New horror movies in 2021 are looking ludicrously exciting for scare fans. While global events turned the cinematic schedule upside down in 2020, this means that all of the good horror immediately piled into 2021 for a bumper year of silver screen frights. Some release dates are still being finalised but, by and large, we've now got an impressive line up with plenty of movies arriving on streaming services for those who don't want to go back to the cinema just yet.
Video on demand (VoD) and streaming opportunities mean that new horror movies are arriving on more platforms than ever before and Warner Bros has already confirmed that its biggest releases will be available at the same time in theaters and on HBO Max. In the UK, this will probably mean simultaneous 'Home Premiere' availability for both James Wan's Malignant and the new Conjuring movie The Devil Made Me Do It, so expect to pay a premium for access.
When it comes to upcoming horror movies though, it's a bit of a dream year. Jigsaw is back in Spiral: Book Of Saw – having moved forward to May 14, Michael Myers is scheduled for his favorite holiday in October after skipping a year (he hated missing out on the candy apples) and Leatherface is even back in a brand new Texas Chainsaw sequel from Fede Alvarez. Get those blood spatters off your phone. It's time to get your calendar app ready for the most exciting new horror movies of 2021 and beyond.
Release date: April 15, 2021
If you binged The Haunting of Bly Manor in one go then you’ll probably immediately need even more creepy doll-filled mansions and menacing children. To Shudder then as The Banishing, from Severance and Triangle director Christopher Smith, looks like it will scratch that particular scary itch. The story is set in England in the '30s as a reverend moves his family into a manor that doesn’t make them feel exactly welcome. As we all would, the family turn to the occult to find a solution.
And while this is a haunting, the story is very human. The vicar’s wife, played by Jessica Brown Findlay, was previously a single mother and their marriage is already fraught. “The house is crumbling the relationship between her and her husband,” Smith told Variety. “It is exploring the things that you beat yourself up about in your own life. The house brings out the worst in the husband, who not so secretly judges his wife for having a sexual history. The way I pushed and directed the script is so that the horror is coming out from within the characters. Ghosts are individual for the people; you get haunted by something different to the next man, based on your life. I really wanted to factor that into it.” How... reassuring...
Release date: April 16, 2021
How does Barabra Crampton do it? Does she clone herself so she can star in multiple horror movies at once? Has she discovered a secret that the Re-animator never could? Regardless of her methods, Crampton, alongside Larry Fessenden, elevates Jakob’s Wife from a fun vampire splatterfest to a hilarious and effective prod at the patriarchy. This is very much an 80s throwback but amidst the gore are strong messages about relationships and our fears of aging.
“The vampire element in this thematically represents a lust for life,” director Travis Stephens explains to Slashfilm. “Not eternal life. The existence you now have. What are you doing with it? How strong is your heart beating? How strong is the blood flowing through your body? How passionate are you about the things that you’re doing? Go for it. Embrace it.” While you’re at it, watch Jakob’s Wife. We felt lucky to get to see it at this year's SXSW and if you don't catch it on VoD, Shudder will be streaming the movie later this year.
Spiral: From the Book of Saw
Release date: May 14, 2021
Another big hitter from 2020, Spiral: From the Book of Saw looks like it's going to be worth waiting for. If you were going to make a list of the actors you’d imagine starring in the *counts on bloodied fingers* ninth movie in the series, Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson wouldn’t exactly be the first to spring to mind. And yet here we are. It turns out that the multi-talented Rock loves the gory punish 'em up and he has been the driving force behind this now 2021 reboot. “Chris conceived this idea and it will be completely reverential to the legacy of the material while reinvigorating the brand with his wit, creative vision and passion for this classic horror franchise,” Lionsgate’s chairman, Joe Drake said last year. Yep, Saw is classic horror now. Do you feel old yet?
Director of Saws 2, 3, and 4 respectively, Darren Lynn Bousman is returning to the franchise to steer us through this fresh sea of gore as someone presses 'new game' on Jigsaw's console. As you can see in the stylish trailer above, we only get a glimpse at a one of the traps we'll soon be wincing at but there's plenty of menacing titular spirals to indicate Jigsaw's return as he specifically targets police. And, while that music will definitely get your heart rate up as you remember exactly what it means for the limbs of victims, the trailer happily finds time to let us know what happens when Samuel L. Jackson takes on Jigsaw. Spoiler: it rhymes with motherclucker.
Army of the Dead
Release date: May 21, 2021
We all have our, well, thoughts on Zack Snyder’s DC slate, but that doesn’t mean we should worry about him heading up the long-awaited Army of the Dead. This is the man who brought us the crunchily violent Dawn of the Dead remake all the way back in 2004 after all. In production for over a decade in various forms before finally being taken on by Netflix with a generous $70-$90 million budget, Snyder’s Army of the Dead is a zombie heist movie set in Las Vegas. Yes, you read that right. Amid the casinos and brain munching, a man decides to gather a team of mercenaries for an ultimate Ocean’s Eleven-style crimefest. Oh, and Dave Bautista is in it.
"I love to honour canon and the works of art," Snyder told THR about his work. "But this is the opportunity to find a purely joyful way to express myself through a genre. It will be the most kick-ass, self-aware — but not in a wink-to-the-camera way — balls-to-the-wall zombie freakshow that anyone has ever seen. No one's ever let me completely loose [like this]." Should we be afraid? Let’s be tentatively afraid... Enjoy the trailer above.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Release date: June 4, 2021
As we were all expecting, The Conjuring 3 has been shifted to a 2021 release. The next entry in the haunted Wan-created universe, The Devil Made Me Do It, is another outing for Vera Farmiga and Partrick Wilson as Ed and Lorraine Warren. This time a man on trial for murder says he is innocent and was actually possessed by a demon at the time. Yeah, that’s what happened when all of the chocolate bars have mysteriously disappeared from the fridge. Honestly...
The previous two Conjuring movies have been based on actual cases from the notes of the paranormal hunting couple, but it’s not clear if this particular case has any grounding in actual fact. Whether it’s as realistic as The Nun or not though, it’s still exciting to see Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return for the official third entry in the series. While James Wan is on producer duties, Michael Chaves is taking the helm this time around. Chaves is no stranger to horror. He was responsible for The Curse of La Llorona about a folklore monster who wants to steal your children. Given that movie's tepid horror, let’s hope Chaves was just getting warmed up.
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: 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.
A Quiet Place Part II
Release date: September 17, 2021
Hey, it’s ok. Just because John Krasinksi didn’t call his silent sequel A Quieter Place, doesn’t mean it’s going to be any less terrifying than the original. Part II of the utter tensionfest follows directly on from the first film as Evelyn and her three children attempt to stay alive in a world of the most sensitive-eared monsters of all time. If you haven’t seen the original, we’ll gently sidestep any spoilers (in bare feet of course) but we’ll be seeing even more of this silent apocalypse than we did in the original. And thankfully there will be some fresh faces too. As you can see in the trailer above, Djimon Hounsou and Cillian Murphy have joined the cast and will be pressing their fingers to their lips and trying to make as little noise as possible. Plus, that March release date is nice and soon but not far enough that you can’t catch up. Managed to grow your fingernails have you? That’s nice. They’ll be gone as soon as this delayed release date finally rolls around.
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.
Release date: TBC 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.”
There’s no date for release just yet but Censor has been picked up for distribution by Magnolia in the US so hopefully we’ll hear more soon.
Don't Breathe 2
Release date: TBC 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 has revealed on Twitter that he has wrapped at least his segments of Don’t Breathe 2. The follow up to the original reverse home invasion movie has been shooting 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.
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!”