The 10 scariest horror films and shows on Netflix: from 'The Purge' to 'The Conjuring'
These series and movies are among the most frightening the platform has to offer in the Middle East
Anyone who has expectantly perused the horror section of Netflix lately will know it’s a pick-and-mix of questionable, low-budget offerings that will more likely have you rolling your eyes than hiding behind the couch.
But amid the stinkers, there are a few gems worth watching. Here are the best.
1. The Haunting of Hill House
With a 93 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 2018 horror series The Haunting of Hill House by American filmmaker Mike Flanagan (also behind the likes of Oculus and Doctor Sleep) was beloved by fans all over the world.
In fact, Stephen King, a master of the genre, actually reported getting goosebumps when watching it, while other viewers said they felt queasy. So, basically, it’s not for the faint-of-heart.
The story for the first season is loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 gothic novel, following five siblings as they experience paranormal occurrences over two timelines: when they were children living in Hill House, and then when they’re older, as far away from Hill House as they can get.
Its terror and brilliance is in its suspense and eeriness, as opposed to too many stereotypical jump-scares and loud noises.
A second season, called The Haunting of Bly Manor, based on the 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, is set to be released at some point this year.
Even though this French-language series was cancelled after just one season, it still rates highly among horror fans. The Netflix Original follows troubled author Emma Larsimon, who is haunted by her own fictional character, a witch named Marianne.
When a strange visit from a childhood friend encourages her to return to her hometown, Larsimon is forced to face the woman who began plaguing her dreams 15 years earlier. Larsimon’s novels may have seemed like fiction, but soon, we realise, she may have been writing fact.
It’s a complex, emotionally driven storyline interspersed with some very creepy, rather disturbing scenes. By the time you've finished all eight episodes, it'll haunt your dreams. You’ve been warned.
This German-language series, which has been compared to hit show Stranger Things, may belong in the science-fiction section, but its sinister undertones are what makes it worthy of this list.
The thriller, which currently has two seasons, is set in the small town of Winden, Germany, and takes place in the aftermath of a child’s disappearance. As an investigation takes root, a complicated time travel conspiracy that links four estranged families begins to unravel, highlighting the effects time can have on human nature.
It’s clever and complex, as the storyline spans a number of time zones, with the same people of different ages travelling across barriers with ease.
It's genius, but you might want to pay attention and take notes while you watch.
Toni Collette and Alex Wolff star in this 2018 supernatural horror about the Graham family, who, throughout the course of the film, begin to uncover some terrifying secrets about their ancestry and the ominous fate that befalls them.
Without giving too much away, there are some shocking moments, unexpected twists and turns, plus plenty of suspense all rolled into one well-crafted storyline that harks back to classics like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. And that’s all made even more impressive through Collette’s critically acclaimed performance.
5. Lights Out
There might be a few tired horror film cliches buried away in this 2016 supernatural horror by the same director as The Conjuring (see below), but the end result still makes for an unnerving, spine-tingling watch.
It’s about a family haunted by an “imaginary friend” called Diana who only appears when the lights go out. Protagonist Rebecca goes on a mission to unravel what’s troubling her little brother and mother, which takes her face to face with an evil supernatural spirit that just won’t let go.
If nothing else, this film will probably have you sleeping with the lights on for a couple of nights after watching it.
6. The Conjuring
Anyone familiar with the Conjuring universe will know this 2013 film, which was directed by James Wan and written by Chad and Carey W Hayes. It was the first in a mightily successful horror film series that has produced a number of spin-offs, some of which are great, others pretty terrible (case in point, The Nun).
This is one of the brilliant ones, and it will have you on the edge of your seat (or hiding behind your hands) throughout its one hour and 52 minutes.
It’s based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who try to help a family who are being terrorised by an evil presence in their farmhouse.
As far as supernatural horror films go, the storyline is relatively familiar, but its execution and ability to induce sheer terror is what really clinches it a spot on this list.
7. Annabelle: Creation
Another excellent instalment in the Conjuring universe is this 2017 prequel to 2014’s Annabelle (which is also on Netflix and worth a watch).
It takes place at a secluded home owned by married couple Samuel and Elle Mullins, who lost their daughter 12 years prior in a tragic car accident. Since then, the pair have opened up the house to a nun and six orphan girls, one of whom ends up snooping around daughter Annabelle’s room and finds a creepy-looking doll.
It turns out the Mullins had tried to revive their girl, but ended up summoning a demon instead, one which has lain dormant in the doll for the past 12 years.
Annabelle, the doll, features in many of the series’ films and is pegged as one of the most evil objects real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren ever came across.
8. The Woman in Black
This 2012 horror-thriller, starring Daniel Radcliffe (aka, one Mr Harry Potter), is a little less all-out scary than the rest of the films and shows on this list, but it’s no less eerie. It’s an adaptation of Susan Hill’s 1983 novel of the same name.
It’s set in early 20th century England and Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a widowed lawyer sent to a remote village to retrieve documents left behind by Alice Drablow, the recently deceased owner of Eel Marsh House, in preparation to sell the property.
As soon as he arrives, he realises he’s unwelcome by the townspeople – but he’s not quite sure why. Soon enough, having spent long enough in Drablow’s desolate marshland estate, he discovers a vengeful ghost of a scorned mother who’s been killing off the children in the town. Now, it’s up to Kipps to figure out a way to lay her spirit to rest.
9. The Shining
This classic 1980 horror movie by director Stanley Kubrick, an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name, never gets old. It follows the Torrance family as they move with caretaker dad Jack (played brilliantly by Jack Nicholson) to the isolated Overlook Hotel for winter.
Son Danny, who possesses what they call “the shining”, or psychic abilities, soon begins to see into the property’s horrific and tragic past, as his father slowly descends into madness.
Cue some of the most famous and recognisable scenes in horror movie history, from the woman in the bath to the twins in the hallway and the flood of blood gushing out of the lifts.
It's a classic for a reason.
10. The Purge
This was the first installment in a line of dystopian action horror films, which included three sequels and a TV series. While the rest of the movies are good, this is the best, simply because it introduced a refreshingly new kind of storyline to the genre.
It takes place after the New Founding Fathers of America, a totalitarian political party, passes a law sanctioning an annual “purge”, when for 12 hours every year all crime is legal and all emergency services are unavailable.
We’re taken to the home of James Sandin (played by Ethan Hawke), who lives in an affluent gated community in Los Angeles, as he activates the sophisticated security system his company manufactures to wait out the night with his wife and two children.
Except the evening doesn’t quite go to plan, as gang of armed and masked people arrive on their front lawn with a plan to murder everybody inside.
What’s most terrifying about this film is that its storyline isn’t entirely unbelievable.
Updated: April 9, 2020 06:54 PM