I did it last year, I’m going to do it again this year, with a little twist: unlike the 10 BEST horror movies of 2017 list (click on the link to check it out), this time I decided to include five more titles. Upon watching exactly 144 horror movies that came out or had their wide release in 2018 (you can check them all out on my official IMDb list), I couldn’t narrow it down to only 10 films.
Besides, the aforementioned article from 2017 received quite a good response from readers, who were mostly surprised by the variety of titles – even when they disagreed on some of them. In fact, I’d like to reiterate that this list is based on my personal opinions and tastes, therefore grades don’t count: if you find out that a movie to which I gave a higher grade in my regular review is in a lower position than another one, don’t be surprised. I try my best to be unbiased and objective in my reviews, whereas here I just express my unadulterated opinions, free from any professional restraint, so to speak. As such, please don’t feel offended if your favourite horror film of 2018 isn’t on the list: you probably saw things in it that I didn’t; and if you hated some of the movies you’ll find here, then perhaps you didn’t notice the qualities I saw in them. It’s all good, let’s keep the discussion honest and mature.
Before delving into the main list – which will work bottom-up – I have a ‘minor’ list of honourable mentions, movies I enjoyed for a number of reasons but didn’t quite impress me as much as the titles you’ll find soon after. One last suggestion: click on the titles to check my review before you decide to watch the movie I recommended, since it might not be your cup of tea, therefore you might feel like I wasted your time. And I don’t want that!
Remember, my aim with these lists is to share with fellow horror fans films they might not have seen and that I consider worth investing your time in.
Honourable mentions (listed alphabetically): Annihilation (USA), Await Further Instructions (UK), The Cured (Ireland), Extremity (USA), Ghost Stories (UK), Hagazussa (Germany… I didn’t get the chance to review this one), The Lodgers (Ireland), Pyewacket (Canada), Ruin Me (USA), Terrifier (USA), Unsane (USA), Victor Crowley (USA), Wildling (USA).
And now, it’s time for the best horror movies of the year!
15) MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU (Indonesia) – This Indonesian possession film is an interesting spin on the sub-genre. It works as a homage to Sam Raimi’s work (especially the beloved classic Evil Dead and the divisive Drag me to Hell), being filled with gory and gross content, colourful visuals and inventive camera-work. All of that, in combination with an eerie soundtrack reminiscent of Argento’s surreal horror movies, makes for a great watch. Plus, the pacing is fantastic, with no dull moments whatsoever – you won’t get bored for one second watching May the Devil Take You.
14) THE MIMIC (South Korea) – Directed by the guy who brought us the amazing Hide and Seek (2013) and starring Jung-ah Yum from A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), The Mimic revolves around a family dealing with Jangsanbeom: a mythological demon that imitates human voice and appearance to lure its victims. This is a great example of PG-13 done right: the film isn’t gory or violent, but it’s rivetingly creepy and disturbing. Great performances and unsettling atmosphere definitely help to set the mood for a magical yet tense horror experience. There are a few slow moments that could have been cut out, but other than that The Mimic won’t disappoint you!
13) STEPHANIE (USA) – Although I’m generally not too impressed with Blumhouse movies, every year they produce something worthwhile: in 2018 their best movie for me is Stephanie, a suspenseful and unpredictable supernatural/psychological horror movie that defies expectations. The slow build-up is actually what I loved most about this film, since the main actress does an outstanding job at carrying the story, and the mystery behind it is compelling and chilling. Also, in comparison to most Blumhouse films, Stephanie gets very graphic and violent at points, which really is unexpected and refreshing. Other than a, perhaps, unconvincing ending and some shitty effects, this is truly a great watch: even Jason Blum loved my review of Stephanie, so please do check this one out if you haven’t already!
12) THE ENDLESS (USA) – Indie filmmakers Benson and Moorhead knocked it out of the park once again with this Sci-fi mystery horror film. Even though The Endless is less accessible than the previous titles on the list – due to slow pacing and lack of conventional horror elements – the mysterious and dreadful atmosphere, in combination with a deeper and multi-layered meaning that nicely unfolds, makes this a genuinely original and ground-breaking viewing experience. Fantastic cinematography and mind-boggling story should be enough – at least for most of you – to appreciate this great film even during the slowest sequences. Besides, this is a movie you can interpret as you want since the subtext is rather complex and open to interpretation. If you want to challenge yourself while also being creeped out, The Endless is your go-to film!
11) THELMA (Norway) – this is one of the most obscure titles on the whole list, but if you can find a way to watch it you’ll thank me endlessly for the recommendation! Thelma is a Carrie-like horror/drama that seems to come from another era: it’s reminiscent of movies based on the work of Stephen King from the early 80s; it’s calmly paced but never boring; it’s emotional and eerie. However, the aspect I loved the most about it is that the horror comes from situations that should make you feel safe, whereas the scenes connected to the supernatural element are sweet and emotional. Themes of mental issues (like epilepsy), family abuse and dogmatic conception of religion come together nicely and seamlessly in this coming-of-age horror drama. Check it out if what you read sounds good to you: you won’t regret it.
10) THE RITUAL (UK) – a British cabin-in-the-wood/creature-feature hybrid, The Ritual is the horror movie that grew on me the most this year. Funnily enough, the first time I watched it in 2017 (during its limited theatrical release in England) I didn’t even like it! However, upon second, third and fourth viewing I came to love it for a number of reasons. The Ritual works both on a superficial level (as a suspenseful monster movie with great characters and acting) and on a deeper level, due to its social commentary about friendship, grief and sense of guilt. Most of you have probably seen this one already, thus I won’t spend much more time talking about it: just check it out if you haven’t already, it’s a smart horror flick that can be enjoyed by both mainstream audiences and more demanding viewers.
9) VERONICA (Spain) – the last movie on this list with a female name as its title is undoubtedly the most divisive. Marketed as “the scariest movies in years” (do people still fall for these cheap marketing gimmicks?), Veronica is just a conventional possession film, but a damn well-executed one. The main reason why this movie works – and why I loved it – simply lies in the fact that it’s extremely well made: scary moments, acting, story, characters, development, camera-work… everything is spotless in Veronica. Sure, this film is not original nor breaks any new ground whatsoever, but the fact that it picks a trite storyline and turns into something effective and refreshing is truly jaw-dropping. Fear is subjective guys: you might think Veronica is not scary at all (I mean, it wasn’t super spooky to me either), but you should just be able to appreciate its great features regardless. Put the marketing lullabies aside, and you’ll enjoy this one!
8) APOSTLE (UK) – Netflix best horror movie of the year – at least for me – Apostle is quite a unique combination of sub-genres: it revolves around a shady religious cult, it’s a period-piece, it’s surprisingly ultra-violent and gory, it benefits from conventional scary bits with spooky figures. The stylised fight-scenes take place in a setting you usually wouldn’t expect and that makes them stand out even more. This is another film on my list that, although doesn’t create anything mind-blowingly original, feels extremely refreshing and unconventional. Besides a rocky start and an ending that might leave you with some unanswered questions, Apostle is an intense, scary and gory ride through religious cults, backed up by great acting and characters, unique style of filmmaking, surprisingly scary moments, Asian-like style of violence with great practical effects. It’s on Netflix, so what’s stopping you from checking it out?
7) TUMBBAD (India) – long story short: Tumbbad is “wow!”. This epic horror adventure from India is one impressive ride across three generations dealing with Hastar, a monster-like god that’s scary, vicious and violent as hell! The scope of Tumbbad is grandiose: this is a film where spotless CGI and riveting visuals come together to propel a story made of mysterious mythology, exotic cultures, compelling adventures and loads of creepy horror elements. Behind the shadow of a doubt, Tumbbad is one of the most impressive films of the year, a horror movie like no others that combines genuinely spooky monsters with themes of family heritage and deadly greed. Other than a couple of minor issues, this is truly a memorable and great motion picture that will most likely break new grounds for Indian cinema. The lack of extreme violence and gore – unlike the previous title – works in this movie’s favour, making it very accessible for everyone. Quick, finish reading this article and go watch Tumbbad!
6) WHO’S WATCHING OLIVER?(UK/Thailand) – oh boy, what a disturbing yet weirdly romantic film this is. Who’s Watching Oliver? is a serial killer movie like no other out there (well, perhaps the Austrian Angst from 1983 comes close in terms of originality): due to the unconventional storytelling and small set of locations, this film takes a figure like Oliver (a disgusting rapist and murderer) and turns him into a character you really feel for. The overly graphic content of the movie (with full-on rape sequences and gruesome killings fully on screen) works very much in contrast with the timid, romantic side of the main character: through this interview with Russell Geoffrey Banks (the actor who plays Oliver) you can actually learn more about the film without getting into spoilers, so I strongly recommend reading the interview. For now, let’s just say Who’s Watching Oliver? is a unique, disturbing horror movie that benefits from original elements and combinations, and relies on the strongest male performance of the year. Go watch it now, if you dare!
5) SUSPIRIA (Italy) – the remake of Argento’s horror classic, as I expected, doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. This is the only horror film on this list I watched only one time and I didn’t review yet: unfortunately, I was able to put my hands on it only one week ago, so my review will be up in 2019. Since I don’t want to spoil my own article (it’s going to be a special one), I’ll keep it short and say this: that’s how you remake a classic. Director Luca Guadagnino took a concept and did with it something completely different from the original Suspiria (1977), by making his version gloomy, depressing and way gorier. This remake is quite a slow-burner and it’s very long, so some of you might not like it, but to me it’s a fantastic horror/drama with a constant sense of dread and the best atmosphere in any horror film this year. Everything in the movie is great, from the acting to the story to the gruesome scenes to the depressing social commentary. Buy the Blu-Ray when this gets a wide release in January and thank me later.
4) HEREDITARY (USA) – can I say anything new about Hereditary? Ari Aster’s directorial debut takes many horror tropes and conventions and makes with them something rather unseen and truly terrifying. Besides the way disturbing and spooky sequences are constructed (which is nothing short than mind-blowing), Hereditary struck me with the complexity of its symbolism: this is a film where the filmmakers (and the actors… Toni Colette deserves a fucking Oscar nomination!) put gigantic effort in the script and its execution. All of that makes for a goosebumps-inducing viewing experience with some scenes that stand out [spoilers… the dinner scene, the decapitation moment, the self-combustion sequence] and will go down to cinema history as some of the best in horror. Had it not been for the ending and the overabundance of themes in the film, Hereditary would easily have been in my top 3 of the year. It’s a good thing, for horror at least, that 2018 offered three movies that are even better than this one (at least for me). I’m aware some people didn’t like Hereditary, which is fine by me, but it’s honestly unfair to deny the objective greatness of this motion picture.
3) THE DARK (Austria) – can a film that basically rips off Let the Right One In (2008) be great? Yes, it can. This is another impressive directorial debut (to say the least). The Dark is a bleak and depressing coming-of-age horror movie, filled with themes (and implications) of dysfunctional family and sexual abuse. Although this sort of social commentary is present in other flicks from the same sub-genre, The Dark uses them in a very unique way and backs them up with scenes characterised by extreme gore and violence. Yes, this is a really graphic picture that hits you harder as the minutes go by. Frightening sequences and a hopeless tone made the viewing experience truly horrific to me (in the best way possible); compelling characters you feel for (portrayed marvellously by some young, unknown actors) added an extra layer of emotion to the film: don’t be surprised if, throughout the runtime or at the end, you’ll find yourself tearing up a little bit. I can’t get The Dark out of my head, which is why the movie ended up at number three on my list.
2) MON MON MON MONSTERS (Taiwan) – the fact that probably only 5 other people in the world and I have seen this film is really a shame. Mon Mon Mon Monsters is the most original horror film of the year, a horror/comedy that’s darkly funny and entertainingly horrific. This picture about a group of dysfunctional kids torturing a young vampire-like monster has a pitch-black sense of humour, it’s quite gory and disturbing, and it’s filled with themes of diversity, acceptance and social issues connected to youth. Two scenes in particular, towards the end of the film, are simply fantastic and memorable: they revolve around some gory attacks and are accompanied by outstanding music. Yes, the score of Mon Mon Mon Monsters is by far the best I listened to the whole year. The movie has a few shortcomings due to the low budget, yet it’s quite easy to see past them, especially when you have memorable scenes, great and complex characters, awesome spooky effects, and the best ending in any horror film of 2018 to help you out. Please, do yourself a favour and seek this one out, it’s truly a fantastic horror picture…
… and it would be my favourite horror film of the year, if the next one didn’t come out!
1) INCIDENT IN A GHOSTLAND (Canada/France) – from the director of Martyrs (2008), one of my all-time favourite films (not just when it comes to horror), Incident in a Ghostland (click this link for my ‘famous’ spoiler-filled review) is nothing short than a masterpiece. Upon watching it several times (6 or 7 times from last July, I believe), I still couldn’t find any objective flaw with the movie. Pascal Laugier created a nasty, disturbing universe where Beth and Vera, the two lead girls, go through a lot from beginning to end. This is a film that doesn’t allow you to catch your breath: it’s extremely well-made, it’s violent, it’s disturbing, it’s offensive, it’s relentless, it’s frightening, it’s unapologetic. And, as most of you already know, has a plot twist you’ll never, ever forget in your entire life. Incident in a Ghostland is constructed so well that, by the end, you can’t even separate what’s supposed to be real from what’s supposed to be a coping mechanism. Yet, throughout the entire runtime, there isn’t a single dull or less exciting second: you get to feel for the characters and learn about them while the action is taking place (something only great filmmakers can achieve). Every single aspect of filmmaking and every single thing one can ask from horror cinema come together perfectly in Incident in a Ghostland. That’s why this masterpiece is my favourite horror film of the year!
What did you think of this list? Did I miss out some titles I should put my hands on? And what’s your favourite horror film of 2018? Please, leave a comment below and let me know!
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