Every year, I set a goal to see at least 100 films in a theatrical setting. Prior to the start of the pandemic, I saw 23 films and was well on my way to achieving my goal. However, when movie theaters were forced to close and screens went dark in mid-March, it was clear that my goal would not be met this year.
While I was fortunate that drive-ins and movie theaters reopened in a limited capacity in the region where I live during the summer, this was the first year I resorted to online streaming to see fresh content when a film wasn’t available on physical media.
As a result, I concluded the year by seeing 46 films in theatrical setting and approximately 250 more on physical media or streaming. While my year end list is always diverse from all genres, my favorite films are all horror related this year.
As with any list, I have not viewed every film released in 2020, but these were the 15 that stood out above the rest. Unlike my top 10 albums list of 2020 where I reviewed each one, I am only including the film’s synopsis below. I hate spoilers and trailers that give everything away and I firmly believe not knowing too much is the best way to view most of these gems.
For those who are interested, you can also view my favorite horror films of 2020 on our Letterboxd account. So far, we ranked our favorite 46 films. This wasn’t easy to do as every film on this list is solid from start to finish. Click HERE to view the list.
Disclaimer: This list is based on films I’ve seen as of Dec. 30, 2020. It could be adjusted in the future as I view other films from 2020 in early 2021.
- Synchronic (Directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead)
SYNOPSIS: Two New Orleans paramedics’ lives are ripped apart after encountering a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects.
2. 1BR (Directed by David Marmor)
SYNOPSIS: When Sarah lucks into a sweet one-bedroom at Asilo Del Mar Apartments in Los Angeles, she think she’s hit the jackpot. It’s got plenty of space, friendly tenants, group BBQs and even a cute neighbour next door. All is not what it seems: loud noises start keeping her awake at night; her cat is missing; everyone seems to be a little too helpful and friendly, except for the weirdo, Lester. Soon, Sarah learns she didn’t choose this apartment — it chose her.
3. The Lodge (Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala)
SYNOPSIS: A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.
4. Hunter Hunter (Directed by Shawn Linden)
SYNOPSIS: Joseph and his family live in the remote wilderness as fur trappers but their tranquility starts to be threatened when they think are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf and Joseph leaves them behind to track it.
5. Run (Directed by Aneesh Chaganty)
SYNOPSIS: Chloe, a teenager who is confined to a wheelchair, is home schooled by her mother, However, her mother’s strange behavior doesn’t go unnoticed and when Chloe pries into some private papers, she discovers a Change of Name Certificate document with her mother’s name, Diane Sherman, on it. When Chloe googles “Diane Sherman,” the internet suddenly disconnects. Chloe becomes suspicious of all that her mother does, suspecting her of something sinister. She decides to go on the run in her wheelchair in a desperate attempt to get away from her.
6. Darkness (a.k.a. Buio) (Directed by Emanuela Rossi)
SYNOPSIS: It’s the story of Stella, a young girl living with her father and two little sisters in an isolated house with bolted windows. Because of a solar explosion occurred years before, the man is the only one able to get out of the house. But his version of the truth seems to hide a huge lie.
7. Zombi Child (Directed by Bertrand Bonello)
SYNOPSIS: Haiti, 1962: A man is brought back from the dead only to be sent to the living hell of the sugarcane fields. In Paris, 55 years later, at the prestigious Légion d’honneur boarding school, a Haitian girl confesses an old family secret to a group of new friends – never imagining that this strange tale will convince a heartbroken classmate to do the unthinkable.
8. Possessor (Directed by Brandon Cronenberg)
SYNOPSIS: Tasya Vos, an elite corporate assassin, uses brain-implant technology to take control of other people’s bodies to terminate high profile targets. As she sinks deeper into her latest assignment, Vos becomes trapped inside a mind that threatens to obliterate her.
9. Anything for Jackson (Directed by Justin G. Dyck)
10. A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (Directed by Abner Pastoll)
SYNOPSIS: The recently widowed mother of two, Sarah, is desperate to know who murdered her husband in front of her young son, rendering him mute. Coerced into helping a low-life drug dealer stash narcotics stolen from the local Mr. Big, she’s forced into taking drastic action to protect her children, evolving from downtrodden submissive to take-charge vigilante.
11. Alone (Directed by John Hyams)
SYNOPSIS: A recently widowed traveler is kidnapped by a cold blooded killer, only to escape into the wilderness where she is forced to battle against the elements as her pursuer closes in on her.
12. Unhinged (Directed by Derrick Borte)
SYNOPSIS: A divorced mother honks impatiently at a deranged middle-aged stranger at a red light while running late on her way to work. His road rage escalates to horrifyingly psychotic proportions as he becomes single-mindedly determined to teach her a deadly lesson for provoking him.
13. Becky (Directed by Cary Murnion & Jonathan Miliott)
SYNOPSIS: A teenager’s weekend at a lake house with her father takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts wreaks havoc on their lives.
14. Swallow (Directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis)
SYNOPSIS: Hunter, a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession.
15. Host (Directed by Rob Savage)
SYNOPSIS: Six friends hire a medium to hold a séance via Zoom during lockdown — but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong. When an evil spirit starts invading their homes, they begin to realize they might not survive the night.