There’s a movie for every different mood. Sometimes you want to watch something relaxing and light, so you go for a “feel good” movie like ‘Forest Gump. ‘ Then there are days when you need some motivation to keep going, so you end up watching inspiring sports flicks like ‘Creed. ‘ But then there are these other days when we have a love/hate relationship with the kind of movies we’re watching. We look for the scariest and most disturbing movies. We stay up all night to watch them and then wonder why we would scar ourselves this way, threatening our good night’s sleep for the rest of the week.
A sub-genre of horror, disturbing films offer a very different kind of escape to those who enjoy watching them. If you’re one of those people who squirm, twitch, and squeal with fear but still enjoy scaring themselves with torturous flicks, then you don’t have to lurk around the deep web to look for these. Netflix has a fair share of anxiety-induced disturbing movies that’ll give you the kind of scare you’re looking for.
20. Creep (2014)
‘Creep’ introduces us to struggling videographer Aaron and starts quite innocently as he accepts an assignment to travel to a remote cabin for a day’s work. Once at the location, Aaron meets his client, Josef, who claims he is living with a brain tumor and might die before his wife gives birth to their child. Hence, he tasks Aaron with recording a video log as a gift for his unborn child. Initially a routine assignment, things soon take a disturbing turn as dark secrets get revealed. Moreover, even after Aaron manages to escape with his life, he is unable to shake Josef off his back, leading to questions about whether the latter has been putting on a farce all along. You can watch the movie here.
19. Under the Shadow (2016)
During the Tehran missile attacks of 1984, a man departs for the war, leaving behind his wife and daughter alone in their apartment. A common Islamic belief suggests that Djinn are evil entities that are carried by the wind to places that instill terror and suffering. When everyone else leaves, the mother and the daughter remain alone, hunting down the missing doll, which is very dear to the daughter but has now been seized by the Djinn, whose intention is to separate the two from each other. The mother and daughter struggle to survive in their war-torn surroundings while a disturbing dark force squirms in the shadows and haunts them. You may watch the film here.
18. Us (2019)
Directed by Jordan Peele, ‘Us’ stars Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Evan Alex. It tells the story of the Wilson family (mother, father, two kids) whose vacation trip to Santa Cruz turns into a nightmare as four masked people break into their house. Mrs. Wilson, aka Adelaide, already has a traumatic childhood experience associated with the place, and the break-in only gives shape to her fear. Things get even scarier when the four strangers take off their masks and reveal their faces, which are almost the same as those of the Wilsons, only with horrifying expressions. Feel free to check out the movie here and find out how the Wilsons deal with their uninvited guests.
17. There’s Someone Inside Your House (2021)
An adaptation of the eponymous novel by Stephanie Perkins, ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House,’ revolves around Makani and a group of her friends from Osborne High School as they race against time to defeat a terrifying serial killer. The killer, whose only M.O. is to wear the faces of the victims while committing the murder, seems to be targeting those guilty of hurting someone previously. However, as the group uncovers one dark secret after the other, the line between friends and foes gets blurred, and Makani realizes that anyone among them might be out for blood. You can check out the film here.
16. Things Heard & Seen (2021)
Based on the book ‘All Things Cease to Appear ‘ by Elizabeth Brundage, ‘Things Heard & Seen’ revolves around Catherine Claire, an art restorer, who moves into a farmhouse in Upstate New York along with her husband and daughter. Although she seems to have a perfect family, the film soon breaks the illusion as it shows her living with bulimia. On the other hand, her husband, George, begins an affair while their daughter senses an otherworldly presence in the house. However, once Catherine comes across an old Bible and an antique ring, the boundary between the real world and the spirit world seemingly disappears as every character is forced to confront the horrifying consequences of their past mistakes. You can watch ‘Things Heard & Seen’ here.
15. Eli (2019)
Netflix’s ‘Eli’ is a supernatural horror film about a boy who seemingly has a rare condition that gives him allergic reactions whenever he is outside. As a result, he has to put on safety gear if he is venturing outside. His parents admit him to a remote facility run by Dr. Isabella Horn (Lili Taylor). In the first few days, Eli is truly happy, finally free to walk around without the heavy protective suit and being allowed to hug his parents. However, he soon starts noticing paranormal occurrences within the facility, which leads him to believe that the place is haunted. The movie was directed by Ciarán Foy, whose other works include ‘Citadel’ and ‘Sinister 2’. You may watch it here.
14. Clinical (2017)
In Netflix’s ‘Clinical,’ young patient Nora Jane (India Eisley) viciously attacks psychiatrist Jane Mathis (Vinessa Shaw) before trying to kill herself. The incident leads to Jane being diagnosed with PTSD and sleep paralysis. A heavily disfigured man named Alex (Kevin Rahm) comes to her for treatment. Although she has reservations, she accepts him as her patient. She finds out that Nora has been sent back home from the mental facility where the young girl was placed. As bizarre incidents start occurring around her, Jane comes to believe that Nora has returned to murder her. Luke Harvis and Alistair Legrand penned the script, with Legrand directing the project. You may watch ‘Clinical’ here.
13. Fractured (2019)
Netflix’s psychological horror ‘Fractured’ revolves around Ray Monroe (Sam Worthington), whose daughter Peri (Lucy Capri) falls into an exposed pit after being chased by a stray dog. Ray and his wife Joanne (Lily Rabe) rush her to a nearby hospital and admit her there. He later discovers that both his wife and daughter are missing, and the hospital staff denies any knowledge of them. They even tell him that he had come there alone for treatment. Terrified for his family, Ray began his frantic search for them. Critics praised Worthington’s performance in the film as well as Brad Anderson’s direction and Björn Charpentier’s cinematography. You can watch the movie here.
12. Hold the Dark (2018)
In Jeremy Saulnier’s Netflix film ‘Hold the Dark,’ Jeffrey Wright stars as Russell Core, an author with in-depth knowledge of wolf behavior. A woman named Medora Slone (Riley Keough) contacts him from the fictional village of Keelut, Alaska, and requests him to come there and kill a pack of wolves as she believes that they have taken and killed three young children. Medora’s son, Bailey, is among them. Knowing that wolves don’t behave that way, Core travels to Keelut and later finds Bailey’s frozen body in the family’s home. Medora’s husband, Vernon (Alexander Skarsgård), returns from Iraq and kills several officers to retrieve his son’s body from the authorities. Based on the novel of the same name by William Giraldi, ‘Hold the Dark’ resonates with a guttural sense of dread throughout its entire runtime. You may watch the film here.
11. The Open House (2018)
Starring Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Sharif Atkins, Patricia Bethune, and Aaron Abrams, Netflix’s ‘The Open House’ follows a woman, Naomi, and her son, Logan. After the death of Logan’s father in a tragic accident, the two face financial difficulties. At the request of Naomi’s sister, they agree to travel to her mountain retreat and stay there until a buyer can be found through the open house event. After they arrive there, both start noticing that odd things are happening around them. Items go missing. There are phone calls with seemingly no one on the other end. They receive little help from the police. Secluded from the rest of the sleepy town, they battle fear and paranoia. Unbeknownst to them, their home has been invaded by the serial killer “Evil Boots.” Feel free to check out the movie here.
10. The Platform (2019)
This Spanish sci-fi horror tells the story of a unique multi-storied correctional facility where two inmates are kept on every floor. Food is sent through an elevator-like platform, which stops on each floor for a specific period, during which the inmates have to eat whatever they can. They can’t save anything for later. If they do, the prison authorities will either boil or freeze them to death by manipulating the temperature of the cell. The protagonist, Goreng (Iván Massagué), has willingly joined the prison population for a diploma. He quickly learns that it’s the worst mistake he has made in his life. Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia is the director of the film. Following its 44th Annual Toronto International Film Festival premiere, Netflix released ‘The Platform’ for its global audience. You can check out the film here.
9. Cam (2018)
Directed by Daniel Goldhaber, Netflix’s tech horror ‘Cam’ offers a very relevant commentary on the digital age, lack of privacy, dangers of over-exposing yourself on the internet, and identity theft. Screenwriter Isa Mazzei drew from her own experience as a camgirl while writing the script for the film. It stars Madeline Brewer as Alice Ackerman, who live-streams sexual content on a website called FreeGirlsLive under the username “Lola_Lola.” One day, she discovers that she can’t log into her account. Upon further investigation, she finds out that a doppelganger is currently operating it. Desperate to get it back, she reaches out to the website customer care, her fans, and even the police, but no one seems to be able to help her. As the film progresses, she becomes even more agitated and unstable, accusing other camgirls of sabotaging her career. You can watch ‘Cam’ here.
8. Bird Box (2018)
In Netflix’s ‘Bird Box,’ Earth has been invaded by demonic beings who can take the shape of a person’s worst fear and then drive them to insanity and eventual suicide. The film has two narratives that revolve around the same character, Malorie (Sandra Bullock), and are set five years apart from one another. One follows a still-pregnant Malorie as she struggles to survive immediately after the invasion, while the other depicts her attempts to keep her children alive. Directed by Susanne Bier and an adaptation of Josh Malerman’s 2014 namesake novel, the film received mostly positive reviews from the critics. It also became the streaming service’s one of the most-watched original content of all time. You may watch it here.
7. In the Tall Grass (2019)
Based on another Stephen King novella (written in collaboration with his son Joe Hill), Netflix’s ‘In the Tall Grass’ is a gory and violent tale filled with all the familiar Stephen King themes, including incest, time travel, cannibalism, and insanity. Becky and her brother Cal (Laysla De Oliveira and Avery Whitted) hear a young boy’s cry for help from a field of tall grass while traveling to San Diego. They enter the grass looking for the boy but soon realize that they can’t get out. To make the matter even more precarious, Becky is six months pregnant. They discover that the baby’s father, Travis (Harrison Gilbertson), is also in the field and trapped. Directed by Vincenzo Natali, the film also stars Patrick Wilson, Rachel Wilson, and Will Buie Jr. You may watch ‘In the Tall Grass’ here.
6. 1922 (2017)
The cinematic adaptation of the 2010 namesake novella by Stephen King, Netflix’s horror-drama ‘1922’ is set in the eponymous year on a farm in Hemingford Home, Nebraska, and tells the story of farmer Wilf James (Thomas Jane) and his family. Content with how things are at the farm, he wants to spend his entire life there. But his wife, Arlette (Molly Parker), disillusioned and dissatisfied, wants to put it up for sale. Wilf speaks to his son Henry (Dylan Schmid) about murdering Arlette, reminding him that she doesn’t approve of his girlfriend, Shannon (Kaitlyn Bernard). Henry reluctantly agrees to help. After killing her, they throw her body into a dry well on the property, where rats soon start feasting on it. However, this horrible act dooms both the father and son forever, as they almost willingly set themselves on their paths to destruction. You can watch the movie here.
5. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)
An atmospheric horror film, ‘I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House,’ is a story about a horror writer and her caretaker as they keep experiencing supernatural forces in their house. The author in question, Iris Blum, suffers from chronic dementia, and thus, the managers of her property have hired Lily Saylor to look after her. Lily begins noticing shadowy figures of a woman in the house and starts panicking. As time progresses, the division between fantasy and reality blurs in her eyes. We are reminded of the fact that Iris had written in one of her books that there are certain realms where the living and the dead co-exist.
Is her house also a realm like that? This film has the charm of vintage horror because of its setting and interesting characters. For those who love tense atmospheres more than jump scares, this is the film to watch. The disturbing element in the film is the restraint shown by the filmmaker. There is always a constant sense of tension that leaves the audience quite unnerved at times. You may watch the film here.
4. The Perfection (2019)
One of the most disturbing Netflix originals, ‘The Perfection,’ is a film that you should keep children away from. The central character of the film is a musical prodigy called Charlotte (Allison Williams), who is going to the most elite music school at her teacher’s invitation. She manages to become friends with one of the best students in the school, Lizzie, and slowly, they become sexually involved as well. When the two of them reach the school, they realize that under the garb of a musical school, something rather horrifying goes on. But how will the two of them manage to survive the wrath of such brutal criminals?
Violence is the reason we are asking you to watch this film in the company of adults only. Some of the scenes are too gory for even the most hardened fans of violence in cinema. The director, Richard Shepard, cleverly uses genre conventions to give us a thriller that will remain embedded in our minds for a long time. Feel free to check out the movie here.
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3. Apostle (2018)
One of the finest horror movies you will find on Netflix, ‘Apostle’ is written and directed by Gareth Evans. The story of this film is centered around a man called Thomas Richardson, who returns home to the news that his sister has been kidnapped by a sinister cult and is now being held as a prisoner on their private island. Thomas is determined to rescue her from this ordeal and sets out as soon as possible. Thomas plans to infiltrate the organization while posing as one of their followers. As he steps onto the island, he is shocked by their brutal methods of performing rites and rituals.
He slowly comes to understand that the cult members want to use her sister as a human sacrifice. The brilliant art direction that we get to see in this film is something that is bound to stay with us for a long time. A constant sense of dread is present throughout the film, and this is possible because of Evans’ mastery of the camera. You can check out the film here.
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2. Gerald’s Game (2017)
Gerald’s Game is a psychological horror based on a novel written by Stephen King. It begins on a harmless note when a couple escapes to a remote lake house to spice up their sex life. Things get nasty when the husband dies unexpectedly, and the wife, Jessie, is left handcuffed to the bed frame. Jessie is horrified when the demons inside her head start lurking out in the shadows of the empty house as she struggles to tame the resurfaced darkness that had been buried deep within her ages ago. The most disturbing thing about this film is that it’s hard to comprehend whether or not everything that Jessie sees is real or just a mere projection of her deepest fears. You can watch ‘Gerald’s Game’ here.
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1. The Call (2020)
‘The Call’ is a South Korean thriller directed by Lee Chung-hyun that stands out as a compelling and disturbing cinematic experience. This gripping film explores the dark depths of human nature, blending elements of horror and suspense seamlessly. Anchored by stellar performances from Park Shin-hye and Jeon Jong-seo, it delves into the twisted dynamics of a 28-year time-spanning phone call that connects a woman in the present with another trapped in the past, both facing unimaginable horrors. As the story unfolds, it masterfully keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, delivering shocking twists and psychological tension, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a genuinely unsettling and thought-provoking cinematic journey. You may watch ‘The Call’ here.
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