The only thing better than watching movies for free is finding them on a service you’re already paying for. In addition to its fantastic original programming—Cannot wait for season two of Stranger Things!—Netflix is also a treasure trove of contemporary horror movies, not to mention its most delightful genre offshoot, horror-comedy.
Here are my picks for 10 great films you can watch on Netflix to help get you into the Halloween spirit. Some you’ve heard of, but it’s possible more than a few may have thus far escaped your notice.
I’ve included, along with the titles and trailers, their respective original release dates, Rotten Tomatoes’ aggregated critics scores, brief plot synopses, and links to their IMDB’s Parents Guides. That last part is especially important, as coarse language, violence, and even nudity factor into a number of the selections, so definitely do your research before sharing them with your younger, most timid, and/or more impressionable geeklings.
Now log into your Netflix app and add these bad boys to your list!
The Hallow (NR — Parents Guide)
Original release date: January 25, 2015 (Sundance Film Festival)
Runtime: 97 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 71%
Synopsis: Combining the classic horror tropes of backwater superstitions vs. skeptical outsiders and changeling lore with more contemporary, ecological themes, this British-Irish co-production sees a conservationist and his family relocated to a remote village where logging in an old-growth forest seems to have stirred up more than just the ire of the locals. Lush set pieces, stark lighting, and eerie visual effects play perfectly against its minimal cast and often trippy scare sequences.
The Void (TV-MA — Parents Guide)
Original release date: September 22, 2016 (Fantastic Fest)
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 73%
Synopsis: This Indiegogo-funded Canadian take on Lovecraftian horror wastes no time setting up that something’s not quite right in this rural town, but when the local deputy takes an injured murder suspect to a nearby hospital (where his estranged wife works as a nurse, naturally), the wheels come off in the most fantastic way imaginable. Robed cultists, gratuitous body horror, and a gateway to the titular void help round out its offering of competent acting, solid pacing, and phenomenal practical effects.
Trollhunter (PG-13 — Parents Guide)
Original release date: October 29, 2010
Runtime: 104 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 82%
Synopsis: Treading ably on that razor-thin line between found-footage and mockumentary, this 2010 Norwegian feature is steeped in regional troll lore that may well be lost on many viewers. (It certainly was for me!) But that doesn’t stop this tale of a team of fresh-faced university students discovering the existence of both real-life trolls and the government-sanctioned Troll Security Service any less of a thrilling ride!
Little Evil (TV-MA — Parents Guide)
Original release date: September 1, 2017
Runtime: 95 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83%
Synopsis: This Netflix original film only arrived on the service last month, but the Evangeline Lilly/Adam Scott-helmed project quickly found an audience in devotees of ’70s apocalyptic horror (a la The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby). Gary’s relationship with his new wife Samantha is put to the test by her son Lucas, a five-year-old who may or may not be the Antichrist. More silly than spooky, it’s the perfect movie to lighten up a night in enjoying Halloween fare.
Original release date: January 22, 2010
Runtime: 89 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 84%
Synopsis: A similarly raucous (but considerably bloodier) horror-comedy, Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine’s Tucker and Dale are two well-meaning hillbillies that can’t seem to stop unintentionally injuring, maiming, and slaughtering a group of vacationing college kids. With a twist ending worthy of its redneck-redemption motif, the only thing that should make you happier than repeatedly viewing Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is the knowledge that a sequel is in the works.
The Invitation (NR — Parents Guide)
Original release date: March 13, 2015 (SXSW)
Runtime: 100 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%
Synopsis: Two years before Darren Aronofsky’s mother! shocked and polarized movie audiences, this unsuspecting conspiracy thriller helped to reinvigorate the art form. Though, sadly, its limited release didn’t exactly blow out box offices, it’s a quiet, steady, paranoid meditation on adult relationships, desperation, and loss just perfect for late-night viewing.
Train to Busan (TV-MA — Parents Guide)
Original release date: May 13, 2016 (Cannes)
Runtime: 118 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%
Synopsis: I am sick to death of zombie horror, but Train to Busan‘s blend of family drama, corporate maleficence, Korean commuter culture, and claustrophobic flesh eating easily won me over. Variety reported last year that there’s an English-language remake in the works, but do yourself a favor and check out this subtitled original while it’s still available.
It Follows (R — Parents Guide)
Original release date: May 17, 2014 (Cannes)
Runtime: 100 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%
Synopsis: As polarizing as it is dreamlike and unsettling, It Follows is about a sexually-transmitted curse. Does that make it an allegory for the AIDS epidemic? A psychological examination of the fear of growing up? A parable about sexual violence? Whatever it is, its tension is relentless and its glitchy Disasterpiece soundtrack pitch perfect.
Housebound (NR — Parents Guide)
Original release date: March 10, 2014 (SXSW)
Runtime: 106 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
Synopsis: I’m not sure how I happened across this odd duck of a horror-comedy by New Zealand’s Gerard Johnstone, but I’m glad I did. It uses the house arrest of troubled Kylie—in her mother and stepfather’s home, of all places—as a jumping-off point for an old-school haunted house story with a side order of redemption.
The Babadook (NR — Parents Guide)
Original release date: January 17, 2014 (Sundance Film Festival)
Runtime: 94 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
Synopsis: You’re no doubt already at least somewhat familiar with The Babadook, the stunning directorial debut by Australian Jennifer Kent and a stark, haunting tale of grief and single parenthood with a supernatural sheen. (Or maybe you remember Mister Babadook’s own unlikely turn as an LGBTQ icon.) Starring the incomparable Phryne Fisher… uh, I mean Essie Davis, The Babadook is the quintessential horror film that lives up to its hype.