One thing’s for certain: No one will ever say “2020 was a typical year for horror movies”—in fact, this year hasn’t been typical in any way whatsoever! The COVID-19 pandemic came out of nowhere, but we’re not out of the woods yet; and how daily life will be affected moving forward remains to be seen. Since movie theaters are potential infection hot zones, many of the films originally slated for Q1 & Q2 2020 have been postponed.
This means that many of the horror movies we had hoped to have seen by now are back in the vault. Some will be shown later in 2020 while others are now being held until 2021. Still, this doesn’t mean that there haven’t been many outstanding genre releases in the past six months—and that’s what this list is all about.
Below, in no particular order, are my picks for the Top 10 Horror Movies of 2020 (so far). Enjoy!
Color Out of Space (Directed by Richard Stanley)
After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farm, Nathan Gardner and his family find themselves battling a mutant extraterrestrial organism that infects their minds and bodies, transforming their quiet rural life into a technicolor nightmare.
I can promise you: You’ve never seen an alien invasion flick quite like this one! Richard Stanley’s reimagining of H.P. Lovecraft is a surreal and psychedelic descent into madness. Nicholas Cage, Tommy Chong, and a barn full of alpaca make Color Out of Space extraordinary.
Underwater (Directed by William Eubank)
Disaster strikes more than six miles below the ocean surface when water crashes through the walls of a drilling station. Led by their captain, the survivors realize that their only hope is to walk across the sea floor to reach the main part of the facility. But they soon find themselves in a fight for their lives when they come under attack from mysterious and deadly creatures that no one has ever seen.
Non-stop action, lung crushing claustrophobia, big-budget sets and costumes, an epic Lovecraftian connection—what’s not to love about Underwater? Watch it along with Sea Fever for an awesome double feature that’ll have you swearing off boats for life!
Related Article: Video: UNDERWATER Ending Explained by Director William Eubank
The Lodge (Directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz)
During a family retreat to a remote winter cabin over the holidays, the father is forced to abruptly depart for work, leaving his two children in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace. Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge as terrifying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past.
The Lodge was one of the last flicks I was able to see in a theater before Coronavirus brought the public movie watching industry to a halt. Nonetheless, this shocker from the filmmaking duo behind Goodnight Mommy should not be missed. It would make a great double feature with Gretel & Hansel, as both films eschew traditional cabin-in-the-woods and children-in-peril troupes creating truly intense horror experiences.
Related Article: THE LODGE Review: Offers Slow-Burn Horror to a Chilling Degree
Gretel & Hansel (Directed by Osgood Perkins)
When their mother descends into madness, siblings Gretel and Hansel must fend for themselves in the dark and unforgiving woods. Hungry and scared, they fortuitously stumble upon a bounty of food left outside an isolated home. Invited inside by the seemingly friendly owner, the children soon suspect that her generous but mysterious behavior is part of a sinister plan to do them harm.
You may never look at a PG-13 rated horror movie again, as Oz Perkin’s reimagining of the iconic Grimm Fairytale lacks for nothing. Expect the unexpected and top-notch thrills and chills await you.
The Hunt (Directed by Craig Zobel)
Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are — or how they got there. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport. But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.
The Hunt couldn’t catch a break. Originally slated for a 2019 release, the film was pulled in the aftermath of a mass shooting when producers feared political undertones would anger the populous. While more reactionary than necessary, the delay saw The Hunt released in mid-March—right when stay-at-home orders were put into effect nationwide. Still, The Hunt benefited from a quick turnaround on VOD and, in my humble opinion, it’s a hoot of an escapist romp.
Related Article: Twiztid’s “Quarantine Movie Review”: THE HUNT
After Midnight (Directed by Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella)
When Hank’s girlfriend decides to pack up and leave him, he starts to lose his mind.
The festival smash After Midnight was finally unleashed upon the masses in February, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re definitely missing out. It’s a different kind of monster movie, one that toys with your expectations and includes a hefty does of black comedy.
Related Article: Cats Blamed for Monstrous Mayhem in Latest Clip from AFTER MIDNIGHT
Sea Fever (Directed by Neasa Hardiman)
Solitary marine-biology student Siobhán endures a week on a ragged fishing trawler, miserably at odds with the close-knit crew. But out in the deep Atlantic, an unfathomable life-form soon ensnares the boat. As members of the crew now succumb to a strange infection, Siobhán must overcome her alienation and win their trust — before everyone is lost.
With accolades from the likes of Stephen King, Sea Fever must not be missed. While vastly different from Underwater (also on this list) in terms of tone, scope, and aesthetic, both films feel like spiritual successors to Alien (and/or Aliens) with strong female leads subverting stereotypical gender norms. There’s also a Lovecraftian element to Sea Fever, something that ties a lot of 2020’s horror releases.
*Editor’s Note: Sea Fever is distributed by Epic Pictures, Dread Central’s patent company.
Aquaslash (Directed by Renaud Gauthier)
Terror awaits a group of high school graduates when a psychopath uses the unstoppable speed and turns of a water slide to his murderous advantage.
Porky’s meets Friday the 13th in this irreverent, retro slasher throwback from Canada. Unique in its build towards a singularly shocking sequence, Aquaslash is way more exciting than your typical trip to the water park (although those who see it may never have the courage to hop down a waterslide again!). I’d love to feature this sick flick on an upcoming episode of Chronic Horror!
The Wretched (Directed by Brett Pierce and Drew T. Pierce)
A defiant teenage boy, struggling with his parent’s imminent divorce, faces off with an old witch who has possessed the neighbor next door.
Whatever you think is going on in The Wretched, there’s more to it—and one of the first things you’ll want to do once you’ve seen it watch it again! I’m talking about a huge twist here! The Wretched was one of the first post-COVID films to score big with national screenings at drive-in theaters, where these relics are finding new life in the era of social distancing.
Related Article: Our Exclusive Clip from Festival-Hit THE WRETCHED Beckons You
Witches in the Woods (Directed by Jordan Barker)
Seven friends set off for a weekend on the slopes. On the way, their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. With temperatures falling and their nerves on edge, they turn on one another as they attempt to survive the night.
Are supernatural entities tormenting a car-full of 20-somethings trapped in an embankment on a snowy night—or could the truth be something even more terrifying? The Witches in the Woods will have you second-guessing everyone and everything with a truly devastating climax. Give this sleeper a spin ASAP!
What do you think of my picks for the Top 10 Horror Movies of 2020 (so far)? What are some other horror movies from 2020 that deserve a shout-out? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.