Scared Stiff: 2020’s 5 Best Horror Movies So Far

That Shelf's Favourite Horror Flicks from January to March

Believe it or not, we’re nearly a quarter of the way through 2020. So what better time to assess the year in pop culture? With all the pandemic news taking up most of our emotional bandwidth, why not kick back and decompress with stories about people who have things even worse off than we do?

I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety my entire adult life, and my go-to coping mechanism has always been movies. Specifically horror. When my mood bottoms out and the life gets overwhelming, the last thing I want is to do is listen to uplifting music and watch movies about happy-go-lucky people.

I prefer films about people who get put through the grinder and come out the other side even stronger — if they make it out at all. But that’s just the way I’m wired. I get it if you prefer binge-watching The Office or having Jim Carrey movie marathons. Whatever gets you through the day.

Let us know what you enjoy watching when you’re stressed out at @VictorJStiff and @ThatShelf.

My face every time I turn on the evening news.

Scared Stiff Honourable Mentions:

The Lodge
Directed By Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz
In Theaters: Feb 7, 2020 Limited
Read the review, here.

I still haven’t caught this chilly horror-thriller, so I’ll pull a few quotes from a review by our resident horror guru, Rachel West.

Rachel said, “While providing some chills, The Lodge doesn’t really have anything remarkable to say, seemingly borrowing from other horrors that have come before it.” Rachel also wrote, “A disturbing and unsettling film, The Lodge is a well-made indie thriller that may lack the jump scares and more traditional horror elements but it’s a film that leaves a lasting mark.”

Color Out of Space
Directed By Richard Stanley
In Theaters: Jan 24, 2020 Limited
On Disc/Streaming: Feb 25, 2020
Read the review, here.

I’m not going to beat around the bush. I do not like this movie. To be fair, I did see it during the height of TIFF madness as I was cramming in several flicks a day, a process that, at times, will skew a critic’s perspective. That being said, I stand by my argument.

The all-time wacky Nic Cage performance didn’t make this movie any less of a slog. But so many people I know enjoyed the film (86% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes based on 170 reviews), and I think that makes it worthy of at least a mention.


2020’s 5 Best Horror Movies So Far

# 05 – Extra Ordinary
Directed By Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman
In Theaters: Mar 6, 2020, Limited
Read the review, here.
(We caught Extra Ordinary at Toronto After Dark in 2019, but it’s receiving a limited theatrical release in March 2020).

Extra Ordinary isn’t a movie that will keep you up at night unless thinking about it causes sudden fits of laughter. This is the only title on this “Best Of” list that you can enjoy with people who won’t watch creepy, grotesque, and violent movies

Look, horror is a broad genre. Slasher flicks, psychological thrillers, and monster movies all get their place in the horror pantheon. So, let’s not begrudge spots to supernatural comedies like What We Do in the Shadows and Ghostbusters – real talk, Ghostbusters’ haunted fridge scene gave 7-year-old me a serious complex about late-night snacking.

Extra Ordinary is an extremely enjoyable horror-comedy full of clever writing, ridiculous jokes, and charming characters. Definitely go out of your way to watch this one.

# 04 – VFW
Directed By Joe Begos
In Theaters: Feb 14, 2020, Limited
On Disc/Streaming: Feb 14, 2020
Read the review, here.

VFW is a good old-fashioned siege movie that calls back to classics like John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room, and Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn.

The plot is as simple as it gets: A bunch of old-ass war veterans are trapped in a bar while under attack from a gang of blood-thirsty punks who think the vets have their drugs. With its disturbing premise, non-stop thrills, and the over-the-top violence, VFW is guaranteed to get your heart racing. It’s a perfect midnight movie.

#03 – Run Sweetheart Run
Directed By Shana Feste
In Theatres: Spring 2020
Read the review, here.

Run Sweetheart Run is one of those movies that snuck up on me and left a lasting impression. I went into my Sundance screening knowing little about the film and left with a big silly grin on my face.

The problem here is that the best way to enjoy this upcoming Blumhouse flick is to go in blind. Seriously, don’t even watch the trailer. All you need to know is that it’s a thrilling piece of social satire featuring a bad-ass female protagonist and one of the year’s most despicable villains.


#02 – Impetigore
Directed By Joko Anwar
In Theatres: October 17, 2019 (Indonesia)
Read the review, here.

Joko Anwar is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. The man has a gift for crafting atmospheric genre movies that hit you on a visceral level. If you’re a horror fan who hasn’t seen Satan’s Slaves, go check it out right now.

Impetigore is one wild ride. The film is about a young woman who is being pursued by an evil cult. It’s the sort of movie that makes your skin crawl and just gnaws at you until the final credits roll (and probably long after). Only watch it if you’re feeling especially brave. Impetigore is a gruesome descent into the mind of a horror auteur.

#01 – The Invisible Man
Directed By Leigh Whannell
In Theaters: Feb 28, 2020 Wide
Read the review, here.

Nobody was itching for a new movie about The Invisible Man. The character is the Ringo Starr of Universal’s stable of movie monsters (Dracula, The Wolfman, The Frankenstein Monster, The Mummy, Mr. Hyde). But leave it to writer-director Leigh Whannell to turn The Invisible Man into a compelling concept.

Whannell is an accomplished writer and director with plenty of industry cred.  He’s the mastermind behind popular series like Saw and Insidious, and he directed the 2018 horror-sci-fi gem, Upgrade.

Whannell’s work on The Invisible Man shows that he has levelled-up his director skills. This overall improvement is aided by the next-level performance of his leading lady, Elisabeth Moss, who sells the shit out of horror unfolding onscreen. The duo makes movie magic happen right before our eyes. As Rachel West puts it in her review, “Whannell punctuates her fearful stares with long shots of empty spaces which, thanks to the heightened tension, become ominous. Never before has the empty corner or a room or vacant doorway held so much terror.”

Most Excited For:
Blood Quantum (March), Antebellum (April), Run (May), Spiral (May), The Green Knight (May), Candyman (June)