If you have been active on social media these days, then you must have come across several posts proclaiming Spanish film director Paco Plaza’s (of REC fame) latest demonic possession movie Veronica (available on Netflix) as the ‘scariest movie they have ever seen’. Though the hype is through the roof (probably a prank by some 4chan-kinda forums), the movie itself is a decent watch, with enough thrills and scares, and a polished performance from newcomer Sandra Escacena. That brings us to the question for horror movie fans. What are some other lesser-known but genuinely terrifying as well as critically praised horror movies available for streaming on Netflix? Here is a properly curated list of the best ones. (Note, RT means Rotten Tomatoes):
NO SPOILERS. Read away!
12. The Ritual (2017), RT score- 71%
This is probably not such an obscure movie, courtesy the Netflix ads doing the rounds on various social media platforms. Set in a lush Scandinavian setting, The Ritual is a creepy atmospheric horror flick with a plot somewhat reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project. A high point of the movie is the excellent sound design that elevates the sense of psychological terror experienced by the group of friends, who are out in the woods, seemingly lost on their way back. The hallucinations and horrors they experience, both mental and physical, as they stumble towards their grisly doom, makes The Ritual a compelling watch.
11. The Canal (2014), RT score- 75%
If you have watched and liked Session 9, then you will love The Canal. As with most psychological horror movies, the premise revolves around crumbling family relations. A stressed film archivist, David, suspicious of his wife’s fidelity, is handed over a 16 mm reel that shows his house was the setting of a brutal murder in the 1900s. As a murder occurs and David descends towards insanity, the things that eventually unfold in a nearby canal are the stuff nightmares are made of.
10. The Void (2016), RT score- 75%
There must be rarely any movie that escalates as quickly from a seemingly run-of-the-mill creature horror flick to a hellish Lovecraftian terror as The Void. This will remind you a bit of The Beyond. Oh, and the design of the antagonist is really incredible and IMO in the same league as Pinhead from Hellraiser. Totally worth your time!
9. Baskin (2015), RT score- 76%
An extremely strange and bizarre Turkish horror film. Basic premise- five police officers stumble upon a twisted black-mass kinda ritual, with the entire twisted situation intertwined around the childhood trauma and dreams of one of them. The imagery is surreal, gory and quite horrifying. The plot, however, becomes a bit muddled and confusing, and may not provide a satisfying narrative for the average horror viewer. Certainly recommend for fans who revel in blood-drenched phantasmagoric delights.
8. Dig Two Graves (2014), RT score- 81%
Beautiful and haunting, Dig Two Graves has stunning cinematography and excellent performances. It delicately touches on grief, revenge and morality, while also being an effective coming-of-age film, as a girl has to take the heart-rending decision of bringing her dead brother to life in exchange for another life.
7. Beyond the Gates (2016), RT score- 82%
Fans of the 80s, VHS tapes, and Jumanji, this one is for you. Beyond the Gates combines retro-cool stylized horror and enjoyable performances to dig into nostalgia, with the end-result being a thoroughly entertaining campy movie.
6. The Transfiguration (2016), RT score- 85%
A solid indie horror in which a troubled teen Milo has a morbid obsession with vampire lore. He meets an alienated girl called Sophie and soon the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur. Remind you of Let The Right One In? The Transfiguration is tense and slow-paced, but offers a worthy payoff if you are patient enough.
5. A Dark Song (2016), RT score- 90%
A movie with great atmospheric horror is often the one that is most recommended to someone who has started watching genre movies. A Dark Song deals with witchcraft and black magic but descends so deep down into a nightmarish purgatory that the unsettling experience remains with you long after the movie gets over.
4. Hush (2016), RT score- 94%
Good slasher movies are a rarity these days, so when a REALLY SCARY and well-made film like Hush comes along, it deserves all the accolades. A terrifying thriller that revolves around a hearing-impaired woman who is stalked by a masked psychotic killer. Fast-paced, suspenseful and nail-biting till the end, Hush is worth every second of your time.
3. Creep (2014), RT score- 96%
A fantastic found-footage film with an intriguing premise. Aaron, low on cash and looking for work, comes across a mysterious online ad: “$1,000 for one day. Filming service. Discretion is appreciated.” Off he goes to a cabin in a remote mountain town, and you know nothing can quite go right from there on. Funny, scary and uneasy in parts, Creep is driven by Mark Duplass’ unhinged performance.
2. The Wailing (2016), RT score- 99%
A mysterious stranger arrives in a quiet rural village, and soon mayhem occurs. People start murdering each other, presumably under some cursed spell. Despite its length (156 mins long), The Wailing is never boring, as it combines ancient East Asian mythology and rituals with atmospheric horror and great visuals. Another must-watch movie from South Korea.
1. Under the Shadow (2016), RT score- 99%
An eerie and unnerving experience, Under the Shadow is one of those rare movies that manage to deftly weave social subtext with chilling horror. Set during the period of the Iran-Iraq war, the story revolves around Shideh, a young woman who is facing accusations of subversion by the new government, and also has to take care of her daughter amid the constant threat of bombardment. There is a lot of symbolism regarding gender oppression and the horrors of war, which makes Under the Shadow altogether more important with its message.