For those wanting to get into the Halloween mood but struggling to find something spooky or terrifying to watch, Headstuff have you covered. Our film writers have selected 25 films and TV shows currently streaming on Irish Netflix designed to scratch that scary itch.
A Cure for Wellness
Part gothic chiller, part contemporary satire, Dane De Haan stars as Lockhart, a young ambitious financial services executive blackmailed into retrieving his company’s CEO from a wellness centre in the Swiss Alps. Arriving at the picturesque asylum, he meets its shady head doctor (hello Jason Isaacs) – someone harbouring a strange fascination with eels. Essentally Shutter Island on acid, A Cure for Wellness is a ghoulishy fun time – one which deftly counter-balances the baroqueness of the central spa’s interiors and idyllic mountainous vistas with slowly ratcheting tension and over-the-top terror. Stephen Porzio
Enigmatic, demented and a staple of transgressive and postmodern deconstruction, Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho was almost unfilmable. But in 2000 when Mary Harron helmed this satirical character study, the masses were not ready for Patrick Bateman. Some critics hailed American Psycho as a masterpiece. Others simply condemned it.
Over time though, the film went on to major cult status and provided us with the pinnacle of Christian Bale’s method acting. Patrick Bateman is an emobdiment of everything wrong with American society and ”yuppie culture” in the 1980s. Combine that with sadistic violence, laugh out loud satire and truly iconic dialogue, for those willing to invest, American Psycho is undeniably original and ridiculously entertaining. Do you like Huey Lewis & The News? John Hogan
Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel of the same name, Alex Garland’s Annihilation might look like more of an action film at first glance. However, there are some stand-out moments of horror which will most likely linger in your mind after viewing. It follows Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist who embarks on a military expedition into the Shimmer, a zone of unexplained animal and plant mutation.
Annihilation has plenty going on, leaving it open to interpretation regarding grief, memory, and climate change. My own current theory is that it’s about the destructive nature of heterosexual relationships, as evinced by the centrality of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s 3-part harmony “Helplessly Hoping” to the film. Sarah Cullen
Part of a recent resurgence in folk and period horror, last year Gareth Evans (the man behind the much revered The Raid movies) churned out this atmospheric, creepy and downright mesmerising little thriller. Clearly influenced by the likes of The Wicker Man (1973) and The Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971), Apostle was a welcome return to a sub-genre that took a back seat these last few years.
Combining the ferocity of Evans’ penchant for violence with an unnerving attention to atmosphere and dread, this 2018 horror was a big surprise and proved a hit within the horror community. For fans of recent trips into despair like The Witch or Kill List, Apostle should scratch your folk/period horror itch. John Hogan
A cam girl (Madeline Brewer) specialising in grand guignol inspired shows has her livelihood threatened when a digital and seemingly supernatural double hijacks her channel. This unauthorised copy then begins giving the central character’s fans even more violent looking spectacle.
Inspired by screenwriter Isa Mazzei’s own experiences as a cam girl, the film functions on one level as a gripping workplace drama. It shines a light on both the cut-throat world of camming (where to be the best, the more shocking one’s shows must be) and the stigma associated with the profession (discovering her double’s account, our lead character’s brother turns against her – as do the police when she tries reporting her identity stolen).
On top of this though, Cam is a constantly tense and at times squirm inducing chiller. It updates the gothic motif of the doppelganger to the current day. In the process, it adds a surprisingly hopeful and progressive denouement. Stephen Porzio
One for fans of extreme cinema, this tale of a dance troupe who collectively go crazy when spiked with LSD is further proof that writer-director Gaspar Noe (Irreversible) has a deranged mind. That said, it’s also proof he is a master of the cinematic form.
In stunning neon-drenched long-takes, we spend the first half of the film watching the dancers (led by Kingsman’s Sofia Boutella) perform jaw-dropping routines to a pumping electro score. However, the moment people’s inhabitions get lowered all comradery goes out the window as people turn on each other violently over repressed desires, petty squabbles and garbled misinformation. Noe’s continuous shots which felt so stylish at first suddenly take on a more disturbing documentary-esque feeling. It’s like were watching strangers tear themselves apart in real time, incapable of helping them.
Featuring electrocutions, heads on fire, misogyny, suicide and more, Climax is by no means an enjoyable, pleasant watch. But like the best extreme cinema and horror, it is truly unforgettable. Stephen Porzio
Creep / Creep 2
While most of the movies on this list work perfectly as a standalone watch. the Creep films (pictured above) are made to be binged back to back. Each tackles a day in the life of Mark Duplass’ Josef, a guy who from the moment you meet him is unsettling. It takes a while to figure out what his deal is, but the build-up in part one is glorious. Duplass brings what can only be described as sincere intensity to the best role of his career.
The entirely different Creep 2 can’t be discussed without spoiling the prior film, though you are guaranteed to want to watch it after the first ends. This franchise is a future cult classic that you need to check out this Halloween. Just stay away from Peachfuzz. Liam De Brun
Stephen King is probably as embedded in our cultural firmament as any living creator. Year on year, King’s formidable bibliography is plucked, adapted, and churned out on TV and in cinemas, with varying degrees of success.
Gerald’s Game is one of King’s lesser known works, but it makes for a surprisingly effective cinematic yarn. The movie centres on a single premise – Carla Gugino’s Jessie is handcuffed to her bed by her lover, who promptly dies, leaving her stranded. The majority of the movie focuses on her attempts to escape, her own emotional reflections, and the hidden threat that may be approaching…
It’s a testament to Gugino’s funny and endearing lead performance – with stellar support from a purring Bruce Greenwood – and director Mike Flanagan’s inventiveness, that it grips you from start to finish. Jesse Melia
Happy Death Day
Happy Death Day is horror at its most playful. Director Christopher Landen is a genius for deciding to add a murder into the Groundhog Day formula. Jessica Rothe is a revelation as lead character Tree, a university student caught in a time loop to solve her own death. She carries the entire film on her shoulders. A joy to watch on screen, she will be a big star. While the horror may not be as strong as others on the list, this film is vigorously entertaining from start to finish. Cure any bad day by watching Happy Death Day. Liam De Brun
Insidious was the spark that ignited horror back into the mainstream. We now live in a world where there is a new film in the genre at least once a month. These movies are made on a low budget and almost always make a hefty profit. Insidious for better or worse started the trend of cheap jump-scare horror. If you go back to watch the 2010 picture you’ll find that the world gives it way less praise than it deserves. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are excellent as a couple who need to get the hell out of their new home. James Wan (the maestro also behind The Conjuring and Saw franchises) crafted the film with a grace that is often not seen in the genre. Watch this purely for one of the best jump scares you’ll ever see. Liam De Brun
You’ve heard of Misery. You’ve seen parodies of Misery. You may even feel that all the satire you’ve seen will lessen the impact and quality of Misery. But you dont know the tension, fear, discomfort, brutality and experience of Misery until you’ve seen Misery. It’s a classic that holds up through any parody, preconception or knowledge you have of it whether it’s your first or tenth time.
Kathy Bates gives an Oscar-winning performance that she damn well deserved. The concept of being so helplessly trapped in a sociopath’s lair, knowing she could snap at any moment is done extraordinarily well. The story doesn’t just hold up well with the advent of social media and the increased intensity of fan culture and online stalking, it’s more applicable now then ever. Daniel Troy
Over the Garden Wall
If you’re looking for something with a Halloween atmosphere that’s outside the horror genre, something coated with creepy vibes that blend with its light hearted elements surprisingly well, then this Cartoon Network mini-series has you covered.
Clocking in at under 2 hours, the 10 episodes of Over the Garden Wall explore a gorgeously old fashioned autumn woodland as two brothers look for a way out of the mystical forrest they’ve stumbled into. Taking a road trip approach, the brothers (the elder of which is voiced by Elijah Wood) travel to unique locations each with their own distinct style, some scary undertones and definitely odd situations. This is whilst avoiding a mythical beast rumoured to wander between the trees.
It’s an overwhelmingly charming series that slots perfectly into the Halloween season. Over the Garden Wall is an excellent horror alternative – even if some of the show’s imagery is unexpectedly terrifying, somewhat echoing that of previous Cartoon Network original Courage the Cowardly Dog. It’s a bit slow to start but once it sinks in it’ll be on your mind for a while after the credits roll. Daniel Troy
59 years after its release, Psycho is still the tensest film of all time. Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece has aged like a fine wine and the story of Bates Motel is fresher than any horror that arrives in cinemas now. Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates is a villain for the ages and uncovering what makes him tick is one of cinema’s most rewarding gifts. Everything about Psycho is iconic. From Janet Leigh’s scream to Bernard Hermann’s pulse racing score, it’s a perfect film. Whether it’s your first or millionth watch, you won’t be able to take your eyes away from this classic. Liam De Brun
The Haunting of Hill House
Created and directed by Mike Flanagan (the man behind Gerald’s Game and the upcoming Doctor Sleep), the series The Haunting of Hill House is a creepy, fright-filled fest that is equally unnerving as it is addictive viewing. It works because it is not just a horror, but a drama revolving around a haunted mansion. Blending edge-of-your-seat thrills with a multi-layered story, the terror feels more real as we believe in the central family and their grief.
From a horror perspective though, the clever injection of subliminal scares is the centerpiece of the series. Throughout the ten episodes, dozens of hidden ghosts appear frequently as the audience follows the woes of the Crain family. This unfortunate group are struggling to cope with their present tragedies while dealing with the past – the latter perhaps evoking more spectres to surface in the background.
The Haunting Of Hill House is magnificent for fans of the genre. For others, it is a complete ‘lights-on’ situation, thanks to the sleepless nights that will follow binge viewings. Kevin Burke
I had almost completely forgotten watching The Invitation until a friend mentioned it again this year. Not because it was forgettable, mind you, but because it freaked me out so much I blocked it from my memory. Focusing on a reunion of friends after several years’ absence, Karyn Kusama’s film has a considerable slow burn as the protagonist, Will (Logan Marshall-Green), suspects something is not quite right.
As with many great horrors, The Invitation is a strong character study: Kusama typically directs female protagonists and here, interestingly, Will takes on the role typically assigned to a gothic heroine, dealing with repressed trauma and the mistrust of his peers. Tense and devastating, it looks at the home invasion narrative from a fascinating new perspective. Sarah Cullen
The darkest horror often comes in human form. No ghoul or ghost can ever equal the terror meted out by humans in Richard Shepard’s elegantly economic yet festering horror The Perfection. Starring Allison Williams as former cello prodigy, Charlotte, the film twists and turns from queer romance to hallucinogenic nightmare to brutal revenge thriller. Still all the vomit, shit and blood that caps off each of the film’s four symphonic chapters would just be shock tactics without Williams and co-star Logan Browning’s achingly vulnerable yet survival hardened performances. Shepard’s direction; Vanja Cernjul’s by turns stark, operatic and giallo tinted cinematography and David Dean’s nerve severing edits are the blood and guts on this gangrenous #MeToo cake. Andrew Carroll
Based on the novel of the same name by Adam Nevill, David Bruckner’s 2017 supernatural folk horror movie was efficient, well-crafted and undeniably creepy. Following a group of old friends journeying to the harsh wildlands of Sweden, The Ritual is a literal descent into Hell.
Evoking echoes of classic The Blair Witch Project, this chiller works strongest when surrounding its characters in isolation and punishing them for their curiosity. The finale is both strange and morbidly fascinating. If you love horror movies that push a sense of unknown dread and enshrouding darkness upon you, then The Ritual is an experience that will satisfy and linger long in the mind long after the credits have rolled. John Hogan
The Silence of the Lambs
While more a thriller, The Silence of the Lambs has plenty of horror elements, most notably the onscreen introduction of iconic villain Hannibal Lecter. Anthony Hopkins gives a chilling performance of one of cinema’s most intelligent sociopaths. Plus, there are tons of little touches and masterful filmmaking to make Lecter as imposing and unpredictable as possible.
But the core of the story actually comes from Jodie Foster’s young FBI agent Clarice Starling and her desperate search for serial killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) before his latest victim is finished off. Lecter is visited in prison (jailed for cannabalism) to give the young agent insight into the psychotic mind. The two’s dynamic is captivating in this Academy Award Best Picture Winner, the only one in the horror genre to date. Daniel Troy
Friend and fellow editor Stephen Porzio said of The Wailing: “It continually dishes out rich symbolism and intriguing details – never spelling out anything clearly for audiences.” Few do horror better than the South Koreans. Even fewer do genre mash-ups so well. Bouncing from deadpan comedy to detective mystery to zombie film to possession horror to a bug-shit crazy Satanic finale, The Wailing keeps viewers guessing right down to the last few seconds. Director Na Hong-jin chooses his images carefully – eyes like glowing coals, a white robed woman in a burnt ruin, a mournful exorcism. Most of all though he invests this impressive two-and-a-half hour genre exercise with an emotional through line, the tragic inevitability of which makes it all the more worthy of your attention. Andrew Carroll
The Woman in Black
Coming just a year following the conclusion of one of the greatest movie series of all time, Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe steps away from traditional fantasy and creeps his way into the horror genre. While it’s got plenty of jump scares to thrill an audience, what sets this film apart from other chillers lies in its storytelling and attention to detail.
Essentially, its one of those movies where you need to rely heavily on the what’s said or found in order to beat the ghost – the titular figure. The ending reinforces this and even subverts the traditional trope of the hero always winning in the end. Brandon Doyle
Under the Shadow
We all know streaming services offer cinematic offerings of a decidedly mixed quality. And yet, its inherent ease of access means we’re afforded opportunities to find experiences we wouldn’t normally encounter.
Consider 2016 chiller, Under the Shadow. This tells the tale of a mother and child plagued by a malevolent, wraith-like being. So far, so standard. But the action is set in an apartment at the epicenter of the Iran-Iraq war of the mid-80s.
This unique setting serves to enhance an already great horror story. Under the Shadow is filled to the brim with tense, bone chilling dread, suffused with punchy and effective scares – all anchored by a stunning performance from lead actor Narges Rashidi. Think The Babadook filtered through the prism of war-torn Tehran.
This absorbing resonant tale is proof that if you dig deep enough into Netflix’ cinematic mines, you’ll eventually strike gold. Jesse Melia
Greg McLean’s debut Wolf Creek is vicious, unforgiving, nasty and downright offensive but it still remains one of the strongest horror debuts in recent years. Rooted in tragic realism, the film works so well because of the simple understanding – this could happen to anyone of us.
John Jarratt gives the performance of a lifetime as the nasty Mick Taylor. The actor’s dedication to method acting terrified his co-stars so much, they tried to keep as far away from him as possible on set. Just like Jarratt’s demented performance, Wolf Creek is a movie that gets under your skin and makes you itch and squirm. If you can invest in its morbid outlook and nasty vibe, then it will offer an unforgettable horror experience. If you are left needing more of Mick Taylor’s onslaught then seek out the superb sequel and interesting TV show too. John Hogan
Aside from American Psycho and The Invitation, all the horrors on this list were helmed by men. As such, I’d be remissed if I didn’t highlight the ingeniously titled anthology flick XX, centring on four tales all told by different female directors.
Like all portmanteau films, XX is a mixed bag. However, it’s bookended by two strong shorts – Jovanka Vuckovic’s ‘The Box’ and the aforementioned Karyn Kusama’s ‘Her Only Living Son’, the latter a particularly creepy imagining of what might have happened 18 years after the events of Rosemary’s Baby. These combined with Annie Clark aka St Vincent’s first foray into directing with dark comedy segment ‘The Birthday Party’ make XX a worthwhile 80 minutes. Stephen Porzio
You is a TV show that centres around a love story for the ages. Joe (Penn Badgley) meets Beck (Elizabeth Lail). The two fall for each other over a shared love of literature. Then Joe stalks Beck in public and online, using any means necessary to stop her from finding out that their romance was not based on destiny.
Okay so maybe it’s not a usual television romance. Fuelled by a killer turn by Badgley, You is the definition of a guilty pleasure. With a plot that makes little to no sense you shouldn’t like it. Yet, the show finds a way to hook you in from the first episode. With Season 2 arriving very soon you’re doing a disservice to yourself by ignoring You. Liam De Brun.