The fact that horror shows aren't nearly as commonplace as horror movies is pretty horrifying in itself. But that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of chilling shows to binge; you just need to know where to look! Fortunately, Netflix is a treasure trove of spooky series, eerie episodes, and terrifying tales. There are the mainstream hits like the Netflix Original The Haunting of Hill House, critical darlings like AMC's Bates Motel, and underappreciated international fare like the Dutch show Ares. It doesn't matter if you're looking for something paranormal, gothic, supernatural, slasher, Satanic, or just straight-up schlocky, the streaming service has you covered.
Of course, not all of the scary shows on Netflix are of equal quality, and it can be difficult (and quite a time suck!) to sort through them all to find the perfect choice for your next binge. That's why TV Guide scoured Netflix's library to select the very best horror TV series that the service has available to watch. And once you've made it through all the following shows, don't forget to check out all the best horror movies on Netflix too!
Initially created as a limited series, the show was such a success that Netflix and creator Mike Flanagan decided to continue it as an anthology, with each new season tackling a different haunted locale. The first season, The Haunting of Hill House, was based on the Shirley Jackson book of the same name and followed the lives of the Crain siblings, whose experiences growing up at Hill House continue to haunt them into adulthood. The show is one of the most provocative examinations of grief and trauma, while also being genuinely scary and delivering some of the most devastating twists on TV in recent years. The second season, The Haunting of Bly Manor, based on the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw, will hit Netflix later this year, making this the perfect time to catch up on Hill House.
Starring Freddie Highmore as a young Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his mother, Norma, this critically acclaimed AMC series is a must-see for Psycho fans or for anyone who simply loves well-made horror. This psychological drama explores the Bates' lives after they buy a rundown motel in a small town following the sudden death of Norman's father. With Norman only a teenager when the show begins, Bates Motel chronicles the evolution of a killer with meticulously plotted suspense, all the while building out original and engaging stories about the Bates family and the locals who have the misfortune of crossing their paths.
It's pretty maddening that Ghoul wasn't a bigger hit when it premiered on Netflix in 2018. Starring Radhika Apte as Nida Rahim, a loyal interrogator who works for the fascist Indian regime ruling in a dystopian future, Ghoul follows Nida as she questions a terrorist (Mahesh Balraj) whom she begins to suspect is more than human. This atmospheric monster story is a gripping tale about social change, religion, and the dangers of unchecked political power. And while Ghoul gets off to a slightly slow (but never boring) start, the three-episode miniseries quickly builds to an insane, twist-filled finale that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
American Horror Story
If you're looking for hardcore horror, FX's American Horror Story isn't for you — certain seasons, such as Murder House and Asylum, are far more frightening than others, but overall, American Horror Story is less interested in actual scares and more in finding entertaining (and unpredictable) ways to play with classic horror tropes. So if you want to be titillated, shocked, and occasionally grossed out, you can't do any better than AHS. And with each season tackling a different theme, you're sure to find something that fits your mood. Although, we'd recommend starting with the holy trinity: Murder House, Asylum, and Coven.
For anyone who loves American Horror Story's anthology format but isn't so interested in the FX series' tendency to favor style over splatter, Slasher may just be what you've been searching for. Each season of this Canadian anthology series follows a different group of people trying to survive a new masked killer. The first season, The Executioner, chronicles a woman whose return home sparks a series of copycat murders, with the killer recreating the murder of both of her parents that occurred many decades before. Season 2, Guilty Party, follows former summer camp counselors who are targeted as revenge for killing someone at the camp years prior. Season 3, Solstice, finds anyone who is deemed complicit in the murder of a drug addict falling prey to a costumed killer. The series isn't doing anything wholly original, but the way it executes classic slasher tropes are sure to please fans of the genre.
The Walking Dead
While there were a few seasons during which The Walking Dead famously got a little lost, if you stick through the rough spots (or just outright skip Seasons 7 and 8), the show finds its footing again and is well worth your time. Filled with gnarly kills and genuinely moving character moments, The Walking Dead is not only about what people will do to survive, but what you need to live for beyond just surviving. The zombie show all other zombie shows will be measured against, the AMC drama's impact and influence can't be understated when it comes to horror series. And once you start watching, it's easy to see why the show has already spawned two TV spin-offs and an upcoming movie trilogy.
Brace yourself before starting Ares because this Dutch series doesn't waste any time before getting into the gore. The story of a biracial college student, Rosa (Jade Olieberg), who joins a clandestine (and mostly white) student society with seriously twisted secrets, Ares is suspenseful, intriguing, and at times outright grotesque. As the series unfolds and Rosa becomes more engrained in Ares, the society is plagued by a series of suicides tied to the mysterious creature that lives beneath the society's headquarters. While any show that hinges so much on answering a complex web of mysteries risks underwhelming the viewer, the reveals are well worth waiting for in the spine-chilling season finale — especially when you consider Ares is only eight, 30-minute episodes.
Marianne wastes even less time than Ares before testing your limits with one of the most hard-to-stomach opening scenes we've ever seen. This is not a condemnation of the French drama, but a sign of its confidence in delivering captivatingly unsettling horror — the kind that seeps into your bones and feels like it may never leave. The French series follows horror author Emma Larsimon (Victoire Du Bois), who rose to fame for her book series about a witch named Marianne. But when a bored Emma decides to end the series, the witch manifests in the real world — played with chilling conviction by Mireille Herbstmeyer — and haunts Emma in vulgar and terrifying fashion until she picks up the pen to continue to tell Marianne's story. Marianne is a disturbing, claustrophobic tale made all the more powerful by the grounded relationships at its center, and you'd be remiss to skip out on this one-season watch.
This Showtime drama is so much better than it has any right to be, and that's largely a credit to its cast, especially Eva Green, who plays the medium Vanessa Ives. Other than Vanessa and a few other key figures — such as the werewolf Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) — the world of Penny Dreadful is largely populated by new takes on iconic horror characters, including Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), the Bride of Frankenstein (Billie Piper), Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney), and Dr. Jekyll (Shazad Latif). While the plot can be somewhat illogical, this stylized series tackles themes of otherness and the Victorian fear of women's sexuality without ever losing its sense of fun or straying too far from its gory horror core. It's a delightful modern take on classic horror that never quite earned the respect it deserved during its three-season run.
Requiem didn't generate much buzz after its 2018 premiere, but it left us wishing Netflix world produce more shows like it. After Matilda's (Lydia Wilson) mother, Janice (Joanna Scanlan), kills herself in front of her, the young woman discovers Janice had a mysterious connection to a cold case of a missing child who disappeared from a small Welsh town. Matilda decides to uncover the truth with the help of her friend Hal (Joel Fry), but when they arrive at the village Matilda feels an eerie sense of familiarity and realizes that the conspiracy is far more personal — and stranger — than she ever could have predicted. This supernatural thriller is a mix of Rosemary's Baby, Sinister, and Wicker Man, and while Requiem never reaches the heights of any of those films, it's a pleasantly surreal (albeit, sometimes perplexing) quick binge.
Ash vs. Evil Dead
Starz's cult sequel series to Sam Raimi's original Evil Dead trilogy, Ash vs Evil Dead is a three-season horror comedy that finds Bruce Campbell reprising the role of Ash Williams, the beloved chainsaw swinging antihero of the franchise. Picking up 30 years after the events of the last film, the caddish Ash must once again take up his fight against the undead, giving the show ample opportunities to deliver multiple electrifying action scenes in each episode. Outrageously violent and always fun, Ash vs Evil Dead raised the bar when it comes to horror-comedy shows and it's impossible to watch the campy series without having a good time.
This Australian drama is definitely more spooky than it is scary, but it's a compelling, moody mystery that's definitely worth a watch. The series follows six people who come back from the dead in perfect health but with little memories of who they are or what happened to them. A policeman James (Patrick Brammall) — whose late wife is one of the returned — and a local doctor Elishia (Genevieve O'Reilly) hide the Risen from the world while working to uncover the mysteries behind their resurrections, including why an invisible barrier prevents them from being able to leave the small town. While it pales in comparison to Les Revenants, Glitch admirably unravels conspiracies and the Risen's many secrets throughout its three-season run, resulting in a mesmerizing ensemble drama that takes great advantage of the stunning bushland backdrop.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series
Robert Rodriguez's cult From Dusk Till Dawn film franchise was expanded to the small screen for this El Rey Network series, which continued the stories of Seth (D J. Cotrona) and Richie Gecko (Zane Holtz), the Fullers, and Santanico Pandemonium (Eiza González). The show's slick direction and snappy one-liners will please fans of the original film from the start, although new viewers to the franchise might not be charmed by the hyper-stylized series right away. However, if you stick it out, each season of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series improves upon the last, culminating in a third and final season that embrace's the shows inherent silliness without sacrificing the action-packed, bloodsucker horror.
Netflix's zombie show is the pretty much the antithesis of The Walking Dead. As opposed to poetic mediations on humanity and morality, Black Summer is built solely on adrenaline and chaos. The series premiere drops viewers into the middle of the action, as a group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse must fight to make it from an evacuated suburb to a sports stadium where refugees are being taken to safety. While Jaime King is arguably the lead, you'll likely never bother to remember the name of her character, or anyone else's for that matter. But the thing about Black Summer is that this doesn't even matter! The eight-episode first season is a fast-paced study in mayhem, keeping the viewer perpetually off-balance through its fast-paced storytelling that immerses the viewer in the world's anxiety.
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