Written by Drew Schadegg
@SumOfAllFearPod on Twitter
The last few years have seen a renaissance in the horror genre, from kickass original movies and shows on Netflix, Hulu and Shudder to big budget releases that are killing it in the box office. It's a great time to be a horror fan! So breaking down the highlights of 2018 was not an easy task.
Here's our attempt at Sum of All Fear to pick the 10 best horror movies/shows of the year.
The first half of this fever dream of a film is a slow build and understandably it's going to lose some people, but if you can hang on you'll be rewarded with some of the grittiest, nuttiest, off-the-rails revenge horror that you've ever seen. Complete with Hellraiser Cenobite-like mutant bikers from hell and a Manson-esque cult, the performances sway from borderline comedy to scary intense.
Andrea Riseborough plays Mandy and brings an ethereal, other worldy energy that lays the groundwork for the fantasy world you find yourself thrown into.
It's not a movie for everyone, but between the artistic elements and scenes like an unhinged, bloody Cage pounding a bottle of booze in a bathroom wearing nothing but his tighty whities and a sick tiger t-shirt, it's definitely earned the #10 slot for 2018.
Alright, the much anticipated sequel that picks up 40 years after the original Halloween (1978) is just a ton of fun. It took some jabs from the overcritical per usual, but ultimately if you're a lover of the franchise, this David Gordon Green directed film pays off for the fans.
Written by a team of Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride (of Eastbound and Down fame) Halloween finds our favorite scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising her role as Laurie Strode. Far from the frightened teenager being stalked by her deranged brother, older, more mature Strode is a reclusive, militant prepper, ready for the inevitable reunion with the Shape that is Michael Myers.
Though she's ready and waiting, her daughter (Judy Greer) and her family just think grandma has gone off the rails. When Myers escapes while being transported to a new mental facility, grandma's hard work and planning pays off.
Is it the greatest slasher film of all-time? No. Is it a fun, exciting addition to the Halloween franchise that will give you all the thrills you've been looking for with a bunch of nerdy Easter eggs, one-liners and great special effects? Absolutely.
Technically, Mayhem premiered in late 2017, but we're gonna toss it in anyway. Let's just get this out of the way right now. THIS MOVIE IS BADASS. Honestly, it could probably be ranked higher, but it's hard with so many great titles releasing this year. Either way, well deserving of a top ten pick.
A Shudder Exclusive, Mayhem was directed by Joe Lynch and stars Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead and Samara Weaving from The Babysitter on Netflix (and side note, if you haven't subscribed to Shudder yet, you're missing out on a shit-ton of excellently curated horror movies, both classics and originals).
Mayhem takes the traditional killer virus trope and turns it on it's head, centering all the action on a cutthroat, corrupt, corporate law firm that is ripe with sociopaths. Oh, and this particular bug causes you to lose all impulse control; lust, greed, violence, you name it. Once the virus gets in, the place is on lock down and it turns into an adult version of Lord of the Flies.
Enter recently fired Derek Cho (Yeung) and the former client who was screwed by the firm Melanie Cross (Weaving). So what do you do when you have a legitimate medical excuse to lose all control? You enact some hardcore revenge on the company that has done you wrong and you do it with style!
Some great gore and a crazy-unique story make Mayhem one of our favorites of the year. Definitely a must-watch!
Art the Clown. Not gonna be hired to entertain at your kid's next birthday party.
This Damien Leone directed movie is just pure brutal, sadistic, gory, fun-filled, killer clown violence. It doesn't spend a lot of time on character development, but on this particular Halloween night you better hope you don't cross paths with Art the Clown. He'll make sure you die, and he'll be giddy and laughing while he's doing it.
Though originally released in the festival world a couple years ago, this gleeful display of mayhem and mania was finally released by Dread Central in 2018 and can be streamed on Netflix.
Three girls out partying on Halloween run into Art the Clown on the street and in a pizza place. He's super duper creepy, but they're not sure if he's "fun" creepy or "chop your head off" creepy. Unfortunately for them, he's definitely the latter.
This movie doesn't present us with anything particular groundbreaking or genre-changing, however it definitely gives us a new potential horror icon that (if we were placing bets) is going to be getting his own franchise. It's been a while since we've had a throwback to the Jasons and Freddys... welcome to the horror era of Art the Clown. Don't lose your head.
6. SATAN'S SLAVES (PENGABDI SETAN)
Again, if you don't have Shudder yet and you're a horror fan, just... why?
Two foreign horror films blew our minds this year and Satan's Slaves was one of them. From Indonesian director Joko Anwar, this is a family haunting, house horror with some excellent jump scares and realistic effects. It was nice to watch a movie that kept you on the edge of your seat with those tingly, up-your-arm goosebumps going the whole time. When you watch as many horror movies as we do, it doesn't always happen as much as it used to.
The story follows an elderly grandmother, father, eldest daughter and two younger sons, dealing with the passing of their mother after a prolonged illness. After her death, it is learned that the mother was infertile and resorted to joining a satanic cult in order to have children (they impregnate her kind of Rosemary's Baby like). Unfortunately, now that she's dead Satan wants to reclaim what's his... the youngest child.
The family is visited by poltergeists, demons, members of the cult and other strange happenings and bond together to try and protect each other.
A really well made film and definitely one of the scariest of the year!
5. A QUIET PLACE
This one didn't get viewed until this week, mostly because the hype was everywhere and sometimes that leads to disappointment. A Quiet Place has been getting slammed a lot in the last couple weeks as "overrated" too, which always seems to be trendy when a film gets a lot of praise.
In this case, our opinion is that A Quiet Place was an original film that had suspense, jumps and took a screenplay with almost no dialogue and kept you engaged the whole time. It felt like something that could have been placed right in the middle of the Cloverfield universe, which we heard at one time was the plan.
For those that haven't seen it, A Quiet Place follows a family that is in a post-apocalyptic world that is terrorized by some sort of alien monsters that feed based on sound. In order to survive the family must adapt to live in silence or dire consequences will (and do) occur.
Props to Krasinski for doing something a little different. Definitely worthy of the accolades, so if you've been holding back get this one streaming on your TV now.
4. YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER
ANOTHER Shudder Exclusive, this was hands down the most giddy we've been watching a movie this year! Heard nothing about it until it dropped into the Shudder app around Halloween and saw it was starring Alyson Hannigan (who needs no introduction) and Fran Kranz (the stoner from Cabin in the Woods). We knew You Might Be The Killer needed to be watched immediately.
Was not disappointed! Being a big fan of the self-aware "meta" horror genre already, the plot of this Brett Simmons directed movie was a perfect play on classic horror cliches.
Sam (Fran Kranz) is a camp counselor preparing other counselors for the season, when.... SURPRISE...they start popping up dead. What does he do when he needs advice on how to survive this real-life slasher movie? He calls his best friend Chuck (Hannigan) who is a horrorphile working in a genre/comic book store. After dissecting the various plot points they come to the conclusion that Sam has been blacking out and that...GASP...NOT REALLY A BIG SPOILER...Sam is the killer!
With more horror tropes and craziness than you can shake a machete at, makes this a no-doubter for the Top 10. You WILL be entertained!
3. TERRIFIED (ATERRADOS)
Mentioned that there were two foreign horror movies that made the list and this is number two. It's also a Shudder Original and believe it or not, we do watch tons of stuff outside of Shudder, but that is just how damn good their movies are. Plus, as a side note, they brought back Joe Bob Briggs to do THREE marathons this year and he'll have his own weekly show in 2019!! So... awesome.
Terrified is an Argentinian film by director Demian Rugna and it follows a cop and some paranormal researchers, investigating some super creepy shit that's been going on in a neighborhood in Buenos Aires.
From start to finish it has some of the most stick-with-you horror moments of the year, with some spectacularly gruesome scenes. The kitchen table. Phew. That image won't leave your head for a while. Also, some of the best jump scares too.
Aesthetically, it reminded us of another excellent foreign horror film from a few years back, the Turkish movie Baskin. Just a really dark, gritty, hellish vibe to it.
Don't let the subtitles keep you away, this is one of the scariest films of the year.
If you're a big horror nut, Hereditary being in the top two isn't going to come as a shocker. Surprisingly, this movie was really polarizing. Within the horror community, it was pretty universally loved. Outside, however, with the casual horror fans, it did not do that well. Loved it or hated it seemed to be the reaction.
Well, we loved it and firmly believe that this movie is going to be an enduring horror classic that will, in time, rank up there with Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist. One of the problems from a marketing perspective was that it was billed as the "scariest move you'll ever see." Dumb plan marketing people. Lots of folks showed up expecting to be hopping out of their seats every five minutes. That was not what Hereditary was. It was a slow burn. Still very scary, but not those kind of scares.
Director Ari Aster expertly crafted a story of a family mired in tragedy, trying to deal with the psychological ramifications, while uncovering a much darker, sinister secret that would eventually play itself out in a supernatural twist of an ending.
This film was just a seething stew of unnerving plot lines. With incredible performances by Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff that unsurprisingly were snubbed by the awards shows, that consistently consider horror the red-headed stepchild.
Can't say enough about this one...it'll have you floating in the corner of your living room sawing your head off with excitement!
1. HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE
We intentionally didn't title this the "Top 10 Horror Movies of 2018" because we knew there would be people who would give us shit about including the Netflix Original Horror Series, The Haunting of Hill House (because technically it's a show, I guess?) and there just was no contest as to what was going to be in our #1 spot this year.
Mike Flanagan BRAVO SIR! This was one of the most expertly crafted pieces of cinema ever created. That's not an overstatement. From the cinematography, to the way in which the film hit you psychologically, to the expertly crafted set pieces, to the absolutely incredible acting (from both the adults and children), to the well-timed scary moments, to the little details placed in the backgrounds, to the ghosts/monsters. Just perfection.
A lot has been said about this, but just Episode 6 alone is worthy of tremendous accolades. It tugs at every emotional part of you, but it's also just technically one of the most beautiful things put to film, with it basically being one continual shot from beginning to end. The actors had to do 18 page scenes without a cut and Flanagan said it was the "product of hundreds of people executing hundreds of tasks." Absolutely incredible.
Beyond that, as you will come to see with the future endeavors at Sum Of All Fear, we really like the psychological side of horror and Hill House gave us all we could handle. If you don't break down in tears at least once during this series, you might need to check your empathy levels. Family struggles, addiction, death, sibling rivalry, parental failings, you name it, Hill House tackles it. The ghosts in our emotional lives are just as real as any monster that could be standing at the edge of our bed. More real...and more terrifying.
Aside from (or maybe as a result of) the truly impactful emotional stuff, Hill House legitimately kept me up at night. Like woke up at 3:00 am scared to go back to sleep. So there is that, also.
Truly great film impacts more than just your senses. It challenges your entire perspective on the human condition. The Haunting of Hill House does just that and therefore worthy of the top spot this year.
This was a really great year for movies, so not all the good stuff made it on the list. Here's a few runners up that deserve your time.
The Ritual - David Bruckner of V/H/S fame directs a film about 4 guys connected by tragedy hiking in the Scandinavian wilderness and get caught up in some ancient Norse evil.
Channel Zero - This launched in 2016, but every season is unique. Some really twisted stuff in this series.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - This is definitely not the Sabrina of the 90's sitcom. Very dark and a little disturbing. Really beautiful set work and cinematography too.
Veronica - Spanish possession/ haunting movie based on a true story. This one could have easily slid into the Top Ten.
Drew Schadegg is a full-time writer and co-host (with his with Kris) of the Sum Of All Fear Podcast where they breakdown clinical phobias and the horror movies that prey on them. Kris is a practicing Mental Health Therapist and Drew is a Marketing Director and Writer with degrees in history and theology.