[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2020
Nightmarish Conjurings
2020 has been a hell of a year – no pun intended – for the horror genre. From indies to major releases, this year has seen a lot more attention given to the horror realm as we all grapple with the actual real-life horror that has taken over this year. With more people also having the chance to stay home more and with more things being moved on Video On Demand and Digital, we’ve been taking in a lot more content as well. This has made us here at Nightmarish Conjurings elated. But, as we look at our 2020 list of faves, we realized what kind of task we had in narrowing down the list because there was great quality content this year.

With all of this being said, take a look at our faves from this year and let us know what you think and whether or not your favorites made the cut!

[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2020
CR: RLJE Films and Shudder

COLOR OUT OF SPACE

Director: Richard Stanley

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Elliot Knight, and Tommy Chong

Synopsis: A secluded farm is struck by a strange meteorite which has apocalyptic consequences for the family living there and possibly the world.

“Richard Stanley’s COLOR OUT OF SPACE is a singular adrenaline shot, loaded with vivid visuals and stellar performances. One of the most unique films I’ve ever seen. Stanley repurposes and reclaims Lovecraft’s story, fitting it for a more contemporary world, without sacrificing any of its otherworldly dread. Truly a marvel of a film, not to be ignored. Richard Stanley is an unparalleled visionary.”Connor Strader

To learn more bout the film, check out Nightmarish Conjurings’ review!

[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2020
CR: Shudder

SCARE PACKAGE

Directors: Emily Hagins (“Cold Open”), Anthony Cousins (“The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill”), Chris McInroy (“One Time In The Woods”), Courtney and Hillary Andujar (“Girls’ Night Out Of Body”), Aaron B. Koontz (“Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium”, “Horror Hypothesis”), Noah Segan ( “M.I.S.T.E.R.”), and Baron Vaughn (“So Much To Do”).

Stars: Jon Michael Simpson, Jeremy King, Noah Segan, Toni Trucks, and more!

Synopsis: Chad Buckley is a lonely Horror aficionado, spending his days overseeing a struggling video store and arguing with his only customer, Sam. When an unsuspecting job applicant arrives, Chad sets out to teach him the rules of Horror; weaving in and out of hilarious segments geared toward the ropes and tropes of terror.

“There’s a whole lot to love about this horror-comedy anthology film. And, in a year that has been depressing and has channeled its best dumpster fire energy, SCARE PACKAGE is the horror-comedy I have revisited since its June release to perk up my spirits when I am feeling down. Tackling a variety of horror movie tropes in hilarious and out-of-the-box ways, each director brings something excited for our eyeballs to digest. Each segment is brilliantly edited together into the overarching narrative, which makes it arguably the most cohesive horror anthology projects out there. It has everything: gore, ritual sacrifices, comedy that will have you questioning your mental state, and VHSes galore, and I can’t recommend it enough!” – Sarah Musnicky

To learn more about the film, check out Nightmarish Conjurings’ review.

[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2020
CR: Shudder

IMPETIGORE

Director: Joko Anwar

Stars: Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, and Marissa Anita

Synopsis: After surviving a murder attempt in the city, Maya, a young woman in the midst of financial hardship, learns that she may have claim to an ancestral home that her family occupied in a remote village. Maya and her friend, Dini, travel to the village to investigate her inheritance but are unaware that the villagers are hellbent on Maya’s murder in hopes of removing a curse supposedly brought on the village by her ancestors.

“IMPETIGORE marries elements of Indonesian folk horror to tropes and subgenres we can easily recognize… and then broadens the scope even more. Every element of the film is expertly assembled, brilliantly executed, and more and more horrifying as each minute passes. A striking beauty within the genre, it feels lavish in its construction. The fact that IMPETIGORE effortlessly weaves so many tropes and types of horror together is a testament to Anwar.”Caitlin Kennedy

“As a fan of Anwar’s work, I was super excited to see what he had in store when IMPETIGORE came to be released stateside. I was not disappointed. From the visuals, the remote village setting, the supernatural elements, and an impeccably strong cast, it’s hard to find imperfections in this latest work. It’s a real treasure to follow along in solving this supernatural mystery, where we try to figure out who is trustworthy and who are the actual monsters in this piece.”Sarah Musnicky

To learn more about the film, check out Nightmarish Conjurings’ review!

[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2020
CR: Netflix

I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS

Director: Charlie Kaufman

Stars: Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette, and David Thewlis

Synopsis: Full of misgivings, a young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his parents’ secluded farm. Upon arriving, she comes to question everything she thought she knew about him and herself.

“Though not horror in a conventional sense, I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS is a surreal puzzle box that taps into the existentialist themes that have long been present in Charlie Kaufman’s work. He has always had a knack for humor, and that’s here too, but this time around, he fully embraces atmospheric tension-building to weave a dense tale of mortality that lingers with you long after the credits roll. It brings me great joy knowing that a film this profoundly strange and personal is available for someone to discover on Netflix at any given moment.”Tom Milligan

To learn more about the film, check out Nightmarish Conjurings’ review!

[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2020
CR: Netflix

EL HOYO / THE PLATFORM

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Stars: Iván Massagué, Antonia San Juan, Zorion Eguileor, Emilio Buale

Synopsis: Goreng wakes to find himself in a prison-like room and a hole in the floor dropping into a seemingly bottomless pit, with other rooms below and above him. Food passes through each floor from the first level, down to the bottom, becoming scarcer as it continues. The story follows Goreng and his reasons for being in the facility, his relationships between other prisoners, and his struggles to keep alive and sane.

“Gaztelu-Urrutia’s THE PLATFORM is more than just horror or science fiction. We see glimpses of ourselves, what we hope ourselves to be, or the terrifying possibility of what we could become. The pacing is slow and sweetly tortuous while we all scramble to make sense and purpose as the tensions and stakes build. It’s just a stunning and painful experience, and to that, I thank and congratulate everyone involved. This story will only grow with more viewings. Damn near perfect.”J.M. Brannyk

CR: Universal Pictures

THE INVISIBLE MAN

Director: Leigh Whannell

Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, and Storm Reid

Synopsis: 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.

“Leigh Whannell further cements his place in the horror canon with this smart, scary, and sensitive adaptation of the classic horror story. Cecilia’s story of escaping and healing from an abusive relationship resonated strongly with me as a survivor and as a fan of impeccably crafted horror. This iteration of THE INVISIBLE MAN is both timeless and perfectly suited to its particular moment in history, as survivors (and women in particular) are starting to be heard and believed. Through our own stories and films like this vital reimagining, we are becoming louder and more visible.”Jessica Scott

To learn more about the film, check out Nightmarish Conjurings’ review!

CR: Netflix

#ALIVE

Director: Il Cho

Stars: Park Shin-hye and Yoo Ah-in

Synopsis: As a grisly virus rampages a city, a lone man stays locked inside his apartment, digitally cut off from seeking help and desperate to find a way out.

“While all of the attention for K-horror goes to Parasite or Train to Busan, #ALIVE offers a fast-paced and emotional look at what facing down a zombie apocalypse alone would look like.  At this point, we can relate to the idea. With stellar acting, terrifying effects, and a story that tugs at your heart, this film is the best of 2020.”D.D. Crowley

“#ALIVE slipped under the radar, as Netflix released it with minimal promotion. If my account’s algorithm hadn’t already been clued into my love of Asian dramas, I would have missed it. Filmed prior to the pandemic, this is a zombie film that embodies the impact of isolation, especially as sources start to dwindle. You’ll want the best of both protagonists as they try to survive both indoors and outdoors. As their options dwindle, you will be left on edge until the film’s final moments.”Sarah Musnicky

CR: Shudder

HOST

Director: Rob Savage

Stars: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward, Edward Linard, and Seylan Baxter

Synopsis: Six friends hire a medium to hold a seance via Zoom during lockdown, but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong.

“What do you do when you’re stuck in quarantine? If you’re Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, and Jed Shepherd, you write an innovative and terrifying found footage film that taps into fears both immediate and eternal. HOST expertly interrogates popular horror tropes and pandemic uncertainty, proving that genre films can often define their eras better than any other art form. Aided by a talented cast and inventive special effects, HOST is a lockdown miracle that turns impossibility into opportunity and exemplifies the maddening contradictions of 2020.”Jessica Scott

To learn more about the film, check out Nightmarish Conjurings’ review!

CR: Blumhouse

FREAKY

Director: Christopher Landon

Writer: Michael Kennedy, Christopher Landon

Stars: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich

Synopsis: A horror-comedy about a teenage girl who switches bodies with a serial killer who goes on a bloody rampage at her high school.

“FREAKY is a super fun, horror-comedy about high school, and a fresh take on body swapping in films. Vince Vaughn is funny as a knife-wielding murderer, and watching Millie (Kathryn Newton) breakthrough doorways and defy stereotypes is absolutely delightful. It’s an updated combo of an ’80s slasher and Mean Girls but a new kind of teen horror as well. It features an eyeful of gore in a key scene, which suggests so much about the Trumpian politics of highschool. Millie might be described as ‘weird’ by small-minded, popular girls (budding corporate lackeys), but she is the hero at the end in a red leather jacket, a nod to James Dean. FREAKY is wonderful because the outsider is celebrated instead of maligned and misunderstood.”Tiffany Aleman

To learn more about the film, check out Nightmarish Conjurings’ review!

CR: NEON

POSSESSOR

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

Stars: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbot, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean

Synopsis: POSSESSOR follows an agent who works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies – ultimately driving them to commit assassinations for high-paying clients.

“POSSESSOR is a bold statement of the things people don’t like to talk about. The darkest thoughts within our souls. The hate that we harbor towards our loved ones. Its brilliance is its pitiless examination of the ties that bind. Love, filial love, and duty. What happens when you don’t love someone anymore? What happens when you hate them for continuing to love and need you? For using you? Then there’s a very trenchant statement on the surveillance state that ties in with your relationship to your country. A product of eight long years of work. Incredible in camera and practical effects. Tons of minute detail. Subliminal cuts. The basest and most true motivations of the human soul. The violence at the core of the human soul. It’s brilliance on a level that we don’t deserve. The beauty of the desolate scorched Earth of humanity.”Dolores Quintana

“Brandon Cronenberg’s POSSESSOR is a potent reaffirmation that sci-fi and horror, both separately and together, have more to say about contemporary social malignancies than any other genre. Working in the tradition of surreal sci-fi/horror minds like J.G. Ballard, John Carpenter, and his own father David, Cronenberg crafts a thoughtful, hyper-sensory Videodrome-meets-Blade Runner experience (with a touch of Black Mirror and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire) that speaks directly to the collective anxieties of the digital age. Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and Zoomers all have one thing in common — our very beings have been co-opted and sold to by social media in ways that may have damaged us forever. Equal parts ethereal and visceral, POSSESSOR is a non-literal, retro-acid sci-fi exploration of the dangers of digital persona in the 21st century. What could be more relevant in 2020?”Andy Andersen

To learn more about the film, check out Nightmarish Conjurings’ review! And, for a further breakdown on what to expect from the Uncut version, check out Dolores’ article.

CR: Shudder

LA LLORONA

Director: Jayro Bustamente

Stars:  María Mercedes Coroy, Margarita Kénefic, Sabrina De La Hoz, Juan Pablo Olyslager, and Julio Diaz

Synopsis: Indignant retired general Enrique finally faces trial for the genocidal massacre of thousands of Mayans decades ago. As a horde of angry protestors threatens to invade their opulent home, the women of the house—his haughty wife, conflicted daughter, and precocious granddaughter—weigh their responsibility to shield the erratic, senile Enrique against the devastating truths being publicly revealed and the increasing sense that a wrathful supernatural force is targeting them for his crimes. Meanwhile, much of the family’s domestic staff flees, leaving only loyal housekeeper Valeriana until a mysterious young Indigenous maid arrives.

“Growing up in Southern California, I heard tales of La Llorona and became fascinated by the folklore. Last year’s adaptation left many wanting more. Jayro Bustamente’s LA LLORONA is everything needed in a film tackling such familiar folklore and goes to show the difference between someone involved in the culture tackling this folklore versus people who are not. The cinematography is exquisite. Combined with much-needed social and political commentary, the weeping woman is reimagined in a way that will gut-punch you and leave you breathless. Absolutely haunting.”Sarah Musnicky

To learn more about the film, check out Nightmarish Conjurings’ review!


HONORABLE MENTIONS

There was a lot of great horror this year that was difficult to really judge so here is our list of honorable mentions.

  1. THE SWERVE
  2. HIS HOUSE
  3. THE CURSE OF AUDREY EARNSHAW
  4. SPUTNIK
  5. THE LODGE
  6. SCARE ME
  7. BREAKING SURFACE
  8. ALONE
  9. DEATH DROP GORGEOUS
  10. THE CALL
  11. ANYTHING FOR JACKSON
  12. AFTER MIDNIGHT
Sarah Musnicky
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Sarah is the managing editor of Nightmarish Conjurings and a lover of all things magical and horrific. All who are familiar with her can attest for her love of glitter, adorable plush, and obsession with folklore and mythology. When she's not chasing after things she probably shouldn't hug, Sarah is making sure that Shannon's sanity stays intact long enough for deadlines to be tackled.
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