Shivering with Anticipation: Horror Films to Look Out For in 2021

Let’s get this out of the way now. The year of our lord 2020 has absolutely sucked, and to linger on that thought isn’t doing us much good. So now let’s ask ourselves a far more valuable and meaningful question: What comes next? What do we horror fans and gorehounds have to look forward to in this coming year? As it turns out, there’s quite a lot to be stoked for, and even with the fate of theatrical releases in the balance, the rise of Premium VOD has allowed for wide-releasing films to make a splash, even without the midnight premieres and packed auditoriums. Add in Warner Bros. same-day releases to HBO Max for their entire 2021 slate, and we horror and science fiction fans are in for a damn fine 12 months in film.

In no particular order, here are a handful of films that are currently, as of this printing, slated for a 2021 release. These include some films that were postponed due to the ongoing pandemic, but this is not a comprehensive list.

Abruptio (late 2021)

Written and directed by Evan Marlowe (Blood Rush, Horror House), this film is a unique entry on this list, as it will be done entirely with puppets. Featuring voice work by horror icons Robert Englund, Jordan Peele, and, in his final performance, Sid Haig, this film has been in production since 2015, and will finally come to life later in the coming year. With the tagline “Everyone’s a puppet,” the film centers around Les (James Marsters), who wakes up with an explosive device in his neck and instructions to raise all sorts of hell, all while trying to figure out what brought him to this dreadful fate.

Nia DaCosta’s Candyman (August 27)

Originally slated for a release this past summer, this film is taking after the 2018 Halloween, in that it is a direct sequel to the classic work of the same name. Based on the story “The Forbidden” by horror scribe extraordinaire Clive Barker, Candyman returns to Cabrini Green and the tale of Daniel Robitaille, who will once again be portrayed by Tony Todd. Instead of chasing after Helen Lyle, Candyman will come after Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who was haunted by the mythical Robitaille as a child. This film will mark the first in the Candyman series since 1999’s third act Day of the Dead.

The Devil’s Light (January 8)

This supernatural religious horror stars Virginia Madsen as a wannabe exorcist, despite her institution only allowing the priests, not the sisters, to perform the rituals. Despite this, Sister Ann (Madsen) is allowed to observe training sessions, before she is confronted with a spirit that seems to know more about her past than it should. This is the last feature film performance of Ben Cross, who plays Cardinal Matthews in the film, as he would pass away in August of this year, a mere ten days after completing his role in the film. There has been no indication if this is COVID-related as of this printing.

Don’t Breathe 2 (August 13)

This follow-up to the 2016 home invasion horror will see co-writer Rodo Sayagues directing, though the first film’s director Fede Alvarez, best known for the 2013 remake of The Evil Dead, co-wrote with Sayagues. Stephen Lang (VFW, A Good Marriage) will reprise his role as The Blind Man, hopefully with a lot less baster in this one. The film is said to have completed filming in October, and will see a release on August 13th.

Fear Street (Summer)

Based on the R. L. Stine book series of the same name, this will be part one of a trilogy, set to release on Netflix as part of their “Summer of Fear.” Leigh Janiak (Honeymoon) will direct these three films, after the jam-packed Disney theatrical schedule coupled with the pandemic pushed Fear Street and its planned sequels out of the slate. Phil Graziadei co-wrote with Janiak, who also directed episodes of the Scream TV series on MTV.

The Forever Purge (July 9)

What will stand as the final Purge film, closing the door on the franchise which began in 2013, was supposed to release this past July. The film was more or less finished back in February, with writer James DeMonaco returning once again, and Everardo Gout (Mars, Days of Grace) will direct his second feature film. Not much is known about the actual plot as of this printing, beyond something something all crime is legal for twelve hours, but it looks like we’ll hear the sirens and batten down the hatches this summer.

Halloween Kills (October 15)

Another Universal sequel that saw its release delayed, this film will pick up where the rejuvenating 2018 sequel left off. David Gordon Green returns to direct the film, with Anthony Michael Hall playing a grown-up Tommy Doyle, the inquisitive youngin that Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) babysat all those years ago. Both Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney are credited as The Shape on IMDb, just as they both were in the 2018 Halloween. Assuming no further delays, Halloween Ends will close the book on this new trilogy in October 2022.

Last Night in Soho (April 23)

Best known for the Cornetto trilogy of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End, writer/director Edgar Wright brings us a psychological horror starring Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch, Furiosa) and Matt Smith (Doctor Who). Taking place in 1960s London, a passionate fashion designer wannabe meets her idol, only for time to come apart at the seams with grave consequences. Interestingly enough, Taylor-Joy and Smith have previously worked together on Doctor Who, specifically an episode entitled “The Crimson Horror.” This will be Wright’s first non-comedic horror film, though given his fare such as Scott Pilgrim vs The World and the aforementioned Cornetto Trilogy, there is bound to be plenty of quirk to this Last Night in Soho.

Morbius (March 19)

While more of a superhero film than a horror film, this Daniel Espinosa-directed film centers around the Living Vampire of Marvel Comics fame. This will be the second Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters, after 2018’s Venom. Originally slated for a July 2020 release, Morbius will see Jared Leto (Suicide Squad) play the titular character, who finds himself with vampiric powers after attempting to cure a rare blood disease. Matt Smith co-stars as Loxias Crown, a friend of Michael Morbius with the same disease as him. Michael Keaton, who also played Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, will appear in the film, though his role has not been properly confirmed.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (May 21)

On a personal note, this delay hurt, as this was going to be the film I celebrated my 24th birthday with, but perhaps I’ll be luckier this go-round. Darren Lynn Bousman returns to the franchise to direct this return to the progenitor of the torture porn subgenre. Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock star as investigators looking to stop the latest game. If those inclusions worry you, Rock has assured fans time and again that Spiral will be a horror film, a love letter to the namesake franchise with some of Rock’s wit and creativity sprinkled in. Jigsaw writers Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg return to write this new installment.

Wrong Turn (January 26, one night only in theaters)

Rebooting this franchise is horror label Saban Films, with Mike P. Nelson directing and Alan McElroy, the writer of the 2003 original, having written the film. An international production spanning the US, Canada, and Germany, the film stars Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, and Bill Sage. The Foundation are self-sufficient people who don’t take kindly to strangers or outsiders, as a group of traveling hikers soon find out. Even with a one night only theatrical release, this will mark the first film since the original to get a theatrical release, with films two through six seeing much success on ancillary markets.

A Quiet Place Part II (April 23)

The first film to see its release preempted by the start of the pandemic, this film was supposed to debut just days after the declaration of said pandemic. John Krasinski returns to direct the film, with Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou joining the principal cast of Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe. The first film was a unique creation based around echolocating creatures won BAFTA and Academy Awards for its sound design, and grossed $340 million worldwide.

Escape Room 2 (TBD)

To say that the original Escape Room (review) exceeded expectations is to sell the sleeper hit short. Grossing $150 million on a small $9 million budget, the 2019 film was critically divisive, but with that level of financial return, as well as the setups within said film, a follow-up must have been in the cards all along. Adam Robitel returns to direct the new game, with Taylor Russell and Logan Miller reprising their roles as Zoey and Ben. Originally, this film would have come out in April 2020, just fifteen months after the first’s release, but by October, the release date was left to simply “sometime in 2021,” following a previous push to New Year’s Day 2021.

Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead (TBD)

The Snyder cut of Justice League making its way to HBO Max isn’t the only Zack Snyder joint coming next year. Coming to Netflix sometime in 2021, Army of the Dead stars Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Tig Notaro, and many more in an ensemble cast. Filming on the prequel film just wrapped days before Christmas, and is an odd combination of a heist film and a zombie film. Netflix has several projects within Snyder’s Army franchise, including an anime series and several feature films.

Pinocchio (TBD)

On one hand, this film was originally conceived to have Steven Spielberg directing. On the other, he said that as dark as the film was envisioned to be, and given the fairy tale source material, it should be Guillermo del Toro directing, so props to Spielberg for knowing who is right for the job. This stop-motion animated musical finished production back in January, and will star Ewan McGregor, Cate Blanchett, and Finn Wolfhard, as well as Ron Perlman, Tilda Swinton, and John Turturro.

There’s Someone Inside Your House (TBD)

This adaptation of a 2017 Stephanie Perkins novel has James Wan co-producing, setting the bar high for this Netflix release. Entering post-production back in October of 2019, this story is about a graduating class being picked off by a masked killer. Sarah Dugdale, Sydney Park, and Theodore Pellerin are among the top line of the cast.

Killroy Was Here (TBD)

Kevin Smith is not a name that is associated with horror, at least not at first, but films such as Red State and Tusk have shown that Silent Bob himself knows how to turn his quirky, frank humor into shocking cinema. Killroy Was Here is set to be similar to the original Creepshow film, this an anthology based on the “Kilroy was here” graffiti which originated during World War II.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (June 4)

The eighth film in a cinematic universe which rejuvenated Hollywood horror, and third in its own line, this film will enjoy a theatrical release in June, with one month on HBO Max beginning with that theatrical run. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return to the franchise as the ghost hunters Warren, in a tale that is set around the first instance of demonic possession used as a defense for murder. Originally, this film was to have come out in September, but now an early summer release looks to give a shot in the arm to the lucrative summer blockbuster schedule.

Dune (October 1)

Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic will get a two-part film adaptation, with Denis Villenueve directing, but not before agreeing to a two-film deal with Warner Bros., as was the case with Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of It. The ensemble cast is downright stellar, featuring stars such as Timothee Chalamet, Dave Bautista, Oscar Isaac, and Charlotte Rampling. Jon Spaihts, Eric Roth, and Villenueve wrote the screenplay, with Hans Zimmer scoring the film.

Malignant (TBD)

Just when you thought you’d make it to the end of this list without another James Wan mention, this film was announced last fall, but not much in the way of detail has been given for this project. With a screenplay written by Akela Cooper, this film is another Warner Bros. release, meaning it will make it to HBO Max for a month effective when it hits theaters. In interviews, it was clarified that this has nothing to do with Malignant Man, Wan’s own graphic novel, and that it in fact has nothing to do with any existing IP.

On behalf of all of us at CryptTeaze, we hope you all have a safe and happy New Year's celebration. We hope that you all have something to look forward to in this coming year, whether it is a film from this list or something more personal. As always, thank you all for your continued support of our site and creative endeavors.


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