As a child, I would do anything to avoid “scary” movies. I was terrified of being terrified. I didn’t watch Jurassic Park until I was 22 years old because I saw the opening scene of one of the sequels as a child and had nightmares for years.
However, slowly this changed. I got really into ghost story novels and paranormal investigation TV shows in late elementary school. Then in middle school I discovered Carrie and The Others during the same Halloween party. It took a few more years but by the time Paranormal Activity 3 came out, I had already binged the first two and was able to watch it in person (with a friend…and yes we screamed a lot). It flipped a switch in me and now I LOVE horror, specifically of the tense, thrilling, supernatural variety. (I still don’t watch home invasion, torture-fest type horror films, so you will find no such recommendations below.)
If you’re in the mood for some Netflix and Thrills, check these titles out:
The Babadook (2015)
This was one of my favorite films, of any genre that came out in 2014. It checks all the right boxes for me. It’s supernatural, it’s character driven, it’s beautifully made and it’s absolutely terrifying. This is quite possibly the scariest movie I’ve ever seen and I’m so eternally grateful that I got to see it in theaters, though I imagine it’d be just as effective in a dark living room with the volume turned up nice and high. If your sound system is lacking in quality, I recommend watching on your laptop with headphones because the sound editing and mixing was phenomenal.
The acting from both of the protagonists was simply enthralling and I hope we see more from Essie Davis, because her performance completely wrecked me. I hung on her every move.
Warning: my muscles were sore when I left the theatre from being so tense. This will have you on the edge of your seat.
It Follows (2014)
My only suggestion is to not watch this movie for the first time directly after Babadook like I did because I found that I wasn’t able to appreciate it for its merits as it was constantly comparing it to Babadook. However, I watched It Follows about a year later and absolutely adored it.
For one, it has impeccable style. This is a movie that looks gorgeous. The set design, the costuming, the cinematography are all really lovely without being ostentatious or showy in any way. They compliment the simple, chilling plot very well.
It Follows asks you to imagine that some STDs are actually just terrifying, shapeshifting, relentless entities that just follow you around until they catch and brutally murder you and the only way to get rid of it is to sleep with someone else and pass it on, and if you agree to those perimeters, it takes you a wild, chilling ride.
The Invitation (2015)
After you’ve been babashook by The Babadook and had your sexually transmitted horror fix from It Follows, tune into The Invitation for a tense, emotional thriller. This movie has a lot to love: tension you can cut with a knife, a heartbreaking backstory, a dash of unsettling humor and an eerie mystery both you and the protagonist need to solve.
Is Logan Marshall-Green’s ex-wife’s dinner party a cover up for something much more sinister or is his grief and heartache just getting to him? Make sure you find out for yourself.
Okay, so I said no home invasion, but I lied. This is the exception. I decided to break my No Home Invasion Movie rule for this because I was excited by the premise. The protagonist, Maddie, played by Kate Siegal, is deaf. It’s kind of the opposite premise of Don’t Breathe (2016). Instead of a blind but super-hearing antagonist, Hush has a deaf and normal seeing protagonist. Maddie’s deafness is played as both an obstacle and a benefit to her and it’s always wonderful to see diversity in all films, even horror.
This movie might fall apart a bit in second act, but the finish is strong. The way this film resolves its conflict is creative and unlike a lot of films in this genre, you’ll actually fall in love with the protagonist.
We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)
This is not your traditional horror film. There aren’t any ghosts haunting any houses or masked serial killers chasing damsels in night gowns. There aren’t even any demons possessing anyone. It’s just people. This is a psychological horror film about motherhood. Eva Khatchadourian, played by the inimitable Tilda Swinton, has a child despite not seeming all that enthused by the idea. From inception, Eva struggles to bond with her son, Kevin and their problems only intensify as Kevin grows from a troublesome toddler to a psychopathic teen.
There are many scenes where nothing is necessarily happening action-wise, but it’s so tense and horrible that you hold your breath anyway. The subject matter is heavy but haunting and this movie will absolutely keep you up at night longer than any slasher film ever made.
Other Netflix Horror to check out:
- Tucker and Dale VS Evil
- I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In This House