The 10 best serial killer movies currently on Netflix
Horror is an acquired taste, only for the morbidly curious and not for the faint of heart. The disturbing themes tap into our most primal fears, including an overpowering need to survive. Especially when human lives are on the line, intense fear triggers our fight-or-flight response in an enjoyable adrenaline rush. Even the goriest, most brutal serial killer flicks ⏤ fiction or non ⏤ are strangely fascinating and insanely popular, sometimes even becoming cult classics within the horror genre.
The streaming giant Netflix hosts a variety of slashers, psychological horrors, and body horrors, all of which revolve around mass murderers or publicly-declared serial killers. Some are visual masterpieces, others are cinematic travesties, but all of them are memorable and unmissable. By definition, that makes them the best. Here are the top 10 currently streamable on the platform.
10. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Freddy vs. Jason marks the end of an era, as it sees Robert Englund’s final cinematic appearance as Freddy Krueger as well as the last chronologically canon film in the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises before their respective reboots. In Freddy vs. Jason, as the title suggests, Freddy Krueger fights Jason Vorhees.
When Freddy manipulates Jason to incite mass murder in Springwood, he makes the townsfolk believe that Freddy has returned and takes the credit for the kills to boost his malicious reputation. The local teens devise a plan to make Freddy and Jason fight, hoping to rid them both by coercing them into killing each other. Despite mixed reviews from critics, Freddy vs. Jason is a guilty pleasure for fans of both franchises looking for a sadistic supervillain showdown.
9. The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)
The Strangers: Prey at Night is the sequel to the 2008 slasher The Strangers, directed by Bryan Bertino. The original, which draws inspiration from real-life multiple-homicides and break-ins, follows a family whose vacation is disrupted by three masked criminals. Prey at Night mimics that concept, following a family vacationing to a secluded mobile home who are targeted by the same masked assailants.
For anyone who found The Strangers to be a breath of fresh air, its successor doubles that effort. Prey at Night is stylish, spooky, and skillfully made, featuring some good characters and an even better plot and turning the safety of seclusion on its head. It’s a non-stop wild ride and admittedly cliché at times, but there’s just something captivating about watching human beings fight for their lives, as macabre as that might sound.
8. Friday the 13th (2009)
Originally conceived as an origin story, Friday the 13th became a reboot of the first four films. It was written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who wrote the screenplay for Freddy vs. Jason. Director Marcus Nispel was also responsible for the 2003 remake of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). In the reboot, Clay Miller searches for his sister Whitney Miller, who was kidnapped by Jason Vorhees after camping at Camp Crystal Lake.
Friday the 13th was made to appeal to slasher fans, who comprise a sizable amount of the horror genre following. The deaths are imaginative with blood and guts galore, and Aaron Yoo’s Chewie provides some refreshing comic relief to break the suspenseful mold. Nispel manages to reboot the original concept with a certain flair that separates the 2009 commercial success from its predecessors and allows it to stand on its own two feet.
7. Halloween (2007)
Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a reimagining of John Carpenter’s 1978 pioneering classic, intended to duplicate the familiar concept and add a more modernized twist. Michael Myers stalks Laurie Strode and friends on Halloween night, which subsequently fuels a pattern of serial murders in Haddonfield. Zombie made Halloween more evenly split between an origin story and a remake, taking Carpenter’s advice to “Go for it, Rob. Make it your own.”
Zombie adds a splash of originality to the franchise and simultaneously pays tribute to its source material. Halloween deepens the narrative, further exploring Myers’ backstory without losing the element of fear that Carpenter so skilfully crafted years ago. The reboot manages to fill in the blanks left by Carpenter and produce a compelling reinterpretation of a pre-existing story that horror fans have come to know and love.
6. Hostel (2005)
This one is for the Saw fans among us who are partial to some unjustified violence every now and then. Saw terrified audiences everywhere in 2004 and its copycat franchise, Hostel, released the following year, amping up the scare factor even more. Directed by Eli Roth, Hostel follows a mysterious organization that kidnaps, tortures, and kills tourists. For torture porn enthusiasts, that’s all the information needed. It spawned the Hostel trilogy, succeeded by Hostel: Part II and Hostel: Part III.
Hostel mimics the surgical terrors in James Wan’s Saw, making for a wildly entertaining ride, assuming that blood and mutilation can be tolerated. Roth brainstormed the concept in Quentin Tarantino’s pool, using a Thai “murder vacation” website he came across on the dark web as the basis for Hostel’s unapologetic simplicity and brutality.
5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
Released on Netflix just weeks ago, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the sequel to its 1974 predecessor, which was credited with influencing and originating the slasher genre. It follows Melody, Lila, Dante and Ruth, hopeful entrepreneurs that travel to Harlow, Texas, and are hunted down one by one after the serial killer Leatherface resurfaces decades after the original murders. It also sees the return of lone survivor Sally, whom Leatherface encounters in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
Since the sequel was intended to merge old-school horror clichés with 21st century social issues, it stays faithful to its roots yet manages to successfully modernize a classic tale. Director David Blue Garcia never misleads his audience, delivering on all the key components that make Texas Chainsaw Massacre so irresistible, even after countless installments that left a bad taste in many mouths.
4. There’s Someone Inside Your House (2021)
Adapted from Stephanie Perkins’ novel of the same name, There’s Someone Inside Your House landed in the Netflix directory last year, quickly climbing the ranks. Patrick Brice takes the helm on an updated slasher that centers around Makani Young, a transfer student who moves to Nebraska and finds herself entangled in a sequence of deadly break-ins. Shawn Levy (Stranger Things) and James Wan (The Conjuring) co-produced, adding expertise from teen-horror and all-around horror experience.
There’s Someone Inside Your House offers up a likable cast, strong set piece, and believable story, ideal for a quiet night in and a simple yet effective scarefest. It can be described as an amalgamation of genres, in the vein of quintessential slasher films such as Friday the 13th and Scream as well as mixing in dashes of coming-of-age dramas.
3. The Fear Street trilogy (2021)
The Fear Street trilogy, comprising Fear Street Part One: 1994, Fear Street Part Two: 1978, and Fear Street Part Three: 1666, was directed by Leigh Janiak with R.L. Stine’s book series of the same name forming the backbone. The overarching story, which spans over three time periods, revolves around a desperate group of teenagers hoping to undo a curse that was placed upon their town for hundreds of years. Additionally, the series revolves around a young lesbian couple within the group who attempt to navigate their on-again, off-again relationship while fending off the supernatural terrors that plague their hometown.
Fear Street received collectively positive feedback, certainly enough to warrant a full binge. It may not be traditionally terrifying, but it boasts an unnerving atmosphere, a talented array of young stars, a killer soundtrack, and an abundance of ’90s nostalgia. It can be safely said that Fear Street dances to the beat of its own drum, and unashamedly so.
2. Hush (2016)
Hush is old but gold. Not many people have heard about this hidden gem, which snuck into the Netlix registry in 2016 and became a quintessential underdog. Mike Flanagan directed, previously known for Oculus (2013) and later working on Gerald’s Game (2017) and Doctor Sleep (2019). The story follows Maddie, a deaf-mute horror author who finds herself in a life-or-death crisis after a masked killer attempts to break into her house.
At the core of home invasion thrillers is a relentless panic that surges through the veins of viewers and character alike, and Hush nails that never-ending suspense and triggers the fight-or-flight response in all of us. Hush made itself prominent in the Blumhouse horror-thriller assembly line and could be simply called a good old-fashioned horror that ticks all the boxes.
1. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
Taking “serial killer movies” literally, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile biographically chronicles the life and trial and Ted Bundy, the infamous serial killer who targeted females during the 1970s. It was based on Bundy’s former girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall’s memoir, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy. Zac Efron and Lily Collins star as Bundy and Kendall, respectively, as the crime drama explores more of the doomed relationship than Bundy’s actual murders.
Efron presents a compulsively watchable yet disconcerting performance, truly embodying Ted Bundy for all his sinister traits. It keeps the horror in the recesses of our imagination, feeding us small bouts of information and keeping us on a metaphorical fish hook at all times. The perspective focuses more on Elizabeth than Bundy, retelling the well-known tale from her perspective, which credits both lead actors’ portrayals and makes for a very different, insightful watch.