Horror Movies: 2020

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Okay, here we go. Here’s my list of the horror movies I saw in 2020, from worst to first.

Enjoy!

THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN

14 THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN (2020) was by far the worst horror movie I saw this year. A pointless sequel to the superior original THE BABYSITER (2017). In spite of this being a horror comedy, this one is a snooze from start to finish.

13. THE TURNING

Turn this one off. Another clunker, this horror movie based on the Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw,” and starring Mackenzie Davies and Finn Wolfhard, couldn’t turn a stomach, let alone a screw.

12. YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT

Haunted house thriller starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried is just standard. Offers no surprises.

11. HIS HOUSE

Netflix thriller about a refugee couple in a haunted house has its moments, but not enough of them to really make this worth your while.

THE DARK AND THE WICKED

10. THE DARK AND THE WICKED

Dark thriller about an adult sister and brother on a farm caring for their dying father who happens to be possessed is solidly made but suffers from the “you are all victims syndrome” in that none of the folks in this movie ever stand a chance. The dark wins. Easily.

9. RELIC

Intriguing tale of a mother and daughter caring for the daughter’s ailing grandmother who also seems to be possessed. Clever allegory about dementia doesn’t entirely work but it has its moments.

8. THE WRETCHED

Story of a witch living in the woods works because the main character, a teenage boy scarred by his parents’ divorce, feels empathy for his neighbors and decides to help them fend off the witch, but he has a troubled past, which gets in the way of his heroic efforts. Well-written horror flick.

7. WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS

Lively horror movie about three girlfriends who meet up with three guys at a rock concert as a serial killer is on the loose. Major plot twist takes this over-the top horror flick in an entirely different direction midway through. Takes place in the 1980s.

6. THE RENTAL

Alison Brie and Dan Stevens star in this effective thriller about two couples away for the weekend at a vacation home, very suspicious of the creepy sketchy owner. I liked this one.

5 #ALIVE

Stylish zombie thriller from South Korea is very entertaining even as it doesn’t really offer anything that is new to the zombie genre.

4. UNDERWATER

Fun underwater adventure starring Kristen Stewart . Far from perfect, but fun and suspenseful all the same.

3. ANTEBELLUM

I really liked this ambitious horror movie starring Janelle Monae about slaves on a Civil War era plantation run by sadistic Confederate soldiers. Jumps back and forth between the 1860s and modern times, and contains a VERY controversial plot twist that most fans hated. I didn’t like the twist, but I did like the movie. Powerful music score as well.

2. THE INVISIBLE MAN

Clever re-imagining of THE INVISIBLE MAN concept, stars Elizabeth Moss as a woman tormented by her supposedly deceased abusive husband. She thinks he’s invisible, her friends think she’s crazy. Works best as a psychologicial thriller. Plays its hand a bit too early, but still an above average horror movie.

SPUTNIK

  1. SPUTNIK

My favorite horror movie of 2020 is the tale of a Russian cosmonaut who returns to Earth harboring an alien creature inside his body. Oksana Akinshina steals the show as the psychologist brought in to study him. Superior horror film. Worthwhile viewing from start to finish.

And there you have it. The horror films I watched in 2020, from worst to first.

As always, thanks for reading!

—Michael

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RELIC (2020) – Thinking Person’s Haunted House Movie

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Relic

RELIC (2020) is the thinking person’s haunted house movie.

Its tale of a grandmother, her daughter, and granddaughter is on one level a story of a house possessed, but on a deeper more figurative level it’s about dementia personified.

When Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her adult daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) arrive at Kay’s mother’s house to check in on her, they discover that she’s not there. Kay informs the police and tells them that her mother is in her 80s and does tend to forget things sometimes and is easily confused. A search party covers the surrounding woods without success.

But then Kay’s mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) suddenly is back inside the house, and every time Kay asks where she’s been, she changes the subject. Worried that her mom shouldn’t be living alone, Kay looks into elderly home options. Meanwhile, she and Sam stay on to keep an eye on Edna for a while.

Edna complains that there is someone else in the house, and while Kay initially dismisses this assertion as early dementia, things start happening which convince Kay and Sam otherwise.

RELIC is a slow-burn horror movie that scores high on the creepy meter. There are quiet eerie scenes throughout, and for me, this was the best part of this movie.

Sure, it’s a deeper screenplay than most, as written by director Natalie Erika James and Christian White. Its take on dementia is spot-on, and the doubt which Kay and Sam have towards Edna’s fears is believable and normal. So, when later they begin to see things differently, it makes for a scary transition.

Plus, the direction this story ultimately takes is so much better than grandmother really was seeing a ghost! It takes the figurative theme of how we lose everything including ourselves as we age and makes it literal.

RELIC is Natalie Erika James’ directorial debut and it’s an impressive one. The film is creepy throughout, and its ending is sad and horrifying at the same time. You might find yourself having to turn away from the screen.

On the other hand, it is very slow, and so for some viewers they may find themselves bored, but if you’re patient, there is a decent payoff.

The film is reminiscent of THE BABADOOK (2014) in terms of tone and feel.

The three principal actors are all very good. Emily Mortimer makes Kay the detached and often guilt-ridden daughter who kept away from her mother for so long and now towards the end is trying to make things right, although it doesn’t feel that way to her as she looks to put her mother into a home.

Bella Heathcote plays Sam as the devoted granddaughter who is much more enthusiastic about wanting to stay and help her grandmother around the house. And so it is far more upsetting for Sam when her grandmother begins to act in ways that make wanting to stay in the house all rather unpleasant.

And Robyn Nevin delivers the best performance in the movie as Edna, perfectly capturing what it’s like to live with dementia, as her personality switches on a dime. And she has one icy cold stare, that’s for sure!

I liked RELIC. It’s a quiet horror movie that is best watched on a quiet night with the lights out.

Preferably without your grandmother around!

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