The horror genre has been on an uptick in recent years, and while storytellers have always thrived in the sandbox that encourages real risk and unconventional method, 2018 was the year that the mainstream wrapped its arms around the things that terrified them in a dark multiplex.
Choosing five horror films that we'd call the "best" of 2018 proved quite difficult, as several terrifying features found their way to our screens (and especially on Netflix, where movies like Cam or the legendary mini-series The Haunting of Hill House held us riveted). But when thinking about the best of the best in 2018 horror, these are the five that stood out to us:
A sequel 40 years in the making. And an original concept, as this new Halloween wipes ALL of the other Halloween sequels off of the board. Who knew you could do that? Director David Gordon Green and co-screenwriter Danny McBride reset Halloween history to give fans a natural continuation from John Carpenter's seminal horror classic, returning Michael Myers to Haddonfield where his final confrontation with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) awaits. Plenty of scares, and laughs, can be found, but this one makes the list for Judy Greer's INCREDIBLE scene (you know the one). Gotcha.
The horror genre, in 2018, blended together with other key storytelling realms in several exciting features. Science-fiction, for example, bled into the horror zone to goose audiences. Not that this is new, but rarely has it been as unpredictable and ambitious as it was in Alex Garland's Annihilation. The story involves a team of soldiers and scientists entering into a mysterious realm dubbed "The Shimmer." What they find, and how it affects them, drives one of the most challenging -- and rewarding -- horror movies in recent memory.
Toni Collette is a natural treasure. And she often does her best work in the horror genre. (Witness her Oscar-nominated performance in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense, if you need a reminder.) But be warned, because the madness of Hereditary isn't for everyone. This is the kind of strangeness where you will question the destination of the story every step of the way until every last detail is revealed. Once it all makes sense, the dark journey becomes more clear... and you instantly want to begin a repeat viewing, to start answering puzzling mysteries. We lost our head for Hereditary, and think that you will, too.
More people needed to see Upgrade. At a time when film audiences love nostalgia, Leigh Whannell's futuristic thriller is basically the greatest movie released in 2018 that feels like it belongs in 1987. Following a vicious attack, a man is implanted with an experimental device that turns him into a one-man army, hellbent on seeking vengeance and cleaning up the sordid streets. It's shocking how much fun Upgrade is, but like Suspiria or Cam, the movie drifts effortlessly into body horror, elevating it to #2 on our list of this past year's best.
1. A Quiet Place
For so many reasons, A Quiet Place earns the distinction of the best horror movie we saw in 2018. It announced John Krasinski, of all people, as an exciting horror storyteller with an original voice that demands to be heard. It features a blistering performance by Emily Blunt, who shatters the notion that fantastic performances can't be found in genre work. And A Quiet Place might actually earn a Best Picture nomination... stunning for an early-year release. Riveting, creative, and utterly rewatchable, A Quiet Place taught audiences how to enjoy a movie again, and it belongs atop this list.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.