All of the best horror and thriller films of the past year will be competing at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards this year, so we’ve compiled the full list of nominees and where you can watch them now
The official Fangoria Chainsaw Awards are back and bigger than ever, and their nominees for this year are as eclectic of a bunch as there’s ever been. Monsters, ghosts, romance, daddy issues, and overt political themes are just a few of the many things that the best horror and thrillers of the past year have to offer. Check out the full list of every nominated film and series below – wide releases, limited releases, streaming premieres, first features, and international movies are all included – and be sure to watch the Chainsaw Awards on April 18th only on Shudder.
‘The Mortuary Collection’ (Shudder) Nominated for Best Streaming Premiere Movie
Ryan Spindell crafts a new classic horror anthology with The Mortuary Collection, a gathering of ghoulish tales told by legendary actor Clancy Brown as a lonely mortician named Montgomery Dark. Each story is better than the last, and with an impressive array of horror effects and wicked humor throughout, the film is a must-see for any fan of the genre.
‘The Wolf of Snow Hollow’ (VOD) Nominated for Best Limited Release Movie
It’s been far too long since a movie has given werewolves the proper revival they need, but filmmaker Jim Cummings does it in spades. The Wolf of Snow Hollow has a jet black sense of humor and follows a sheriff’s deputy (Cummings) as he investigates a string of grisly murders in a small Utah town. As he comes to believe that it may in fact be the work of a werewolf, the stress begins to wear and tear at his mind. The film also features Robert Forster in his final performance.
‘Blood Quantum’ (Shudder) Nominated for Best International Movie
Blood Quantum is a bloody and badass take on zombie movies as well as a poignant commentary on colonialism and indigenous genocide. Set at the start of a classic zombie apocalypse, the residents of the Mi’gmaq reserve find themselves immune to the virus, but still must deal with the new undead world outside of their walls. Starring the incomparable Michael Greyeyes, it’s a thrill ride with an inspired premise and something important to say.
‘What We Do in the Shadows’ (Hulu) Nominated for Best Series
Based on the 2014 film of the same name from Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary about four ancient vampires living together in Staten Island. Much of the hilarity comes from the group interacting with the modern world, but the series has a surprisingly deep bit of lore as well. There are other supernatural beings in the world as well, and the show has been charming viewers for two solid seasons now.
‘Impetigore’ (Shudder) Nominated for Best International Movie
Filmmaker Joko Anwar has become a pinnacle of Indonesian cinema and the worldwide horror scene. Impetigore is his scariest yet, telling the story of a young woman named Maya (Tara Basro) who visits the village of her birth, where she believes she’s set to inherit her old house. But she learns that her family fled the village for the reason, and as the mystery of the place unravels, Maya becomes the target of the community who are seeking to break a sinister curse. The film is brutal, terrifying, and relentless; it’s not an easy watch, but a rewarding one.
‘The Invisible Man’ (HBO Max) Nominated for Best Wide Release Movie
One of the last major theatrical releases before the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man is an expertly crafted update that successfully modernizes the classic horror story. The film follows Cecilia (an always exceptional performance from Elisabeth Moss), a woman who believes that her controlling, abusive, and wealthy boyfriend Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is continuing to stalk and manipulate her even after his apparent suicide. The scares and technical work behind the film are strong enough on their own, but the narrative also reveals the way people – especially women – are harmed by gaslighting and dismissed by others when trapped in a toxic relationship. It’s smart, increasingly impressive, and of course, scary as hell.
‘Come to Daddy’ (Amazon Prime Video) Nominated for Best First Feature
Come to Daddy stars the one and only Elijah Wood as a man named Norval, who’s really more of a spoiled man-child. Maybe this is due in part to the fact that he hasn’t seen his father in decades, so when he suddenly receives a letter from papa asking his son to come visit, he jumps at the chance to go. But thing’s at dad’s place are strange, and the happy reunion Norval was hoping for end sup being anything but. You don’t want this one spoiled for you – it’s bloody, dark, funny, bizarre, and consistently surprising.
‘Lovecraft Country’ (HBO Max) Nominated for Best Series
Based on the 2016 novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country blends the horror fantasy of H.P. Lovecraft with the world of the segregated United States in the Jim Crow era. The terrors of both gruesome monsters and ruthless racism collide in the story of a young man named Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) and his friend Letitia Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) as they travel across the country in search of Atticus’ father. The series is a wonderfully crafted take on the dark fantasy genre with strong themes to match it.
‘Color Out of Space’ (Shudder) Nominated for Best Limited Release Movie
Speaking of Lovecraft, sci-fi horror gem Color Out of Space is based on one of the author’s short stories and stars the man, the myth, the legend Nicolas Cage. Exploding with color, the film follows a family who are shocked to find a meteorite has landed on their farm which holds an alien life-form. It soon begins to invade their bodies and their minds, and their ordinary lives are turned into a psychedelic nightmare. It’s scary, wild, and visually hypnotic.
‘The Hunt’ (VOD) Nominated for Best Wide Release Movie
The Hunt became famous when its original 2019 release was delayed by both a series of mass shootings in the U.S. occurring close to the release date as well as attacks from right-wing media, including former president Donald Trump, over a supposed bias in its premise. The film follows a group of strangers who awaken in a reserve where the world’s rich and elite hunt people for sport. Intended to be a satirical take on the deep divide between the left and the right of American politics, the film is also a solid thriller in its own right.
‘Amulet’ (Hulu) Nominated for Best First Feature
Premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Amulet is a dark and macabre look at gender politics. The film follows a homeless veteran named Tomaz (Alec Secareanu) living in London, who is offered shelter at an old decrepit house. It’s home to a young woman named Magda (Carla Juri) and her dying mother (Anah Ruddin), and perhaps, some more sinister, supernatural forces as well. It’s a smart slowburn with a chilling sense of dread permeating through it all.
‘Anything For Jackson’ (Shudder) Nominated for Best Streaming Premiere Movie
Anything For Jackson features a pair of unexpected horror villains: a lovable elderly couple who just so happen to be Satanists. No big deal, but when Audrey (Sheila McCarthy) and Henry (Julian Richings) are stricken by the loss of their daughter and grandson, they hatch a sinister plan to resurrect the child through a sort of reverse exorcism. But the demonic forces they summon prove to be much more than they can handle. The film contains one of the scariest scenes of the year – brace yourself for when something called the Suffocating Ghost (Troy James) appears onscreen.
‘Bacurau’ (VOD) Nominated for Best International Movie
Bacurau is a Western set in the backcountry of Brazil and won itself the Jury Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Set in a near future, the film follows the inhabitants of a small settlement who begin to experience strange and frightening events following the passing of the village’s matriarch. At the same time, disputes over access to rapidly declining water sources ramp up tensions in the area. Bacurau is both traditionally thrilling and relentless in its hard-hitting sociopolitical themes – a must-see for those who love to see masterful mixtures of different genres.
‘Helstrom’ (Hulu) Nominated for Best Series
Helstrom may have been short-lived with only one season, but it was one of the more interesting stories set in the now defunct Marvel Television universe. With an obvious horror approach, the series based itself on the stories of Marvel Comics’ Daimon and Satana Hellstrom, the literal children of Satan. It’s a supernatural drama with some impeccably impressive visuals, and a glimpse at the cancelled “Adventure into Fear” franchise that Marvel Television had planned.
‘The Beach House’ (Shudder) Nominated for Best Streaming Premiere Movie
The Beach House is a grim and ambitious horror debut from Jeffrey A. Brown, about a mysterious and terrifying infections that spreads across the coast and its vacationing inhabitants. That includes young struggling couple Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) who arrive at the beach hoping to repair their relationship only to find themselves in a struggle for survival. Both intimate in its drama yet apocalyptic in scale, it’s a expertly thrilling take on aquatic horrors.
‘Sea Fever’ (Hulu) Nominated for Best First Feature
Another nautical-themed horror, Sea Fever follows the crew of a doomed fishing trawler as they’re marooned in the middle of the ocean. A deep-sea lifeform suddenly makes its way to the boat and begins infecting the crew, and it’s up to marine biology student Siobhán (Hermione Corfield) to lead everyone towards possible survival. While things start off as another monster movie, the film ends up having some shockingly timely similarities to the COVID-19 pandemic as well.
‘Extra Ordinary’ (VOD) Nominated for Best First Feature
There are plenty of examples of horror comedies, but so many when it comes to horror rom-coms. Extra Ordinary is unique in that sense, telling the story of a lonely driving instructor with supernatural abilities named Rose (Maeve Higgins) who gets roped into helping a man save his possessed daughter. It’s an absurdly funny film that only grows more surreal as it continues, and it’s irresistibly charming to boot.
‘His House’ (Netflix) Nominated for Best Streaming Premiere Movie
Remi Weeke’s electrifying debut takes a standard haunted house setup – complete with ghosts lurking in the walls and hiding in every corner – and turns it into perhaps one of the profound representations of the refugee / immigrant experience. Sudanese couple Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) have just arrived in the UK after a harrowing experience fleeing their war-torn home country. The government sets them up in a shabby town home that’s in need of serious repair and upkeep, and as the pair struggle to assimilate themselves into their new surroundings, they find that the house is full of the ghosts they thought they’d left behind. The film is as thoughtful as it is terrifying, and with a stunning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s certainly not one to be missed.
‘The Dark and the Wicked’ (Shudder) Nominated for Best Limited Release Movie
Filmmaker Bryan Bertino is best known for writing and directing the home-invasion thriller The Strangers, as well as his critically acclaimed 2016 horror film The Monster. His latest, The Dark and the Wicked, is full of nightmares and a growing sense of evil. The film follows two siblings, Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.) who are summoned back to the secluded family farm to await the inevitability of their father’s death. What initially appears to be a timeless ritual of loss and remembrance turns out to be something very different.
‘Freaky’ (VOD) Nominated for Best Wide Release Movie
Christopher Landon gave the time loop premise a makeover with his blend of horror and comedy in his Happy Death Day films, and his latest movie, Freaky, does the same for the body swap genre. It follows teenage Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) as she navigates the perils of high school while also accidentally switching bodies with an aging serial killer known as the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). Freaky is freakishly fun and features hilariously committed performances from its two leads, and further establishes Landon as a force to be reckoned with in the horror scene.
‘Gretel & Hansel’ (Hulu & Amazon Prime Video) Nominated for Best Wide Release Movie
This chilling reimagining of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale is all about atmosphere. Sophia Lillis from the most recent adaptation of Stephen King’s It stars as Gretel as she and her brother find themselves at the home of a witch. The film features some stunningly creepy visuals and cinematography that keeps its gripping despite its slowburn pace.
‘Relic’ (VOD) Nominated for Best Limited Release Movie
Relic is a stunning debut from filmmaker Natalie Erika James. The film is a haunted take on the terror and dread that envelops a family as their grandmother’s mind slowly starts to deteriorate. A mysterious and ominous black mold is growing all around her home, and it threatens to drag everyone down with it into a dreadful abyss. It’s expertly crafted horror and tension, with strong performances from its tight-knit cast that includes Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, and Bella Heathcote.
‘Dracula’ (Netflix) Nominated for Best Series
Claes Bang stars as the titular vampire in Netflix’s take on the classic horror novel, which injects some dark humor into its brief but frightening three episode run. From the makers of Sherlock, the series asks what happens when Count Dracula meets an actual worthy adversary.
‘La Llorona’ (Shudder) Nominated for Best International Movie
The demand for accountability and justice against corrupt leaders and systems has been spreading around the globe, and while movies have been reflecting these feelings more and more recently, none have made it so sadistically satisfying as Guatemala’s La Llorona. The film follows a former dictator named Enrique Monteverde (played by Julio Diaz and loosely based on Efraín Ríos Montt) who stands trial for the unforgivable genocide of the country’s native Mayans. When he’s deemed not guilty and allowed to return home to his mansion, the public grows increasingly angry and stages nonstop protests outside the house. But Monteverde isn’t safe within the walls either; he and his family are constantly plagued by nightmares and strange supernatural occurrences, and they soon learn that the war criminal may have been found guilty by forces beyond a mere courtroom.
‘Run’ (Hulu) Nominated for Best Streaming Premiere Movie
Run is about as stressful as a thriller can push itself to be, starring Kiera Allen as a wheelchair-bound homeschooler who grows suspicious of her overprotective mother (Sarah Paulson) as she grows older and more independent. It quickly became Hulu’s most successful original film upon its release, solidifying filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty – who also directed 2018’s Searching – as a force to be reckoned with.
‘Dead Dicks’ (VOD) Nominated for Best First Feature
After Becca (Jillian Harris) receives a distressing call from her suicidal brother Richie (Hestin Horwin), she rushes over to his apartment and finds him alive and well – surrounded by copies of his own dead body. Every time Richie attempts to take his own life, he winds up just creating another copy. Writing and directing duo Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer is smart, dramatically rewarding, and captivating with its uniquely macabre premise.
‘Possessor’ (Hulu) Nominated for Best Limited Release Movie
The mere poster for Possessor is so disturbing that you can immediately imagine the type of film it is, which makes sense considering it’s the work of Brandon Cronenberg, son of gross-out body horror master David Cronenberg (Scanners, The Fly, A History of Violence). Like his father, Brandon is able to still make audiences squeamish and uncomfortable with genuinely ghastly visuals and an intense atmosphere. Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough), an elite, corporate assassin, takes control of other people’s bodies using brain-implant technology to execute high-profile targets. But Vos begins to lose her grip on who she really is, and begins to feel detached in her family life thanks to violent thoughts.
‘Underwater’ (HBO Max) Nominated for Best Wide Release Movie
Basically the movie Alien but set deep beneath the ocean rather than space, Underwater was the last film released by 20th Century Fox before their acquisition by Disney. It follows a group of people working on a deep sea drilling facility when they suddenly fall under attack from strange and terrifying creatures. Starring Kristen Stewart, who leads an ensemble that includes Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr., Vincent Cassel, Mamoudou Athie, and T.J. Miller, it’s a claustrophobic creature feature that traps you in a place that might even be scarier than the far reaches of space.
‘Host’ (Shudder) Nominated for Best Streaming Premiere Movie
Rob Savage’s found footage style film Host has the distinction of being filmed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also plays into its story. With lockdown restrictions in place, a group of friends gather on Zoom every week to chat and keep in touch. But they engage in an online seance of sorts, they summon a demonic spirit that causes mayhem and terror in the homes of the unlucky friend group. Host is an exceptionally frightening piece of work, and admirable for the ingenuity behind the making of it.
‘Sputnik’ (Hulu) Nominated for Best International Movie
Sputnik hails from Russia, and it follows a doctor named Tatyana Yuryevna Klimova (Oksana Akinshina) as she’s tasked with inspecting a cosmonaut who has just returned to Earth. Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov) is the only survivor of a mysterious incident that occurred out in space. Tatyana soon realizes that there is a dangerous parasite living inside Konstantin, and bloody mayhem quickly ensues. Sputnik has excellent set pieces and substantial gore, and the film became one of the most streamed titles in history for Russia upon its release.
‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ (Netflix) Nominated for Best Series
Mike Flanagan established himself as a modern master of horror with 2018’s The Haunting of Hill House, and his follow-up serves as an adaptation of the 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw. It follows a young woman (Victoria Pedretti) who begins working at the infamous Bly Manor, but the home’s many ghosts still roam its halls, and its residents hold secrets themselves. While it’s certainly effective with its scares, Bly Manor also sets itself apart by also being quite romantic, and further proves that Flanagan is a filmmaker to keep an eye on.