The Complete Guide to Horror-Thriller Movies in 2020
There were 22 horror-thriller films last year, but due to the disruption by COVID-19, there are only 17 this year. And this is only counting Hollywood and English horror films. There are tons more Asian horror titles, and as everyone knows, Asian horror movies are the best. Why else would Hollywood keep remaking them? See The Grudge (2 Jan), which is another in the long line of remakes/sequels in The Grudge series, which is in itself a remake of the Japanese Ju-on series about a mysterious and vengeful spirit who marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides. Unfortunately, the latest one was slammed by critics and audiences alike. It was made cheaply though, so it’ll be profitable.
But Hollywood isn’t hopeless at horror — they do have good horror-thriller movies coming out this year. The Lighthouse (30 Jan) was very well-reviewed, and both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe were in the running to be acting nominees in this year’s Oscars, though they eventually lost out on a place.
A Quiet Place Part II (3 Sep), the first domino to fall in the series of COVID-19 release date pull-outs one week before it was set to hit cinemas on 19 Mar, is a sequel to the silent phenomenon A Quiet Place that came out two years ago. And the highly successful Conjuring series will see a third installment on 10 Sep. COVID-19, man. It has screwed up a ton of stuff.
Though I’ve left Asian and other non-English films out of my lists, I would be remiss to not mention Peninsula (15 Jul), the sequel to Korean zombie apocalypse movie Train to Busan, since the first movie was a blockbuster megahit that came out of the left field and did better than many Hollywood movies that marketed themselves as blockbusters.
There’s still room for more horror titles to be added to the list, with upcoming movies with release dates that have not yet been announced, so check back for updates every month!
Horror-Thriller movies opening in cinemas in 2020
(Click on each title in the numbered list to jump to that section if you don’t want to scroll through the entire list. This list will be updated periodically as new information/trailers come in. You can also click on each movie’s heading to go to their IMDb pages. Release dates below are for Singapore, but if you’re outside Singapore, IMDb can tell you fairly accurately what’s the release date in your country.)
- The Grudge (2 Jan)
- The Wolf Hour (2 Jan)
- Underwater (30 Jan)
- The Lighthouse (30 Jan)
- Fantasy Island (13 Feb)
- Brahms: The Boy 2 (20 Feb)
- Color Out of Space (20 Feb)
- The Invisible Man (27 Feb)
- Gretel & Hansel (5 Mar)
- Train to Busan 2: Peninsula (15 Jul)
- Unhinged (30 Jul)
- The Hunt (13 Aug)
- The New Mutants (27 Aug)
- The Secrets We Keep (17 Sep)
- The Empty Man (22 Oct)
- The Craft: Legacy (29 Oct)
- The Silencing (29 Oct)
- Ghosts of War (29 Oct)
- Blood Vessel (29 Oct)
- Freaky (12 Nov)
- Horizon Line (12 Nov)
- Dreamkatcher (12 Nov)
- Synchronic (19 Nov)
- Z (17 Dec)
Director: Nicolas Pesce (“Piercing”, “The Eyes of My Mother”)
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Synopsis: Producer Sam Raimi brings us a twisted new take of the horror classic. THE GRUDGE is based on the film “Ju-On: The Grudge” written & directed by Takashi Shimizu.
Director: Alistair Banks Griffin (“Two Gates of Sleep”)
Cast: Naomi Watts, Jennifer Ehle, Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Synopsis: June was once a known counter-culture figure, but that was a decade ago. She now lives alone in her South Bronx apartment, having all but cut herself off from the outside world. It’s the notorious “Summer of Sam” and June only has to look out of her window to see the violence escalating with the brutal summer heat. The city is on a knife’s edge, a pressure-cooker about to explode into the incendiary 1977 New York blackout riots.
Director: William Eubank (“The Signal”)
Cast: Kristen Stewart, T.J. Miller, Vincent Cassel, John Gallagher Jr., Jessica Henwick
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror
Synopsis: UNDERWATER is a film that follows a crew of underwater researchers who must scramble to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory.
Director: Robert Eggers (“The Witch”)
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Synopsis: As the wavering cry of the foghorn fills the air, the taciturn former lumberjack, Ephraim Winslow, and the grizzled lighthouse keeper, Thomas Wake, set foot in a secluded and perpetually grey islet off the coast of late-19th-century New England. For the following four weeks of back-breaking work and unfavourable conditions, the tight-lipped men will have no one else for company except for each other, forced to endure irritating idiosyncrasies, bottled-up resentment, and burgeoning hatred. Then, amid bad omens, a furious and unending squall maroons the pale beacon’s keepers in the already inhospitable volcanic rock, paving the way for a prolonged period of feral hunger; excruciating agony; manic isolation, and horrible booze-addled visions. Now, the eerie stranglehold of insanity tightens. Is there an escape from the wall-less prison of the mind?
Director: Jeff Wadlow (“Truth or Dare”, “Kick-Ass 2”)
Cast: Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen, Michael Rooker
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Horror
Synopsis: In Blumhouse’s FANTASY ISLAND, the enigmatic Mr. Roarke makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. But when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives.
Director: William Brent Bell (“The Boy”)
Cast: Katie Holmes, Ralph Ineson, Christopher Convery
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Synopsis: Unaware of the terrifying history of Heelshire Mansion, a young family moves into a guest house on the estate where their young son soon makes an unsettling new friend, an eerily life-like doll he calls Brahms.
Director: Richard Stanley (“Hardware”, “Dust Devil”)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard, Elliot Knight, Josh C. Waller, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tommy Chong
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Synopsis: After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farm, Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) and his family find themselves battling a mutant extraterrestrial organism as it infects their minds and bodies, transforming their quiet rural life into a living nightmare. Based on the classic H.P. Lovecraft short story, Color Out of Space is “gorgeous, vibrant and terrifying” (Jonathan Barkan, Dread Central).
Director: Leigh Whannell (“Insidious: Chapter 3”, “Upgrade”)
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Synopsis: What you can’t see can hurt you. Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (Us, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale) stars in a terrifying modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic monster character. Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer, NBC’s The InBetween), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge, Straight Outta Compton) and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid, HBO’s Euphoria). But when Cecilia’s abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House) commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
Director: Oz Perkins (“February”, “I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House”)
Cast: Sophia Lillis, Samuel Leakey, Charles Babalola, Alice Krige
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Synopsis: A long time ago in a distant fairy tale countryside, a young girl leads her little brother into a dark wood in desperate search of food and work, only to stumble upon a nexus of terrifying evil.
Director: Yeon Sang-ho (“Train to Busan”)
Cast: Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun
Genre: Action, Horror, Thriller
Synopsis: Jung-seok barely managed to escape from the unprecedented disaster in Korea 4 years ago and lives in exile in Hong Kong by himself. He is given a lucrative chance to return to Korea to retrieve large bags of cash left abandoned in the streets of Seoul. His mission is infiltrated ruined city of Seoul and secure the target truck before the sunrise, then return to Hong Kong unscathed. But he and his team are ambushed by a militia known as Unit 631 and vicious zombie hordes. During his desperate struggle to survive, Jung-seok experiences a moment of deus ex machina as survivor Min-jung and her family save him from brink of death. Together, they formulate one last plan to escape the peninsula for good. The prodigal son, the survivor and the deranged, their bloody battle begins!
Director: Derrick Borte (“American Dreamer”, “The Joneses”, “London Town”)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson
Genre: Action, Thriller
Synopsis: Academy Award winner Russell Crowe stars in UNHINGED, a timely psychological thriller that explores the fragile balance of a society pushed to the edge, taking something we’ve all experienced- road rage – to an unpredictable and terrifying conclusion. Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is running late to work when she has an altercation at a traffic light with a stranger (Crowe) whose life has left him feeling powerless and invisible. Soon, Rachel finds herself and everyone she loves the target of a man who decides to make one last mark upon the world by teaching her a series of deadly lessons. What follows is a dangerous game of cat and mouse that proves you never know just how close you are to someone who is about to become unhinged.
Director: Craig Zobel (“Z for Zachariah”)
Cast: Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Ike Barinholtz, Glenn Howerton
Genre: Action, Horror, Thriller
Synopsis: Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen… for a very specific purpose… The Hunt. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, a group of elites gathers for the very first time at a remote Manor House to hunt humans for sport. But the elites’ master plan is about to be derailed because one of the hunted, Crystal (Betty Gilpin, GLOW), knows The Hunters’ game better than they do. She turns the tables on the killers, picking them off, one by one, as she makes her way toward the mysterious woman (two-time Oscar® winner Hilary Swank) at the center of it all.
Director: Josh Boone (“The Fault in Our Stars”)
Cast: Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Synopsis: 20th Century Fox in association with Marvel Entertainment presents “The New Mutants,” an original horror thriller set in an isolated hospital where a group of young mutants is being held for psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities and their friendships will be tested as they battle to try and make it out alive.
Director: Yuval Adler (“The Operative”)
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Chris Messina
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Synopsis: In post-WWII America, a woman (Noomi Rapace), rebuilding her life in the suburbs with her husband (Chris Messina), kidnaps her neighbor (Joel Kinnaman) and seeks vengeance for the heinous war crimes she believes he committed against her.
Director: David Prior (debut feature)
Cast: James Badge Dale, Stephen Root, Joel Courtney, Rasneet Kaur
Genre: Crime, Drama, Horror
Synopsis: After a group of teens from a small Midwestern town begin to mysteriously disappear, the locals believe it is the work of an urban legend known as The Empty Man. As a retired cop investigates and struggles to make sense of the stories, he discovers a secretive group and their attempts to summon a horrific, mystical entity, and soon his life—and the lives of those close to him—are in grave danger.
Director: Zoe Lister-Jones (“Band Aid”)
Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna, Nicholas Galitzine, Michelle Monaghan, David Duchovny
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Synopsis: In Blumhouse’s continuation of the cult hit The Craft, an eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.
Director: Robin Pront (“D’Ardennen”)
Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Annabelle Wallis, Zahn McClarnon, Hero Fiennes Tiffin
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Synopsis: A reformed hunter living in isolation on a wildlife sanctuary becomes involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse when he and the local Sheriff set out to track a vicious killer who may have kidnapped his daughter years ago.
Director: Eric Bress (“The Butterfly Effect”)
Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Theo Rossi, Kyle Gallner, Skylar Astin & Alan Ritchson, Billy Zane, Shaun Toub
Genre: Horror, Thriller, War
Synopsis: Follows five battle-hardened American soldiers assigned to hold a French Chateau near the end of World War II. Formerly occupied by the Nazi high command, this unexpected respite quickly descends into madness when they encounter a supernatural enemy far more terrifying than anything seen on the battlefield.
Director: Justin Dix (“Crawlspace”)
Cast: Alyssa Sutherland, Robert Taylor, Nathan Phillips, Christopher Kirby, John Lloyd Fillingham, Alex Cooke
Synopsis: Somewhere in the North Atlantic, late 1945. A life raft adrift at sea, and in it, the survivors of a torpedoed hospital ship. With no food, water, or shelter, all seems lost — until an abandoned German minesweeper drifts ominously towards them, giving them one last chance at survival.
Director: Christopher Landon (“Happy Death Day”, “Happy Death Day 2U”, “Scouts Guide to the Apocalypse”, “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones”)
Cast: Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, Uriah Shelton
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller
Synopsis: This November, on Friday the 13th, prepare to get Freaky with a twisted take on the body-swap movie when a teenage girl switches bodies with a relentless serial killer.
Director: Mikael Marcimain (“Call Girl”, “Gentlemen”)
Cast: Allison Williams, Alexander Dreymon, Keith David
Synopsis: From the creators of 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Shallows, HORIZON LINE is a thrilling survival story about two former lovers, Sara (Allison Williams) and Jackson (Alexander Dreymon) who discover new altitudes of fear aboard a single-engine Cessna plane. It was supposed to be a routine and casual 99-minute flight to their friend’s tropical island wedding. But within minutes after takeoff, their pilot suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving Sara and Jackson with no idea where they are, no comms, and no clue how to land the plane. With nothing but miles of ocean and sky in every direction, and a terrifying storm that’s about to envelop them, Sara and Jackson have only one shot – and there’s no going back.
Director: Kerry Harris (debut feature)
Cast: Radha Mitchell, Henry Thomas, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, Lin Shaye
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Synopsis: In this terrifying horror thriller, Gail (Radha Mitchell, “Silent Hill”) is forced to come to terms with Josh, her new stepson, at a remote country home. After stealing an evil talisman from a mysterious neighbor, Josh has sinister dreams of his dead mother who commands Josh to murder Gail. When Josh’s dad (Henry Thomas, “The Haunting of Hill House”) returns, he and Gail suspect that their son has been possessed by an ancient, bloodthirsty spirit. Is it too late to save Josh’s life or their own?
Directors: Justin Benson (“The Endless”), Aaron Moorhead (“The Endless”)
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Anthony Mackie, Katie Aselton
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Synopsis: The lives of two paramedics in New Orleans are ripped apart after a series of horrific deaths are caused by a new designer drug.
Director: Brandon Christensen (“Still/Born”)
Cast: Keegan Connor Tracy, Jett Klyne, Sean Rogerson, Sara Canning, Stephen McHattie
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Synopsis: A couple is shaken to the core when their eight-year-old son begins hanging out with a creepy and ominous imaginary friend. A new tale of “parental terror” from the writer/director of Still/Born.