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Michelle Swope’s Top 10 Horror Movies of 2020

2020 is definitely going down in history as the worst dumpster fire we have ever experienced. Thank goodness we’ve had some great horror movies released this year to take our minds off of how awful everything else has been. Like last year, my list of favorite horror movies of 2020 was pretty long, and it was a painful process to trim it down to ten. I knew some of these films would make my list after the first watch, others took a little bit longer. There were so many outstanding genre films in 2020 that I urge you to seek out films you might have missed this year, even if they didn’t make my final list. This year gave us a little bit of something for every kind of horror fan. In no particular order, here’s my list of the Top 10 Horror Movies of 2020 and where you can watch them!


The Wolf of Snow Hollow

Director – Jim Cummings

We have all been in desperate need of fun horror movies this year and that’s part of why The Wolf of Snow Hollow worked so well for me. The film is written and directed by Jim Cummings, known for Thunder Road, which is also fantastic, and who also stars in the film, as a small-town sheriff’s deputy who is trying to track down a cold-blooded killer. The late, great Robert Forster stars as Cumming’s father and the sheriff of the town where a werewolf may or may not be responsible for the killings. There are some truly great creature effects in this film, and you can read my interview with director Jim Cummings, where we discuss the effects, and more, here. Available on Vudu, Google Play, and Prime.

Relic

Director – Natalie Erika James

When Kay’s (Emily Mortimer) mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) goes missing, she and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote), travel to Edna’s house and discover something sinister has taken over Edna’s mind and her home. This movie hit me in a very personal way and stayed with me for days. The way Relic expertly portrays the horrifying, heartbreaking effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia on patients and families, is brilliant. This movie is terrifying and intense, while also being just beautifully sad. Available on Vudu, Prime, and Google Play.

After Midnight

Directors – Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella

This film made my Top Ten Horror Movies of 2019 list, because I covered it when it played at Tribeca Film Festival in 2019 under its original title Something Else, but it was released in February of 2020. It’s on my list this year too because I love it so much. Written by Jeremy Gardner and directed by Gardner and Christian Stella, the team who gave us the awesome zombie film The Battery, After Midnight is a genius combination of a monster movie and a love story. The film stars Jeremy Gardner and Brea Grant as Hank and Abby, a couple that has had a rollercoaster relationship. Gardner has a gift of writing incredibly authentic stories about relationships and that is what drives After Midnight and makes it such a great film. I also really love the monster in this movie! You can read my interview with Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella about After Midnight (aka Something Else) here. Available on Vudu, Prime, and Google Play. A worthy contender for the Top 10 Horror Movies of 2020.

12 Hour Shift

Director – Brea Grant

I’m very thankful for the horror comedies I’ve seen in 2020 like 12 Hour Shift, which was written and directed by Brea Grant. The film stars Angela Bettis as a drug-addicted nurse named Mandy, who is involved in an organ harvesting scheme with her cousin Regina, hilariously played by Chloe Farnworth. When Regina loses the organs she was supposed to deliver to the buyer, she and Mandy end up on an outrageous quest for organs to steal. This film is a bloody good time and you can read my interview with director Brea Grant from Fantasia Festival 2020, which includes a link to my review of 12 Hour Shift,  here. Lucky for us, 2020 has been the year of Brea Grant movies. Available on Vudu and Google Play.

The Stylist

Director – Jill Gevargizian

Based on the short film of the same name, The Stylist was written by Jill Gevargizian, Eric Stolze, and Eric Havens, and directed by Gevargizian. The film stars Najarra Townsend in a chilling performance as a lonely hair stylist named Claire, who has murderous tendencies. The Stylist gives nods to films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in ways that will really get under your skin (hence its appearance in this list of my Top 10 Horror Movies of 2020). The film also stars Brea Grant as a client of Claire’s, who hires her to do her hair for her wedding, with devastating consequences. The Stylist premiered at Fantastic Fest 2020 and is scheduled to be released in 2021 by Arrow Films. In the meantime, you can check out the short film The Stylist, which spawned the feature film, here.

Synchronic

Directors – Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson

Filmmakers Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are one of the dream teams of independent horror and have given us phenomenal films like Spring and The Endless. Written by Benson and directed by Moorhead and Benson, their latest film, Synchronic, takes us on another mindbending journey. The film stars Anthony Mackie, in a stellar performance, and Jamie Dornan, as paramedics in New Orleans dealing with overdoses and disappearances related to a street drug called Synchronic. Synchronic will be released on digital platforms on January 12th and will arrive on Blu-ray and DVD on January 26th. In the meantime, you can read my interview with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead where we discuss “The Endless Universe” and the influence of Quantum Physics on their films here.

The Dark and the Wicked

Director – Bryan Bertino

The Dark and the Wicked was the scariest movie at Fantasia Film Festival this year. Written and directed by Bryan Bertino, who is known for The Strangers, the film slowly gets under your skin and leaves you breathless and terrified by the end. The Dark and the Wicked tells the story of a man named Michael, played by Michael Abbott Jr., and his sister Louise, played by Marin Ireland, who travel to their parent’s farm to help out their mother, who takes care of their sick father. They realize that a malevolent force has enveloped everything on the farm, including their mother. Watch this one in the dark and I guarantee you will be looking over your shoulder for the next week. You can check out my interview with star Michael Abbott Jr. where we discuss The Dark and the Wicked here. Available on Prime, Vudu, and Google Play.

Freaky

Director – Christopher Landon

Written by Christopher Landon and Michael Kennedy and directed by Landon, Freaky is even more fun than Landon’s previous horror comedies Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U, which I really loved. Full of clever nods to horror movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Candyman, Freaky stars Kathryn Newton (The Society) as a teenager named Millie, who is attacked by serial killer The Blissfield Butcher, played by Vince Vaughn, and ends up switching bodies with him. Millie has to figure out how to switch their bodies back in 24 hours or she will be stuck in the body of The Blissfield Butcher forever. This film features the best horror movie kills of 2020 and includes some insane practical effects. Freaky is the most fun I’ve had watching a horror movie this year and you can read my interviews with star Kathryn Newton here and director Christopher Landon here. Available on Prime and Google Play.

The Invisible Man

Director – Leigh Whannell

Written and directed by Leigh Whannell, The Invisible Man stars Elisabeth Moss (Her Smell, Us) as Cecilia, a woman who finally escapes her abusive boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), only to have him stalk her. The worst part of being hunted down by her boyfriend is that he’s invisible and can seemingly do whatever he wants, including killing people close to Cecilia. This extremely well-written thriller follows Cecilia as she fights to the death to get her life back. Available on Prime, Hulu, and HBO Max.

Color Out of Space

Director – Richard Stanley

Based on the short story by H.P. Lovecraft, director Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space stars Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner and Joely Richardson as his wife, Theresa, whose family is affected by a meteorite landing in their yard. Cage gives a great performance, but the real star of this movie is Madeleine Arthur, who plays the Gardner’s daughter, Lavinia. Featuring pink and purple lighting, kaleidoscopic cinematography, and gruesome practical effects, Color Out of Space shows the indescribable horrifying effects the meteorite has on the Gardner family. There is a scene with alpacas that is the stuff of nightmares. This movie is the definition of the term Lovecraftian. Available on Vudu and Google Play.

I have to give special mentions to two films that played virtual film festivals this year but have not been officially released yet. These films are not your typical horror films but have been embraced by the genre fans who have had the chance to see them. Writer/director Zoe Wittock’s film Jumbo, stars Noémie Merlant as a woman who falls in love with an amusement park ride. It’s wonderfully weird and I can’t wait for it to be released, so more people can see it. Writer/director Adam Rehmeier’s film Dinner in America is a punk rock love story starring Emily Skeggs as Patty and Kyle Gallner as Simon. Patty has led a sheltered life until she meets Simon, the lead singer of a punk band on the run from police. Their relationship blossoms over awkward family dinners, punk music, and their acceptance of each other. Hopefully, both of these films will be released in time to be eligible for my Top 10 list of 2021!

Let us know what your favorite horror movies of the year are over in the comments on the Dread Central Facebook page! I’m always down to talk horror movies on Twitter and you can find me at @RedheadfromMars.

Written by Michelle Swope

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