Hello Canada! If you’re looking for a breakdown of the best horror films on Netflix, here’s a good place to start. Our guide to Netflix North will be updated regularly to include new additions and tried-and-true favorites. For now, here are my top 10 picks (in no particular order) to tide you over between those dreaded made-for-tv Holiday specials.
From the writer/director of The Chaser, this suspenseful South Korean horror thriller received widespread critical acclaim. There’s a genuine mystery at the heart of it. You are constantly wary of what to expect, who to suspect, and where to go next. The film is a simmering stew that gradually turns up the heat to a dramatic and unforgettable finish.
This companion piece to Cloverfield is kind of like a bottle episode – but with a much higher budget. The small cast is confined to a single location where they must confront and resolve an increasingly suspicious problem. John Goodman’s performance as Howard is unnerving, captivating, and hauntingly reserved for a man who is best known for his more dynamic roles.
Jeremy Saulnier gave us a knockout follow-up to Blue Ruin (2013). This film does not pull any punches, throwing our protagonists (lead by the late Anton Yelchin) into a hopeless and unyielding fight for survival. The peaceful opening act sets the stage for a mighty storm that perfectly matches the throbbing energy of the punk-rock theme
S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk is probably one of the best Western/Horror crossovers you will ever see. The cast – Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, and Richard Jenkins (who absolutely steals the show) – are absolutely superb. It honors all the Western tropes, however, it goes full-throttle with the brutality. The climax is more savagely vicious than any Western and – to be honest – it ups the ante for Horror violence as well.
For his directorial debut, Writer/Director Robert Eggers made a serious commitment to creating an authentic period piece. Most of the dialogue is taken directly from journals and court records from the era and extensive research was applied to find the right sound for the musical score (using Old World instruments like the Swedish Nychelharpa). The set was built using historically accurate materials and the film was mostly shot with natural lighting– the indoor scenes were done by candlelight. Eggers’ hard work has paid off. The film was a success with critics and horror fans alike. The Witch also caught the attention of the media when it was endorsed by The Satanic Temple.
A faux-documentary is a fantastic way to work with the “found footage” sub-genre of horror. It provides a legitimate explanation for the presence of the camera and leads us to the action in a more believable way. The topic of this faux-documentary – Deborah Logan’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease – is carefully and respectfully presented. However, it becomes quite clear that Deborah’s experiences are not normal.
In Hush, a deaf writer must put her creative thinking to the test when trying out out-smart and outlast an unknown assailant. Her at-home-attacker (John Gallagher Jr. – who you can also find in 10 Cloverfield Lane) presents a continuous threat. He has come fully prepared; his story is never explained, but his intentions are clear. The concept is similar to Wait Until Dark, but with the modern struggle of disconnected WiFi to thwart a Skype connection.
Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (V/H/S, V/H/S/2, The Guest, Blair Witch) are a formidable team. They’ve got a pretty solid track record of creating a film that thrills, chills and kills. You’re Next puts a fun twist on the home invasion horror and throws a badass wrench in the mix. With the rise of the New Scream Queen, we’re seeing a lot of strong, kickass women in horror films. In You’re Next, Erin (Sharni Vinson) is certainly one of the most capable victims you’ll ever see.
It Follows is one of those films that is kind of timeless. There are no fancy new cars, no iPhones, nothing to really suggest any modern digital connectivity. Our young heroes are truly all alone with no help in sight. Their anxious terror comes from the knowledge that the threat is unrelenting and inescapable. The atmosphere is supported by the fantastic synth soundtrack and decaying locations. It’s bleak, it’s creepy, and it’s a great watch.
The art of the slow burn is coming up more and more in recent horror films. Actually, most of the films listed here are “slow burners”. Director Karyn Kusama uses a lighter touch than her previous films (Jennifer’s Body, Girlfight, Æon Flux) to really stress the tension of this Psychological Thriller. Due to the slower pace, it may require some patience, but there is a great payoff.