The Best Horror Series on Netflix Right Now
Despite how popular Netflix is, it hasn’t always been the top tier platform for content across genres. In fact, horror wasn’t always a priority for the platform; I remember a time, years ago, when Netflix’s horror selection was slim (at least in Canada). Thankfully, that’s changed and even with the removal of popular horror series (like Hannibal), there’s still a wide selection.
In terms of live-action horror series on Netflix, there’s quite enough to keep yourself occupied, including more popular shows and a few lesser-known gems. I’m not going to mention Stranger Things (it’s discussed enough as it is) or include any animated titles, though Netflix has some good animated horror, too.
Here are the best horror TV series to watch on Netflix right now.
The Scream TV series doesn’t receive enough praise. Partly because the show was based on the Scream film series, which naturally led to a lot of comparisons, and perhaps the show fell short when held up to the movies. But it’s not the heaping pile of garbage that some folks have made it out to be.
The first two seasons (season 3 is a hot mess) focus on Emma Duvall (Willa Fitzgerald), as well as her friends and family, who are trying to survive killing sprees committed by a masked killer named the Lakewood Slasher. Naturally, Emma has a personal connection to the horrific past of her town, Lakewood. And almost nobody is safe from getting slashed or killed.
As far as slasher series go, it’s entertaining! Some of the acting is iffy, but there’s some top-notch gore. And the twists are fun enough that it’s definitely worth a watch.
Horror led by a dynamic woman is always a good time. And complex characters with a little darkness are much better than flat-out heroes who can do no wrong. Van Helsing checks both of those boxes. The show follows Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton), a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, who awakens in a post-apocalyptic world after being in a coma. The world is overrun by vampires and she’s the key to leading a resistance. And with the help of her allies, she just might.
Van Helsing originally aired on Syfy and really stayed off the radar for most, but if you’re a fan of vampires, tragic pasts, complex characters, and a lot of gore, then this is a series for you. It isn’t a tame series by any means, which is refreshing because when was the last time you watched a gritty vampire movie or show? Plus, the series has queer characters, plenty of characters of color, and it doesn’t make all the female characters helpless. What more can you really ask for?
Every Mike Flanagan series
Yes, I am absolutely including all of Mike Flanagan’s horror series (a.k.a. the Flanaverse) on this list. So far there are four: The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, and The Midnight Club. All four feature supernatural horror, but offer something different in terms of plot and themes—grief, mental illness, faith—and that’s just the genius of Flanagan. Up next, the filmmaker is finishing up his Netflix deal with Fall of the House of Usher, another horror series inspired by a literary genre classic.
Ash vs Evil Dead
Groovy! Before Evil Dead: The Game and Evil Dead Rise revived the franchise, all fans had for a few years was Ash vs Evil Dead. Naturally, Ash vs Evil Dead follows Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), who is yet again battling evil forces, but with the help of his eventual found family. The series is canonical and does carry on the story of Ash in a much different way. There’s a lot about the series that can be nitpicked (such as the dialogue being very problematic at times), but for the most part it’s a fun horror comedy with engaging characters that expands the franchise’s lore.
Santa Clarita Diet
How many shows boast Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, and Liv Hewson in the main cast? None but Santa Clarita Diet. The series follows the Hammond family, whose lives take a turn when mother and wife Sheila (Barrymore) becomes an undead person. And it’s not exactly smooth sailing because the family lives in the suburbs. It’s a fun horror comedy with wonderful performances, and it’s always delightful seeing Barrymore in a horror project. I recommend the series for folks who enjoy campy premises and a lot of bloody moments.
Slasher (seasons 1-3)
It’s delightful to watch anthology horror series because each season is different. Slasher is a horror anthology series that follows different plots and characters each season. And if you’re looking for an incredibly gory series, you’ve found it. Unfortunately, not every season is available on Netflix! If you subscribe to Shudder in the U.S., you can watch Slasher: Flesh & Blood and the currently airing Slasher: Ripper. Otherwise, Netflix only has the first 3 seasons of the show, and they’re definitely worth a watch.
This show was canceled at the worst possible time. Fair warning: you may end up angry that it ended, but it’s still so good. Chambers follows Sasha Yazzie (Sivan Alyra Rose), and Indigenous teen who is haunted by visions after receiving a heart transplant. Her visions eventually lead her to discover what happened to her donor, Becky (Lilliya Reid).
If you enjoy cults, body horror, supernatural horror, and a splash of drama, then Chambers is a perfect match. There are also explorations of race, class, and grief. Having the first ever Native woman lead in a Netflix series was also quite impactful—and there was no bullshit burial ground stuff happening or tired tropes. The show itself builds to the finale so well, and everything that’s revealed will have your mind going boom.
Is this series perfect? Absolutely not. But I think it doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves as light-hearted horror. It won’t change your life, but Daybreak is fun, post-apocalyptic horror comedy.
Based on the comic series of the same name, Daybreak follows Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford), who is desperately searching for his girlfriend Samaira “Sam” Dean (Sophie Simnett) while navigating a post-apocalyptic Glendale, California that includes zombies, out-of-control teens, and a very Mad Max setting. Josh is an unreliable narrator, which is always interesting, and there’s gore, silliness, a splash of social commentary, and a complicated queer romance. As I said, it’s not a perfect series, but it had the potential to get better.
Brand New Cherry Flavor
Talk about complicated female characters! Brand New Cherry Flavor follows Lisa N. Nova (Rosa Salazar), an aspiring filmmaker who travels to Los Angeles, extremely determined to direct her first movie. Her potential dream turns into a nightmare when she trusts the wrong person and is betrayed. This leads to a choice that will force her into some pretty dark and dangerous places, as she must uncover secrets from her past in order to stay alive.
Lisa isn’t a protagonist who makes the “right” choices all of the time. She’s willing to burn everything down in service to herself. And the more you uncover about her past, the more uncomfortably complicated she becomes. As nasty as the series gets (animals do die in this and it’s pretty gross), Brand New Cherry Flavor takes revenge horror to another level.
Adaptations are hit or miss, but as far as I’m concerned, Archive 81 doesn’t miss. You don’t need to listen to the podcast of the same name to enjoy this supernatural horror series, either. The series follows Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie) as he accepts a job that involves the restoration of documentary video footage of a grad student named Melody (Dina Shihabi). Obviously, there’s more to the project than it seems and something sinister is uncovered. The series is so creepy and successfully unsettling. I recommend watching it late at night to really freak yourself out. And don’t go looking for spoilers because Archive 81 is one of those shows that benefits from knowing as little as possible.
(featured image: Netflix)
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