The 17 Best Horror Movies Of 2020 So Far – And Where You Can Stream Or Rent All Of Them

In an alternate simulation, my mid-year horror recap might read differently. Earthrealm #2895 avoided COVID-19's pandemic spread and watched Saint Maud, Antlers, and Candyman (plus others) when they released on their initially slated dates. Theaters never closed down, studios didn't erase schedules, and their government correctly anticipated a viral spread with preemptive, proactive measures. We, on this unfortunate hunk of space rock, have been robbed of massively anticipated new releases (small potatoes in the grand scheme). Still, there exists an overlooked truth in this cursed year in our home planet's history: 2020 carries no shortage of worthwhile horror releases.

Oddly enough, the horror genre didn't skip much of a beat with the closure of nationwide theater chains. I've seen 70-plus horror flicks in 2020, only counting those officially released as of this article's post date, thanks to an always-continual release of genre content that hits video-on-demand platforms (pandemic or not). Countless under-seen gems land on services like Netflix or Shudder, and there are always rentable titles on wide-release VOD platforms. Don't let the misconception of boarded-up AMC or Cinemark entryways convince you otherwise. Horror cinema continues to thrive as a genre, even while we should all be parking our butts inside. Need proof and time killers? Here are my favorite horror flicks of 2020 so far, with precise instructions on where to find them.

Stay at home, share some screams or howls and keep yourself and others safe so we can confidently reopen with flattened numbers soon enough. Please. I really, badly require a haircut.

Snatchers

Streamable: HBO Max, YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99), Vudu ($4.99)

As far as horror-comedies come, 2020 doesn't get much better than Snatchers. I had this to say out of last year's South by Southwest festival about Stephen Cedars and Benji Kleiman's offbeat maternity madness: "Initial parallels to 2007's Teeth fade quickly as the film splices Mean Girls DNA with Critters or Gremlins, or most appropriately, Slither." Franky, more horror flicks about teenage pregnancy should include "vag-canons." I'm sorry for being crude, but one of the year's best genre kills so far is a gynecologist who gets his head eviscerated by an unexpected projectile.

Stars Mary Nepi and Gabrielle Elyse navigate high school hormones, Mexican birthing curses, and alien womb creatures as rekindled besties with "Joseph Kahn-adjacent" character traits. Their journey is outrageous, as dictated by a highly energetic and favorably gory tone. It's like reliving high school all over again but with way more practical monsters utilized to their fullest creature-feature designs. Honestly, how aren't more people talking about Snatchers?

Swallow

Streamable: Amazon Prime ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99)

Pro tip: watch Swallow right before The Invisible Man. Their narrative timelines could equate to one woman's abusive relationship with Swallow as the before/during, and The Invisible Man depicting how it doesn't stop afterward. A fuller picture where singular features frequently can only address one of either "before," "during," or "after."

Haley Bennett plays a victim caught within domestic imprisonment so unsettling she consumes household objects as an independently rebellious release. It's her only reclamation of self, too afraid of escaping her suburban lockdown. A provocative glimpse of hopelessness, our ignorance of trauma in destructive moments, and the harmful ways we scream for help without striking any attention. No ghosts nor slasher villains here, yet terror and tension still cut through Swallow like a sharpened game piece through your intestinal lining.

Hit the link for my full review of Swallow, or you can read Sarah Foulkes' /Film review in which she left the film far more disappointed than myself.

The Platform

Streaming: Netflix

A levitating slab full of culinary delicacies that are picked bone-clean every time the feast reaches your holding cell? Welcome to The Platform, a diabolical take on dystopian classism where "volunteers" are tested inside a tower where each floor houses two roommates. The experiment is simple: will the top stories only eat what's needed for daily rations, or shovel their bellies full to bursting like gluttons? Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia's societal breakdown is intellectually stimulating, helplessly barbaric, and weaponizes nutrition in a way that promotes world-class visual storytelling. Just remember, as I forever will, the panna cotta the message!

You can take a ride over here for my full review of The Platform, or get a genre education by reading Meredith Borders' /Film review.

The Hunt

Streamable: Amazon Prime ($5.99), Google Play ($5.99), YouTube ($5.99)

Craig Zobel's hot-button The Hunt was one of the final theatrical releases before stay-at-home orders went into effect, which accounts for a $6.5 million box office haul in total after debuting with $5.3. Then, after theaters closed, it was announced The Hunt (among other titles) would pivot directly onto home platforms for the comparable ticket price of $20. All this is to say, yes, I'm including a Blumhouse release on this list, one that never earned the theatrical recognition it deserved, then had to compete with titles like Bloodshot and The Invisible Man amongst countless cheaper VOD options.

Weary friends grilled me over and over about The Hunt because they didn't want any political agendas shoved down their throats. Understandable, but Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof's screenplay is scorched-earth exploitation first, foremost, and throughout. Vocality is across the board, all political "agendas," but more as a representation of online culture in an "everything sucks" style of aggression. No one is safe, but no one should be offended. Just appreciate the gory deathmatch carnage and cackle as every stereotype of the worst humans imaginable meet titanically violent deaths. Oh, and Betty Gilpin as one of the year's most badass heroines.

You better believe I've got a full review of The Hunt right here, which Chris' /Film review does not parallel in agreement.

Monstrum

Streamable: Shudder

Y'all in the mood for a feudal 1500s South Korean creature-feature? Hell yeah! Even better? The mythical, mountain-dwelling megabeast that starts mauling kingdom guards is named, wait for it, "Sparkles." Abandoned as a wee pup, forced to survive by feeding on plagued corpses, Sparkles grows to become a menace to the rulers who once left him for dead. Now ex-general Yoon-gyeom (Myung-Min Kim) must hunt the "wild" beast as commanded by his lord, which strikes a grand Monster Hunter meets Dynasty Warriors vibe (video games, for context). "I could have watched Sparkles devour eleventy billion more backstabbing officials and corrupt soldiers partly because justice is divine, alternatively because sweet-and-swift combos define intensive melees," I previously wrote and still stand behind. It's a whole lot of political backstabbing, chew-toy demises, and undying love for Sparkles. Now let me cuddle the gaseous, boil-covered "Monstrum."

Oh, and you're correct to assume I've got a full Monstrum review right here if you're so inclined to click.

Ghost Killers Vs. Bloody Mary

Streamable: Tubi, Amazon Prime ($3.99), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99)

Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary is the goriest, wackiest, most fiendishly sophomoric (in a fun way) Brazilian horror comedy you'll desire. Its maturity level is grade-school equivalent at times, and while "social media horror" is typically a hard sell for me, this YouTube paranormal crew's encounter with face-to-face evil tickles my uber-goofy horror funnybone. Analyzing the film's DNA would reveal traces of Sam Raimi and Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil, as the "Ghoulbusters" are punished without remorse for faking their haunted encounters episode after episode. Not exactly the sharpest crayon in the toolshed, but certainly the bloodiest, zaniest, and most indulgent when it comes to one-upping slapstick terrorization scene after scene.

Unfortunately, I don't have a full review of Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary written – JUST KIDDING. It's right here. Plus, you've got Andrew Todd's /Film review right here!

Come To Daddy

Streamable: Amazon Prime ($5.99), YouTube ($5.99), Google Play ($5.99), Vudu ($5.99)

By execution alone, you'd have no idea Come To Daddy marks Ant Timpson's directorial debut where Elijah Wood plays a "soy boy" hipster who must honor his father through extreme violence. It's unequivocally rowdy in every sense of the word, from Stephen McHattie's deadbeat maniac performance to fecal toxins to Wood's horrendous bowl-cut inspiration. You'll feel naughty for laughing at some of the film's darker comedic bits given the brutality and blood present, which embody the freedoms of midnight cinema in too many senses (a positive). Always at its best when Michael Smiley is allowed to do whatever his psychedelic hitman character dares desire. Bonkers, unashamed, and full-tilt looney tooney psychotic.

For a deeper dive, read my full review here or Caroline Cao's Tribeca 2019 /Film review here.

Extra Ordinary

Streamable: Amazon Prime ($3.99), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99)

What if Paranormal Activity was a quirky Irish rom-com that ditched found footage, chose a more Ghostbusters route, then added a dash of satanism? That'd be the adorable, ectoplasmic-slimy, and heartwarmingly tender Extra Ordinary. As my review out of SXSW 2019 reads, "Mike Ahern and Edna Loughman's Extra Ordinary comes together as the tonal lovechild of Jared Hess and Taika Waititi, playfully mocking horror beats instead of unleashing them." The kind of film where a ho-hum civilian ignores her ghost whispering ability while appliances float in midair, and the communications only get more charming as the film progresses. Oh, did I mention Will Forte plays a one-hit-wonder musician now trying to summon an underworld deity? Plus, spontaneous sacrificial combustion! Extra Ordinary has it all.

Underwater

Streamable: YouTube ($5.99), Amazon Prime ($5.99), Google Play ($5.99)

"Matt, I know about Underwater. It's a mainstream horror release starring Kristen Stewart, you dolt." Yeah, but did you watch Underwater? William Eubank's more than serviceable aquatic horror disasterpiece only raked in $17.3 million domestic, which leads me to believe you skipped out on some nasty seabed fearsomeness. Don't let the naysayers sway your opinion. "It's Alien, but underwater" is a precise summation of the film's duration, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Eubank's compelling worldbuilding takes us leagues deep into a submerged drilling facility, where he wastes no time flooding the structure's compressing corridors. The likes of Stewart, Vincent Cassel, and Mamoudou Athie flee not only from their damaged station but creatures hot in their wake. I don't love who dies early (c'mon), but some of you will be happy to learn [spoiler alert] T.J. Miller indeed suffers a later-on gruesome fate. People claim that's a selling point for some, so there you go! Plus, that third-act reveal? Underwater is everything I want from an early-year horror blockbuster, down to Stewart renditioning her very best Ellen Ripley.

Oh look, here's my full review of Underwater! Also, here's Chris' /Film review!

Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street

Streamable: Shudder, Amazon Prime ($3.99), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99)

As horror productions, horror journalism, and the horror genre in totality strive for a future of inclusivity, there's no denying its sins of the past. Enter actor Mark Patton, who starred as Jesse Walsh in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge. A sequel now infamous for its queer "undertones," which derailed Patton's career as a closeted gay actor. It's an examination of homosexuality during an uneasy period in Hollywood, and its effects on Patton as he tried to progress after his nightmarish mistreatment. Quite the revealing oral history that provides necessary context and hopeful admissions all these years later, blending catharsis with horror off the screen as documentarians chronicle Patton's life after a bedroom dance sequence became more memorable than any of Jesse Walsh's encounters with Freddy Krueger. We always need to do better, and Patton's story is one sole exemplification of why.

Sadly I do not have a review of Scream, Queen! anywhere, but luckily /Film's big-shot Jacob Hall has a capsule review out of last year's Fantastic Fest.

Sea Fever

Streamable: Amazon Prime ($3.99), YouTube ($3.99), and Google Play ($3.99)

Where Underwater is the Alien of aquatic horror, Neasa Hardiman's Sea Fever settles somewhere between The Thing and Cabin Fever. Never as "scary" by conventional definitions, although the narrative's pandemic outbreak angle plays a bit closer to the heart these days. It's a headier horror cruise than the usual "sea monster attacks" story, displaying the natural beauty of unknown depths through luminescence and biological methods. Don't get me wrong; there's some wriggly body horror that'll have you rubbing certain facial features. It's just that Hardiman exploits the martyrdom of exploration through calculated sacrifice in such an entrancing way, with curiosity and research being the ultimate death sentence.

For my expansive thoughts on Sea Fever, you can check out my review here, or read Jason Gorber's /Film review out of TIFF 2019.

The Lodge

Streamable: Hulu, YouTube ($3.99), Google ($3.99), Amazon ($3.99)

You didn't think you'd escape a horror list written by me, Matt Donato, without Christmas Horror representation, did you? The Lodge might not visually pop festive accents via gaudy ornaments or glistening tinsel, but me-oh-my does it heap on megatons of holiday dread. It's what filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala do best. Maryland has crabcakes and football, Germany has noose-tight psychological torment and darker moods than – well, honestly, I don't want to go there.

Enter Riley Keough as a woman marred by trauma, then Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh as the "bratty" children who only worsen their selfish predicament. Shards of a broken family slice Keough's frail incumbent mother figure (after Richard Armitage is left a widower) to shreds, unbeknownst to the young rascals who weaponize internal pains. In the middle of nowhere, snowed inside, just Keough's wavering sanity and two out-of-their depth kiddies. Those in the mood for a frigid slow burn should hop on Hulu this instant.

You can read my full review out of Overlook 2019 right here, or read my Now Scream This brochacho Chris Evangelista's poster-quoted review over on another /Film page!

Mutant Blast

Streaming: Troma Now ($5.99)

Mutant Blast is the most fun I've had with a Troma movie since Return To Nuke 'Em High Volume 1, which it easily surpasses. Fernando Alle has created something mindless, maddeningly unfettered, and definitively eternal. The zombie apocalypse gives way to nuclear fallout mutants, dooming characters who include "a fearless soldier," a direct Terminator T-800 ripoff, plus a hungover nobody. Rat mutations grow from severed hand stumps. Human-sized lobsters wearing business suits square off against similarly scaled dolphins wielding katanas in the most unexpected Kurosawa homage you'll behold this decade. Practical effects are on magnificent low-budget display in most "Tromatic" (like traumatic, get it) way imaginable. Mutant Blast makes little to zero sense, plays by its own exploitation rules, and you know what? It might be the most unapologetic genre fun you indulge in after midnight all year. 

Go ahead and read my full Mutant Blast review right here, if you dare.

Blood Quantum

Streamable: Shudder

Jeff Barnaby's Blood Quantum, by definition, scores one for Native American representation in zombie, nay horror, cinema. In a world where walkers roam free, the Mi'gMaq reserve of Red Crow remains immune to the undead infection. Indigenous inhabitants survive while the white folk who once discriminately kept their distance now rush to their doorstep seeking refuge. There's plenty of cultural commentary and equal parts undead brutality, as Blood Quantum sports some memorably graphic zombie kills. Explanations might be scarce in terms of inexplicable immunities, but that's hardly an issue as Barnaby builds an apocalypse and services empathetic characters in a very The Walking Dead way...except with more engaging execution within a fraction of the running time.

I'm happy to share my full Blood Quantum review alongside Meredith Borders' TIFF 2019 /Film review.

After Midnight

Streamable: Kanopy, Vudu ($3.99) Amazon Prime ($3.99)

Jeremy Gardner's sweat-drenched After Midnight is the sweetest, from-the-heart love ballad sung while monsters bash down the vocalist's door. It's a creature-feature romance that aches with raw earnestness, as Gardner rips his heart out as an offering of compassion. A tale of small-town mindsets, city-chasing dreamers, and hollering at big-ass figures around your property once the moonlight emerges. What happens to those somber souls who're left behind, unable to escape because of self-inflicted pity and uncertainty.

You could bottle the chemistry between Gardner (who stars as bar owner Hank) and his sunshine queen "Abby" played by Brea Grant, then make a fortune selling it to Hollywood rom-com productions. There's magic between these two, both charting a relationship's sparkle-eyed highs to its lonesome, separated lows. Yes, there are shotgun blasts and ferocious attacks and a tangible beast amidst poetic adoration – but it's all second fiddle. After Midnight is one of those subgenre amalgamations that proves the boundless versatility of horror narratives. "Single" Donato's first reaction after the credits rolled? In a moment of vulnerability, he acknowledged how fulfilling it'd be to share After Midnight with someone special. Fuck you for making me feel things, Jeremy Gardner.

Peep my full review out of Tribeca 2019 right here for even more emotional vomit!

Warning: Do Not Play

Streamable: Shudder

Shudder's exhaustively researched curation is well-enough worth the subscription, especially when it gives movies like Warning: Do Not Play a home. A South Korean thriller that evaded even my extensive genre coverage, rooted in the ideologies of "doomed cinema," this film asks "What if a ghost haunted a filmmaker and forced said creator to shoot the 'scariest film ever made' – would you watch it?" Those who caught Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made and, like myself, wish the film was about an actual screening massacre at the hand of cursed cinema, Warning: Do Not Play is your redemption. Plus, I'm a sucker when those "reds" drench the screen (phrase patent pending). It's effective ghost-auteur cinema that proves itself adept at spooks and hair-raiser chills. Another Friday night, lights-off winner for those who don't mind subtitles at the bottom of their screens.

The Invisible Man

Streaming: Amazon Prime ($5.99), YouTube ($5.99), Google Play ($5.99)

I wavered back-and-forth on including Leigh Whannell's The Invisible Man because of its mainstream notoriety, but I sometimes forget my Twitter horror bubble doesn't represent all audience opinions or actions. Domestic box office totals read $67.1 million – but still! In case you haven't pulled the proverbial trigger, allow me to one more time state how The Invisible Man finely tunes a template that should be reused when it comes to modernizing horror classics. Whannell's weaponization of paranoia and blank space is something I haven't seen so proficiently capitalized on since Paranormal Activity, while action cinematography further evolves Whannell's smooth fight choreography first showcased in Upgrade. Specific third-act narrative points will be debated, but aren't the best kind of films ones that make us think for days after the fact?

Don't vanish before you read my full review of The Invisible Man, once again bringing my main man Chris Evangelista back into the fold with his /Film review.