Wow, this year should’ve gone quite a bit different, right? In March, we could have assumed all our lists would 100% include at least Halloween Kills and Candyman. But alas, this year we had to take what we could get in a lot of respects. That said, there were more than a handful of fright flicks that would have been great ANY year they were released. Here are my picks for the Best Horror Movies of 2020.
NOTE: There are a few films I didn’t get the chance to check out. Flicks that may have made the list. Such as Synchronic, Bad Hair, His House, and Spell. But alas, there are only so many days and hours in a year so what can you do?
Check out the Best Horror Movies of 2020 according to this guy below.
Heaven help me, I really liked Robert Zemeckis’s take on Roald Dahl’s The Witches. Maybe it’s the dad in me. Maybe it’s the bookworm. Or maybe it’s the plain, old movie lover in me that appreciated the journey. Whatever it is, watching Anne Hathaway ham it up as the Grand High Witch snagged at least three full viewings from my family. So far. Nicolas Roeg’s The Witches was scary. That’s awesome. Robert Zemeckis’s The Witches is fun. That’s also awesome. And since when is fun a bad thing. Never. The answer is never. And God bless Octavia Spencer.
We Summon the Darkness
I really fucking dug Marc Meyers’s satanic panic picture, We Summon the Darkness. If you don’t know the basics, it follows three best friends who cross paths with sadistic killers at a secluded country home. Simple enough premise, right? Think again. The flick slow burns up to a midpoint reveal that kicks the second half into a whole new gory gear. Add to the clever writing, the flick sports a killer cast. Best of all Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw 3D) and Amy Forsyth (Hell Fest) lead the fun in full metal-mode. And what’s not to love about that?!
Like We Summon the Darkness, Hunter Hunter features a seemingly simple premise gone straight to Hell. And it’s a slow and painful journey. Devon Sawa (Idle Hands) stars as a husband and father hunting a wolf in the woods. Simple, right? And, man, I thought I had this movie pegged from the get-go. But boy, was I wrong. I think what makes the movie so effective is we keep waiting for a major twist ending. And it never comes. Only the final realization this wasn’t a magic trick. Just a good old fashion nightmare. Monsters and all. Strong turns by Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, and Nick Stahl make the matters all the more horrific.
Rob Savage’s laptop movie Host will go down as the most frightening flick filmed during the pandemic. You can count on that. “The Scariest Movie of the Decade”? I’m not sure about that. But it makes for a good Blu-ray headline. So, you know. The film sends six friends to south of Heaven after they conjure a demon during an online séance. And the proceedings had me watching the corners of the frame like a hawk. That, to me, is one of the signs of a truly effective found footage motion picture. Now multiply that by six frames. You get the picture. Nope, nope, nope.
Come to Daddy
Ant Timpson’s Come to Daddy features Elijah Wood as a dude who arrives at the remote coastal cabin of his estranged father, whom he hasn’t seen in 30 years. He quickly discovers that not only is his dad a jerk, he also has a shady past that is rushing to catch up with him. While Wood steals the show as the lead privileged man-child, Timpson’s Come to Daddy also sports top-notch turns by underrated actors such as Martin Donovan and Stephen McHattie. And, if nothing else, Michael Smiley’s bizarre death scene is sure to stick in my mind for years to come.
The Invisible Man
Director Leigh Whannell came up with a killer twist on H. G. Wells’s The Invisible Man. You’ve got to admit having the protagonist not sure if her abusive ex is invisible or, you know, just plain old dead, deserves some kind of award for Best Logline/Elevator Pitch of all time. And the final film isn’t bad either. Mostly thanks to a super-committed performance by Elisabeth Moss. Sure I was let down by a few glaring plot holes, but overall, Whannel’s Invisible Man will be the textbook on how to effectively reboot horror in the foreseeable future. And that makes sense. I mean how could you write up the Best Horror Movies of 2020 and not include it?
I have a special place in my horror heart for Blumhouse and director Christopher Landon’s PG-13 slasher Happy Death Day. And so I was chomping at the bloody bit to check out their new team-up of terror, Freaky. I was worried hype would ruin it for me. I was wrong. Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton make Freaky all the fun it needs to be – and more. Happy Death Day went PG-13. And that’s cool. Freaky kicks the blood bucket well into the R-rated arena. And it works like a charm.
Searching director Aneesh Chaganty’s follow up thriller Run hit Hulu earlier this year. It centers on an isolated teen (Kiera Allen) who discovers her mother’s (Sarah Paulson) sinister secret. I know the term Hitchcockian gets thrown around too much. But I genuinely believe the master of suspense would’ve been proud to call this film his own. That said, it does have some minor faults. The script evokes The Act (Dee Dee Blanchard and Gypsy) a bit too much for starters. And one of its top twists is totally transparent from (literally) the first frame. But it’s all okay in the end. If you love prolonged suspense sequences, check out Run tonight!
The Devil All the Time
Antonio Campos’ Netflix adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s The Devil All the Time isn’t exactly “horror.” But it’s still scary as hell. The film plays out like Stephen King by way of The Coen Brothers. Its horrific violence is frequent, brutal, and sadistic. But leaves the true horror hidden just out of frame. You see, in the end, the scariest thing about the movie is its title. All its characters at one point or another pray to God. And get answers. But… it turns out it was… the devil all the time. Brr. Tom Holland stars as a young man devoted to protecting his loved ones in a town full of sinister secrets. Bill Skarsgård co-stars along with Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson.
The Battery filmmakers Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella are (finally) back. And this time they brought us a romantic monster movie. Yeah, you read that right. Dubbed After Midnight (formerly titled Something Else) Gardner stars as a bearded dude whose long-time girlfriend (Brea Grant) up and leaves him one night. And wouldn’t you just know it, the very next night a fucking monster shows up at his door looking for carnage. How Gardner and Stella’s romantic monster movie succeeds at being a quality romantic movie AND a killer monster movie is anyone’s guess. But I place all my chips on its heart. Our beloved genre gets shafted as torture porn far too often. But then something like After Midnight reveals there’s always room for the savage and the sweet. “You say… I only hear what I want to…“
But the best thing I saw all year:
HBO’s limited series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider was aces all around. Near goddamn perfect, in fact. So much so that Ben Mendelsohn is now officially my favorite actor. And Cynthia Erivo won over my heart time and time again. Add to that a shockingly succinct showing by Jason Bateman (who also directed the first two episodes) and The Outsider is what “prestige horror” should be. To put my love for the show lightly, it now stands next to True Detective season one, and Fargo season two as the best self-contained seasons of TV. Ever. But this is, after all, the Best Horror Movies of 2020. Not TV. So I’ll just leave this here.
Best Horror Movies of 2020: Honorable mentions:
Gretel & Hansel, You Should Have Left, The Rental, Relic, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, The Dark and the Wicked, and Antebellum.
What do YOU consider the Best Horror Movies of 2020?