Horror as a genre has been looked upon as an uphill task because scaring someone is not a walk in the park. And that notion has been further bolstered for the last few years due to the increasing dependency on jump scares.
However, with entries like ‘Get Out’, ‘A Dark Song’, ‘Train To Busan’ etc. horror movies have found its footing again, with directors focusing more on atmosphere, story and character development. And in 2018, the genre has truly peaked with some marvelous entries.
Disclaimer: I’ve obviously not watched every single horror movie in 2018, either due to its nonavailability or my laziness. So, the list is based off of the 33 movies that I’ve gotten around to watching. Also, a SPOILER ALERT is in effect.
From Steven Soderbergh’s stalker-horror to John Krasinksi’s creature-feature, here are the 15 best horror movies from 2018.
15. Still/Born (dir. Brandon Christensen)
This movie uses postpartum psychosis (psychosis after childbirth) as the base for all its scares, and with a newly-born child in the mix, you’re bound to be clenching your fist to get through some nerve-wracking sequences. And thanks to a stellar performance by Christie Burke, ‘Still/Born’ is one helluva ride for new parents.
14. The Dark (dir. Justin P. Lange)
‘The Dark’ is an interesting take on the vampire lore, as it pairs a blood-thirsty demon with an equally damaged kid. In doing so, Lange creates some thought-provoking questions and gut-wrenching interactions. And to top it all off, the make-up on both the central characters, is exceptional.
13. Unsane (dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Shot entirely on the iPhone 7, the ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ director’s take on the horrors of being stalked, makes for a grimy and sickening watch. Throughout the run-time of the movie, he not only questions Sawyer’s (played brilliantly by Claire Foy) perception of reality, but also turns our reliance on shrinks and mental health experts, into our worst nightmare.
12. Stree (dir. Amar Kaushik)
Thanks to N. Madhusudan’s excellent production design, once you enter the sleepy town of Chanderi, you never leave it (just like Stree). The movie uses the framework of horror to shine a lot of light on a real-life horror that India is fighting with: toxic masculinity. And although Kaushik sugarcoats the film with laughs, the underlying message is bound to get through.
11. Pyewacket (dir. Adam MacDonald)
A significant chunk of this film deals with the guilt of invoking a force of nature that’s beyond our control. And MacDonald keeps building on that sense of impending doom, only to deliver a bare-knuckled punch to the face in the form of the gut-wrenching third act that’ll keep you awake for nights.
10. The Nun (dir. Corin Hardy)
This ‘The Conjuring’ prequel is probably the only conventional horror film on this list. But it deserves a shout-out because of its top notch cinematography (by Maxime Alexandre) and consistent use of practical effects. Considering how the whole movie takes in one place, you’d be lying if you said you never felt claustrophobic while watching it.
9. The Cured (dir. David Freyne)
‘The Cured’ focuses on one basic question that none of us (or at least me) have asked while watching any zombie movie ever: what if the zombies got cured but remembered everything they’ve done? And in an attempt to answer that, Freyne gives a compelling commentary on human nature, creates one of the best antagonists in horror history and offers a ton of nail-biting scares.
8. Mandy (dir. Panos Cosmatos)
With Nicolas Cage at the helm, Panos turns a seemingly ordinary revenge movie into a biblical journey, full of luscious visuals, delicious practical effects, a psychedelic score and pacing that feels like a clenched fist. It’s certainly Cage’s best performance in years and a gore-fest with an emotional core.
7. Tumbbad (dir.(s) Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi, Adesh Prasad)
‘Tumbbad’ is an outstanding achievement in terms of direction, cinematography, production design and score. And the way it infuses mythology with the venomous nature of inherited characteristics (in this case, greed) is just mind-blowing. In short, it’s the best horror movie you’ve seen in Indian cinema, period.
6. Ghost Stories (dir. Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman)
After seeing the names of British comedic legends like Paul Whitehouse and Martin Freeman, you might make the mistake of thinking that ‘Ghost Stories’ is going to be a fun ride. But right from its first story, Nyman and Dyson will make you scream in horror, while slipping in some clever use of sound design. Oh! And the twist will leave you with a cold feeling in your heart and a new perspective on a certain aspect of life.
5. Cam (dir. Daniel Goldhaber)
Given how I had no idea of the world of cam girls, this movie took me completely by surprise and disturbed me to the core. And thanks to an equally disturbing twist (based on a fear internet users like us have all the time), Goldhaber deftly turns technology into a monster that we wouldn’t want to face in our lifetime.
4. Don’t Leave Home (dir. Michael Tully)
Tully’s representation of horror is extremely subdued as he paints every frame of the movie with deliberately slow strokes of anxiety. Why the painting analogy? Because the movie subverts the gift of artistry to show it as a curse. And although the Irish setting is extremely cozy, you cannot shake-off the uneasy feeling of Helena Bereen’s gaze while watching it.
3. A Quiet Place (dir. John Krasinski)
John Krasinski’s directorial debut is undoubtedly one of the most original entries into the genre as he makes sound humanity’s biggest enemy. But instead of using it just as a gimmick, Krasinki builds on this already unnerving premise to tell a heart-warming story about a family surviving in a hostile environment.
2. Revenge (dir. Coralie Fargeat)
If you take Ted Kotcheff’s puke-inducing ‘Wake In Fright’ and mix it with some ‘Rambo’, you get the adrenaline-pumping, bloody revenge-saga that is ‘Revenge’. Additionally, you get to feast on tons of body horror, some of the best visual storytelling in modern cinema and one of the most iconic protagonists in the genre in the form of Matilda Lutz’s brilliantly-acted Jen.
1. Hereditary (dir. Ari Aster)
If ‘Tumbbad’ dealt with the ugliness of inherited physical properties, ‘Hereditary’ delves into the disturbing nature of inherited family traits. While the first two acts of Aster’s modern classic contains tons of shock horror and a goosebumps-inducing monologue by Toni Collette, it’s the jaw-dropping third act that’ll give you a lot of sleepless nights.
And that’s the end of my list. How many of these have you watched already? Are there any horror movies that you think deserves a mention? Please let me know in the comments.