This is a year that I find more important than ever to try and evaluate the things to be thankful for...so what does that mean in the horror space? Let's take a look at five things I'm thankful for in 2020 when it comes to horror.
5. Host and Horror's Adaptability
The circumstances of this year obviously put a stranglehold on cinema, and horror wasn't immune, but it also didn't fade away. Like life, horror...uh...found a way. A great example of this was the indie film Host released on Shudder. The super-low-budget horror flick is only 56 minutes long, but its release felt like a breath of fresh air in the cinematic horror world as an unexpected little popcorn flick. It wasn't flawless, but it was definitely enjoyable, and it showed the resiliency of horror films with their lack of need for big budgets, casts, or sets. It's just a scary Zoom call. Brilliantly simple, and a 2020 poster child for horror's adaptability.
4. The Last Movie I Saw in Theaters was The Invisible Man
2020 was working its way up to being a means to an end leading up to April, with a lot of garbage in the first three months sans Underwater. Late nights at the movie theater were growing tiresome with films like The Turning and Fantasy Island, and I just couldn't wait to get to Antlers. I thought The Invisible Man was going to be another frustrating checkpoint on the way to the good films. Little did I know it was going to be the last movie I would see in a movie theater in 2020, and little did I know it would be one of, if not the best horror movie of the year.
From the trailer, it looked average at best, but I should have trusted Leigh Whannell's (Upgrade) eye for filmmaking and the superb acting of Elisabeth Moss. I recommended it nonstop to a wide range of movie patrons when it was released on streaming, and it has yet to disappoint. The scifi effects, eerily empty pans of rooms, and well-timed scares amidst palpable tension were all top-notch. And all of it packaged in a well-constructed story, effective script, and amazing score that used the villain as a metaphor for the struggles of domestic violence. It's a great memory to look back on the last film I saw in theaters being a huge pleasant surprise.
3. Streaming Services and Horror's Malleability
Many action, adventure, scifi, and A-list drama films are dependent on the theater tickets to recoup and exceed their budgets. With the circumstances of 2020, many of those films just cancelled or delayed until next year. And while some horror films did as well, many also said, "screw it" and just found streaming release dates for renting and buying. When possible, I supported these films for giving us a means of entertainment and not trying to scrape every penny out of the film by holding it to 2021. I will be the first to defend the moves of studios for pushing their films to next year. If it's virtually impossible for them to recoup their budgets, they should wait. But not all horror had to wait, so they didn't. And I'm thankful that the streaming format provided us opportunities to still see the horror we crave.
2. Voices Heard Through Horror
Perhaps the greatest characteristic of horror is its broad spectrum of style and messaging. Some are pure scares designed like visual roller coasters on our brains, where others are cathartic horror comedies, and still others use the vehicle for powerful messaging. Antebellum tackled racism, Spiral gave us a glimpse into homophobia, Relic used the haunted house formula as a metaphor for dementia, and the aforementioned Invisible Man taught us through a scifi-thriller lens the real life horrors of domestic abuse. Horror can disguise its voice behind the visceral, gruesome, and frightening, but still deliver an impactful and lasting message that is even more engaging and residual through the methods used.
1. My Horror Buddies
A lot of the awesome things that we get to do through our site is due to Efrit. That cuddly hellspawn sets up our biggest events of the year, every year, and is the reason we have a podcast. This site wouldn't be as much fun as it is without him. So I raise a glass of oil of vitriol to my dearest Hell comrade. Thanks, my friend, for being my horror watching partner for all these years!
A thank you is in order to Final Girl, who has joined us over the past year to produce great reviews and unique perspectives! I'm also thankful to Tyler, who may be our most (only) devout reader! You've regularly supported us on our journey, and I'm forever grateful for that! Also a big thanks to Aaron, who has also been a huge supporter of us and who has gone with us on many a trip to Telluride Horror Show. And lastly, I'm thankful for the long list of other supporters and individuals who have read our reviews over the years. I am grateful to anyone who has read our comics and reviews and given them a chance to bring a little fun into their horror lives!
What are you thankful for this year? Our life is horror here, but reflect on anything you can be thankful for during this time! Maybe just the mere ability to read this article is enough to be thankful for. I'm certainly thankful for the opportunity to write it! Happy holidays fellow horror fans!