I think that 2019 was a stellar year for horror films (so much so that I had such a hard time narrowing down my favorite films into a top 10 list!), so 2020 has a lot to live up to. I've been keeping my ear to the ground to catch any buzz on upcoming horror films, and I think I've rounded up quite a big list of horror films I'm excited to see. When I do these kinds of lists, I really delve deep into research, checking festival schedules, scouring message boards and horror groups, listening to horror podcasts, reading horror sites, and talking to friends in the horror community to see what upcoming horror films people are most excited about. I definitely do my homework, and I try to keep up with the horror outlook all year long. I'm excited to report that 2020 looks like it will continue the trend of quality, varied horror we've seen in past years!
Before I share over 60+ horror movies I'm looking forward to, a few things to keep in mind:
- Some films appeared on last year's list - though they may have been released at festivals in 2019, 2020 is where they will have their proper, wide release in the United States so I am including some of those again on this list.
- I started compiling this list months ago, so some of the films listed have already been released. Despite this, I've still included some of these on this list.
- The films below are arranged chronologically by release date, but keep in mind the release dates listed may change.
- At the time I wrote this, some films' release dates are yet to be determined, and it's possible their release dates could get pushed to a 2021 or beyond release.
- As I start seeing films on this list, I'll be updating this post with quick thoughts on the movie.
- Finally, just a reminder that this is a personal list and in no way comprehensive of all horror films coming in 2020. I am looking forward to all of the surprise films I'm not even aware of yet!
Underwater (January 10, 2020) - Disaster strikes more than six miles below the ocean surface when water crashes through the walls of a drilling station. Led by their captain, the survivors realize that their only hope is to walk across the sea floor to reach the main part of the facility. But they soon find themselves in a fight for their lives when they come under attack from mysterious and deadly creatures that no one has ever seen. This is out in theaters now and I'm looking forward to checking out this aquatic horror starring Kristen Stewart.
The Turning (January 24, 2020) - A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the deaths of their parents. A modern take on Henry James' novella The Turn of the Screw. The trailers for this film have me a bit worried, but I'm hoping Floria Sigismondi's direction coupled with performances by Mackenzie Davis and Finn Wolfhard will do justice to the classic story. This is out now, and the reviews have not been kind.
Color Out of Space (January 24, 2020) - After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farm, Nathan Gardner and his family find themselves battling a mutant extraterrestrial organism that infects their minds and bodies, transforming their quiet rural life into a technicolor nightmare. This Lovecraftian movie starring Nicolas Cage has been on the top of my to-watch list as it's been getting solid buzz and looks like a hallucinogenic nightmare from director Richard Stanley. This is out in limited release now, and will be released on VOD and on Blu-ray at the end of February.
Gretel + Hansel (January 31, 2020) - A girl and her younger brother unwittingly stumble upon the house of an evil witch in the dark woods. Director Osgood Perkins returns with another gorgeous-looking horror film based on the fairy tale. This doesn't look like it will have a happy ending though...my favorite kind of story! And IT's Sophia Lillis is starring, and I can't wait to see more from her.
Come to Daddy (February 7, 2020) - A man in his thirties travels to a remote cabin to reconnect with his estranged father. This dark horror comedy stars Elijah Wood and is directed by Ant Timpson and looks like it will be a twisted descent into family trauma and horror.
The Lodge (February 7, 2020) - During a family retreat to a remote winter cabin over the holidays, the father is forced to abruptly depart for work, leaving his two children in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace. Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge as terrifying events summon specters from Grace's dark past. I'm so glad this film from Goodnight Mommy directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala is finally getting a release - it promises to be a dark, bleak movie.
After Midnight (February 14, 2020) - When his long suffering girlfriend disappears suddenly, leaving a cryptic note as her only explanation, Hank's comfortable life and his sanity begin to crack. Then, from the woods surrounding his house, something terrible starts trying to break in. Director, writer, and actor Jeremy Gardner stars alongside Brea Grant in this romantic monster movie just in time for Valentine's Day, and with that I'm sold!
VFW (February 14, 2020) - A group of war veterans must defend their local VFW post and an innocent teen against a deranged drug dealer and his relentless army of punk mutants. This film by Joe Begos has an incredible cast and a premise that promises lots of violence and thrills. This looks badass!
Fantasy Island (February 14, 2020) - The enigmatic Mr Roarke makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort, but when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island's mystery in order to escape with their lives. This new Blumhouse movie is a remake of the old Fantasy Island TV show (which I've never seen), but gives it a darker storyline. I'm not entirely sold on the premise from the trailer alone, but hoping this will surprise me.
Brahms: The Boy II (February 21, 2020) - After a family moves into the Heelshire Mansion, their young son soon makes friends with a life-like doll called Brahms. I wasn't a big fan of The Boy, so I don't have much faith in this follow up starring Katie Holmes. However, I'll give it a shot if looks prove to be deceiving.
The Invisible Man (February 28, 2020) - When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. I love, love, love the direction this updated Universal monster story is taking! I'm excited that Leigh Whannel is at the helm and that Elisabeth Moss is starring - the subject matter seems especially relevant, showing that the real monsters are human.
Guns Akimbo (February 28, 2020) - An ordinary guy named Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) suddenly finds himself forced to fight a gladiator-like battle for a dark website that streams the violence for viewers. He must fight heavily armed Nix (Samara Weaving) and also save his kidnapped ex-girlfriend. Perhaps this isn't exactly straight horror, but it looks like quite a bit of madcap fun,, and I am loving everything Samara Weaving has done lately, so I can't wait to see her as a bad-ass killer-gamer!
Swallow (March 6, 2020) - 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. This indie film looks like it will be a clever and subversive body-horror with lots of gross-out gags.
The Vast of Night (March 13, 2020) - In the twilight of the 1950s, two youths seek the source of a mysterious frequency that has descended upon a town in New Mexico, in Andrew Patterson's pitch-perfect sci-fi thriller. I love historical horror films, and this one set during the space-race looks like it will be very Twilight Zone-esque.
A Quiet Place: Part II (March 20, 2020) - Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path. I'm intrigued in this sequel, but it looks like it will focus more on the human monsters who are also out in the world surviving rather than focus on the creatures themselves.
Vivarium (March 27, 2020) - A young couple (Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg) looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses. I take a sick delight suburban-horror films, so I am very much looking forward to this!
Saint Maude (March 27, 2020) - Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient. Directed by Rose Glass, this is one of my most-anticipated films of the year. It looks devilishly dark!
The New Mutants (April 3, 2020) - Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves. Wow, so happy this is finally getting a release - I've been waiting for its release for several years! Here's hoping it is worth the wait.
Antlers (April 17, 2020) - A small-town Oregon teacher and her brother, the local sheriff, become entwined with a young student harboring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences. This is another one I have been waiting to see and have high hopes for! It looks creepy AF and looks like it may do the wendigo legend justice!
Promising Young Woman (April 17, 2020) - A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against men who cross her path. Written and directed by Emerald Fennell (showrunner of Killing Eve, one of the best films on TV!), this looks like a clever, wicked tale of revenge. I am so, so, SO excited to see this one!!
Antebellum (April 24, 2020) - Successful author Veronica (Janelle Monae) finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it's too late. The trailers are keeping the details of this film under wraps (besides the fact that it's from the producer of Get Out and It), but the mystery makes me even more interested in checking it out.
Untitled Saw Movie (May 15, 2020) - Possibly under the title of The Organ Donor, this re-imagining, remake, reboot, or possible sequel to the Saw films will star Chris Rock, who also came up with the story for the film and Samuel L. Jackson. I'm just in it for the spectacle of seeing Chris Rock in a Saw movie!
Fear Street (June 5, 2020) - A murder mystery shakes up the town of Shadyside, Ohio. Feature adaptation of R.L. Stine's book series. My pre-teen years are calling, and saying ummmmmm, YES please!! I lived off R.L. Stine's Fear Street series when I was younger, so I can't wait to check out this film, which (squeeeeeeee) is just the first film - the second and third installments are also supposed to release in 2020! Plus, I'm excited that Leigh Janiak, who brought us the luminous Honeymoon, is writing and directing!
Candyman (June 12, 2020) - A "spiritual sequel" to the 1992 horror film that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began. No, Tony Todd won't be returning to the titular role, but I am still stoked for this sequel, as I think it will explore relevant issues we are facing today. It also is directed by Nia DaCosta and written by Jordan Peele
The Purge 5 (July 10, 2020) - Well, we don't know much about this next Purge film, but hopefully it will be a good summer popcorn flick if nothing else.
Morbius (July 31, 2020) - Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but when his experiment goes wrong, he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead. I'm usually not into comic book adaptations, but Jared Leto as a vampire? Yes, please!
Malignant (August 14, 2020) - Not much is known about this upcoming horror film from director James Wan, written by Wan and Ingrid Bisu, except that it is going to be an homage to Italian giallo films! James Wan and giallo?! I cannot wait!
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (September 11, 2020) - Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren try to uncover the truth behind a murderer's claim of demonic possession. I could watch Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play the Warrens every day, so I am stoked to have another Conjuring film to look forward to! And I'm intrigued by the case they are tackling this time around...
Last Night in Soho (September 25, 2020) - A young girl, passionate in fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences. Edgar Wright is directing this film, and it was written by him and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. The premise sounds wild, and I can't wait to see Wright's return to horror!
Halloween Kills (October 16, 2020) - The saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode continues in the next thrilling chapter of the Halloween series. I was pleasantly surprised by 2018's Halloween, so I'm excited to see what they do with this next film in the series.
The Witches (October 16, 2020) - Based on Roald Dahl's 1983 classic book The Witches, the story tells the scary, funny and imaginative tale of a seven year old boy who has a run in with some real life witches! Ok, perhaps this isn't "hard horror", but who wasn't messed up by the original Witches film as kids? This new adaptation features Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch and I hope it will mess up a whole new generation of kids!
Escape Room 2 (November 30, 2020) - Director Adam Robitel returns with a follow up to his surprise hit from last year - details are scarce at the moment, but we can expect lottsa fun killer traps, that's for sure!
Release Dates TBD:
The Pale Door - After a train robbery goes bad, two brothers leading a gang of cowboys must survive the night in a ghost town inhabited by a coven of witches. Witches? A ghost town? AND a Western??? Ooooooh I'm so in for this!!
Boyz in the Wood - A wildly satirical coming-of-age adventure set in the Scottish Highlands, Boyz in the Wood is an anarchic cocktail of generational politics, hip-hop loving farmers, and hallucinogenic rabbit shites. I've only heard good things about this wacky survivalist horror film where the titular boyz face off against killers hunting them in the Highlands.
I'm Thinking of Ending Things - An unexpected detour causes a woman who is trying to figure out how to break up with her boyfriend to rethink her life. Directed by Charlie Kaufman based on the novel by Iain Reid and starring Toni Collette...I mean, do I need to say more? I haven't read the book yet, but it has a ton of buzz, and with these names attached the film itself is generating plenty of its own excitement.
The Collected - The third film in the Collector series and the follow up to 2012's The Collection by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton. I think the Collector films are underrated, so I am looking forward to this third installment, even though it's been a minute since the last film.
Synchronic - Two New Orleans paramedics’ lives are ripped apart after encountering a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects. Directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have given us some trippy sci-fi films in the past, so I am looking forward to their next vision.
Castle Freak - A remake of the 1995 Stuart Gordon film, as well as a direct adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s The Outsider. Gordon's version is a pretty gritty and lurid tale, so I'm curious to see what kind of tone the remake will have - I'm hoping it will keep more to Lovecraft's original tale.
Peninsula - Peninsula takes place four years after Train to Busan as the characters fight to escape the land that is in ruins due to an unprecedented disaster. Who else is excited for some more Train to Busan zombie action from director Yeon Sang-ho?! I know I am!
We Summon the Darkness - Three best friends embark on a road trip to a heavy-metal show, where they bond with three aspiring musicians and head off to one of the girls’ country home for an afterparty. A night of fun and youthful debauchery takes a deadly turn as bodies begin to pile up, with each side thinking the other hides the killer. Director Marc Meyers' follow up to My Friend Dahmer promises a trip to the '80s, complete with metal music and satanic panic!
I Saw a Man with Yellow Eyes - A teenage girl living with schizophrenia begins to suspect her neighbor has kidnapped a child. Her parents try desperately to help her live a normal life, without exposing their own tragic secrets, and the only person who believes her is Caleb – a boy she isn’t even sure exists. This sounds intriguing and I'm hoping it will intelligently address mental illness.
The Babysitter 2 - The sequel to the 2017 horror comedy, which was a frenetic and splatterific delight! Not sure if this will actually be released this year, but here's hoping!
Terrifier 2 - After being resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to Miles County where he must hunt down and destroy a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night. I love Damien Leon's Art the Clown, including his first appearance in the anthology All Hallow's Eve as well as Terrifier! I am stoked for this sequel, which I'm hoping will be just as mean-spirited and vicious as the first!
Blood Quantum - The term "blood quantum" refers to a colonial blood measurement system that is used to determine an individual's Indigenous status, and is criticized as a tool of control and erasure of Indigenous peoples. The words take on even more provocative implications as the title of Jeff Barnaby's sophomore feature, which grimly depicts an apocalyptic scenario where in an isolated "Mi'gmaq" community discover they are the only humans immune to a zombie plague. As the citizens of surrounding cities flee to the "Mi'gmaq" reserve in search of refuge from the outbreak, the community must reckon with whether to let the outsiders in - and thus risk not just the extinction of their tribe but of humanity, period. This has a wonderful premise that has lots of promise, I just hope it gives us something new within the tired zombie sub-genre.
The Other Lamb - A girl born into an all-female cult led by a man in their compound begins to question his teachings and her own reality. I am excited to see this feminist film directed by Małgorzata Szumowska, which sounds nightmarish.
The Platform - A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. One only food platform and two minutes per day to feed from up to down. An endless nightmare trapped in The Pit. This sci-fi film from Spain sounds like it will tackle the issues of over-consumption and over-population in a novel and grotesque way.
Rebecca - The story follows a newly married young woman who, upon arriving at her husband’s imposing family estate on a bleak English coast, finds herself battling the shadow of his deceased first wife, the mysterious Rebecca, whose legacy continues to haunt the house. If anyone could do Daphne du Maurier's story justice (besides Hitchcock, obvs), it's director Ben Wheatley. I am looking forward to a grand gothic tale that hopefully lingers more on the dark corners of Manderlay rather than the romance.
Sea Fever - The crew of a West of Ireland trawler, marooned at sea, struggle for their lives against a growing parasite in their water supply. This sounds like a dread-filled, claustrophobic sea tale directed/written by Neasa Hardiman.
The Night House - A widow begins to uncover her recently deceased husband’s disturbing secrets. This sounds like a solid psychological, slow-burn thriller from director David Bruckner (who gave us solid segments in V/H/S and Southbound, plus the nail-biting full-length The Ritual). It premiered at Sundance this month and was snatched up really quickly by Fox's Searchlight Pictures. Here's hoping the rest of us get to see it this year!
The Banishing - The Banishing tells the story of the most haunted house in England. In the 1930s, a young reverend, his wife and daughter move into a manor with a horrifying secret. I love a good haunted house movie, and in the hands of director Christopher Smith (Triangle, Black Death, Severance, Creep) I think we are in for a real treat.
Maniac Cop - A murderous cop returns from the dead to patrol the New York City streets and kill those who turn to him for help. Ummm, a Maniac Cop remake directed by Nicolas Winding Refn?! This is going to be a trip!!
False Positive - There is no plot synopsis at this time, but this film is coming from studio A24 and is co-written by Ilana Glazer (Broad City), who is also starring in the film (that alone has me sold). It is said to be a psychological horror movie along the lines of a modern update of Rosemary's Baby.
Scare Me - During a power outage, two strangers tell scary stories. The more Fred and Fanny commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life in the dark of a Catskills cabin. The horrors of reality manifest when Fred confronts his ultimate fear: Fanny is the better storyteller. This quirky horror comedy sounds like it has an original premise and I'm excited to see where it goes.
The Reckoning - In the aftermath of the Great Plague and amidst the subsequent witch-hunts against women, a young widow grapples with the tragic death of her husband in a society completely consumed by fear and death. Because she rejects the advances of her landlord, she is falsely accused of being a witch and thrown in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. She must endure physical persecution at the hands of England’s most ruthless witch-hunter and face her own inner demons as the devil himself starts to work his way into her mind. I'm such a sucker for horror period pieces, and combine that with a witch story AND director Neil Marshall's return to horror and I'm soooooo there!
Prisoners of the Ghostland - The film centers on notorious criminal Hero (Nicolas Cage) who is sent to rescue an abducted girl who has disappeared into a dark supernatural universe. They must break the evil curse that binds them and escape the mysterious revenants that rule the Ghostland, an East-meets-West vortex of beauty and violence. Director Sion Sono and Nicolas Cage?! Need I say more?! Well, this promises to be a wild ride!
Relic - When Edna, the elderly and widowed matriarch of the family, goes missing, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam travel to their remote family home to find her. Soon after her return, they start to discover a sinister presence haunting the house and taking control of Edna.This is premiering at Sundance Film Festival and is directed by Natalie Erika James. I'm hoping it will be just as creepy as The Taking of Deborah Logan was, since the premise sounds similar.
Amulet - Tomaz, an ex-soldier now homeless in London, is offered a place to stay at a decaying house, inhabited by a young woman and her dying mother. As he starts to fall for Magda, Tomaz cannot ignore his suspicion that something insidious might also be living alongside them. I do love the premise of this film, but besides the synopsis and poster, I don't know much about it. I hope it offers something different.
Run Sweetheart Run - A woman tries to get home alive after her blind date turns violent and goes chasing her through out Los Angeles. Directed by Shana Feste, I am glad to see another female voice lending itself to the horror genre, in what I think is a very real fear for many women.
Possessor - A thriller about an agent who works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to enable its operatives to inhabit other people’s bodies, ultimately driving them to carry out assassinations for high-paying clients. I really dug writer/director Brandon Cronenberg's (yes, son of David Cronenberg) Antiviral, so I am looking forward to this sci-fi thriller.
Lights Out 2 - The plot to the sequel is unknown, but director David F. Sandberg is back at the helm and will hopefully deliver another hair-raising tale.
Deathcember - A collection of 24 films that take a look at the dark side of the festive season. 24 international directors with the most diverse ideas and styles; linked by short animated segments that deal with the Advent calendar itself. This was making the festival rounds late last year and into this year, but I sure am hoping it gets a wider release so we can all see these holiday horrors.
Again, that is over 60 horror films to look forward to this year! And I'm sure there will be plenty more surprises in store for horror fans throughout the year. So much to be excited for in the horror genre this year!
What horror films are you looking forward to being released in 2020?