What to Expect in the World of Horror in 2020

by John Evans

On the first day of this glorious new year, I thought I’d do my best impression of The Legendary Criswell and make some horror predictions for 2020. These aren’t necessarily wild ideas I’ve pulled out of thin air… they’re simply my expectations based on the trends I’ve observed developing over the course of 2019. I’ll document my thoughts now, and then revisit my premonitions in December to see how I did! So, without further ado, let’s peer into the wonderful world of tomorrow!

2020: The Year We Stopped Editing Movies

What do Doctor Sleep, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Uncut Gems all have in common? None of their respective editors have ever heard of the phrase, “Kill your darlings!” While it was once a virtue to trim movies down to their leanest possible run times to keep the story progressing and to keep audiences engaged, the contemporary quest to include enough content to please every moviegoer means that movies are more bloated and convoluted than ever before. This is why your action movies have more comedy and your horror movies have more action: a Hollywood bean counter thought it would get more butts in seats.

In 2020, expect this problem (and your bladder) to reach critical mass, as films of every genre will regularly push two and a half hours and feature redundant punchlines, repetitive story beats, and altogether unnecessary scenes. Tangentially, you can expect every streaming series that would have been incredible at three or four episodes long to be stretched out to eight or ten boring episodes.

Mainstream Horror: A Thing of the Past

Ever since It shattered box office records in 2017, the studios have been looking to replicate its success with other (comparatively) big budget, mainstream horror films based on popular source material like the works of Stephen King. 2019’s box office reports showed us that nothing could quite match the unparalleled success of It, and every event picture that followed- including It Chapter Two– settled for being merely a flash in the pan.

You could expect the studios to give up on expensive, shiny, mainstream horror products in 2020. They will focus instead on cheaper genre films chock full of jump scares, intending to double their budget during an opening weekend and then immediately disappear from the marketplace and our collective consciousness shortly thereafter.

Physical Media, We Hardly Knew Ye

It started happening years ago: your favorite store’s movie section began shrinking smaller and smaller until it became barely recognizable. So you turned to the online retailers, hoping your next delivery of discs wont arrive in paper bag, crushed beyond recognition. But at least you can still get a physical copy of that hard-to-find movie you love, even if it has to travel across the country to make it to your collection, right? Well, before we know it we may not even have that! New releases on Blu-Ray disc are dwindling, and the 4K UHD format has barely caught on with studios and consumers alike. You know the format is in trouble when a guaranteed seller like The Silence of the Lambs in 4K is a digital streaming exclusive and the Midsommar Director’s Cut can only be found on Apple TV.

Expect your options on physical media to become even more limited in 2020, as streaming services become more and more fragmented, and the genre films become divided up and hoarded by the digital powers that be.

So there you have it… my HNN horror predictions for 2020! Have a wonderful new year, and keep your eyes peeled for these horror premonitions to ring true over the course of the next twelve months!

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