How’s this for a stripped-down horror premise? A deaf-mute writer (Kate Siegel), who lives alone in the woods, is tormented by a mysterious killer (John Gallagher Jr.) who takes advantage of the fact that she can’t hear what he’s doing. In a tight 81 minutes, director Mike Flanagan expertly builds the tension, using clever framing and top-notch sound design to drop us right into this terrifying situation. (And if you like Hush, Flanagan’s follow-up—the unnerving Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game—is also on Netflix.)
If you like your horror both cerebral and surreal, you’ll love Mickey Keating’s moody, black-and-white Darling. Lauren Ashley Carter plays a young woman hired by a New York socialite (Sean Young) to house-sit for lavish Manhattan apartment. Over six “chapters,” Darling assembles a blend of familiar horror tropes—a mysterious locked door, strange noises, and rumors about devil worship—into something much moodier and stranger than you might be expecting.
Karyn Kusama’s brilliantly suspenseful The Invitation assembles a terrific ensemble cast—including Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, and Michiel Huisman—for the dinner party from hell. Several years after splitting up with his wife, Will (Marshall-Green) is surprised to get an invitation to one of her dinner parties, alongside many of their once-close friends. You will be shocked to hear that all is not as it seems.
Documentaries and horror movies don’t generally go hand-in-hand—but you’ll definitely walk away from The Nightmare a little rattled. Rodney Ascher’s acclaimed followup to Room 237 explores the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, in which people discover, as they’re falling asleep, that they are completely alert but completely frozen. These experiences are sometimes accompanied by horrifying hallucinations of strangers wandering around their rooms are standing over their beds—which Ascher dutifully and horrifyingly recreates for the documentary.
Few recent scary movies have added a more bizarre monster to the horror canon than It Follows, which chronicles a bunch of teenagers beset by a shapeshifting, sexually transmitted creature. It might sound ridiculous on paper, but director David Robert Mitchell balances his genuinely terrifying (and apparently unstoppable) monster with a clever, unusually dark coming-of-age story.
I wrote about this one in greater detail a few weeks ago—but if you’re in the mood for an old-fashioned chiller and you haven’t seen this gothic ghost story yet, drag it over to your Netflix queue. Ruth Wilson stars as a live-in hospice nurse for an elderly horror writer. She becomes increasingly convinced that the old house is haunted by an actual ghost, and… well, I’ll let you get to the knockout of an ending for yourself.
Jennifer Kent’s almost universally acclaimed movie begins with a horrifying premise—what if your spouse died just as you were having your first child?—and twists the knife by introducing a creepy monster sprung from the pages of a mysterious children’s book. The Babadook himself gets all the attention, but the real horror comes from Essie Davis’ bottomless lead performance, which embodies the hope, grief, and rage of her nightmarish situation.
Alex Ross Perry’s unnerving Queen of Earth isn’t a horror movie in the conventional sense—but you’ll be chilled to the bone by the shattering ending. Elisabeth Moss stars as a young woman who joins a friend (Katherine Waterston) for a long, lazy weekend at a remote cabin in upstate New York. The horror in Queen of Earth comes from its uncanny ability to put us squarely in the perspective of the protagonist, understanding and interpreting the events of the movie from her unreliable and increasingly unstable perspective.