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The Scariest Movies To Watch On Netflix This Halloween

Horror movies might get released all year round, but there's nothing better than watching a scary movie on Halloween — the scariest holiday of the scariest month. Halloween, and October in general, is the perfect spooky match for any terrifying movie marathons or frightfests. But with all the decades of classic horror and new releases, how do you pick the right movies to watch on this hallowed holiday — especially if your streaming service options are limited to Netflix and whatever VHS copies of Halloween H20 you can find at your local Goodwill?

Well, fear not — and then prepare to fear quite a lot — because we've assembled a definitive list of some of the scariest movies available to watch on Netflix this Halloween. From modern classics to older gems, violent dinner parties to allegory-laden cannibalism, we've got all the films you need to watch if you want to really terrify your party guests this Halloween.

Get invited to The Invitation

Depending on how social you are, you might already think that attending a dinner party, especially one hosted by your ex-wife and her new husband, is the height of horror. In The Invitation, that's exactly what Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) have to contend with when they're invited to a dinner party hosted by Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman). Will and Eden divorced years earlier after a tragedy that left both of them with some major emotional issues and has led to Will more or less completely disappearing from his old social circle. At first, the dinner party seems like an excuse to reconnect and see old friends, but there's an uneasy tone to the proceedings that slowly increases the tension.

The Invitation was originally supposed to feature a more recognizable cast that would have included Luke Wilson, Zachary Quinto, Topher Grace, and Johnny Galecki, and it's a good thing that the original cast fell through. The Invitation has a lean, naturalistic quality to it; everything from the pacing to the set design (with the movie taking place largely in one location) makes the film seem almost voyeuristic, like you're watching an actual dinner party happening. That realism makes the film uncomfortable to watch even before the true reason for the dinner party is revealed, and the movie's all the better for it.

Don't take medicine for Cabin Fever

If you're even slightly aware of Cabin Fever, chances are it's because of this infamous scene which features a kid flipping around and doing kicks, screaming "Pancakes!" and then biting a character's hand. While that scene does achieve a sort of primal, horrific Dadaism when divorced from the context of the original film, there's more pleasure to be had in Eli Roth's directorial debut.

The story follows a group of sexed-up college students who vacation in a cabin in the woods where they quickly get infected by an extremely contagious flesh-eating disease. Cabin Fever, like a lot of first films, wears its influences on its sleeve; in this case, Roth uses and reuses genre tropes relentlessly. From the untrustworthy small-town sheriff to the fatal consequences for having sex in a horror movie, Cabin Fever does it all. Still, while the film is a hodgepodge of other horror movies, the end result is surprisingly effective overall, especially when showcasing the disgusting disease. Once you've seen a character peel off parts of their skin in the bathtub, all the campiness and regurgitated horror tropes feel like a welcome reprieve from the primal terror of watching someone's body fall apart in front of your eyes.

Not just a Radiohead song anymore

While found footage movies can be a boon for filmmakers (they tend to cost a lot less than conventional productions), they can sometimes be pretty frustrating to watch as a viewer. At a certain point — especially when things have broken out into full-blown horror — it's hard not to wonder why the characters still bother filming anything instead of just running away.

Creep follows Aaron, a videographer paid to follow around Josef (Mark Duplass) as he films a series of lessons for his unborn son. Josef, apparently, is dying of an incurable disease and wants to leave videos of himself behind; Aaron is just the man for the job. As Josef begins to act stranger and stranger, Aaron is compelled by a combination of curiosity and social niceties to continue recording. Even as the film heads towards its more overtly horrific ending, Creep is tinged with such a genuine loneliness and strange magnetism that you're almost as curious as Aaron to see where things are heading. That curiosity takes on its own deeper meaning when you realize that Patrick Brice, who plays Aaron, is also the director of Creep.

Six walls of terror in The Cube

What's the scariest geometric shape? If you said anything other than "cube," you need to check out the Canadian horror film of the same name. Cube showcases a group of characters who wake up to find themselves trapped in a maze of nearly identical cube-shaped rooms. Some of the rooms are booby trapped, while others allow them to pass through without harm, but there's no obvious way to tell which is which. Why they're trapped there, where exactly they are — most of these questions are left entirely to viewers' imaginations as you watch the group bumble through trap after exhausting trap. Through it all, director Vincenzo Natali anchors the film with endlessly inventive variations on the nigh-identical sets and a story that feels equally indebted to Kafka, The Twilight Zone, and Sartre. With its stripped down story and iconic visuals, Cube more than pays off the potential embodied in the premise.

It Follows will haunt you forever

Sexuality can be really confusing and scary when you're a teenager (and even when you're an adult). While plenty of horror movies feature sexed-up teenagers pursued by a monster, it's usually much more puritanical than introspective — there's rarely any relationship that the characters have to sex other than getting punished for it with murder. It Follows is different, delving deep into the scary, confusing ways in which people engage with sex and each other.

The film's plot sees Jay (Maika Monroe) sleeping with Hugh (Jake Weary) for the first time. Unfortunately, what should be a night to remember turns into a night Jay wishes she could forget as Hugh tells her that she's now cursed to be followed by a shape-shifting, slow-walking monster invisible to everyone but her. The monster will slowly follow her until it catches and kills her — or until Jay sleeps with someone else, passing the curse to them until they do the same. The concept is wonderfully amorphous, lending itself as easily to interpretations about the fear of STDs as it does to the cultural relationship to sex, all wrapped up in a great-looking film with one of the best horror film scores of the last 20 years.

Don't believe your eyes in Oculus

A horror film doesn't always have to reinvent the wheel — sometimes just nailing the expected beats with enough panache can be enough to make a modern classic. Oculus follows Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites), siblings who were separated at childhood following a horrific family tragedy. Kaylie's reconnected with Tim to prove that an antique mirror from their past was responsible, but neither sibling has really reckoned with just how powerful the ghosts in the mirror might be.

Oculus, as you might've guessed, doesn't do too much to add to the established haunted house genre of horror films. There are ghosts, a cursed object, horrific visions and optical illusions straight out of any horror movie from the last 40 years. But what Oculus really nails is the presentation — each scene becomes a vignette of mounting horror as the sibling heroes find that they can't trust what they're seeing anymore. It's a gruesome, relentlessly terrifying film that manages to take established tropes and shine them up so nicely you forget you've ever seen them before — and to be fair, they've almost never been done quite as well as this.

You can't get rid of The Babadook

You know a movie's truly scary when it manages to turn a nonsense phrase or name into something that instantly makes you afraid (sorry The Bye-Bye Man, but you didn't pass that test). The Babadook definitely manages that rule of thumb as you're likely to be absolutely terrified of those three syllables by the time the credits roll.

Directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook follows Amelia, a widowed single mother (Essie Davis) beaten down and exhausted as she raises her high-maintenance son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman). Amelia walks through the world like a depressed ghost while Samuel's precocious interest in magic and traps is exhausting even before a mysterious (and possibly cursed) book called The Babadook shows up at their house. Inspired by early twentieth-century German Expressionism, both the movie and the title monster look fantastic — the Babadook is as eerie in silhouette as it is in book form. The movie's a genuine creepfest, but it's also got an empathetic eye for the struggles involved in motherhood, depression, and learning to live with grief.

Take a ride on Train to Busan

The key to any good zombie movie, paradoxically enough, is making sure that there's enough humanity in the cast. While zombies are no less cinematic than other monsters, their physicality and contagiousness seem to require a greater focus on the unlucky human beings forced to survive them. After all, the tragedy of being bitten by a zombie is rarely that you're going to die moments later — it's that you're contaminated, and depending on your selfishness, might end up ruining the lives of those closest to you when you finally turn.

Yeon Sang-ho's Train To Busan is a near-perfect study in constructing a zombie film. It's packed to the brim with likable (and perfectly hateable) characters, deeply moving character arcs, and an instantly exciting hook for a film. The movie revolves around oft-absentee father Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) forced to chaperone Su-an (Kim Su-an), his daughter, to her mother's house in Busan. Unfortunately, they get on the train right as a zombie outbreak hits, with zombies spreading up and down the train as well as the stations on the route. It's filled with thrilling set pieces and some genuinely unsettling zombie action, but the true joy of the film is in watching a father dedicate himself to doing anything for his daughter, no matter how many zombies stand in his way. If you don't watch it on Halloween, check it out on Father's Day.

A hardcore film best served Raw

There are many excellent horror movies that avoid using an over-reliance on gore and shocking scenes of violence, but make no mistake, Raw is definitely not one of them. The film follows two sisters who are forced to eat raw meat as part of a hazing ritual. Soon, they become embroiled in a violent game of cannibalistic one-upmanship. Raw goes to some insanely dark places and it is absolutely a fitting descendent of the New French Extremity school of filmmaking — there really aren't enough warnings for the squeamish.

Still, for those who can manage to stomach (pardon the pun) the film's grisly violence and lurid themes, you'll be treated to one of the most unforgettable horror movies of the last few years. Julia Ducournau's film is a bloody, gory experience anchored by strong cinematography and powerful acting, but is definitely not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach).