This article is part of our 2020 return. Follow us and discover the best and most interesting films, shows, performances and more from this very strange year. In this post, we’re carefully stepping into the shadows to find the best horror movies of 2020.
There’s an argument that horror movies aren’t needed in a year like this where every day has been a nightmare to one degree or another, but I would suggest that it makes horror even more necessary. Like all films, they offer release outside of our everyday troubles, and while some use those real-world pressure points to heighten the horror, they remain a comforting fiction. If you can take a break from the news and instead get yourself into a tale of monsters, demons, microbes, killers, aliens, revenge, and an extremely large phallus – why shouldn’t you?
Before we get on the list, a few more notes. Some films were officially released in 2020 but I previously recorded them due to their festival runs in 2019 so I won’t add them again below. Rest assured, however, that all five – Come to Daddy, Extra Ordinary, The Mortuary Collection, The Pool, and We Summon the Darkness – are worth your time. This year’s list only includes movies released (including streaming) in the US in 2020.
Also, I had to narrow this list down to 20 titles, but the following is a mix of honorable mentions, fellow travelers, and hot trash (but I’ll let you decide which is which): After Midnight, Amulet, Antebellum, The Beach House, Becky, Blood Quantum, Color from space, the deeper you dig, Freaky, Gretel & Hansel, Hunter Hunter, Impetigore, The Invisible Man, Kinship, La Llorona, Love and Monster, Monstrosity, Scare Me, The Siren, Sputnik, triggered
Read on now for the 20 best horror films of 2020!
20. Deep blue sea 3
I know what you’re thinking – “Rob, you lost your goddamn mind putting a direct video killer shark movie on a list of the best of the year.” Fair, but listen to me out here because Deep Blue Sea 3 is totally worth making on this list. It can’t touch the original and we’re pretending Part 2 doesn’t exist, but this DTV effort is a fun story about super predatory sharks and the people who eat them. It’s great fun and sometimes surprising. It makes heavy use of the floating island locale and deserves credit for delivering far more than DTV sequels typically manage. Give it a try, look beyond the questionable CG effects and just enjoy the wet and wild ride. Available to rent.
19. The wolf of the snow cave
Not quite half of that list is made up of horror films, which are to some extent comedies, and that includes Jim Cummings’ successor to Thunder Road (2018). He makes his way into the genre kitchen with his latest story about a small town cop taking on his father’s mortality, his own anger problems, and a ferocious murderer who may be just a werewolf. The film applies genre tropes and character beats in unexpected ways to break down bold and uncomfortable laughter from situations that could turn bloody at any moment. It’s an awkward but fun look at the monster inside all of us, some of whom are more voracious in their appetites than others. Available to rent.
18. Out of school
Ray Xue’s nifty little slasher is confident enough about his story to avoid ever tipping too far into the meta, but there are still signs of tragedy girls and the like. The story follows a group of killer teenagers – we stick with them instead of following one last girl – who are well aware of horror cinema and its tropics, and they use this knowledge to comment on and improve their kills. It’s fun without ever feeling obnoxious, and the kills and set pieces provide enough thrills to lead viewers to their violent conclusion. (Read my review.) Available to stream on Amazon Prime and to rent.
17. Let yourself be ducked! (UNITED KINGDOM)
First things first – this is a terrible title, and they should never have changed it from the original Boys in the Wood. Whatever you call it, rest assured the film is an extremely hilarious Scottish thread about four teenagers on a camping expedition studying masked murderers. It’s a delightful breakdown of class differences and full of imaginative deaths and killer jokes. That it is led by four quick-talking young Scots with a total disregard for authority and good behavior makes it all the more entertaining. Think of an unholy mix of Hot Fuzz and Attack the Block, and you will have an idea of what tone and energy to expect. (Read my review.) Available to stream on Amazon Prime.
16. Sea fever (UK)
This little Irish thriller hit the big screen in the middle of a pandemic, and that couldn’t have been more appropriate for a story about an infectious disease in the form of a previously undiscovered way of life. The setting, a fishing trawler at sea, gives the terror an isolated feel as paranoia, violence and death become the norm, and adds a touch of John Carpenter’s The Thing to the atmosphere of the film. It’s a shrewd, science-led approach that adds thrills, horror, and a plea for humanity in the face of impending death. The effects are both nifty and noticeable. Wink, wink. (Read my review.) Available to stream on Hulu and to rent.