(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: As 2020 nears a much-awaited close, before 2021 brings with it a newfound, maybe even hopeful landscape, let’s reflect one last time. Not at the disaster points, but the sweet little pockets that helped get us through day by day. For example! Despite titles like Candyman and Halloween Kills vacating a theater-shuttered year, it was still an above-average period for the horror genre. International and independent VOD-streamers released as they planned, with highlights that neither myself nor Chris want you to forget. Hell, we might as well put our distraction-watching habits to good use.

Chris: Folks, it’s been a rough year. And the movie release landscape was severely hampered. But there are still plenty of strong 2020 horror movies worth checking out, and if you’re currently in the midst of an end-of-the-year catch-up, Matt and I are here to help you sort through the shit and find the sweetness. Is that a saying? No, probably not, but it should be. #SortThroughTheShitAndFindTheSweetness. 

Don’t Listen

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: I did not hear about Ángel Gómez Hernández’s Don’t Listen hitting Netflix until using Netflix three days before the film’s release, when the menu flashed a few-seconds banner before cycling onward. Another “hits Netflix without fanfare but deserves fanfare” instance, which seems to happen so frequently when subtitles are involved. It’s not tremendously unique, but what’s wrong with a mean-spirited (pun intended) haunted narrative rooted in grief, electro-frequency afterlife communication, and Javier Botet‘s accomplished “creature” work? The few gotcha moments range callbacks from The Omen to Hollow Man, and as already stated, Hernández isn’t afraid to get the evilest kind of demonic-nasty. Me likey.

Chris: Uh-oh, this going to be one of those entries where I’ve seen none of Matt’s titles, isn’t it? 

The Call

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Speaking of “hits Netflix without fanfare but deserves fanfare,” Lee Chung-Hyun’s The Call dropped not even, or maybe just barely, a week after Don’t Listen. South Korea strikes again with another diabolical showing of genre creativity, this time playing around with parallel universes via telephone. A woman hears a voice from the past on the other end of her receiver; the two begin toying with butterfly effects throughout time, then one reveals themselves as a kill-happy psychopath. How do you stop an adversary who’s not even in your current reality? This is one sci-fi horror tale that dabbles in frequency-freaky logic and somehow executes without becoming too cluttered, as ambition and thoughtful devastation work hand-in-hand.

Chris: Yeah, but is this as good as the Halle Berry movie of the same name that everyone already forgot about?? 

Uncle Peckerhead

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Matt: Punk rock, sweat-soaked venues, and a man-eating roadie. Matthew John Lawrence’s Uncle Peckerhead sports a snicker-worthy title that suggests something crasser, but it’s a heartfelt horror-tinged story about chasing your dreams. The concept is simple: the band DUH embarks on an indie-circuit tour with a charitable man who offers his van (it’s needed). It turns out that said man, who goes by “Peck,” feeds every night on the enemies of DUH, so it all works out…for a while. Chaos ensues, booking agents end up dismembered, and DUH finds their sound throughout it all. One of my favorite little indie discoveries of 2020.

Chris: I just can’t get passed the title of this one, but Matt may have just sold me on whatever the heck this is. 

Uncaged

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime and Shudder

Matt: A long, LONG time ago (2016), Dick Maas‘ released a little movie called Prey, or at least I thought it released? I saw Prey as Prey, but apparently, its official stateside release happened in 2020 as Uncaged. Whatever the title, Maas works his magic in a “When Animals Attack” film where a lion terrorizes the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. If you’ve seen a Maas film, you know the liberties he’s fine taking in favor of entertainment, and bonus points, the ferocious feline carries itself quite admirably for something animated. More along the Crawl or Burning Bright lines, but as a city-wide kitty hunt, again, with major Maas vibes. If that means nothing to you, welp, you’re ready for your first Mass lesson, methinks.

Chris: Yep, didn’t see it. 

Anything For Jackson

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: One of the latecomers to the 2020 horror scene was Justin G. Dyck’s Anything For Jackson. In this “Reverse Exorcism” film, grandparents call upon satanic rituals to resurrect a deceased loved one. Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings are so genuine and postured as grief-stricken elders who chance everything for the return of “Jackson,” proven by the kidnapped pregnant woman bound to their guest bed. Despite being known for his made-for-television Christmas fodder, Dyck cuts to a profoundly sinister story with smatters of Insidious as multiple spirits swarm towards a single fresh host (Troy James spotting). It’s wholesome, it’s blasphemous, and it’s so exceptionally navigated as to accentuate some to-the-point Halloween thrills. Perhaps “Dental Ghost,” or catch-your-breath demises. Ope, here come the shivers again.

Chris: I watched half of this the other night and then had to stop because I was tired, and I have yet to finish it. Wasn’t that an exciting story? Anyway, the half I saw was good. 

Gretel & Hansel

Now Streaming on Fubo 

Chris: This moody, witchy, occult-laced take on the classic fairy tale is gorgeous and haunting. So of course, it bombed at the box office. Oz Perkins’ film takes the classic story of Hansel and Gretel and reworks it into a kind of feminist horror film, with It breakout Sophia Lillis playing Gretel turning in yet another memorable performance and Alice Krige stealing the show as the witch who invites Gretel and hansel into her home (which is definitely not made of gingerbread). I saw this movie in theaters back in January! Little did I know that soon the concept of going to the movie theater was going to be defunct. 

Matt: The more Oz Perkins movies I see, the more I have to admit that I’m just not an Oz Perkins: The Director fan.

The Lodge

Now Streaming on Hulu

Chris: I caught The Lodge almost two years ago, at Sundance in 2019. It made quite an impression on me, and I spent the period between its Sundance release and its premiere hyping it up (I’m quoted on the Blu-ray cover). When others finally got to see The Lodge, I saw a lot of people downright loathing the film. And those that didn’t loathe it thought it was just too bleak to stomach. I won’t argue – The Lodge is relentlessly bleak. And I usually don’t like relentlessly bleak films! But for one reason or another, this one has stuck with me. A brother and sister are snowed-in at a cabin (or lodge) with their future stepmother, whom they hate. She tries to be nice to them but they’re constantly treating her like shit. And then…well, if you still haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it. Just know that things get very dark, very fast, with Riley Keough doing great work as the tormented stepmother. 

Matt: I saw this movie at the Overlook film festival last year based on Chris’ recommendation, and we’re still friends to this day, so suffice it to say, he was right.

She Dies Tomorrow

Now Streaming on Hulu

Chris: Amy Seimetz’s strange, surreal, unsettling She Dies Tomorrow features Kate Lyn Sheil as a woman who is suddenly seized with a realization: she’s going to die – and soon. Tomorrow, in fact. She’s 100% certain of this fact, though she can’t explain why. And here’s the kicker: when she tells her friend Jane (Jane Adams) about this, Jane laughs it off – but then she, too, is suddenly convinced she’s also going to die tomorrow. And soon it’s spreading, like some sort of disease – more and more people become absolutely certain they’re about to expire. It’s chilling, and deliberately vague. In a year where sickness spread at an alarming rate, and the future seemed more uncertain than ever, She Dies Tomorrow feels almost prescient. 

Matt: I quite enjoyed She Dies Tomorrow, which I reviewed right here at /Film if you’d like to read more on why.

The Invisible Man

Now Streaming on HBO Max

Chris: Another movie I managed to see in theaters in the before times. Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man is just brilliant – a masterclass in visual storytelling and building tension. Elisabeth Moss gives yet another unhinged, knock-outperformance, playing a woman who is convinced her abusive boyfriend has found a way to turn invisible and is currently stalking her. This is both one of the best horror movies of the year and one of the best movies of the year, period. 

Matt: The way Whannell weaponizes blank space is something special, and damn-sure worth all the hype.

Color Out of Space

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: Let me get this out of the way: I don’t really like Color Out of Space. It’s so uneven its dizzying because the movie can’t figure out if it wants to be funny, or scary, or weird, or all three. Instead, Richard Stanley, returning to feature films after a long time in exile, decides to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Adapting the H.P. Lovecraft tale, Stanley weaves a story of cosmic horrors that plague a family. The head of the family is Nicolas Cage, and he spends almost the entire movie yelling about alpacas. It’s a mess, but it’s a fascinating mess, and Stanely really understands how to convey the mood of Lovecraft’s unexplainable horrors. 

Matt: Color me on board with this recommendation, which finds the right balance between wacky and restrained Nic Cage for this otherworldly investigation.

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