2020 has been an absolute beast of a year in every capacity.
The movie industry faced unprecedented upheaval and solutions are still being found on how to best release movies. This year has still featured some big movies, but there are a number of highly anticipated horror releases like Candyman, Halloween Kills, and Spiral: The Book of Saw that have all been pushed to the indefinite future. Horror fans are anxiously anticipating the upcoming releases of these big genre films, but there are a number of horror movies from across the world that did get released this year.
As the year comes to an end, we take a look at the very best international horror films that 2020 has had to offer.
Directed by Egor Abramenko; Russia
The Platform is the simple, yet effective kind of premise that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of The Twilight Zone. People wake up in a mysterious vertical prison that consists of 333 floors. Every day a platform descends that provides the prison’s food supply, with the people at the bottom’s meals being dependent on those above them not eating more than their share. What transpires is a fascinating experiment that’s like a more socially minded version of Cube. The Platform asks enlightening questions about the distribution of power and the dangers of capitalism in a tight and engaging film. The Platform actually has something to say, but it’s also full of tense encounters and a wry sense of humor about the twisted situation that’s befallen these characters.
The Wolf House
Directed by Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León; Chile, Germany
Impetigore by Joko Anwar, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Ical Tanjung, I.C.S.rrAll photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.”,”created_timestamp”:”1574165437″,”copyright”:”All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute pro”,”focal_length”:”0″,”iso”:”0″,”shutter_speed”:”0″,”title”:”Impetigore u2014 Still 4″,”orientation”:”0″}” data-image-title=”Impetigore 2020″ data-image-description=”
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Impetigore is a slow descent into terror and the movie feels like it gradually strangles the audience as tension builds and never gets an opportunity to release. A woman, Maya (Tara Basro), relocates to a secluded village in the forest to claim her family’s house, but the community becomes a magnet for paranormal activity. It’s truly upsetting to watch an entire community come up against one person and the sense of helplessness that builds inside of her. Impetigore is a more confident horror film than Anwar’s previous movie, Satan’s Slaves, and it holds off from cheap jump scares in favor of a deep lore and mystery. It sometimes gets a little lost in its own mythology, but some of Impetigore’s best scenes also involve the curse that’s consumed Maya. Impetigore is a haunting folk tale that operates with an unnerving magical realism that leads to some powerful visuals that will linger with the audience.
Directed by Jayro Bustamante; Guatemala
The subpar reception to The Conjuring Universe’s Curse of La Llorona looked like it had soured any interest on this classical Latin American urban legend. For this reason people may be skeptical to dig into another La Llorona-based offering, but this new release is exactly everything that the previous movie should have been. Bustamante’s La Llorona isn’t aggressive with its scares, but instead focuses on tension and atmosphere, which makes this feel even more like a piece of haunted folklore. This take on the La Llorona legend is improved by how it makes a corrupt dictator its lead character and presents a deeper message about responsibility and abuses of power. This social message makes La Llorona’s vengeance hit harder and it’s the proper way to get introduced to the legend of the Weeping Woman.
Directed by Ping Lumpraploeng; Thailand
If the Scream movies ever crossed over with The Lake House then the end product might look something like The Call. The South Korean horror film begins innocently enough with two girls who begin to communicate with each other over the phone, only to learn that they’re 20 years apart in time. The girls use this time difference to help each other out and retroactively change their fates. However, the kindhearted plan leads to one of these girls becoming a serial killer and a dangerous chain of events plays out as a result. The Call benefits from its compelling story that transforms something tender into something dangerous and the careful things that it has to say about the way in which people and events can affect others in life.
Honorable Mentions: Darkness, The Swerve, Peninsula, Amulet, Don’t Listen (Voices), May The Devil Take You Too, Blood Quantum, as well as Koko-Di Koko Da and Sea Fever, which were included on last year’s list, but have now finally seen wider releases.