Hey, we’ve all been there. You sit scrolling your fingers to the bone, skimming less than enticing synopses, finally thinking you’ve found something new to later realise that team Netflix has just updated the thumbnail.
It’s all in the algorithm. The app will show you what it thinks you will like based on your watching habits, resulting in the same small subset of content appearing over and over and some gems remaining hidden until someone recommends a title you can type into the search bar.
This is quite an eclectic list of films that sit firm in the horror genre, or dance the chalk outline around it. I’ve tried to avoid going for the classics and focused on more contemporary horror, and all the following opinions are my own based on how entertaining I found the feature, so feel free to throw your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to let me know what movies would make it into your Netflix top ten - I’m always looking for new things worth watching that I might have missed.
So, let’s get into it...
[NB: You can click the thumbnail to watch the movie on Netflix! If the thumbnail no longer works, Netflix has removed the title - check your other streaming services!]
First up, Level 16: Set in a concrete, windowless boarding school for girls, our lead Vivienne (played by Katie Douglass) and her ex-best friend embark on a dangerous search to discover the brutal truth behind the school and it’s staff.
The cast in this film do a stellar job of portraying their roles and the clinical, bleak art direction are as on point as is the cinematography and score. While there are twists and turns, don’t expect a myriad of sub-plots or points to think on - it’s a fairly minimalist piece, but what it does, it does well.
I don’t want to spoil the reveal, but these girls are being brainwashed for a reason and the school is not what it seems. Obviously.
Next on the list is Gerald’s Game. Based on the novel by Stephen King, Director Mike Flanagan (of Oculus and Hush) does an impressive job of keeping the audience interested throughout, despite the film being focused (for the most part) around a single scenario and the emotional struggles
and memories of a single character.
A couple heads out to a lake house to spice up their marriage. unfortunately, the husband suffers a heart attack, leaving the wife handcuffed to the bed with no means of escape.
The lack of sound track, chilling concept and the powerful performance from the film’s lead allows the viewer to become enveloped in the character’s back story. King does create some brilliant characters in his work and Gerald’s Game is no exception to that rule. I can’t say too much without spoiling the plot, but this movie comes highly recommended for those that enjoy subtle psychological thrillers with the odd splatter of blood.
In 8th position, as if these are in any particular order, we have Happy Death Day. Probably the most surprising inclusion to this list, its a ‘guilty pleasure’ you shouldn’t feel TOO guilty about, as it’s actually a pretty good film if you know what to expect. Think Groundhog Day meets Scream, with lashings of sarcastic humour and you’d be pretty close.
Birthday girl Tree Gelbman relives the same day over and over, ending with her being murdered by a masked killer.
The trailer is likely to make you roll your eyes hard enough to cause a migraine, but give this movie a chance and you’ll have a lot of fun.
Jessica Rothe leads this Blumhouse produced slasher, and nails the brilliantly written main character, showing a minimal range of emotions, steadily leaning further towards sheer annoyance in the fact that tomorrow never comes.
The movie will take you down many different alleys, thinking you know where the story is leading only to discover you’re totally wrong. The kill scenes aren’t super original, but they don’t need to be, the intrigue and comedy is what will keep you watching ‘til the end and unsurprisingly, it’s the growth of the Tree character that creates the rounded finale. It’s still worth the watch though!
Happy Death Day 2 is also streaming now, albeit not on Netflix, but the sequel actually provides you with some answers you might feel like you’re missing from the first film. I’d recommend watching both in succession, but the OG is definitely the better of the two.
Next, let’s talk about one of the classics I said I’d leave off the list as it’s just too damn awesome to skip. Videodrome.
In this 1983 Cronenberg classic, one of my favourite films of all time, a sleezy cable tv exec discovers a new kind of brutal reality show and attempts to secure it for his channel. All the while delving deeper into the can of worms he’s just opened.
In every respect, Videodrome is a fantastic movie. It elicits intrigue and disgust successfully with every scene.
Cronenberg often laces his films with underlying philosophy, and in this case, it’s relating to our unhealthy relationship with tv. Which is a pretty funny concept to present via a screen... Don’t let that put you off though, if you haven’t already seen Videodrome, I feel that it’s one of the real ‘must see’ films on this list.
In my eyes, this is a key foundation to the modern techno- horror genre. It’s difficult to say too much about the story without throwing out some spoilers, so I’ll keep it brief: hallucinations, whips, practical effects and cigarette burns. Just watch it. It’s great.
As one of the most recent releases here, The Platform is another conceptual piece, this time looking at society in a grim and chilling manner.
The platform focuses in on a vertical prison, two people per floor, with a single platform filled with food travelling from the top floors to the bottom, with each floor getting just a couple of minutes to feed. Those at the top get their fill, those toward the bottom get the scraps, if anything at all. Each month, the prisoners wake up on a new floor, apparently at random, giving them feast or famine.
This is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, I can see why so many people are talking about it at the moment. It’s a clear, blatant metaphor for the ups and downs we all face in life, but more importantly, it has some brilliant characters and scenarios that conjure all kinds of emotions.
If you’ve seen Snowpiercer, you’ll have an idea of what to expect here, but while Bong Joon Ho’s take on the concept showed camaraderie, The Platform serves isolation and an “every man for himself” vibe. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the question each prisoner is asked in their initial interview has a lot to do with the key message. Even if you watch this without contemplating the meanings of each well constructed element, you’ll still have a great experience.
Number 5 on the list is The Perfection. Released in 2018, but only seen by my eyeballs this year, The Perfection takes you on a roller coaster ride through the world of classical musicians. I know,but stay with me, this film is about cellists in the same way that Suspiria is about ballerinas.
The production quality and the acting are both top notch and the story keeps you hooked and guessing all the way through. If you’re into your gore, this might be a good choice for you, it’s got a bunch of brutality and the brutality is justified, which makes a nice change. The story is a bit far fetched, but hey, the next film on my list is about a corpse that is not really a corpse but a vessel for some kind of demonic force that seems to go after morticians for some reason.
You might have guessed it, but number 4 on our list is The Autopsy Of Jane Doe. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play a father and son duo of morticians, who are set to perform an autopsy on an unnamed corpse, hence the title. The atmosphere and scene setting is killer in this film, it feels like a real horror movie, not something with silly gimmicks strewn throughout.
As the story unfolds, the director has you firmly stuck to the edge of your seat, but what makes this such a brilliant piece of cinema is the really believable father/son interactions between the two protagonists and how real the process feels, despite the weirdness that gradually builds into insanity.
There aren’t so many twists and turns here, it’s a pretty linear story, but it’s a very, very good one. I really enjoyed this film when I caught it in the cinema, and I’ve watched it on more than one occasion since.
Next up is The Ritual, another movie that relies on atmosphere over jump scares, which is always quite refreshing in today’s climate.
Directed by David Bruckner, who also did Southbound and VHS, both of which were super fun anthology horrors that came out a few years back, The Ritual presents a very real, well crafted story with good characters and a strong premise.
A group of guys get together to celebrate the life of a recently killed friend, by undertaking one of his favourite pass times... hiking. From there, a shortcut through the woods and one wrong turn after another plants them in the hunting ground of an ancient evil. The first two acts are stronger than the finale, but it’s still definitely worth watching TIL the end.
Scott Derrickson’s Sinister is a great movie, quite possibly the creepiest on this list. there is so much spooky content here you’ll have to watch it a couple of times to catch all the little subtleties and nuance in each scene.
A true crime writer finds an old projector and reels of film in the house he and his family have just moved to. Watching the home movies late at night, in the dark, with a glass of whisky in his hand (which is unsurprisingly similar to the way in which I experienced this film) he discovers many disturbing things went on between the walls of his new castle.
He delves deeper and the bumps in the night naturally get quite a bit bumpier. Great production design, great acting, and some genuinely scary moments - if you jump at movies like I do, you’ll burn more calories over the course of these two hours than the rest of the week at the gym.
The Endless is more of a sci-fi thriller than a horror, but it will appeal to horror fans. Written by, directed by and starring Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, Two brothers escape a ufo death cult as kids and head back as adults to get some answers after receiving a cryptic tape, there is a lot of really solid reveals and very unique elements throughout, but there is also a lot of mysteries left to ponder.
I recently read that this movie is best watched as a follow up to the duo’s first film, Resolution, as both films take place in the same universe, which helps,round it out, but I can only comment on the endless as a stand-alone. And as a stand-alone, it’s great.
I find a lot of cult-focused horror to be samey, but this one really broke the mould, brilliant effects, great story, top marks!
That’s a wrap, 10 of the best horror movies streaming on Netflix UK right now.
As a bonus, if you enjoyed anthologies like southbound and vhs, that were briefly mentioned above, check out Ghost Stories which is streaming on Netflix right now. Andy Nyman, a brilliant magician and actor stars as a paranormal investigator, trying to crack three cases his mentor could not. Based off the west end play of the same name, it pulls off a wonderful balancing act of light humour and dark horror, all the while presenting a really well constructed story that ties together the three mini tales within. It has a super satisfying ending too!
Hopefully you will have discovered or have been reminded of a movie or two that appeal to you; drop a comment below at let me know what you’ve been watching, I’m always looking for more content to consume! And if you liked this video, be sure to hit that subscribe button as there is a lot more spooky content upcoming on my Youtube channel!