Entertainment

The Best Horror Movies of 2020 (So Far), Ranked

A little nightmare fuel for you.

the invisible man
'The Invisible Man' | Universal Pictures
'The Invisible Man' | Universal Pictures

Another year, another big batch of excellent horror movies! If you need a reminder of how this feature works, check out our previous installments from 2017, 2018, and 2019. Those should keep you busy for a while. In the meantime, we'll be on the hunt for more great horror movies to recommend.

the pool movie
Dark Army Studio/TMoment

40. The Pool

Release date: July 20
Cast: Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham
Director: Ping Lumpraploeng
Why it's good: Imagine being stuck in a deep swimming pool that has no water in it, and you can't reach the ladder. Now further imagine that there's also a crocodile nearby. Also it's hot, you're completely alone (except for your dog), and nobody knows where you are. That's the hook of this absurdly entertaining thriller from Thailand.
Where to watch it: Shudder

becoming movie, toby kebbell
Lunacy Productions

39. Becoming

Release date: March 6
Cast: Toby Kebbell, Penelope Mitchell, Jason Patric
Director: Omar Naim (The Final Cut)
Why it's good: A married couple on a road trip are struck by the realization that one of them is not who they used to be. In other words: the husband has been possessed by some sort of body-claiming demon that forces him to do terrible things. The three leads and a clever script elevate this one from some potentially familiar trappings.
Where to watch it: iTunes & VOD

RLJE Films

38. VFW

Release date: February 14
Cast: Stephen Lang, Fred Williamson, William Sadler
Director: Joe Begos (Bliss)
Why it's good: Nothing hits the spot like a good ol' maniacal siege movie, and this low-budget, high-energy action thriller delivers the goods while pitting some colorful old veterans up against a ravenous gang of rabid, freaky drug addicts. If you've ever wondered what Assault on Precinct 13 combined with Cocoon would look like, here's a pretty close rendition.
Where to watch it: Amazon & VOD

the grudge 2020
Sony Pictures Releasing

37. The Grudge

Release date: January 3
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Tara Westwood, Betty Gilpin
Director: Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother)
Why it's good: This odd remake (of a remake) may not have thrilled fans of the original Japanese series (or those of the American reboot) but I know at least a few horror fans who found something to appreciate here. It starts out fairly slowly as a procedural involving a horrific murder, but settles into a fairly unsettling ghost story by Act III. This one's a bit more downbeat than its predecessors, but there's still some dark fun to be had.
Where to watch it: iTunes & VOD

the wretched movie
IFC Midnight

36. The Wretched

Release date: May 1
Cast: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Jamison Jones
Director: Brett & Drew Pierce (Deadheads)
Why it's good: An affable teenager begins to suspect that something very wrong is going down in his next-door neighbor's house -- and of course he's right, and of course nobody will believe him. The set-up is fairly familiar (Rear Window, Fright Night,Disturbia, etc.) but the follow-through and the delivery are quietly impressive and sometimes even scary. And that's what matters.
Where to watch it: VOD

the hunt
Universal Pictures

35. The Hunt

Release date: March 13
Cast: Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Amy Madigan
Director: Craig Zobel (Compliance)
Why it's good: The socio-political commentary of this movie may all over the place (be it intentional or otherwise) but as a fast-paced and frequently shocking piece of action/horror mayhem, there's a good deal of dark fun to be found here. This is little more than a (very) contemporary take on the classic Most Dangerous Game "man hunting man" premise, but here it's presented with a good deal of energy, color, and intensity.
Where to watch it: iTunes & VOD

after midnight movie
Cranked Up Films

34. After Midnight  

Release date: February 20
Cast: Jeremy Gardner, Brea Grant, Justin Benson
Director: Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella (The Battery)
Why it's good: We've all seen some cool indie monster movies, but not many that could also be described as a romantic drama as well -- and this low-key winner works on both fronts. It's about a guy whose beloved girlfriend suddenly vanishes, and he soon becomes convinced that there's a monster involved. So he waits, and he sets some traps. But of course the "monster" could actually be his own fears and insecurities... or something even worse. 
Where to watch it: VOD

bliss movie 2019
Dark Sky Films

33. Bliss

Release date: January 30
Cast: Dora Madison, Tru Collins, Rhys Wakefield
Director: Joe Begos (Almost Human)
Why it's good: A frustrated but talented young artist discovers a freaky new street drug and quickly realizes that it's helping her "artistic method" in strange and horrifically violent ways. In other words: she becomes a bloodthirsty maniac yet her creations become a lot more... expressive. Works as both a straightforward jolt provider and a compelling metaphor for the ways in which struggling artists keep themselves afloat, psychologically speaking.
Where to watch it: Shudder

we summon the darkness movie
Saban Films

32. We Summon the Darkness

Release date: April 10
Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Johnny Knoxville, Amy Forsyth, Maddie Hasson
Director: Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer)
Why it's good: Three fun-loving young women are headed out for a night of rock and roll, but their plans change ever so slightly when they meet a trio of goofy but slightly charming young men. Oh, and it turns out there's been a rash of occult-related murders in the immediate area. Will the three young couples run across something horrific? Yes. they will. And the result is a good gory time.
Where to watch it: all VOD platforms

blood quantum movie
Shudder

31. Blood Quantum

Release date: April 27
Cast: Michael Greyeyes, Forrest Goodluck, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers
Director: Jeff Barnaby
Why it's good: You better have a novel new wrinkle or two if you expect anyone to enjoy your zombie movie these days, and this one presents a fascinating hook: the zombie apocalypse has arrived, and it seems that certain Indigenous Peoples in Canada are entirely immune to the plague. WIth a hook like that, all you need is some smart writing and some worthwhile zombie mayhem to deliver a good horror flick. And they did.
Where to watch it: Shudder

homewrecker movie
Dark Star Pictures/Uncork'd Entertainment

30. Homewrecker 

Release date: July 3
Cast: Alex Essoe, Precious Chong
Director: Zach Gayne
Why it's good: A good-natured young lady makes some small talk with a strange yet friendly woman she knows from the neighborhood -- and that's all it takes to kick-start a wonderfully dark comedy of manners infused with a palpable sense of escalating tension. Let's just say there's a little drugging, some amiable kidnapping, and a long, creepy board game session.
Where to watch it: Vudu, Amazon, iTunes, etc.

sea fever movie
Gunpowder & Sky

29. Sea Fever

Release date: April 10
Cast: Connie Nielsen, Dougray Scott, Hermione Corfield
Director: Neasa Hardiman
Why it's good: An Irish fishing trawler becomes lost at sea, and to make matters worse, it seems that there's a freakish parasite hiding on board the ship. A strong cast, a smart screenplay, and a gloomy tone help sell this one as a solid weekend matinee. It's not exactly The Thing, but horror fans will appreciate it.
Where to watch it: VOD

28. Followed

Release date: June 19
Cast: Matthew Solomon, John Savage, Tim Drier 
Director: Antoine Le
Why it's good: Maybe I'm just a sucker for the "found footage/social media" sub-genre (see: Unfriended, The Den, and Host) but I had a pretty good time with this familiar but effective little horror tale. It's about an obnoxiously skeptical YouTuber who investigates a haunted hotel and, of course, lives to regret that decision. Nothing revolutionary here, but does deliver some clever, scary moments along the way.
Where to watch it: iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, VOD in general

27. Get Duked!

Release date: August 28
Cast: Eddie Izzard, Kate Dickie, James Cosmo
Director: Ninian Doff
Why it's good: Three young troublemakers and one amiable nerd head off for an overnight camping trip -- against their will -- and promptly butt heads with a mysterious "duke"who keeps trying to kill them. Sort of a goofball combination of The Most Dangerous Game and Attack the Block, this one's a lot of fun. But I definitely recommend clicking that subtitle track, as this Scottish import is loaded with amusingly alien slang that may be new to American ears.
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime

black water abyss movie
Altitude Film Distribution/R&R Films

26. Black Water: Abyss

Release date: August 7
Cast: Jessica McNamee, Luke Mitchell, Amali Golden
Director: Andrew Traucki (The Reef)
Why it's good:  It seems a bit late to welcome a sequel to a 2007 killer croc flick, even one as solid as the Aussie import Black Water, but there's always room for another creature feature if you ask me -- and this team knows how to do these flicks right. A bunch of friends explore an underwater cave system, and guess what lives down there? Correct. Hungry freaking crocodiles. Doesn't reinvent any wheels, but there's no need for startling originality here.
Where to watch it: VOD platforms, of course

z movie
Shudder

25. Z

Release date: May 7
Cast: Keegan Connor Tracy, Stephen McHattie, Jett Klyne
Director: Brandon Chrlstensen (Still/Born)
Why it's good: The premise might sound a little reminiscent of the fantastic Australian import The Babadook -- a young boy discovers an "imaginary friend" who causes all sorts of horrific trouble -- but this clever little chiller manages to forge some of its own ground, thanks in part to some great performances and a few very well-crafted jolts.
Where to watch it: Shudder

24. The Honeymoon Phase

Release date: August 21
Cast: Jim Schubin, Chloe Carroll, Mike Sutton
Director: Phillip G. Carroll Jr.
Why it's good: A young couple agree to a social experiment in which that euphoric feeling of "first love" is replicated -- and of course several things go wrong in very disturbing fashion. Benefits from two great performances, a smart, script, and a few dark twists you might not see coming.
Where to watch it: VOD rental

come to daddy
Saban Films

23. Come to Daddy

Release date: February 7
Cast: Elijah Wood, Stephen McHattie, Garfield Wilson
Director: Ant Timpson (The Greasy Strangler)
Why it's good: We'll have to keep this one vague to protect the surprises, but suffice to say that (the always cool) Elijah Wood plays a strange man who goes to visit his estranged (and truly miserable) father, an event that kick-starts a series of revelations and violent altercations that you'll never see coming. Darkly funny and enjoyably unpredictable, it also features a wonderfully nasty turn by the great Stephen McHattie.
Where to watch it: Amazon Prime, VOD

22. Bulbbul

Release date: August 21
Cast: Tripti Dimri, Avinash Tiwary, Paoli Dam
Director: Anvita Dutt
Why it's good: A young woman in 19th-century India must contend with all sorts of men, some of whom seem perfectly harmless at the beginning. But they're not. This densely layered and visually stunning Bollywood import plays a little like the classic Japanese film Audition; both deal with the intentional repression and overt abuse of women -- and the inevitable, furious response when a woman is pushed too far.
Where to watch it: Netflix

21. Sputnik

Release date: August 14
Cast: Oksana Akinshina, Fedor Bondarchuk, Pyotr Fyodorov
Director: Egor Abramenko
Why it's good: A Russian cosmonaut returns home after a mysterious disaster occurs, and it seems like he's brought a biological stowaway with him. What starts out a little like a conventional Alien retread quickly gives way to a surprisingly intelligent, compelling, and (yes) very icky piece of science-fiction horror.
Where to watch it: VOD rental

impetigore
Shudder

20. Impetigore

Release date: July 23
Cast: Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, Marissa Anita
Director: Joko Anwar (Satan's Slaves)
Why it's good: The basic set-up may sound familiar  -- two young women travel to a distant village after receiving an unexpected inheritance -- but the location, the fascinating culture, and the sudden shocks are what elevate this Indonesian import and make it a gripping, sometimes disturbing terror tale.
Where to watch it: Shudder

shirley movie
NEON

19. Shirley

Release date: June 5
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Odessa Young, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Josephine Decker (Mosaic)
Why it's good: Half a semi-biopic of a celebrated and controversial author and half a dark psychological thriller about the nature of co-dependence and hero worship. Moss plays horror author Shirley Jackson ("The Lottery"), who is clearly very talented yet also plainly stunted in the department of social graces. In other words, she's kinda rotten, which causes numerous problems when an impressed young couple come to live with them for a little while.
Where to watch it: Hulu

the other lamb movie
IFC Films

18. The Other Lamb

Release date: April 3
Cast: Raffey Cassidy, Michiel Huisman, Mallory Aadms
Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
Why it's good: A young woman who was born into a small and very disturbing cult (all women, except for the male leader)  begins to question her faith, and quickly comes to realize that enlightenment is sometimes a curse. In other words: she's on her own. This is a strange, creepy, challenging thriller from Poland. Visually stunning, too. 
Where to watch it: VOD

17. Peninsula

Release date: August 7
Cast: Dong-Won Gang, Jung-hyun Lee, Re Lee
Director: Sang-ho Yeon (Seoul Station)
Why it's good: Although not quite as powerful, energetic, or surprising as its predecessor -- the excellent South Korean zombie flick Train to Busan -- this epic sequel does manage to combine big-scale action, effective horror, and (mostly) effective melodrama into a huge plate of post-apocalyptic fun.
Where to watch it: In theaters (Watch the trailer)

16. 1BR

Release date: April 24
Cast: Nicole Brydon Bloom, Giles Matthey, Taylor Nichols
Director: David Marmor
Why it's good: Misdirection is always a nice thing to discover in a horror flick, and this story of a young woman settling into a "perfect" new apartment complex is full of that stuff. Just when you're sure you know what's going on, the clever screenplay makes another sharp left turn. To say much more would ruin much of the fun.
Where to watch it: Netflix 

gretel & hansel
Orion Pictures

15. Gretel & Hansel

Release date: January 31
Cast: Alice Krige, Sophia Lillis, Samuel Leakey
Director: Oz Perkins (The Blackcoat's Daughter)
Why it's good: It's well-known that our most popular fairy tales started out a whole lot darker before Mother Goose and Walt Disney got a hold of them, and here's an odd, low-key, and visually fascinating film that tries to recapture some of that eerie old atmosphere. More of a dark fable, of course, than a traditional horror film, but it's also a quietly compelling and surprisingly unique piece of genre cinema. Plus it's really beautiful to look at.
Where to watch it: iTunes & VOD

relic movie
IFC Films

14. Relic

Release date: July 10
Cast: Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, Robyn Nevin
Director: Natalie Erika James
Why it's good: It's a tragic fact of life that most of us will eventually have to contend with a family member who has declining mental faculties. It's a difficult topic to even discuss, let alone make an accomplished film about, but this impressive Australian export does a damn good job of exploring the issue -- while also delivering a powerfully gloomy horror story at the same time. It's about an old woman who goes missing for a few days, and the ways in which her daughter and granddaughter deal with the mysterious event.
Where to watch it: Theaters and VOD

she dies tomorrow
NEON

13. She Dies Tomorrow

Release date: August 7
Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Jane Adams, Chris Messina
Director:Amy Seimetz
Why it's good: Fair warning right out of the gate: this is one of those "artsy," vague, weird horror movies that spends as much time on mood, color, and setting than it does on actual plot. That's not a knock on this fascinating film, but it's worth mentioning that it's fairly unconventional. It's about a woman who becomes convinced that she's going to die tomorrow, and how her disturbing mindset begins to infect her friends and family members. This is a strange one, but it's also quietly compelling and very creepy.
Where to watch it: Your favorite VOD source

12. Monstrum

Release date: June 4
Cast: Myung-Min Kim, In-kwon Kim, Hyeri Lee
Director: Jong-ho Huh
Why it's good: Imagine Bong Joon Ho's The Host were set in the 16th century, and you're probably already adding this fantastic genre concoction to your mental viewing queue. While it's not quite as novel, bizarre, or funny as The Host, it's definitely cut from the same cloth; it's about a gang of colorful heroes who must stand up against the evil forces of the government -- just as a giant monster starts roaming the countryside.
Where to watch it: Shudder

11. The Beach House

Release date: July 9
Cast: Liana Liberato, Noah Les Gros, Jake Weber
Director: Jeffrey A. Brown
Why it's good: This smart, sneaky bio-horror story takes a little while to warm up but once it does there's a lot here to appreciate. It's the simple story of two couples who briefly share a beach house, only to discover that something truly terrible has recently flopped out of the ocean. You don't need a big "body count" to deliver a damn fine indie horror movie, and this one also manages to deliver two or three memorably icky moments.
Where to watch it: Shudder

10. The Deeper You Dig

Release date: June 5
Cast: Zelda Adams, John Adams, Toby Poser
Director: John Adams & Toby Poser
Why it's good: Now here's a low-key, out of nowhere winner. It's about a young girl who goes missing, the last guy who saw her alive, and a grieving mother who definitely seems to have some supernatural talents of some sort. Smartly written, impressively performed, and compelling throughout, this movie represents some truly impressive micro-budget, family-made filmmaking.
Where to watch it: VOD

amulet movie
Ascot Elite Entertainment Group/Front Row Filmed Entertainment

9. Amulet

Release date: July 24
Cast: Carla Juri, Alec Secareanu, Imelda Staunton
Director: Romola Garai
Why it's good: A homeless man is welcomed into a creepy mansion owned by a strange woman and her (much) stranger mother, and it soon becomes evident that something sincerely freaky is going on late at night. This odd, offbeat, and visually fascinating horror fable takes a little while to warm up. but its final destination makes for one of the most memorable scary tales of the year.
Where to watch it: VOD

the lodge
NEON

8. The Lodge

Release date: February 7
Cast: Riley Keough, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Armitage
Director: Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy)
Why it's good: Two unhappy kids are forced to spend some time at an isolated lodge with their new -- and highly unwelcome -- stepmother, only to discover all sorts of horrible secrets. Beautifully shot and consistently creepy, this new spin on old fairy tales tropes is loaded with great performances, fun jolts, and unexpected surprises of the nastiest kind.
Where to watch it: iTunes & VOD

underwater 2020
20th Century Fox

7. Underwater

Release date: January 10
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr.
Director: William Eubank (The Signal)
Why it's good: A slick, efficient, and impressively intense piece of sci-fi/horror/action/B-movie matinee goodness that delivers the goods and doesn't waste any time with boring subplots or pointless characters. Kristen Stewart and a few co-workers find themselves trapped in a facility deep (you guessed it) underwater, and must work together to escape before the whole place blows up. Also there are sea monsters.
Where to watch it: iTunes & VOD

6. Host

Release date: July 30
Cast: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb
Director: Rob Savage
Why it's good: A group of young friends gather on Zoom to hold a fun little seance -- only of course they manage to awaken something horrific, and can only watch as each member of the group is attacked by something unseen. Every once in a while horror fans get a "gimmick" flick that transcends its "gimmick" by also being just a damn good film. Host is one of those movies. The visual hook of the "online seance haunting" wouldn't amount to much without some interesting characters, solid acting, and some really good scares. Host has all that stuff.
Where to watch it: Shudder

swallow
IFC Films

5. Swallow

Release date: March 6
Cast: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, David Rasche
Director: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Why it's good: A darkly funny and quietly creepy story of an ostensibly happy housewife who suddenly decides on a new hobby: she's going to start swallowing small household objects. This offbeat, unpredictable, and visually impressive fable is anchored by a powerhouse lead performance by Haley Bennett.
Where to watch it: iTunes & VOD

4. La Llorona

Release date: August 21
Cast: María Mercedes Coroy, Sabrina De La Hoz, Margarita Kenéfic
Director: Jayro Bustamante
Why it's good: The well-known Latin American legend is retold in a story about a dying dictator who is locked in his house, with his staff and family, while protesters scream outside. Just when the family is at their most desperate, a mysterious new maid arrives to lend a hand. This is an excellent, powerful, sobering horror film from Guatemala, and easily one of the finest genre imports of the year.
Where to watch it: Shudder

the platform netflix movie
Netflix

3. The Platform

Release date: March 20
Cast: Ivan Massagué, Antonia San Juan, Zorion Eguileor
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Why it's good: A man awakens in a cell with a stranger, and their only sustenance arrives by way of a massive "platform" that arrives daily. But there's not enough food for everyone in this facility. This is a Twilight Zone-level mind-bender mixed with a dark psychological horror film full of pointed social commentary. Also it's just sort of fun, in a weird way.
Where to watch it: Netflix

color out of space
RLJE Films

2. Color Out of Space  

Release date: January 20
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Tommy Chong
Director: Richard Stanley (Hardware)
Why it's good: It's been a long time since we've had a damn good Lovecraft adaptation, and here's one that'd probably make director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond) proud; it's about a seemingly normal American family that finds itself infected by a freaky meteorite. Director Richard Stanley and his collaborators manage to tap into the best aspects of Lovecraft's dark fiction while adding some excellent new touches of their own.  
Where to watch it: iTunes & VOD

invisible man
Universal Pictures

1. The Invisible Man

Release date: February 28
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid
Director: Leigh Whannell (Upgrade)
Why it's good: The classic H.G. Wells story gets a modern remake that somehow avoids all the problems that have plagued similar films. (Our apologies to the fans of Tom Cruise's ill-fated 2017 movie, The Mummy.)  Elisabeth Moss delivers a fantastic performance as a woman intent on escaping her abusive boyfriend, only to realize that he's still stalking her. Invisibly. Remarkably intense, consistently clever, and full of characters worth caring about, this is one of the best "studio" horror films in recent years.
Where to watch it: iTunes & VOD

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Scott Weinberg writes about horror movies for Thrillist.