10 of My Favorite 2021 Horror Posters
Disclaimer: the author of this post is color-blind so any color discrepancies are not intentional and your interpretation of the color shown is probably more correct than theirs
As 2021 nears its end we like to reflect on our favorite works that have release over the last year and one often overlooked aspect is the movie poster. They can draw you in with their beautiful visuals and they can inform you of what to expect from the movie using minimal imagery and text, but most importantly they can often make you consider adding a movie to your watchlist based entirely off the work of the incredibly talented graphic designer(s) behind them. Inspired by Brianna Spieldenner’s list for iHorror.com (which is much more thorough than this one) I present ten of my favorite 2021 horror posters.
Starting out with my personal favorite pick for the best horror poster of the year is Malignant, a wildly polarizing film by horror legend James Wan that energized some of its audience and bewildered the rest. The poster is pretty minimal, but it’s the terrified eye staring directly at the point coming for it that’s emerged from one of the letters in the title font is what makes such an effective poster. Eyes are one of the more effective pieces of imagery that can be used both in a movie and in a promotional piece because the direction it’s looking tells you exactly what the artist thinks you should be looking at and in this case it appears to be an imminent death. There’s also an effective use of color with the varying shades of red bouncing nicely off the large areas of black space and the brightest spot on the entire poster being the eye.
Keeping with the wandering eye theme is Carlson Young’s The Blazing World that features a woman in a dress swimming underwater as an eye with a keyhole in it looks on. This fever dream of a movie is like “Alice in Wonderland” meets “Melancholia” so it makes sense that the poster itself would be surreal and cause you to ask yourself questions about what each aspect of the poster means. The keyhole itself raises so many on its own but with it being inside of a human eye it made me think of unlocking the world beyond what we normally see in true Wonderland fashion. Couple that with the many swimming/depression allegories that exist within the media we consume and you’ve got yourself a great movie poster.
Scott Cooper’s Antlers was without a doubt one of the most anticipated horror releases coming into the year and the movie itself has divided audiences since it’s release but the poster sure does leave an impression. Maybe a bit too literal and easy to read with the child in the center of the poster being overwhelmed by you guessed it, antlers, but sometimes a simple poster can be just as effective as one that is abstract. Throw on a “Produced by Guillermo Del Toro” for good measure and you’ve got yourself a solid movie poster.
I love when a movie poster tells you exactly what you need to know about a movies story without ever having to see a trailer for it. The Deep House does exactly that by showing a couple of scuba divers swimming toward a house submerged deep underwater. For a movie that’s simply about scuba divers finding a haunted house underwater and exploring it this poster is a great representation Of that. There’s also an effective use of light with the flashlights illuminating the house to provide those extra little details that really give the house some more character.
It’s one thing to assemble a poster for a new property but it’s entirely different to have to make one for the reboot of a franchise that hasn’t had a new movie released in decades. Danishka Esterhazy’s Slumber Party Massacre pays homage to the original series in a multitude of ways but even the poster pays homage with the killer from the first film, Russ Thorn, dominating the poster with his iconic power drill weapon while a group of slumber party attendees lurk in the background equipped for a fight of their own. It’s a smart poster that puts a different spin on the original movies poster that features the girls powerless to Russ’ attack and it’s a spin that plays into the reboots content as well. I also love the tagline “You know the drill!”
Animated horror movies are a dime a dozen but the poster for The Spine of Night sure does command your attention with its beautiful use of color and psychedelic imagery. You’ve got the skull with the glowing eyes in the center, the looming castle in the background and the excellent use of haze and smoke giving it all a strong horror fantasy feel. It doesn’t tell you much about the exact plot of the film but one look at the poster and you can tell you’re in for some excellent visuals which is incredibly important when it comes to animated films in particular.
Keeping with the theme of colorful movie posters is the Netflix distributed Fear Street: 1994 with its neon drenched aesthetic that helps encapsulate that 1990’s feel. The tagline “Face the Evil” along with the three killers that are featured in the movie is a nice touch with the seemingly scared protagonist that is at the top of the poster. This was a trilogy of films spanning three wildly different time periods all with solid posters but it’s this 1994 one that drew my attention the most.
I’m not sure if this even counts as a movie poster since it’s a promotional image for a straight to streaming movie but I’m including it because the future of horror is seemingly shifting toward the digital realm and these promotional images will be the evolution of the movie poster. Featuring the movies title as the only piece of text, the poster for the Shudder distributed V/H/S/94 certainly goes all in on the VHS aesthetic with the scan lines and tape emerging from the figure in the center of the piece. It might not tell you much about what to expect from the movie itself but it’s certainly clear that this is a throwback 90s take on the anthology series from the poster alone.
Speaking of retro there’s maybe not another horror movie this year that is a more direct homage to the Italian giallos of the past than Maximiliano Contenti’s The Last Matinee which fuses the giallo with the slasher genre in interesting ways. The poster immediately captures your attention with the bright colors and the killer getting ready to strike the oblivious victim who is transfixed on the film they are currently watching. I also like the tagline “No Talking, No Texting, No Breathing” underneath the title as it’s a nice play on the unwritten rules of the theatrical experience with a killer twist.
In the first entry on this list I stated that Malignant was my personal favorite poster of the year but the one for Prano Bailey-Bond’s Censor might be the best. Once again using a prominent eye to capture the attention of the viewer this poster has it all with it’s great combination of a retro aesthetic, excellent use of contrasting colors and images that capture your attention which all combine to make for one of the most memorable movie posters released this year. You could look at this poster for several minutes and find a new detail like the fold lines that make it look like it was folded up and put in a drawer for years. It’s also got a great tagline in “Don’t Press Play” that ties nicely into the plot of the movie which revolves around a film censor during the height of the Video Nasty controversy. The old school television also immediately lets the viewer get a general idea of the time period the movie takes place in which is smart because nostalgia for old school media is seemingly at an all time high.
And that wraps up this list of some of my favorite horror movie posters released this year. This list isn’t all of my favorite posters released this year because there’d be way too many to list, but hopefully you saw something that piqued your interest. I’d also like to shoutout all of the amazing graphic designers who work on promotional pieces for films because it’s often a thankless job but we here at Void Video appreciate the work you put in to get us interested in movies with only a single image.