While 2020 itself may be the biggest horror show of the year, there were still plenty of solid spooky titles to sink our teeth into for a bit of escapism during this trying time.
Below you’ll find my top 15 horror films of the year in no particular order with some honorable mentions at the end. Click here to check out all of our year-end lists.
Underwater (William Eubank)
2020 kicked off with a particularly awesome, yet sadly underrated sci-fi horror film that featured a badass Kristen Stewart and some great set pieces. Combine that with a sick ending and this easily makes the list.
The Invisible Man (Leigh Whannell)
This was the last movie I saw in theaters before the S hit the F and I’m really glad I got to have that experience. Whannell modernized my favorite Universal Monster and put a unique spin on it while delivering some incredibly tense moments punctuated with some of the best cinematography in horror this year.
Host (Rob Savage)
Before the inevitable onslaught of movies set during the pandemic, Rob Savage’s cleverly presented Host was the first notable title to use the isolation we all felt (and still feel) to its advantage and present a solid Screen Life-style horror story. This gets bonus points for its really impressive practical effects.
Anything for Jackson (Justin G. Dyck)
The “reverse exorcism” angle in Justin G. Dyck’s darkly comedic horror movie is what should draw people in, but it’s the execution of the scares that really makes it a memorable, and disturbing experience. There are a couple sequences in here that I won’t soon forget, that’s for sure.
The Dark and the Wicked (Bryan Bertino)
Another film with some intensely shocking moments, but lacking the dark humor of the above mentioned title, this is one of the more successful post-Hereditary genre films that turns family turmoil into abject terror.
Freaky (Christopher Landon)
Clever kills, a fun premise, and some solid performances make this slasher an easy standout for the year. I don’t know how it would work, but I would love to see that crossover with Happy Death Day that fans were pitching on Twitter.
His House (Remi Weekes)
Incredible performances, thought-provoking theme, an interesting twist, and some very creepy imagery make this one of the biggest surprises in horror for me this year as it wasn’t really on my radar before it dropped on Netflix.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow (Jim Cummings)
A hilarious, compelling genre mashup that’s a werewolf movie on the surface, but digs down far deeper into the human condition than any old simple horror-comedy. I really hope Cummings continues to work within the genre.
Sputnik (Egor Abramenko)
A lo-fi horror sci-fi set in Russia during the Cold War in which a cosmonaut returns to Earth with a passenger inside him. Solid visuals and creature design here.
Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Yeon Sang-ho)
I don’t think it hits the same highs as the original Train to Busan, but this action-heavy sequel builds on the zombie-infested world introduced in the first film and expands it into a sprawling action-adventure with plenty of flowing zombie hordes.
The Wretched (Drew T. Pierce, Brett Pierce)
Blending concepts from Fright Night and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Brett and Drew T. Pierce’s The Wretched is a fun creature feature with a few interesting hooks and some excellent effects work. Although it stumbles a bit at the end, there’s still a lot to like about this gory thriller.
Possessor: Uncut (Brandon Cronenberg)
I’m not sure if it strictly qualifies as a horror film, but the intense and disturbingly graphic imagery on display were certainly unsettling to me so it’s on the list.
Blood Quantum (Jeff Barnaby)
Just when I think I’m done with zombie movies something like Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum comes out and completely turns me around on the genre all over again. Great set pieces and stark visuals mesh perfectly with the pointed social commentary.
The Platform (Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia)
Another socially charged thriller, I was getting major Cube vibes from this one, which was a very good thing.
The Lodge (Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala)
This is another one that was giving off Hereditary vibes but had a few surprises in store for us with it’s intriguing narrative.
Here are some more titles that just missed the list, but still worth a look:
Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley)
Come To Daddy (Ant Timpson)
The Hunt (Craig Zobel)
After Midnight (Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella)
VFW (Joe Begos)
12 Hour Shift (Brea Grant)