As a horror fan, one of my constant goals—other than one day meeting Tom Atkins—is watching more horror. I binged horror movies all day yesterday? Great, time for more horror today. I can easily get complacent and decide to watch Night of the Creeps for the millionth time instead of trying something new, though, so one of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to watch 150 new-to-me horror movies. To keep myself accountable—and to get over my fear of having (and expressing) a “wrong” opinion of a movie—I’m going to post updates on my progress with mini-reviews for each movie.
Listed below are all the horror movies I watched in January, February, and March of 2020. They are listed in the order that I watched them, because I do not have time to agonize over rankings right now. Asterisks denote movies I have seen previously. Now: time for horror!
1. Luz (2018)
Luz is a young cab driver fleeing from the grasp of a possessed woman, whose confession could endanger the lives of everyone who crosses her path.
Though it suffers from overhype, Luz is a promising student film that makes clever use of limited space and has some intriguing visuals. It’s a unique take on a possession story, and I’d like to revisit it soon with tempered expectations.
2. The Dead Don’t Die (2019)
In the sleepy small town of Centerville, the dead begin to rise from their graves and feast on the living, and the citizens must battle to survive.
A laid-back, meta zombie film with a ridiculously star-studded cast and sardonic humor to spare. I’m still not sure how I feel about this one, though you have to appreciate any movie that ends with Tom Waits sighing, “What a fucked-up world.”
3. Krampus (2015)
While the holiday season represents the most magical time of year, ancient European folklore warns of Krampus, a horned beast who punishes naughty children at Christmastime. When dysfunctional family squabbling causes young Max Engel to lose his festive spirit, it unleashes the wrath of the fearsome demon. As Krampus lays siege to the Engel home, the family must must band together to save one another from a monstrous fate.
I had high hopes for Krampus. It was written and directed by Michael Dougherty, the man behind the instant classic Trick ‘r Treat, and the excellent ensemble cast features Toni “Give this scream queen ALL the Oscars” Collette. I’m not sure whether I set myself up for failure with those high expectations, but this movie fell very flat for me. Krampus—a.k.a. Bizarro Santa Who Eats Children—is one of the most frightening figures in the history of folklore. So why did he get pushed aside for a few mischievous gingerbread men and some maniacal toys? The intensifying blizzard provides menacing ambience and the cast really is terrific, but this whole endeavor just felt like a waste of talent and potential.
4. Friday the 13th* (2009)
Against the advice of locals and police, Clay scours the eerie woods surrounding Crystal Lake for his missing sister. But the rotting cabins of an abandoned summer camp are not the only things he finds. Hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees lies in wait for a chance to use his razor-sharp machete on Clay and the group of college students who have come to the forest to party.
This was a re-watch for me. Despite a quality cast, I see now why I had totally forgotten everything about this movie. I’m planning a Friday the 13th franchise post, since Shudder has the first 8 movies streaming this month, so I’ll probably end up watching this all over again to take notes.
5. Doom: Annihilation (2018)
A group of Marines responds to a distress call from a top-secret scientific base on Phobos, a Martian moon, only to discover it’s been overrun by demons.
A movie about space Marines shooting demons really ought to be more memorable than this video game adaptation. I remember a few choice line readings and the obligatory “sit around the spaceship and whinge about the ridiculous monster-hunting mission we’ve been saddled with” scene, which I always enjoy, but otherwise this was pretty forgettable.
6. Alone in the Dark (2005)
When the investigations of supernatural detective Edward Carnby lead him to uncover a long-lost tribe called the Abskani, he finds out that they worshiped demons. These evil creatures are now attempting to resurface in the world, and Edward can stop them only with the help of Aline Cedrac, an archaeologist who also happens to be his old flame. With sinister forces attempting to take over Edward’s mind, can he and Aline stop them before it’s too late?
I’m glad I finally saw this ridiculous Uwe Boll opus. Though it’s not my favorite so-bad-it’s-good Christian Slater joint (that honor belongs to Mindhunters), it was a lot of fun. And I don’t care how much they tried to push the romance between Slater and Tara Reid; the real love story in this movie was between Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff.
7. Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)
A teen learns that a scientist implanted her dead boyfriend’s brain into an animatronic dinosaur.
Truly bonkers, in the best possible way. There’s some regrettable ’90s homophobia on display, but this is still a movie that you absolutely have to see. Mad scientists, brains in jars, and dinosaur love scenes that would make Chuck Tingle proud—what’s not to love? Seriously, if you haven’t watched this yet, do it TODAY.
8. You’re Next* (2011)
In an attempt to mend broken family ties, a wealthy couple decides to celebrate their wedding anniversary by inviting their four children and their children’s significant others to their weekend estate. The celebration gets off to a rocky start, but when crossbow-wielding assailants in animal masks suddenly attack, the family must pull together or die.
One of my favorite slasher flicks with one of my favorite final girls. Though Ready or Not had some terrific moments and a fantastic lead performance from Samara Weaving, You’re Next is the superior entry in the eat-the-rich slasher subgenre. Terrifying, bloody, and smart, with one of the best endings in the game.
9. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)
Favorite daughter Karen is viciously murdered in church on the day of her First Communion, and suspicion falls on her jealous and emotionally unstable sister Alice. Alice is sent away, but when the attacks continue, local priest Father Tom and Alice’s dad Dominick go in search of the real killer.
Enjoyably weird and not at all what I expected, this movie still delivered the evil kid horror I was hoping for. I’d really like to revisit this one, especially since I’ve had the score stuck in my head since I watched it.
10. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
The shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large in the small town of Mill Valley for generations. It’s in a mansion that young Sarah Bellows turns her tortured life and horrible secrets into a series of scary stories. These terrifying tales soon have a way of becoming all too real for a group of unsuspecting teens who stumble upon Sarah’s spooky home.
Let’s be honest: there was no way this movie could live up to the standard set by Stephen Gammell’s iconic art in the original books. The movie is a fun trip down memory lane for someone who grew up on the books and considers them a formative experience as a horror fan, but ultimately I was underwhelmed. The look is spot-on, but what’s missing is the actual feel of the books—that heady combination of goofy fun and an “Am I supposed to be reading this?” sense of danger. I may be clinging too tightly to the memory of the original work to judge the movie on its own merits, though. If you have kids who saw this but weren’t familiar with the books prior to watching it, please let me know how they reacted to this one.
11. Overlord (2018)
On the eve of D-Day, American paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to penetrate the walls of a fortified church and destroy a radio transmitter. As the soldiers approach their target, they soon begin to realize that there’s more going on in the Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation. Making their way to an underground lab, the outnumbered men stumble upon a sinister experiment that forces them into a vicious battle against an army of the undead.
An interesting mix of genres with strong performances and some great gore effects. I don’t watch a lot of wartime horror, so this movie was a pleasant surprise. (As was discovering that star Wyatt Russell is the son of R. J. MacReady himself, Kurt Russell!)
12. Another Evil (2016)
After encountering a ghost in their family’s vacation home, a couple hire an exorcist to get rid of it. They soon realize that ridding the home of the evil spirit will be more difficult than they imagined.
Mark Proksch is always a delight, and he really sells this wonderfully weird story about a “straight up ghost assassin.” It’s a darkly funny, unique take on a haunted house story, and I recommend it if you want to watch something a little different.
13. The Boy (2016)
A young American named Greta takes a job as a nanny for an 8-year-old boy in a remote English village. To her surprise, Greta learns that the child of her new employers is a life-size doll, which they care for as if it were human. When Greta violates a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring her worst fears to life, leading her to believe that the doll is actually alive.
I am a complete and total sucker for creepy dolls. This movie took me on a bit of a ride, as evidenced by my indignant live-tweeting of Greta’s refusal to respect this clearly cursed object. Although I haven’t heard good things about it, I’m very curious about the recent sequel.
14. I Trapped the Devil (2019)
Hoping for a joyful family reunion, Matt and his wife pay a surprise visit to the home of his estranged brother, Steve, to celebrate Christmas. To their shock, they soon learn that Steve has a hostage in his basement—a man he claims is the devil.
An unoriginal twist caps off a lackluster version of “The Howling Man.” Watch The Twilight Zone instead.
15. Annabelle (2014)
A couple begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.
I did not expect to see the Manson Family enter the Conjuring Universe, however indirectly, but I kind of dig the incorporation of the infamous Creepy-Crawlers into this corner of horrordom. I watched this movie months ago, and I still break into a sprint when I walk down a dark hallway lest I hear adult Annabelle whispering, “I like your dolls.”
16. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)
Thirty years after her accidental death at the 1957 senior prom, the tortured spirit of prom queen Mary Lou Maloney returns to seek revenge.
One of my new favorite horror sequels. It’s right up there with Slumber Party Massacre 2 on my list of Amazing Horror Sequels That Bear No Resemblance Whatsoever to Their Predecessors. A delicious lead performance and inventive kills make this a must-see.
17. Catcalls (2017)
Looking to get a cheap thrill, a man decides to flash the wrong two girls late at night.
This short film aims for a cathartic #MeToo message, but it gets confusing when the prey-turned-predators seem to kill indiscriminately. Still, I enjoyed the concept quite a bit, and you can’t beat that tagline.
18. Halloween (2018)
It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Illinois—but this time, she’s ready for him.
Sharp, funny, and a terrific way to reboot the franchise. There are plenty of sly callbacks to previous entries, but this is no lazy nostalgia fest. Jamie Lee Curtis and writers David Gordon Green, Jeff Fradley, and Danny McBride take Laurie Strode to the only logical place her character could go, and I am very much here for it.
19. As Above, So Below (2014)
Archaeologist Scarlett Marlowe has devoted her whole life to finding one of history’s greatest treasures: Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone. When she learns that the stone is hidden underground in the catacombs of Paris, she assembles a crew to guide and document her historic mission. As they begin their descent, the team members have no way of knowing that they are entering their own personal hell.
A recent favorite, with a compelling, creepy story and a genius setting. I can’t stop thinking about the final scene (cleverly alluded to by that rad poster).
20. Next of Kin (1982)
After her estranged mother’s death, Linda inherits a retirement home called Montclare, which has been in her family for years. Soon after she arrives at the estate, she learns that something is not right at Montclare, and that her mother’s death may have occurred under suspicious circumstances.
A gem—I never even knew Australian giallo existed! I went in knowing absolutely nothing about this movie, which made for a great viewing experience. The camerawork and score are fantastic. If you’re looking for a fun, suspenseful flick, give this one a shot.
21. Annabelle: Creation (2017)
Former toymaker Sam Mullins and his wife, Esther, are happy to welcome a nun and six orphaned girls into their California farmhouse. But terror soon strikes when one of the girls sneaks into a forbidden room and finds a doll that appears to have a life of its own.
Here I go with my creepy dolls again. I don’t care how many times they go back to the Annabelle well, I will always be there to watch from behind my fingers and fall off my bed out of fright. (Yes, that really happened during this movie. No, I am not proud of it.)
22. The House of the Devil (2009)
Financially struggling college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret, putting her life in mortal danger.
Nigh unbearable tension and dread make this early ’80s throwback a must-watch. Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, and Satan…it really doesn’t get any better than that.
23. And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973)
Newlyweds Charles and Catherine Fengriffen arrive at Charles’ family estate to begin their married life together—but in doing so they inadvertently awaken an old family curse. Now Catherine finds herself terrorized by delirious visions and a malicious spirit hell-bent on having its way with her.
An enjoyably bloody and spooky version of a tale as old as time: boy meets girl, boy whisks girl to gothic manor, girl falls victim to evil curse. (CW: rape.)
24. The Black Cat (1941)
Elderly Henrietta Winslow lives in an isolated mansion with her housekeeper and beloved cats. As her health fails, her greedy relatives gather in anticipation of her death.
This was a hell of a fun movie. Secret passageways, a family crematorium, and black cats everywhere? Sign me up. And there are few things I love more than a will-reading fraught with passive-aggressive family tension and suspicions of foul play.
25. Girl on the Third Floor (2019)
A man tries to renovate a dilapidated house for his growing family, only to learn that the house has other plans.
This one has a lot of fans, and I truly wanted to enjoy it. I really like CM Punk and Trieste Kelly Dunn (if you’ve never watched Banshee, go fix that NOW), and I love haunted house movies more than just about anything in the world. Unfortunately, I found this movie to be a muddled, ugly disappointment. But I must give props for some fun gore effects (the word “goopy” is justifiably thrown around a lot with regard to this movie) and some very clever costuming on the amorous neighbor.
26. Unfriended (2014)
One night, while a group of teenagers take part in an online group chat session, they are suddenly joined by a user known only as “Billie227.” Thinking it’s just a technical glitch, the friends carry on their conversation…until they begin receiving messages from someone claiming to be a classmate who killed herself exactly one year prior. As the friends try to expose Billie’s identity, they are forced to confront their darkest secrets and lies.
Another recent favorite! This was a sharp, effective use of a concept that could have been trite or boring in the wrong hands. I really wish I had seen this one in the theatre. With the sudden prevalence of Zoom calls, now is the perfect time to watch this tense, scary story of the world’s deadliest group chat.
27. Ginger Snaps* (2000)
Two death-obsessed sisters, outcasts in their suburban neighborhood, must deal with the tragic consequences when one of them is bitten by a deadly werewolf.
A modern werewolf classic. Both lead performances are stellar, and Katharine Isabelle is one of my favorite horror actresses. With its trenchant focus on female sexuality, this would make a terrific double feature with Cat People.
28. Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)
A reporter and a young woman investigate a series of child murders in a remote town.
One of my favorite things about giallo is that you simply have to surrender yourself to it. Don’t question the plot too much, don’t focus on the pacing, and don’t wonder how each scene is supposed to interconnect; just go with it and enjoy the beautiful, bloody dream. The shocking climax of this film and the gorgeous graveyard scene will stick with me for a long time.
29. The Invisible Man (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.
An incredible examination of domestic abuse and gaslighting from a survivor’s point of view. I had to take a few breaks during this one, not because it was too scary (even though there are some truly tense and frightening scenes) but because there were some highly triggering moments that forced me to stop and catch my breath. I’m tempted to write a full review, though I’m not sure how eager I am to revisit that level of trauma right now. Still, I can’t recommend The Invisible Man enough: it’s smart, empathetic, scary, and timely. (CW: domestic abuse.)
30. The Room (2019)
A couple discover a strange room in their new house that grants material wishes, but all they want is a child.
An interesting concept that wasn’t executed all that well. Even the wish fulfillment montage is dull. Credit where credit’s due, though: it’s a terrific premise, and I appreciate that they didn’t draw things out when one of the main characters discovers the power of The Room to grant wishes. We go straight from a bottle of booze flickering into existence to a room stuffed with treasure, and I respect that. (CW: rape.)
31. Noroi: The Curse (2005)
A paranormal expert vanishes while filming a documentary about an ancient demon.
Excruciatingly slow and repetitive, this movie might have been scary if it had been trimmed by 30 or 40 minutes. I LOVE a good slow burn, but beyond a split-second image that briefly made my pulse race, Noroi never caught fire at all. Unnecessary flashbacks and aggravatingly belabored plot points made this a tedious, frustrating watch that led to an obvious and unsatisfying payoff. I am flummoxed by the glowing reviews for this one.
32. Final Destination* (2000)
After a teenager has a terrifying vision of himself and his friends dying in a plane crash, he prevents the accident…only to have Death hunt them down, one by one.
I adore the Final Destination franchise. I’ve been in the mood for cinematic comfort food lately, and this definitely fits the bill. It may seem odd that I watch these movies to relax—the whole point of a Final Destination flick is watching Death methodically subject people to elaborate, painful demises—but the over-the-top kills and formulaic nature do indeed soothe me.
33. Final Destination 2* (2003)
After a young woman has a terrifying vision of herself and her friends dying in a car crash, she prevents the accident…only to have Death hunt them down, one by one.
…Of course, that soothing zen feeling goes right out the window if I’m driving behind a logging truck on the highway. Then my anxiety goes straight back to nightmare mode. But I do love a good elevator kill, and the plate glass scene from this sequel always makes me laugh.
Well, that’s it for the first quarter of the year! I’m not going to lie to you—the negative reviews on this list are causing me a lot of stress. And there are embarrassingly few movies on the list from before 2000, though in my defense I have been actively trying to catch up on current horror movies. Still, it’s not the best look, so I’ll try to expand my horizons (in more ways than one) for my next update.
Speaking of my next update: I need to pick up the pace to hit my goal of 150 movies. March and April were both off months for me, for obvious reasons, but I’m still going to try to achieve my resolution. I’m taking a bit of a Twitter break, but I’m still checking notifications, so feel free to hold me accountable over there!