In the modern world, many of our true to life horrors come from the stories we are faced with every day, whether its online or from mainstream media.

Escaping the barrage of content can be somewhat overwhelming to those truly dialed into current events, or even worse, after a while we can become desensitized to these devastating real-life events.

However, savvy horror filmmakers have lately excelled at effortlessly merging modern world fears and our need for genre escapism by crafting excellent stories based around the digital age or socially conscious topics.

We live in strange times and millennial based horror stories have been all the rage, and of the many that came out this year, these three films may lead the pack for best of 2020 so far.

Horror in the Modern Era

Host (2020) – Shudder/ Amazon Prime

Even in the middle of a pandemic, the horror genre will not be stopped when it comes to bringing the best out of its filmmakers, and this may just be the greatest example of that.

Without a doubt, this will be the one film I can guarantee makes every horror critics “Top 10 of the Year” list, and it rightfully deserves to be there.

The fact that it takes place during our social distanced reality we’re currently living in is handled brilliantly, and the unknown actors in the film are extremely talented in every single scene.

You’ll have a hard time reminding yourself that this isn’t a real Zoom call, and even though some scenes may make you want to look away, you don’t want to miss a single second of what’s happening in the background.

Pro-Tip: If you are going to show your non-horror friend one genre movie this year, I would say make it this one…

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And for the best results do it as soon as possible.

Body Cam (2020) – VOD

Tackling social issues in films is something that usually needs to be handled with a delicate sense of realism, and when it comes to topics like police brutality, the task becomes that much harder for even the most skilled storytellers.

This under the radar ghostly drama managed to have both a gripping sense of reality, while additionally putting out some seriously evil spirit scares along the way.

Unlike the endless supply of ghost flicks we annually receive that end up just being jump scare fodder, the suffocating intense moments in this movie often hit like a ton of bricks.

Dramatically it is also powerfully acted by Mary J. Blige who comes through as a terrific lead, and the extremely talented Nat Wolff as her partner made me really wish that this was a Netflix series as opposed to a film.

Seriously, Blige and Wolff as cops solving mysteries while a paranormal force hinders their efforts would have me for at least 4 seasons. That should have been a no brainer for a major studio.

Spree (2020) – VOD

There are movies within the genre that may be a bit too raw for casual viewers and without context, they seem to make critics believe that their purpose is to inspire violence, as opposed to, their intent of pointing a graphic mirror at a broken society… yea, this is one of those movies.

What made this movie enticing was the pure accuracy of painting a vapid social media society as both the enemy, as well as, a story device in a jaw-dropping film that forces you to watch every fast-paced second of the exciting Joe Kerry vehicle.

I personally have not seen a social media satire this well done since 2017’s Ingrid Goes West, and where that movie nailed its critique on Instagram obsessed influencers, this film doubles down even harder on streamers and voyeuristic obsession of Gen Z.

In particular, the use of a comment section in the movie highlights the brutality of the main character which is both disgusting and viciously true to form, as it displays a faceless mob who will applaud violence, yet also be desensitized to it regardless of how graphic it becomes.

With that all said, the film itself could have been a bit heavier on the scares had it went the extra level to cater to horror purists, but the off-screen kills are more than enough for any casual viewer to truly enjoy in combination to the riveting story.

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One of the great things about horror is the imaginative efforts that come out of these modern takes turned scary entertainment.

Of course, there are stumbles along the way (they can’t all be gems) but no other genre seems to be as consistently great at finding inspiration from our social media news feed.

Modern horror is at its best when it touches on the societal topics that fire us up and connect us through their relatability, its usually the best lens that can bring casual and pure genre fans closer together, while also launching the films into mainstream success.

There are those who are against this approach as it can remind them of the world they are trying to escape, but overall, these relevant movies can be seen as time capsules of where we were as a society and a generational look at when they were released.

Happy Viewing!

westcoaststrange
joel@westcoaststrange.com

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