The horror renaissance continues in 2018 with some fantastic films, thanks largely to streaming channels and video on demand (VOD). As theaters are steadily becoming relics of the past (only a handful of films on my list are wide releases), VOD is the way to go. Casualties like Overlord and Suspiria both inexplicably opened after Halloween and died quick deaths. I should also note that some of these movies premiered in 2017 (at film festivals or internationally) but didn't become widely available in the U.S. until 2018.
1. Hereditary - Ari Aster's debut film is a family drama with a sickening, dreadful atmosphere that slowly suffocates viewers in it's crazed third act. This is a horror masterpiece.
2. Suspiria - This reinvents every aspect of the original and adds a hypnotic, unsettling menace and epic grandeur. Tilda Swinton is spectacular, and this art film, though quite long, is beautifully conceived.
3. A Quiet Place is a monster movie with a truly unique concept - make a sound and die. The exquisite production values and stellar cast shows how to make the most of a modest budget.
4. Anna and the Apocalypse pushes genres first gleefully then absurdly like a modern Rocky Horror. The pop songs are catchy, carnage is crunchy, and then there's a breakneck tonal shift. It’s zombie horror after all! An utterly unique pastiche and an instant yuletide classic.
5. Mandy succeeds not as simple revenge story but rather the artful manner in how it was made: dark, stylized, and strangely hypnotic and I hate to admit how much I loved Nicholas Cage's performance.
6. Aterrados (Terrified) is an Argentinian fever dream escalates scene by scenes as a paranormal infestation takes a neighborhood. It's an exhausting, unsettling nightmare that is not soon forgotten.
7. Halloween is a smart, reliable sequel that surprises and delights fans of Michael Myers, John Carpenter, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
8. Annihilation is a unique vision of nature gone wild with extraordinary and often terrifying visuals. The superb cast led by Natalie Portman adds needed urgency to this ultimate meditation on extinction.
9. The House that Jack Built invites us back into Lars Von Trier demented brain as we get to experience the stuff that serial killers think. It's artful, excessively nauseating, riveting like a car accident, exhaustively plodding, heady, hateful, and features a fantastic epilogue. Like most of his films, it's an exceptional work of art – that I never want to see again.
10. Revenge is ferocious gut punch where a sexy young girl faces off against three lewd middle-aged, men in a remote desert. Leave it to the French to bring such superb, bloody action to the screen.
11. The Endless is a cosmic head trip whose ingenious plot and story aren't mitigated by the stoic performances of it's director/writer/actors. Hopefully bigger budgets will allow these two very creative people to push their unique vision further.
12. Lizzie is an understated and quiet contemplation on female empowerment – and a retelling of the infamous ax murders of the Borden family. Chloe Sevigny's furious rage coupled with Kristen Stewart's weary angst are revelations in this definitive film.
13. The Ritual is a rare good Netflix film that pits the struggle of men's stoic friendships against a really scary monster. It's a male-centric spiritual sequel to The Descent.
These were all considered for my best of list but it was another really good year for horror movies.
Overlord, American Satan, The Clovehitch Killer, Pyewacket, Summer of ’84, Upgrade, Verónica, My Friend Dalmer, Possum, Ghost Stories, The Dark, Winchester (a nostalgic favorite but not a great film), The Cleanse, Little Stranger, Apostle, The Lodgers, and Our House.
In the Queue
So many movies and so little time. In my 2018 queue are Wilding, What Keeps You Alive, Les Affames (Ravenous), Slice, Mary Shelley, Mon Mon Monsters, and Thoroughbreds.
Bad Times at the El Royale is a noir crime cult period pulp thriller comedy shot like a horror movie. It's full of tension, surprises, great performances and satisfying ending from the director of Cabin In The Woods.
Sorry to Bother You is an insanely good comedy/social commentary with a freaky twist. It definitely crosses the line into legitimate satire horror and shows you things you can't unsee.