2018 has been another strong year for horror, and frankly, narrowing this list down to just 10 films was hard. Horror still has work to do in terms of becoming more inclusive, but it’s gradually getting there. Many of the films on my list feature female and foreign directors. Horror always serves as a reflection of our deeper anxieties, and many of the films I picked deal with the very personal, be it grief, skepticism, economic distress, or merely trying to keep your family together in the face of daunting circumstances.
10. Ghost Stories (Directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson)
This British anthology film, based on a play written by its directors, is a quiet, slow creep, ultimately about skepticism versus belief. It has an ending that blends reality and the paranormal and is worth a watch for that segment alone. Watch the trailer by clicking here. Read my review by clicking here.
9. A Quiet Place (Directed by John Krasinski)
Who knew that John Krasinski would direct such an inspired, creative horror film? The first 15 minutes of this film alone make the viewing experience worthwhile. What this creature feature does with sensory deprivation echoes other films like Hush and Don’t Breathe, while still featuring several nail-biting moments. You generally care for this family and their struggle to survive against creatures that are drawn to sound. This was one of horror’s biggest box office successes in 2018, so, of course, Krasinski is already writing the sequel. Watch the trailer by clicking here. Read my review by clicking here.
8. Veronica (Directed by Paco Plaza)
This Spanish film by Rec director Paca Plaza is based on a true story about a teen, Veronica (Sandra Escacena), who was allegedly possessed. This film takes its time building its characters, especially the female lead and her responsibilities taking care of her younger siblings. There are so many scenes in this that are unsettling and downright spooky, so it would be difficult to mention just one. Watch the trailer by clicking here. Side note: I know this film was technically released in 2017, but it was distributed in the states via Netflix over the summer, hence my inclusion of it on this list.
7. Halloween (Directed by David Gordan Green)
This is the Halloween film for the #MeToo era, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as final girl Laurie Strode. Curtis steals the show here, but Michael Myers is once again brutal, a force of nature, killing without reason. John Carpenter returned to the franchise to produce and score the film with his son. Recently, he said that he’s willing to help again with the inevitable sequel to David Gordan Green’s film, at least in terms of scoring it. Halloween was a blockbuster, one that may revive other horror slasher icons. Click here for the trailer. Click here to read my essay on the new Halloween and evolution of the final girl. Long live Michael Myers!
6. Cam (Directed by Daniel Goldhaber)
Simply put, this is one of the best Internet horror films yet, one that illustrates how our online persona overtakes our life and causes us to always perform and always think about likes and Internet reaction. The film draws on the real life experience of writer Isa Mazze’s experience working as a cam girl. This story is both terrifying and sad. The duo of Mazze and Goldhaber said they plan to work together on another social horror film, so we’ll be hearing from them again soon. Watch the trailer for Cam by clicking here.
5. Apostle (Directed by Gareth Evans)
This film about religious fanaticism is not for the faint of heart. It is brutal and gory, featuring a violence that matches the type of religious extremism showcased. For fans of folk horror, like The Wicker Man, this is a must watch. Watch the trailer here. Read my mini essay on Apostle, masculinity, and folk horror by clicking here.
4. Revenge (Directed Coralie Fargeat)
I usually can’t stomach rape/revenge films, but this one is so stylish, powerful, and gory, in the vein of the French extremity films from the previous decade. Director Coralie Fargeat reverses the narrative gaze here and clearly is aware of horror film tropes, including in the rape/revenge ones. She’s another young director to watch. Watch the trailer here. Read my essay on Revenge and its reversal of the gaze over at Horror Homeroom here.
3. Terrified/Aterrados (Directed by Demián Rugna)
It was hard not to place this film on the top of the list. It is probably the most unnerving horror film I watched all year, other than my #1 pick. In the first 15 minutes, a woman is thrashed around a bathroom. In another scene, a little boy, back from the dead somehow, sits at this kitchen table, his skin brown and decayed, leaving police and paranormal investigators befuddled. Recently, Guillermo del Toro said he is interested in creating an American version of this Argentinean film, with Rugna set to direct. Here’s to hoping that happens and that any remake keeps the creepiness factor of this brilliant original. Watch the trailer by clicking here . Read my review by clicking here.
2. Mandy (Directed by Panos Casmatos)
I never liked Nicolas Cage, and then I saw Mandy. Cage plays Red, who sets out to avenge his wife after she’s killed by a Manson-like cult. This film is awash in red tones and at times, it feels like a fever dream through the various layers of hell. Cage is stellar, even when he’s chugging vodka and screaming alone in a bathroom. If you haven’t seen Mandy yet, do it! Watch the trailer by clicking here. Read my review here.
1. Hereditary (Directed by Ari Aster)
How could this not make the #1 spot? This is a film worth re-watching and re-watching for the cinematography and clues laced throughout each frame. Toni Collette deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance in this. She is outstanding, playing a mother dealing with one loss after another. This is one of the rare films that lived up to the hype. Watch the trailer here.Read my review over at Horror Homeroom here.
Honorable Mentions: Annihilation, The Ritual, Upgrade, Overlord, The Witch in the Window, Summer of 84
Horror TV I binged in 2018: “The Terror,” “Channel Zero,” and even “The Walking Dead,” which has found some new life under Angela Kang’s direction
Looking ahead to 2019: Next year should be another big year for horror. Jordan Peele is releasing his next film entitled Us. Not much is known about this film yet, but it stars Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecke. Robert Eggers is set to release his follow-up to 2015’s The Witch. The Lighthouse is another horror film, this one shot in black and white, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Like The Witch, The Lighthouse will be released and distributed by A24. The likely blockbusters will be the remake of Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery and the second chapter of It, set for release in October. Keep an eye out for French director Alexandre Aje’s latest film entitled Crawl, set to be released by Paramount Pictures. Meanwhile, as my list for 2018 shows, there should be several films worth watching from young, innovative directors as well as foreign directors. Those films will probably fly under the radar for now, so keep your eyes peeled.
Bring on 2019!