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Top 25 Best Horror Movies Of 2018

4th  The Clovehitch Killer
Starring: Charlie Plummer, Dylan McDermott, Madisen Beaty, Samantha Mathis
Director: Duncan Skiles
Released: November 16, 2018 | Box Office: n/a


 -Seen It-  When a quiet 16-year-old (Plummer) discovers disturbing pornography belonging to his scoutmaster father (McDermott) he starts to suspect Dad might be long-retired serial killer “Clovehitch”. Pairing with a loner girl who’s researching the cases, he seeks the truth to try and save his family… Like ‘Summer of 84’ this is a suburban, bike-riding, coming-of-age story with the protagonist investigating a possible killer close to home. But where that had stylistic bells and whistles, this is understated, character-based and flawless from beginning to end. “What if your father was a serial killer?” plays as an emotional rollercoaster, in turns palm-sweatingly tense, dramatically gripping and heartbreaking. The screenplay’s structure is unpredictable, putting you in a place after 45 minutes you don’t expect to be. Add to that a dry sense of humour, brilliant acting across the board, and a great score. There’s a pretty devastating critique of the Christian community in there. It’s also, perversely, a powerful film about fatherhood.

3rd  Overlord
Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Jacob Anderson, Dominic Applewhite
Director: Julius Avery
Released: November 9, 2018 | Budget: $38m | Box Office: $21m


 -Seen It-  In 1944 a division of paratroopers, including a new private (Adepo, ‘Fences’) and a corporal with explosives expertise (Russell, ’22 Jump Street’), is tasked with dropping behind Nazi lines and detonating a communications tower in an occupied French village. But after a disastrous jump the survivors find themselves pinned in the house of a local woman (Ollivier) and discover that beneath the tower are horrific human experiments, to create soldiers for the “1000 year Reich”… ‘Overlord’ lifts a lot from the Wolfenstein game series (particularly 2001’s ‘Return to Castle Wolfenstein’), from concept to aesthetic, but damn if it isn’t a great Wolfenstein movie. Indeed without the horror, this would actually be a very good war film (it’s about 30 minutes before anything fantastical emerges). It has the scale, palpable sense of danger, camaraderie, satisfying/brutal gunplay, etc. The opening plane drop is the most intense aerial sequence I’ve seen in a war film and tension remains near constant to the end. When the mutated soldiers eventually emerge the fx are disturbing and effective because they don’t get too carried away – there’s no hulking monster climbing on the ceilings. The science behind the experiments is never explained, but that’s for the better. Also despite it being about Nazi experiments, the story doesn’t get the cast stuck in the lab and tunnels. These are all smart decisions. It’s a J.J. Abrams production but the rumoured Cloverfield connection does not appear, thank goodness. The protagonists are probably the noisiest, shout-iest infiltrators of all time, but there you go. Genre fans have the added entertainment value of watching Wyatt (son of Kurt) Russell knowingly follow his father’s footsteps into gory horror. He increasingly channels his father’s ‘Thing’ performance as it moves into the final act, even stopping for a re-delivery of its most famous line. In summary, there isn’t a better horror film set during World War Two.

2nd  Halloween
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Judy Greer, Nick Castle, Will Patton, Haluk Bilginer
Director: David Gordon Green
Released: October 19, 2018 | Budget: $10m | Box Office: $159m


 -Seen It-  40 years on from the babysitter murders, two true-crime podcasters visit a now 60-something Michael Myers in his mental institution, presenting his mask in an effort to get him to speak. Meanwhile Laurie Strode (Curtis) is a longtime PTSD sufferer whose obsessive prepping for a Michael escape has caused a rift with her married daughter (Greer, ‘Ant-Man’). Her granddaughter (newcomer Matichak) still keeps in touch as she readies for Halloween with her teen friends. But when Myers escapes during a prisoner transfer he goes on the rampage, pursued by a veteran cop (Patton, ‘Armageddon’) and his psychiatrist (Bilginer, ‘Ben-Hur’), drawing closer to a showdown with the well-armed Laurie… Following the dire Rob Zombie Halloween films, Blumhouse bought the rights from Dimension with John Carpenter’s involvement (his first participation since ‘Halloween III’). David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, who were already fans, proposed their (straight horror) vision to Blumhouse and Carpenter. The film erases all previous sequels, cancels Laurie being Michael’s sister, has Carpenter write an updated soundtrack with his son, and brings Nick Castle back to portray Myers. The result is a studied, intelligent sequel, easily the best since the original. It’s been a hit with critics (79% RT) and audiences, making a staggering $230 million worldwide from a $10m budget. However as someone who has followed the series I can’t say it was particularly frightening, at best it raised anxiety hoping certain characters would survive. This is due to an over-familiarity with the monster and because Michael (despite saying nothing and his face being all but hidden), is humanised by the intrinsic frailty of his elderly age, coupled with a lack of impactful winking at anything supernatural. Add to that the Shape’s inability to get anywhere quickly (with the locations very spread out this time) which means he get shot just trying to walk slowly out a house, and effortlessly run-over walking down the street on his way to the next target. With a well-armed Laurie (channelling Sarah Connor and Kevin McCallister), her well-trained daughter, plucky granddaughter, and cops on his tail it feels like the odds are stacked against him (the state already took his 40 best killing years). Other issues include the Myers-proof house being illogically dangerous, and the too-abrupt ending. That said there is far more to enjoy. The atmosphere, nostalgia, and faithfulness to source are terrific. The three generational Strode relationship is nicely setup and having three protagonists makes the outcome less clear, feeding into the film’s unpredictable story flow (within an overall predictable framework). The characters are well drawn throughout regardless of screentime, with Laurie’s heartbreaking portrayal in the first half the standout. ‘Halloween’ (2018) is a special event for all longtime horror fans. John Carpenter’s new synth score is terrific (especially as a solo listen) and his close production involvement marks this as (probably) the swan-song for one of the horror greats.

1st  Hereditary
Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne
Director: Ari Aster
Released: June 8, 2018 | Budget: $9m | Box Office: $44m


 -Seen It-  After her sinister, distant mother passes away, an artist (Collette, ‘Krampus’) must come to terms with the grief. Backed by her supportive husband (Byrne, ‘End of Days’), she looks out for her weed-smoking son (Wolff, ‘Death Note’) and strange daughter. But grandma’s presence lingers and it seems she set something awful in motion. Further tragedy will push them all to breaking point and sink them deep into a cursed nightmare… Easily the scariest film of the year, ‘Hereditary’ unnerves from the first frame and has the cold, sharp intelligence behind the camera which the best horrors have. If Kubrick has continued to work in the genre after ‘The Shining’, this might have been one of his. The acting is excellent across the board, with Collette deserving of an Oscar nom. Tragedy at the end of the first act turns the film into a bleak (but brilliant) bereavement drama for quite a while, the straight up terrifying score subsides and it feels like it’s lost its way as a chiller. But this is temporary and all part of the design. Whenever it decides to scare it’s masterful. Overused horror tropes like seance and possession are here, but the fact it can make these feel truly chilling again is a testimony. By the end ‘Hereditary’ has hit the right balance of mystery and explanation. And Toni Collette in the final scenes is the stuff of brain-searing nightmares.

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More: 25 Best Horror Movies 2019 / Best Horror Movies 2017

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