[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2021
Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2021
There has been no shortage of horror for viewing as we transitioned from 2020 into 2021. So many, in fact, that when it came down for Nightmarish Conjurings to gather around and discuss our faves, we had to remember what had actually been released this year. From smaller indie fare to blockbuster-style spectacles, we tried to tackle everything and everything viewing-wise this year. With how much was released all at once, especially during the Halloween viewing season, lots of horror films got lost in the shuffle. So some items on the list may come as a surprise. If they do, add them to your list and see whether or not these films become a new fave of yours too!

With all of this being said, take a look at our fave horror films of 2021 and let us know what you think and whether or not your favorites made the cut!

[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2021
Courtesy IFC Midnight

THE FEAST

Director: Lee Haven Jones

Starring: Annes Elwy, Lisa Palfrey, and Caroline Berry

Synopsis: THE FEAST follows a mysterious young woman who arrives to serve affluent guests at a dinner party in a remote house in the Welsh mountains. What the privileged guests do not realize is that they are about to partake in their last supper.

“In a year that saw the release of a litany of fantastic horror films, picking one’s favorite was no easy task. However, one film has stood out from the rest and never once left my subconscious since seeing it back at the beginning of 2021. Lee Haven Jones’s THE FEAST is a quiet film that takes hold of its viewer and instills a feeling of anxiety and unpredictability. The journey is one that won’t be easily forgotten once the film reaches a feverish crescendo. Actor Annes Elwy gives a shattering performance that’ll never have you looking at glass the same. Best advice? Go into this film knowing very little and embrace the shocking rollercoaster ride that it’ll take you on.”Shannon McGrew

To learn more about this addition to our fave horror films of 2021 list, check out our review! The film is now available on Demand and Digital.

And, to learn more about bringing the film to life onscreen, check out our interview with co-writer/director Lee Haven Jones here!

[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2021
Courtesy Netflix

BLOOD RED SKY

Director: Peter Thorwarth

Starring: Peri Baumeister, Kais Setti, Alexander Scheer, Dominic Purcell, and Graham McTavish.

Synopsis: Nadja and her ten-year-old son are on an overnight flight from Germany to New York when a group of terrorists violently take control of the plane and threaten the lives of the passengers. But the terrorists have no idea what they’re in for with Nadja on board – she has the power to protect her son and all the other passengers. But she faces an impossible choice – should she reveal her dark side and the inner monster she has kept hidden from her son for years in order to save him? The hunters become the hunted and everyone on the plane finds themselves in a perilous race against time – a fight for survival because there is one thing nobody knows: Nadja is the last vampire.

“BLOOD RED SKY is one of those films released by Netflix with not much fanfare, which is always a bummer. This vampiric film is the equivalent of being boiled slowly alive tension-wise. Viewers are kept on their toes with the writing decisions made. This makes it all the more exciting to watch as things play out. Peri Baumeister’s multi-faceted performance will induce empathy in the viewer while Alexander Scheer’s Eightball will have viewers going, ‘What the fuck?!’ It’s thrilling. Exciting. And the vampiric portrayal reminds us why those creatures should be feared.”Sarah Musnicky

To learn more about this addition to our fave horror films of 2021 list, check out our review! Available exclusively on Netflix.

[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2021
Courtesy Netflix

THE FEAR STREET TRILOGY

Director: Leigh Janiak

Starring: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores, Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Maya Hawke, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jordana Spiro, Jordyn DiNatale, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, McCabe Slye, Ted Sutherland, Gillian Jacobs, Chiara Aurelia, Elizabeth Scopel, Jeremy Ford, and Randy Havens.

Synopsis: In 1994, a group of teenagers discovers that the terrifying events that have haunted their town for generations may all be connected – and that they may be the next targets. Based on R.L. Stine’s best-selling horror series, the trilogy follows the nightmare through Shadyside’s sinister history.

“As an avid fan of the Fear Street book series by R. L. Stine, I experienced both joy and trepidation when the movie trilogy was announced for Netflix. It’s rare that a film exceeds expectations. Director Leigh Janiak, alongside a diverse cast, pays homage to the beloved series by refusing to cut and paste a story, but uses the inspiring tale of a small town plagued by misfortunes and weaves a social/political commentary in without being overbearing. Fear Street: Part One 1994 included chills, legit frights, gore and firmly established what to expect from its sequels. The curse is a real breathing thing, given life by the blasphemous existence of capitalism and white supremacy. Fingers crossed there is another Fear Street horror trilogy to come.”DarkSkyLady

To learn more about this addition to our fave horror films of 2021 list, check out our reviews of Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3! Available exclusively on Netflix.

And, to learn more about bringing the film to life onscreen, check out our interview with writer/director Leigh Janiak here!

Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

SON

Director: Ivan Kavanagh

Starring: Andi Matichak and Luke David Blumm

Synopsis: After a mysterious group breaks into Laura’s (Andi Matichak) home and attempts to abduct her eight-year-old son, David (Luke David Blumm), the two of them flee town in search of safety. But soon after the failed kidnapping, David becomes extremely ill, suffering from increasing psychosis and convulsions. Following her maternal instincts, Laura commits unspeakable acts to keep him alive, but soon she must decide how far she is willing to go to save her son.

“I never heard of SON until I was randomly browsing the Shudder app to possibly have something on in the background. Immediately, the cover art utilized an image of actress Andi Matichak whom I recognized from the latest Halloween trilogy. I saw the word “cult” in the synopsis and that’s all the convincing I needed. What I ended up getting was an engaging thriller surrounding a mother on the run, but it’s the mystery of who she is running from that keeps you going. She has a history of potential sexual trauma involving a cult that’s initially ambiguous, but her truth proves to be something more demonic. SON carries an original concept with a captivating lead performance from Matichak that needs to be seen.”Jovy Skol

To learn more about the film, check out our review!

And, to learn more about bringing the film to life onscreen, check out our interview with writer/director Ivan Kavanagh here!

Still from TITANE

TITANE

Director: Julia Ducournau

Starring: Agathe Rousselle (Alexia/Adrien), Vincent Lindon (Vincent), Garance Marillier (Justine), Laïs Salameh (Rayane), Bertrand Bonello (Alexia’s Father), Myriem Akheddiou (Adrien’s Mother), and Adèle Guigue (Alexia, 7 years old).

Synopsis: A woman who has a metal plate in her head embarks on a bizarre journey.

“After Julia Ducournau exploded onto the scene with her lauded coming-of-age cannibal debut Raw, expectations were immediately high for what the French filmmaker would tackle next. With TITANE, her sophomore feature which earned the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, she continues to push genre boundaries in astonishing new ways. It’s a tremendous work that explores concepts such as gender and transformation, delivering one jaw-dropping set piece after the next. It effortlessly balances tricky moving parts while spinning an inventive, surprisingly sweet yarn about the human need to love and be loved. If this is what the future of body horror is like, we have a bright future ahead of us.”Tom Milligan

To learn more about this addition to our fave horror films of 2021 list, check out our review!

[Article] Nightmarish Conjurings’ Fave Horror Films of 2021
Courtesy Netflix

OXYGEN

Director: Alexandre Aja

Starring: Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric, and Malik Zidi

Synopsis: A young woman (Mélanie Laurent, 6 Underground, Inglourious Basterds), who wakes up in a cryogenic pod. She doesn’t remember who she is or how she ended up there. As she’s running out of oxygen, she must rebuild her memory to find a way out of her nightmare.

“Another Netflix release that got lost in the mix of digital releases, Alexandre Aja’s OXYGEN is a must-see. Easily on my list of the top 10 films to watch this year, Aja knows how to keep things tense and twitchy from beginning to end. While less overtly horror-filled compared to Aja’s previous films, there’s a lot to keep you on edge. Once the bigger picture comes into play, the horror of the situation hits like a battering ram thanks to Christie LeBlanc’s tight script. Mélanie Laurent’s performance wraps everything up into a neat bow. Highly recommend. After you finish this, go on over to watch Mathieu Turi’s Meander. Makes a great companion piece!”Sarah Musnicky

To learn more about this addition to our fave horror films of 2021 list, check out our review! Available exclusively on Netflix!

And, to learn more about bringing the film to life onscreen, check out our interview with director Alexandre Aja!

Still from PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN l CR: RLJE Films and Shudder

PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN

Director: Steven Kostanski

Starring:  Nita-Josee Hanna, Owen Myre, Adam Brook, Alexis Hancey, and Matthew Ninaber

Synopsis: Siblings Mimi and Luke unwittingly resurrect an ancient alien overlord who was entombed on Earth millions of years ago after a failed attempt to destroy the universe. They nickname the evil creature Psycho Goreman (or PG for short) and use the magical amulet they discovered to force him to obey their childish whims. It isn’t long before PG’s reappearance draws the attention of intergalactic friends and foes from across the cosmos and a rogues’ gallery of alien combatants converges in small-town suburbia to battle for the fate of the galaxy.

“Ah yes. The nostalgia of the early 90s. Power Rangers, Mighty Max, Polly Pocket. All of the joys of being a child in the 90s swam through my head as I was brought back to the living room of childhood sitting only inches away from the tube. This is the experience I had while watching my favorite film of the year, PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN. Not only was it goofy, campy, and nostalgic, it also contained a ton of gore! However, is that really surprising considering the title? From the practical effects to the costumes, I loved everything about this movie, the timing of the comedy, the nostalgic power rangers-esque fights scenes, and the fact that it was in many ways, similar to Monster Squad (yeah I said it okay!). So if you didn’t allow yourself to experience the joys of PSYCHO GOREMAN this year, grab a big bowl of popcorn, a tall glass of Surge, and maybe some Zagnut bars and open up your Shudder streaming app and let the beauty unfold upon you.” Devin March

To learn more about this addition to our fave horror films of 2021 list, check out our review!

Courtesy of NIGHTSTREAM

MY HEART CAN’T BEAT UNLESS YOU TELL IT TO

Director: Jonathan Cuertas

Starring: Patrick Fugit, Ingrid Sophie Schram, and Owen Campbell.

Synopsis: Dwight (Patrick Fugit) prowls the streets after dark. He searches each night for the lonely and forlorn, looking for people who won’t be missed. Dwight takes no joy in this, but he needs their blood. Without fresh human blood, his fragile young brother Thomas cannot survive. Each death takes a larger toll, the burden of his crimes weighing heavier each time, threatening to crack his spirit. But Thomas (Owen Campbell) and his sister Jessie (Ingrid Sophie Schram) are all the family Dwight has left, and as a fiercely private and close-knit family unit, they depend on him and the rituals they’ve learned in order to keep their secret. But while Dwight yearns for another life, Jessie needs them to stay together. And always the boy must feed.

“I love a good vampire film, but what I love even more is a vampire film that takes on the subject in such a fresh, intriguing way that it stretches the boundaries of the subgenre itself. Writer-director Jonathan Cuartas’s MY HEART CAN’T BEAT UNLESS YOU TELL IT TO is an elegiac portrait of a dysfunctional family. Blood is sustenance in this film, which never once uses the word “vampire,” but it is also a metaphor for shared trauma and resentful obligation. Cuartas’s film is a work of cinematic alchemy, transforming its highly specific and implausible-on-paper tale into a universal expression of the weight of familial bonds.”Jessica Scott

To learn more about the film, check out our review!

Lisa Trevor in Screen Gems RESIDENT EVIL WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY

RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY

Director: Johannes Roberts

Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Tom Hopper, Avan Jogia, with Donal Logue and Neal McDonough

Synopsis:  In RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY, once the booming home of pharmaceutical giant Umbrella Corporation, Raccoon City is now a dying Midwestern town. The company’s exodus left the city a wasteland…with great evil brewing below the surface. When that evil is unleashed, a group of survivors must work together to uncover the truth behind Umbrella and make it through the night.

“It’s only been four years since Milla Jovovich said her final goodbye to Raccoon City, but the franchise needed a fresh start. While RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY didn’t make much noise at the box office, director Johannes Roberts made good on his promise and delivered a film for the hardcore fans of the video games. The previous films delved into their action-packed universe, while Roberts focused on revisiting the original two games, placing viewers into the infamous Spencer Mansion and Raccoon Police Department. In true Roberts fashion, we get nostalgic pop songs blasting over flame-covered zombies and elaborate car sequences. Resident Evil is a franchise that gives room for rebirth in various mediums and this latest live-action film is the most Hollywood B-movie we’ve gotten in a long time.” – Jovy Skol

To learn more about this addition to our fave horror films of 2021 list, check out our review!

And, to learn more about bringing the film to life onscreen, check out our interview with writer/director Johannes Roberts!

Courtesy Netflix

THE 8TH NIGHT

Director: Kim Tae-hyoung

Starring:  Lee Sung-min, Park Hae-joon, Kim Yoo-jung, and Nam Da-reum

Synopsis: A life-or-death battle spanning eight days to prevent the breaking of the seal that restrains “That Which Must Not Awaken.” Once awakened, it can cross the stepping stones to wreak havoc on this world.

“THE 8TH NIGHT is a film that not many will think of in their end-of-year list building, but it’s a film that has stuck with me since viewing. As a warning, it may turn off some Western viewers as it heavily references Buddhism and serves as an exploration of the Four Noble Truths. Elements that aren’t typically referenced in American culture. However, writer/director Kim Tae-hyoung crafts a beautiful yet tragic tale, with the supernatural elements used effectively to get the point across without distraction. Given the United States’ newfound interest in Korean-specific cinema, I’d say add this to your plate for viewing to expand your horizons. There is something to take away for every viewer.”Sarah Musnicky 

To learn more about this addition to our fave horror films of 2021 list, check out our review! Available exclusively on Netflix in the US.

Nicolas Cage in WILLY’S WONDERLAND

Willy’s Wonderland

Director: Kevin Lewis

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz, and Chris Warner

Synopsis: A quiet loner (Nic Cage) finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay for the repairs he needs, he agrees to spend the night cleaning Willy’s Wonderland, an abandoned family fun center. But this wonderland has a dark secret that the “The Janitor” is about to discover. He soon finds himself trapped inside Willy’s and locked in an epic battle with the possessed animatronic mascots that roam the halls. To survive, he must fight his way through each of them.

“Willy’s Wonderland is a perfect horror release. It has everything you need: haunted animatronics, teen fodder, excessive energy drink consumption and Nic Cage being Nic Cage without ever saying a word. It’s funny and brutal while bringing back dark memories of Chuck E. Cheese circa 1994. “It’s your birthday and we want you to have fun. It’s your birthday. So let’s kill everyone.”‘ – D.D. Crowley

To learn more about the film, check out the review here. Or, if you want to learn about how the film came to be, check out our interview with screenwriter G.O. Parsons.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Much like 2020, there was no shortage of horror to be had this year. This made it incredibly difficult to narrow down our faves, but we do have some honorable mentions below.

  1. MALIGNANT
  2. CAVEAT
  3. BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL
  4. WEREWOLVES WITHIN
  5. JAKOB’S WIFE
  6. SUPERHOST
  7. HONEYDEW
  8. MEANDER
  9. CENSOR
  10. THE NIGHT HOUSE
  11. THE LAST MATINEE
  12. A QUIET PLACE PART II
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