By Andrés Muñoz

Great horror films are a taut combination of skilful storytelling and good old-fashioned frights. I want my hands to get clammy as I shift in my seat. I want to laugh nervously and yell when the unexpected happens. As movie theatres reopen, I think the big winner will be horror films, as many were pushed back to 2021. 

It is normal for a horror film to make many times its production budget, as they need much, much less money compared to the big blockbusters. Here’s my list of horror films for you to keep an eye on this year if getting a scare is something you enjoy. Some are already out there; others are on the way soon. 

Saint Maud

Maud is a Catholic hospice nurse who must care for Amanda, an old lady living in a town on the English coast. After meeting Amanda, Maud becomes obsessed with saving her soul. We will not expand into details as horror and psychological thrillers rely a lot on surprises, so the less you know, the better. 

The director is worthy of all the praises here. British filmmaker Rose Glass’s debut has amassed reviews that include “an emotional depth charge”  and a “symphonic control over mood and atmosphere”. The film won the gong for “Best Debut Director” at the British Independent Film Awards and “British/Irish Film of the Year” at the London Film Critics Circle Awards.

Saint Maud was meant to hit cinemas in mid-2020, but due to the pandemic, it premiered in January 2021 and is now available on several video-on-demand platforms. 

Halloween Kills

Following up on its 2018 revival, the Halloween franchise brings back some of the original 1978 cast members. One of the quintessential scream queens in film history, Jamie Lee Curtis, returns to her debut role as Laurie Strode, along with Nick Castle, who played the original and unstoppable killer Michael Myers. Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, and Charles Cyphers reprise their roles too. 

The series is produced by horror film giant Jason Blum. His powerhouse production company, Blumhouse, has shaped the horror genre for the past 10 years, with an impressive stream of hits like Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, and Sinister. Another film pushed back due to COVID-19, Halloween Kills will finally hit the big screen on October 15th 2021.

Spiral: From The Book Of Saw

Chris Rock is the very last man I think of starring in a horror film! The man has made his entire career out of making others gasp in laughter, not terror. 

That being said, it is always fascinating to see actors branch out into other genres with various degrees of success. The casting of Rock in this movie reminds us that our range of emotions aren’t limited to just laughs. He plays a compelling role in this, the ninth instalment of the Saw franchise. The movie sees him team up with Max Minghella to catch an elusive killer that copies the original Jigsaw killer’s methods.

Don’t be fooled by the 38% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, as this is a regular rating in horror films! It is actually the third highest-rated in the entire Saw franchise, with SAW VI in second place and the original Saw in first place with 39 and 50%, respectively. Spiral hit the screens on May 14th in the US, so expect this one to creep up on theatres near you sometime soon.

The Night House

An independent production, The Night House had its premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. Its distribution rights were acquired by Disney’s speciality film branch, Searchlight Pictures

It stars the versatile Rebecca Hall. She has been in Christopher Nolan’s dramas, the Marvel film series, and many other independent productions. Hall stars as Beth, a woman who discovers terrible mysteries about her deceased husband’s past after experiencing strange daydreams and visions.

With “creepy atmospherics” and being described as ”psychological horror without the bump lanes”, The Night House promises to deliver a thrilling ride when it hits your local movie theatre on August 21st this year. 

Candyman

Finally, another classic of the slasher film returns. Candyman is a sequel to the 1992 original where victims summon a terrifying killer by repeating his name in front of a mirror five times. This movie has the increasingly popular Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in the leading role, with Tony Todd returning as the villain. 

This spine-chilling flick was written and produced by screenwriter and director Jordan Peele, who has successfully alternated between horror and comedy with the extraordinarily popular Get Out. Candyman’s release was also delayed because of the pandemic and will start frightening moviegoers on August 27th 2021. 

There are few things better than slashers and psychological thrillers to resurrect the flagging box office, and as we’ve seen, the upcoming months promise to deliver.  May your jumpscares be intense! Did we miss any films that are worth the fright? Let us know in the comments section below!