As another wild year comes to an end, we look back at six of the most anticipated and heavily hyped horror films of 2021.
The wait for some of the genre’s biggest releases began back in 2020 when, due to COVID, many of the most exciting titles were postponed until this year. As unfortunate as that was, it did result in a huge 2021 for horror fans, with a massive slate of both new movies and the long-anticipated release of delayed blockbusters. Here are six of the year’s most talked-about releases.
Before the year comes to an end, now is a great time to catch any of these horror hits you may have missed before we usher in another exciting year of great genre releases.
And if you’re a rabid horror fan looking for some more interactive thrills while enjoying a holiday break, explore roulette games free in between your movie marathons.
1. Don’t Breathe 2
Release date: August 13, 2021
Genre: Thriller, crime, horror
Director: Rodo Sayagues
Don’t Breathe 2 was the long-awaited American horror film with thriller elements, which premiered on August 13, 2021.
In 2016, Fede Álvarez’s Don’t Breathe became a surprise hit, grossing $157 million at the box office. The film was co-produced by the great Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert and co-written by Álvarez and Uruguayan screenwriter Rodo Sayages. The film starred Jane Levy, who made a huge splash in Álvarez’s previous film, the Evil Dead remake.
After Evil Dead, which put star Levy through the wringer both on and offscreen, Álvarez wanted to craft a less bloody and brutal film, focusing more on suspense and human drama rather than supernatural terror.
With the wild success of Don’t Breathe, it’s no surprise that Álvarez and Sayages were eager to take up the script for the film’s sequel. This time, Sayages would take over directing duties, making his feature film directorial debut.
Don’t Breathe 2 takes place eight years after the events of the first film. The story follows the blind Norman Nordstrom (with Stephen Lang reprising his role), who now lives in an abandoned hut with 11-year-old Phoenix and his Rottweiler, Shadow. Norman tells Phoenix that her birth mother died in a fire in their old house. When a team of criminals kidnaps the child, the measured life of a blind old man turns into a nightmare, as he must venture out of the safety of his home to save the girl.
After a brief theatrical release, the film landed on video-on-demand on September 3, 2021, digital download on October 12, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on October 26, 2021. Special features include a filmmaker audio commentary, a never-before-seen alternate ending, and three featurettes.
Don’t Breathe 2 is now available to rent or buy on most VOD platforms.
Release date: August 27, 2021
Director: Nia DaCosta
Released on August 27, 2021, Candyman is the new interpretation of the classic 1992 supernatural horror film of the same name, based on Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden”.
The original followed a Chicago graduate student named Helen Lyle completing a thesis on urban legends and folklore, which leads her to the legend of the “Candyman”, the ghost of an artist and the son of a slave who was murdered in the late 19th century for his relationship with the daughter of a wealthy white man.
The remake/spiritual sequel from Nia DaCosta and producer Jordan Peele follows a visual artist named Anthony McCoy who lives in Chicago with his girlfriend, art gallery director Brianna Cartwright. After his art fails to generate excitement, Anthony goes in search of a creative spark. He hears about the legend of Helen Lyle, who, in 1992 allegedly kidnapped a baby and went on a killing spree before dying in a fire.
Anthony heads to Cabrini-Green to investigate the legend, where he learns about the story of the Candyman — a man falsely accused of a horrendous crime and brutally murdered by officers, who is now rumored to be a vengeful spirit that can be summoned by saying Candyman five times in a mirror.
Inspired by the story, Anthony makes an elaborate art piece based on the Candyman legend titled “Say My Name” to display at Brianna’s art exhibit, which results in a couple of gruesome murders. As the rumors of Candyman spread, and Anthony’s obsession grows, much more blood is shed.
After having its release date pushed three times due to COVID, the film was finally released to mostly rave reviews from critics and a very enthusiastic reception among horror fans. It has grossed $77 million worldwide against a $25 million budget.
Candyman (2021) is now available to rent or buy through most VOD platforms.
3. Halloween Kills
Release date: October 21, 2021
Director: David Gordon Green
Halloween Kills, the follow-up to the blockbuster hit Halloween (the 2018 reboot of the beloved Halloween franchise from director David Gordon Green), was easily one of the most anticipated and heavily marketed horror films of 2021.
Halloween (2018) was written by Green, Jeff Fradley, and Danny McBride. It was the eleventh installment in the Halloween film series and a sequel to the 1978 film of the same name, ignoring all other sequels in the franchise. It starred legendary scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle, reprising their respective roles as Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, with stuntman James Jude Courtney also portraying Myers.
Its plot follows a post-traumatic Laurie Strode who prepares to face Michael Myers in a final showdown on Halloween night, forty years after she survived his killing spree.
Like the 1982 sequel, the sequel to 2018’s Halloween picks up right where the first film left off. Laurie Strode, with her daughter Karen and granddaughter Allison, has successfully lured Michael into a trap. After setting fire to the house with Michael inside, it appears he has been killed. However, as the women are transported to the hospital, a team of firefighters arrives on the scene to extinguish the flames, allowing Michael a chance to escape.
It’s now up to the Strode women and a team of vigilantes to try to stop the boogeyman once and for all before he is allowed to claim more innocent lives.
Following a year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween Kills had its world premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 8, 2021, and was theatrically released in the United States on October 15, 2021, by Universal Pictures. It also streamed simultaneously on paid tiers of Peacock for 60 days. Though the film polarized both audiences and critics, it was another runaway hit. And anticipation remains high for the final film in the trilogy, Halloween Ends, scheduled to be released on October 14, 2022.
Halloween Kills is now streaming on Peacock Premium or available to rent on Vudu online.
4. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Release date: November 24, 2021
Director: Johannes Roberts
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is an action-horror film adapted from stories of the first and second Resident Evil games by Capcom. It was conceived as a reboot for the popular Resident Evil film series, as well as the seventh live-action film in the franchise. Taking a cue from the wildly successful Halloween reboot, the latest film ignores all the events of the previous franchise films.
Development took place in early 2017, with producer James Wan originally attached to the project. However, when (47 Meters Down) was brought on as writer and director, the original writer Greg Russo left the project along with Wan. Filming began on October 17, 2020, in Canda, with reshoots taking place in May 2021. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City was theatrically released on November 24, 2021, in the United States by Sony Pictures Releasing.
Because the film is based on the first two games, it is split into two distinct storylines — combining the haunted house aspects of the first Resident Evil game and the zombie apocalypse action of the game’s sequel.
In the beginning, detectives travel to investigate an attack on tourists in Raccoon City. The elite Bravo team is sent to investigate a death at the remote Spencer Mansion, but the team goes missing. Thus, the Alpha team is sent to the mansion by helicopter to investigate, where they discover the mansion is overrun by zombies.
This is where the action kicks into high gear, as the peaceful inhabitants of the city begin to lose their hair, go crazy, and viciously attack uninfected people. Fleeing from zombies, a couple of survivors (Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy) lock themselves in the police station and try to find clues as to the source of the unknown disease plaguing the residents of Raccoon City.
Though not critically well-received, many devotees of the Resident Evil games have praised the film as a fun ride with lots of fan service and Easter eggs. And Roberts’ love of the source material truly shines through in this film aimed squarely at fans.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is in theaters now, or you can watch it with Spectrum On Demand.
Release date: November 3, 2021
Genre: Psychological horror, thriller, drama
Director: Edgar Wright
Malignant is the latest horror from the reigning king of horror, James Wan, and easily one of the most buzzed-about genre films of the year — due in no small part to the film’s shocking twist and unhinged third act. The Warner Bros. film premiered on Sept. 10 in theaters and on HBO Max and immediately became a huge hit.
The film revolves around a woman named Madison (Annabelle Wallis) who has visions of terrible and brutal murders that turn out to be horrifyingly real. With the help of a detective, a psychiatric hypnotherapist, and her sister Sydney, Madison must try to unlock her darkest, repressed memories to uncover her shocking connection to the murderer and the reason for her visions.
For those who haven’t seen the film, to say much more would be a grave disservice. It’s a testament to the genius of Wan and his ability to enthrall, entertain, shock, and terrify when allowed to work completely unrestrained. Filled with incredible gore, twisted dark humor, and a completely out-there ending, Malignant is truly memorable and a hell of a ride.
You can currently buy Malignant on Apple iTunes, Google Play Movies, Vudu, Amazon Video, Microsoft Store, YouTube, Redbox, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV — or rent it on Apple iTunes, Google Play Movies, YouTube, and Spectrum On Demand online.
5. Last Night in Soho
Release date: November 3, 2021
Genre: Psychological horror, thriller, drama
Director: Edgar Wright
Last Night in Soho is a stylish and dramatic horror film with thriller and detective elements from genre icon Edgar Wright. It World Premiered at the 2021 Venice International Film Festival on September 4, 2021, and received a wide release on November 3, 2021.
The film tells the story of Eloise “Ellie” Turner (Thomas McKenzie) who adores the sights and sounds of the Swinging Sixties and dreams of becoming a fashion designer in London. She moves from her rural home to the big city to study at the London College of Fashion, where she struggles to fit in. After moving out of her hall of residence into a flat owned by the elderly Ms. Collins (the incredible Diana Rigg in her final role before her death in 2020), she begins having vivid dreams about a beautiful aspiring singer in the 1960s named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy).
As the dreams continue, her visions begin to haunt her waking life as well, and Ellie discovers that not everything about Sadie and the life of a 196o’s singer is as glamorous and magic as she once believed.
Wright has already proven that he knows how to make great horror; his 2004 film Shaun of the Dead is widely considered the blueprint for a near-perfect horror-comedy. However, he’s best known for his comedic chops, with films like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. But Last Night in Soho proves he’s exceedingly capable at delivering thrills, suspense, and chills without the laughs. He’s also known for his talent crafting a killer soundtrack, and his latest film continues to showcase his spellbinding visual and audial style.