Back to IndieWire

11 Scary Horror Films, Made for $1 Million or Less, to Stream on Netflix

From classics like "Hellraiser" to buzzy forign fare like "Under the Shadow," these movies didn't have to break the bank to get a ton of scares.

Low Budget Horror

“The Invitation,” “Under the Shadow,” and “Hellraiser”

Horror movies don’t need to be expensive to get audiences screaming. Some of the genre’s key titles have used budgetary limitations to their advantage, creating creeping dread from the isolation of single locations or the simplicity of a killer hiding right behind the door in your own home. IndieWire has selected 11 scary films now streaming on Netflix that prove horror doesn’t need big stars or flashy SFX teams to create a big onscreen impact.

“Hellraiser” (1987)
Click to watch on Netflix

Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser,” an indelible blend of sadomasochism and terror, was made for only $1 million, but spawned a sprawling series that just will not die. While sequel quality varies, the original still looms large over the horror genre, with genuinely nauseating special effects and a knotty plot that touches on many of the key themes from Barker’s iconic writing career. —WE

“Monsters” (2010)
Click to watch on Netflix

“Rogue One” director Gareth Edwards made a name for himself with this fantastic low-budget creature feature. Stretching $500,000 to an incredible scale, Edwards mixes beautiful shots and eye-popping locations with unbelievable special effects and some scary run-ins with fantastic beasts. —WE

“The Pact” (2012)
Click to watch on Netflix

A clever, lo-fi ghost story with some surprising twists, Nicholas McCarthy’s debut feature “The Pact” proves that raw emotion is a great substitute for big budgets. Produced for just $400,000, this twisted family tale gets plenty of milage out of a brave lead performance from Caity Lotz as a woman desperately searching for her missing sister. —WE

“John Dies at the End” (2012)
Click to watch on Netflix

This funny, surrealistic trip blends drugs, zombies, telekinesis, the afterlife, and dozens of other ideas together into a gonzo film that could fly off the rails without a strong hand behind the camera. Luckily, “Phantasm” director Don Coscarelli is a capable ringmaster, and the result is still fresh and a ton of fun — even on a budget below $1 million. —WE

“Honeymoon” (2014)
Click to watch on Netflix

Leigh Janiak’s eerie two-hander is intimate and simple with a $1 million budget, but this smart chronicle of a couple’s implosion due to sinister forces outside of their control includes some twisty turns and dark body horror. Avoid spoilers and enjoy the creepy ride. —WE

“Housebound” (2014)
Click to watch on Netflix

A sly blend of chuckles and funhouse spooks, Gerard Johnstone’s haunted house movie has a fantastic cast and the dry wit that grounds the best comedies from New Zealand. Rima Te Wiata runs away with the film as the hilarious mother of our dour, house-arrested main character, but there are a great number of scares conjured from a budget of around $250,000. — WE

“The Invitation” (2015)
Click to watch on Netflix

An awkward dinner party takes a turn for the worst in this great bait-and-switch thriller. Logan Marshall-Green’s amazing facial hair leads a solid ensemble cast, which is thinned out one-by-one when the event takes a decidedly unexpected turn. A chilling ending elevates this bloody, dialogue-heavy gem from director Karyn Kusama, who made “The Invitation” for $1 million. — WE

“Baskin” (2015)
Click to watch on Netflix

This nasty, heady Turkish film is contemporary take on Clive Barker’s dark aesthetic, with plenty of the anguish, gore and sickening visuals that push audiences to the limit of their sanity. Although Can Evrenol directed this gorgeous, inky-black movie for $350,000, it’s hard to believe there was any money left over after they stocked up on fake blood and severed limbs. — WE

“Hush” (2016)
Click to watch on Netflix

Before Mike Flanagan swooped in and saved the “Ouija” horror franchise, he directed his wife, Kate Siegel, in “Hush.” With a budget of just $1 million, “Hush” is a taut home invasion film that uses the main character’s deafness as a source of tension and ingenuity, harkening back to 1967’s classic “Wait Until Dark.” — JR

“The Eyes of My Mother” (2016)
Click to watch on Netflix

Nicolas Pesce’s “The Eyes of My Mother” is as gorgeous as it is unsettling, filmed in stark black-and-white that helps convey the film’s sense of loneliness and isolation. With a budget of just $250,000, the story is anchored in one location: a creepy old farmhouse, where a sinister secret is kept chained up in the barn. — JR

“Under the Shadow” (2016)
Click to watch on Netflix

Set in Iran during the 1980s, a mother and daughter find their home haunted by something more sinister than the growing threat of war. With a budget of just $1 million, “Under The Shadow” was able to create serious scares and earn comparisons to 2014’s “The Babadook.” — JR

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox