Kittens, have you ever watched a horror movie on a whim and thought, “wow, that was better than I expected…but my expectations were extremely low to begin with, so I’m not sure that’s a glowing recommendation”? Today’s list of horror movies currently available on Netflix for instant streaming falls squarely in that category: five films that aren’t perfect, but are more than good enough for lazy summer watching. These films are all very different from each other in tone and feel, so your mileage may vary depending on what you like in horror, but I was pleasantly surprised at some element of each of them.
1. Haunter (2013)
Putting a new spin on spooky, the haunted soul in this film — 15-year-old Lisa — is long dead, and the ghost she senses is a flesh-and-blood teen.
I’m a fan of ghost stories, so I was excited when the trailers for Haunter were released last year and disappointed when the reviews were lukewarm at best. And they weren’t far off, as the film has some flaws, particularly when it starts to drag around the middle. However, there are a few genuinely spooky moments and it’s an intriguing take on a haunted house, where the dead take center stage over the living and it is not entirely clear who is haunting whom.
2. Grabbers (2012)
Residents of an Irish island must get very drunk to survive attacks by alien monsters who can’t tolerate a high blood alcohol level in their victims.
This one starts out a little slow and surprisingly dry, then kicks into high gear as the local Irish townspeople realize that their only weapon against a tentacled monster from the sea is a powerful drunk. Think The World’s End meets Tremors, with the adorable Russel Tovey playing a tetchy scientist and extra points for entertaining effects.
3. Ravenous (1999)
In 19th-century California, soldiers at an Army outpost treat an injured man who tells them horrific tales of resorting to cannibalism while stranded.
Inspired by tales of Alferd Packer and the Donner Party, Ravenous has gorgeous scenery, an interesting plot, and a stellar cast (Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, and Jeffrey Jones). Despite all the makings of a strong horror film, it just kind of appeared, then faded away. Perhaps it was the trailer’s odd 90’s buddy comedy edit better suited to Tommy Boy Goes Cannibal that unfortunately doomed this one to obscurity.
4. A Haunting at Silver Falls (2013)
In this creepy thriller, an orphaned teen arrives in a Pacific Northwest town to stay with relatives, only to find herself haunted by murdered twins.
With every popular horror movie, scads of films with similar titles and questionable quality flood the direct-to-video market (see almost anything with “Paranormal” or “A Haunting” in the title). A Haunting at Silver Falls falls pretty squarely in this mold, with unconnected plot points, a goofy “conspiracy,” and the requisite homophonic title. And yet there is something more to this one – a little quirky humor and an interesting twist – that makes it stand out as worth a watch.
5. We Are What We Are (2013)
Following a family tragedy, two teenage sisters are forced by their domineering father to keep their cannibalistic clan’s macabre traditions alive.
A remake of the arguably superior 2010 Mexican horror film Somos lo que hay, We Are What We Are never quite fully connected with me, but it still stands on its own as a interesting horror exploration of the relationship of familial duty, tradition, and identity, as the youngest generation of a family of cannibals tries to figure out their next steps after the death of their mother.
For more Netflix horror recommendations, check out our Watch Instantly archive.