M.L. Miller here and welcome to my tenth anniversary Best in Horror Countdown! Every day in this glorious month of October I’ll be counting down the best in horror, culminating with the best horror film since last Halloween! With theaters closed for the bulk of this shitty, shitty year, much of the countdown comes from alternative sources like streaming services, digital download, and On Demand. Plus, we saw the return of the drive-in theater, which is awesome! This list compiles the best horror films released beginning on October 1, 2019 and ending on September 30, 2020. No elitism here—only films released to the public on this list which rules out haughty festival flicks that only esteemed reviewers get to see. If it played on a public screen this year, it’s fair game to be on the list. Here we go!
Released on May 22, 2020. Available on digital download and On Demand from Vertical Entertainment!!
THE HAUNTED (2019)
Directed by David Holroyd
Written by David Holroyd
Starring Sophie Stevens, Nick Bayly, Maggie Daniels, Virginia Denham, Stephen Doerfler, Ray MacAllan, Kirstie Steele
Reminiscent of THE CHANGELING, THE OTHERS, THE INNOCENTS, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, and THE HAUNTING, this UK ghost story directed by David Holroyd delivers solid and steady chills all the way through to the dramatic end of THE HAUNTED.
Sophie Stevens plays Emily, a rookie caretaker assigned to stay the night watching over a catatonic patient named Arthur (Nick Bayly). After a quick run through of her responsibilities, the day shift takes off, leaving Emily alone. Almost immediately, Emily becomes locked out of the house when the door suddenly shuts, but luckily, she is able to get back in through a side door. This is the only lucky break Emily gets as bumps in the darkness lead to ghosts in the shadows. Emily is taken to the limits of her sanity as she is trapped in the house until dawn, haunted by ghosts of the past.
THE HAUNTED is a ghost story with all of the bells and whistles whittled off making it a trim descent into absolute fear. Reminiscent on the surface to THE SILENT HOUSE and its remake, we simply follow Emily as she makes her way through the dark corridors and always creepily ajar doors of the house, running away from what looks to be a ghost (played by Kirstie Steele). With little musical accompaniment aside from Emily’s panicked breathing, director David Holroyd delivers one powerful scare after another. And it got me every time.
Most of the time, films that center on ghosts tend to be effects showcases with astral forms, creepy lights and pyrotechnics. I don’t know how long it’s been since I have seen a simple and straight forward ghost story like THE HAUNTED. And I can’t help but appreciate this film for its simplicity. Holroyd and Steven’s Emily don’t bog the story down with huge drops of exposition. There is no need for some kind of faux scientific explanation of the events that are happening. The story merely unfolds meticulously as Emily makes her way through the house and uncovers little clues as to what is happening. It’s all so exquisitely done. The way we reach a sensible, but still surprising end comes together subtly and beautifully.
Those used to big spectacle jump scares or comedic relief after them are going to be sorely disappointed. Some might have to pack a big bag full of patience to make it through THE HAUNTED as it takes its sweet time to play out. But this film escalates evenly and directly from beginning to end with no fat to trim. Coming in at just over an hour, THE HAUNTED is bare bones terror at its most potent. It’s full of moments that will give you full body jolts and that uneasy feeling long after they occur. You’d better make sure your electric bill is paid because you’ll be turning on all the lights after watching THE HAUNTED.
THE 2019-2020 COUNTDOWN!
#13 – THE HAUNTED
#14 – DOCTOR SLEEP
#15 – DANIEL ISN’T REAL
#16 – THE VAST OF NIGHT
#17 – HOMEWRECKER
#18 – IMPETIGORE
#19 – BUTT BOY
#20 – BECKY
#21 – UNDERWATER
#22 – THE DEAD CENTER
#23 – BLOOD MACHINES
#24 – ALONE
#25 – THE BEACH HOUSE
#26 – AMULET
#27 – LAKE OF DEATH
#28 – SEA FEVER
#29 – THE RENTAL
#30 – ANTRUM: THE DEADLIEST FILM EVER MADE
#31 – REPLACE
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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