New horror movies in 2021 are truly a rich crop. Thanks to the shifting of releases due to significantly less fun horrors last year, 2020's films suddenly became 2021's most exciting upcoming scary movies. Now that we're into June we've already finally had the chance to sample the exquisite deadly silence of A Quiet Place Part 2 and have a cozy demonic reunion with Ed and Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It, but there's so much more to come.
Whether you're ready to be back in the cinema or just fancy loading up a streaming service for fresh screams, there's plenty of horror worth celebrating. And, if you haven't already invested in the subscription service, Shudder has become a vital addition to any horror fans streaming library and is getting plenty of new originals that aren't even hitting cinemas. The newly announced anthology sequel V/H/S 84 is being produced as a Shudder Original so it's exciting to see fresh talent emerge on the service in 2021.
But what's still to come this year? The most exciting new horror movies include R.L Stine's Fear Street Trilogy from Netflix which means you won't even need to move from your sofa, fresh terror from The Ritual director David Bruckner with The Night House, and even new horror from M. Night Shyamalan as a group of beachgoers suddenly start to rapidly age in the aptly titled Old. Prepare to be afraid (again) with the most exciting new horror movies for 2021 and beyond.
Release date: June 25, 2021
The horror genre has endured plenty of moral panics. Few are as well known in the UK as the so-called ‘Video Nasty’ era as tabloid panic over VHS movies in the 1980s resulted in outright bans and overt censorship. It’s here where Prano Bailey Bond’s first feature film comes in as a woman called Enid Baines relishes her work as a strict film censor. She thinks she has everything worked out but death and violence come to her regardless. How could this happen when it’s the movies that cause violence….?
Bailey Bond’s gory delve into 1980s Britain was driven by her passion for the era and the movies that came out at the time. “I’m obsessed with the video-nasty era, both because I love a lot of the films from that period and because the UK’s reaction to them was so extreme,” she told Cineuropa. “I find the whole thing totally fascinating. The job of a film censor is so unique, too: they have to examine movies with both a subjective and an objective viewpoint at once, and to think of them working during this climate of hysteria around horror films, being the moral line of judgement, only makes the job more complex and interesting.”
Release date: June 29, 2021 (Shudder)
As wonderful as it is to find the next Hereditary or ride the jumpy rollercoaster of a new Conjuring movie, sometimes what you need is a gory ‘80s-set comedy horror to break up the terror. Vicious Fun is exactly that movie and of course it’s coming to Shudder. When Joel, a film critic, ends up drunk and stumbling into a kind of therapy group for active serial killers, he understandably doesn’t get to go happily on his way when they work out that he’s just a regular Joe(l?). With plenty of gore and entertaining characters, Vicious Fun is exactly that. There’s no massive twists along the way but a hapless turn from Evan Marsh and thoroughly enjoyable murder from the excellent Amber Goldfarb makes this a zippy smart 90 minute horror. There are even a few gentle, if blood-drenched, educational lessons in toxic masculinity along the way.
Fear Street Trilogy
Release date: July 2, 9, & 16, 2021 (Netflix)
Chances are, one of the reasons you’re hunting down upcoming horror movies with an almost vampiric thirst right now is due to an overdose of a certain R.L Stine in your formative years. If it wasn’t for all those Goosebumps and Point Horror books, you might not be spending every waking hour consuming scary movies like there’s no tomorrow. The good news is that the teen horror master is more relevant than ever. So much so that his Fear Street books are getting the Netflix treatment. The first three weeks in July are playing host to Stine's Fear Street Trilogy Part One - 1994, Part Two - 1978, and, interestingly, Part Three - 1666.
There are refreshingly not too many spoilers in the trailer above but, as expected, the theme is teenagers in peril as a group of friends investigate terrifying events that have been plaguing their town for centuries. Even one creepy cool 90s horror would feel like a treat but a trilogy feels like sheer decadence, especially given that they’re all from Honeymoon writer and director Leigh Janiak. Millennials beware, you’re in for a scare. Or, at least, a comforting ‘90s-flavored horror hug. Now who is bringing the Sunny Delight?
The Forever Purge
Release date: July 16, 2021
When it comes to the Purge, haven’t we, well, purged enough? Is there anything left to purge? With the world in its current dystopian state it might also be argued that we’ve seen enough of a universe where murder and all criminality is legal for 12 hours a year. Purge franchise creator, writer and director of the first three movies, James DeMonaco agrees. The Forever Purge will be the last in the series, capping out the death and depravity at five movies.
We don’t know too much about the film - we’re guessing more masks? - but DeMonaco told Entertainment Weekly that he knew exactly how to finish things. “I think it’s a great way to end it all. We want to end it all, I think, in this one, and I’m very excited. When I came up with the idea and pitched it to everybody, they seemed psyched, and I think it will be a really cool ending, how we take this one home.” Relative newcomer Everardo Gout is on direction duties this time around so it will be interesting to see how the mayhem concludes. Whatever happens, those security shutters probably just aren’t going to cut it…
The Night House
Release date: July 16, 2021
It’s always good news when a well-received horror movie from Sundance quickly makes its way into general circulation instead of just disappearing into limbo like so many. David Bruckner’s The Night House, a critical darling from last year’s festival, is sitting at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and will hopefully stay in this July release date slot. Rebecca Hall stars as Beth, a widow who discovers that her recently deceased husband may not have been who she thought he was. In searching through his belongings, she finds all kinds of dark secrets she really could have done without discovering. And that’s when the noises in the house begin… Yes, we’ve heard things that go bump in the night before but given Bruckner’s impressively scary directing CV with ‘trip to the woods gone wrong’ The Ritual and both the Southbound and V/H/S anthologies, this looks like something to be very excited about.
Release date: July 23, 2021
Monsters, demons, and things that go bump in the night are scary but, as horror movies so often trip over themselves to tell us, real life is usually the truly terrifying thing. And few things are more horrifying than good old-fashioned aging. Were those lines there yesterday, eh? M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie dives into these primal fears as two families make their way to a hidden beach for some idyllic holiday adventures. Only as they settle down for some rays do they find out that time seems to be speeding up for some of them...
"It's based on this graphic novel that I was given from [sic] my daughters," Shyamalan told EW.com. "I read it, and the premise was so powerful, of these people that went to this beach and their experience that happens on that day in the beach… I thought it was very frightening and emotional, and the ideas just started coming, and I tracked down the owner, and the person that wrote it. It was just a beautiful thing, and kind of touching, that it came from my daughters, this story about getting older very, very quick." If you want to read before you watch, the graphic novel is called Sandcastle by writer Pierre Oscar Lévy and artist Frederik Peeters.
Don't Breathe 2
Release date: August 13, 2021
If all these moves to 2021 have been making you sad about any horror films actually ever being made again, here’s some good news. Stephen Lang revealed on Twitter that he wrapped his segments of Don’t Breathe 2. The follow up to the original reverse home invasion movie shot in Belgrade with “all health and safety protocols observed to the letter.” Lang is returning to his role as the infamous Blind Man, an ex-solider who really doesn’t need his eyes to wreak revenge on a group of burglars who invade his home.
Bloody Disgusting is reporting that Don’t Breathe 2 is set several years after the first movie with the Blind Man “living in quiet solace… until his past sins catch up to him.” If you’ve not seen the original there will be no spoilers here but just know that those are quite the sins. Fede Alvarez is not on direction duties this time around and has passed the bloodied baton to co-writer Rodo Sayagues but if this is anything like the original, prepare to be very, very tense.
It’s been six years since we’ve had a fresh movie from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp but Demonic looks like he’s back with a truly unsettling bang. The official synopsis says that this is the story of a young woman who unleashes terrifying demons when “supernatural forces at the root of a decades old rift between mother and daughter are revealed.” But this is no regular haunted house flick. Blomkamp is mixing in his love of sci-fi by bringing in a technology that allows people to interact with their own demons while comatose. Hence all those wires in the trailer above.
And this is another lockdown horror movie. The pandemic meant that all of Blomkamp’s bigger projects were shut down so he decided to make something small and scary in 2020. "Living out here in this slightly more rural area I was thinking we should self-finance something so that we could make something cool,” he told EW.com. “For a long time, I've been really interested in films like Paranormal Activity, and lower budget stuff that is pretty terrifying, and so we just started working on this concept. It grew and it got bigger than films like Paranormal Activity but it was cut from the same cloth really. So that's what it is. We made use out of a lot of the locations out here and just shot it through the summer."
Release date: August 27, 2021
You know the rules: say the name five times in a mirror and a Jordan Peele produced version of the almost mythical horror Candyman will appear in front of you. We're just going to have to wait a little longer for him to appear thanks to the pandemic. This 'spiritual sequel' to the 1992 original tour de force of a slasher is directed by Nia DaCosta and it'll be time to bee afraid, bee very afraid. As you'll see in the trailer above - complete with an inspired music choice - things are a little different this time around as Candyman lurks in reflections, but Yahya Abdul Mateen II is Anthony McCoy, the baby used as a lure back in the original movie. He's all grown up and back in the now gentrified Chicago neighbourhood where it all began.
And the new version won't be shying away from the race elements so important in the original movie. “The original was a landmark film for black representation in the horror genre,” said Jordan Peele in a statement. “Alongside Night of the Living Dead Candyman was a major inspiration for me as filmmaker — and to have a bold new talent like Nia at the helm of this project is truly exciting. We are honoured to bring the next chapter in the Candyman canon to life and eager to provide new audiences with an entry point to Clive Barker’s legend.”
Nia DaCosta, director of the Tessa Thompson starring Little Woods released last year and co-writer as well as director here, has a passion for the genre. "I always loved horror when I was younger, I just loved all creepy films," she says in an interview with Vulture. "Candyman was one of those movies that scared the shit out of me. I remember it aligning so well with me being in middle school, although it came out a few years before I was in middle school. In the bathroom, people would either say “Bloody Mary” or “Candyman.” Today, I understand that it’s special because it has a black antagonist in a very white space, which is problematic, but at the time I was like, “Oh cool, we have black dudes, it’s terrifying. Virginia Madsen, and what, bees? Honey? What’s happening?” It was very much of that."
Release date: September 9, 2021
What’s that you say? A new Resident Evil movie coming after a global pandemic? Well, quite, but let’s not let that put us off. Firstly, there’s no Milla Jovovich or Paul WS. Anderson in sight - stop cheering, it’s rude... This is a full reboot that’s erring closer to the iconic zombie game series’ survival horror origins. Directed by 47 Meters Down and Strangers: Prey at Night director Johanne Roberts, Sony’s reimagining has just finished filming amidst Covid restrictions and is slated for release in September.
Reassuringly, the team looks like it’s at pains to let fans know that the movie is very much taking its inspiration from the survival horror of the game. Special effects team AAFX Studio revealed an image on Instagram of a Resi zombie that looks far more like the infected shufflers of the original. “It’s gonna be super scary. It’s super, super scary,” Roberts told Screenrant last year. “And it’s just getting back to the roots of the game. I think, at the moment, I’m not really allowed to say much more than that. But it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
Release date: September 10, 2021 (HBO Max & cinemas)
James Wan is a busy man. Somehow, despite his foray into the superheroics of Aquaman and executive producer credits on an intimidating number of horror movies, he’s managed to find time to shoot a new one of his own. Wan has been pretty secretive about the movie and only posted the above sword image with the release date on his Instagram.
Plot wise, there's not much to go on but a quick glimpse of the movie was featured in an HBO Max 2021 trailer. The brief clip saw Annabelle Wallis waking up in bed with a smashed wall behind her and a creature that's definitely not human rising up in the background. We also know it will have a solid R rating. As reported by Collider, Malignant has "Strong horror violence and gruesome images." We wouldn't want to think Wan has lost his touch...
Malignant was written by Wan and his fiance Ingrid Bisu and will star Supernatural’s Jake Abel as well as Annabelle Wallis. Wan fans might be aware that he has a comic book of the same name, but the director has already posted on Facebook that this movie has nothing to do with that series. “Umm, just a little clarification. The film I’m in the midst of shooting right now, Malignant, isn’t based off my comic book Malignant Man,” he said. “It’s definitely not a superhero film. Malignant is an original thriller NOT based off any existing IP.” Phew. Not that we're against those but.... horror.
Release date: October 15, 2021
The Shape is back. Because of course he is. And unfortunately we're going to have a wait an extra year to see him, thanks to the current global situation. The good news is that given how brilliant the most recent Jamie Lee Curtis movie was, we can only expect more good things. Now, a year after initially planned, the third in the trilogy, Halloween Ends will finish things on October 14, 2022. At least it’s not just Marvel that can make you wish your life away with a series of release dates, eh?
But an extra 365 day delay doesn't mean we can't talk about it. Halloween Kills looks like the ultimate reunion party for Halloween cast members over the years. Kyle Richards is back in her role as Lindsey Wallace, the little girl being babysat by Laurie in the original movie, Charles Cyphers returns as Sheriff Leigh Brackett, and even Nancy Stephens is set to reprise her role as Nurse Marion Chambers who was last seen in H20 but also featured in the first two original movies. Oh, and a certain residence is making a return too. When asked if the Myers house would be in. the movie, Blumhouse confirmed on Twitter that we'll be going back to where it all began. Let's just hope that Laurie Strode has plenty more ammunition.
Last Night in Soho
Release date: October 22, 2021
What’s that you say? Just a new horror movie from Edgar Wright? Yep, Mr Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz himself is releasing a new slice of scary and this time it stars The Queen’s Gambit’s Anya Taylor Joy (who is happily cropping up everywhere these days) and ex-Doctor Who Matt Smith. Following a passionate young wannabe fashion designer played by Thomasin McKenzie who can somehow travel back in time to the 1960s, Last Night in Soho is erring more on the psychological side of horror. This brightly coloured trip through time looks like it goes very much awry. It had been meant to release earlier in the year so hopefully it keeps this new Halloween release.
Release date: October 29, 2021
No matter how many times you see it, watching Guillermo del Toro’s name flash up ominously at the start of a trailer is always gently reassuring. Not in an ‘it’s all going to be OK’ kind of way but more like the knowledge that what you are about to watch will be dark, scary, and probably hurt emotionally. This time, del Toro is in a producer role on a nightmarish family drama revolving around a young boy holding onto a deadly secret. Going by the trailer above, it’s that he’s being forced to catch animals to feed his father who might just be an actual monster.
Antlers is based on a short story by Channel Zero writer and creator Nick Antosca who is also on screenplay duties here. This means it definitely won’t pull any punches when it comes to scares. Wild Heart director Scott Cooper is at the helm too, making this an exciting monstrous addition to your slightly delayed 2021 horror calendar. Just maybe don’t take a hot dog into the cinema. Nachos all the way for this one…
Release date: January 14, 2022
Would you like to play a game, Sidney? For the 5th time....? Yes, Ghostface fans rejoice, Scream 5 is official happening and modern Scream Queen Neve Campbell is returning as the long-suffering Sidney Prescott. Not only that but it's going to be a 2022 Woodsboro reunion as both Courtney Cox and David Arquette are returning as Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley. Even more exciting is that this is coming from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett whose recent gory wedding party caper Ready or Not is just the right combination of horror and humour.
As reported by Bloody Disgusting, Neve Campbell sounds thrilled to be back. “After spending time speaking with Radio Silence, they have shown such love, respect and admiration for Wes Craven and all that he’s created in the Scream franchise. I am beyond excited to step back into the role of Sidney Prescott and return to Woodsboro.” Now we just need to wait. Does anyone know any good horror films? Or where to buy a voice changer....?
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Release date: TBC 2021
Just when you thought there weren’t enough horror heavy hitters returning in 2021, Leatherface joins Candyman and Michael Myers for a gory old school reunion. It might be called just Texas Chainsaw Massacre but this is actually a sequel to the original 1974 classic. And before you dismiss anything that isn’t Tobe Hooper’s original, Fede Alvarez is on production duties who you might remember as the director of the brilliant brutal revisit of The Evil Dead back in 2013. So this could easily be something very special.
Speaking to the Bloody Disgusting podcast, Alvarez revealed “It is a direct sequel, and it is the same character. It is old man Leatherface. Everything is classic, old school gags. A lot of the approach that we had with Evil Dead – never VFX, to do everything on camera. It’s a very old school approach to filmmaking. Vintage lenses… it’s very similar to the original film.” It’s also been revealed that while original final girl actress Marilyn Burns sadly passed in 2014, her character, Sally Hardesty will return to take on this older Leatherface. Revenge is so sweet.... And probably deadly.
The LaLaurie Mansion Series
Release date: TBC 2021
Whether it’s a good thing or not, we now live in a world where entire franchises are announced before even the first movie has been released. The writers of the first two The Conjuring movies, Chad and Carey Hayes, have teamed up again and revealed an entire series of horror movies revolving around the infamous LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans. Once home to none other than Nic Cage, who allegedly only lasted one night of horrific screams and bumps in the night, this grim abode is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the world. The good news is that if you’ve done your horror homework and watched American Horror Story Coven, you’ll already know its most villainous resident.
Played by Kathy Bates in AHS, Madame LaLaurie was both a New Orleans socialite and horrific 19th century serial killer, responsible for the horrific torture, mutilation and murder of a number of Black slaves. Her secret was only revealed when a fire broke out at her mansion and firefighters discovered some of her barely alive victims in diabolical states.
Not content with just one movie, the Hayes brothers are going to tell multiple stories of the mansion throughout history, from its horrific beginnings, all the way to modern day. Plus, they’re considering writing some of it from inside the house. “We love writing films in which we get to tell true stories – incorporating moments that people can look up and discover did in fact happen,” they announced in a press release. “With the LaLaurie House we get to do exactly that… there is a wealth of documentation of a very dark and frightening past of true events. Not to mention that after spending some time there, what we personally experienced was truly unnerving. We haven’t been this excited about a project since The Conjuring!”