Netflix has always featured a lot of horror on their streaming service. Of course, the good stuff usually rolls out around Halloween, but we horror fanatics love to watch the scary stuff year-round, right?
We scoured Netflix for their most binge-able horror series, and compiled them into one handy list to help our readers out. Remember, we haven’t seen EVERY series available to binge, so accept our apologies if your favorite isn’t on our short list. And these series are listed in alphabetical order, not best to worst or vice/versa.
All of Us Are Dead
If you are a fan of zombie horror, this series should keep you entertained throughout the 12 episodes in its first season. Since the Netflix series is mostly set in a Korean high school, the majority of the characters are teenagers, and there is a sprinkling of typical teen drama running through the plotline. Bullying is a thread that runs through this series, and plays a large part in many of the decisions made by the characters.
But, don’t let the teen angst keep you away; this is a bloody, intense and action-packed series that will keep you on the edge of your couch. These are not slow, plodding zombies, but the super-fast rage-filled strain of the undead.
And there is plenty of light comedy to keep things from getting too stressful. I am thinking in particular of one injured teen whose devoted pals refuse to leave him; instead, they fashion a gurney (which breaks) and then strap him to a handcart (which they keep dropping).
At 12 episodes, All of Us Are Dead is a little longer than the average Netflix series, but it’s time well spent.
Two seasons in (with the third premiering in May), this “reality” series is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the stories (and the people telling them) are way more believable than others, and there are reports of web sleuths trying to find corroborating evidence, and having no luck.
Either way, each episode is fascinating, and at only six episodes per season (with each running less than 30 minutes), it’s easily binge-able and entertaining. The premise is simple: a real person (or people) tells their paranormal story to the camera, and often to friends and/or family members at the same time.
The stories are frightening, with several being more intense than others, and watching the looks on the faces of friends/family members gives some insight into how believable you may find them. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the friends are horrified at the tales, or worried that the storyteller may be losing his or her mind.
The Haunting of Bly Manor
Fans of The Haunting of Hill House were sharply divided on this second installment of Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of series. Although it was widely reported that Bly Manor would have no ties to Hill House other than some of the same actors, it seems like people expected it to be the same.
I personally love Bly Manor. Like all of Flanagan’s other work, it’s an emotional story with fine actors portraying deeply flawed characters. Based on several works by Henry James, most of the story is taken from The Turn of the Screw, with Victoria Pedretti playing the central role of Dani, an au pair hired by a wealthy man (Henry Thomas) to care for his orphaned niece and nephew.
Other characters include the two children (Amelie Bea Smith as the sweet Flora, who proclaims everything “perfectly splendid” and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as the creepy Miles), the grounds gardener Jamie (played with a delightful wry wit by Amelia Eve), Owen the cook (Rahul Kohli in a hauntingly sad performance), the housekeeper Hannah Gross (perfectly portrayed by T’Nia Miller), the mysteriously vanished Peter Quint (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and prior nanny, the late Miss Jessel (Tahirah Sharif).
As the story slowly unwinds, we start to get answers to the mystery of the horrifying Lady of the Lake, who is prone to wandering the grounds and the manor at night, literally grabbing those in her path by the throat and dragging them to her watery grave.
The Haunting of Hill House
In my opinion, this is the granddaddy horror series of them all. Very loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s eerie classic novel of the same name, yes, Hill House is a ghost story. It’s also a deep look inside the lives of a family who suffered horrible trauma during their short stay at the large, mysterious Hill House.
As we jump back and forth in the timeline, we get to know Hugh and Olivia Crain (Henry Thomas and Carla Gugino), along with their children: young twins Luke and Nell (Julian Hilliard and Violet McGraw), Shirley (Lulu Wilson), Theo (McKenna Grace) and the oldest boy, Steven.
Let me just take a moment to recognize the amazing performances given by every single one of these talented child actors. Hill House wouldn’t have been nearly as emotional or engrossing without them.
As adults, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Victoria Pedretti (in her first ever onscreen appearance) play the twins, Elizabeth Reeser takes on the role of Shirley, Kate Siegel is Theo and Michael Huisman is Steven. Timothy Hutton takes on the older version of Hugh.
The flashbacks to the time the Crains lived in Hill House are hair-raising and heartbreaking, and it’s fascinating to see the individual tolls the childhood trauma has taken on the adult Crain children.
Don’t believe anyone who says this haunting ghost story/haunted house mashup isn’t scary.
Speaking of scary, let’s chat about Netflix series Marianne. This French series packs a lot of scares into eight episodes, and it’s a crime that Netflix chose not to renew it for a second season.
Emma (Victoire Du Bois) is a best-selling writer of a series of Lizzie Larck horror novels, which chronicle Lizzie’s ongoing struggle to fend off the evil entity Marianne. What fans of the books don’t know is that Marianne is based off Emma’s very own experiences with Marianne. In order to cope with her fear and feelings of helplessness, Emma created Lizzie to fight off the entity.
When Emma writes what she proclaims to be her last Lizzie Larck novel, Marianne is not too happy about it, and makes that known by influencing one of the writer’s friends to beg Emma to keep writing. Immediately afterwards, the friend commits suicide.
When Emma’s parents suffer tragedy at the hands of Marianne, she enlists the help of her childhood friends to defeat the evil presence, and we are treated to the story of how they basically conjured Marianne.
Those of you who lament how nothing out there is scary enough for you should give Marianne a shot. It is full of terrifying jump scares and shocking plot twists.
The third Mike Flanagan series on this short list is, for me at least, tied in first place with The Haunting of Hill House. And, as a bonus, Flanagan once again used some of the same actors who gave such great performances in Hill House and Bly Manor.
Fans of Flanagan know that he is a big believer in deep character development, which means there is a faction of people who proclaim his work “boring”, but the larger faction recognize the importance of making the viewer care about said characters. That’s what makes his work so emotional, and honestly, more frightening. If you care about a character, you are affected when they die or suffer trauma.
The residents of Crockett Island are suffering the effects of a massive oil spill on their fishing community. Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) is returning home to the island after serving time in prison for accidently killing a teenage girl while driving drunk, and re-establishes his friendship with Erin (Kate Siegel), who recently returned to Crocket Island herself, pregnant and alone.
Riley’s return coincides with the appearance of the mysterious Father Paul (Hamish Linklater), who claims to be a temporary substitute for the elderly Father Pruitt. Father Paul is assisted at the church by Bev (Samantha Sloyan), a zealous religious nut with sociopathic tendancies.
As the residents begin to see some strange things happening amongst themselves, it becomes clear that Father Paul is not what he seems. But most of these changes are really good, so what the heck is going on? Some viewers may catch on to the twist most quickly than others, but either way, an inventive, intense script and topnotch acting performances elevate Midnight Mass to one of the best horror series available.
Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock for the past six years, you are at least familiar with the premise of Stranger Things, one of Netflix most popular series ever. Combining horror, sci-fi and a great deal of 1980s nostalgia perfectly, Stranger Things is pretty much a mixture of Alien, ET, Goonies and Firestarter.
Set in Hawkins, Indiana, season one introduced us to best pals Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will, who are playing a rousing game of Dungeons and Dragons before Will is abducted by a strange creature while riding home on his bike. We met this creature earlier on when it escaped from the scientists at a government lab, and he is bad news.
As Will’s mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) pushes Chief Hopper (David Harbour) to find her son, Will’s friends launch their own investigation, and come across a young girl (Millie Bobby Brown) in the woods. The mute girl has the number 11 tattooed on her arm, and that’s what the boys call her.
While the boys and Eleven are searching for clues, Joyce and Hopper work together, as do Will’s brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Mike’s sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer). As the series goes on, we learn of the frightening Upside Down, of the experiments performed on Eleven, and all about how loyal good friends can actually be.
The mystery, horror and emotion continued through the second and third seasons, with season three taking us back to mall life in the 1980s. Stranger Things fully deserves its acclaim, and you haven’t watched it yet, there is no better time! Catch up on the Netflix series before the fourth season begins May 27.
I hope you find something that will get you through to the Halloween season on this list; check all of them out on Netflix.
Give us your own mini-review of you favorite Netflix series on this list, leave your thoughts in the comments section.