It may be hard to believe but here we are – at the halfway point of 2018. The horror genre is having another banner year with one huge box office success and another release already being hailed as a classic. Even the Academy Awards turned its gaze to the horror genre this year. Perhaps it truly is another golden era for horror fans.
A few notes before moving on with my list of the best horror movies in 2018 up to the midway point. Some films that are available on in theaters or VOD in the U.S. are not streaming in Canada. As a result, I have not had the opportunity to see Upgrade or Incident in a Ghostland. Nevertheless, I’ve kept up with the majority of films and the list should be pretty comprehensive.
Narrowing down the field to a handful of movie means some popular choices inevitably are sidelined. A few films that I would certainly recommend to horror fans include Still/Born, 4/20 Massacre, Mohawk, Veronica, and Pyewacket. Cargo was also an excellent zombie film, but I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to watch it again.
5 – Revenge
Directed by Coralie Fargeat, Revenge offered clever subversion of the rape-revenge film, a seriously outdated horror subgenre. Fargeat flips the ‘male gaze’ that objectifies her protagonist, Jen (Matilda Lutz), and transforms her into vengeance-seeking machine. In addition to subverting the rape-revenge formula, Revenge pokes a little fun at the male-action hero fantasies that were so common in the 1980’s. There’s plenty of blood and violence that Fargeat films with a visual flair. Revenge also delivers a clever and tense final cat-and-mouse game in its climax.
4 – The Endless
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead blew my mind several years ago with a little film called Resolution. With their third feature length effort, The Endless, they’ve done it again. The Endless is a methodical, quiet, and reflective film that combines elements of horror, mystery, and science fiction. There are no jump scares or graphic death scenes. Benson and Moorhead instead have crafted an atmospheric gem that is both unnerving and absolutely immersive. It’s a complex, fascinating concept that is executed to perfection. I was still thinking about The Endless the morning after watching it. With so many ideas to mull over, it’s a film that demands to be watched again.
Annihilation isn’t a straight-up horror film; it is probably best described as science-fiction with horror elements. Sadly, Annihilation significantly underperformed at the box. It’s too bad because it’s one of the most pleasantly surprising movie theatre experiences I’ve had in a long time. With an immersive story and incredible performances from all of its female leads, Annihilation boasts a unique premise that is well executed. Both its alligator and bear attack scenes offer audiences remarkably suspenseful horror moments. But it’s the atmosphere and air of mystery that hangs over the proceedings like a fog that makes Annihilation stand out.
2 – A Quiet Place
A Quiet Place could easily have fallen into the trap of being a one-note gimmick. Fortunately, John Krasinski deftly balances the horror elements with a strong emotional core. Both Krasinski and Emily Blunt turn in stellar performances as parents faced with the terrifying knowledge that they may be unable to protect their children. But have no doubt – it’s Blunt’s film. The last 30 minutes of A Quiet Place is a relentlessly tense roller coaster ride. A Quiet Place also features wickedly creative creature effects and an intriguing mythology that’s overburdened with lazy expository dialogue. It is arguably one of the best big-screen horror experiences in years.
…Hereditary is destined to be a classic.
With its stellar Rotten Tomatoes rating and dismal CinemaScore, Hereditary follows in the footsteps of The Witch and It Comes at Night. Call it folk horror, or call it art-house horror. Regardless of how you label it, Hereditary is an unnerving horror experience that structures its winding mystery brilliantly. Toni Collette’s performance should get Oscar consideration. Is the last ten minutes odd? Certainly. But director Ari Aster leaves enough cookie crumbs to piece it together. The ending was reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby. While I can understand why some viewers might be put off, in my opinion, Hereditary is destined to be a classic.
Some critics may be quick to add Insidious: The Last Key or Truth and Dare to a ‘Most Disappointing’ list. But The Last Key was the best box office performer in the Insidious franchise and, let’s face it, we’re talking about the fourth film in a franchise so expectations weren’t high. And Truth or Dare delivered what it promised – mild, forgettable scares for teen audiences.
If there is another horror film in 2018 that was nearly as disappointing as Winchester it was The Cloverfield Paradox.
Winchester had no excuses. With top-notch production values, a fascinating ‘based on a true story’ premise, and Helen Mirren, it should have been at least a decent effort. Instead it was a dreary and boring affair. If there is another horror film in 2018 that was nearly as disappointing as Winchester it was The Cloverfield Paradox. All the hype, that Super Bowl commercial. Clearly, the people behind The Cloverfield Paradox knew it was a dud, which is probably why it was dumped on Netflix so abruptly. After the heights achieved by 10 Cloverfield Lane, this was a huge letdown.
Worst Horror Film of 2018
There are a few awful viewing experiences I could include but I’m going to go with Deep Blue Sea 2 simply for its inexcusable bungling of such a simple and fun premise. Sharks have always been scary and they’re arguably more popular than ever courtesy of Shark Week and recent films like 47 Meters Down and The Shallows. Yet somehow the makers of Deep Blue Sea 2 not only made a bad film, they committed the egregious error of making sharks boring.