As you're no doubt aware, Netflix is chockablock with pretty much every kind of genre and movie for you to enjoy.
But, as with anything, there's the good stuff and the bad stuff - and that's where we come in. We're plucking gems from the Netflix library in a specific genre.
This time around, we're looking at horror. After all, it's Friday the 13th, spooky stuff. We kick things off with...
'Hush' follows a deaf and mute writer who retreats into the woods to live a solitary life with her cat. She must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window. Made on a $1 million budget, it stars Kate Siegel, who Netflix horror fans should recognise from 'The Haunting of Hill House' (same director, by the way, in Mike Flanagan, who Siegel is married to). 'Hush' is one of those high concept, low budget horrors that's done really well.
The Purge series has grossed over $447 million in the box office worldwide against a combined budget of $35 million. So why not go back and watch the film that started it all? Starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister in ‘Game of Thrones’), the dystopian horror flick imagines a world where a law has passed that sanctions a "Purge", whereby for 12 hours every year, all crime, including murder, is legal.
This second film from director Alex Garland, renowned for his debut ‘Ex Machina’, is as beautiful as it is haunting. With an exquisite cast that includes Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson and Oscar Isaac, the film follows a group of military scientists who explore what lies beyond "the Shimmer", a mysterious, iridescent, electromagnetic field that only one person has returned alive from. Recalling ‘Alien’ and ‘Under the Skin’, ‘Annihilation’ won’t be for everyone, but you can’t deny its ambition and scope.
'The Silence of the Lambs'
Not only a brilliant horror but just a brilliant movie in and of itself. Jodie Foster plays FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) on the trail of a serial killer. She must enlist the talents of Hannibal (Anthony Hopkins) the cannibal to catch him. The movie appears on several 'Best of' movie lists and won 5 Oscars including Best Director for Jonathan Demme and Best Picture. Tally, Foster and Hopkins all earned awards too.
Blumhouse have developed quite a rep for producing low budget horrors with high returns. One of its more successful series are the 'Insidious' films and another is 'Sinister'. Starring Ethan Hawke - who also is the lead is another of our recommendations, 'The Purge' - it portrays a true-crime who discovers a box of home movies depicting grisly murders in the attic of his new house. Then scary sh** goes down.
‘Veronica’ has gotten much praise for its scare factor, even being deemed ‘the scariest horror film ever’ by one critic. Set in early 90s Madrid, it relates the tale of its titular character, played by Sandra Escacena in her on-screen debut, who has to raise her younger siblings as her mother is always working and her father has died. She happens upon a ouija board during a solar eclipse and decides to mess about with it with her friends. The film is supposedly based on a true story taken from Madrid's police files.
'Gerald's Game' is a truly haunting horror that gets stuck in your head for days after watching it. Based on a Stephen King novel, it stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood as a married couple whose trip away to a remote lake house goes horribly wrong. Directed by Mike Flanagan (also the man behind 'The Haunting of Hill House' and the aforementioned 'Hush'), it's powerful but dark and graphic. The scariest parts are not what you'd expect.
One of the few Oscars to ever go to a horror movie (excluding technical awards) was earned by Kathy Bates for her extraordinary lead performance in ‘Misery.’ The actress plays Annie Wilkes in the film, a mentally unstable fan of a book series based on a character called Misery. Annie imprisons and abuses the author of the books, Paul Sheldon (another terrific performance from James Caan), until he writes a finale to Misery’s story to her requirements.
The Cabin in the Woods
Something of a comedy as well as a horror, 'The Cabin in the Woods' was written by Drew Goddard, who also directed it, and Joss Whedon. They'd collaborated previously on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' so that gives you an idea of the degree of horror we're looking at. Five friends - including Chris Hemsworth and 'Grey's Anatomy' star Jesse Williams - go for a break at a remote cabin. They get much more than they bargained for.
Before James Wan took on 'Aquaman' and before 'Furious 7', his bread and butter was horror. 'Insidious' was the second of his horror franchises, the others being 'Saw' and 'The Conjuring', and possibly his best. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are two parents who are struggling to understand their children's issues. Soon they realise it's much more than just imagination - it's demons. Far less gory than 'Saw', 'Insidious' works more on horror and scares being just out of frame. Which, as we know, is more terrifying than seeing something head on.
Over forty years later, 'Jaws' is still a go-to horror and movie classic in many households. Helmed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, it portrays a summer resort town which is being terrified by a man-eating great white shark. Its terrific ensemble includes Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider and Murray Hamilton. For the knock-off inferior version, '47 Metres Down' is on Netflix too, if it takes your fancy.
Filmed in Loftus Hall - famed for being one of the most haunted houses in Ireland - 'The Lodgers' is closer to a gothic drama than a horror. Still, there are plenty of scares to be had. Set in Ireland in the '20s, twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Millner) live in a remote house and do their best to keep the outside world from their door. However, when Rachel meets a troubled war veteran, she tries to leave the house and start a new life. She doesn't reckon with the curse left on their family or her twin's desperation.
If Irish comedy 'The Stag' had been a horror movie, it would probably go something like this. Four friends embark on a hike in Sweden in remembrance of one of their pals. Akin to 'The Blair Witch Project', they keep coming across strange and supernatural phenomena. Conflict arises as some are in denial about what they are witnessing. As the tagline goes, "The deeper you go, the scarier it becomes..." Rafe Spall leads the cast.