Horror movie preview: All the big-screen terror tales that will tingle your spine in 2020
2020 is shaping up to be another great year for horror films, with January alone boasting underwater monsters, a new Henry James adaptation, and a notably crazy Nicolas Cage. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about this year’s tales of terror.
Underwater (Jan. 10)
The genre of aquatic horror rises from the depths! Kristen Stewart and Vincent Cassel star in this tale of underwater researchers whose laboratory is devastated by an earthquake. The really bad news? They are not alone.
The Turning (Jan. 24)
This latest adaptation of Henry James’ horror novella The Turn of the Screw stars Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince, and Joely Richardson. “It’s a very dark story that’s endured for over a hundred years,” director Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways, The Handmaid’s Tale) told EW last year. “We’ve taken this story, and modernized it, and placed it in the 1990s. It follows a nanny who is looking [for] a life change, and when she arrives at the house she meets two orphans, Flora and Miles. They start to act a little strange and she senses that they’re harboring a secret, that they’re hiding something from her. She quickly realizes that there’s something wrong in the house.”
Color Out of Space (Jan. 24)
Jan. 24 is a big day for fans of Joel Richardson-starring horror movies. The Event Horizon and The Turning actress costars with Nicolas Cage in this adaption of H.P. Lovecraft’s tale of a meteor which drives a family insane. Color Out of Space is also the first film from Hardware director Richard Stanley since he was fired from the 1996 version of The Island of Dr. Moreau.
“We’ve updated the Lovecraft story and tried to bring it into the 21st century,” Stanley said, when EW visited the film’s set in Portugal last year, “which I’m sure will offend some Lovecraft fans, the purists who still want it to be set in the mid-19th century in the year of the original setting of the story. But I figured we owed it to HPL to drag him into the present and to make him a clear and present danger for a current generation of 13- and 14-year-olds and for it not to seem like something that’s quaint and of the past and something that one’s grandparents were into. I wanted to make him fresh, to try to reinvent the wheel as far as Lovecraft adaptations go.”
Zombi Child (Jan. 24)
Directed by Bertrand Bonello, Zombi Child concerns Clairvius Narcisse (Mackenson Bijou), who falls dead on the street in ’60s Haiti but is soon turned into a “zombi” when he is dug up from his grave and forced to work on a sugar-cane plantation. Shifting to present-day Paris, a rebellious teen named Fanny (Louise Labèque) befriends Melissa (Wislanda Louimat), who moved to France when her parents died in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. After recruiting her into a secret literary sorority, Fanny learns of Melissa’s connection to Clairvius, and becomes obsessed with her new friend’s past and culture, seeking out her aunt to solve her recent heartbreak.
Gretel & Hansel (Jan. 31)
Sophia Lillis can’t catch a break — or at least her characters can’t. In It and It Chapter Two, the actress was harassed by a deranged supernatural clown. And in Gretel & Hansel she plays a girl who gets stuck with her younger brother (Sammy Leakey) in the home of an elderly woman (Alice Krige) with less-than-pure motives. Based on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, the movie is written by Rob Hayes and directed by The Blackcoat’s Daughter filmmaker Osgood “Oz” Perkins.
“It’s awfully faithful to the original story, it’s got really only three principal characters: Hansel, Gretel, and the Witch,” Perkins tol EW last year. “We tried to find a way to make it more of a coming of age story. I wanted Gretel to be somewhat older than Hansel, so it didn’t feel like two 12-year-olds — rather a 16-year-old and an 8-year-old. There was more of a feeling like Gretel having to take Hansel around everywhere she goes, and how that can impede one’s own evolution, how our attachments and the things that we love can sometimes get in the way of our growth. Sophia Lillis is really fantastic. She has one of those faces that the camera immediately understands, which is something that rarely happens. For my style and for my taste, which tends to be minimalist and a little bit more mannered, she’s really a dream.”
Come to Daddy (Feb. 7)
Elijah Wood plays an entertainment industry wannabe who reconnects with his long-estranged father (Stephen McHattie). To say mayhem ensues is putting matters very mildly indeed. An amazingly assured directorial debut from producer Ant Timpson (Deathgasm, The Greasy Stranger) Come to Daddy costars Martin Donovan and Kill List actor Michael Smiley.
The Lodge (Feb. 7)
Riley Keogh is a young woman attempting to bond with her boyfriend’s two children at a remote house in another chilling family tale from Goodnight Mommy directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz.
After Midnight (Feb. 14)
One of the more twisted films you could watch this Valentine’s Day — if also one of the more heartfelt — After Midnight stars genre favorite and co-director Jeremy Gardner as a man whose wife (a never better Brea Grant) disappears at the time same a creature starts trying to break into his house.
VFW (Feb. 14)
In director Joe Begos’s film, an army of drug-addicted maniacs surround and attack a small group of army veterans at the latter’s bar. “It’s a classic siege movie,” Begos told EW. “Mutant punks versus Vietnam vets, which to me are the two coolest sets of characters you can have in a genre movie. So, to be able to pit them against each other is a cinematic playground for me.”
The veterans are played by a lineup of recognizable actors, including William Sadler, Martin Kove, George Wendt, Avatar actor Stephen Lang, and action legend Fred “the Hammer” Williamson.
“He is a walking talking living legend,” says Begos. “I mean, the dude will just walk in to a room and he’ll own it. It was so nice to be able to work with him. He did all of this own stunts. We broke a chair over him. I told him, ‘Fred, we’re going to be throwing this chair pretty hard at you.’ He looks and me [and says] ‘You’d better get it right the first time.’ And he’s 81, too, so that dude was taking some hits.”
Fantasy Island (Feb. 14)
What if your fantasies turned into nightmares? Michael Peña, Maggie Q, and Lucy Hale star in this Blumhouse-produced horror reboot of the TV show.
Brahms: The Boy II (Feb. 21)
In this Katie Holmes-starring sequel to the 2016 hit, a young family moves into Heelshire Mansion, where their young son soon makes an unsettling new friend, an eerily life-like doll he calls Brahms. Well, that is his name.
The Invisible Man (Feb. 28)
In The Invisible Man, Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia Kass, who is trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, portrayed by Oliver Jackson-Cohen from The Haunting of Hill House. Cecilia escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge), and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid). But when Cecilia’s abusive ex dies by suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turn 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.
“The image of the Invisible Man in the floating trench coat and the floating sunglasses is one that is clearly etched into the public consciousness,” says filmmaker Leigh Whannell, who wrote the original Saw and wrote and directed 2019’s Upgrade. “I wanted to kind of get away from that and make something that was really modern, really grounded, or as grounded as you can be when you’re dealing with a film called The Invisible Man. Just something that was really tense and scary in a way The Invisible Man hasn’t been before. There are some great actors in the film, Aldis Hodge and Storm Reid from A Wrinkle in Time, these are the supporting cast, and they’re such great performers. Having said that, the script is really a one-woman show. Elisabeth Moss is the centerpiece of the film, and she’s in pretty much every scene. I feel like, if you’re going to hang an entire film on someone’s shoulders, you need an actor as good as Lizzie.”
A Quiet Place Part II (March 20)
Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou join Emily Blunt in the cast of this sequel to the 2018 monster hit. John Krasinski once again directs.
Saint Maud (March 27)
Jennifer Ehle and Morfydd Clark star in director Rose Glass’s film about a newly devout hospice nurse who becomes obsessed with saving her dying patient’s soul.
New Mutants (April 3)
The X-Men franchise gets a horror twist. Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Charlie Heaton play young mutants held for psychiatric monitoring at an isolated hospital in director Josh Boone’s long-in-the-works film.
“We are making a full-fledged horror movie set within the X-Men universe,” Boone told EW way back in 2017. “There are no costumes. There are no supervillains. We’re trying to do something very, very different.”
Antlers (April 17)
Directed by Black Mass filmmaker Scott Cooper, produced by Guillermo del Toro, and based on a short story by Channel Zero creator Nick Antosca, Antlers has a monstrously good pedigree. Keri Russell plays a small-town Oregon teacher who discovers that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret.
Antebellum (April 24)
Janelle Monáe plays a successful author, Veronica Henley, who finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late. Marque Richardson II, Eric Lange, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Tongayi Chirisa, and Gabourey Sidibe costar.
Untitled Saw movie (May 15)
We don’t know too much about the ninth installment of the Saw franchise, but we do know it’s likely to be different from its predecessors. Why? Because the movie is based on a story conceived by stand-up legend Chris Rock.
“I’ve been a fan of Saw since the first film in 2004,” Rock said in a statement last year. “I am excited by the opportunity to take this to a really intense and twisted new place.”
Candyman (June 12)
Cowritten by Jordan Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta this is a sequel to the Tony Todd-starring 1992 movie about a hook-handed supernatural killer.
“The original was a landmark film for black representation in the horror genre,” said Peele in a statement when the project was announced. “Alongside Night of the Living Dead, Candyman was a major inspiration for me as a filmmaker — and to have a bold new talent like Nia at the helm of this project is truly exciting. We are honored to bring the next chapter in the Candyman canon to life and eager to provide new audiences with an entry point to Clive Barker’s legend.”
Untitled Purge movie (July 10)
The fifth installment in the Purge franchise is another sequel about which little is presently known, although franchise creator James DeMonaco did tease the project to EW back in 2018.
“I have it in my head,” said DeMonaco. “I think it’s a great way to end it all. We want to end it all, I think, in this one, and I’m very excited. When I came up with the idea and pitched it to everybody, they seemed psyched, and I think it will be a really cool ending, how we take this one home.”
Morbius (July 31)
Jared Leto is the titular character in this comic back adaptation, a scientist who inadvertently becomes infected with vampirism — at least that’s what happens in the original Marvel tales. Doctor Who actor Matt Smith costars.
Malignant (Aug. 14)
Saw and The Conjuring director James Wan returns to his horror roots with this super-secret project starring Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Jake Abel, Jacqueline McKenzie, and Ingrid Bisu, who dreamed up the story with Wan.
Escape Room 2 (Aug. 14)
Sequel to the enjoyably nuts 2019 horror hit. This time around, the cast includes Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Isabelle Fuhrman, Holland Roden, Indya Moore, Thomas Cocquerel, and Carlito Olivero.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Sept. 11)
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. This horror threequel is directed by Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) and finds a murder suspect claiming demonic possession as a defense.
Last Night in Soho (Sept. 25)
Baby Driver and Shaun of the Dead filmmaker Edgar Wright directs this London-set psychological horror film, which stars Thomas McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, and Michael Ajao, among others.
“I realized I had never made a film about central London — specifically Soho, somewhere I’ve spent a huge amount of time in the last 25 years,” Wright, who cowrote the script with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, previously told Empire magazine of the film. “With Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, you make movies about places you’ve lived in. This movie is about the London I’ve existed in.”
The Witches (Oct. 9)
Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, and Stanley Tucci star in director Robert Zemeckis’s new version of the Roald Dahl-penned tale about, well, witches.
Halloween Kills (Oct. 16)
Infamous killer Michael Myers is back in the latest installment of this rebooted and reinvigorated slasher franchise. Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak all return from the 2018 Halloween, as does director David Gordon Green. Kyle Richards will reprise her role from the original Halloween of Lindsey Wallace, one of the children babysat by Curtis’s Laurie Strode, and Anthony Michael Hall will play the new Tommy Doyle.