages to stall or fall into the expected sci-fi/horror traps. If you are looking for a fantastically trippy horror film that makes you question everything you pretend to be for those who “follow” you, then drop what you’re doing this instant and watch Cam.
1. The Ritual (2018)
If you’ve followed me at all on the tweeter machine, you know that I have an unhealthy love for author Adam Nevill. It’s gotten to the point where my wife is worried. She’s called a lawyer. My family is being torn apart, Adam. I love you. Anyways, when I heard that they were developing one of my favorite novels of his into a movie, I was a bit hesitant. There are parts of the story, in my mind, that would be difficult to adapt into the visual media. Sometimes, you need to be reading to get the full spooky effect of the story. When I finally got to see the film in early 2018, all of my fears were laid to rest.
The Ritual does everything that the novel did for me, and more. It puts you directly into the Scandinavian wilderness as four friends make one last hike for their fallen brother. I won’t spoil any more of the story for you, just know that they are not alone out there and what follows them cries out from your darkest nightmares. It is a privilege to worship, you see, but if you do not kneel before it, you will hang from the trees.
As you can see, Netflix has been on a roll these past few years when it comes to creating and distributing fantastic horror. Do yourself a favor and watch (or re-watch) these ten Netflix Original horror films this weekend. Moder commands it.
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