Wow. 2018 has been such a stellar year for the horror genre. Our beloved genre has generated massive numbers in theaters, on VOD and even on streaming services. Honestly, the past few years have been nothing short of a horror renaissance. I'll be looking back and admiring these years for quite some time.
Sadly, with the overwhelming influx of great but varied horror films, a mini-war has been brewing between fans who prefer arthouse, big budget entertainment, and ones that prefer nostalgia. It's a disheartening and unnecessary thing to see. There's so much negative energy being strewn across social media in regards to what horror films are truly horror. My question being, why do we have to choose a side? The horror community is one built upon a love for the genre and I'll have no part in tearing it apart form the inside.
What's wrong with enjoying a popcorn flick like Halloween and also basking in the artistic and nostalgic nuances of Mandy? The horror genre is offering entertainment of all sorts and I personally can't get enough of it!
All ranting aside, here's my top films for 2018.
10. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (dir. Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund; RLJE)
The Puppet Master franchise has been running consistently for nearly 30 years and has been in need of a facelift for quite some time, The Littlest Reich provides just that. Watching Nazi puppets kill people in the most brutal of ways has never been so much fun! The film perfectly blends horror and humor, topped off with a solid cast and some of this year's best practical effects. The Littlest Reich easily hurdles over many franchise entries to become one of, if not the best entries in the long-running franchise.
9. Halloween (dir. David Gordon Green; Universal Pictures)
2018 was a monumental year for horror in many ways, one of those being the return of Micheal Myers in a direct sequel to the first film. David Gordon Green's Halloween gave horror fans the franchise entry and reboot they've been asking for, and given the film's huge box office success, it's safe to say that Michael Myers has a newfound future ahead of him. The film also features one of the biggest final confrontations seen in a film this year.
8. SuperGrid (dir. Lowell Dean; Raven Banner)
I was lucky enough to see Lowell Dean's SuperGrid out of this year's Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Fest and instantly knew that it was one of my favorites of the year. This post-apocalyptic thrill ride, featuring much of the cast of WolfCop, fires on all cylinders. Pedal to the metal action, plenty of violence and a story that's full of heart, SuperGrid is easily one of the most enjoyable films to come out of Canada in recent years.
7. Apostle (dir. Gareth Evans; Netflix)
Apostle makes for one of the most original horror films of the year. Director Gareth Evans always tends to impress and Apostle is no different. There's so much to admire about the film, the pacing, the cinematography, the acting, the editing, and glorious set design. It's a film that's easy to get lost within and shake off after viewing.
6. Terrified (dir. Demián Rugna; Shudder)
While I'm usually not the biggest fan of ghost stories, Demián Rugna's Terrified is an expertly crafted film that gets under your skin right from the start and stays there until the credits roll. I'm also not one to scare easily while watching a film and Terrified scared the shit out of me! The film is a masterpiece of genuine scares and uneasy tones. The film also ups the ante from a single haunted house to an entirely haunted neighborhood and features a very unique twist on supernatural tropes. Rugna is definitely a filmmaker to watch!
5. Revenge (dir. Coralie Fargeat; Neon)
Coralie Fargeat‘s fittingly-titled Revenge is a perfectly timed allegory for harassment and abuse. It's a film that features strong social commentary while providing a thrilling an immensely entertaining experience. Fargeat has created one of the most violent and bloody films of the year, specifically in the film's tension filled finale. When the credits hit the screen, most viewers will need a few moments to collect themselves. On a side note, Matilda Lutz is a total badass.
4. Trauma (dir. Lucio Rojas; Artsploitation Films)
My choice to include this film in my top ten is a very gutsy one, as this is an immensely controversial film. I love horror that makes a statement and no other film released this year (in the US) makes a statement stronger than Lucio Rojas' Trauma. Within the first 5 minutes of viewing, I had seen one of the most gut-wrenching scenes ever committed to film. I consider myself rather "seasoned" when it comes to watching extreme cinema and I left this film revolted and shocked, but truly admiring Rojas' purpose for creating such an insanely disturbing experience with a greater meaning. The filmmaker pointedly takes shot after shot at the horrible Pinochet dictatorship that terrorized Chile for over 25 years and brilliantly portrays the lasting effects of such atrocities. If you enjoy excessively violent horror, Trauma is a must-see!
3. A Quiet Place (dir. John Krasinski; Paramount Pictures)
Who would've thought a horror film that uses silence as its greatest tool would be such an entertaining experience? John Kraskinski’s directorial debut is a masterwork of tension and unease, an hour and a half of pure nervousness. The film does an admirable job with keeping things feeling realistic and dangerous, especially with Krasinski's decision to kill off a child within the first ten minutes. A Quiet Place is a textbook example of creative and inventive filmmaking. On top of fantastic creature and sound design, the film features strong character development and a minimalist mentality that just works in all the right ways.
2. Hereditary (dir. Ari Aster; A24)
I think I stand with the majority in saying that Ari Aster's directorial debut took the horror world by storm upon its release. Hereditary is a fearless and unapologetic film that has a unique influence on each and every viewer who experiences it. The film is a genuine nightmare from which you can't awake, a twisted, at times, brutal look a family unraveling. Hereditary has scenes that stick with you, scenes that you can't unsee, a film you won't soon forget. All of this is heightened by Toni Collette’s Oscar-worthy performance, a performance that takes the film from being a fantastic film to one of the greatest horror films ever made!
1. Mandy (dir. Panos Cosmatos; RLJE)
To say that I was absolutely enchanted by Mandy would be a major understatement. Writer/director Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow) and Nicolas Cage are a match made in cinematic heaven. Cosmatos takes his fever dream visuals to the extreme and Cage cranks his wild side to 11. Combine this with Benjamin Loeb's superb cinematography and Johann Johannsson's (rest in peace) magnificent score and you have film magic at its finest! Mandy an absolute visual and audible feast, and a film that I'll cherish and revisit for many years to come.
Do you agree with these choices? What would you add/change? Let us know your favorite films of the year in the comments below!