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The best monster movies on Netflix

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Monsters come in all different shapes and sizes.

There are big ones, little ones, scary ones, cuddly ones, and more than a fair few gory ones — all of which come into play at some point on this list.

From the invisible demons of Bird Box to the wide-eyed gurgling of Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon 2, we’ve tracked down some of the best monster movies on Netflix.

1. A Monster Calls

Connor (Lewis MacDougall) finds solace from threats in “A Monster Calls.”

Image: focus features

Channelling the dark fantasy vibes of Pan’s Labyrinth (also on this list), J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls tells the story of a bullied teenage boy, Conor, who’s struggling to process his mother’s terminal illness. One night the yew tree behind his house comes to life and visits him, explaining that it will tell him three stories if Conor tells it a fourth in return. Like all the best fantasies, this beautiful movie is packed with symbolism, seamlessly weaving the fantasy elements with a poignant coming-of-age story about grief. Fair warning: you’re probably not going to finish this one with dry eyes. -Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor

Where to watch: Netflix

2. Before I Wake

Kate Bosworth leads the cast in

Kate Bosworth leads the cast in “Before I Wake.”

If you’re in the mood for a good scare you could do a lot worse than Before I Wake, a chilly nightmare-made-real from The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan. At the centre of the story are Jessie (Kate Bosworth) and Mark (Thomas Jane), recently bereaved parents who welcome a young orphan named Cody (Jacob Tremblay) into their home. But something odd happens when Cody goes to sleep, and soon the pair find themselves in a nightmarish cat-and-mouse with a creature called the Canker Man. The jumps come thick and fast in this one, so make sure you have a suitably large cushion to cower behind. -S.H.

Where to watch: Netflix

3. Bird Box

Don't take off your blindfold in "Bird Box."

Don’t take off your blindfold in “Bird Box.”

OK, so the monsters in Bird Box aren’t technically visible, but that doesn’t make them any less real/terrifying. Directed by Susanne Bier and based on Josh Malerman’s novel of the same name, Bird Box is a post-apocalyptic thriller set in a world in which everyone has to cover their eyes when they go outside — anyone who sees the monsters dies by suicide. It’s a premise that makes for some truly nerve-jangling scenes, with Sandra Bullock playing Malorie Hayes, a woman who’s forced to take two children on a nightmarish blindfolded journey in an attempt to get to safety. It’s one of those films that’s over two hours long, but still leaves you wanting more, although it’s not without warranted criticism. Importantly, Netflix currently streams the edited version. -S.H.

Where to watch: Netflix

4. Bleach

The best monster movies on Netflix 2
“Bleach” is worth it for the fight sequences alone.

Image: warner bros

If you like your monsters gigantic and your fight scenes packed with hectic sword-play, Shinsuke Sato’s Bleach — which is based on Tite Kubo’s manga series — may be the one for you. The story pulls back the curtain on an invisible war being played out between “reapers” (spirits responsible for guiding departed souls to the afterlife) and “hollows” (monstrous creatures hell-bent on consuming the souls of the innocent). At the centre of all this is high school student Ichigo Kurosaki (Sôta Fukushi), who gets caught up in the middle of the battle after a chance meeting with the mysterious Rukia (Hana Sugisaki). This one’s worth checking out for the sword-fighting sequences alone — the one at the film’s conclusion is awesome — and the creepy mask-wearing hollows, which really are the stuff of nightmares. -S.H.

Where to watch: Netflix

5. Doom

Dwayne

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson handles some very serious weaponry in “Doom.”

Image: Di Bonaventura / Universal / Kobal / Shutterstock

You get pretty much exactly what you expect with Doom: a popcorn-munching testosterone storm that’s loaded with guns, gore, and lines of dialogue like, “Let’s see if we can find the body that goes with that arm.” In short, it’s very silly, very messy fun that’s a fitting tribute to the video game series on which it’s loosely based. The plot sees Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson leading a squad of Marines through a portal to a research facility on Mars that appears to have been overrun by something nasty. Come for the tension and the jumps, stay for the awesome POV section towards the end that’s a direct homage to the film’s first-person shooter roots. -S.H.

Where to watch: Netflix

6. How to Train Your Dragon 2

The dream team.

The dream team.

Image: Dreamworks Animation/Mad Hatter / Kobal / Shutterstock

There aren’t many monsters on this list that would make great pets, but Toothless — the fire-breathing star of the ever-magical How To Train Your Dragon trilogy — is very much an exception. The second instalment in Dean DeBlois’ animated adventure series is set five years after the original and sees Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his winged companion facing off against a pesky band of dragon-trappers. It’s funny, imaginative, and will immediately make you long for a world in which dragon-riding’s a real thing. -S.H.

Where to watch: Netflix

7. I Am Legend

Will Smith with his trusty canine companion in

Will Smith with his trusty canine companion in “I Am Legend.”

Image: Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Will Smith faces off against a horde of nocturnal mutants in this tense adaptation of Richard Matheson’s post-apocalyptic novel of the same name. With only his trusty German Shepherd, Samantha, for company, Robert Neville (Smith) walks the abandoned husk of New York City by himself, going door-to-door for food while constantly working on a possible cure for the genetically-engineered virus that’s ravaged the planet. This one’s brilliantly shot and packed full of suspense, but be warned: there are some *difficult* scenes. -S.H.

Where to watch: Netflix

8. Little Monsters

This delightfully wholesome forgotten gem starring Fred Savage and Howie Mandel is like a live-action spin on Monsters, Inc. that released years before Pixar became a household name. Savage plays Brian Stevenson, an 11-year-old boy who’s feeling lonesome as the new kid in town. All of that changes, however, when he meets and traps his own personal monster under the bed — that’s Mandel. The two set off together on an adventure that introduces Brian to the fantastical world beneath every kid’s bed…and the dark secrets that hide there.* –A.R.

Where to watch: Netflix

9. Okja

Mija (Seo-hyun Ahn) and her genetically-modified super pig, Okja.

Mija (Seo-hyun Ahn) and her genetically-modified super pig, Okja.

Blending drama with fantasy/adventure and weaving in a very real message about the horrors of the meat industry, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja is a beautifully unique creature feature. The film follows Mina (Seo-hyun Ahn), the granddaughter of a farmer in South Korea who has spent the last 10 years rearing a genetically-modified super-pig called Okja as part of a breeding project spear-headed by a grim U.S. corporation. The film is dark in places, magical in others, and poignant overall, asking us to stop and reflect on the dark side of an industry the majority of us are complicit in. Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal make for an entertaining pair of villains, too. -S.H.

Where to watch: Netflix

10. Pan’s Labyrinth

Do you really want to make friends with this guy?

Do you really want to make friends with this guy?

Image: Tequila Gang / Wb / Kobal / Shutterstock

Another film that does a tremendous job of seamlessly weaving genres together, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is surely up there among the greatest movies of the 2000s. Set in 1944 in civil war-torn Spain, the film tells the story of a 12-year-old girl, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who disappears into a fantasy realm to escape the very real violence raging around her. There are some images and moments in this movie that will stick with you for a long time: the sinister figure of the faun, the creeping dread of the pale man, and the nightmarish reality of Ofelia’s stepfather Capitán Vidal (Sergi López), whose brutal rule over his men and household makes him a genuinely unnerving antagonist.* – S.H.

Where to watch: Netflix

11. The Ritual

In director David Bruckner’s scenic tour of a hellscape, four pals hike through northern Sweden to honor a departed friend. Of course, their trip soon morphs into a torturous and never-ending nightmare — with a killer lead performance by Rafe Spall. Slippery and divisive, this movie begs to be picked apart. More likely than not, you’ll love the world it creates but hate the way it ends. Or, like me, you’ll love the world it creates and how it ends. Have fun with it! And pack bug spray!* -Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter

Where to watch:

12. Wildling

Fritz Böhm’s fantasy drama starts with a young girl being kept in a locked room by a man who calls himself her father, and only gets stranger from there. It’s one of those genre-splicing films that’s difficult to say too much about without giving the game away, but suffice it to say, things don’t go in the direction you’re initially expecting. Bel Powley gives a brilliant performance as Anna, the mysterious girl at the centre of the story, while Liv Tyler stars as the sheriff who takes her in. -S.H.

Where to watch: Netflix

*This show writeup also appeared on a previous Mashable list.

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