Underappreciated horror movies you need to watch on Netflix

Where can you go to find all the best horror movies you've never heard of? One word, cinephiles: Netflix. From festival darlings that never found a distributor to limited release or direct-to-video sleeper hits, the streaming service is packed with zombies and vampires and hauntings (oh my!) that have flown under the radar too long. These hidden gems from the scary movie oeuvre never got the attention they so richly deserve—but can now be discovered and enjoyed by you, in the comfort of your living room. These are the most underrated, scream-worthy, stream-able films currently available.

​Midnight Meat Train

Before he became the greatest actor ever to give voice to a bionically enhanced space raccoon, Bradley Cooper was the star of this incredibly creepy, bizarrely overlooked New York City horror story. Midnight Meat Train tells the story of Leon (Cooper), a vegan photographer who accidentally uncovers the existence of a murderous butcher who's using the NYC subway as his own personal slaughterhouse (where the only thing on the menu is straphanger hamburger.) Needless to say, things get gory—and the film goes for broke in its final scene with a seriously twisted surprise ending. Sadly, a delayed and limited theatrical release kept Midnight Meat Train from getting the attention it deserved, especially considering Cooper's star power and the movie's production values—but that just makes it one of Netflix's most hidden gems.

​Train to Busan

The only thing scarier than a roving pack of zombies is being trapped with them in an enclosed space—and the only thing scarier than that is being trapped with ravening zombies in an enclosed space that's flying through the Korean countryside at hundreds of miles per hour. Enter Train to Busan, a fabulous under-the-radar horror film that milks its unique setting for all it's worth. The titular train is barreling through a world overrun by the undead, bound for a southern resort city that's rumored to be the last safe stronghold for humanity. Train to Busan was a hit at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016 and broke box office records in Korea, but it was almost completely overlooked by American audiences and critics; fortunately, it's ripe for discovery as a new addition to Netflix's horror library.


The original horror-anthology film V/H/S has gotten a decent amount of attention for its inventive, freaky, bite-size tales of terror—because why take two hours for a slow burn frightfest when you can pack multiple horror stories into the same amount of time? What you might not know, however, is that V/H/S was successful enough to spawn a sequel, which sticks to the original format but offers up an entirely fresh crop of scares. Like its predecessor, V/H/S/2 includes something for everyone, from zombies to aliens to haunted body parts. Admittedly, also like its predecessor, the quality of the stories on V/H/S/2 isn't exactly uniform—but hey, that's what the fast forward button is for.

Stake Land

1980s superstar Kelly McGillis came out of retirement to play a nun on the run in this vastly underrated apocalypse film, so you know it's gotta be good. Stake Land tells the story of an orphaned teenage boy named Martin (Connor Paolo) living in a world where vampires have overrun and destroyed every human stronghold—and where the people who've managed to survive are just as dangerous as the ravening undead. With the help of a mysterious vampire-hunter known only as Mister (Nick Damici), Martin makes his way across America in search of a safe haven, dodging predators both human and non. Making the most of a teeny-tiny budget, Stake Land is a best-of-both-worlds mashup between the apocalyptic horrors of The Walking Dead and the action of Blade: a smart and compelling survival drama full of interesting characters, thoughtful social commentary, and of course, bloodsucking monsters.

The Wailing

In lieu of watching The Exorcist for the millionth time, consider a new twist on a classic premise with The Wailing. The atmospheric, artful thrills of K-horror meet a tried-and-true tale of demonic possession in this film from 2016, which follows a police officer as he tries to uncover the truth about the mysterious, violent sickness sweeping through his South Korean mountain village. Although The Wailing is the slowest of slow burns (it clocks in at a whopping two hours and thirty-six minutes, an eternity compared to the average 90-minute slasher flick), director Hong-jin Na earns every second of his movie's runtime by ramping up the tension to the perfect pitch and pacing out the scares like a pro.

Odd Thomas

Anton Yelchin, the handsome and talented star of Odd Thomas, was tragically killed in 2016 at the age of 27 and will never make another movie again, horror or otherwise. Hence, we must enjoy his existing body of work (with a box of tissues handy if need be). In this film based on a book by Dean Koontz, Yelchin plays a small-town fry cook and part-time vigilante psychic who uses his gifts to hunt down killers, but runs into trouble when his town is invaded by an evil beyond anything he's seen before. As horror flicks go, Odd Thomas is more whimsical—and occasionally, surprisingly sentimental—than spooky, but Yelchin is so charming in the title role that you won't miss the jump scares a bit.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

If you're looking to scream with laughter rather than terror, it doesn't get better than this pitch-perfect sendup of the camp slasher genre. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk star as a pair of backwoods BFFs who are just trying to enjoy a relaxing vacation at their fixer-upper cabin in the mountains. But when a group of preppy, judgmental college kids sets up camp nearby, a series of absurd misunderstandings unleash an unstoppable tide of rage, violence, and accidental deaths-by-woodchipper.


This Kiwi horror comedy takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to a classic trope: instead of movie about a haunted house, it's a movie about a haunted house arrest. Small-time criminal Kylie is sentenced to eight months on her parents' property, which is ghastly enough even before she realizes that her folks' place has an angry ghost in residence. Kylie's ankle bracelet also serves as a clever answer to the question that plagues most haunted horror films; unlike the dopey characters in other movies who inexplicably stick around to be terrorized long after they should've run screaming out the front door, the heroine of Housebound can't leave her ghost-ridden residence.

Troll Hunter

If you watched and enjoyed André Øvredal's much-lauded The Autopsy of Jane Doe in 2016, you'll definitely want to catch the Norwegian director's first entry into the horror canon while it's still on Netflix. (And if you haven't seen Autopsy, you should go ahead and watch this one first.) Set in the remote, forested northern fjords of Norway, this found-footage mockumentary follows a group of students as they try to catch an elusive species of giant troll on camera—without being eaten or trampled alive in the process. (Needless to say, some of the characters are more successful in that endeavor than others.)


In Hush, the ordinary home invasion thriller gets kicked up a notch by the injection of a unique twist: the heroine is deaf. Low on gore and high on suspense, the 2016 film succeeds despite a miniscule $1 million budget and almost no dialogue, thanks to its deliberate storytelling and creative use of sound and silence to ramp up the tension. Add in a stellar star performance by Kate Siegel, who anchors the movie she co-wrote with ease, and Hush is more than worth investing the short 80 minutes it takes to watch.


If you've been missing actress Rose Leslie since her untimely exit from Game of Thrones, this slow burn horror flick about a honeymoon gone wrong will put her back on your TV screen. Leslie stars opposite Harry Treadaway in a story about two newlyweds whose post-nuptial bliss at a secluded cabin is rudely interrupted by something strange lurking in the woods. Without spoiling anything, let's just say that the honeymoon gets real weird, real fast, before it's officially over.


Anthology horror has been making a comeback lately, most notably with the V/H/S franchise (of which, one of the overlooked sequel flicks is also on this list). There are also some stand-alone, lesser-known gems in the genre, and this dark riff on seasonal celebrations is one of them. Eight different directors, including Kevin Smith and Gary Shore, contributed a creepy pint-sized nightmare on a holiday theme, with highlights including St. Patrick's Day (with the world's creepiest take on Catholic mythology and leprechaun lore), Easter (featuring a bunny that'll give you 40 days and 40 nights' worth of terrors) and Christmas, starring Seth Green in the now-classic role of a dad who'll do anything—no, seriously, anything—to bring home the year's most coveted toy as a gift for his kiddos. Like most anthology films, not every one of these scary stories will be to the particular taste of every horror aficionado, but that's also part of the charm. The wildly inventive story lines and diverse approaches showcased in each of its short films make Holidays the kind of movie that has something for everyone.

Hard Candy

Before she was a member of the X-Men and an LGBTQ icon in Hollywood, Ellen Page was the teeny tiny Canadian star of this immensely disturbing movie about a 14-year-old girl who's targeted by a middle-aged sexual predator (Patrick Wilson)—only for the predator to realize he's the hunted, not the hunter. One prolonged game of cat-and-mouse later (and after one particularly horrifying scene of implied violence involving a rubber band and a bag of ice), Page carries the movie to a crazy conclusion that left no question about her star potential at the time. The controversial premise and minuscule budget made Hard Candy a tough sell when it came to a traditional release; it instead debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. But despite being awarded Overlooked Film of the Year at the 2006 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards, the movie has continued to be a hidden and too-little-seen gem.


Primarily famous as a dancer, Julianne Hough doesn't get enough credit for her very serviceable acting chops—especially when it comes to playing the final girl (or, in this case, the only one) in a horror flick about a road trip gone wrong. Hough stars as Mallory, a bride-to-be whose car breaks down in the wild western boondocks en route to her wedding rehearsal. When a charming but sadistic hitchhiker (Teddy Sears) enters the picture, Mallory's last hurrah as a single girl turns into a fight for survival: she intentionally drives her car off the road in an attempt to escape, only to end up trapped at the bottom of a gulch in a 127 Hours-esque scenario, while the hitchhiker who survived the crash returns periodically to taunt her with the inevitability of her impending death. With the imprimateur of Jason Blum (the big name behind horror studio Blumhouse, home of the Insidious, Purge, and Paranormal Activity franchises), Curve should've made a bigger splash than it did. Instead, it got lost in early 2016 amid a slew of straight-to-on-demand releases. However, the theater system's loss was Netflix's gain, so catch it on the streaming service before it disappears 'round the bend.

The Lazarus Effect

After getting a taste for horror in Creep (which also appears on this list), Mark Duplass—along with an ensemble cast of serious talent—snagged a role in this scary movie about a serum that can bring people back from the dead. On sheer star power alone, The Lazarus Effect is virtually unmatched on our list of underrated horror entries, with Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters, and Ray Wise all working their magic to elevate a less-than-inspired concept into legitimately scream-worthy territory. (Wilde is especially terrifying as the first human to be revived using the resurrection serum, carrying the scares all the way through to a final twist you won't see coming.) And while it's true that the script could be tighter, don't believe the lack of hype on this one: The Lazarus Effect is a far better movie than its 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest.


The source material for this period horror flick will be unfamiliar to all but the most hardcore Stephen King fanatics, but Netflix definitely knew what it was doing when it snagged this little story for a screen adaptation. Based on a novella from the author's Full Dark, No Stars anthology, 1922 stars Thomas Jane as Wilfred James, a farmer living in rural Nebraska during the period leading up to the Great Depression. Money troubles and marital conflict lead Wilfred to hatch a murder plot that leads him to some very dark places—and just goes to show that sometimes, getting away with it is much worse than getting caught. Like many of Stephen King's best works, this is a character-driven horror, and strong performances make it a standout—particularly from Jane, who immerses himself in the role so thoroughly that it's hard to believe this same miserable, hay-chewing yokel wearing a pair of overalls with nothing underneath is the same cosmopolitan hero who once played The Punisher.


In 2014, filmmaker Patrick Brice set out to answer in spectacular fashion the question every digital classifieds user has asked since the dawn of Craigslist: What's the worst that could happen if I accept the weird, paid gig from this online person I've never met?

Without spoiling anything, let's just say that the answer is something really bad. That's what a videographer named Aaron (played by Brice himself) discovers when he goes to the home of Josef (Mark Duplass, who also co-wrote and produced the movie) for what's supposed to be a documentary project (which makes for a nice, organic way to build a film on the "found footage" conceit). Josef seems a little off at first but no more so than the average rando who's cruising Craigslist in search of someone to fulfill his needs. What starts out the ordinary weirdness of internet strangers becomes something much more disturbing. The result is a movie that more than lives up to its title.

Gerald's Game

With The Dark Tower and It tearing up the big screen in 2017, you might have totally missed some of the other, smaller adaptations in the works of stories by horror-master Stephen King—including this one based on the 1992 novel of the same name. Gerald's Game centers on Jessie Burlingame (played here by Carla Gugino), who ends up trapped, handcuffed to the bed at her lake house after her husband, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), has a heart attack mid-coitus and dies. As she struggles to find a way to escape, Jessie is visited by a series of entities—some real, some imagined, and some that seem to straddle the line between this world and the next. One of Netflix's original feature films, Gerald's Game was eagerly anticipated by hardcore King fans but didn't get the kind of widespread attention merited by its creativity and star power. Despite the obvious challenges of holding down an entire two-hour film on her own, Gugino keeps it riveting, making this the finest horror movie set entirely on a bed since, well, maybe ever! Unless you count Bed of the Dead, but tragically, Netflix doesn't have that one.


Body horror is a favorite subgenre for ambitious, scary storytellers, but some anatomical myths are so terrifying that not even the Wes Cravens or John Carpenters of the world dare touch 'em—which is why the criminally underrated Teeth also has the distinction of being the only feature film ever to go deep on vagina dentata. Starring The Good Wife's Jess Weixler as a teen abstinence activist with a second set of chompers down below, this 2007 horror film skips the niceties and gets straight to the point.

And by "the point," of course, we mean "a revenge plot featuring more decapitated wieners than you can shake a stick at." (What were you expecting? A movie about vagina dentata where nobody's penis gets bitten off?)

Despite hewing closely to expectation on the biting-off-penises front, Teeth is a fun, unpredictable, and razor-sharp satire of fears surrounding female sexuality in addition to being a bloody good time. And in a moment where Hollywood is in the midst of a reckoning with sexual predators and badly behaved producers and directors and the like, this little indie horror from ten years previous feels almost prescient… even if the credits do swear that "no men were harmed in the making of this film."

The Invitation

If you've ever suffered through the exquisite agony of a couples dinner date where two members of the party used to date each other, you'll understand why The Invitation is nightmare fuel from the get-go. The film centers on Will (Logan Marshall-Green), who is reluctantly attending a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) at the home they used to share. Eden and her new hubs (Game of Thrones' Michiel Huisman) mysteriously dropped off the radar two years ago, but now they're back and want to make amends to all the friends they lost touch with … or do they?

The big reunion becomes uncomfortable when it turns out that the guest list also includes two boundary-challenged strangers whose behavior is cringe-worthy and inexplicable even before the night devolves into a series of tense confrontations and weird, invasive party games. Even as Will starts to wonder if the dinner party pretense is cover for a much more sinister plan, The Invitation expertly mines the inherent awkwardness of group social gatherings to keep both its characters and its audience guessing, and, rather than going for supernatural scares, the horror is all too human. This underrated gem will leave you asking yourself how well you really know your friends—and shuddering when you realize the answer.

A Dark Song

This Irish independent horror movie flew under the radar when it released in 2017, but the handful of film buffs who did see it were impressed—and with good reason. A Dark Song centers on grieving mother Sophia (Catherine Walker), whose son was murdered by a group of teen cult members, and who hires an extravagantly bearded occultist (Steve Oram) to guide her through a complex, months-long rite at a remote, rented home in the Welsh countryside. Despite a teensy budget and a very green director at its helm (this movie is the debut feature film of Irish auteur Liam Gavin), A Dark Song boasts incredible production values and phenomenal sound work that subverts the usual tried-and-true horror film tropes. Instead, the film revels in the slow burn and deliberately draws out the tension until the whole movie is steeped in dread. In the end, this entry is a deep, dark, and gorgeously acted meditation on loss that segues into a harrowing and unexpected climax.