What a year 2020 has been. Anybody hoping to compose a generic, top ten list of the best movie releases of this year is going to struggle. COVID-19 put paid to many of the movie releases of this last twelve months. Black Widow, Wonder Woman 84 and the next James Bond adventure are only a few of the films that found themselves pushed back until next year. Although it now looks like a few of these movies are going straight to streaming. The horror genre wasn’t immune either. Candyman, A Quiet Place 2 and The Conjuring 3 all had their release dates moved to 2021.
Thankfully, you can’t keep a good genre down, and our beloved horror is such that many of its fantastic releases never get to see the inside of a movie theatre, anyway.
There have been many excellent horror movies, that have surfaced thanks to VOD and streaming sites, so as a genre fanatic, I don’t feel the same sense of disappointment that I imagine all MCU fans are experiencing this year.
The hardest thing about compiling this list was that I felt spoilt for choice. I’ve seen so many great, low budget/independent horror movies over the last twelve months that picking my ten favourites was a real head-scratcher.
I’m fairly confident that I’m happy with my choices though, so, without further ado, here are my top ten favourite horror movies of 2020…
10 – Scare Me
Directed By: Josh Ruben, Written By: Josh Ruben, Starring: Aya Cash & Josh Ruben.
During a power outage, two strangers tell scary stories. The more Fred and Fanny commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life in their Catskills cabin. The horrors of reality manifest when Fred confronts his ultimate fear.
Scare Me is low on actual scares, but it makes up for it by being both hilarious and wonderfully acted by its two leads, Aya Cash (The Boys) and Josh Ruben.
09 – Gretel and Hansel
Directed By: Oz Perkins, Written By: Bob Hayes, Starring: Sophia Lillis, Samuel Leakey & Alice Krige.
A long time ago, in a distant fairy tale countryside, a young girl leads her little brother into a dark wood in desperate search of food and work, only to stumble upon a nexus of terrifying evil.
Gretel and Hansel is a deliciously dark spin on an already pretty bleak fairy tale. Alice Krige (Star Trek First Contact, Sleepwalkers) delivers a remarkably sinister performance as the witch and Robin Coudert’s (or simply Rob, as he is credited) soundtrack is ominous, haunting and easily one of my favourite film scores in years.
08 – 1BR
Directed By: David Marmor, Written By: David Marmor, Starring: Nicole Brydon Bloom, Giles Matthey & Taylor Nichols.
New to Los Angeles, a woman moves into a seemingly perfect apartment complex, and soon finds out that there are consequences for breaking the rules.
I had the pleasure of reviewing an early screener of 1BR (or Apartment 1BR as it’s known here in the UK) earlier this year, and those of you who read my review will know I loved it. For those of you who missed it, hit the link below for a more in-depth review.
07 - Sputnik
Directed By: Egor Abramenko, Written By: Oleg malavichko & Andrey Zolotarev, Starring: Oksana Akinshina & Fedor Bondarchuk.
At the height of the Cold War, a Soviet spacecraft crash lands after a mission gone awry, leaving the commander as its only survivor. After a renowned Russian psychologist is brought in to evaluate the commander’s mental state, it becomes clear that something dangerous may have come back to Earth with him.
Russia isn’t exactly known for putting out great horror movies. Hopefully, on the strength of Sputnik, all that will soon change, as this film was an extremely enjoyable, well put together, surprise.
06 – Color out of Space
Directed By: Richard Stanley, Written By: Richard Stanley & Scarlett Amaris, Starring: Nicholas Cage & Joely Richardson.
A secluded farm is struck by a strange meteorite which has apocalyptic consequences for the family living there and possibly the world.
Nicolas Cage continues his run of whacky horror fare, and the world is a better place for it. Color out of Space is based on an H. P. Lovecraft story and its body-horror visuals are up there with the likes of Re-Animator, From beyond and the works of David Cronenberg.
05 – The Lodge
Directed By: Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz, Written By: Sergio Casci, Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala, Starring: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell & Lia McHugh.
A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.
I have a real affinity for single-location, isolation-horror, and The Lodge doesn’t disappoint. Powered by strong performances, and plenty of twists that, for the most part, hit their mark, The Lodge is definitely worth your time.
04 – His House
Directed By: Remi Weekes, Written By: Remi Weekes, Starring: Sope Dirisu, Wunmi Mosaku & Matt Smith.
A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.
His House works as both a (not so subtle) allegory for the horrors and hardships that refugees face on a daily basis, and as a ‘trouser-browning’, straight up, scary ghost story. A British movie that successfully employs all the horror tropes used in more mainstream films such as Insidious and The Conjuring movies.
03 – Uncle Peckerhead
Directed By: Matthew John Lawrence, Written By: Matthew John Lawrence, Starring: Mike Lawrence, David Littleton & Chet Siegel.
When a punk band scores their first tour, life on the road proves tough when they are joined by a man-eating demon as a roadie.
Uncle Peckerhead is a gore-soaked, good time. I reviewed this movie earlier this year and you can catch my review by hitting the link below.
02 – Host
Directed By: Rob Savage, Written By: Rob Savage, Gemma Hurley & Jed Shepherd, Starring: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore & Emma Louise Webb.
Six friends hire a medium to hold a seance via Zoom during lockdown, but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong.
At barely an hour-long, Host is a pant-filling horror tale and the best thing to have come out of lockdown (other than the fewer deaths, of course).
You can read my full review by hitting the link below.
01 – The Invisible Man
Directed By: Leigh Whannell, Written By: Leigh Whannell, Starring: Elizabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen & Harriet Dyer.
When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone that nobody can see.
The Invisible Man is the last new film I got to see in a theatre, and I knew from my first viewing that it would be the film to beat in my top ten. Skillfully directed by Leigh Whannell and boasting a terrific performance from Elizabeth Moss, The Invisible Man is tense, creepy and simply brilliant.
You can read my full review via the link below.
Well, that’s my picks for this year. In case 2020 hasn’t been enough of a horror movie for you already, I urge you to check out my choices. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this list in the comments below, and please, don’t forget to subscribe for all news, reviews and interviews. Until next time; Merry Christmas, folks.