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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The best horror movies of 2020: Streaming, festival, and VOD edition

Clockwise from top left: Imptetigore (Screengrab); We Summon The Darkness (Photo: Saban Films); The Beach House (Photo: Shudder)
Clockwise from top left: Imptetigore (Screengrab); We Summon The Darkness (Photo: Saban Films); The Beach House (Photo: Shudder)

This week’s Push The Envelope isn’t all Horrors Week-themed (we’ve got our Random Roles interview with Mark Strong for you to enjoy), but we wanted to get into the spirit by having our resident horror experts Katie Rife and Alex McLevy stop by the podcast to share their favorite genre films of the year from the festival and streaming/VOD worlds.

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You can keep on reading for a few highlights of McLevy’s streaming/VOD options, and can hear the whole podcast episode here.

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We Summon the Darkness

“This is very much in the sort of horror comedy vein. It stars Alexandra Daddario and it’s directed by Marc Myers, who I think probably most people know for his film, My Friend Dahmer. But if you like that film, do not go into this expecting a similar tone. This is a much wider, much goofier film. It’s three young, twenty-something metalhead women on their way to a concert. They go and they meet up with a few guys, and decide it’d would be fun to keep partying after the concert. So they go back to Alexandra Daddario’s, her character’s house—her parent’s house. And needless to say, from there, the night does not go quite as they expect. I don’t want to say too much about it, but it’s very fun. Katie’s seen it, I know, and also likes it. It’s got a great twist, a great plot. Some goofy stuff happens, but it’s definitely a good movie if somebody is looking for something that’s still in the horror genre but doesn’t really feel like getting too scared.”

Available on Netflix

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The Beach House

“This is a movie was made by director Jeffrey Brown. It’s his first feature film. You wouldn’t know it, though, by seeing it, because it’s a wonderfully shot, a little slice of horror, sort of combination. It starts off H.P. Lovecraft style-meets-body horror, that’s kind of the best way to describe it. A young couple arrives at exactly the title place, a beach house, to sort of work on their relationship—it’s owned by his parents. It’s sort of a classic situation: He and his girlfriend are sort of slowly moving in different directions in life. But what happens is a friend of his father’s, another couple, ends up actually being in the house at the same time. And so they end up sharing it for the night and having dinner together. And while they’re doing this, and spending this evening together, this strange sort of fog with eerie lights in it sort of drifts over to the mainland. And as anybody who’s ever seen a horror movie knows, that’s never a good thing. And so, very quickly, things start to happen to them. They wake up not feeling quite the same in the morning and things go very, very south very quickly. It’s gross. It’s grisly. It’s artfully constructed. It’s everything you could want in a in a creepy little nasty slice of slice of horror.”

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Available on Shudder

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Impetigore

“This is an Indonesian film, and the reason I was excited to check it out in the first place is because the director, Joko Anwar, did a film that made a big splash internationally a couple of years ago—it was a remake of Satan’s Slaves, which was a 1982 film, but he remade it. And Katie and I both actually saw it, I think at the same time, maybe —at the Apocalypse Film Festival here in Chicago—and we thought it was great. So this is his newest horror film. And he’s he’s got a very sort of great grand, old-school, classical [feel,] very much in the tradition of Val Lewton. I think of him almost maybe a sort of the Indonesian James Wan in some ways. This one, it’s another very simple, classic, traditional horror setup. This young woman who never knew her parents, she finds this old photograph that suggests that they were in fact rich and have this old house in the village where she was born. And so she travels back to see if maybe she owns this house and could get some money, solve all our money woes, so her and a friend go. And when they get to the town, very quickly it’s apparent that something isn’t quite right. There are no children to be seen anywhere, except for these three strange girls that she continually catches at the edge of her field of vision. And so they start to explore her connection to this town and why her family had this big house here. And it unspools from there in a very sort of classical tradition, it’s very grand. You know, it’s almost Spielbergian at times in terms of Anwar’s command of cinematic language. It’s great. I’d call it a four-quadrant crowdpleaser in the horror genre.

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Available on Shudder

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To hear Rife’s thoughts on festival standouts—as well as her lively discussion with McLevy about the moment Indonesian horror is currently having, and the Mark Strong interview—subscribe to Push The Envelope wherever you get your podcasts. If you’re a fan, remember to rate, comment, and subscribe to get the episodes as soon as they’re live.

New episodes of Push The Envelope are released every Thursday.

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A.V. Club Editor in Chief...but really just a She-Ra, Schitt’s Creek, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, Big Brother, Top Chef, The Good Place superfan.

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