10 best horror films to watch on Netflix right now

5 of 11

7. The Ritual

A bunch of friends go hiking in the Scandinavian wilderness. What could go wrong! Those same friends decide to take a shortcut through the creepy forest. Sounds fine! After a storm hits, they decide to take refuge in a creepy abandoned cabin surrounded by runes. Why not! And shortly afterward, as you can probably imagine, things start to go very, very badly for them. Who’d have thunk it.

Despite featuring characters who make one stupid decision after another, this movie never feels unrealistic; the hapless protagonists are merely acting on their own baseless confidence that everything will probably turn out okay. And though the plot itself may start out quite conventional, at the end of the second act things take a fascinating turn as the film ends up putting a new spin on its tried-and-true premise. It starts out very Blair Witch, but then just when you think you’ve got it pinged, it shoots off in a new direction to keep you on the edge of your seat right until the end.

On top of that, stylistic flairs amidst the horror make The Ritual something special long before it really starts to hit its stride. Personally, I’m a sucker for a great nightmare sequence, and this movie makes them an artform; horrific memories blurring into the forest itself until the two are indistinguishable. And the creature design is awesome.

The Takeaway

The Ritual takes your typical “lost in the spooky woods” story and does it damn well, with great visuals and some fresh ideas that shine through in the final act.