Editor’s Note: Last year was a veritable fright fest of new films. Here we present the top 10 scariest horror movies of 2018
After being raped and almost killed, a woman rises up to slaughter her attackers.
You could make the argument that the multi-genre “Revenge” isn’t strictly a horror movie, though it bears many traits of survival horror. The difference here is that the character doing the hunting and killing is the protagonist. Imagine if fisherman Ben Willis had been hit by that car full of teens in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and we followed him exclusively throughout his quest for revenge.
It’s the same idea here, except that Jen (Matilda Lutz) is far more virtuous than old Ben. Like the 1986 Australian exploitation classic “Fair Game,” this plays out in a vast and stylishly shot desert wasteland as our heroine recovers from a near fatal injury and experiences some amazingly executed hallucinations. It turns out that killing a bunch of people is hard, especially if you’re a normal human who isn’t Rambo. The violence gets messy, the gunfights and stabbings are bloody, and the cinematography is mind-blowing. Is this a desert or another planet?
Like “Mandy,” this baby has a distinct visual signature. Like Rambo’s red headband and Jason’s hockey mask, Jen herself has a trademark image: her star-shaped neon pink earrings which seem to glow as she journeys across the dark dunes. Lutz, who also appeared in the horror sequel “Rings,” is fearless in this standout bloodbath.
9) Ghost Stories
A professor who debunks fraudulent psychics looks into three cases of the supernatural.
Not your average paranormal spook show, “Ghost Stories” presents a linked anthology about a security guard terrorized by ghosts at an asylum, a teenager who runs over a monster in the woods and a wealthy man whose wife gives birth to something inhuman. The final twist bringing everything together is rewarding, as are the reality tearing special effects. Plus, who doesn’t love a good anthology? It’s one of my favorite formats, and the unexpected interrelated nature of these stories is brilliant.
A ballet student in 1977 Berlin comes under attack by witches who run her dance academy.
It takes real guts to remake one of the most popular films from legendary Italian director Dario Argento, and no small amount of courage to produce a mainstream film with art house overtones that is mostly in subtitled German. AND to completely diverge from the original film’s outcome with a crazy final twist. Part of the reason film studios love doing remakes is that audiences already know the story, so there’s built-in accessibility. This was not a film designed to appear accessible in the least, though the performances and visual design are exceptional. Of particular note are the three incredible performances of Tilda Swinton as an elderly German psychiatrist, a stern and elitist dance instructor and a hideously deformed witch with grasping baby arms growing out of her chest. The remake has a greater focus on literally spirited dance sequences, and dance is used as erotica and a method of brutal murder.
It stands alongside the 1977 classic as a companion piece, rather than a carbon copy.
A young woman who performs erotic shows via webcam discovers that she has an evil twin.
This was a brilliant deconstruction of social media and the difference between the surface image people create online and the actual reality of their lives. Alice, a cam girl struggling to break into the Top Ten most popular performers list, responds to requests like: “Kill yourself on camera” or “Eat a steak dinner” with equal zeal. Her obsession with gaining followers and popularity leads her to a confrontation with a cyber entity posing as her and stealing her customers.
It gets bloody and bizarre, and none of it would work without star Madeline Brewer’s multiple performances. The definition of a star is an actor or actress whose work we would follow no matter what genre they were working in. They have the charisma and talent to draw in an audience, and Brewer is a prime example of that.
We see her online persona Lola, her offline personality as she interacts with folks out and about, and the characteristics of the entity trying to usurp her life. It also gives you a look inside a world where men form obsessive relationships with women who are paid to express seductive affection towards them on the Internet. Identity theft, stalking, cyberbullying and more are all explored. “Cam” is offbeat, convincing and enthralling.
6) The Ranger
A gang of punks on the run from the law meets a homicidally strict park ranger.
Look, if you’re a teenager who decided to go camping in the 1980s, odds are you’re going to get slaughtered by something. Sleepaway Camp’s Angela, Madman Marz or the grandfather of campground mayhem, Jason himself. Finally, here’s an 80’s throwback slasher that actually feels like one. Lead actress Chloe Levine, who plays the vulnerable and ambivalent heroine Chelsea, stands out as a troubled young woman forced to battle Jeremy Holm’s oddly charming Ranger. Like Terry O’Quinn’s Stepfather character, The Ranger is very stern about the behavior of others. Visitors to his national park must adhere to a strict code in order to survive. Matters take a turn for the bizarre when the villain strips naked and dons a wolf pelt, howling as he crawls around on all fours.
It’s a wild time in the ‘80’s.
5) The Haunting Of Hill House
A group of adult siblings return to a mysterious mansion they lived in as children.
Though this Netflix series didn’t play in theatres, it IS horror and it WAS filmed. It’s a horror film. I included it here because there is no list without this plot twisty adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s beloved 1959 novel of the supernatural. Nothing has kept me glued to the screen like this tale of the cursed Crain family, who are haunted in equal measure by psychological demons and actual paranormal entities stemming from traumatic events in their past. It’s suspenseful, visually rich and filled with vibrant performances. Also, there are a few terrifying ghosts lurking about.
40 years after terrorizing Laurie Strode, Michael Myers escapes incarceration and returns home.
David Gordon Green’s sequel, which disregards the continuity of all other follow-ups to John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” has left fans of the franchise polarized. Some felt the film was a weaker retread of the original’s plot and were angry over the erasure of every previous sequel’s continuity.
As one horror fan arrogantly put it on social media: “If you like the new Halloween, then you don’t know horror.”
Okay. Let’s look at how brilliantly plotted the sequels ignored by Green’s film were by examining Laurie Strode’s timeline. In “Halloween 2,” Laurie recovers from Michael’s rampage at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. She experiences memories of her childhood in which her mother took her to visit her older brother Michael in the asylum. She is left alone with the glaring boy, despite the fact that the only thing he is known for is killing siblings! In the climax of “Halloween 2,” Michael and Dr. Sam Loomis are both caught in an explosion that kills Loomis and engulfs Michael in flames.
In “Halloween 4,” we learn that Laurie and her husband were killed in a car accident and left behind a daughter named Jamie. Also, both Loomis and Myers are doing great despite being blown up and burned. In “Halloween 6,” we learn that Michael is virtually a mindless automaton controlled by an evil Druid cult doing genetic experiments in a mental institution for no apparent reason. In “Halloween: H20,” Laurie is surprisingly back alive again and she has a son! She faked her own death and escaped Haddonfield. Her daughter Jamie now no longer exists in continuity. In “Halloween: Resurrection,” she finally dies fighting Michael.
Green’s thankfully jettisons all those conflicting plot points and silliness in favor of getting back to the roots of an unknowable embodiment of pure evil stalking the streets of smalltown America on the scariest night of the year. This is as primal as it gets for this genre: the Big Bad Wolf on the hunt for fresh meat; only this time Red Riding Hood has a bunker and guns.
Without question, it’s one of the best sequels in the franchise and a fitting return for a horror legend. Nobody is in control of Michael in this one. Isn’t that the point?
A lumberjack pursues a dangerous cult after the murder of his lover in 1983.
When I first read about the project in 2017, I told myself to calm down.
“Nicolas Cage going apeshit as he slaughters an evil cult. It’s never going to be as amazing as we imagine it.”
I can imagine a lot, but this violet-tinted unfolding dream state of a motion picture was not something I could’ve seen coming. Not only does it give us what we want-Cage losing his mind as only he can against a backdrop of orgiastic violence-it’s beautiful and haunting to look at. Like Andrea Riseborough’s performance as the titular Mandy Bloom, the film itself is beguiling. It captivates with Martian skies and ten foot long chainsaws, Linus Roache’s slithering portrayal of preening cult leader Jeremiah Sand and supernatural bikers from the depths of Hell.
Surreal, completely unique and unforgettable.
An artist and her family experience strange events following the death of a loved one.
Time and again, I hear horror fans bemoaning the lack of original content. Turns out, it’s not all sequels and remakes. This fresh and very original chiller aired trailers so cryptic that I said to myself:
“What is causing the mayhem in this one? What subgenre of horror is this?”
When I took my seat in the theatre, I had only the vaguest idea of what I was in for. It’s the kind of potent and precisely assembled scarefest that can wring shock from a woman simply painting miniature models. From shot composition to nerve-shredding score to script, it’s all top notch. And the performances shine. Toni Collette as the frazzled mother, Alex Wolff as her teenage son, the otherworldly Millie Shapiro as her young daughter and Gabriel Byrne as her low key and affable husband. There was never a moment where I correctly predicted what was coming next, and the denouement is truly something special.
Can a film be this classy, this inventive and still contain two hideous decapitations? Hell yeah!
Two young women are stalked and terrorized by a deadly clown on Halloween night.
The intent of horror as an art form is to turn revulsion and terror into entertainment. If you want warm fuzzy feelings, go watch a Hallmark romance. Horror is meant to make us uneasy, uncomfortable and challenge our limits.
Nowhere on this list is that concept more successfully embodied than in “Terrifier.” It’s grimy, gruesome and captures that filthy grindhouse aura of sleaze and danger.
Remember when you were supposed to be in bed as a kid, but you couldn’t resist that one last peek at the scary movie the adults were watching?
That feeling of seeing the forbidden is back.
Shot in 2016 and released on VOD/streaming services and dvd in 2018, this gem stars David Howard Thornton in a towering performance as Art the Clown. Introduced in 2013’s “All Hallow’s Eve,” Art is your average sadistic and completely silent maniac who butchers his prey in the worst of ways. He’s the clown Pennywise has nightmares about. The practical gore effects, coupled with a bit of CGI, are effective and the overall atmosphere of urban and moral decay makes for one hell of an experience. This is one that’s going to be remembered, and we might just be seeing the rise of a new horror icon.