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Ten Best Horror Films of 2020

2020 itself was a horror to upstage any horrors you’ll find on the big screen. Despite the challenges that the pandemic wrought upon the film industry last year, horror fans enjoyed the release of many groundbreaking and transformative genre films. Through a careful process of nomination and voting, Horror Obsessive staff has named these films the ten best horror films of 2020. What films that were released worldwide in 2020 would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.

Help us make the ultimate decision: cast your vote for the best horror film of 2020!

The Beach House

Reviewer: Josh Sweeney

Close up of a drenched young man and woman looking up with frightened looks

Among the many amazing films that Shudder released this year, a clear standout to me was The Beach House. Not only did this film instantly become a personal favorite of mine, it downright scared the crap out of me. The Beach House delivered some of the freakiest gore of the year, and what’s more, it showed off some creepy eco-terror horrors that would even keep Lovecraft up at night. Writer and Director Jeffrey A. Brown definitely did not hold back any punches when creating this incredibly patient film. The slow-burn genre of “elevated horror” is getting quite crowded these days, but the pay-off here is well worth your time and truly elevates it above the rest.

Color Out of Space

Reviewer: JP Nunez

A young boy cast in purple light sits on the floor looking frightened with his mouth agape and his knees pulled to his chest.

Color Out of Space is an adaptation of the H. P. Lovecraft story “The Colour Out of Space,” and as the title suggests, it’s about a purplish/pinkish color that comes to earth from outer space and messes up everything it touches, often with deadly consequences. If you’ve never seen this movie, the idea of an evil color probably sounds really stupid, but the film actually pulls it off.

It has trippy visuals that really pleased critics and fans, it features a great Nicolas Cage performance that descends into utter madness, and it tells a captivating story about a family that’s beset by an entity they can’t possibly understand or fight against. More than any other horror movie from 2020, Color Out of Space really stirs up our sense of awe at the power and beauty of the world around us, and it incites us to wonder about what other secrets may be out there in the vast expanse of space (or maybe even hiding on our own planet!), just biding their time and waiting for the day when they can finally show us how awesome they are.


Reviewer: Don Shanahan

A young woman with red lipstick in a red leather jacket looks directly at viewer, cheerleaders and a crowd of onlookers perform in the background.

Freaky had most of you at the Blumhouse label. It had me at Vince Vaughn pretending to be a high school senior girl looking the way he does. Happy Death Day series director Christopher Landon gave the long-maligned Psycho actor a second chance to play a serial killer, and Vaughn ran with it, bubbling up a storm. The veteran motormouth gives all the exasperated “I can’t evens” in this clever body-swap romp, getting to play the wiseacre.

Vince may be the enjoyable one to watch, but the performer and character taking the greater pleasure is the one doing most of the murdering. Kathryn Newton of Big Little Lies fame is an equal hoot, meting out gory and deserved punishment on anyone blocking her absorbed killer’s path, from gossipy bitches and belittling adults to the letterman jacket-wearing douchebags preying on the not-so-mousy blond. Through Newton and Vaughn, Freaky walks with a sadistic strut hot enough to boil blood. What could have been a pile of clichés (and still is to a large degree) got spun into a twisty mashup of sharp angles.


Reviewer: Jamie Lee Cortese

View of Zoom gallery view depicting five terrified young women.

Host is an interesting counterpoint to The Invisible Man (2020). Host taps into feelings of isolation. Now more than ever, we can all viscerally relate to, despite being able to see and hear the person on the other side of the virtual feed (give or take a technology snag), being hit with the reality that there’s still a barrier and distance between you, and there are many hard limits on what you can do. Many of us have become very familiar with various video chatting platforms, including Zoom, during the course of 2020, and Host uses various features of Zoom to its advantage to tell its technological tale.

Host (with a delightfully punny title) is only 56 minutes: it gets started quickly and consistently ramps up the tension and action right up until the final seconds. After some suspicious activity escalates into a full-blown demonic threat, the film takes hold and doesn’t let go. It’s a fun and effective ride: for extra immersion, try watching it on a laptop or computer, where you can feel like you’re in the Zoom séance yourself and feel the same helplessness and desperation to break the isolation that the characters do.


Reviewer: Lor Gislason

Close up of a woman's terrified face as she hangs up-side down

Impetigore has one of the strongest opening scenes I have ever had the pleasure of watching in a horror movie. The tension and buildup are unmatched in anything I’ve seen in recent times. That’s not to say the rest of the film isn’t excellent as well, it just perfectly sets up the mood. If you’ve watched Joko Anwar’s previous film Satan’s Slaves (a remake of the 1980 film of the same name), you might have an idea what kind of experience you’re getting into.

By using both the urban and rural landscapes of Indonesia with a beautiful blend of modern horror sensibilities and traditional stories and folklore, he weaves a complex and captivating narrative. There are moments in this film that will stay with me for years to come. I have absolutely no doubt he’s going to get even better as time goes on, like a fine wine. He’ll be listed among modern horror greats soon enough if he’s not already.

The Invisible Man

Reviewer: Jamie Lee Cortese

A woman stands in front of a mirror and looks over her shoulder.

The Invisible Man is the last film I saw in a movie theater before the COVID-19 pandemic fully set in. It’s odd, in hindsight, given its focus on isolation and paranoia about an unseen threat that can strike any time you let your guard down. But even outside that context, I remember how this film played in the theater and how it played on a smaller screen after its pushed-up home release. The Invisible Man plays on isolation—whether alone, with loved ones, or in a crowd—and paranoia so well that the screen it plays on is essentially irrelevant.

The story gives us Cecilia’s (Elisabeth Moess) point of view, but the camera also possibly, but not definitely, gives us the Invisible Man’s. These and other elements intertwine for a tale of constant tension where nothing, nowhere, no one, and possibly not even your own mind, is safe. In many horror movies, the villain’s more compelling than the protagonist: not so here. Cecilia is every bit as compelling as her suspected invisible pursuer. For an engaging, immersive, emotional story, I highly recommend The Invisible Man. You have to see it (or not) to believe it (or not).


Reviewer: Lor Gislason

A person with a distorted face pulls their hair and looks like they are in pain, cast in red light.

If you asked me to name my favourite movie of 2020, hands down, it’s Possessor. It’s got everything I love in a horror film—vivid colours, it’s a bit sexy, and it features a lot of violence. It makes me uncomfortable; it reminds me of my own struggles, and I think that’s what attracts me to it. The disconnect with one’s body, putting on a front to other people, the strain of trying to be what we are expected to be.

In some ways, it harkens back to what we are all going through right now as a society: pretending everything is normal when it’s so obvious that it’s not. It’s hard not to compare the younger Cronenberg to his father when we owe so much to him in the body horror subgenre. Brandon feels like the natural evolution of all the fleshy work of Dead Ringers and The Fly. I truly believe Possessor is something special. Make sure to watch the uncut version for some extra spice.


Reviewer: JP Nunez

A woman with white hair opens her blouse to look at gray skin on her chest.

Relic is an Australian movie directed by first-timer Natalie Erika James, and it’s a hell of a debut. It’s about an elderly dementia patient named Edna who goes missing, so her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam go to her house and look for her. They don’t find her there, but they experience some really creepy things that make you think there’s more to the story than a bad case of dementia. Soon afterward, Edna just shows up out of the blue one morning, but she refuses to talk about where she went.

From there, all three of the lead characters continue to experience inexplicable phenomena throughout the house, and their experiences just get scarier and scarier. This movie made a splash in the horror community when it came out, and for good reason. It features an eerie, almost A24-like atmosphere from beginning to end, and it puts a unique spin on the haunted house subgenre, depicting the horrors of dementia in a visually arresting and gut-wrenchingly beautiful way. In particular, the final scene perfectly captures what it’s like to love a dementia patient, so even if you’ve never experienced this terrible disorder, Relic will stick with you longer than just about any other horror movie from 2020.


Reviewer: Josh Sweeney

A woman knees before a girl in a wheelchair and touches her face while the girl looks shocked

Aneesh Chaganty’s sophomore film Run is the kind of Hitchcockian thriller that needs to be experienced in a very large cinema with a lot of people. I know that sounds scary right now given the state of the world, but holy hell is this movie a rush of adrenaline. This fast-moving take on Munchausen syndrome by proxy hits you like a runaway locomotive straight to the chest.

Additionally, Sarah Paulson and newcomer Kiera Allen deliver two of the best performances of the entire year. More than that, Paulson solidifies herself as one of the best actresses on the planet as the psycho mom, and she’s not even the best performance in the movie. That isn’t a knock on her either, that’s just how good Kiera Allen was in this film as our wheelchair-bound heroine Chloe. Without giving too much away, you should run, not walk, to the closest TV and watch it on Hulu right now.

Scare Package

Reviewer: Bronson West

A young woman with bloodstains on her face and clothes holds a lighter and looks into the flame

In a time where horror anthologies are seemingly everywhere, Scare Package manages to stand out—heavily. It’s full of fun, charm, wit, and some pretty expectation-subverting stories to tell. Seven filmmakers give all of their love and appreciation for the genre with great attention to detail in regards to clichés and social commentary. The lighthearted tone makes all of the gore and blood that much more digestible and cheeky. On top of that, all of the different segments make for a great transition into one of the most entertaining and, quite frankly, best third acts in the modern horror-anthology landscape. Sitting at a solid 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, with great performances, and well-paced segments, Scare Package is a ride that you won’t want to get off of.

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Written by Horror Obsessive

This article was written either by a Guest Author or by an assortment of Horror Obsessive staff.

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