Best new horror films to watch this Halloween
- Emma Simmonds
- 23 October 2020
Our pick of recent cinema and streaming options, guaranteed to scare you silly
Although the odds have been stacked heavily against it, 2020 has been a great year for horror – perhaps appropriately given the time we've all had. And with Halloween nearly upon us and the nights drawing eerily in, we're being treated to the release of some of the year's choicest chillers. From haunted houses to bloodsuckers and religious zealots, from the political to the personal, and from the funny and kid-friendly to the properly frightening, should you dare there's something for you all.
Saint Maud ★★★★☆
This festival favourite from Essex-born writer/director Rose Glass is a daring-as-hell debut, and acts as a stunning showcase for the terrifically talented Morfydd Clark (The Personal History of David Copperfield), who is paired with the equivalently compelling Jennifer Ehle. Clark plays a pious, mentally unstable young nurse tasked with the care of a dying former dancer, whose lifestyle she deeply disapproves of. As Maud loses her grip on reality and becomes obsessed with saving her charge's soul, things get ugly and near-apocalyptic, with the spiralling situation realised with unforgettable style.
In cinemas now.
His House ★★★★☆
Another British first-time helmer, Remi Weekes, is behind this powerful and satirical haunted house horror. It looks at the plight of a pair of South Sudanese asylum seekers, played by Gangs of London's Sope Dirisu and Lovecraft Country's Wunmi Mosaku, who receive a far from warm welcome on English soil after their eye-watering ordeal. To make matters even more alarming, an apeth, or night witch, seems to have followed them. Doctor Who's Matt Smith co-stars.
In cinemas now and on Netflix from Fri 30 Oct.
We head to the other side of the world for this deftly disturbing debut from Melbourne-based filmmaker Natalie Erika James. She creates a suffocating sense of confusion and dread in this dementia-themed horror, which sees an elderly woman (played by Robyn Nevin) go missing and return with no memory of events, while her daughter and granddaughter (Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote respectively) are desperate to figure out what the heck is going on.
In cinemas and on demand from Fri 30 Oct.
Vampires vs. the Bronx ★★★☆☆
This cute comedy horror from Oz Rodriguez focusing on a group of plucky children channels Stranger Things and the 80s films that inspired it, but is set amongst the Bronx's Black and Hispanic communities. Disbelieved by their nearest and dearest when they witness some serious freakiness, three kids (Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III and Gregory Diaz IV) find themselves fending off gentrifiers, with fangs. There's some welcome eccentricity in the script, Sarah Gadon has fun as a suspiciously nice white lady, there's a cameo from Zoe Saldana, Method Man pops up as a priest, and the wonderful Shea Whigham gets to look shifty. If you're looking for something that's not too terrifying and can be watched with older kids then you've found it.
Available to watch on Netflix now.
Genre fans will know that some of the best new horror can be found on specialist streaming service Shudder, and they are currently offering a free 7-day trial. Once signed up, one of the first on your list should be Rob Savage's ingenious Zoom horror Host, which is an absolute hoot, before turning pretty hair-raising. A mere 57-minutes of extremely well-executed humour, suspense and frights, with terrifically credible work from its mainly female cast, it sees a group of pals hire a medium for an online séance during lockdown. As well as being pretty damn scary it manages to make innovative use of its format and perfectly capture these strange times.
Available to watch on Shudder now.
La Llorona ★★★★★
Also on Shudder but in a very different vein, this strikingly released Guatemalan chiller from Jayro Bustamante sits at the more arthouse end of the spectrum. It follows an aging, unrepentant dictator and his female family members as they hide out in their home whilst protestors amass outside. His crimes really do return to haunt him, while others are forced to confront their complicity in this ghost story with a difference. Other picks from the platform are the homophobia-themed Canadian horror Spiral and superior anthology flick The Mortuary Collection.
Available to watch on Shudder now.