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Top 25 Best Horror Movies Of 2018

14th  Cargo
Starring: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius
Directors: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke
Released: May 18, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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 -Seen It-  After a zombie epidemic spreads over the Australian outback, a recently-bitten father (Freeman, ‘The Hobbit’) searches for someone willing to look after his newborn daughter when he turns… Despite its well-worn “zombie apocalypse” starting point, this is a mature and character-driven story, benefiting from the freshness of its Aboriginal Australian setting, and centered on a great naturalistic performance by Freeman. The opening half hour is sometimes hard to watch as his life with his wife falls apart. Their realistic interactions give events a deep sadness they wouldn’t normally have. The story going forward is, on paper, pretty grim too as his only option is managed decline, wrestling with the right moment to commit suicide, but Freeman manages to inject a humanity and spirit that lifts everything up.

13th  The Meg
Starring: Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Released: August 10, 2018 | Budget: $130m | Box Office: $145m

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 -Seen It-  Resentful deep-sea rescue expert Jonas (Statham) is recruited by a billionaire (Wilson, ‘The Office’) and his offshore team to retrieve three scientists trapped in a disabled observational vessel on the floor of the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific. Having broken through into a previously unexplored ecosystem, they are now under attack from a supposedly-extinct 70-foot white shark – megalodon… For comparison, the biggest great white sharks are 20 feet. Based on the 1997 novel, the movie adaptation has been stuck in development since the book’s release. The budget is a whopping $150 million and it’s directed by Jon Turteltaub of ‘National Treasure’ and ‘Sorcerers Apprentice’, a helmer of adventure films rather than horror. ‘The Meg’ is a big summer blockbuster, and as such works better the bigger the screen and the deeper the 3D (which adds quite a bit). There’s little blood or gore, and they deliberately try and hold back how frightening it could be (see the sequence when Rainn Wilson is stuck on a dead whale), but the image of a perfectly-rendered megalodon shark can’t help but be occasionally terrifying (most effective in moments of silence, drifting toward us). Tonally ‘The Meg’ is close to ‘Deep Blue Sea’ (complete with LL Cool J lookalike and surprise shark leap), halfway between ‘Jaws’ and ‘Sharknado’. While Statham helped the box office, his casting is not a hugely necessary to the film itself, with his curiously-unfulfilled romantic subplot being the biggest drag. It’s great to see this concept finally realised, albeit in an entertaining rather than horrifying way.

12th  Summer Of 84
Starring: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew
Directors: RKSS
Released: August 10, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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 -Seen It-  After suspecting their cop neighbour is a serial killer, a group of teenage friends spend the summer of ‘84 spying on him and gathering evidence, but as they get closer to discovering the truth, things get dangerous… The creative team from the excellent ‘Turbo Kid’ bring their humour and 80s nostalgia to a much more conventional but still gripping little suspense/horror story. Sitting somewhere between ‘It’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Disturbia’ and a dark version of ‘The Hardy Boys’, it’s grounded on a very likeable quartet of teens and a charming atmosphere (multiplied if you were a kid in that era). The mystery of whether the neighbour is guilty or not is well handled, playing with expectations and never letting on until the, extremely tense, finale. But… the film absolutely should have ended there. The post-script sequence goes an unusual, perhaps brave, route but leaves a taste that’s so out of keeping with what went before, it’s hard to see a benefit.

11th  Venom
Starring: Tom Hardy, Riz Ahmed, Michelle Williams
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Released: October 5, 2018 | Budget: $100m | Box Office: $213m

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 -Seen It-  A shuttle crashes back to Earth with symbiotes on board – alien life forms that bond to a host to survive. When investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) asks pressing questions of the space firm’s CEO, Blake (Ahmed, ‘Rogue One’), he finds his career destroyed and his partner (Williams, ‘Blue Valentine’) walks out. 6 months later Brock sneaks into the firm’s lab, where he inadvertently absorbs the symbiote Venom. Now with Venom’s abilities, needs, and voice in his head, the two must co-operate to survive the pursuing security force and Blake’s own transformation into the symbiote Riot… Unfairly maligned by critics, this turns out to be a highly enjoyable creature feature. Together with the upcoming ‘New Mutants’, ‘Venom’ represents an interesting merging of horror and superhero films, as they search for new directions in a crowded marketplace. The most intriguing parts of hero stories are typically the villain’s emergence, and here that’s given maximum breathing room, without constantly cutting back to Spider-Man’s do-gooding. Tom Hardy fully commits. He’s terrific to watch having a meltdown (be it fine dining or a MRI scan), then wrestling with his new duality. The film also sports one of the best hero reveals, a great score, the right quantity of laughs (see Pacino tribute), unique action sequences, and a pretty spectacular ending. Venom’s creature design is wonderfully realised in the most part, leaving the ‘Spider-Man 3’ misfire in the dust. On the downside, Michelle Williams looks out of place, sharing no chemistry with Hardy. FX quality dips sometimes, more often on Riot. There’s some iffy shorthand journalism chat. And when Venom goes full heroic, complete with wide-eyed fear, it’s less effective. There’s no gore, some argue an R-rating was called for, but personally I didn’t miss it. Bring on more Carnage, this doesn’t need Parker just yet.

10th=  The Ritual
Starring: Rafe Spall, Sam Troughton, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier
Director: David Bruckner
Released: February 9, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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 -Seen It-  Four old University pals (headed by Rafe Spall, ‘The Big Short’/’Prometheus’) go trekking in the Scandinavian wilderness to honour a murdered friend. Shortcutting through dense, sinister forest they spend a night in an abandoned shack, one that’s occupied by an unsettling Nordic artefact. Experiencing horrific nightmares they emerge the next morning realising they are lost, and something large and unholy is in pursuit… From the American director of ‘Southbound’, this adaptation of the novel makes for a fine British horror. Sitting somewhere between ‘Blair Witch’, ‘Wicker Man’ and ‘Troll Hunter’, it’s propelled by great chemistry and well observed, witty dialogue among the four men. Rather that the usual contrivances, everyone reacts as you’d imagine middle class Brits in their 30s actually would. The atmospherics are smart and eerie, with the night in the shack providing the most memorable chill. The sharp tension and ensemble entertainment slip a bit in the final act as it transitions into a creature feature and the group is broken up. Still, Rafe Spall gives an understated, grounded performance throughout, a cut above what’s typical for the genre.

10th=  Ghost Stories
Starring: Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther
Directors: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
Released: April 20, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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 -Seen It-  A professor who debunks ghost encounters (Nyman, who also co-directs) is summoned by a retired sceptic, his childhood inspiration, to disprove three cases that still perplex him on his deathbed. He sets out to interview a glum night watchman (Whitehouse, ‘The Fast Show’), a nerve-shattered teen driver (Lawther) and a cocky, rich new parent (Freeman, ‘Hobbit’), all of whom claim to have had a life-changing and terrifying supernatural experience. As the professor himself starts to be spooked by fleeting visions, he wonders if a greater game is in play… An adaptation of the stage play, which has been running on and off for 7 years, this is written and directed by its creators Jeremy Dyson (of ‘The League Of Gentlemen’) and Andy Nyman (best known for his work with psychological illusionist Derren Brown). It’s a very British film that takes familiar beats and ideas from old ghost stories (including ‘A Christmas Carol’) and has fun with them, never afraid to go for a big laugh or big scare. They’ve had plenty of time to fine tune the tale on the stage and it’s led to a cleverly weaved story within a story. Andy Nyman’s lead performance is unassuming but relatable, Martin Freeman has campy chilling fun, and Paul Whitehouse shows he should get more film work as he nails his segment with pathos, humour and believability. The three main suspense sequences build well, but their payoff jumps are a little underwhelming (“Oh that ghost lady’s wearing a lot of stage makeup”), it’s actually the unexpected scares in the bookending story that have more impact, and the closing moments that are most haunting.

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