Of all the major film genres, few thrived quite like horror in 2017. The year was full of fantastic, scary movies (on the big screen, as well as on streaming services), and those creepy movies were chock full of absolutely terrifying moments. Today, we're going to dive into those scary moments, and figure out which scenes from 2017 horror movies legitimately made our skin crawl.
The Drowning Scene - Life
Although one could easily make the clear argument that Life is a derivative movie in the construction of many of its characters and set pieces, that doesn't change the fact that it executes some of its best scenes in truly horrifying fashion. Nowhere is that more evident than in the drowning scene, in which Calvin breaks Golovkina's space suit and forces coolant to gradually leak into her helmet. We thought that we had seen every way to die in space depicted on the big screen, but Life proved us wrong. The scene is painful to watch, but the way in which Golovkina refuses help because she doesn't want Calvin to reenter the ship makes it all the more difficult.
The Beast Arrives - Split
We could spend all debating over whether or not Split deserves to be considered a horror movie, as it could also fit a bit more neatly into the thriller category as well. However, there are a few critical moments in that plant it in the realm of horror, and the best of those moments is the scene in which Kevin Wendell Crumb finally transforms into the "Beast" that he spends the rest of the film teasing. The way he viciously kills the girls before going after Casey Cooke, and the way James McAvoy plays the monstrous character in those scenes is absolutely brilliant. Couple that with the way he snaps out of it and realizes what he has done when Casey says his real name, and we get one of the most heartwrenching horror scenes in recent memory.
The Death Of The Baby - mother!
Few movies from 2017 were quite as polarizing as mother! While it's almost certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea, the fact of the matter is that Darren Aronofsky biblical statement about the current state of the environment (yes, the movie is all of those things) also features one of the most horrifying scenes if the year, in which the baby of the titular protagonist is killed by the houseguests in a fury. Movies almost always shy away from that level of intensity in their depictions of violence, but mother! went all in and gave us one of the most bizarre, unsettling, and downright expertly-executed horror moments of the last 365 days.
The Moonlight Man - Gerald's Game
Not every great scary movie from 2017 debuted on the big screen. In the streaming world, we were also treated to Mike Flanagan's Gerald's Game -- a fantastic Stephen King adaptation about a woman forced to escape from a set of handcuffs in a secluded cabin when a sex game with her husband goes horribly wrong. The film's premise alone is terrifying, but it becomes even scarier upon the arrival of the monstrous "Moonlight Man" who stands in the corner of her bedroom every evening and inches closer with each passing day. The very look of the Moonlight Man is terrifying, but the film's final twist (that he is not a supernatural being, but an insane man who visits her every evening) is enough to make your skin crawl.
The Toy Gun Scene - Annabelle: Creation
Do you want to know the craziest thing about the toy gun scene from Annabelle: Creation? It wasn't even in the script. Director David F. Sandberg allegedly dreamt up a scenario in his head during the shoot, the very next day he put actress Lulu Wilson in front of the camera to see what he could accomplish based off of the simple premise of a young girl firing a toy gun into a darkened hallway. The result? An infinitely creepy scene in which the ball eventually won't return to her, and the girl finds herself joined in her bunk bed by the very demon that has haunted the Mullins house since the death of Annabelle.
The Spineburster - Alien: Covenant
While there's certainly a case to be made that Alien: Covenant wasn't the complete return to form that many fans had hoped for ahead of the film's release, there's no question that it features one of the best horror sequences of the year (if not of the entire Alien franchise) in the form of the spineburster scene. After a member of the Covenant's crew becomes infected by David's mysterious spores, we're left to watch as two crewmembers helplessly try to save him while a Neomorph slowly assimilates his spinal column and separates itself from his body -- leading the creature to chase the humans through the Covenant's dropship until accidental gunfire causes a deadly explosion that traps the rest of the crew on a slowly-darkening planet with other aliens.
The Break-In - It Comes At Night
Many audiences were taken off-guard by the type of movie that It Comes At Night turned out to be when it debuted in theaters over the summer, and to a certain degree, they were right to be let down by the film's lack of visceral terror -- in favor of slow-burn paranoia. But the film still has a few critical tricks up its sleeve, such as the nighttime scene in which Will breaks into the house and is captured by Paul. This is still a point in the movie in which we are not quite sure what to expect from the contagion, and the possibility of horrific monsters lurking out in the woods (like the ones Travis expects his grandfather to turn into) stands as a real threat and possibility for our heroes.
The Opening Scene - Get Out
There are a number of scenes in Get Out that showcase Jordan Peele's surprisingly masterful knack for visual storytelling in the horror genre, but few cut to the core of the film's message quite like the opening scene. It's here where Jeremy Armitage kidnaps Andrew Logan King right off of the street, as the young black man walks through the predominately white neighborhood in the middle of the night. It's a fantastic tracking shot that subverts traditional slasher movie expectations (King knows something is wrong, but he does everything that he can to stay away from the car following him subtly), while setting up the very real horror of a socially and politically-conscious movie like Get Out.
Pennywise Captures Beverly Marsh - IT
Although IT is a horror film that delivers the bulk of its scares through the supernatural presence of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the film also works because of its effective balance of realistic scares. In no scene is that more evident than the sequence in which Beverly Marsh fights back against her abusive father -- only to find herself staring into Pennywise's face when she finally decides to leave for good. The scene is horrifying in its depiction of parental abuse of children, but it also works by giving us one of the best jump scares of 2017 when the clown finally shows up. It's not a fakeout; it's the real deal, and it's terrifying, to say the least.
Annabelle's Room - Annabelle: Creation
David F. Sandberg's Annabelle: Creation wastes no time getting to the scares. This lean, tightly-paced haunted house romp arguably peaks during one of the first forays into Annabelle's room. Offering up one well-crafted scare after another, each moment in Annabelle's bedroom is a moment that would punctuate a scene in another scary movie, but then it just keeps going. From the closet door that won't stay shut, to the doll slowly standing up and walking towards our young heroine, the scene does not let up and perfectly captures why Annabelle: Creation is such a great addition to the burgeoning Conjuring universe. Now let's just hope that a third movie can continue this upward trajectory from the first film.
Georgina Corners Chris - Get Out
Horror is one of those genres that doesn't require overly-elaborate set pieces to wow members of the audience. All you really need for a genuinely haunting sequence is a great performance. In Jordan Peele's Get Out, that moment comes when Georgina corners Chris in the Armitage estate and repeats "no" over and over and over again. This comes at a point in the movie in which we're not sure what is happening with her, and the repetition of the word makes her unpredictably terrifying. Then, upon rewatching, the scene only becomes more terrifying as we come to realize that Georgina's life has been stolen from her to prolong the existence of an Armitage ancestor. The scene has layers, and each of them is more terrifying than the last.
Georgie's Death - IT
There's a reason why Andy Muschietti's IT has gone on to become the highest-grossing horror movie of all time: it's a legitimately terrifying movie that pulls no punches in its adaptation of Stephen King's source material. That regard, no scene in the entire film epitomizes that idea more than the opening scene in which Georgie meets Pennywise at the sewer. Far more than just a recreation of the Tim Curry scene from the 1990 miniseries, IT delivers genuine tension throughout the conversation (even though most of us know where it's going), and punctuates its nail-biting tension with the shocking death of the young boy in the rain when the monster in the sewer bites his arm clean off.