We made it through another year, everyone. I’m hoping that 2021 was more bearable than 2020 was.
If anything, we had some amazing horror movies out this year. Such a wide variety of voices and stories. In the UK, we didn’t have as many movies streaming at the same time they were in cinemas, so I missed a few key ones thanks to Covid (thinking about Candyman).
Actually, while compiling this list, I realised I missed out on a lot. No changing that now with only a few days to go! Nevertheless, we’re making a list here. Who cares if I still haven’t seen Censorship? But of the horror movies I saw this year, these are my top ten 2021 releases.
I’ve gone by UK theatrical and streaming release dates. So if you see something on here that was on everyone else’s 2020, blame the stupid pandemic we’re living through.
10 There’s Someone Inside Your House dir. by Patrick Brice
I was shocked by how much I liked this movie. Predictable? Very. But it’s a solid slasher that comes from an original source material. A girl and her friends are being stalked online where their biggest secrets are being exposed.
I know this received pretty lukewarm reviews, but I watched this on one of my flights back from the US and I thank it for making two hours pass by painlessly.
9 The Found Footage Phenomenon dir. by Phillip Escott and Sarah Appleton
A nice documentary about one of horror’s most polarising subgenres: found footage. I would love for this to be done as mini series to allow more in-depth discussion about the genre and it’s development. But great work for a panini doc.
8 Till Death dir. by SK Dale
One of the biggest (but pleasant) surprises of 2021 was how much I enjoyed this Megan Fox thriller.
Fox was great as the wife of a powerful man, stuck in an unhappy marriage. When she’s taken to their remote cabin for their anniversary, she thinks things might be on the mend. But it soon becomes apparent that her husband has something much more sinister in mind.
There are great moments that held me in suspense throughout. Again, Fox was really great, especially as she had to carry much of the movie on her own.
7 Werewolves Within dir. by Josh Ruben
It will be clear from the next few movies on this list that I really favoured horror comedies this year.
Sam Richardson plays Finn, a forest ranger who goes to a small town to keep the peace over a proposed gas pipeline. But there’s more than just politics at play here. Soon the residents realise they must band together to fight a werewolf. Only, working together isn’t exactly their strong suit.
The ensemble cast is really good here, and bring the film to life really well. I loved the snowy locked room mystery, even though I guessed who the werewolf was almost straight away.
Werewolves Within was my first Ruben film, but I’ve since watched Scare Me which was one of my favourite new-to-me movies of the year.
6 Freaky dir. by Christopher Landon
Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton switch bodies and play each other’s characters to perfection. Vaughn gives a great performance here that made me laugh until my side hurt. The script is hilarious, and it’s a film I find myself enjoying more with each watch.
5 Fear Street: 1666 dir. by Leigh Janiak
This summer, Netflix gave us three Fear Street movies back-to-back. They created an entertaining world of monsters and curses.
Each of the instalments had something about them that I liked, but part three really pulled everything together. It’s part three, so I won’t go into plot because of spoilers. But it’s proof that horror was alive and well in the mainstream in 2021. Truly, thank you Netflix for this gamble.
4 Psycho Goreman dir. by Steven Kostanski
Psycho Goreman is absolutely bananas. A little girl and her brother find an extraterrestrial overlord and force him to be their friend with a magic stone. It’s hilarious, disgusting and absolutely unique.
3 The Amusement Park dir. by George A. Romero
Is it cheating to include a movie made in 1975? Maybe. But I call the shots here.
The Amusement Park is a 50-minute movie that Romero made for the Lutheran Service Society in Pittsburg about elder abuse. The Lutherans didn’t like the film’s bleakness and shelved it. The film was believed lost until rediscovered in 2017.
It certainly is bleak. An elderly man spends time at an amusement park meant only for the young. He suffers embarrassment and cons throughout a day of abuse. I found this story very hard to watch at points. But it’s poignant and makes it’s points well.
I miss Romero and his work very much. It was a blessing to be able to see new footage of his this year.
2 Malignant dir. by James Wan
Certainly one of the more polarising horror movies of the year. I adored this bat shit crazy story. It’s really a movie you should go into completely blind. Watch the trailer if you wish, but it gives literally nothing away to what unfolds in the third act. It’s in that last act that things go from a three to 100. It’s a rollercoaster that you’ll never want to get off.
Malignant is bold and ballsy. I can’t help but adore that in a movie.
1 Veneciafrenia dir. by Álex de la Iglesia
A group of Spanish friends go to Venice for a holiday of debauchery during Carnevale. They’re incredibly irritating, typical tourists. But when their group starts to dwindle in numbers, they realise someone is targeting tourists in the city.
There are two movies I’ve seen this year that I think about every day since I’ve seen them. This is one of them. It’s one of the most stunning horror movies I’ve ever seen. The sets and costuming are jaw-dropping. The plot is fun and twisty – clearly very inspired by gialli. I cannot wait to be able to watch this one again. If it’s ever released theatrically, do yourself a favour and see it on the big screen.