This year was a wonderful year for horror. I can’t recall so many amazing and different films coming out in one year. I kept a close eye on the smaller theaters and VOD to catch more independent releases. Some slipped by, but I caught a lot of gems.


13. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is an uncomfortable film to watch right from the beginning. The music is dischordant and a neurosurgeon has a weird relationship with a teenage boy he seems to keep secret from his family. A curse emerges later where the surgeon will have to kill one of his family members or have them all die. It has the tension and awkwardness of The Lobster taken even further to a tragic conclusion.

12. Creep 2

Josef is back with a new name and a new attitude. The serial killer is going through a midlife crisis and invites a video artist over to his house to document his feelings. The artist is looking to make a name for herself online and pushes way beyond what most would do to achieve that. It’s a tense and sometimes silly cat and mouse game where you’re never quite sure who is playing who.

11. Better Watch Out

Better Watch Out starts as a Christmas themed home invasion fiilm and becomes something much different. The violence and abuse moslty happens off screen, but we see the horror on the witnesses face. Performaces all around are excellent. Just watch this one without reading anything else about it.

10. Tragedy Girls

Two teenage girls cover the local serial killer and kidnap him in order to continue those murders themselves. This was the most I laughed out loud in the theater. The girls tread a line between charming and annoying very well as they slash their way through those standing in their way. Their friendship is what sets this film apart from other horror comedies this year and it became heartwarming in a weird way by the end.

9. Mayhem

Mayhem takes corporate America and throws in a inhibitions reducing contagion and a man’s quest to kill his way up the corporate ladder. This was probably the most fun I had in the theater. The violence is over the top and mini-bosses have to be defeated to get higher, giving it a satisfying video game feel. Steven Yeun’s performance is so effective that I rooted for him gleefully murdering is coworkers every step of the way.

8. Capture Kill Release

A couple starts this film by callously planning to kill someone. They have it all planned out: what tools to use, how to abduct them, and how to dispose of the body. The contrast between excited Jennifer and her ultimately reluctant husband Farhan creates tension that explodes when it comes time to kill the person. It’s an odd found footage movie and one I’ve never seen before.

7. It Comes at Night

It Comes at Night was one of the most controversial films of the year. Many thought it was boring, slow, and misleading, but I don’t agree. It’s a quiet film that focuses more on relationships over horror elements.This world has children who still hope and also adults who fight to  protect what’s theirs no matter what. The emotions and dimensions of the characters make this the most realistic post-apocalyptic film I’ve seen.
6. Seoul Station

In the animated prequel to Train to Busan, Seoul Station shows exactly how this zombie outbreak started. The homeless started showing signs of the sickness, but were only turned away from every institution set up to help them. Sympathetic characters are hard to come by that don’t turn zombie right away. Where Train to Busan is hopeful, this film shows harsh realities and bleak outcomes.

5. Hounds of Love

Based on a true crime story from Australia, Hounds of Love is harrowing and hard to watch as a man and his wife abduct a teenage girl. A tense dynamic forms between the trio as the teen tries to manipulate the jealous wife and the lying husband all while her family is frantically trying to find her. It’s a bleak film that makes its villains human.

4. The Devil’s Candy

The Devil’s Candy starts with the most adorable family ever with a love of metal music and art. The devil torments the family in many different forms. but the family stays solidly together. The songs chosen for each scene are perfect and range from metal music to traditional sacred music. The visuals are just as strong with striking colors.

3. The Shape of Water

A dark fairy tale with an unconventional romance at its center between a mute woman and an amphibious man. Like many of del Toro’s films, love, friendship, and whimsical fantasy exist right alongside extreme cruelty, hate, and brutal violence. The Shape of Water is gorgeous with a measured mix of practical and digital effects.

2. Get Out

Jordan Peele’s chilling interpretation of racism and cultural appropriation started of the year with bang. He took inspiration from movies such as The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby, but made something that feels completely unique with its biting commentary on self professed liberal allies that still benefit from institutionalized racism and cultural appropriation.

1. Raw

A unique story of sexual awakening, cannibalism, and realistic and messy sisterhood, Raw portrays toxic family situations and how different people cope with it. The realistic relationships cement the story together amidst the bizarre vet school with extreme hazing and Justine’s increasing urge to eat people.

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Elizabeth Talbott

Elizabeth Talbott

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