Welcome to Horrorscope, a monthly column keeping horror nerds and initiates up to date on all the genre content coming to and leaving from your favorite streaming services. Here’s a guide to all the essential horror streaming in February 2021.
Smell that? Love is in the air. A love…of horror, that is!
Valentine’s Day may fall in February, but don’t let the cheap chocolates and the gradually increasing daylight fool you: this month’s as spooky as the rest of ’em! After all, what could be more romantic than pledging your undying love for horror films? Passive entertainment remains a challenge as the world continues to burn (thanks, ongoing global pandemic!). So, if you can, give yourself and the genre a little love this month.
Speaking of which: February comes bearing blood-soaked gifts, from hotly anticipated new releases to old bangers waiting to be re-discovered. We’ve got a body-swapping sophomore flick from Brandon Cronenberg, a nihilistic family haunting, an underrated British counterculture gem, and the best Dracula dance film ever made.
Be sure to peruse the complete list below, calendar in hand, for a full picture of what horror flicks are coming and going from your favorite streaming services this February.
Pick of the Month: Possessor (2020)
Synopsis: There’s losing yourself in your work, and then there’s this. Tasya Vos is an elite assassin; a corporate mercenary who commandeers the minds and bodies of unsuspecting victims to fulfill her deadly contracts. But when her latest assignment gets the better of her, Vos finds herself trapped in the mind of a hostile target that would see her destroyed.
Possessor makes good on the often unfulfilled promise of its peers. For a change, the gore actually lives up to the hype! The film’s two nightmares are devilishly compatible: an intrusive sense of dissociation coupled with a corpulent knockdown of chipped teeth and mangled flesh. While ultimately Possessor amounts to more of a concept than a narrative, its visceral gait is more than enough to get under your skin. The loss of bodily autonomy, a simultaneous crunch of bone and self, is more compelling than half of the lesser fare in Possessor‘s “elevated” weight class.
Brandon Cronenberg‘s second film deftly quells any residual handwaving leftover from his wanting debut. There can be no doubt: he is a tremendous talent well worth watching. As Vos, Andrea Riseborough is as fantastic as we’ve come to expect; a cool killer who finds herself in the throes of an identity crisis at work and at home. Christopher Abbott has been fantastic for a long time (especially in 2018’s Piercing), and I hope more directors follow Cronenberg’s lead and give the man more starring roles. All told: Possessor is not above being genuinely queasy and disgusting. And I respect that.
Arrives on Hulu on February 1st.
The frog-worshiping motorcycle death cult answer to Easy Rider
Synopsis: In an otherwise peaceful English village, spoiled brat Tom Latham chooses to raise hell with his occult motorcycle gang. Sure enough, the goth apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Tom’s black-magic dabbling mother just so happens to know the secret to immortality. So, how do you cheat death? Frog magic and just plain deciding not to die, of course! Thrilled at the prospect of being an eternal public nuisance, Tom giddily sails off a bridge, only to burst out of his grave with a vengeance. Soon enough the gang’s name, “The Living Dead,” takes on a more literal meaning.
Released as The Death Wheelers in the US, the 1973 film Psychomania is a bonkers example of a larger aesthetic shift in early 1970s British horror from the gothic chills to modern thrills. Of the bunch, Psychomania is perhaps the weirdest example of an attempt to cash in on the youth market. The kids love nothing more than pagan frog cults, zombies, and motorcycle culture. Right?
Psychomania was directed by Australian-born Hammer Films veteran Don Sharp (The Kiss of the Vampire), and he brings much of the black humor and efficient pacing that defined his marvelous work throughout the 1960s. Ted Moore, who shot seven of the James Bond films, contributes his professional touch. And the legendary John Cameron‘s pre-synth score is as haunting as it is underrated.
Beryl Reid (Dr. Phibes Rises Again) and George Sanders (Village of the Damned) co-star as Tom’s Satan-worshiping mother and her spooky butler, respectively. All this amounts to a wonderfully offbeat gem with eccentricities to spare. There is no better film about a frog-worshiping, motorcycle death cult.
Arrives on Shudder on February 22nd.
Guy Maddin takes a bite out of Dracula
Synopsis: In the late 19th century, a mysterious foreigner, Count Dracula, arrives in London. The unsuspecting socialite Lucy invites the stranger into her home. Her mistake proves fatal, and Dracula bites Lucy, who succumbs to the Count’s curse. Her fiancé entrusts her care to Dr. Van Helsing, who confidently diagnoses the vampiric source of her affliction. When Lucy dies under mysterious circumstances, Van Helsing and literature’s preeminent himbo, Jonathon Harker, are on the case!
Look, I’m Canadian. And there is nothing more Canadian than the government producing a silent-era-styled performance of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s adaption of Bram Stoker’s Dracula directed by our nation’s greatest weirdo, Guy Maddin. If this isn’t already a Heritage Minute, it should be.
Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary is, as The New York Times astutely remarks, simultaneously beautiful and goofy. A fine line to walk, no doubt, but one which Maddin frequently, and graciously, skips across with ease. Here, Maddin’s reputation for stylish anachronism is on full display, with Dracula mimicking many of the aesthetic traditions and special visual effects of the era.
Amidst its delirious stylish flares, the film is impressively loyal to Stoker’s text, making it one of Maddin’s most accessible films. And yet, Maddin’s pointedly postmodern touch is undeniable. Notably, in casting Chinese-Canadian Zhang Wei-Qiang as the titular Count, Maddin’s Dracula underlines the xenophobic themes of Stoker’s text in ways past and future films have yet to match.
Think you’re well-versed with the Dracula corpus? I implore you: this wildly sexy Canadian silent-era pastiche dance film is the Dracula film.
Arriving on The Criterion Channel on February 28th.
A grief-propelled new release that doubles down on nihilism
Synopsis: Drawn to their rural childhood home, a sister and brother visit their dying, bed-ridden father. Isolated on their secluded goat farm, the siblings grow increasingly paranoid and suspicious that something evil is targetting their family. After a horrific tragedy confirms their unease, the siblings are forced to confront their grief and lack of faith as the increasingly hostile presence strengthens its chokehold on their lives.
The Dark and the Wicked is a rare 2020 release in that it is a film that was released in 2020. What a concept. For a decidedly dark year, the film is, well, fittingly dark. There are enough jump scares to satisfy the contingent of genre ghouls who get off on a good jolt. But The Dark and the Wicked hits hardest when it leans into ambiguity and its admirably unrelentingly bleak atmosphere.
The film sits comfortably on the same shelf as other modern psychological family affairs like The Babadook and Mama. Though, if you take issue with the increasingly popular trauma-as-horror trend, your mileage may vary. But if you’re a fan of nihilism (like our own Rob Hunter, who christened the film as one of the year’s best horror offerings), The Dark and the Wicked may just be worth a peek.
Arrives on Shudder on February 25th.
Streamable Horror Incoming This Month
|Amazon Prime||Kiki (2017)||February 1|
|Amazon Prime||The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)||February 1|
|Amazon Prime||The Village (2004)||February 1|
|HBO Max||The Amityville Horror (1979)||February 1|
|HBO Max||The Amityville Horror (2005)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Ghoulies (1985)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Ghoulies II (1987)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Jacob’s Ladder (1990)||February 1|
|HBO Max||The Last Exorcism (2010)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Monkey Shines (1988)||February 1|
|HBO Max||My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Saw (2004)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Saw II (2005)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Saw III (2006)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Saw IV (2007)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Saw V (2008)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Saw VI (2009)||February 1|
|HBO Max||Saw: The Final Chapter (2010)||February 1|
|Hulu||American Psycho (2000)||February 1|
|Hulu||American Psycho 2 (2002)||February 1|
|Hulu||Bug (1975)||February 1|
|Hulu||District 9 (2009)||February 1|
|Hulu||From Hell (2001)||February 1|
|Hulu||Gargoyles: Wings of Darkness (2004)||February 1|
|Hulu||Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia (2013)||February 1|
|Hulu||The Omen (1976)||February 1|
|Hulu||Damien – Omen II (1978)||February 1|
|Hulu||Phase IV (1974)||February 1|
|Hulu||Possessor (2020)||February 1|
|Hulu||The Tenant (1976)||February 1|
|Hulu||12 Hour Shift (2020)||February 4|
|Hulu||You’re Next (2013)||February 12|
|Netflix||All My Friends Are Dead (2021)||February 3|
|Netflix||The Conjuring (2013)||February 21|
|Netflix||The Conjuring 2 (2016)||February 21|
|Netflix||Two Sentence Horror Stories (Season 2)||February 24|
|Netflix||There’s Someone Inside Your House (2021)||February TBD|
|Shudder||Audrey Rose (1977)||February 1|
|Shudder||The Queen of Black Magic (1981)||February 1|
|Shudder||Vampire's Kiss (1988)||February 1|
|Shudder||Head Count (2018)||February 2|
|Shudder||A Nightmare Wakes (2017)||February 4|
|Shudder||A Discovery of Witches (ep. 205)||February 6|
|Shudder||Night Tide (1961)||February 8|
|Shudder||The "Whispering Corridors" Trilogy||February 8|
|Shudder||Whispering Corridors (1998)||February 8|
|Shudder||Memento Mori (1999)||February 8|
|Shudder||Wishing Stairs (2003)||February 8|
|Shudder||Carmilla (2019)||February 9|
|Shudder||The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013)||February 9|
|Shudder||After Midnight (2019)||February 11|
|Shudder||Joe Bob Put A Spell On You (9pm ET)||February 12|
|Shudder||A Discovery of Witches (ep. 206)||February 13|
|Shudder||Basket Case (1982)||February 15|
|Shudder||The Ninth Configuration (1980)||February 15|
|Shudder||Outcast (2010)||February 15|
|Shudder||Shook (2021)||February 18|
|Shudder||A Discovery of Witches (ep. 207)||February 20|
|Shudder||One Missed Call (2008)||February 22|
|Shudder||Open 24 Hours (2018)||February 22|
|Shudder||Psychomania (1973)||February 22|
|Shudder||The Dark and the Wicked (2020)||February 25|
|Shudder||A Discovery of Witches (ep. 208)||February 27|
|The Criterion Channel||The Ghost Goes West (1935)||February 27|
|The Criterion Channel||Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2002)||February 28|
|Tubi||Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)||February 1|
|Tubi||Texas Chainsaw (2013)||February 7|
Horror Titles Expiring from Streaming SoonOn Their Way Out: These films have one foot in the grave—bump ‘em to the top of your February 2021 queue while you can!
|HBO Max||The Conjuring (2013)||February 20|
|HBO Max||Us (2019)||February 22|
|HBO Max||The Devil Inside (2012)||February 28|
|HBO Max||Doctor Sleep (2020)||February 28|
|HBO Max||Stephen King's Needful Things (1993)||February 28|
|HBO Max||Teen Witch (1989)||February 28|
|Hulu||District 9 (2009)||February 8|
|Hulu||Stir of Echoes (1999)||February 14|
|Hulu||American Psycho (2000)||February 28|
|Hulu||American Psycho 2 (2002)||February 28|
|Hulu||Cujo (1983)||February 28|
|Hulu||The Dead Zone (1983)||February 28|
|Hulu||The Last House on the Left (1972)||February 28|
|Hulu||The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)||February 28|
|Netflix||Don’t Knock Twice (2016)||February 8|
|The Criterion Channel||Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)||February 28|
|The Criterion Channel||20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)|
|The Criterion Channel||Bell, Book and Candle (1958)||February 28|
|The Criterion Channel||The Night of the Hunter (1955)||February 28|