Scary Movies on Netflix

Want to break into a cold sweat while nursing a tub of popcorn? These horror movies, which feature everything from satanic rituals to Ouija boards, will do just that and more.
Scary Movies on Netflix

The sign of a good horror movie for you may be goosebumps on your arm or the need to check your locks thrice before you retire for the night. Or maybe you are the kind that appreciates slow-burn scary movies without the jumpscares and gore.

You probably want something different to send shivers down your spine once you finish bloodcurdling classics like The Exorcist (1973), The Shining (1980), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Here’s a journey through some of the scariest horror movies on Netflix. From the classic Ouija board scares in Veronica (2017) to occult practices that victimise an entire town in Virupaksha (2023), this list will help you find horrors scarier than adulthood.

Veronica (2017)

Set in 1991, Veronica is a Spanish horror film supposedly based on the real-life story of Estefania Lazaro. Her family was haunted for years after she decided to use an Ouija board. Similarly, in this movie, Veronica (Sandra Escacena) and her friends Rosa (Ángela Fabián) and Diana (Carla Campra) use the Ouija board to summon a dead spirit, which leads to paranormal activity that changes their lives forever.

This is one of the scariest horror movies on Netflix because of the convincing performances of the child actors.

The movie does more with the Ouija trope than most other horror movies based on the infamous board game. It creates a compelling narrative about a young girl who is tasked with being the mother to her younger siblings Irene (Claudia Placer) and Antoñito (Iván Chavero) and feels like she has no choice but to find an adult to help, even if it’s through a satanic ritual.

The Ritual (2018)

Movies set in the darkness of wild forests with lost tourists trying to escape wild animals are scary enough. The effect is downright terrifying when you add spooky apparitions and demonic rituals to the mix.

The best part about this scary movie is that none of the four friends, Luke (Rafe Spall), Hutch (Robert James-Collier), Phil (Arsher Ali), and Dom (Sam Troughton) who are lost in the hiking trails of northern Sweden do objectively irrational acts that will make you cringe at their stupidity. This is where many horror movies fail; you are left yelling at the screen, hoping that one character doesn’t go down the attic alone.

In The Ritual, you also learn intimate details about the group of friends; the movie shows a level of character development often missing in fast-paced horror films.

The director, David Bruckner, smartly leverages a spooky production design and soundtrack to create an atmosphere of isolation and dread. Because of all these elements, the movie does justice to The Ritual (2011), the book it’s based upon.

Apostle (2018)

Like The Ritual (2018), this is also a folk horror movie, albeit with gothic elements. The story is about Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens), whose sister Jennifer (Elen Rhys) has been kidnapped by a religious cult.

Thomas travels to a remote island to pay the ransom and free her but ends up discovering horrifying secrets about the cult and the extent of religious fanaticism it propagates. When Thomas meets the disturbingly deranged cult leader Prophet Malcolm (Michael Sheen), you are left hoping that he makes it out alive.

The best part about this movie is that it gradually builds tension. The makeup and costumes make the existence of a cult that sacrifices animals on a faraway island all the more convincing.

Incantation (2022)

Incantation is another movie based on a true story. It is about a ghost hunter named Ronan (Hsuan-yen Tsai) who unknowingly involves herself and her friends in a local ritual that unleashes a curse.

The movie is based on an incident that occurred in Taiwan in 2005. A family suspected that demons had possessed them. Cursed and under the demons' control, the family was made to kill their daughters. The movie also significantly draws from the symbolism and practices of Tantric Buddhism.

Incantation uses found footage as a storytelling technique. The movie presents its visuals through video footage “found” by some characters, allowing the audience to see the story unfold along with them. This cinematic technique (among other similar filming techniques) brings out the rawness of an average video recording through shaky camerawork typical of homestyle videos. Many other horror movies, such as The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Paranormal Activity 3 (2011), use this technique.

The movie uses optical illusions to misdirect the viewer. Ronan speaks directly to the camera, and somehow you also feel like a participant in her mind exercises — making this Chinese movie one of the scariest horror movies on Netflix.

Virupaksha (2023)

It’s the late 1980s. Unexplained deaths plague a village. Fear and superstition paralyse the village elders. The town stays under lockdown to prevent further deaths. Surya (Sai Dharam Tej) promises to find the culprit.

This mind-bending horror film combines witchcraft and mystical occult forces to create a captivating narrative about black magic and its hold on ancient civilisations. There’s also an element of romance as Surya falls in love with Nandini (Samyukhta Menon). Director Karthik Dandu and Sukumar’s screenplay deftly weaves romance into horror.

Some will find the ending to be an exceptional twist, while others will be able to piece together the mystery along with Surya. The gripping cinematography and immersive soundtrack will keep you entertained even if you manage to predict the ending.

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