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Sickle's Top 10 Horror Movies of 2019

It's been a rather enjoyable year in cinematic horror with some great mainstream releases and one of the best Telluride Horror Shows to date. I had a hard time squeezing in every film I wanted to, but that just speaks to the quality we received for our favorite genre. Efrit and I will be covering our top 10 films tomorrow on our podcast as well, so check that out! And, as is the case every year, we include the disclaimer that there is some gray area on release dates...so some of these films may have had a limited release in previous years while others may be getting a theatrical release in 2020.

Sickle's Top 10 Horror Movies of 2019

10. Wounds

One of the best modern Lovecraftian films, though that's not saying much. I enjoyed this movie quite a bit, but was surprised by the lack of rewatchability when viewing it with people I had recommended it to. The pacing can be a struggle, but the dark and disturbing journey keeps the viewer in a state of unsettling confusion as they experience much of the dread the protagonist does as he descends into madness, as all Lovecraftian films should imbue.

9. Sweetheart

Straightforward and simple because of its almost non-existent character development, but well-crafted across the board and highly entertaining as a refined monster movie. Like Cast Away meets conventional monster movie, the premise and execution isn't going to blow you away, but it's a highly entertaining popcorn flick with acting and effects work that pulls it from the gutters of low budget films of a similar ilk.

8. Making Monsters

The characters, plot, and horror tropes may remind you of this and that film, but when seen in its entirety, this movie stands alone as a horror tale that hits every cinematic and emotional note to the point that it doesn't fit into any single sub genre. And when you consider the ingenuity necessary for the budget, it's even more impressive.

7. Haunt

Slashers aren't my favorite and this movie isn't wholely original in its premise, but it managed to be highly entertaining and carry enough emotional weight between thrills to pull me through two viewings in relatively short succession. Looking for a fun horror flick to watch with friends? Haunt is the movie you're looking for.

6. The Perfection

It’s been a while since I’ve been treated to a movie that took me down paths I did not see coming. The Perfection is gruesome and disturbing and maniacal, but it’s a true horror treasure with its zany plot twists mixed with viscera and insanity. It also managed to be a film that, for once, lived up to the hype that preceded its release.

5. Ready Or Not

The horror comedy of the year, this gem of a premise has a familiar atmosphere and concept, but sets itself apart with eccentric performances and a bipolar script that jumps between dark comedy and intense thriller from scene to scene.

4. After Midnight

An indie monster flick on the surface of its synopsis, it sounds like a horror film through and through, but as with most pieces from this crew, the film is more of an indie drama and character study wrapped in a tidy horror bow. You're going to endure more pain from the dynamic of our leads' relationship than thrills from the monster pounding at the door, but it all works together in uniform with its subtly powerful performances and willingness to let the impact of the script overlay the horror for a majority of the runtime.

3. Us

Peele's follow-up to Get Out is just as thrilling and impactful as his first entry, ramping up the scares and humor along the way. The semi-convoluted concept takes a manner of disbelief that didn't feel as necessary in Get Out, but it makes up for it with its social commentary, legitimate terror, and rangy performances.

2. IT Chapter 2

Chapter 2 was exactly what it was supposed to be; one of the best pure horror films of the year. And it didn't disappoint. It had two huge obstacles to overcome in trying to continue the strength of Chapter 1 and defeating the stigma of part 2 from the original adaptation. From my perspective, it fell slightly short of Chapter 1, but was able to almost entirely escape the issues of adapting the book's latter half. It doesn't quite carry the fluidity and pacing of the first entry, occasionally struggling with the hefty runtime. But it still had a ridiculous amount of wit, charm and genuine terror within its scares and humor.

1. Daniel Isn't Real

I'm in love with everything about this movie. I'm confident that not everyone will love it as much as I do, but I believe it has something for almost every horror fan and even some movie patrons with an open mind to some dark themes and gruesome imagery. The story weaves a tale that is painfully real, but is wrapped in a realm of psychological fantasy that gives it a strength in pensive recollection and entertaining rewatchability. I care for these characters and I want to see where it all goes. It's near perfection in its execution of all elements that form a great cinematic experience. I'm glad I was able to experience it on the big screen at THS. It recently received a very limited theatrical release, but it can now be rented/purchased on Amazon Prime and Vudu. It should also be coming to Shudder soon/eventually, if you already have a subscription for the service and don't want to chance your hard-earned money on the "hefty" streaming rental charges.

Honorable Mentions

Midsommar - I almost feel like I should apologize for not proverbially sucking Ari Aster's dick, but I found this entry to be far less engaging, enthralling, and impactful than Aster's previous work, Hereditary. Midsommar is so heavy on some horror tropes and awkwardly dry throughout that it feels like a satire one minute and a black indie dramedy the next. I believe the craft of the film is worth noting and I do believe everything Aster invokes is intentional. The film merely didn't strike a chord with me personally and has severe rewatchability issues with its perversely depressing subject matter and sluggish pacing.

Scare Package - The best anthology of the year that just missed the cut. It's hilarious horror satire that sometimes grows repetitive even across its various stories.

Crawl - Creature Feature fun? Yes. Rewatchability? You betcha. Objectively brilliant, superbly crafted, and creative? Not really.

The Hole in the Ground - Great acting, great directing/script (sans one scene), but I can't help but compare it to The Hallow which simply did the changeling folklore better.

Velvet Buzzsaw - I think I enjoyed the cathartic satire of the art world more than the actual film, finding the idea of the story and the fine art parodies more entertaining than the horror elements and execution of said plot.

© 2020 Sickle and Efrit | Dalton Vanhooser & Kyle Hagan