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Top 25 Best Horror Movies Of 2018

9th  Mandy
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Released: September 14, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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 -Seen It-  A lumberjack (Cage) lives a peaceful reflective life with his artist partner Mandy (Riseborough, ‘Oblivion’) in a woodland cabin. When she catches the eye of an insane, insecure cult leader (Roache, ‘Batman Begins’), he and his followers, helped by a demonic biker gang, kidnap and destroy her, leaving the lumberjack for dead. In despair and fury he forges a battle axe and tracks them down to enact a bloody revenge… Director Panos Cosmatos (son of George P. Cosmatos who made the great ‘Tombstone’) establishes himself here as one of modern cinema’s most interesting visual artists. It’s all set in a dreamlike 1980s that’s both mellow and menacing, with striking hypnotic visuals (right down to the onscreen chapter-title cards). It’s underscored by a constant droning era soundtrack that haunts with its love theme and flares up to punctuate the madness (the Icelandic composer has sadly since died). The visuals are constantly experimenting in effective ways, from juxtaposing the faces of two people in conversation to the jarring unstylised master shot showing Cage having a bathroom breakdown immediately after the attack. In the often hyper-stylised version of reality, with the ramblings of the thin-skinned cult leader and his fawning drugged-up followers, Nicolas Cage is for a time the most normal thing onscreen. But he soon absorbs the cosmic darkness and descends into blood-splattered insanity (while the film itself becomes more narratively straightforward following one-by-one revenge). Cage is luckier to have this film than vice versa. He’s hurt his currency with endless terrible films, and his onscreen rage meltdowns have become familiar. The filmmaker is good enough to have carried another actor on that journey of madness, and having one who hadn’t gone this route before would have added to the originality displayed in other departments. That’s not to say Cage isn’t effective, or that it isn’t his best film for years.

8th  The House That Jack Built
Starring: Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz, Uma Thurman, Riley Keough
Director: Lars von Trier
Released: December 28, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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The highly intelligent Jack (Dillon) introduces the murders that defined his development as a serial killer over a span of 12 years, postulating each as a work of art. And as the inevitable police intervention is drawing nearer, he is taking greater and greater risks to create the ultimate piece: A collection of all his killings manifested in a House he’s building… Co-starring Uma Thurman as a potential victim and Bruno Ganz from the “Hitler subtitle” memes. Controversial director Lars von Trier (the divisive ‘Dogville’, ‘Nymphomaniac’, etc) last ventured into the horror genre with 2009’s harrowing ‘Antichrist’, but he says this is more brutal. ‘Jack’ caused walkouts at Cannes with its sadism and rule-breaking, although some critics called it just an empty provocation.

7th  Annihilation
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez
Director: Alex Garland
Released: February 23, 2018 | Budget: $40m | Box Office: $32m

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 -Seen It-  A biologist’s (Portman) military husband (Isaac) returns from a secret mission a broken man, before falling into a coma. He had been sent into “the Shimmer”, an expanding area of unnatural and dangerous mutations which began from a comet. To help save him she volunteers for the next (suicidal) mission, joining an all-female team of a psychologist (Leigh), paramedic (Rodriguez), physicist (Tessa Thompson), and geologist (Tuva Novotny). They hope to uncover what is happening and why, but as they approach its center the DNA mutations run amok may kill them all… Adapted from the 2014 novel by writer-director Alex Garland, on a red hot streak of form after ‘Dredd’ and ‘Ex Machina’ (having written the likes of ’28 Days Later’ and ‘Sunshine’ before that). ‘Annihilation’ is scattered with memorable nightmarish imagery, its DNA concept is deeply creepy, the wildlife creature design is great, and there’s a powerfully strong sense of mystery throughout. There’s some interesting discussion of self-destruction but you’re not left with much to think about as you were after ‘Ex Machina’. It’s also, honestly, a pretty bleak, slow and humourless film with an ending different to the book that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

6th  Suspiria
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton x3, Mia Goth, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jessica Harper
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Released: November 2, 2018 | Box Office: n/a

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 -Seen It-  In the divided Berlin of 1977, a terrified student (Moretz) warns her elderly psychotherapist (Swinton) about a coven of witches running the prestigious dance academy. When she disappears soon after, a talented young American (Johnson, ’50 Shades’) arrives to take her place. Under the close tutelage of the artistic director (also Swinton) she must prepare for a grand ceremonial dance that may have sinister supernatural consequences… Set in the same year that Dario Argento’s classic was released, this version comes from veteran director Luca Guadagnino, of ‘A Bigger Splash’ (which also starred Johnson and Swinton in the leads) and the Oscar-winning ‘Call Me By Your Name’. ‘Suspiria’ 2018 is a highly confident, artistically-crafted remake that departs significantly, especially in the crazy final act. Period detail, sense of place and mood are excellent. The palette is muted compared to Argento vibrancy but the arthouse cinematography is dynamic, and the dance choreography electric. The film’s confidence is reflected in Tilda Swinton’s decision to play the 70 year old male psychotherapist (which is not a small part). Acting throughout is committed with Mia Goth never better as another curious student. Although Dakota Johnson’s lead is deliberately underwritten making her a little hard to connect to. At 152 minutes the pacing is self-indulgent at points, and the time given to background terrorist news never really pays off. But this is the best kind of remake, one that sits as a companion piece, a reinterpretation, with its own subtext, nuance and disturbing deaths.

5th  A Quiet Place
Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe
Director: John Krasinski
Released: April 9, 2018 | Budget: $17m | Box Office: $188m

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 -Seen It-  A family of five navigate their life together in utter silence, hiding from horrifying creatures that hunt by sound. The father (Krasinski, ‘The Office’) is a survivalist who focuses on getting his family through each day. While the mother (Blunt) tries to ensure their children be fully-formed people… Krasinski (who also directs) and Blunt are married with two kids in real life, and this is the first time they’ve shared the screen. They bring that chemistry with them. It’s intended as a metaphor for the anxiety of parenthood (most good horror has a metaphor in there somewhere) and there’s a heightened intensity to their performances (notably the birth scene). The silence concept is (consciously or otherwise) an expansion of ‘Don’t Breathe’, with the original screenplay containing only one line of dialogue. The sound design is terrific, as is the pounding soundtrack. It all makes for an unusual and edge-of-the-seat experience with genuine jumps, though towards the end it’s somewhat stuck on a repeat cycle pattern, and has an overly signposted resolution straight from another alien invasion movie. ‘A Quiet Place’ is the biggest horror box office smash of 2018, taking in $188 million in the US, and $152m internationally – $340m total from a $17m budget. A sequel is in the works. N.B. Also features the most irresponsible pregnancy of the year.

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