Dark and Wicked: The Top Five Horror Films of 2020

photo courtesy RLJE Films

In a year that could qualify as its very own horror film, we present the top five most terrifying movies of 2020. From lower budget retellings of  folk tales to reboots of classic monsters to the dark and demented, here's a short list of the best that the horror genre had to offer in a year that saw the face of cinema changed forever. 

Photo Courtesy of Orion Pictures

Honorable Mention - Gretel & Hansel: Oz Perkins is quickly making a name for himself as a horror director to watch. Gretel & Hansel may not have the tightest or most thrilling narrative, but it sure is great to look at. The dark and nightmarish fantasy visuals will stick with you long after the film is over. 

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

5. #Alive: While the stellar 2016 South Korean zombie flick, Train To Busan might have gotten an official sequel this year, fans of the smart, frantic take on the genre will find a lot to love with #Alive. The film follows Oh Joon-woo, a reclusive, tech-savvy nerd who happens to be locked in his apartment playing video games when the zombie apocalypse kicks off. A decent portion of the film’s runtime takes place in the apartment, which presents Oh Joon-woo with several opportunities to outsmart his way out of dire situations. You won’t ever find yourself groaning at a characters dumb decision, instead the film takes many logical steps through its narrative. #Alive doesn’t revolutionize the genre by any means, but it is certainly a fresh take on it.

photo courtesy RLJE Films

4. The Dark and the Wicked: Bryan Bertino, director of the modern classic home invasion The Strangers, is back with a film that oozes with dread from its opening frame. Louise and Michael are siblings that return home to help their mother care for their ailing father. The film is packed with some truly terrifying visuals backed with solid performances from the whole cast. The family in this film is physically, emotionally, and metnally tortured, and we the audience are dragged along for the ride. 



Photo Courtesy of United Artist Releasing

3. The Wolf of Snow Hollow: The Wolf of Snow Hollow is undoubtedly a horror film, but it is many things beyond that too: mystery and intrigue, dark comedy, and family drama all crash together in this fun, unique, and attention-grabbing story. John Marshall, played with a quiet, reserved level of stress by writer-director Jim Cummings, is tasked with investigating a string of shockingly violent murders in his small town of Snow Hollow. The Wolf of Snow Hollow finds just as much entertainment in showing us Officer Marshall dealing with the everyday tribulations of being a single father with a teenager daughter, a recovering alcoholic, and dealing with his inept, misfit police squad, as it does in showing him figuring out who, or what, is beyond the gruesome killings. A unique and interesting cast of supporting characters will keep you guessing until the twisted reveal at the end of the film. 

Photo Courtesy of Shudder

2. Host: Be sure to come prepared when you view Host, because this found-footage style paranormal horror grabs hold and doesn’t let go, moving at a frantic pace through its just under 60 minute run-time. Produced during the COVID-19 related lockdowns it is quite incredible what this cast and filmmaking team was able to put out in not only a short period of time, but also without ever being physically together. The film follows a group of friends as they attend a virtual seance, as expected things quickly go wrong and they all begin experiencing their own individual freights. The scares in this film are stellar and creative, the performances are all believable, and the ending is a worthy payoff. This film is like candy for any fan of straight to the point paranormal horror. Watch it on a laptop for best results. 


Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1. The Invisible Man: Remember that feeling you’d get when you were a child, alone in a dark basement, sprinting up the stairs away from some unseen entity in the darkness waiting for the perfect opportunity to reach out and grab you? Leigh Whannell has essentially captured and bottled that feeling into his modern retelling of the classic horror story. Driven by a powerful lead performance from the always great Elisabeth Moss, The Invisible Man does tension and terror better than any other release in 2020. Whannell, who also wrote the screenplay, does an excellent job of updating the tragic story of The Invisible Man, injecting it with a modern sci-fi twist that feels fresh. The greatest part of the film is the camerawork, as shots linger on emptiness for extended periods of time, making you question your own eyes. Whannell is a master of knowing just how long to build the tension, and when exactly to break it to create the most effective scares. The Invisible Man might have the most memorable moments out of any horror film this year, and its social commentary on the lasting effects that abuse can have on a person is presented in a clever way. Leigh Whannell has added another film to his long list of standout horror and sci-fi releases. 


- Neil Hazel