We celebrate the genre streaming service, Shudder, and the incredible indie films that helped us survive a fear-filled year.
You don’t need us to tell you that 2020 was a crazy year — a real life horror show more nightmare-inducing than anything playing out on our television screens. More than ever before, we needed the healing escape of genre entertainment to cope with the stress of living in what felt like an actual horror movie. Fortunately, there was wealth of such entertainment courtesy of many talented indie filmmakers and top streaming services. And no platform delivered the goods quite like Shudder, a dream streaming service for us horror fans. Already an essential platform for genre junkies, Shudder continued to delight by stepping up their original content in terms of quantity and quality, giving us some amazing offerings last year.
Two of our talented writers share their top five independent scary flicks from the platform in 2020: The Year of Fear.
Top Five Shudder Picks of 2020 by Chris Maino
1. Scare Me
Josh Ruben’s directorial debut about people telling each other scary stories in a cabin was my favorite thing I’d seen in a while. The concept is unique yet simple. You’d think it’d get boring fast, but you stay engaged and entertained throughout since the talented actors do an amazing job keeping things funny and spooky. Acting out different characters and scenarios is the main joy of this surprisingly well-done little comedy that slowly reveals itself as a thriller in disguise. I was so into it and loved the characters. It’s like a film version of hanging out with your friends who all love scary movies. You’re laughing and having fun, and you don’t feel alone because you’re in a room full of people who all love the same thing you do. Then, brilliantly the story hits you with “Yo. You forgot this was an actual horror movie”.
That’s the power of creativity, people. You can’t help but admire someone’s ability to scare you.
2. The Mortuary Collection
I’m a sucker for a good anthology. Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt did that to me. So anytime I see the promise of a few good horror stories in one sitting you know I’m in. I’m happy to say this one lived up to the standards. Lots of times the stories are only as good as their frame story and this manages to deliver. Everything ties together well, like all good anthologies. Everything is connected in some way, despite being different tonally or thematically. The stories are great, classic morality tales and it’s very well shot; the whole thing having a vintage Hammer Horror vibe to it. This is another really good entry into the vastly underrated sub genre that is anthology horror.
A celebration of spooky stories being told well.
3. Color Out of Space
I’m a sucker for Lovecraft stories and the Cthulhu mythos in general. While the classic short story this one’s based off of is more or less outside the famous mythos, it’s a testament to that tale’s brilliance and innovation that they’re still readapting. What sets this one apart from the others however, is the rather smart way they’ve reinvented it for a new audience: it’s a family drama disguised as a horror film. With Nic Cage. Already screams watchable and you haven’t even seen any of it, right?
A family moves into a new house for a much needed change of pace, looking to breathe some fresh air in a rural area. Upon their move-in, a meteor hurtles through the atmosphere and smashes into their front yard, emitting a brilliant light all throughout the hose and surrounding area. What’s the meteor contain? Something truly alien. Seeing our family contend with a whole other kind of lifeform is the second best feature for this well-produced fright flick, the first being the emotional connection that builds with the characters.
This one ticks multiple boxes at once, so it’s got a pretty broad appeal; horror done right.
Watching all this twisted genre content with such frequency often makes people question our sanity. Many horror fans are regularly asked, “What attracts you to such a visceral genre, and what exactly do you get out of watching all this sick stuff?” Often, the answer is trauma and perversity developed at a young age. The darkness touched you, and you can’t help but embrace it.
That brings us to Porno, where the core theme of this sex-filled gore fest is a question: why are we attracted to the deviant side of things?
The teenage movie theater workers in this film find themselves facing off against a demon, which as unleashed by their viewing of an old film reel. For a small indie film, the creative team behind this gem did an amazing job. Everything gradually crescendos into a symphony of sex, nudity and violence. The teens are being faced with the exact opposite of the values that keep them sexually repressed. That first scary movie you saw, the first time you saw somebody naked, the time you accidentally witnessed people having sex; these are the things which create the demon in the back of your head.
Now imagine that demon is out of your head and you’re trapped with it in a movie theater. Yeah. Good luck.
First off, there’s like three horror movies with this title now, and I love it. Moving on, this particular film is about a man named Malik and his husband moving into a ne