Jason’s Top Ten Horror Movies of 2018
Earlier this week we looked to the past to review what I was looking forward to seeing this year. Today we’re looking at which movies actually made my list for the top ten horror movies of 2018.
Now, this list is ten movies ordered sequentially, but that doesn’t mean these are the only good horror movies released this year. If you don’t see your favorite movie on this list or if the one you really liked isn’t ranked higher, don’t worry, that doesn’t invalidate your feelings. In fact, it could very well be that your favorite movie that didn’t make it on my list is just barely off the chart by one numerical spot. Or maybe I just didn’t see it (it was a busy year) so feel free to recommend it to me in the comments.
I also want to take this time to thank a very special person: you. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read the dumb things that I write. Whether one person looked at an article or thousands, I appreciate that you looked my way and considered what I had to say. Even if you vehemently disagree with my opinions and views, I appreciate you coming to this site. I look forward to another year of creating content and maybe in the coming year I’ll try exploring some new mediums to bring that content to you.
With that being said, let’s get to the list!
The world of cam sessions is one of those realms that seems like the nefarious part of the internet, but for the most part it’s really no different than going to a strip club except it’s a virtual one. Still, there’s something about the whole thing that can have a dangerous feel when there’s so much anonymity involved. And when the sessions lead to feelings of love, obsession, and ownership things can get pretty ugly. Using that as a backdrop “Cam” sets out to explore the concept of identity when a cam girl named Lola finds herself suddenly replicated by an online persona. The film has a fantastically twisty narrative as Lola attempts to figure out what’s going on. I really enjoyed this movie for about 99.9% of it, but the very last few minutes really irked me. It doesn’t ruin the movie as a whole, but it does make Lola out to be an unbelievably dumb character and I found that to be pretty disappointing. If not for that small moment it might’ve been higher on my list.
“Overlord” sets out with one simple goal: to tell a supernatural story with World War 2 as the backdrop. And it mostly delivers on that objective. All the war aspects of the film are thrilling and will leave you feeling anxious as hell as you watch planes get shot out of the sky and soldiers sneak behind enemy lines. However, the horror parts don’t quite live up to that level of intensity. Still, the movie has strong characters and a good visual style that lead it to a memorable ending. It may stumble across the finish line, but I would highly recommend this one to fans of war and horror movies alike.
It’s no surprise that “Apostle” was exceedingly well directed. The film was directed by Gareth Evans who previously directed such mesmerizing action films like “The Raid” and “The Raid 2.” He also helped to create “Safe Haven,” which was one of the best segments in “V/H/S/2.” So Gareth Evans has the chops to create something that can be both thrilling, but move at a more ominous pace. And that’s exactly what he does with “The Apostle.” The film also stars Dan Stevens who gives one of his best performances yet. I’ve loved this guy since “The Guest” and he seems to only be getting better.
The idea of Nicholas Cage portraying an insane man is nothing new. In fact, his acting has been regulated to meme status for a while now. However, it’s been a long while since Cage’s insanity has been presented in such a beautiful package as “Mandy” has. Director Panos Cosmatos has created a startling world blending ’70s psychedelic imagery with ’80s raw attitude. It’s an exceedingly bold movie that will spend ten minutes in the perspective of someone tripping out and seeing the entire world in purple and then just go full hog with over the top gore. And all of that insane imagery is wrapped in the wonderful blanket of Johann Johannsson’s music. I can’t think of any movie this year that inspired so much awe just from its presentation. And then when you get beyond that you still have an amazing performance from Nicholas Cage.
6. The House that Jack Built
“The House that Jack Built” might be a divise pick as I’m only basing this on having seen the edited version, but I have read what was in the director’s cut. And even with knowing what was cut I still feel like that this was a remarkable experience. For 90% of this movie you have impactful acting from Matt Dillon as the psychopath Jack. Then there are his victims who each deliver brief, but memorable, performances in their vignettes. But what really makes this movie an experience is just when you think you know what’s going on, it hits you over the head with some truly breathtaking visuals.
One of my greatest fears is being locked up in a mental institute when I don’t belong there. In my mind it’s somehow worse than going to prison, but I’m sure it actually wouldn’t be. “Unsane” explores that concept in a fascinating way by having a woman committed, debatably for good reason, but then she comes to believe that her stalker is now working in the same mental hospital that she’s confined in. Imagine being considered a “crazy person” and telling the doctors and hospital staff that one of their nurses is a stalker who’s trying to kill you. Imagine how that conversation would go and imagine just how powerless you would feel in that position. “Unsane” does a remarkable job of capturing that desperation and forcing it on the audience.
4. The Ritual
Maybe I’m cheating with this one, but technically “The Ritual” did not come to the US until 2018. It did premiere in the UK in 2017, but I only operate on US of A time. “The Ritual” is an incredible mix of psychological horror, cult terror, with a healthy dose of creature feature thrown in. This is also one of those rare instances where a movie has a beautifully designed creature and they masterfully use restraint to tease the reveal until just the right moment.
“Hereditary” not being my number one pick might be upsetting to a lot of people, but I’m gonna be real with you: I’m not a huge fan of this movie. I saw it, was impressed by it, but it did not have the lasting impact on me that it had on others and that’s totally fine. I still recognize the technical proficiency of this movie, the acting (especially by Toni Collette), and the beautiful imagery and symbolism featured throughout. For example, I absolutely loved the way they used the miniatures and the way the movie felt like it was a constant waking nightmare. This was a well crafted film and I understand the critical praise and love that it received, but it just didn’t stick with me or endear itself to me in a significant way. That’s why I’m still placing it high up on my list, but not putting it in the number one spot.
I’ll be honest, as a huge “Halloween” fan it took a lot of deliberation to decide not to throw this movie into the number one spot just cause I love the series so much and I enjoyed the hell out of this film. “Halloween” is the closest I’ve come to feeling the magic of the original film. It captured that uneasy feeling of having Micheal be both a man and something more. The way he methodically moves and seemingly knows how to stay one step ahead of everyone while randomly killing captures that same mystique he had in the original film where he would just appear and disappear at will. I also loved the exploration of Lorie Strode’s character and how they presented this broken person who more accurately represents what the final girl would truly be like. John Carpenter’s soundtrack is hot as hell and is such a good listen both in the movie and out of it. I can’t think of a horror movie that had me more excited this year and managed to live up to my high expectations.
1. A Quiet Place
I’m a sucker for horror movies that focus on a family unit. I love when they capture the heartache and beauty of having a family and I like when the strength of the family is what leads to people persevering. And it’s rare for a movie to pull that all off without feeling overly cheesy or hamfisted. “A Quiet Place” is one of those rare accomplishments. John Krasinski crafts a fantastic story about a family surviving in an insanely dangerous world. It also tells that story with a compelling narrative trick. In the movie they’re pursued by creatures that hunt by using sound, so the family must remain as quiet as possible. So a good chunk of the story is told using sign language and gestures. It also leads to a film with incredible sound design. Suddenly the crunching of leaves becomes excruciatingly loud and your nerves are on edge as you watch characters take painstaking efforts to remain quiet. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it’s hard to imagine someone else every capturing the magical experience of seeing this movie for the first time.