Halloween is a time for horror, but not every perfect Halloween movie needs to be scary. From truly terrifying tales to more gentle spooky stories, here are the best Halloween movies to watch on Netflix.
Horror master James Wan launched a huge horror universe with The Conjuring, but the first installment is a straightforward haunted house movie focused more on scares than on world-building.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as the Warrens, real-life paranormal investigators who take on the case of a family whose house seems to be inhabited by a supernatural presence. Wan uses simple but reliable techniques to build tension and terrify the audience, delivering a retro ghost story with modern franchise potential.
Based on the popular teen book series by R.L. Stine, Fear Street is a connected trilogy of movies set in three different time periods, all in the horror-prone town of Shadyside. The first two movies, set in 1994 and 1978, evoke the horror styles of their respective time periods, while the final film, set in 1666, ties the entire story together. The evil entity that remains in Shadyside over the centuries takes the form of different familiar kinds of killers, and a group of town residents must band together to defeat it once and for all.
A haunted house story with a social conscience, His House stars Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu as a pair of refugees from South Sudan who are placed in a dilapidated row house by the British government. They start experiencing strange noises and apparitions, adding to the everyday obstacles of building a new life in a sometimes hostile place.
The supernatural presence ties into secrets that the couple have carried with them from their home country, and the movie combines effective scares with a thoughtful examination of guilt and trauma.
Directed by Netflix horror mainstay Mike Flanagan, Hush stars Kate Siegel as a deaf author living alone in a remote house. She must fend for herself when an intruder shows up and tries to kill her.
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Flanagan presents a familiar home-invasion story in an inventive way, showcasing the main character’s unique advantages and relying on a range of sound design in place of dialogue. Flanagan sustains tension within a single location, and Siegel gives the main character a sense of inner strength and resourcefulness.
Multiple generations have taken Halloween costume inspiration from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. A dark fantasy adventure for family audiences, Labyrinth stars Jennifer Connelly as a teenager who inadvertently summons the Goblin King (David Bowie) to kidnap her baby brother.
She’s transported to the Goblin King’s realm, populated by various strange creatures, where she must navigate a labyrinth and rescue her brother. The creatures are all played by puppets from Henson’s Creature Shop, striking a balance between colorful and creepy.
A group of kids venture into their neighborhood’s notorious spooky house in animated supernatural comedy Monster House. A coming-of-age story with horror elements, Monster House features a house that is literally a monster, swallowing up people who dare to investigate its mysteries. But the intrepid protagonists seek out the house’s secrets, which turn out to be less sinister than they first appear. It’s a touching and funny kids-adventure story with just the right amount of danger.
Although it’s adapted from a children’s book and aimed at a younger audience, Nightbooks doesn’t hold back on the scares. Horror-loving kids like main character Alex (Winslow Fegley) should be captivated by the story of a witch (Krysten Ritter) who lures kids into her mystical lair, disguised as an apartment.
She forces Alex to tell her scary stories every night, while he and fellow captive Yazmin (Lidya Jewett) look for a way to escape. The Netflix original movie is a fun throwback to 1980s kid-friendly horror, without talking down to its target audience.
An undocumented Mexican immigrant takes a room in an ominous boarding house in No One Gets Out Alive. Ambar (Christina Rodlo) is trying to make a life for herself in Cleveland, but that’s difficult when she starts having disturbing visions and encountering unexplained phenomena in her new home.
The movie is moody and atmospheric, with steadily building dread and a strong lead performance. The filmmakers bring in relevant social commentary without getting heavy-handed, staying focused on Ambar’s increasingly dire predicament.
Although it’s not set on Halloween, the delightful stop-motion animated movie ParaNorman still takes place on a ghoulish holiday. On the day that his small Massachusetts town commemorates the execution of a witch 300 years earlier, awkward clairvoyant kid Norman must save the townspeople from a curse. There’s plenty of spookiness in this film from stop-motion studio Laika, but it’s also a family-friendly story about acceptance and the value of friendship.
One of the scariest home-invasion movies ever made, Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers stars Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler as a couple terrorized by mysterious intruders in their isolated vacation home. Bertino places the audience right alongside the characters as they’re tormented by masked invaders, made all the more unsettling by the complete lack of motivation. It’s a stark, intense movie that will make you think twice about taking a trip to a secluded cabin.
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