As our podcast later this week will attest, Efrit and I do NOT agree on the best films of the year! But that’s okay, it adds intrigue and drama...it’d be boring if we had all the same movies in the same order...right?...Well, I know I’ve got some controversial films on my list, and definitely a controversial order if Efrit’s list is any type of barometer.
This movie was action horror that fell more-so on the side of action than horror, but because of the technical classification, I was able to add it to the list. A flawed film that is mostly self-aware, Upgrade’s biggest issue was its pacing between hyper-violent, well-choreographed, uniquely-shot fight sequences. But those fight sequences, combined with the hilarious exchanges between a bewildered Logan Marshall Green and the AI in his head, is enough entertainment to squeak this movie onto the list.
A simplistic superhero film at its core, Venom was generally panned by most, with even the lead actor, Tom Hardy, joining in on the distaste for the finished product. Yet I couldn’t help but enjoy it quite a bit. I do have an inner conflict...am I just convincing myself I liked this movie because I love Venom and Tom Hardy?...Well, that wasn’t enough to save my love for Predator and Shane Black when it came to that hot garbage that came out this year...Venom is a comic book movie that tried to showcase itself as anything but, then couldn’t decide if it wanted to be PG-13 or R...which both are recipes for disaster. All things considered, Venom should have been a lot worse than the finished product. Wouldn’t mind an extended cut, though...
8. The Cleanse
I was surprised to find that these first three films made my list, that I couldn’t find anything else more worthy of the top-10 of the year, but alas...The Cleanse was a lighthearted, subtle horror comedy that felt like a more digestable version of The Lobster. The practical effects are fun, but far too limited, with a climax that doesn’t quite live up to the dark charm of the rest of the film. But it’s one of a few films I’d recommend to horror fans that are trying to accommodate their fellow friends with more discriminating tastes.
An action/horror/war drama, Overlord was so many things you wonder if it truly hit on any of them. It’s fair to argue that it didn’t, but what we got was a melting pot of entertainment that had more to say about the state of war than we initially thought...It seemed to use the horror elements as a clever juxtaposition to the true horrors of war. It also feels like its a witty mention away from being a dark prequel to Captain America. Heck, I’d watch this turn into a gritty Captain America reboot!
I just can’t seem to connect with audiences and critics this year, as the much-maligned Annihilation was one of my favorites. The ending left a bad taste in a lot of mouths because we have a vague plot that rolls around with a wonky climax that seemingly achieves and resolves nothing. And while I’ll try to avoid the cliche “but that’s what I liked about it”, I just found the journey really enjoyable...like a more grotesque version of Interstellar that wasn’t afraid to leave questions and avoid overwhelming exposition.
5. You Might Be The Killer
The horror parody of the year goes to this gem we saw at Telluride Horror Show. With its ridiculously tight production time and low budget, combined with the story’s complex timeline, makes the finished product practically a miracle. It’s witty, it’s violent. It’s everything we want in a horror comedy.
With a Wicker Man-like plot and approach, there isn’t much to get excited about with Apostle, but I found the Netflix original to be one of their best entries in horror. The acting and writing are great, with a dark fantasy twist that really lays on that manifested gothic horror in a unique, stylish, and ghoulish way. I think it could have brought everything together a little better, but it was a pleasant surprise considering it was something I was expecting to have to choke down going in...that’s what she said.
The foreign horror film of the year was arguably the scariest one for me. It combined an effective atmosphere with some great jump scares and unsettling moments. The characters and goofy and lovable and made for a one-of-a-kind haunting movie. If you can “tough out” subtitles, I highly recommend this title. It’s a pretty fun time.
Objectively, Hereditary was the best horror movie of the year, but I can’t make it number 1 because the harsh and depressing subject matter makes it a grueling experience to bear more than once, and I like horror movies with some re-watch value. The writing and directing are both elite, but it’s the performance of the cast, particularly Toni Collette, that is truly superb. The ending is perhaps the most unsettling experience I’ve had in a film’s final moments. Compared to The Witch due to its pacing and delivery, I much preferred Hereditary due to a more effective execution.
1. A Quiet Place
My number 1 horror movie of every year is always set aside for the truly special gems that are 100% horror, but use the vehicle effectively to convey morality, humanity, and/or philosophy in a powerful way. A Quiet Place is this year’s winner in that arena. It is equal parts horror film and family drama, and they are so seamlessly meshed together that it bridges gaps for audiences without compromising its horror roots. An instant classic for me and will be added to my list of regular re-watch films.
Here's to 2019 providing us with another great year in horror! Check out our podcast this Friday, where we'll tackle Efrit's top-10 list as well!
In this Friday's article, we'll be compile two topics into one, taking a glance at the worst of the year and what we're most excited about in 2019.