We’ve taken a look at some of the features which have helped provide chills and thrills, gruesome body horror, and tackle uncomfortable concepts. This is our must see horrors of 2020. Like all of our lists, this is not a definitive list of the genre, simply some of the horrors we have enjoyed this year.
Director: Rose Glass
Blending darkly surreal and provocative horror with gripping character drama, Rose Glass’s debut feature Saint Maud is one of the strongest British horror films in recent memory. Bolstered by a sympathetic and engaging lead turn from Morfydd Clark and fiery support from Jennifer Ehle, the simmering tension of Saint Maud grips from the onset.
Director: Romola Garai
This visceral horror tackles a rich variety of conceptual challenges including PTSD, male entitlement, and cycles of abuse, pairing these with graphic moments of grisly horror and suspense in its story of a former soldier taking lodgings with a young woman and her housebound mother. Praise should also go to the stellar turns of Alec Secareanu, Carla Juri, and screen icon Imelda Staunton.
Director: Dave Franco
Dave Franco crafts a voyeuristic nightmare, a tale of paranoia and betrayal in his chilling debut The Rental, detailing the simmering tension between two couples in a remote cabin.
The Invisible Man
Director: Leigh Whannell
Elisabeth Moss delivers a performance of unbelievable conviction in one of the first recent major releases to tackle the chilling potential in the story of The Invisible Man. Director Whannell manages to squeeze every ounce of tension and suspense imaginable from the narrative delivering a chilling, authentic-feeling watch
Director: Robert Eggers
Robert Eggers followed up his sublime gothic horror The Witch with a more surreal tale of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson’s lighthouse keepers gradually losing their minds. Rich roaring aesthetics paired with mystic sea-fairing surrealism resulted in a watch that thrilled, repulsed and challenged in equal measure.
Director: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala
The chills of the icy setting translate into the effects of watching The Lodge, a startling minefield of a film that lingers and disturbs through its slow-burn delivery. Past traumas, cult horror, and Misery-style isolation and entrapment are all unsettling features of this tale of a father who must leave his new girlfriend in a remote cabin with his two children – and demons from her past.
Director: Ping Lumpraploeng
Ping Lumpraploeng directs this edge-of-your-seat creature feature which sees the gorgeous Theeradej Wongpuapan tackle a huge crocodile whilst trapped in an empty swimming pool. It’s over-the-top, camp horror yet an enthralling, wonderfully executed ride.
Director: Derrick Borte
There are echoes of the narrative tropes of enjoyable road-themed B-Movies like Joy Ride/Road Kill, Duel, and The Hitcher and the narrative track will be familiar to most, Unhinged provides some impressive thrills and suspense, some well-shot vehicular action sequences, and a massively enjoyable turn by Russell Crowe making it a solid choice for some cathartic entertainment.
Director: Keith Thomas
The Vigil is a distinctive and original horror feature that impresses in its precision when executing some well-orchestrated horror tropes. By embracing Jewish folklore and mysticism, and tackling genuine societal issues such as the effects of antisemitism, The Vigil is a horror picture well and truly worth your time.
Director: Renaud Gauthier
Seventy minutes of non-stop gore, graphic and wonderfully creative death scenes, and B-Movie aesthetics and performances are delivered in Canadian feature Aquaslash. This tale of a serial killer booby-trapping a water park with grisly deathtraps is gruesome madcap fun.
Director: David Amito and Michael Laicini
Horror feature Antrum from writer-directors David Amito and Michael Laicini is an intriguing beast with a somewhat unique concept as it opens as a documentary discussing a previously lost cursed film from the 1970s in its opening act, the film then plays the said cursed film to the audience.
Anything for Jackson
Director: Justin G. Dyck
This feature documenting an elderly couple tampering with the occult to bring back their grandson features some unsettling scenes (particularly some of the ghosts and demons that are accidentally summoned) and a narrative journey that invests us thanks to sharp and tense direction from Justin G. Dyck and sinister yet emotionally intuitive performances from Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings as the desperate grandparents.
Director: Tate Steinsiek
There are flourishes of classic Gothic horror in this grubby remake of 1995 B-Movie Castle Freak detailing a young blind woman and her boyfriend inheriting a creaking Albanian castle and the creatures inside it. It’s over-the-top gruesome creature-feature horror that has some moments of genuine nastiness (one of the sex scenes in particular will haunt us – and surely star Jake Horowitz – forever).
Director: Christopher Landon
Like Christopher Landon’s recent output, Freaky manages to be incredibly fun whilst delivering an impressive sense of tension and horror aesthetics in this playful twist on the Freaky Friday concept which sees Vince Vaughn deliver a career best performance.
Director: Remi Weekes
The spectres of the refugee experience deliver some of the most authentic-feeling horror in His House from writer-director Remi Weekes. Exploring a couple’s journey from war-torn South Sudan to a working class English town, Weekes fills His House with startling symbolism and conceptual food for thought.
The Beach House
Director: Jeffrey A. Brown
There are echoes of fifties B-Movies and Cronenberg-inspired body horror in the eerie The Beach House, a watch that gets under your skin with its claustrophobic aesthetics. Capturing a mysterious sea-side infectious disease hitting a young couple on a romantic getaway, Jeffrey A Brown’s directorial debut feature is well worth your time.