Watching a scary movie on Friday the 13th seems as natural a ritual as watching something full of Yuletide cheer around Christmas, packed with love on Valentine’s Day, or patriotic close to July 4th. There will be two Friday the 13ths every year until 2020, so it seems only right to explore what Netflix has to offer as you navigate the day of infamy.
Different things scare different people. Thus, we’ve sifted through thousands of titles to uncover 13 scary films perfectly suited for Friday the 13th; chock full of blood, homicidal maniacs, and two of the best twists in cinematic history.
The Sixth Sense
Rotten Tomatoes: 85 percent
What the critics say: “A delicate, emotionally attentive, but very scary ghost story.” – David Denby/The New Yorker
What we say: Here’s how you know something is an effective film. By now, everyone is aware of the seismic reveal in the relationship between Bruce Willis’ character, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, and Haley Joel Osment’s, Cole Sear. Even so, the film continues to be harrowing on a number of levels and M Night Shyamalan’s sly direction is that much better when you know what’s coming.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80 percent
What the critics say: “The filmmakers stick to their vision with such dedication and persistence that something indelible comes across — something ethically and artistically superior to The Silence of the Lambs that refuses to exploit suffering for fun or entertainment.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum/Chicago Reader
What we say: Se7en and The Sixth Sense are cinematic twins. While everyone likes to talk about the shocking endings, the journey to get there is full of grounded inhumanity which always feel more terrifying than a behemoth in a hockey mask wielding a machete. Although the legacy of the film is surely sullied due to Kevin Spacey’s fall from grace, the majority of the film is spent examining the relationship between Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91 percent
What the critics say: “This smart, funny and extremely dark shocker gives writer/director Julia Ducournau a debut showcasing her prodigious creative instincts and perverse sense of humor.” – Colin Covert/Minneapolis Star Tribune
What we say: Back in May, Netflix revealed data surrounding films that the streaming service stated were “too scary to finish.” Amongst the selections was the 2016 film, Raw, which focuses on a vegetarian — who upon having her first taste of meat — sees her life unravel as her hunger for animal protein spirals into more sadistic desires.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86 percent
What the critics say: “Wan builds the many bumps in the night into a small Hitchcockian symphony of terror by way of long, eerie tracking shots, dramatic silences, and sudden scares that are frighteningly immersive.” – Bruce Diones/The New Yorker
What we say: Scary movies that are based on true stories are particularly bone-chilling. In the case of The Conjuring, it centers on the work of paranormal researchers, Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they attempt to help the Perron family with their own personal Hell.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98 percent
What the critics say: “This simple yet shiver-inducing tale, the auspicious feature debut of Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent, makes for one of the better horror movies of recent times.” – Peter Howell/Toronto Star
What we say: There is a level of depth in The Babadook that you don’t often get in the horror genre that will remind viewers of the mother and son relationship in The Sixth Sense. Centering on a character who already perceives herself as failure in the motherhood department, everything only gets worse when a fictional deity tangibly manifests itself as her own personal grief.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94 percent
What the critics say: “Silence is golden in Hush, one of the more inspired concoctions to emerge from the busy Blumhouse horror-thriller assembly line in recent years.” – Geoff Berkshire/Variety
What we say:: One of the films that plays with our senses — similar to A Quiet Place — Hush is a reminder why Blumhouse is one of the smartest production outfits in all of Hollywood.
Featuring a deaf protagonist, the small tweak on the home invasion trope feels that much more exciting and terrifying.
Train to Busan
Rotten Tomatoes: 95 percent
What the critics say: “In the manner of the most enjoyable horror pictures, every time you think things can’t get worse, they do.” – Rene Rodriguez/Miami Herald
What we say: Often times, zombie films play up the expanse of desolation which is created after a plague turns cities into ghost towns. South Korean director, Yeon Sang-ho, eschews this for a centralized location on a train as a father and daughter are forced to reconcile with the undead who are on board.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97 percent
What the critics say: “It Follows represents a compelling evolution in how studios and audiences can (and should) conceive of its monsters.” – Lenika Cruz/The Atlantic
What we say: Effective horror films have the ability to make anything terrifying. In the case of It Follows, the usage of sex as an angle of entry into exploring predator and prey feels quite inventive and relevant.
Rotten Tomatoes: 75 percent
What the critics say: “Continuing the tradition of brutal Australian horror films like Wolf Creek, Killing Ground is an effective indie creeper that unnerves the audience with its all-too-realistic violence.” – Kimber Myers/The Los Angeles Times
What we say: Killing Ground is not for the faint of heart. There’s nothing stylish or even pleasant about this experience. But as far as terror goes, this one takes you to places you never want to go and forces you to reconcile with your own horror fandom after witnessing a couple fight for survival in a rural backdrop for 89 minutes.
Under the Shadow
Rotten Tomatoes: 99 percent
What the critics say: “There is no escape, for characters or audience. Under the Shadow is unnerving in the extreme.” – Sheila O’Malley/RogerEbert.com
What we say: Mixing the horrors of a Middle Eastern conflict with Islamic theology — which suggests evil forces penetrating an already unstable home front — Under the Shadow is as refreshing a horror film as any in recent memory. Whereas characters are often forced to stay in their haunted houses for an arbitrary reason, the war torn backdrop adds a sense of realism and terror which suggests nowhere is safe to run and hide.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92 percent
What the critics say: “The Gift starts out like so many other thrillers before it – with an attractive, well-to-do couple purchasing a big new house – and then beats its own, uniquely tense and twisted path from there.” – Bilge Ebiri/New York Magazine/Vulture
What we say: Married couples have to rely on their spouses biased accounts when it comes to what they were like when they were younger. While most probably tell a white lie or two to seem much cooler/nicer than they really were, The Gift introduces a premise where the victim is seemingly the monster, and the monster is actually the victim. That is until the film provides one extra jolt to flip the entire narrative upside down.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85 percent
What the critics say: “The Descent sustains a level of intensity that most horror films can barely muster for five minutes.” – Scott Tobias/AV Club
What we say: It’s one of those filmmaking decisions where you ask yourself, “why did it take this long to get a good horror movie set in a cave?” The physical limitations of the space, the absence of light, and the sense claustrophobia which occurs as a natural response are all that more effective when something sinister is added to the equation.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73 percent
What the critics say: “Without spoiling anything, the last half hour of Oculus is one of the most stressful, disorienting and hypnotizing divebombs into child’s-eye horror I’ve ever sat through.” – Chris Alexander/Fangoria
What we say: Haunted objects may seem like an overused trope in horror, but Oculus excels in diversifying the narrative between the tragic events of the past, and what is happening in the present.