The cult thriller is one of the most exciting and terrifying movie genres.
Cult movies blend suspense with the unthinkable, pulling us into alluring cinematic tales that say something greater (and often quite dark) about society at large.
Netflix has plenty of offerings for fans of cult thrillers. From psychological tales of revenge to Satanic dark comedies, there’s something for everyone in the streamer’s expansive catalog. Here are five unforgettable cult thrillers you can stream right now on Netflix.
And since Netflix can pull these titles off their service at any moment, be sure to watch them before it’s too late.
5. The Perfection
Are you looking for a cult movie full of revenge and twists? We can guarantee you won’t know what’s coming next with The Perfection.
Starring Girls’ Allison Williams and Dear White People’s Logan Browning, The Perfection is set in the high-pressure world of Bachoff. A troubled music prodigy (Williams), once a celebrated student at this prestigious music school, is drawn back into its orbit when she meets the school’s new star pupil (Browning).
Inverse’s recommendation hints at what to expect in The Perfection:
What begins as a simple Count of Monte Cristo-esque story of revenge soon takes a harsh turn as the very system of Bachoff and the music world at large is dismantled from the inside. There are so many twists that won’t be spoiled, but by the end of The Perfection, the film proves itself to be a cult movie on par with Rosemary’s Baby.
4. The Ritual
Get ready for one crazy trip with The Ritual. This 2017 horror thriller, directed by David Bruckner, follows a group of friends who set out into the Swedish wilderness on a hiking excursion. They get lost in the woods and run into a cult that worships Jotünn, a creature known to be the son of the trickster god Loki.
Here is a preview of Inverse’s recent recommendation:
The Ritual balances rich Nordic mythology against terrifying creature-feature hallmarks. The look of its main monster isn’t revealed in full until near the end, but its design is so simple and so unsettling, you’ll wonder why you’ve never seen something like it before.
If you are enjoying Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers, then Rebirth may pique your interest.
The 2016 Netflix movie is a psychological drama about Kyle, a husband and father who’s invited to a self-help retreat called Rebirth. Once there, one of the leaders dismisses rumors that Rebirth is a cult. However, Kyle soon learns those rumors might actually be true.
In their recommendation, Dais Johnston writes about Rebirth’s message:
The best part of the film, hands-down, is its epilogue, which mashes the film’s critique of the self-help industry together with a sharp depiction of multi-level marketing companies. Kyle’s wife hawks Rebirth branded household supplies like she’s selling Herbalife, showing off a gnarly, scarred-over Rebirth logo “brand” that eerily echoes the all-too-real brands inflicted on members of the NXIVM cult.
2. The Babysitter
Who said cult thrillers can’t also be fun? McG’s The Babysitter uses retro aesthetics to create a cool teenage romp about one kid finding out his teenage babysitter is up to something strange. Add a dash of satire and horror, and you have a genre-bending mix that sets this movie apart from the average cult thriller.
Inverse’s recommendation tells us more about what makes The Babysitter stand out:
What puts The Babysitter above all other revenge thrillers and, even beyond that, all other Netflix Originals, is how it takes itself seriously as a movie but not as a horror film. It’s not afraid to highlight the ridiculousness of what’s happening but will take every harebrained moment and convention as serious as a heart attack.
Apostle is perfect for fans of Midsommar and The Witch. Directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid), this 2018 folk horror movie stars Dan Stevens as Thomas, a man in search of his sister in the Welsh countryside. He soon encounters a group of people who live remotely in a utopian-like society. The group believes in peace over violence, but Thomas soon realizes the people’s true motives and how they could be connected to his missing sister.
Inverse’s recommendation highlights the questions Apostle poses:
Like most movies about cults, Apostle challenges us to consider the very nature of faith. What images and experiences could be strong enough to make someone lose all sense of their previous convictions? What’s the difference between faith in a higher power, and faith in a more sinister, eldritch being (perhaps one living beneath an idyllic village)?