Like any good slasher villain, the horror genre is finding film fans wherever they happen to be.
Whether you can visit an open (and safe!) movie theater near you or prefer your cinema on streaming services and video-on-demand platforms, 2021 brings a cornucopia of fright fests. There are some noteworthy returns (what’s up, Michael Myers?), interesting team-ups (Chris Rock doing a “Saw” movie), revisits with old favorites (new “Candyman,” y’all!) and a whole bunch of psychological terrors that’ll scare you where you live. (Quite literally if you’re a homebody during a pandemic.)
Don’t wait until Halloween to embrace the scares! Here are 15 movies to put on your calendar that will haunt you throughout 2021. (Release dates are subject to change.)
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1. ‘Saint Maud’
Acolytes of religious horror flicks and possession films will dig director Rose Glass’ visually disturbing creep fest about a devout hospice nurse (Morfydd Clark) with a mysterious past who is weirdly obsessed with saving the soul of her terminally ill patient (Jennifer Ehle), a former dancer in a lesbian relationship.
Where to watch: In theaters Friday, on Epix Feb. 12
2. ‘Willy’s Wonderland’
Who better than Nicolas Cage to take on a psycho Chuck E. Cheese? Cage stars as a taciturn drifter whose car breaks down in a remote town, where he agrees to spend a night being a janitor for a kids’ restaurant in exchange for help from a mechanic. Naturally, our hero ends up battling a gang of killer animatronic mascots.
Where to watch: Video on demand Feb. 12
Sawyer Spielberg, son of famed director Steven, makes his acting debut in the food-themed backwoods slasher about a young couple (Spielberg and Malin Barr) kicked out of their camping space, who find sanctuary in the home of a strange old woman (Barbara Kingsley) and discover her dinner parties are a nightmare.
Where to watch: In theaters March 12, video on demand April 13
In the ninth film in the “Saw” horror franchise, Rock executive produces and stars alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella as police officers investigating a rash of ghoulish cop killings where a painted spiral is left at the scene – the hallmark signature of the twisted killer, Jigsaw.
Where to watch: In theaters May 21
5. ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’
Horror guru James Wan has an original directorial effort arriving this year in the mysterious “Malignant” (in theaters Sept. 10), but he’s also producing a new installment in his expansive “Conjuring” universe. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are back as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and the movie pulls from one of their more sensational cases, in which a murder suspect used demonic possession as a defense for the first time in U.S. history.
Where to watch: In theaters and on HBO Max June 4
6. ‘The Forever Purge’
The fifth and (supposedly) final film in the “Purge” series focuses on a Mexican couple (Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta) who flee a drug cartel in their homeland and wind up on a Texas ranch when a bunch of folks decide to keep purging after the allotted 12 hours of legal crime and murder.
Where to watch: In theaters July 9
7. ‘The Night House’
The thriller from last year’s Sundance Film Festival stars Rebecca Hall as a woman shocked by her husband’s unexpected death. Living alone in the lakeside house he built for her, the widow is tormented by terrifying visions at night yet the haunting images go away in the day, leading her to investigate her dead spouse’s secrets.
Where to watch: In theaters July 16
M. Night Shyamalan’s latest flick, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps and Thomasin McKenzie, is so far a big mystery with no announced plot. However, it is based on the French graphic novel “Sandcastle,” about strangers at a beach who try to figure out the strangeness going on when they find a body floating in the water.
Where to watch: In theaters July 23
Director Nia DaCosta and producer Jordan Peele’s new take on the classic 1990s social horror film stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a Chicago artist living in a gentrified neighborhood who finds eerie inspiration in the legend of a vengeful, murderous ghost with a hook for a hand.
Where to watch: In theaters Aug. 27
10. ‘Army of the Dead’
“Justice League” director Zack Snyder, who did a 2004 remake of “Dawn of the Dead,” goes from superheroes back to zombies for an action film about a group of mercenaries (including Dave Bautista, Omari Hardwick and Tig Notaro) who plan an epic heist amid an undead outbreak in Las Vegas.
Where to watch: Netflix this summer
11. ‘Fear Street’ trilogy
In three films set over three time periods (1994, 1978, 1666), the adaptation of R.L. Stine’s best-selling young adult books follows a group of teens in the ’90s who discover the horrifying history of their hometown Shadyside and learn the spooky events that have marked the place over generations may be connected.
Where to watch: Netflix this summer
12. ‘A Quiet Place Part II’
In director John Krasinski’s anticipated sequel, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) venture out after a tragic loss and try to stay safe in a world full of vicious, blind creatures that hunt by sound, as well as monsters of the more human variety.
Where to watch: In theaters Sept. 17
13. ‘Halloween Kills’
Myers, the masked, machete-wielding bad guy beloved by generations of horror fans, apparently escaped a fiery fate in the 2018 hit sequel “Halloween” and is on the prowl again in suburban Haddonfield, where heroine Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) tries to find allies to battle him.
Where to watch: In theaters Oct. 15
14. ‘Last Night in Soho’
In writer/director Edgar Wright’s psychological horror film, Thomasin McKenzie plays a young fashion designer who mysteriously winds up in 1960s London, meets her musical idol (Anya Taylor-Joy) and finds that time is doing some really weird stuff in jolly old England.
Where to watch: In theaters Oct. 22
Produced by Guillermo del Toro, the creature feature focuses on a small Oregon town where a teacher (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) get involved when dark happenings are afoot with an enigmatic student (Jeremy T. Thomas) and an ancestral beast.
Where to watch: In theaters Oct. 29