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Top 25 Best Horror Movies Of 2018

New: Top 10 Best Horror Movies 2018 Let’s count down the best horror movies of 2018. The scary list features the usual mix of remakes (‘Suspiria’), spinoffs (‘Venom’), adapted novels (‘The Ritual’), adapted plays (‘Ghost Stories’), sequel-cancelling-sequels (‘Halloween’) and original fare (‘Mandy’).

It was a good year for suburban serial killers (‘Clovehitch Killer’, ‘Summer of 84’, ‘House That Jack Built’). One entry had a budget of $130 million (‘The Meg’), while another was shot on an iPhone (‘Unsane’). 2018 also highlighted how obsessive passion and respect for the source material makes for the best horror updates (‘Suspiria’, ‘Halloween’), as opposed to having “fun” with a beloved franchise (‘The Predator’).

So, these are the top 25 best horror movies 2018 birthed, in an explosion of blood. Let me know your favourites, or any I missed, in the comments.

25th  Hell Fest
Starring: Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Tony Todd
Director: Gregory Plotkin
Released: September 28, 2018 (U.S. Dates)
Budget: $5m | Box Office: $11m (U.S. Theatrical)

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Best Horror Movies 2018

 -Seen It-  Six teens take a trip to Hell Fest, a huge horror-themed park bustling with visitors and costumed actors hired to scare. But in amongst the haunted houses and mazes a real masked killer latches on and starts stalking the group. Picking them off unnoticed in a place already filled with screams and ‘corpses’… Director Gregory Plotkin is an established editor and cut three of the best genre films of recent times: ‘Game Night’, ‘Happy Death Day’ and ‘Get Out’. However as director, his only prior credit is ‘Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension’. ‘Hell Fest’ is a throwback to 80s slasher horror in an unironic or knowing way, running through the same ideas. It’s aimed at teens and the conversations are inane, failing to develop anyone to care about. The forced fun they are trying to emote is grating and the “funny one” is so unbearable that it’s hard not to will her death. There are some nice ideas in here, but they’re undeveloped. Here are three examples: (1) The park is an interesting setting and they make a couple of good points about the mechanics (“Look at the hands”) but it would been significantly more interesting if they had broken out from the little-to-say six-teen-friends cliche and had characters from across the setting, giving more insight and embracing random teen victims in an always busy locale. (2) A frail Tony Todd is wheeled out briefly as an MC for the park, his voice is still sinisterly wonderful, but it’s just a remember-this-guy cameo. In one accidental moment he seems to be talking directly to the killer over the tannoys. This could have been a good psychosis dynamic for a very underwritten villain. (3) There’s almost a dramatic public execution scene, which would have been a dynamite way of panicking the whole park. They cop out, but given what happens minutes later it would have been no inconvenience narratively… What does work nicely are some of the victim’s performances in the final moments, since they don’t react with any fear to the killer it becomes quite realistically conversational. The first main-cast murder is disturbing in part for this reason, while the protagonist unwittingly encouraging a real murder is another good moment. If you’re particularly drawn to also-ran old school slashers, and all their frustrating weaknesses, you’ll get some value from ‘Hellfest’.

24th  Pyewacket
Starring: Nicole Muñoz, Laurie Holden
Director: Adam MacDonald
Released: March 23, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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 -Seen It-  An angst-ridden teen (Muñoz, TV’s ‘Defiance’) finds solace from the death of her father, and from the strained relationship with her controlling mother (Holden, ‘Walking Dead’), by dabbling in the occult. But a traumatic house move and blow out argument lead her to do the unthinkable: put a death curse on her mother. No sooner has the ritual been performed than she regrets it. But it may be too late, as an dark presence known as Pyewacket slowly emerges, threatening to destroy them both… ‘Pyewacket’ plays like a cautionary tale (don’t put a death spell on ur mom dumbass, unless you’ve really thought about it first…), based on a simple but psychologically powerful premise. The central mother-daughter psychodrama makes it an intriguing watch, with the lead performance a decent one. But the film ultimately feels thin and low on ambition. The lore is minimal and despite being short (88 mins), the build up is slow and it’s all suggested presence until the last 15 minutes. It leans quite a bit on audio jumpscares using household objects during scene transitions, and the presence moments, while fine, don’t break any new ground. As a result it’s less scary than occasionally eerie, with a payoff that’s increasingly predictable. P.S. Pyewacket is a common name for a witch’s familiar, and was the name of the character pictured below here.

23rd  The Nun
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Jonas Bloquet
Director: Corin Hardy
Released: September 7, 2018 | Budget: $22m | Box Office: $117m

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 -Seen It-  1952. After a nun in a Romanian monastery hangs herself, a Vatican-appointed priest (Bichir, ‘Alien: Covenant’) and a young unordained nun (Farmiga, ‘The Final Girls’) are sent to investigate if the monastic ground is still holy. Assisting them is a local man (Bloquet, ‘Elle’), who discovered the body. Struggling to speak to the nuns within the monastery walls, they soon come under attack from the titular demonic being… From the director of decent Irish horror ‘The Hallow’ and the screenwriter of both ‘Annabelle’ films. Star Taissa Farmiga is the (much) younger sister of Vera Farmiga (21 years), who starred in both ‘Conjuring’ films in a similar investigative role. ‘The Nun’ is the highest grossing of the ‘Conjuring’ films ($350m worldwide from a $22m budget), but it doesn’t deserve it. On the positive, it’s nice to see the series try a gothic horror, the monastic setting is an intriguing one. The productions values are good and several of the jump scares work. However, the scare sequences are turned up to 11 almost on arrival and stay there, each playing like the bombastic finale. In between, the character development goes nowhere, the absence of interesting dynamics between the leads causes boredom. It’s never properly explained why the young Nun was sent there. And ironically for an origin story about the demonic Nun, it tells us nothing about her, except she was originally somewhere else. The film doesn’t allow us to get to know any of the other nuns at the monastery either. It seems like a no-brainer that an all female cast of nuns dealing with the emergence of evil would have been a far better enterprise.

22nd  Apostle
Starring: Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, Lucy Boynton, Mark Lewis Jones, Bill Milner
Director: Gareth Evans
Released: October 12, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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 -Seen It-  1905. A troubled drifter (Stevens, ‘The Guest’) is sent undercover to an island-based cult, to locate his kidnapped sister. There he finds a paranoid trio of founders (inc. Sheen) in a power struggle, and a mystical diety requiring daily blood-letting. As he struggles to avoid being unmasked as an outsider, the surrounding infighting boils over into violent murder… From the Welsh writer-director of brilliant Indonesian martial arts actioners ‘The Raid’ and ‘The Raid 2’, this sees him return to home soil and try his hand at horror. What sets this apart is the centerpiece murders, which are gory, brutal fights to the death, with both sides gets horribly mutilated. Whenever it switches to these tussles, or to brief action moments, the choreography and kinetic camerawork are brilliant. But the film also illustrates that he’s strayed too far from his wheelhouse because the rest of it doesn’t quite work. While it does create a good sense of a living, breathing community, and there are plenty of tension-filled sequences, the 2 hours 10 mins run time is too long and the pace often slack. Most problematically it’s a grim and depressing watch, with no humour and not quite enough charm from Stevens to carry it. It evokes anger and sadness, but little enjoyment, the hero has to be cowardly as people are executed, while the latter fights to the death aren’t satisfying because the person you’re rooting for either loses or is so f**ked up physically that it feels like little victory. ‘Apostle’ is not without merit, but Evans should return to martial arts action as that really is his gift to cinema.

21st  Veronica
Starring: Sandra Escacena, Claudia Placer, Bruna Gonzalez
Director: Paco Plaza
Released: March 3, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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Top 10 best horror films of 2018

 -Seen It-  Madrid, 1991. A 15 year old schoolgirl is left responsible for her young siblings while her mother works long hours. When she plays Ouija during an eclipse hoping to connect with her dead father, it summons an evil supernatural force which gradually besieges her and pushes her to the edge… Based on the “real” case, this Spanish-language chiller comes from the co-director of ‘Rec’ and ‘Rec 2’, who also solo-directed (the panned) ‘Rec 3’. The ideas here are familiar to any ghostly chiller and it’s hard to see that the actual case had enough to warrant a film. For all its effort there isn’t much of a sense of danger either. The lead actress, making her debut, is fine but the character is dull: She does housework, there’s no adult conversation, it’s a boring life. However by nature of its Spanish setting it gathers some interest. There are some creative shot choices, creepy moments (most memorably the eclipse sequence) and a certain intensity toward the end. It’s passable, but non-essential.

20th  Anna And The Apocalypse
Starring: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Paul Kaye, Marli Siu, Sarah Swire
Director: John McPhail
Released: November 30, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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 -Seen It-  Scottish Christmas zombie musical. Anna is in her final year of secondary school and yearns to go travelling. Her best friend meanwhile yearns to be with her. But when there’s a zombie outbreak they’ll have to fight their way back to the school to reunite with their parents, and take on the insane headmaster (a typically ott Paul Kaye)… Think ‘Shaun of the Dead’ plus showtunes, minus the heights of hilarity, insightfulness, and comical sinisterness. ‘Apocalypse’s best moments are a few of the songs in the middle, with “Miles Away” the energetic, feelgood highlight and tracks like “Human Voice” giving stronger emotional feels than the drama in between (the songs and script were written by different people). Despite it all being passably fun, the problems are numerous. The lead looks like a film star but is simply not a comedian, overplaying her funny lines with a misplaced righteousness while reacting to jokes from elsewhere with moody killjoy delivery. It doesn’t help that the writers give her a terrible relationship arc that makes her seem cold and shallow to her bestie, while making her romantic partner for the 3rd act quite unlikeable. Indeed for an upbeat, zany singalong everything sure ends on a dour note for basically everyone. In general the editor/director’s timing is off: when a beat is needed to land a joke or dramatic moment it often isn’t given. It could also be mentioned how this doesn’t update zombies in any way or how unconvincing the snow is, but let’s be fair this is a low budget production made under extreme time pressure (they had to cut the opening number due to bad weather). There is some breezy entertainment value to be had if the genre-combo appeals. But horror-singalong ‘Stage Fright’ from a few years back was much sharper.

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