With acclaimed supernatural spook-fest Lights Out hitting cinemas this week, and a certain much talked about TV saga tearing up the entertainment world, it’s a good time to be a horror fan
Netflix’s library has arguably seen more great new and recent additions in that genre than any other of late. So dim the lights, curl up on the sofa, and be prepared to cower behind that cushion.
Here are a host of great modern horror shows and movies to check out on the streaming service.
Drawing heavily on the classic work of Steven Spielberg, and even more so on the most iconic offerings of Stephen King, this fascinating ’80s-set sci-fi thriller centres on a small American town thrust into harm’s way when a mysterious force, and shadowy Government powers, close in.
The group of nerdy kids at its centre give it heart, along with Winona Ryder’s emotionally-shattered mother, a washed-up Sheriff on a mission and a couple of mis-fit teens. Armed with a superb electronic soundtrack, excellent visual effects and bags of atmosphere, the horror elements are used sparingly. But every time they crop up, you’ll be jumping out of your skin.
Forced to move back to her childhood home under house arrest after one too many brushes with the law, wayward brat Kylie initially mocks her mother’s belief that their residence is haunted – until she too begins to experience things going bump in the night.
A thoroughly accomplished debut by writer/director Gerard Johnstone, this fun New Zealand flick sends a familiar premise stratospheric through offbeat comedy and some genuinely inspired twists, turns and revelations. It manages that unusual feat of being both hilarious and creepy.
This year’s essential home invasion thriller hinges on a dastardly premise: its lead character is deaf and mute, rendering her unable to call for help, or hear her attacker coming, when a fiendish masked intruder begins stalking her at her remote house.
Widely praised for the stylish execution of its inspired set-up, this is perfect nerve-jangling late-night viewing.
Scream (TV series)
The iconic slasher franchise gets a small-screen shift in this surprisingly entertaining new show.
Given a modern, internet-age twist (the plot kicks off with a video going viral), there are all the pop culture references and nods to the movies you might expect, as well as the kind of tongue-in-cheek self-awareness that defined the series to begin with. It’s cheesy as hell, but the fact that it recognises and even makes fun of its own unlikely existence as a TV reboot is enjoyably compelling.
American Horror Story
The first four seasons of the craziest show on television are available to stream right now. So if you love delicious dark humour, preposterous plots and the odd disturbing piece of pitch-black terror, what are you waiting for?
Each standalone series is a separate story revolving around a certain genre archetype, from haunted houses to a touring carnival freak show. Cue killer clowns and nefarious ghosts, but make no mistake: though its sheer unpredictable mayhem will have you hooked, its characters and sub-plots have surprising, emotive depth.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown
The feature film debut from Alfonso Gomez Rejon, an American Horror Story graduate who also directed acclaimed indie dramedy Me And Earl And The Dying Girl, this smart sequel to the ’70s slasher flick of the same name is far better than you might expect.
From a masterful opening tracking shot through a drive-in cinema, to nail-biting sequences of suspense, this tale of a masked killer returning to torment a small US town is devilishly effective. The way it incorporates the original flick into its mythology is somewhat ingenious.
As much a horror about the despair of depression and the strains of parenthood as the shadowy, hatted figure plaguing its mother and son, Jennifer Kent’s dark journey into a fractured parent-child relationship balances skin-crawling bedtime scares with painful domestic strife to impressive effect.
Essie Davis delivers one of the performances of the decade as the mum in question, whose fragile mental state leaves matters on a knife-edge throughout – before you even add the eponymous bogeyman into the equation.