The best of Netflix right now if you're looking for... horror
If you're anything like us, you're confronted with that same question everyday. What will I watch on Netflix tonight?
Well we know when it comes to Netflix, mood is a major factor. Sometimes you're in the mood for something dark and brooding. Other times, you just want something light you can switch your brain off to. At times, you're in the mood for something new. Then again, you may want to re-watch an old reliable.
With that in mind, we're assembling a series of Netflix recommendations with plenty to choose from. Every month, we'll give our top picks of shows, filums and specials with a different theme in mind each time.
Mike Flanagan is going to be popping up a lot on this list, just so you're forewarned. It follows a deaf and mute writer who retreats into the woods to live a solitary life with her cat. However she must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window. Made on a $1million budget it stars Kate Siegel, who's married to Flanagan and a regular to the horror genre. Her past credits include 'Oculus', 'Ouija: Origin of Evil', 'Gerald's Game' and 'The Haunting of Hill House'.
Blumhouse have developed quite a rep for producing low budget horrors with high returns. One of its more successful series are the 'Insidious' films (which appear and disappear off Netflix, depending on the rights presumably) and another is 'Insidious'. 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.
Although the series has turned much more into an action franchise - including its latest installment 'Dark Fate' - the original 'Terminator', you have to admit, was pretty damn terrifying. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a cyborg assassin sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) before her son, who will one day save humanity, is born. There's a lot of love for 'Judgement Day' but sometimes there's nothing like the original.
"You like Huey Lewis and the News? Their early work was a little New Wave for my taste. But when Sports came out in '83, I really feel they came into their own. Commercially and artistically. The whole album has a crisp, clean sound of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He's been compared to Elvis Costello. But I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humour. In '87, Huey released Fore! - their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is Hip To Be Square, a song so catchy, most people probably don't listen to the lyrics. But they should! Because it's not just about the pleasures of conformity. It's also a personal statement about the band itself. HEY PAUL!"
If you can't get enough of horror, to the point where you'd watch over ten hours of it, check out scary series 'The Haunting of Hill House'. It alternates between two timelines as we follow five adult siblings whose lives have been shaped by their horrifying paranormal experiences at Hill House. Slowly, we uncover the events that happened one night in the haunted home when the family were forced to flee its grounds. A second season titled 'The Haunting of Bly Manor' hits Netflix next year.
'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, who is also the man behind 'Hush', 'The Haunting of Hill House' (as aforementioned) and the upcoming 'Doctor Sleep', it's powerful but dark and graphic. The scariest parts are not what you'd expect.
A biologist named Lena (Natalie Portman) volunteers to go on a mission to the ‘Shimmer’, a baffling phenomenon that is spreading across the world, alongside a group of female scientists led by Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Like Alex Garland’s previous works such as 'Ex Machina', 'Annihilation' is both cerebral and thrilling. It’s more 'Alien' on crack, meticulously building an ambience of dread and wonder, to a super trippy, creepy, existentialist crescendo.
The Silence of the Lambs
Not only a brilliant horror but just a brilliant movie in and of itself. Based on the novel by Thomas Harris and adapted by Ted Tally, Jodie Foster plays FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) on the trail of a serial killer and 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.
‘Veronica’ has gotten much praise for its scare factor. Set in early '90s Madrid and (supposedly) based on a true story taken from Madrid's police files, it relates the tale of its titular character, played by Sandra Escacena in her on-screen debut, who has to raise her younger siblings due to her mother always working and her father being dead. She happens upon a ouija board during a solar eclipse and decides to mess with it with her friends.
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.
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.
American Horror Story
Another series you can really sink your teeth into if you love spooky content is 'American Horror Story'. Each season of the anthology series follows a different set of characters and settings with some seasons apparently based on true events. The 'stories' vary in quality but most are excellent. Over the years, such actors as Jessica Lange, James Cromwell and Lady Gaga have cropped up and won awards for their performances.
An ominous presence is driving masses of people to commit suicide. Thus Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is forced to lock herself in a house with a group of strangers building a defense against the threat. Five years into the future, she makes her way down a river with two children, and all three are blindfolded. As far as horror-thrillers go, 'Bird Box' is fairly conventional, but it is entertaining and enrapturing with a great ensemble cast that include John Malkovich, Tom Hollander, BD Wong and Sarah Paulson.
'Orphan' arrives in the aftermath of the success of 'The Ring' remake when creepy child murderers were very in vogue. It sees a husband and wife (Vera Farmiga, another horror regular) take in a 9 year-old girl who isn't as innocent as she appears. Director Jaume Collet-Serra would go on to helm a number of collaborations with Liam Neeson including 'Unknown', 'Non-Stop', 'Run All Night' and last year's 'The Commuter'. His next gig is 'Jungle Cruise' with Dwayne Johnson.
The Purge series has grossed over $447 million in the box office worldwide against a combined budget of $35 million. It's been endlessly referenced and parodied, so why not check out 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". It allows for 12 hours every year where all crime, including murder, is legal.
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.
'The Lodgers' is closer to gothic drama than horror. Still, there are plenty of scares to be had. Set in 1920s Ireland, twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Millner) live in a remote house and keep the outside world away. However, when Rachel meets a troubled war veteran, she tries to leave the house to start a new life. She underestimates the curse left on their family and her twin's desperation.
If you can't get enough of your zombie TV series a la 'The Walking Dead' and 'Fear the Walking Dead', 'Black Summer', which is connected to Syfy series 'Z Nation', is worth checking out. Six weeks after the start of a zombie apocalypse, Rose is separated from her daughter, Anna. She embarks on a harrowing journey to find her, relying on a group of refugees who are complete strangers to help her.
'Hannibal' was a short lived TV series, lasting only three seasons. However it has gained cult status since being cancelled in 2015. In fact it is now considered by audiences and critics as one of the best horror series ever. Mads Mikkelsen is deliciously devilish in the title role. Hugh Dancy also impresses as a criminal profiler who forms a bond with Hannibal. Laurence Fishburne, Gillian Anderson and Richard Armitage pop up in support roles.