Top 10 Horror Films of 2018 – The Good, The Gruesome and The F**ked Up!
2018 has been one hell of a year for horror films! We’ve been gifted with the return of classics, the creation of brand new creatures and a deeper acknowledgment of foreign horror cinema. Women and characters of colour have taken the forefront and not just been the once stereotyped hapless victims. We have overcome PTSD, dealt with identity theft, challenged religious oppression and fought some zombie nazis! I mean, there has to be fun in this genre too!
As always with these little lists of mine this is all personal opinion. So if you think my choices are wrong then of course let me know…I might not give a shit but it’s nice to be acknowledged. However, suggestions of new films to add to my list of amazing horror of 2018 are always appreciated :).
10. Ghost Stories (Available to rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
When is an anthology not an anthology? When it’s Ghost Stories. I was confused when this was described as an anthology film but I think that is just testament to the wrap around that keeps the story going and connected. Professor Philip Goodman deals with three separate tales of the supernatural, using his inherent skepticism to try to debunk them. However, not all cases have a scientific solution and Philip begins to unravel along with his cases.
It’s been a while since I’ve watched a ‘traditional’ horror film and that’s what Ghost Stories is offering. Gothic aesthetics, paranormal underpinnings and jump scares that focus on the psychological. Each story carries its own merit. We have good old creepy atmospherics, mistaken mannequins and children’s giggles in our first story about a night guard at an abandoned asylum. The second involves one Devil of a hit and run case which is only outmatched by the disturbing home life portrayed afterwards. We end with an explosive shock through the story of a financer who’s haunted during his wife’s strange and dangerous pregnancy. Things take a turn in the third act and I think that’s where opinions were split. I can see both sides but it didn’t bother me enough to take away from the rest of the film. The mind sees what it wants to see and mine enjoyed seeing this film.
9. The Ritual (Netflix)
The Scandinavian wilderness can be simply stunning…sometimes. I always know the great outdoors are terrifying, The Blair Witch Project and The Descent already proved this, and The Ritual is another one to add to my list of reasons why indoors is my safe place. After the chilling and untimely death of one of the gang a group of four childhood friends set off on a hiking holiday in his honour. They end up having to spend the night in a creepy cabin after one of the gang twists their ankle and they end up lost on a shortcut. The real horror of this film comes from the internal. All the men involved are dealing with the grief of losing a friend, the accusation and the guilt of the event, felt especially by Luke who was present at his friends murder but hid away behind the booze lined aisles.
Throughout the film the idea of the events simply being a manifestation of guilt and shame is interwoven with bleak flashbacks, blackout trauma and creature designs that were incredibly original and memorable. This film takes a turn and when it does it continues turning and twisting right until the end. I give so much of this films credit to the creature design and the way it is revealed to us, just simply stunning.
8. A Quiet Place (Available to rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
A great idea that is executed perfectly, A Quiet Place is John Krasinski’s directorial welcome to horror and I just really hope he feels welcome to return anytime. Set in a dystopian future where sightless creatures hunt down the remaining humans to turn them into tasty snacks we follow a grieving family as they try to survive and bring new life to the world. That is one of this films biggest successes, the family. Horror doesn’t effect as well if we don’t care about those in peril, with this film I cared deeply, the dynamics and relationships build a world around the premise that keeps it a human story, not just a creature feature.
Technically this was a knockout. There have been a few films recently, such as Hush, that play with the idea of silence and the power sound has in horror. The sound design in A Quiet Place is stunning and used so beautifully to create a fear of any and every noise we hear. There will be no chips and dips happening while watching this one. Tense and atmospheric with some beautiful cinematography and intense performances A Quiet Place makes The Sound of Silence terrifying.
7. Halloween (Due for home release 28/12/18)
Welcome home Michael. So, of course this is on the list, it was one of the most anticipated horror films of 2018! Now I know that there are mixed opinions on this film but I really enjoyed it.This sequel/reboot/rejuvenation (seboovenation? Catchy right?) of the franchise hit all the right marks. There was the Green and McBride duo, Carpenter’s seal of approval, Blumhouse production tricks and of course the return of Curtis. Expectations were high for the return of The Shape 40 years after the original came out, and I was not disappointed.
Halloween offered a cast of amazingly strong women, helmed by Grandmother Strode. Laurie is amazing, she is no longer the savvy babysitter, she is now a doomsday prepping bad-ass! This film is women in horror in full force. The depth that Curtis brings to a women who has been suffering ever since that fateful night is truly engaging and breathtaking. The cinematography was stunning (that one exquisite long shot still has my happy sighing), the remastered score sent nostalgic tingles down my spine and the blood and violence still reigned supreme (fucking Pumpkin Head!). Happy Halloween.
6. Girls with Balls (No official home release date…yet. Sorry!)
Volleyball, cannibalism and sexy dancing to Macho Man, these are all the things you didn’t know you needed in your life, but you sure as shit do! French, feminist and fucked up! Girls with Balls is so worth your time! When a netball team’s bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere they manage to locate a small lodge with some strange and disturbing patrons. Everything goes a little bit Wrong Turn after that as the girls are hunted down by these vaudevillian hillbillies. They must rely on each of their own individual skills and pull together as a team to survive.
Girls with Balls is pumped full of irreverent humour and buckets of gore that keep it entertaining from the first whistle blow. This is a strong female fronted story reminiscent of films like The Descent, but with more golden showers and chihuahua decapitations. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a man get basically decapitated by one really good volleyball spike shot? Girls with Balls is a playful, absurd and purely delightful film that does the horror-comedy genre justice. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should you. Oh, and it’s all wrapped up by a singing cowboy who narrates the key parts to us, just incase you needed another reason to sit down with this film!
5. The Devil’s Doorway (Available to rent on Amazon and Itunes)
When statues of the Virgin Mary start crying blood it’s either time to praise a beautiful miracle or time to run in the opposite goddamn direction! Earlier this year I had read a Buzzfeed News article on the atrocities committed at a Catholic Orphanage, it was stomach turning and devastating to read…and that’s the same effect this film created for me. The Devil’s Doorway is set in a remote Irish home for ‘fallen women’, code for unwed mothers and any woman who inconveniences her family, a type of place that has not been out of existence for as long as we would like to think. That is where the true horror of this film comes from, the disturbing backbone of truth that underpins the supernatural happenings.
Father Riley and Father Thornton are sent to investigate the miraculous event of a blood weeping Mary statue but what they find is much more sinister and all completed in ‘God’s name’. Shot on 60mm in the style of a found footage documentary there is a constant tense pulsing and claustrophobic atmosphere to the film which left me both satisfyingly scared and emotionally devastated.
4. CAM (Netflix)
This Netflix original psychological horror offers something very different for 2018, a cybercrime thrillride down the rabbit hole of Camming. Horror really has become a woman’s playfield this year and CAM heralds a great female performance and an exploration of females and ‘sex workers’. We follow Alice, known by her fans as Lola, who is a CamGirl on the rise! She’s independent, creative and savvy, utilising some shock tactics to get her rankings up in a beautiful demonstration of practical effects. Alice is slowly climbing the online popularity ladder until a ‘glitch in the system’ causes her old videos to be reposted…or so she initially thinks.
This is such an interesting concept about identity in the digital age and what is actually real online. The engrossing script written by Isa Mazzei is grounded in her reality as a former CamGirl with all the insight into the world of webcams and chat rooms. With monocoloured sets doused in pastel blue or pale pink lighting the visuals of CAM are stunning. Combined with a story that feels like a missing episode of ‘Black Mirror’ this is a digital nightmare that will make anyone with an online presence feel tense.
3. Overlord (Due for home release in 02/19)
WWII. Soldiers. Nazis. Zombies? Yes it’s time to talk about Overlord. So we could begin by arguing if zombies is the correct term for these re-animated hulking messes of glob and gore, but I’m going for a style here and ‘Genetically mutated re-animated corpses’ just doesn’t roll off of the tongue quite as well as Nazi Zombies does. It’s the eve of D-Day and a group of American Paratroopers are on a mission to bring down a radio transmitter in an occupied French village. It may all start very Saving Private Ryan but what they discover below the village pushes us closer to Dead Snow territory.
Overlord is a self aware B-Movie that doesn’t shy from that title and utilises it to lavish effect. The practical and special effects are beautifully gruesome and had me smiling and gasping with delight as they happened. A re-animated head with only it’s spinal cord? Yes please! A bullet torn Chelsea Grin that makes The Joker looks like a runway model? Fuck yes thank you! The ensemble cast keep the action coming throughout in this fun romp through the gruesome genre piece and it proves once and for all that the best accessory a lady could ask for is a flamethrower.
2. Tigers are not Afraid (No official home release date…yet. Sorry!)
Beautiful ethereal and captivating, Tigers Are Not Afraid is visually stunning beyond words. Interwoven with fairytale fable and animated imagery five young orphans must help each other survive the drug cartel run streets of Mexico, they are the lost children of gang violence. Estrella is our incredible lead who has been gifted with a magical piece of chalk that grants her 3 wishes but, just like a Monkey Paw, they all come with consequences. When she wishes for her mother to return she is haunted by dead shadows and whispered words and must accept the reality that her mother is dead, but she is not gone.
This magic-realism film will have you gaping in wonder, smiling with childish glee and weeping from the bottom of your heart. Every single frame of this film provokes awe, from animated graffiti tigers to something as simple as a koi pond inside an abandoned building. It is a moral tale, as all fairytales are, but with curved lines instead of clean hard rules. Championed by Guillermo del Toro, Tigers Are Not Afraid is a ghost story, a gritty crime drama and a true urban fairytale. I would happily cry my way through this film a million more times and never cease to feel childlike enchantment at the world that Issa López has beautifully created.
1. Hereditary (Available to rent from Amazon, Google Play or YouTube)
What a fucking film! Hereditary is Ari Aster’s feature directorial debut and he has made one hell of a name for himself in the horror scene with this one. Not a moment passed when I wasn’t on edge. Hereditary follows the story of a family dealing with grief. After the death of her mother Ellen, Annie (Toni Collette) must deal with the fractured relationship they had and how this guilt interferes with the process. Simple enough premise to begin but the twists, turns and pure fuck-duckery that follows takes us on an intense and taught journey through the occult and the human psyche.
The stylised editing that pulls us into a scene through a dollhouse and the stunning design of the miniatures aids the theme of inevitability, of simply being manipulated puppets of our own fate, of it all being inherent. Hereditary ramps up slowly throughout its run, never dropping the tension simply manipulating it into an ending that will forever be playing behind my closed eyes. The performances are intense and breathtaking. If we all scream it loud enough maybe the higher ups will hear us: “Give Toni Collette a fucking Oscar!!!” ‘Klock’
Much to my dismay I haven’t managed to see everything I wanted to before writing this list. Pre-festive celebrations and end-of-term-itus has well and truly scuppered some of my viewing plans. I have heard incredible things about Mandy (still not available on Shudder UK though, she grumbles), Leprechaun Returns (I was as surprised as you are!), Terrified (Subtitles take concentration) and May the Devil Take You (which I started, fell asleep, had lucid nightmares and have not yet returned to). So this list may be missing some of your grim favourites of 2018.
If there are any others your think I have wrongly let get away then let me know in the comments! There’s a chance they are somewhere on my internal top 20 horror list but there’s also a chance that I’ve missed them completely so please throw the suggestions and buckets of gore my way :).