• Maxwell J.

Best Horror of 2020

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

2020 Year in Review Posts:

Best Movies I Missed in 2019

Honorable Mentions



2020 has certainly been an interesting year, huh? With too many cultural, political, and social moments to identify, this year has been characterized by uncertainty and intensity. Threats of World War III, a burgeoning plea to rectify racial injustice, and a global pandemic, and much more have marked a year fraught with turbulence.


They say that in times of great distress, great horror emerges from the shadows. Due to the particular nature of the year, however, the film industry has had to adapt to the changes in the market, causing many anticipated films to be shelved for a more profitable release. Regardless, I will contend that 2020 has been a solid year for horror. 2017, 2018, and 2019 were all excellent years for horror, so any decline may seem apocalyptic to the short-sighted fan. I’d put 2020 slightly above par with 2014 and 2015, two very solid years without too many hits.


I already mentioned some of the films I’d like to give honorable mentions to; I know that there will likely be some disagreement with my top ten. These are my personal choices for the movies I enjoyed the most that I also think are very solid films. As you should know by now, films like His House, Relic, and The Beach House did not make this list, even though I deeply enjoyed them. Additionally, some otherwise solid films didn’t strike me quite like the way they did for other horror lovers like Underwater, Host, Scare Me, and Gretel and Hansel.


So, what’s left? Let’s find out! Scroll down to see what made my top 10 list for 2020, out of the 107 horror films I watched, 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.


10. Run (Director: Aneesh Chaganty; United States/Canada)

Chloe is excited to apply for college so she can begin her journey into adulthood and leave her isolated country home. She yearns for the promise of independence and the ability to forge her own path despite the fact that she loves her mother, who works as her full-time caregiver since Chloe is diagnosed with multiple health conditions and uses a wheelchair. This changes one day, however, when she discovers that something may be off about her mom that could change everything if proven true. Run is literally the tensest film I watched all year. By the first ten minutes of the film, Run is already saturated with suspense and does not let up one bit. Part captivity-chase film and another part unsettling mystery, Run plays with familiar tropes to agitate your most bare nerves. Well-directed, tightly scripted, and featuring an unhinged Sarah Paulson and an incredibly well-developed performance from Kiera Allen, Run has flown under most folk’s radars this year.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here


9. 1BR (Director: David Marmor; United States)

Against her father’s wishes, Sarah moves to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer. After an arduous search for her first apartment, she believes she found the perfect place and immediately signs a lease. Once there, she finds herself gradually acclimating to her new home, but things start going south pretty quickly when she gets threatening notes shoved under her apartment door. 1BR is a slick and unrelenting horror thriller with an interesting take on communal living. Newcomer Nicole Bryden Bloom carries the film, projecting the perfect naivety of a star-struck young adult trying to make it in Los Angeles before things turn south. An underrated film, that will surely generate a cult following in the future, 1BR is the perfect film to exacerbate your feelings of helplessness during quarantine.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here


8. Vivarium (Director: Lorcan Finnegan; Ireland/Belgium/Denmark/Canada)

Out house-hunting, a young couple is lured to a bland housing development that feels like a labyrinth by a strange real estate agent who disappears immediately upon introducing them to an open house. Soon after, they find themselves trapped in a neighborhood they cannot leave, in a home supplied with only the bare necessities, and a strange child they are forced to raise. Vivarium is another film that I will go to bat for and scream is underrated. Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg give great performances in this subtle mindbender that capitalizes on the fear of repetition and boredom, another feeling made even more fitting by present circumstances. Furthermore, Vivarium boasts one of the weirdest and scariest scenes of the year, which to say more would spoil the reveal. Hopefully, this sci-fi horror gem will get the love it deserves over time.


Full Review: Unavailable

Where to Watch: See Here


7. Freaky (Director: Christopher Landon; United States)

After being stabbed by an ancient Mayan dagger, an unassuming and unremarkable young woman, Millie, finds herself in a strange situation when she swaps bodies with the serial killer that has been terrorizing her small town. With the help of her friends, Millie learns she has less than twenty-four hours to stop her body from killing her classmates before the switch becomes permanent. Freaky is the feel-good horror movie of the year. Made by the writer/director of the unlikely critical and commercial darlings Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U, Freaky would have killed at the box office in any other year just like its sister films. Sprinkled with quick wit, quirky characters, and a generous helping of gore, this underseen slasher is chock-full of fun that is certain to titillate your lust for vicious kills and vicious laughs.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here


6. Possessor (Director: Brandon Cronenberg; Canada/United Kingdom)

A woman works for a secret organization where she takes over the minds of her victims before forcing them to commit assassinations for wealthy clients. As she is working on her latest case, she finds herself slipping and a battle for control plays out between her and her latest fall guy. Brandon Cronenberg’s sophomore feature dives even further into the futuristic implications of technology and the way it causes us to lose ourselves in the pursuit of money, divorcing ourselves from the things that assemble our individuality. With masterclass effects work, agonizing slow-burn pacing, and deep social commentary, gorehounds and critics alike will delight in what Possessor has to offer.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here


5. Color Out of Space (Director: Richard Stanley; United States/Malaysia/Portugal)

A meteorite strikes the forest behind a farmhouse which sets off a terrifying chain of events. A family is caught in the crossfires of its strange and mysterious ways. At first, merely just an oddity to share with the local news it begins to warp the environment around it changing the DNA to something fantastically dangerous. An adaptation of the short story by H.P. Lovecraft, Color Out of Space is a phantasmagorical example of cosmic horror that assaults the senses with some of the most gorgeous cinematography and special effects coming out of 2020. While some of the technical aspects are clearly well-done, Color Out of Space benefits from a rock-solid cast including the always wonderfully demented Nicholas Cage.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here


4. The Lodge (Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz; United Kingdom/United States/Canada)

A family takes a trip to a remote cabin during the winter. Due to some last-minute news, the father takes a momentary break in his vacation to attend to some work issues. His children object to spending more than a few days alone with his new girlfriend, especially after the recent death of their mother. As soon as he leaves, a series of bizarre events take place that calls into question the trio’s lives and sanity. A wonderfully downbeat and atmospheric horror film, The Lodge takes a nihilistic view of trauma and redemption. Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, and Lia McHugh all deliver strong performances that solidify the terror of the situation at hand. The Lodge believably constructs a world reminiscent of the darkest The Twilight Zone episode that calls into question all preconceived notions one may have at the beginning the film.


Full Review: Unavailable

Where to Watch: See Here


3. The Dark and the Wicked (Director: Bryan Bertino; United States)

Intent on being near in their father’s final hours, two siblings arrive at their childhood home to mourn the loss of their father and comfort their mother in their shared grief. Over the course of a week, however, the family finds themselves at the mercy of an overwhelming and seemingly omnipotent presence that takes advantage of their vulnerability to torment them. The Dark and the Wicked is a deeply unsettling and disturbing film. Bryan Bertino, best known for the 2008 hit The Strangers and the 2016 hidden gem The Monster, does excellent work of escalating tension to an unbearable level in his fourth film. To me, the horror of The Dark and the Wicked bubbles through the cold and isolated farm setting as well as the well-polished script, sprinkled with plenty of misdirects to deliver gut-punch after gut-punch. It doesn’t hurt that Marin Ireland and Michael Abbott Jr give excellent performances here that really sell their misery and the terror of their ordeal. Expounding upon the very human fear of dying, The Dark and the Wicked offers up inescapable dread and stark nihilism for all who choose to watch.


Full Review: Coming Soon

Where to Watch: See Here


2. Sputnik (Director: Egor Abramenko; Russia)

A Soviet cosmonaut is rescued from the site of a crashed spaceship and held in a top-secret facility to undergo testing. A successful, but controversial, doctor is summoned to help with his recovery process. Shortly after arriving at the facility, she learns that the hero she is tasked with healing may have inadvertently brought something dangerous back to Earth with him. Sputnik is a wonderful period piece of sinister sci-fi horror that is crafted with care. The creature design and effects are inspired and realistic while still evoking a strong sense of fear. The human drama is typical yet captivating in its own right, as the crew works to research the alien tied to the cosmonaut. Fans of slow-burn horror with strong underlying socio-cultural themes and political intrigue will find themselves satiated with this slice of Russian horror.


Full Review: See Here

Where to Watch: See Here


1. The Invisible Man (Director: Leigh Whannell; Canada/Australia/United States)

The best horror film of the year is by far The Invisible Man. A remake of the classic Universal monster movie, The Invisible Man takes liberty with its source material to follow the story of Cecelia, a battered woman who takes great strides to leave her terribly abusive ex, Julian. Shortly afterward he dies by suicide. Only Cecelia isn’t so sure because strange things begin making her life a living hell. This leads her to believe that Julian isn’t dead and has somehow made himself invisible to continue his control over her life. What complicates matters is that no one believes her when she tries to explain what she is experiencing, as few believed Julian was capable of such evil before his supposed death. The Invisible Man is a breathtaking display of horror filmmaking. Between Leigh Whannell’s assured direction, Elizabeth Moss’s powerhouse performance, and the timely thematic material dominating the script, The Invisible Man has no misses in telling its horrific story of a woman gaslit until she decides she can, and will, fight back. Regardless of the impact COVID-19 had on the film industry, The Invisible Man is clearly the horror film of 2020.


Full Review: Unavailable

Where to Watch: See Here

43 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All