10 Horror Festival Hits You Need to Watch

From prestige award-winners to freaky stop-motion offerings to mind-bending psychological thrillers -- and a Nicolas Cage freakout session thrown in for good measure -- these are the horror films to put on your radar.

by | October 25, 2021 | Comments

Image from Titane

(Photo by Neon)

The fall film festival season is in full swing once again. After an unprecedented 2020, this year has seen somewhat of a return to normalcy when it comes to the biggest film events of the year, from Cannes to Venice to TIFF taking place and seeing the premieres of some of the most exciting and anticipated titles for the rest of the year.

One thing is different, though, and that is the fact that genre films were not relegated to sidebars at this years’ festivals, but rather front and center among the big premieres. Whether it was a horror movie taking home the Palme d’Or at Cannes or an epic sci-fi movie premiering at Venice, it’s a good year to be a fan of weird, bonkers, violent, gory, exciting horror movies. Before we’re flooded with prestige dramas and awards hopefuls, there is plenty to be excited about in terms of horror films that have been making waves at festivals.

To help you plan your watch list for Halloween viewing — and the near future beyond that — we’ve put together a list that highlights some of the horror movies that blew both critics and audiences away at TIFF and other recent film festivals.


Beyond the Infinite: Two Minutes

Release Date: TBD

Junta Yamaguchi’Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a one-shot time loop sci-fi film that has drawn comparisons to the surprise zombie hit One Cut of the Dead and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. The film won over critics and audiences with its iPhone-shot style, tight script, and fun yet inventive spin on the time loop story that does a lot with very little, resulting in a heartwarming and crowd-pleasing experience. RogerEbert.com’s critic Nick Allen wrote, “It’s so wild, and very telling of this movie’s brilliance, that there’s so much intricate blocking and camera movement from debut director Junta Yamaguchi, and yet you’re still caught up in the narrative momentum more than anything else.”


Release Date: October 1, 2021

Currently Available On: Netflix

A remake of the Danish thriller of the same nameAntoine Fuqua and Jake Gyllenhaal manage to capture and replicate the tension and craft of the original while putting their own spin on this story of a 911 dispatch operator trying to save a caller in danger before discovering a larger and more dangerous plot. Critics agree that this is an intense thriller featuring a fantastic performance from Gyllenhaal, keeping the audience on their toes for the entire film, which at times even exceeds the original. Critic Adam Chitwood wrote for Collider,”Gyllenhaal delivers a turn that is compellingly complex, taking the audience on an emotional roller coaster that results in one of his best performances yet.”


Image from Kicking Blood

Release Date: TBD

It’s been a minute since we got a fresh and exciting vampire movie, but Kicking Blood seems to be the right movie to fill that void with its visually striking new twist on the blood-sucking mythos. Blaine Thurier makes a movie about a female vampire who wants to become human again, but the withdrawal from refusing to drink blood might kill her. The script uses vampire myths to comment on addiction in a way that feels inventive, but critics agree that the cinematography is the real star of this child of the night. AWFJ Women on Film’s Alexandra Heller-Nicholas wrote, “With its breathtaking cinematography and effectively low-key performances, Kicking Blood is marked a unique spirit of slick delirium, where desire and ennui make strange yet effective bedfellows.”


Image from King Knight

Release Date: TBD

Richard Bates Jr.’s latest feature is a horror-comedy about a coven of witches in a California town whose high priest who goes on a journey of self-discovery. The film is a change of pace for Bates, who trades in his usual cynicism for a story of acceptance and optimism, filtered through a lot of broad and trippy humor and plenty of witchy imagery to add some levity to your Halloween watchlist. Shannon McGrew wrote in her review for Nightmarish Conjurings that “King Knight is a feel-good film about facing our past and moving forward with our own truth. It’s a film that can’t be defined by just one genre because it dips its toe in so many.”


Release Date: October 29, 2021

Edgar Wright jumped into the spotlight with a horror-comedy, but Last Night in Soho finally sees the filmmaker dive fully into the horror genre with an ambitious and hyper-stylized tale of an aspiring fashion designer who is mysteriously transported back in time to the Swinging Sixties when she sleeps. The film is a warning against romanticizing the past, a love letter to London, and a scary horror movie all at once, also featuring Anya Taylor-Joy doing a fantastic rendition of Petula Clark’s “Downtown.” Writing for Slashfilm, critic Marshall Shaffer said, “Wright pushes his own craft by hybridizing formats and delving more profoundly into thematic territory than any film since Hot Fuzz.”


Release Date: TBD

Legendary Oscar winner Phil Tippett’s magnum opus is a cacophony of madness and depravity. The VFX artist handcrafts a stop-motion world of savagery and horror where wretched monstrosities rule the land, mad scientists capture and experiment on unsuspecting bystanders, and mute protagonists walk us through a silent yet visually splendid landscape unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The Pitch’s Abby Olcese said it best when she wrote, “Even at its darkest, Mad God is ART, dammit, and great art, at that. Tippett’s craft is impeccable, and he uses it to great effect, creating a detailed world and layered media, mixing puppets, models, and, occasionally, stylized human actors.”


Release Date: September 17, 2021

Currently Available On: AmazonGoogle PlayiTunesVudu

When you mix the auteur depravity of Sion Sono with the balls-to-the-wall cuckoo bananas insanity of one Nicolas Cage, you might not be surprised to know that the result is a gonzo action film that is impossible to predict. Though not strictly a horror movie, there is enough blood and screams coming from Cage’s bank robber, who is forced to rescue the granddaughter of a governor from a band of post-apocalyptic savages while strapped to a leather suit that will self-destruct if his mission fails, to satisfy even the most hardcore horror fans. Daily Dead’s critic, Heather Wixson wrote in her review that “Prisoners of the Ghostland marks an audacious new direction for Sono’s career that I’m eager to see more from in the future, and there’s no denying that he truly makes films cut from a wholly different cloth unlike anyone else out there.”


Image from Saloum

Release Date: TBD

A bold, energetic, thrilling genre mash-up that blends supernatural horror with comedy, suspense, and a bit of fantasy sprinkled in, Saloum is the second feature by Congolese filmmaker Jean Luc Herbulot and follows a group of mercenaries hiding in a holiday camp that harbors a dark, bloody, supernatural secret. There are elements of samurai films, spaghetti Westerns, and creature features that combine to make a dark, scary, and memorable revenge film. Critic Valerie Complex said in her review for Deadline, “The film weaves together supernatural horror elements with comedy and suspense. All aspects come together to create a unique story about how the cycle of revenge can come back to haunt you.”


Release Date: October 1, 2021

Currently Available On: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Julia Ducournau follows up her cannibal thriller Raw with the bonkers, provocative and wildly original thriller Titane, a film that defies description but offers a high-octane story about transformations and human connections. This film already became the first horror movie to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and also won the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award at TIFF, and it’s currently Certified Fresh at 88% on the Tomatometer, with an 83% Audience Score. With a haunting score, phenomenal performances, and a twisting plot that is always ahead of its audience and offers one shocking twist after another, this is one horror movie you have to see to believe. Writing for The Playlist, critic Jessica Kiang said “Ducournau’s filmmaking is as pure as her themes are profane: to add insult to the very many injuries inflicted throughout, Titane is gorgeous to look at, to listen to, to obsess over, and fetishize.”


Poster for You Are Not My Mother

Release Date: TBD

Kate Dolan’s feature directorial debut mixes folk horror, slow-burn scares, and family drama to create a thrilling psychological horror movie rooted in Irish folklore carried by gripping performances, as we follow two sisters on a coach trip to Paris that forever changes their relationship. Critics agree that this is the emergence of a new and exciting voice in the genre, one that debuts with a film that calls back to Hereditary and the best of folk horror. In his review for Bloody Disgusting, Joe Lipsett wrote, “Partnered with exceptional performances from [Hazel] Doupe (quiet, but layered) and [Carolyn] Bracken (legitimately terrifying), You Are Not My Mother is an assured, confident and exciting debut.”


Thumbnail image by Neon

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

Disney streaming service The CW transformers USA Pop hispanic heritage month Stephen King scary movies game of thrones CBS venice YouTube Premium BAFTA monster movies TCA Winter 2020 TV Land Cosplay popular Indigenous ghosts crime thriller asian-american animated dark award winner target TCA 2017 Anna Paquin anime First Reviews sequels BBC One Star Wars Celebration Video Games History Ovation X-Men zero dark thirty spider-verse Chilling Adventures of Sabrina elevated horror BET 72 Emmy Awards critic resources theme song SXSW 2022 A24 The Walking Dead Reality Musicals docudrama San Diego Comic-Con series Disney Channel ITV HBO Go Calendar spy thriller Lifetime Christmas movies DGA vs. HBO Max toy story Netflix Christmas movies lord of the rings obituary AMC prank Peacock Shudder nbcuniversal 90s Family Premiere Dates NBA dragons science fiction harry potter Cannes Paramount Plus boxoffice YouTube Red composers streaming chucky french discovery streaming movies Hollywood Foreign Press Association dceu binge art house Countdown TV movies screen actors guild TBS japanese laika The Arrangement Pride Month IFC Films screenings LGBTQ Comedy Central Universal movies indie singing competition Valentine's Day Drama leaderboard documentary Thanksgiving Holiday Apple TV+ Kids & Family natural history SundanceTV Set visit emmy awards Rocky 73rd Emmy Awards Box Office Columbia Pictures Syfy royal family police drama all-time trailers Women's History Month TNT New York Comic Con best supernatural nfl Winter TV stand-up comedy witnail trophy ratings Mary Poppins Returns NBC Endgame marvel comics Travel Channel Reality Competition Focus Features rt labs movie Nat Geo Spring TV Pixar cars Spectrum Originals PBS Esquire Tokyo Olympics RT History 2019 MGM technology Christmas OneApp teaser Musical reboot Legendary finale canceled Hulu Funimation Character Guide doctor who cooking IFC toronto Brie Larson latino 2021 LGBT dreamworks Apple Mystery crime drama Mary Tyler Moore Year in Review spain biography docuseries Black Mirror The Witch TruTV 2018 CW Seed robots news Exclusive Video Fantasy new york live action ABC Family Broadway war ABC Signature Fargo Amazon rt archives Universal Pictures cults GoT Amazon Studios Sci-Fi Fox Searchlight vampires twilight TV One space Rocketman DC Comics Awards Tour Tumblr Emmys AMC Plus IMDb TV archives Ghostbusters talk show Tubi festival Black History Month james bond Rock golden globes action-comedy Best Actor A&E Warner Bros. WarnerMedia FOX directors 2020 comic kong Showtime halloween tv Comics on TV strong female leads USA Network Photos deadpool Fall TV Neflix Native spider-man indiana jones television Bravo video on demand Shondaland suspense nature Election sopranos game show E3 scene in color Paramount Pictures football broadcast mutant genre Food Network Crunchyroll Toys Freeform black stoner Elton John Starz aapi cartoon Crackle australia Instagram Live 79th Golden Globes Awards The Academy sequel south america sitcom Lucasfilm Vudu spinoff pirates of the caribbean 2015 travel Television Critics Association Trophy Talk YA interviews streamig fast and furious Best Picture worst Best and Worst American Society of Cinematographers zombies Image Comics Red Carpet DC Universe romance worst movies documentaries christmas movies PaleyFest based on movie Podcast CMT posters Hear Us Out Winners Academy Awards YouTube Nominations Heroines Sundance TV 1990s politics OWN Walt Disney Pictures 24 frames debate Country japan TCM criterion miniseries children's TV Captain marvel Mary poppins Chernobyl Disney+ Disney Plus Sneak Peek Turner Classic Movies TIFF name the review Acorn TV mcc Amazon Prime Video Teen cats Netflix 4/20 20th Century Fox Tomatazos a nightmare on elm street Star Trek CBS All Access Rom-Com Star Wars Superheroes Comic Book Opinion Hallmark Mindy Kaling Music zombie adaptation Action Western Holidays disaster dramedy basketball cancelled TV shows Oscar facebook scorecard slasher Grammys APB festivals Watching Series independent razzies Geeked Week FX Disney Plus comics sports international Spike crime canceled TV shows saw richard e. Grant historical drama Writers Guild of America new star wars movies Wes Anderson hist Alien adventure versus dexter Britbox king kong E! what to watch Superheroe young adult casting Prime Video Fox News MSNBC Television Academy godzilla Creative Arts Emmys RT21 Interview king arthur Binge Guide Epix classics adenture aliens SXSW Pet Sematary Trailer Animation feel good comedies know your critic golden globe awards concert mob revenge Marvel Studios kaiju scary gangster scene in color film series Song of Ice and Fire Comic-Con@Home 2021 NYCC Dark Horse Comics marvel cinematic universe renewed TV shows Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hidden camera 007 MTV BET Awards Infographic social media Schedule Sony DC streaming service Trivia legend Paramount unscripted The Walt Disney Company justice league Comedy VICE dogs Oscars Polls and Games VH1 Marvel DirecTV 2017 ViacomCBS psychological thriller TCA superman ESPN comiccon cancelled blockbusters TCA Awards die hard psycho WGN Pop TV Amazon Prime cinemax Discovery Channel Emmy Nominations book adaptation political drama BBC America Ellie Kemper Arrowverse sag awards fresh South by Southwest Film Festival heist movie boxing Best Director kids 94th Oscars mission: impossible films period drama romantic comedy ID PlayStation 71st Emmy Awards black comedy satire new zealand 2016 book summer preview critics 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards 45 universal monsters comic book movies thriller Lionsgate crossover blockbuster summer TV Lifetime franchise Summer Super Bowl Tags: Comedy obi wan live event Quiz rt labs critics edition 21st Century Fox telelvision Horror Sundance Marathons Logo See It Skip It olympics foreign 99% El Rey Apple TV Plus HFPA ABC video BBC medical drama superhero target scene in color Sony Pictures italian stop motion cancelled TV series true crime tv talk Avengers halloween rom-coms Awards FXX spanish language Masterpiece Sundance Now dc TV rotten Turner Classic Film slashers rotten movies we love blaxploitation werewolf hispanic FX on Hulu Disney cops VOD Extras anthology TLC President Pacific Islander Film Biopics joker CNN The Purge National Geographic wonder woman spanish batman parents hollywood cancelled television jurassic park comic book movie Hallmark Christmas movies breaking bad HBO Certified Fresh Cartoon Network green book biopic MCU First Look scene in color series Tarantino women Best Actress serial killer GIFs Mudbound free movies Baby Yoda jamie lee curtis reviews comic books 93rd Oscars high school Paramount Network Pirates Martial Arts summer TV preview Film Festival GLAAD Marvel Television quibi Adult Swim child's play TV renewals mockumentary remakes Nickelodeon diversity SDCC