• Maxwell J.

Best Horror I Missed in 2020

Updated: Jan 4

2021 Year in Review Posts:

Best of 2021

Personal Year in Review


Hey y’all, I am extremely excited to share my end of the year coverage from 2021. As the posts are added, I’ll be linking them on top of each article to facilitate moving from one list to another. On to the list!


There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about 2020. We live in a wonderful time where so many fantastic movies are being released and shared with the world. Last December I had the privilege of sharing my personal favorites from last year. Out of the 107 films from 2020 I watched last year, I shared 30 high quality films that I vouch for fully. After this year, I managed to watch another 33 films from 2020 which seems like nothing comparatively. I wanted to focus on 2021 so I eased up on 2020 for a bit. Thankfully, the number of great films continues coming from such a unique year. Be it wonky release schedules, international releases, or movies that just slipped through the cracks, these films evaded me. I am glad, however, to have seen them and have this chance to share with you! These 10 films are perfect for just that.


So, what could be on this list? Let’s find out! Scroll down to see what made my best films I missed in 2020 list and which films I included that make you either celebrate, question, or discount my taste in horror!


Guidelines:

1) Film genres are fluid. Movies can fall into multiple genres. Individuals can have different interpretations. That is okay!

2) Official film release dates are difficult to pinpoint due to rising popularity in movie festivals. A film’s release date will be considered its first wide release in any country.

3) This list will be integrated into the Best of 2020 List for longevity and consistency purposes and will not be updated on its own.


Alone (Director: John Hyams; United States)

After the sudden death of her husband, Jessica, packs up her life and begins the long journey of moving across the country for a fresh start. She opts to tell her parents after she has already left to ensure that they don’t convince her to stay. Early on, she gets into a tense altercation with another driver. Eventually they both meet up in a town later that night where the driver apologizes to her. That doesn’t alleviate the feeling Jessica has that she is being stalked by this man. Eventually, her suspicions are confirmed as he relentlessly follows and eventually kidnaps her. Battling against the harsh elements of the vast forest and the cruel focus and manipulation of the man, Jessica must fight for her survival. Alone is a pulse-pounding survival thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. What seems like a straightforward cat-and-mouse game is actually something much deeper and more telling on the politics surrounding gender violence in present day society. Jessica earns her survival tenfold and shows that making all the right decisions doesn’t always pan out, which is something I love to see shown in horror. Strong leading performances, nail-biting action sequences, and characters to root for make Alone a fantastic choice to add to your streaming queue.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here



Don’t Listen (Director: Ángel Gómez Hernández; Spain)

Professional home flippers Daniel and Sara are at a loss on how to handle their nine-year-old son Eric and his newfound behavioral problems at school. They understand that the stress of moving so often and having a noisy home environment could contribute to the issues, but it isn’t until some truly terrible things happen before they reconsider what could be going on in their latest house. At his wit’s end, Daniel begs a supernatural investigator and his daughter, Ruth, to see if something unnatural is happening in his home. Ángel Gómez Hernández directs this Spanish haunter that twists the haunted house subgenre ever-so-slightly with wickedly creepy and fun results. I appreciate that while it uses plenty of tropes, it never feels like a tired watch. It doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table in terms of new ideas, but the way it presents its ideas is fresh in its own way. The scares are plenty, the antagonist is well crafted, and the production values elevate this Spanish import into something special. Do not miss out on Netflix’s latest foreign horror acquisition. It is certain to make you re-think any skepticism on supernatural horror movies remaining relevant to today’s audiences.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here



Hunter Hunter (Director: Shawn Linden; Canada, United States)

Life is hard for Anne and her family. They aren’t making as much money from their pelts as they used to, a wolf is stalking their land and threatening their family, and her husband refuses to listen to her about taking a step back towards civilization. Joseph sets out one day to hunt for the wolf that is terrorizing the family while Anne and Renee take care of the house, until he stumbles upon a new threat. It’s clear to Joseph that there’s more danger to be fearful of and both Anne and Renee, unaware, focus on the wolf despite another predator lurking in their midst. Hunter Hunter is an enormous breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale subgenre. Director Shawn Linden dials up the intensity to create a tense and uncomfortable tale of backwoods horror. Every scene is soaked in this unmistakable feeling that something is wrong, that we don’t have all the right information. Eventually, this crescendos into an unforgettable third act that is guaranteed to shock and horrify audiences. For fans of remarkably straight horror-thrillers will rejoice in Hunter Hunter’s sleek photography, strong performances, and fantastic direction. Do not miss out on this much-watch horror film.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here



Psycho Goreman (Director: Steven Kostanski; Canada)

Middle school siblings Mimi and Luke are playing in their backyard when they accidentally discover a mystical gem that controls an imprisoned monster. Once they realize their power, they decide to force the demon to play with them, eventually dubbing him Psycho Goreman or PG for short. It’s all fun and games terrorizing their town until the intergalactic ruler who locked PG away eons ago has returned to Earth to finish the job once and for all. Will PG reinstate his galactic reign of terror? Or will he remain tethered to Mimi and be forced to endure his own personal hell? Psycho Goreman is a delight for genre fans. Playing like a violent episode of “Power Rangers,” Psycho Goreman is a gleefully gory and silly horror-comedy that will steal your heart as fast as Mimi can win a game of crazy ball. The characters feel genuine both in their own identities and motivations but also in their interactions with others, which is a huge selling point for me. Solid practical effects, captivating worldbuilding and storytelling, strong characterizations, and outrageous humor make Psycho Goreman a film must-see. Delivering on the promises of its wacky title, Psycho Goreman will rule your world and universe if you’re lucky.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here



Rent-A-Pal (Director: Jon Stevenson; United States)

After waiting six months to hear back from the video dating service he has been using, a 40-year-old man, David stumbles across something that could change his life. Dejected from taking care of his elderly mother and dissatisfied with the state of stasis his life has halted to, David is looking for anything, or anyone, to pull him out of his depression. Then, Andy comes along. Andy becomes David’s best friend. When he’s not spending time with his mother or meeting a surprisingly kind and affable, Lisa, David is connecting with Andy on a level deeper than he ever has with anyone before. The thing is, Andy is a character from a video tape he purchased at the dating service he uses. Soon, David’s life starts cascading down a rabbit hole of obsession and madness. Rent-A-Pal is a muted, character-driven horror drama that seeks to unsettle viewers through its uncomfortable premise. A gritty and dismal look at mental health and isolation, Rent-A-Pal is a rare horror film where you sympathize with everyone by the end. Horror fans seeking something more traditional are likely to be disappointed but for those wanting a more cerebral experience will appreciate the strong performances, grungy 90s aesthetic, and slow-burn tension.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here



Saint Maud (Director: Rose Glass; United Kingdom)

Maud is a nurse tasked with taking care of the cancer stricken former dance star Amanda. While Maud is devoutly religious and showcases incredible restraint from life’s pleasures, Amanda is more indulgent and believes in nothing beyond herself. As they spend more time together, they begin to form a bond. With this newfound friendship, and the intense full body feeling she gets when she does the Lord’s work, Maud believes that it is her duty to save Amanda’s soul from damnation. But Amanda proves to be stubborn to her advances. This sends Maud spinning in a never-ending spiral of risqué behavior and piety that will end in devastating results. Saint Maud is a dizzying descent into the world of its titular character as she navigates losing and finding her faith again in apocalyptic ways. Top-notch sound design, cinematography, and effects create an unnerving experience that challenges viewers to step into the unhinged world of Maud. An ambiguous film with plenty of themes rooted in religion, trauma, mental illness, and loneliness, Saint Maud doesn’t take the easy way out by spelling everything out for viewers. Little clues are peppered in throughout the film but ultimately, it’s up to the audience to decide: is Maud possessed or is she losing it? Only one question that remains after describing a film full of fantastic performances, a rich story, and dazzling technical feats: are you ready to be saved?


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here



Shadow in the Cloud (Director: Roseanne Liang; New Zealand, United States)

A young, female pilot, Maude Garrett, boards a B-17 bomber with a top-secret package. Met with hostility and sexism from the crew, she is relegated to the Sperry while her package is safeguarded by another crewman. Takeoff is rocky and her flight quarters are less than stellar. What starts off as a minor inconvenience turns to terror when she spots a mysterious force outside the plane. After a spat with the creature and close contact with enemy planes, the captain reveals that Maude Garrett was not only not commissioned for their flight but that she doesn’t exist. Between Japanese fighters, mischievous creatures, and war intrigue, there’s enough packed in director Rosanne Liang’s action-horror-war hybrid to keep anyone interested. Shadow in the Cloud is a silly B-movie that is filled with incredible moments. Once you understand that the laws of physics are absolutely dismantled in this film, you’ll begin to love it for its strong performances, great special effects, and intricate action sequences that will have you squirming in your seat. Moretz gives a fantastic performance as a soldier who will do anything for her mission and will defy anyone who gets in her way. Unique, exciting, and an all-around fun movie, Shadow in the Cloud will crash land into your heart, if you have one.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here



Spell (Director: Mark Tonderai; United States, South Africa)

Woods family patriarch, Marquis and his family are on the way to his father’s funeral when they crash land in the mountains of West Virginia. Marquis wakes up injured from and oblivious to the crash in the attic of Miss Eloise, an overly maternal and doting woman who lives in the forest with her husband and another younger man. His pleas to call the police and find his family go unanswered, as they attempt to nurse him back to health using spiritual practices. Disoriented and panicking over the absence of his family, Marquis must stay one step ahead of his captors if he has any hope of finding them alive. Spell caught me surprise. In fact, I had no intention of putting it on this list until I watched it the night before this list was meant to go out! Featuring strong performances from capable leading man Omari Hardwick and the ever-dynamic Loretta Devine, Spell conjures up good old fashioned voodoo terror for the modern era. Spell leans into the horror by always keeping Marquis within inches of danger. One wrong move and it’s over for him and his family. It plays out rather familiarly towards the end, but Marquis’ journey to save himself and his family while reconciling the trauma of his youth is a satisfying one.


Full Review: N/A

Where to Watch: See Here



Synchronic (Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead; United States)

Best friends and paramedics, Steve and Dennis, respond to a series of increasingly brutal accidents that claim the lives of those experimenting with a new party drug. Once Dennis’s daughter goes missing and is assumed to be the drug’s latest victim, Steve makes it his mission to find her as he copes with the reality of his recent cancer prognosis. Synchronic is an ethereal sci-fi horror film that hypnotizes with truly beautiful cinematography while simultaneously boggling the mind through its compelling story. Shapeshifting between its three acts, Synchronic leans into its unique premise through slow world-building and putting its characters through relatable personal struggles. These people feel real, even if we do not know much about their lives, because Synchronic takes the time to establish dynamics between characters and learn more about them through their actions or inaction. Anthony Mackie’s lead performance is raw and powerful as he comes to grip with the inevitability of his shortened life and the choice to do something meaningful with his remaining time. Pulsating to a whirlwind finale, directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, yet again, pull off a thoroughly odd and imaginative sci-fi horror. It proves that even with a bigger budget and studio backing, the duo is still more than capable of creating off-the-wall art that is as interesting to look at as it is to digest.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here



The Call (Director: Chung-Hyun Lee; South Korea)

A woman moves back home to stay close to her ailing mother while she undergoes treatment at the nearby hospital. Once she gets settled in, she receives a series of phone calls for a mysterious shop that closed down a few years ago. Soon she discovers that the caller on the other line is a woman from the past, twenty years into the past. They quickly bond and use this as an opportunity to improve their lives. Unfortunately, things get complicated when one of them decides to take their gift a little too far. This South Korean serial killer time warp horror film is an incredible cautionary tale about dwelling on the past. Featuring a high concept script, mind-bending special effects, and an extremely tense and shocking final act, The Call is an excellent export from the country that keeps on churning out hit after hit. Clocking in at nearly two hours, this film doesn’t take time to get into the nitty gritty details of the logic behind its plot but throws everything it has at the viewer to make them fear the very power many of them wish they had. Would you really want to change your future, if it meant potentially destroying everything you have?


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here

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