These Are The Best Horror Movies Of 2018


2018 has already delivered a number of standout
horror movies, many of them flying under the radar of most moviegoers – so we’ve collected
our favorites in this list, making it easier than ever to find some gold in this ever-growing
content heap. Subtlety and style don’t often rule the box
office, particularly when it comes to genre fare; the horror landscape has been frequently
dominated by in-your-face slashers, squeamish torture marathons, and gritty found-footage
outings. It can come as a pleasant surprise, then,
when a movie gets enough of a budget for some striking visuals while remaining quiet enough
to leave you with lingering questions and a genuine sense of unease. Alex Garland, an author and screenwriter who
made his directorial debut with the 2015 sci-fi sleeper hit Ex Machina, returned in 2018 with
Annihilation. Hailed by critics with phrases like “heady
nightmare fuel,” Garland’s sophomore effort deftly blends a metaphor-laced space invasion
story with creeping dread and uncanny imagery. Though it was a financial disappointment in
theaters, word of mouth has only continued to build around Annihilation since its home
video release. Its big ideas and its cast of fan favorite
actors ensure that it will continue to be discovered by audiences for years to come. Humor and horror frequently rely on a similar
set of tools for surprising the audience, and lately, comedy superstars are making that
leap with gusto. Jordan Peele’s expertise in satirical sketches
brought Get Out to terrifying life, and Eastbound and Down creators Danny McBride and David
Gordon Green blended their penchant for slapstick with real scare power for Halloween. Between those two crossovers, The Office star
John Krasinski made an impressive turn as director, co-writer, and star of A Quiet Place. Perhaps it was his nine seasons enduring painfully
awkward pauses at Dunder Mifflin that prepared Krasinski to pull off the harrowing tension
of A Quiet Place. “Our prices have never been lower.” “Son, you have to talk louder.” “Never been lower!” “Louder, son!” “BUTTLICKER! OUR PRICES HAVE NEVER BEEN LOWER!” “Okay, stop it.” The movie captured the attention of audiences
and critics when it crept into theaters in April, with its clever premise and minimalist
presentation that leaves much to the imagination. Its tiny cast is rounded out with a stellar
performance by Emily Blunt, newcomer Noah Jupe, and young deaf actress Millicent Simmonds,
who made sure that the film’s portrayal of life for a family with a deaf child remained
authentic. Many of the best horror films reflect the
cultural tenor of their time, extrapolating new technologies or societal shifts into speculative
tales of terror. Even stories that seem conceptually downright
silly can tap into frighteningly real anxieties that are on the audience’s mind, or will be
in the near future. Such is the case with Upgrade, a schlocky
bit of body horror that plays on the moral questions surrounding artificial intelligence
and billionaire tech entrepreneurs. In a not-too-distant future where computer-assisted
body modification is the norm, a mechanic named Grey remains staunchly defensive of
his own humanity, refusing to become augmented. That is, until a malfunction by his self-driving
car leaves his wife dead and himself wheelchair-bound. Enter tech innovator Eron Keen, who offers
to restore Grey’s motor functions with his newest AI chip. As any horror aficionado could guess, this
melding of man and machine has some gruesome results. Directed by Leigh Whannell of Saw fame and
produced by genre juggernaut Blumhouse, Upgrade blends topical concerns with an old-fashioned
sense of gritty grindhouse fun. “I need your permission to operate independently.” “Permission granted!” “Thank you.” Surprisingly receptive critics have also praised
its sharp humor and tight plotting. Horror anthologies have a long and storied
history across a variety of media. Movies have had mixed success with the format,
though, as getting audiences to sit still for two hours of short stories can be a challenge. After the 1980s saw the release of the cult
favorite Creepshow and the infamously disastrous Twilight Zone: The Movie, horror anthology
films went mostly dormant until recent years, when Trick ‘r Treat and the V/H/S series became
Halloween staples. In 2018, American audiences were treated to
an import of a new British horror anthology, Ghost Stories. The project began its life as a stage play
by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, who adapted it into a film starring Nyman, Paul Whitehouse,
and Martin Freeman. The story follows a professor known for debunking
hoaxes as he investigates three cases of alleged paranormal activity. The lines between reality and fiction blur
as the anthology builds to a startlingly surreal climax, all of which earned largely positive
reviews. Zombies and vampires may have had recent moments
in the sun, but werewolves are a monster vein that remains largely untapped in current pop
culture. That only adds to the joy in watching as Wildling
slowly reveals its supernatural elements while weaving a smart and sympathetic character
study. Like most classic tales of lupine transformation,
it’s a coming-of-age story, designed to do for young women of today what Ginger Snaps
did in 2000. “Ginger?” The feature debut from director Fritz Böhm,
Wildling is buoyed by performances from genre favorites Liv Tyler and Brad Dourif, best
known to horror hounds as the voice of Chucky. Bel Powley takes the lead as Anna, a teenage
girl who is rescued by the local sheriff after growing up under the abusive thumb of a father
figure who claimed to be protecting her from man-eating creatures outside. Wildling has been hailed by critics for its
powerhouse performances and striking visuals. The Hollywood Reporter listed it as one of
the ten best films debuting at SXSW, and it’s definitely one of the best horror films of
2018. Netflix has spent the last few years ramping
up their output of original content, and the results have been mixed, to say the least. Freed from the need to sell tickets and relying
largely on word-of-mouth for publicity, the streaming platform’s release strategies have
created a new arena of risks and surprises. For every pop culture smash like Stranger
Things, there’s a misguided fizzle like Disjointed. For every big-budget disappointment like Bright,
there’s a hidden gem like Cargo. With the glut of zombie fare over the past
decade, it’s understandable that a drama about the walking dead might get lost in the shuffle
and shamble. Cargo, however, brings some fresh brains to
the sub-genre with a quiet story about one family’s post-outbreak life in rural Australia. Directed by the filmmaking team of Ben Howling
and Yolanda Ramke and anchored by an understated but intense performance by Martin Freeman,
Cargo was favorably compared by critics to the works of George A. Romero and John Hillcoat. A24 has established itself as a distributor
of movies by up-and-coming filmmakers who are ready to balance nuanced stories with
stylish visuals, all on a small budget. Their greatest success to date is probably
Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture winner Moonlight, but they also secured a place in the hearts
of horror fans with The Witch and It Comes at Night – and they continued that hot streak
in 2018 with another low-key creepfest, Hereditary. The feature debut from writer/director Ari
Aster, Hereditary sets out to unnerve you with a cornucopia of disturbing omens, bizarre
visuals, and surreal nightmare logic. Critics immediately got behind it in a big
way, heaping particular praise on the lead performance by Toni Collette. Interestingly, Hereditary seems to have caused
a polarizing split between critics and audiences, as evidenced by the wide gap between its critic
and audience scores at Rotten Tomatoes. Regardless, it’s been a smashing success at
the box office, having already made back its budget several times over. Everyone who buys a ticket to a Nicolas Cage
vehicle knows to expect something bonkers. Even that won’t prepare you for Mandy, a surreal
experience in sound, color, and vengeance. The entire cast turn in mesmerizing performances
in this second film from director Panos Cosmatos. Set in the early 1980s, Mandy is the story
of a man taking violent revenge against a religious cult and the supernatural forces
allied with them. But recounting the plot of Mandy doesn’t really
tell you anything about why it works. On paper, it’s a fairly cliched revenge story,
but Cosmatos’ style elevates the movie to a mythic, hypnotic level. The movie builds to a fevered climax, immersing
us in its heroes’ heavy metal and fantasy novel-inspired worldview. Really, nothing we could say here would explain
why critics loved Mandy. You’re just going to have to experience it
for yourself. The word “risky” doesn’t often apply to long-running
franchises, but 2018’s Halloween had no right to be as successful as it was. Though masked murderer Michael Myers remains
a towering horror icon, John Carpenter’s 1978 original is the only movie in the series to
hold unquestioned classic status. Its four-decade run has been rife with multiple
retcons, reboots, and a general sense of diminishing returns. From Eastbound and Down’s Danny McBride and
David Gordon Green, the newest iteration of Halloween had a troubled road of its own,
but fans’ interest was piqued when Carpenter came on board as producer and composer. The hype intensified when Jamie Lee Curtis
signed on to reprise her star-making role as Laurie Strode. Things were shaping up, but with a writer
and director team more versed in comedy than horror, it was still hard to guess what we
were in for. What we got was a lean, thrilling sequel that
eschewed complicated slasher lore in favor of a story about time and trauma. Rather than put Michael front and center,
the movie makes his killing spree the backdrop to Laurie’s fractured relationships with her
daughter and granddaughter. When the Shape does strike, though, he’s as
clever and brutal as ever. Audiences and critics got behind the revival
in a big way, proving that this Halloween was at last a worthy successor to its legendary
namesake. With J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company
behind it, audiences could be forgiven for suspecting that Overlord might turn out to
be a stealth Cloverfield movie. Even when Abrams denied the connection during
the film’s production, it still seemed like yet another bit of deception. It wasn’t, though – Overlord isn’t a Cloverfield
movie. No, really. It does, however, have a traditional Abrams-style
mashup of human drama with supernatural horror. The movie follows a platoon of Allied soldiers
in World War II who encounter a Nazi laboratory full of horrifying creatures. Critics appreciated its skilled blend of war
movie and horror movie tropes, with one reviewer comparing Overlord favorably to Night of the
Living Dead and declaring it a future cult classic. Horror remakes don’t often achieve prestige
status, but that certainly happened in 2018 with Suspiria. Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino
completely reimagined Dario Argento’s 1977 cult favorite, twisting its bones into a deep
meditation on themes like identity, manipulation, loss, and rebellion. It even threads the very idea of being a “remake”
into its own story, as dance student Susie is slowly and irreversibly changed by her
efforts to follow in the footsteps of her enigmatic instructor, Madame Blanc. The response to Guadagnino’s film has been
nothing short of polarized. A glance at Rotten Tomatoes reveals a critical
opinion resting comfortably in the middle percentages. Unlike many films with such a lukewarm average,
though, Suspiria landed there because of a hard split between individual reviewers – people
either really loved it or very much did not. A discerning crowd at the Cannes Film Festival
gave its premiere a rousing ovation, but there’s no shortage of critics quite literally calling
it garbage. Suspiria may well either be a horror fan’s
favorite or least favorite film of 2018, but the passionate reaction it’s inspired certainly
suggests it won’t be forgotten any time soon.

100 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *