HomeOur ObsessionsThe ultimate guide on what to watch on Netflix: Fantasy edition

The ultimate guide on what to watch on Netflix: Fantasy edition

Here’s our ultimate guide to every Netflix Originals fantasy show & movie available to stream on the SVOD service for your next fantasy bingewatch.

The ultimate guide on what to watch on Netflix: Fantasy edition

Here’s our ultimate guide to every Netflix Originals fantasy show & movie available to stream on the SVOD service for your next fantasy bingewatch. Game of Thrones is over, it’s once again difficult to be a fantasy fan. The genre is hardly ever given a chance to exist on its own terms – look in any book or entertainment store and you’ll find that fantasy is often lumped in with horror or sci-fi. Sadly, the same seems to be true on SVOD services too.

Finding fantasy content on Netflix is more difficult than it ought to be. For starters, the streaming behemoth doesn’t have nearly enough of it. (Seriously, what’s up with that?) But furthermore, the site hardly organizes fantasy content in a manner that makes it easy to find. In fact, fantasy doesn’t even have its own category on there. If you want to find a fantasy TV show worth watching, your only option is to dive into the Sci-Fi & Fantasy section.

For films, the situation is even more dire since fantasy fans will have to bound between the Action, Anime, Horror, and Sci-Fi sections to find a fantasy film worth watching.

Fantasy fans definitely deserve better than this. But while Netflix sort its shit out on that front in possibly developing more fantasy-based original content or organizing its menus in a manner that doesn’t make us want to destroy things, we decided to at least organize a list of Netflix Originals fantasy content ourselves.

Here’s our ultimate guide to every Netflix Originals fantasy show and movie currently available to stream on the SVOD service to help you find your next fantasy bingewatch.

 

Before I Wake

Mike Flanagan’s fantasy horror doesn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking within the genre, but it’s certainly worth a watch. Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea) and Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns) play a couple who welcome a disturbed foster child into their home (Jacob Tremblay) only to discover he has the uncanny supernatural ability to make his dreams a reality.

There are some dark visual surprises, even if the basic Boogeyman scares of the film won’t be enough to keep you awake at night. Before I Wake is entertaining enough, regardless.

Black

Following a young woman who can foresee death, a young detective possessed by the Grim Reaper, and a strange mournful romance that develops between the two as they investigate crimes, this South Korean fantasy thriller is one of Netflix’s most underrated gems.

Black bounces between being a murder mystery, police procedural, existential drama, and supernatural soap, and explores the complexities of mortality and existence with a bristling sense of humor and a charged sense of intelligence.

 

Castlevania

Visually, this TV adaptation of the classic Konami game is strikingly beautiful with a penchant for blood spattering bravado – and the story itself makes for a fiendishly fun watch. The animated series (strictly for adults, by the way) is centered around a vampire hunter fighting to save a city besieged by an army of supernatural beasts controlled by ya otherworldly boi Dracula.

It’s dark, proudly absurd, and makes good on the source material – it’s actually one of the better video game adaptations of recent years, making it essential viewing for fans of the original game (and for horror-fantasy enthusiasts overall).

 

Children of the Whales

The 12-episode adaptation of Abi Umeda’s manga series presents some of the best fantasy world-building of any Netflix Originals show, but unfortunately the characterization and plotting paced within that rich universe can be a little derivative. Anime fans may find the series is over-reliant on common tropes, but those unfamiliar with the genre may still find plenty to enjoy within the show.

The story follows a magic wielder and the other hundreds of denizens of an aimlessly wandering ship whose lives are changed when a mysterious female soldier heralds a new era of drastic, violence change. It’s definitely worth a Sunday afternoon bingewatch if nothing else.

 

Crazyhead

This sadly short-lived British comedy series is like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot focused on a distant relative of Rupert Giles (Anthony Head). The horror-fantasy show follows two young women struggling to navigate the challenges of their perilous twenties while simultaneously stepping up into their roles as demon hunters.

Both Cara Theobold (Ready Player One) and Susan Wokoma (Chewing Gum) are irresistibly charming in the lead roles as two young women with quips as sharp as their demon-slaying artillery. There’s plenty to love here, which is exactly what makes the six episodes of the show all the more difficult to bare – you’ll instantly want more by the end (and that’s sadly never going to happen).

 

Death Note

Adam Wingard’s divisive adaptation of the classic manga story drew ire from fans almost immediately, with well-deserved criticisms that an American reimagining of Death Note isn’t just unnecessary, but also unwanted.

Still, Death Note isn’t terrible by any means. Wingard brings his own fresh perspective to the tale with a distinctive look and mood of his own. But Death Note still fails to both remain faithful to the source material and carve out its own sense of identity.

With a cast including Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You) and Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), the film boasts some intriguing performances that somehow still fall flat against the shortcomings of the rest of the film. It doesn’t come even close to hitting the same heights as the original story.

 

Devilman: Crybaby

As you might expect from the title alone, the plotline of Devilman: Crybaby is suitably bananas. It follows a sensitive demon boy who becomes embroiled in a brutal war against evil where humans are facing extinction and demons are hellbent on serving up a buffet of endless violence.

The show is staggeringly good and brimming with surprises. It openly embraces queer narratives and gleefully subverts toxic masculinity tropes – all while delivering a brooding, brutal plotline that’s also searingly emotional.

 

Disenchantment

Matt Groening’s latest cartoon comedy is a must-see for fans of Futurama and the traditional fantasy genre alike. Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) voices a renegade princess more interested in boozing it up and listening to her inner demon (voiced perfectly by Eric Andre) than she is of fulfilling her responsibilities as a royal lady expected to do royal ladylike things.

There are plenty of terrific in-jokes that Groening fans will love and sight gags that fantasy fans will most certainly appreciate. As with all of Groening’s work, Disenchantment is also infused with somer serious volumes of pathos, giving it some endearing depth alongside the chuckles.

 

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist is a long-running saga that fans have been enjoying in manga and anime form for decades. Suffice to say, this live-action adaptation of such a sprawling narrative was always going to be a challenge and that’s evident in the final product.

The classic fantasy story about two alchemist brothers on a quest for the Philosopher’s Stone (after an unsuccessful attempt to revive their dead mother) tries to cover too much narrative ground in too small a time frame, resulting in a plot that often gets tangled up in plot points.

Still, the effects are incredible and the worldbuilding efforts of the adaptation are truly jaw-dropping, even if the rest of the movie has a lot of problems. However, audiences new to Fullmetal Alchemist might find a lot to love in the film, even if diehard fans may take issue with it.

 

Godzilla: Planet of Monsters

This anime take on the classic movie monster isn’t perfect by any means, but it is tremendously good fun with enough scenes of Kaiju carnage that Godzilla fans should still find plenty to love in it.

Sure, there’s some flimsy world building and the human characters aren’t terribly well developed, but do you really care about either? Aren’t we all here to see Godzilla destroy that world and terrify these humans anyways? Godzilla has a great time in Planet of Monsters and that’s all that matters.

 

Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle

The second part in the trilogy of Godzilla animated movies continues where Planet of Monsters left off – and brings all the same problems with it. If Planet of Monsters was forgivable for its lack of character development and poor world building, City on the Edge of Battle only amplifies these issues by delivering a distinct lack of action by comparison. Mechagodzilla shows up and it’s all a little underwhelming to say the least.

 

Hemlock Grove

Executive produced by horror provocateur Eli Roth (Cabin Fever), the most shocking thing about Hemlock Grove is how humdrum and boring it is. The show utilizes overused tropes and does very little with them. The horror-fantasy series regurgitates the age-old tale of a small town full of sinister secrets populated by strange people and killer creatures and makes some misfired attempts at being high-camp (when really it’s just low rent).

Both Bill Skarsgård (Castle Rock) and Famke Janssen (House on Haunted Hill) are far too good for the show, and so are you.

 

The Hollow

Centered around three teens striving to figure out a way home after waking up in a mysterious realm full of puzzles, portals, and savage beasts, this Canadian science-fantasy series is a thrilling genre mashup full of gripping mysteries and exhilarating action.

The style of animation may not be for everyone, but even if it’s not to your tastes there’s still plenty to love about the mystery it spins and the loveable characters at the heart of it. The Hollow might be aimed at a pre-teen audience, but we recommend it for the enjoyment of all ages.

 

I Am Not an Easy Man

The dark French fantasy satire from Eléonore Pourriat sees a male chauvinist waking up in a matriarchal society solely populated by women. The film takes a sharp detour and becomes a charming romantic comedy with plenty of timely commentary about modern society.

 

Okja

Probably one of the best sci-fi fantasy films Netflix has thus far slapped its name on, Bong Joon-ho’s endearing drama sees a young woman fighting to save her best friend – a strange creature called Okja who is kidnapped by a nefarious multinational conglomerate with an insidious agenda.

Part coming-of-age story, part corporate satire, and part action adventure, Okja is a balancing act of thoughtful thrills with plenty of heartfelt sentiment at the center of it.

Throw in Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) at their OTT gurning best, alongside Lily Collins (The Mortal Instruments), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead), An Seo Hyun, and Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) all turning some restrained yet emotional performances, and Okja is a fantasy marvel making some major statements about life and the world.

 

On Body and Soul

Ildikó Enyedi’s eccentric fantasy love story sees a man and a woman discovering they share the same dreams every night and decide to make them a reality. Offering a metaphysical approach to romance, the movie features extraordinary performances and exquisite direction, making On Body and Soul a truly dreamy portrait of loneliness and connection.

 

Psychokinesis

Though the film has a compelling plot (centered around an everyday man who develops superpowers and uses them to help save the livelihood of his estranged daughter), Yeon Sang-ho’s fantasy satire sadly lacks the momentum and power of his 2016 zombie masterpiece Train to Busan.

Regardless, the film at least provides a refreshingly mundane take on what it means to be a hero that’s satisfying to see in this overblown age of the MCU. Psychokinesis is also so earnest and visually striking that you’ll likely find yourself loving the movie in spite of its shortcomings.

 

The Ritual

Blending some seriously eerie folklore elements with a patiently paced horror-fantasy narrative, The Ritual offers a devastating exploration of male friendship and of the ways in which grief and guilt can eat away at an individual (and a group of people).

Based on Adam Nevill’s novel of the same name the story follows four friends who hike through the Scandinavian wilderness as they try to make sense of the random, brutal murder of one of their pals. A shocking finale and some strikingly fantastical visuals (including the reveal of one of the most terrifying horror creations of recent years) also makes the slow pace of the film more than worthwhile.

 

Sense8

Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski’s sadly short-lived series follows a diverse pack of strangers around the globe who share the mysterious ability of shared consciousness. The show (and the final movie) offers a captivating wealth of emotional storytelling and some singular characters that keep the story feeling fresh.

Despite there being some tremendous moments of suspense and a gripping mystery at the heart of the story, Sense8 can sometimes stall on the plot, which makes bingewatching it a little infuriating at times.

 

Stranger Things

We really don’t need to explain this one, do we? The Duffer Brothers’ ode to 80s nostalgia is a pitch perfect deep dive into loveable genre throwbacks. But it’s also far more than just a greatest hits reel of nostalgic pop cultural homages. Stranger Things is crammed thick with tension, intrigue, and utterly charming characters who you can’t help but become completely invested in.

Particularly when you have a cast like David Harbour (Revolutionary Road), Winona Ryder (Edward Scissorhands), Millie Bobby Brown (Godzilla: King of the Monsters), and Finn Wolfhard (It) infusing the thrill ride of a show with equally thrilling performances.

 

Voltron: Legendary Defender

The much loved science-fantasy cartoon series is a delightful Saturday morning cartoon throwback for adults and a phenomenal great time for kids, too. Following five unlikely heroes and their flying robot lions (yep, that’s a thing) who fight to defend the universe from evil, the Dreamworks series is unbelievably good fun and features a surprisingly gripping story once you get into it.

Fans of the original 80s cartoon will also be happy to discover that this new iteration of the series is just as cheesy as it used to be, but that the robots are undoubtedly far cooler this time around.

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Amy Roberts is a freelance writer who occasionally moonlights as a hapless punk musician. She’s written about pop culture for websites like Bustle, i-D, and The Mary Sue, and is the co-creator of Clarissa Explains F*ck All. She likes watching horror movies with her cat and eating too much sugar.

amy@filmdaily.co