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The Best Horror of 2021

Movies, particularly horror movies, let’s discuss. I wasn’t sure if I would make a “List” but I wanted to acknowledge some of the films I was able to review or watch as a writer. There were a few films, web series, anthologies, and SHUDDER, could we just say THANK YOU, SHUDDER. A few films that stood out this year. We saw some unforgettable films, and films that people have added to a must-watch list, and reoccurring Halloween must-watch lists. This year we had a few pandemic-related movies, original movies, and movies that touched on everything from women’s rights to mental health, cultural, racism, diversity, the impact of everyday life struggles.

I wanted to compile a list of the top movies, and add some honorable mentions.

Stay safe out there and Happy New Year. Here’s to a positive 2022. 

MOVIES- Best Horror Movies of 2021

Agnes

Rumors of demonic possession at a religious convent prompts a church investigation into the strange goings-on among its nuns. A disaffected priest and his neophyte are confronted with temptation, bloodshed, and a crisis of faith.

Directed by Mickey Reece and written by Reece and John Selvidge.

This movie was is unique. Reece’s last film, Climate of the Hunter was another great movie.

THE POWER

Directed and written by Corinna Faith. This movie was powerful. It was a representation of what women went through working in a “man’s world.” The performances by the cast were flawless.

London, 1974. In THE POWER, as Britain prepares for electrical blackouts to sweep across the country, trainee nurse Val arrives for her first day at the crumbling East London Royal Infirmary. With most of the patients and staff evacuated to another hospital, Val must work the night shift in the empty building. Within these walls lies a deadly secret, forcing Val to face her own traumatic past in order to confront the malevolent power that’s intent on destroying everything around her.

Psycho Goreman:

This movie was everything you would imagine it to be. It was a blast. If Psycho Goreman was released when I was a kid, I would have been stoked but obviously now, I got to see this epic film. It was written and directed by Steven Kostanski.

SYNOPSIS:

In PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN, siblings Mimi and Luke unwittingly resurrect an ancient alien overlord who was entombed on Earth millions of years ago after a failed attempt to destroy the universe. They nickname the evil creature Psycho Goreman (or PG for short) and use the magical amulet they discovered to force him to obey their childish whims. It isn’t long before PG’s reappearance draws the attention of intergalactic friends and foes from across the cosmos and a rogues’ gallery of alien combatants converges in small-town suburbia to battle for the fate of the galaxy.

Red Snow was written and directed by Sean Nichols Lynch. This movie was awesome all-around.

Red Snow is a horror movie, it was a blast to watch. It’s technically a Christmas movie. There are vampires, and Dennice Cisneros plays Olivia and she is just awesome. Olivia writes Vampire Romance novels and actually winds up sort of getting her own vampire. It’s a great movie.

SYNOPSIS:

A struggling vampire romance novelist must defend herself against real-life vampires during Christmas in Lake Tahoe.

Destination Marfa

SYNOPSIS:

While on a road trip from a long weekend, four lifelong friends decide to veer off road and venture into a small West Texas town known as Marfa after meeting a mysterious stranger. What attracted them to do so? Why is the town so hush-hush? Will they discover the truth behind the mystery of the Marfa lights and their ultimate destiny?

Tony Todd and Stelio Savante should do at least one film a year together. Andy Stapp wrote and directed this beautiful film. You could look at this film in a few different ways. A road trip gone bad? Lessons learned? Friends just trying to mend brokenness? It was beautifully shot and the unexpected twist at the end was great. There was a sadness to this film as well. The cast was great and it’s definitely a movie you should check out.

THE LAST MATINEE 

I loved The Last Matinee, especially after talking with Maxi Contenti about the theatre and the impact this movie had was incredible.

IN THEATERS: August 6, 2021

ON DEMAND, DIGITAL AND DVD: August 24, 2021

DIRECTOR: Maxi Contenti

WRITERS: Maxi Contenti and Manuel Facal

CAST: Luciana Grasso, Ricardo Islas, Julieta Spinelli, Franco Duran, Pedro Duarte

SYNOPSIS:  The audience attending the last showing of a horror film in a small downtown cinema are terrorized by a murderer who begins to pick them off, one by one. The only person to notice that something strange is going on is the projectionist’s daughter.

Fried Barry

Written and directed by Ryan Kruger. I wasn’t sure of what to expect. This movie was heartbreaking in many ways. It tells a brutal story of what humanity can be like. It also tells the story of a woman trying to save her husband and keep her child safe.

SYNOPSIS: In FRIED BARRY, Barry is a drug-addled degenerate who, after yet another bender, gets abducted by aliens. Barry takes a backseat as his alien visitor assumes control of his body and takes it for a joyride through Cape Town. What follows is an onslaught of drugs, sex and violence as Barry’s alien tourist enters the weird and wonderful world of humankind.

HONEYDEW

Part of me felt like I lost my mind watching this movie. Barbara Kingsley is an example of what an AMAZING actor is. She made this movie.

DIRECTOR: Devereux Milburn

WRITER: Devereux Milburn

CAST: Sawyer Spielberg, Malin Barr, Barbara Kingsley

SYNOPSIS: HONEYDEW tells the story of a young couple (played by Spielberg and Barr) who are forced to seek shelter in the home of an aging farmer (Kingsley) and her peculiar son, when they suddenly begin having strange cravings and hallucinations taking them down a rabbit hole of the bizarre.

JAKOB’S WIFE:  

We got to see Barbara Crampton in such a different role along with Larry Fessenden. Bonnie Aarons also portrays her very own version of a Nosferatu-like vampire. This was definitely a film that you could watch again and again. 

DIRECTOR: Travis Stevens

WRITERS: Mark Steensland, Kathy Charles, Travis Stevens

CAST: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Nyisha Bell, Mark Kelly, Sarah Lind, Robert Rusler, Bonnie Aarons, Phil Brooks

SYNOPSIS: Anne is married to a small-town minister and feels like her life and marriage have been shrinking over the past 30 years. After a chance encounter with “The Master,” she discovers a new sense of power and an appetite to live bigger and bolder than before. As Anne is increasingly torn between her enticing new existence and her life before, the body count grows and Jakob realizes he will have to fight for the wife he took for granted.

WEREWOLVES WITHIN

Werewolves Within was a fun movie. If you had nothing but werewolf thoughts, this may not be the movie for you but it’s a fun movie. It’s like if you took The Burbs into the middle of the woods. I would say check it out.

DIRECTOR: Josh Ruben

WRITER: Mishna Wolff

CAST: Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Michael Chernus, Catherine Curtain, Wayne Duvall, Harvey Guillén, Rebecca Henderson, Cheyenne Jackson, Michaela Watkins, and Glenn Fleshler

SYNOPSIS: After a proposed pipeline creates divisions within the small town of Beaverfield, and a snowstorm traps its residents together inside the local inn, newly arrived forest ranger FINN (Sam Richardson) and postal worker CECILY (Milana Vayntrub) must try to keep the peace and uncover the truth behind a mysterious creature that has begun terrorizing the community.

Wrong Turn (2021)

Mike P. Nelson and Alan B. McElroy did a good job with this reimagine, remake, whatever you wish to refer to it as. It had a story; the cast was excellent. The court scene with Bill Sage alone is a shot to be reckoned with.

DIRECTOR: Mike P. Nelson

WRITER: Alan B. McElroy

CAST: Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, Bill Sage, Emma Dumont, Dylan McTee, Daisy Head, Tim DeZarn and Matthew Modine.

SYNOPSIS: Backwoods terror and never-jangling suspense meet when Jen (Charlotte Vega) and a group of friends set out to hike the Appalachian Trail. Despite warnings to stick to the trail, the hikers stray off course—and cross into land inhabited by The Foundation, a hidden community of mountain dwellers who use deadly means to protect their way of life. Suddenly under siege, Jen and her friends seem headed to the point of no return— unless Jen’s father (Golden Globe® nominee Matthew Modine) can reach them in time.

WITCH HUNT  

Some of the films this year punched you right in the face with a dose of reality. It may have been subtle or slightly out in the open, but the punch was felt. Witch Hunt was gut-wrenching, it showed us a reality of what we are already facing. Elle Callahan delivered a powerful message in regards to women. No matter what we would have done, “back in the day” and even NOW. We would have been burned at the stake. It’s a sad reality and yes men too. 

DIRECTOR: Elle Callahan

WRITER: Elle Callahan

CAST: Gideon Adlon, Abigail Cowen, Christian Camargo, Elizabeth Mitchell

SYNOPSIS: In a modern America where magic is real and witches are persecuted by US authorities, teenager Claire and her family are part of an intricate network that helps these women escape across the border to seek asylum in Mexico. However, when their mode of transport is disrupted by federal witch hunters, trouble befalls the family as they struggle to hide two young witches within the walls of their home. As witch hunters close in and strange magic begins haunting the family, Claire discovers that she may have more in common with these witches than she could have ever imagined.

SILENT NIGHT

Camille Griffin was another director/writer to drop a gut-wrenching film. Silent Night despite being a dark humor horror film. It was psychological and emotional. It captured this vast look at not only the United States but a beautiful English countryside. You have a kid questioning authority, questioning the powers that be, a family with secrets and anger towards one another, yet they still kind of find a way to reconnect.

DIRECTOR: Camille Griffin

WRITER: Camille Griffin

CAST: Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Roman Griffin Davis, Annabelle Wallis, Lily-Rose Depp, Ṣọpé Dìrísù, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Lucy Punch, Rufus Jones and Trudie Styler

SYNOPSIS: From producers Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman franchise), Trudie Styler (Moon) and Celine Rattray (The Kids Are Alright), Silent Night follows parents Nell (Knightley) and Simon (Goode) who have invited their closest friends to join their family for Christmas dinner at their idyllic home in the English countryside.  As the group comes together, it feels like old times – but behind all of the laughter and merriment, something is not quite right.  The world outside is facing impending doom, and no amount of gifts, games or Prosecco can make mankind’s imminent destruction go away.  Surviving the holidays just got a lot more complicated.

Candyman (2021)

SYNOPSIS:

“A “spiritual sequel” to the horror film Candyman (1994) that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began.

Candyman was one of the most anticipated films of this past year. It was supposed to come out sooner but COVID took over. It was directed by Nia DaCosta and written by Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, and Nia DaCosta. Clive Barker wrote a short story called, “The Forbidden” and that inspired Candyman. The social injustices and what the characters go through. Candyman stood out with an incredible cast, breathtaking visuals, and Nia DaCosta directing.

THE VIGIL – written and directed by Keith Thomas. It was the unknown with this movie. The tension and the actors did a great job.

SYNOPSIS: Steeped in ancient Jewish lore and demonology, THE VIGIL is a supernatural horror film set over the course of a single evening in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood. Low on funds and having recently left his insular religious community, Yakov reluctantly accepts an offer from his former rabbi and confidante to take on the responsibility of an overnight “shomer,” fulfilling the Jewish practice of watching over the body of a deceased community member. Shortly after arriving at the recently departed dilapidated house to sit the vigil, Yakov begins to realize that something is very, very wrong.

Honorable Mentions: MOVIES   

Spiral: From the Book of SAW

Darren Lynn Bousman returned as the director. Josh “We love and appreciate you” Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger wrote this one. Chris Rock delivered a gritty, raw dramatic performance. He was intense and of course Samuel L. Jackson. Legends.

Slumber Party Massacre (2021)   

Slaxx was directed by Elza Kephart and written by Patricia Gomez. I will never look at my clothing the same way, and you shouldn’t either. Elza and Patricia took us on a wild ride. I’m sure most of us don’t always think about how our clothing is made or where it comes from? Some people don’t even have clothing. They dove in and we got killer Slaxx.

The Forever Purge – Directed by Everardo Gout and written by James DeMonaco. 

That Cold Dead Look in Your Eye/Tes Yeux Mourants -Directed and written by Onur Tukel, this movie is vibrant and it takes on a deep dive of what happens to a human being when pushed to the edge. Not just pushed to the edge but losing that one bit of sanity you have left, and trying to get it back.   

Rent-A-Pal was written and directed by Jon Stevenson, and I was disturbed all year. Thank you, Jon. What a great film. It was creepy as hell but in a good way.

Séance by Simon Barrett, if you haven’t seen The Guest, go watch it, and then watch Séance.

King Knight written and directed by Richard Bates Jr.

Initiation by: John Berardo and written by Berardo, Brian Frager, and Lindsay LaVanchy. Initiation was a beautiful Slasher/Horror. The homage to Wes Craven’s Scream with everything from the killer to the wardrobe was perfection.

Separation was directed by William Brent Bell, and written by Nick Amadeus and Josh Braun.

THE FEAST – written by Roger Williams and directed by Lee Haven Jones.

STREAMING: MOVIES AND SERIES  

Netflix did good this year. They added a few great films and series. Mike Flanagan delivered Midnight Mass; it was a brilliant twist of perfection. It has a great cast, Kate Siegel, Hamish Linlater, Rahul Kohli, and Alex Essoe.

Netflix also delivered, There’s Someone Inside Your House.

I must say, Tubi had some great Horror movies throughout this past year.

Showtime also brought back everyone’s favorite serial killer with Dexter New Blood. So far, it’s pretty amazing. Yellowjackets is another Showtime show that has been fascinating. It also took some of us back to having to wait until next week to watch an episode of a show. “Back in the day” you had to actually wait to watch shows.

Hulu – CENSOR

CENSOR Synopsis

Film censor Enid takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled decapitations and eye gougings she pores over. Her sense of duty to protect is amplified by guilt over her inability to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. When Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie work might be tied to her past.

Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond.

Written by Prano Bailey-Bond and Anthony Fletcher

Starring Niamh Algar, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Adrian Schiller, Michael Smiley

FILM FESTIVALS

Virtually, I was able to be a part of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. It was amazing.

Panic Fest 2021 was another incredible film festival. I took part in the virtual festival and everyone was so welcoming. It was such a blast.

SHORT FILMS

Bloodshed – This film could be a feature. It was dark and beautiful.

Koreatown Ghost Story

Directed and written by Minsun Park and Teddy Tenenbaum. This short film needs to be a feature-film.

Welcome to the Horror Show – Web series and short film.

CUPCAKE – Thanks to the Ho Ho Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, I was able to be a part of Campfire Tales. A Special Holiday Campfire Tales Edition. This short film was directed and written by Robyn August. This short film was five minutes long.

Witches Midnight

New Not Normal Trilogy Supercut directed and written by Ryan Oksenberg was one of my favorite short films.

No One is Coming – directed and written by The Barber Brothers.

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